It’s Sunday night and I’m thinking back over my week of running. I usually run 3-4 times a week including a Monday & Tuesday but due to relatives visiting and a friend’s birthday my first run of the week didn’t happen until Thursday. I was more than ready for that run and ended up clocking 10km. You know some nights you just need a run or you might explode? It was one of those. Next up was Parkrun on Saturday morning. Last week I hit my PB bang on (24:56) so this week I thought I’d push myself and try to beat it. I made sure I wasn’t too far back to begin with & kept a good pace to finish at 24:37 – a new PB! I was running into the wind for the last km which was tough but I kept the 25 minute pacer in my sight and ended with the obligatory sprint finish!
This morning, I ran 1 mile (wait for it, there’s more) to Junior Parkrun where I gave out the finish tokens as well as cheering and giving high fives to enthusiastic little kids (and their parents). Once that was over, I set off again and ran an additional 10 miles out and back along the quay. It was cold yet beautifully sunny so once I got going I was pretty warm but able to keep a steady pace. On the return leg of the run I was once again battling with the wind, which meant I had to work hard for the last 4 miles. I rewarded myself with a coffee at the quay afterwards before heading home to eat everything in sight!
I’m pleased with myself for getting out and doing a long run despite not having any races to train for in the next couple of months. I don’t think I have ever kept up the long distance in the weeks after a race but I am determined to maintain it over winter so that I’m not struggling in the new year! I have signed up to Run Up To Christmas to keep me motivated in December so hopefully that will also help balance out all of the chocolate & prosecco I will be consuming!
Anyone else trying to keep motivated now that it’s turning colder & darker?
I moved to Exeter in 2016 and prior to moving I had already looked up running groups and found out that there was a half marathon in October, so of course I wanted to train for that. I had been part of a club at home and I knew it would be a good way to meet new people in a new city, give me something to do in the evenings and keep up my fitness. You might expect a blog post like this to be about someone who thought running clubs were scary & they needed a friend to drag them along only to find out it was amazing and it changed their life. I already knew it was going to be a good decision to along to a club night because runners are very supportive & friendly! I also like meeting new people but I don’t like running in the rain so if there are people out there that can convince me to do that then it can only be a good decision!
I don’t remember when this happened exactly but I started following @UKRunChat on twitter. One day I realised they were advertising a run around the Rhino statues in Exeter. I thought this would be amazing! There would be hundreds of people out for a run, what a great thing to be a part of! I told my friend Pip about this and we decided to go along. After waiting a while at the wrong Rhino statue (typical!) we found our fellow runners – all 6 of them! Turns out this was not the huge event I imagined! This was a run organised by UK Run Chat Exeter, a relatively newly formed running group. It’s now over a year old and there are 26 in the Whatsapp group.
We like to do sessions that you wouldn’t normally do by yourself like banana hill sprints or relay races on the quay. We meet for Parkrun on a Saturday morning followed by coffee & cake and a lot of us help out at Junior Parkrun on a Sunday. Just like UK Run Chat as a whole, it feels like a community rather than a club you go to once a week.
Outside of work, joining UKRC Exeter is probably the best thing I have done since moving here. I have met wonderful people who I think of as family more than friends, pushed myself to achieve new personal bests in races and have co-hosted the UK Run Chat hour on twitter – the account that brought me to the club in the first place. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a supportive, hilarious and welcoming running group.
Of course, I could write lists upon lists on the reasons to join a running club but you have probably heard it all before and trust me, it’s definitely all true! Instead, here’s what some others in UK Run Chat Exeter think about our club (it’s pretty much along the lines of “If Carlsberg did running clubs…”)
“UKRunChat brings a general love of running to one place. UKRCEXETER takes this love and brings a real mix of people together. Old/young, fast/slow but all with a common love for fun and running!” – Matt Upston (run club leader aka the boss!)
“I enjoy going to UKRC Exeter because I have made lots of new friends and my fitness has improved. It’s great to come home and chat to Rachel about our running plans and not just about our work days. It’s great that we can go to the club together and both of us have made a fantastic group of friends. The club is good motivation and an excuse to get away from my desk at a reasonable time!” – Sarah (my flatmate, agony aunt & fellow Netflix-binge-watcher)
“UK run chat is an amazing group of people, who have made running more fun and enjoyable for me and the reason I keep going is that it’s a great chance to talk to people and to keep improving my running….” – Rob (he sneaks in 5 mile runs before the club because he is extra keen)
“The activities at UKRunChat complement my normal running perfectly and the people are so great. Its so much fun and I look forward to it each week. I think I have found some running buddies too” – Darren (as well as being a great running buddy, he helped me move house earlier this year!)
“UKRCExeter is an an inspiring group with a passion for running. Though, as the leader enjoys telling newbies, “we don’t run in this group!” We do the training you probably wouldn’t do on your own, like hills or sprints. The motivation of the other members and the dedication of the run leader make me want to go and do those things. They’re awesome.” – Matt (my voice of reason when I contemplate doing something ridiculous and all round cycling/running buddy)
So there you have it. You might say we enjoy going to our running club and without a doubt you should join one too. If you live near Exeter then join us! Find us on twitter for more information @UKRCExeter
On Sunday 15th October 2017 I ran the Great West Run, a half marathon through the streets of Exeter. I had a great time and managed to achieve a new personal best of 1:52:59 so while I am still reeling over this achievement I thought I’d write a quick review!
Registration & pre-race organisation
I signed up to the Great West Run in August when it cost the full price of £36 (early bird prices are already available for 2018) and I received a lot of information in the run up to the event. Thankfully, I didn’t need a shuttle bus ticket but those were also available to take you from the city centre to Exeter Arena. I think all races are expensive but I think this might be one of the cheaper half marathon options (please tell me if you know of cheaper races in the South West!). I received my bib number about a week or two before the race so everything was under control and I was feeling prepared!
See for yourself! Symbolised according to elevation, this map shows the low-lying roads close to the River Exe in pale yellow and higher ground (university climb) in dark purple. Click on the mile markers to find out more.
The route was different this year than last and having chatted to friends that have also ran in both 2016 and 2017, I have heard mixed opinions. As you can see from the map above, the race starts and finishes in Exeter Arena, home of Exeter Harriers, where Jo Pavey started her running career. With speedy flat roads through the city centre, challenging uphills and a testing out and back section, I think the Great West Run really does have it all. There are plenty of supporters there to cheer you on but with the start/end being out of the city centre, you might need a bike if you want to cheer at multiple points. I enjoyed ending on a downhill and the out & back section wasn’t as bad as I anticipated as I could watch those right at the front speeding past me on the other side of the road. You also finish by doing a lap of the track so you can feel like the professional athlete that you truly are!
Now to the good stuff. On finishing the race you are awarded a medal, t-shirt and a goodie bag. The t-shirt this year was white with purple writing, definitely one of my new favourites and the medal is now proudly hanging up in my bedroom. I have to say the goodie bad was disappointing in comparison to other races I have done. It contained a Clif bar (I did not actually pick one of these up but I am sure it would be lovely), a bag of popcorn (which I also did not pickup because the flavours sounded terrible) and an ginger flavour energy drink (which tasted strange but also healthy).
Will I run the Great West Run again?
Yes I will, mainly because this race is on my doorstep but also because it gives you a challenge without being an absolute killer. I wouldn’t say a PB is always guaranteed because of the hills but it definitely provides an interesting route. Exeter is a city with a small town vibe so if you are looking for a friendly place for your next race then it’s for you.
If you ran the GWR last weekend let me know how you got on and what you thought of the race!