(This article contributed by Simon Graham)
The North East Marathon Club (NEMC) runs a series of events during the winter months called the Winter Wonder Runs. On the 31st December I took part in the second event in this series. These are not races as such and have the feeling much more of a group social run, doing as much or as little as you want.
There were around thirty people taking part in the event, which took place (as do all of the Winter Wonder runs) at Newcastle’s Exhibition Park and Town Moor. The event is lap-based taking place over 6 hours. You can do as many or as few laps as you wish. Each lap is 3.77 miles (according to Garmin) and 7 laps is the full marathon distance. Anything more than that and you’re running an Ultra. For this event I went with the intention of doing at least 4 laps which was 15 miles.
The weather on the day was milder than it had been the last few days, so what I thought may have been a slippery and icy course turned out to be great underfoot. That said however it was windy – very windy! The course is pretty flat, but as it is open moorland it is exposed to the elements; and the wind (which seemed to be coming from every direction), slowed down any chance of getting a good time.
As I said earlier the Winter Wonder series of events aren’t races as such and I see them as being a great opportunity to get in some marathon training. This, I decided, was to be the start of my marathon training, and was the longest that I have run since mid November.
Three laps into the course I was feeling good. Sitting at a comfortable pace (around 10 minute miles) my mind started to wander, as it does when running distance, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be good to perhaps do an unplanned marathon?” I started my 4th lap with these thoughts in mind and that’s when the pain started: not in my knees (where I usually suffer), but in my hip flexors.
Two thirds of the way around my 4th lap I decided that with my hips hurting I’d be silly to keep going so decided that the 4th lap would be my last, as I had originally planned it to be anyway. I stopped after 15.1 miles and 4 laps completed in a pretty respectable time (for me) of 2:26.
I learnt from this event that I really need to start upping my ‘time on feet’ training for a spring marathon to get my body used to the distances again.
Ultimately only completing 4 laps of the event has worked out quite well for me as the third Winter Wonder event is on the 15th January when I intend to return and complete 5 laps; then again a few weeks later for 6 laps, getting my distances up and ready for my marathon in March.
(Many thanks to Simon for this article. Best of luck for the March marathon, Simon!)