A training trail run NEF-style!

Having read the FABULOUS blog post from rara’s rules for living it’s time for us to put OUR slant on this trail running lark.

THIS is how to put together a training run for maximum success & enjoyment:

First plan your route well in advance and work out how far you want to run.  Ideally this should be part of a longer term running plan but it may be that you just fancy running a 10k or 15k one Sunday.   When looking at the trails – make sure you think about the profile of the hills as part of your planning!

‘one way’ runs are much more fun (especially if you have the wind behind you all the way!) so get a friendly car driver to meet you at the other end with the promise of cake

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Next … sort out your kit for the run.   A light backpack an essential then fill it, these are my top tips …


WATER if it’s a warm one and if you’re going to be running over 10k.  A good way to practise for race day.  Soft bottles; hard bottles or bladder: personal preference.

Some sort of sugar treat for the run – will keep you going if the going gets tough.  You can add caffeine to the mix but take care with that one!  REAL food is even better and worth experimenting with.

Cash in case it all goes terribly wrong and you need to phone for a taxi home – AND for coffee and cake when you get to the end.

Glasses to protect your eyes a good option for the trails.  Branches and brambles can be a real hazard.  Changeable lenses a treat:   red or yellow ones my favourite.

Your watch or phone app – a MUST for the geeks amongst us so you can track your run and revisit it later.  ALSO for safety you can set your phone to ‘find my friend’ so you’re never really alone.

A buff or similar – to use as hat, neck, scarf, sweat band etc etc.   LOOK at the new NEF ones – perfect to get you noticed.

Blister plasters in case of emergencies – ALWAYS cover up at the first sign of trouble – they may not save your toenails but they can reduce the damage.

NEXT choose your shoes … think terrain and conditions and you’ll soon realise that you need to have at least three pairs to choose from on any one day.


Next.. the obligatory short warm-up.  You’ll be running for over an hour and a half and five minutes spent mobilising the joints at the beginning will pay dividends 10k in.  And YES it’s sad but true that the older you are the more you need to remember this part of your run.  You want to stay injury free?  It’s worth every minute!


2k down the road time to iron out any sore bits … in this case Alice’s calves were suffering after her 20 mile walk the day before.  Bridges always a good stopping place!


Half way round and time for a drink stop … and if you spot a swing in a field miles from anywhere … there’s only one thing to do …


Highest part of the run and a panorama to show just HOW beautiful the Hampshire countryside is.  One of the many reasons to take to the trails and avoid the roads.photo4-2

Nearly there and time for a final stretch before the 2k climb up the hill from the Bush … perfectly situated bridge and local dog walkers to distract.


And THE END …the look of relief when you’ve rounded that last corner.


…then there’s the well earned cake.


…sporting the bandana look and amazing how quickly the spirits rise again.   ESSENTIAL to get fuelled up again after a good long run, it aids the recovery massively!  5C9694C8-7525-4F6E-8F1A-C9DC0E36B26F

And then there’s the data to look at and the realisation that we’ve just run the majority of the run going uphill.  This is where you can bore your friends and family senseless with tales of steep hills and mud


…and justify the coffee and cake …if we ever needed justification.


Here’s to the next one, all you trail runners out there.
Thanks to Matt and Alice for a great run.   Marathon anybody?? 🙂



Rules of Off Road Running

There are some blog posts out there which just resonate … and this is one of them!

rara's rules for living


Running on the roads is fab. You’ve got a proper surface underfoot, street lights and can stop at aSubway if you misjudge your fuelling. But, recently, I’ve found myself running off road more frequently and have even got a few races under my waist pack. Here are some of the things that I’ve learnt…

  • Accurate course measurements are for wimps.Do a road race and there’s a good chance that someone has been around the route with a trundle wheel or calibrated bike. There is an accepted level of tolerance apparently but, any significant deviation and the Garmin-wearing mafia will be in up arms. Organisers of off-road races use the terms “marathon” and “half-marathon” lightly. When entering a race off road, the distance advertised will bear absolutely no resemblance to what you will actually run.

  • Effort x 2. Every mile you run will require twice as much effort as those…

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Take 10

As it’s time for the annual Winchester 10k road race, it’s  the opportunity to look at how YOU can improve your personal best by looking back at 10k races you’ve done in the past and forward to see how you can get fitter and faster!

Firstly train as a team if you can … it makes it so much easier when you get to the start line


Secondly – Set yourself a REALISTIC target based on your current running.  There’s no point in setting yourself a 50 minute 10k target if your taking half an hour to run 5k.

Thirdly, find somebody to pace you around your first 10k – that way you’ll be less likely to fall into trap of running too fast at the start and you’ll run a more even race. TRUST your pacer!


Next, as soon as you book your race then start to put some work into your training to get your mind and body better equipped for the race.

So what are the best strategies you can use to smash that 10k target?   

Specific speed work

The only way of REALLY getting to grips with this it to take on some interval training into your running routine  These can be done on road, trail or even the treadmill and the aim is to start small and gradually build up the volume and intensity as your run fitness increases.

Some examples:

1.5 km reps: Start with 3 x 1.5km at 70% of your fastest with 2 minutes jog recovery and aim to build to 6 reps.

