This week’s running – 27th of March to 2nd of April 2017


Newport Riverfront parkrun’s actually rather scenic!

Remember that stag-do? Well, it hit me harder than I thought to result in yet another incomplete week of training…

I did at least manage to get some parkrun tourism in!

Ill once again


2017 (and the end of 2016) really hasn’t been kind to me.

Monday and Tuesday were plagued by a sore throat and some respiratory system tightness. By Wednesday, symptoms had manifested into a cold, albeit a fairly mild one. Even so, I decided against jumping back into something that resembled a normal training week in terms of frequency, instead saving myself for the weekend’s stint of parkrun tourism.

Newport Riverfront parkrun

parkrun tourism’s a strange beast for me. I’m not particularly interested in straying away from Cannon Hill unless I need to. The event is so close to where I live that it makes little sense to purposely go out of my way, unless absolutely necessary, such as when there’s a cancellation; I know I eventually get around to new local-ish events when the situation calls for it.

The game changes when Lis and I are in Wales and visiting family. With a minimum of 8 events within 30 minutes’ drive, and 3 of those easily less than 15 minutes away, it makes complete sense to visit a variety of events whilst the opportunity is there. Cardiff’s Bute Park event has received a lot of my attention over the years (24 times out of 213 runs) due to its fast and flat nature, though I now tend to reserve visits there for whem I’m feeling in particularly good shape, which simply ain’t the case at the moment…

In January, Newport’s Riverfront event began after an initial false start due to icy conditions postponing its launch by a week. As its name suggests, it follows the River Usk from a fairly central location in Newport city centre for a flat and fast, out and back route. Locals tell me that the event was fast tracked into fruition, with help from Lliswerry Runners and Caerleon Running Club, to remedy the growing attendance at Tredegar Park in an attempt at dispersing the numbers. The frequent 500-strong crowd at Tredegar Park has lessened to the region of 300, whereas Riverfront enjoys some 200 in attendance. It’s regularly cited that new events do not take numbers away from pre-existing neighbouring events, and instead create and cultivate their own communities. Why this appears to have worked with Newport’s two events is simple: Tredegar Park is trail-like in its profile, and for years, had the privilege of being the only parkrun game in town. Tredegar Park loyalists will stay, mud bath or no mud bath, and those that prefer to not need to hose down their kit afterwards can utilise the Riverfront event.

I arranged to meet Nigel Foulkes-Nock, an old buddy of mine, who I’d not seen since October’s Cardiff Half Marathon. Having run the event once before, he was like a sage of tips and advice, going as far to have a predetermined finish time he felt I would be capable of.

With far fewer runners in attendance than what I’m normally used to, reaching the front of the start line pack was an incredibly civilised affair without pointed elbows; there was almost a reluctance from those behind to get too close to the front!

Learning my lesson from last week at Cannon Hill, steady pacing off the line was the order of the morning. I settled quickly into target pace of 3:56 per km/6:20 per mile with several guys around me for company, and just outside of the top 10. The terrain underfoot was always paved, though bricked stretches had the potential to be slick when wet. The rain hit early on into the run, though I was never cold despite wearing a vest. 1km came and went with 3:56 on the clock to be right on the money.

Unavoidably, due to following the river path, a number of hairpin turns were encountered to slow the pace down – something to factor in when making like-for-like comparisons with the fast Cardiff Bute Park course. The turnaround point at halfway was a particularly aggressive pace-killer for others and me; whilst I was able to pick the pace back up, those I’d run with up to that point simply couldn’t reclaim the momentum and drifted backwards.

After picking off two or so ahead of me (one who turned out to be the brother of Cannon Hill regular, Dave Sansom), I was left on my lonesome for the remaining 2km to the finish.

The theatre from where we all started eventually came back into view, though I was made aware that the finish line was still further beyond. The last few hundred metres seemed to go on forever; unexpectedly, my Garmin fired off a good 60m or so before reaching the line, putting me into a mild state of panic over my pacing for a sub-20 finish. A modest kick ensured I made it back with 19:51 to be the final person to go under 20 minutes.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Oh, and it would appear the event is biased towards vertically gifted runners being faster! The bucket for tokens 1-100 is found at the top, whereas the 300 and higher bucket sits at the bottom of the lamp-post…


In need of the Yellow Pages! Photo by David Philips

Pondering over the additional distance encountered, I’m curious over whether it was a one-off fluke, or whether it’s a regular occurrence. With only Strava’s 1 decimal point measurement, reviewing other people’s historic runs makes it impossible to tell. Nigel also tracked 5.06 km/3.14 miles, using a totally different Garmin to me and probably following a slightly different line. The track underneath the bridges is pretty clean to also rule GPS interference out. A shame because it would be nice to have semi-regular access to another flat and fast course when I’m in Wales to complement Cardiff’s Bute Park event.

10 miles – to Usk and back

My legs felt it from the previous day’s 5k exertions, so a low intensity and slow pace were the order of Sunday morning. The sun came out to play, though there were very few runners out and about due to a 10k race in Cardiff, along with spring marathon season starting up. Unusually, there were dozens of cyclists out on the country lanes, riding in pack formation ahead of some sportive event the following weekend.

I aimed to keep my heart rate at around 70% of max, or lower, apart from when climbing. The effort to output ratio felt about right; I never felt like I was purposely holding back too much, or pushing too hard to stay at such a percentage.

Sadly, my ambitions to reclaim full ownership of the Saint Andrews Walk Climb segment on Strava eluded me once more, deciding to save myself for another day when in better shape.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.