3 minute reps: Start with 6 x 3 minutes with 90 seconds jog recovery and aim to build to 8-10 reps.]

1 minute reps: Start with 12 x 1 minute with 1 minute jog recovery and aim to build to 15-20 reps.

400m with 200m recovery:  start with 4-5 reps and aim to build towards 8-10.  This is a good workout to do on the treadmill as you can measure the distances easily and increase the difficulty by adding gradient.  In this workout the recovery is WALK.

600m with 400m recovery: Start with 3-4 reps and aim to build towards 6-8. The idea of this workout is to run a faster segment followed by an active recovery, where you still maintain a good pace. This teaches your body to ‘recover’ and buffer any lactate in your blood at faster speeds because you don’t get any recovery during a race!

Focus on your endurance

Remember that with better endurance you’ll be able to hold your speed for longer and will finish faster and stronger. It’s no coincidence that many runners improve their 10k personal best while training for much longer races. Consistent training, both on the roads and in the gym, combined with  regular weekly long runs are the most effective ways to improve your endurance.

Get to know your PACE and work with it

Good pace judgement is essential if you want to run a fast 10k. It’s too long to run hard all the way and you can guarantee that if you go off to fast your finish will be slow and painful.  The smartest runners are those who spread their effort over the duration of the race by running even or negative splits.

Work out your splits then get used to running them in training runs so you can FEEL the speed.

Prime your energy stores

When it comes to 10k, carbohydrate is your body’s fuel of choice as it’s quick to break down and produces energy rapidly.   Aim to eat an easily digestible carb-based breakfast such as toast and honey or muesli and a banana and try taking a gel or or a small amount of sports drink such as 15-20 minutes before the start.

Pick your races carefully

If you’re serious about running a fast 10k then you need to think carefully about which race will maximise your chances of scorching to a personal best, so you might want to consider the profile of the course and avoid those with too many undulations!

Taper towards the end

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of running a fast 10k then you will need to taper your training in the week before the race so that your legs are fresh and ready to roll. In the final week you should cut down the length of your runs and your last training session should be 4-5 days before the race.   It’s time to rest up and get yourself ready to run on the day: the last week is too late make any real difference as the work’s already been done!

And finally … enjoy the medals – you’ve earned them.  If it hasn’t been a great race for you, remember there’s always another one and you can learn something from EVERY race that you run.

Happy running!

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Five Go Mad in Devon

This week’s post is a tribute to the FANTASTIC South Devon Coastal run which New Energy Runners took on as their latest challenge.

So what’s it all about?
It’s been described as a ‘cult classic’ and after our experience – quite rightly so!
The course is contained within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is simultaneously picturesque and punishing. With its blend of jagged rocks interspersed with idyllic sandy coves, this coastline is jaw droppingly beautiful and hugely inspiring.

A category 4 trail run which was run in (mostly!) stunning weather conditions although the ground was sodden due to the previous week’s rain and the second half of the marathon course was made up of ankle deep mud for the most part.

SO what were the best bits … according to US and in no particular order …

First and foremost the running was SUPERB and if you want a big big challenge then this series of races is for you, whether you take on the 10k, half marathon or full marathon.  

Running buddies, great for borrowing missed kit from.

Learning what to do from someone on the group more experienced so not going in blind.

Company on journey at start line to calm the nerves and for race banter on the way home.
The support crew which was AWESOME – turning up at key points in the race to offer everything from dry socks to jelly babies.   MOST welcome at 24 miles when things getting tough and then at the finish line with a bucket of tea,
Trainer talk!! Essential part of running, plenty of ooos and ahhs when new pairs arrive in the group. Then googling your own new pair in the early hours after you finish your last race!  
How to get your trainers dry … the discussion never ended.  Special delivery of ‘Doggy Febreze’ on Monday a timely gift.
Social went up a notch, hiring a big party house (to be in bed by 10😂)planning pre and post nosh and sightseeing whilst in the area.
Then there was the reliving of the race afterwards … planning for the next one and celebrating results.   Yep the Vets over 50s prize was a fab surprise for me & well worth a couple of slightly bruised toes.

If you want to see more of the course – have a look at the video below and if YOU have the urge to run in one of the most beautiful spots in England, why not book for next year.  There’s a very good chance that we’ll be making a return visit.


Thanks to Beccy,  Rachel and Kelly for the running , Julian, Sarah and Zander for support crew and the CTS team for a superb race.     WE’ll be back!

Happy Running


All about the IT Band

Tonight’s info about IT Band syndrome comes (as an edited version with bits added) from Runners World and arises from my research following a number of New Energy Runners complaining of strains and aches down around the knee.   It’s worth knowing what you’re up against and then what you can do to avoid it!

To start with, the sort of exercises you need to build into your weekly gym programme to keep the dreaded ITB syndrome at bay.   If you want any help with these ASK in the gym and somebody will talk you through them.

A PT session could be a good investment in time!ITB-Rehab-Routine.png

So what’s it all about …?


Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. It occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed. The IT band attaches to the knee and helps stabilize and move the joint. When the IT band isn’t working properly, movement of the knee (and, therefore, running) becomes painful. IT band pain can be severe enough to completely sideline a runner for weeks, or even longer.

Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome

Because the most notable symptom is typically swelling and pain on the outside of the knee, many runners mistakenly think they have a knee injury. The best way to tell if you have ITBS is to bend your knee at a 45-degree angle. If you have an IT band problem, you’ll feel pain on the outside of the knee.   (A sports massage or physio can confirm this one way or another – ASK!)

Common causes of IT Band Syndrome

ITB syndrome can result from any activity that causes the leg to turn inward repeatedly. This can include wearing worn-out shoes, running downhill or on banked surfaces, running too many track workouts in the same direction, or simply running too many miles. Unlike many overuse injuries, however, IT band pain afflicts seasoned runners almost as much as beginners. When the iliotibial band comes near the knee, it becomes narrow, and rubbing can occur between the band and the bone. This causes inflammation. Iliotibial Band Syndrome is more common in women, possibly because some women’s hips tilt in a way that causes their knees to turn in.

Prevention of IT Band Syndrome

Here are some steps you can take to prevent iliotibial band syndrome:

  • Most importantly, always decrease your mileage or take a few days off if you feel pain on the outside of your knee.
  • Walk 500m to 1k to warm up your legs before you start your runs (or 10 minutes on an AMT machine is a good alternative).
  • Make sure your shoes aren’t worn along the outside of the sole. If they are, replace them.  Remember your shoes have a limited mileage – like car tyres
  • Run in the middle of the road where it’s flat if possible. (To do this safely, you’ll need to find roads with little or no traffic and excellent visibility.)
  • Don’t run on concrete surfaces if you can avoid it.  Go on, go and hunt out the trails!

Treatment of IT Band Syndrome

Once you notice ITB pain, the best way to get rid of it for good is to rest immediately. That means fewer miles, or no running at all. In the majority of runners, resting immediately will prevent pain from returning. If you don’t give yourself a break from running, ITBS can become chronic.

While you’re backing off on your mileage, you can cross-train. Swimming, pool running, cycling, and rowing are all fine. Side stretches will also help, as will ice or heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation with topical cortisone.

If your ITB problem doesn’t get better after several weeks, seek help from a sports-medicine professional.

LISTEN to your body and do something about it!

2017 and time to set your goals

Welcome to 2017 and the beginning of the new year is an ideal time to look ahead and plan your running for the next 12 months. It’s up to each person to make their own goals, but here are some top tips to help you to get the most out of yourself and your running this year.

1. Enter a Race

This is an obvious one but there’s nothing like a date in your diary and a bit of money  invested on entry fee and travel to keep you committed to your training. It could be your first race or an attempt to get faster over a distance you’ve raced many times before.  If possible run with somebody else, it’ll make all the difference to keeping you motivated


2. Set a Target

Maybe you ran a 10k in just over the hour, now you can start planning for the sub 55 mins or faster.   Giving yourself a target to aim for can give a little extra motivation in training, and produce an even bigger smile at the finish line knowing all of your hard training paid off!  Remember to make your targets realistic as it will be a lot easier to stay motivated.   Find a plan and stick to it … and ask if you’d like some help in putting one together.   We have a number of generic plans for runners of all abilities e.g.  screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-21-20-49



3. Try Something New

It’s good to have something challenging but also fun. If a road 10k or Marathon doesn’t appeal to you, look for something different: a triathlon, a hill race or an obstacle race. These are all gaining in popularity and cater for all levels of abilities. If you don’t enjoy running races, then try some new running routes and terrains for variety.  The trails are out there and there are LOADS of ideas for local routes available online … or just design your own route and RUN.

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4. Think Laterally

Your goal could simply be to add new elements into your training. All runners can benefit from core stability or other strengthening work or maybe it’s time to REALLY start yoga!DSC04478.jpg

5. Work On Your Weaknesses

Do you always struggle on hills, get overtaken in a sprint finish, or struggle to maintain your pace over the second half of a race? Identify your weak point and work on it in training.  Remember hills are your friend … love those undulations!IMG_7084.jpg

6. Be Realistic

When setting running goals, consider what else is going on in your life in terms of work, family and other commitments. Assess how much time you have available for training and set your goals accordingly. Equally, be prepared to re-adjust your goals if things aren’t going to plan.


9. Dare to Dream

This might slightly contradict the previous point, but sometimes you just have to think BIG. We all need challenges and there’s nothing wrong with setting yourself an ambitious target. It will give you an extra incentive to push harder in training and get the most out of yourself.

Happy running everybody!



Take 15

The final run of 2016 took us up the hill to the Royal Winchester Golf Club and all the way back down again through the streets of Winchester.  What a FANTASTIC year it’s been for the New Energy Runners with goals and challenges taken and smashed from those who have run their first 5k to others running their first marathons.  Great effort everybody and here’s to 2017 and new challenges!

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And finally something to end the year that you will all know well by now.  The Take 15 warmup and cool down in DETAIL.  You’ll know the lunge matrix but the 10 minute cool down will give you the next stage.  READ on!


Happy running everybody!