Our Marketing and Events Assistant, David Blackmore, tackled this year’s Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR). We asked him to keep a blog of his training ahead of taking part in this annual event, which returned to the streets of King’s Lynn on Sunday 1 May. His training started way back on Monday 7 March and he came along way – as you’ll read below.
David ran GEAR for the Bobby Moore Fund to mark 50 years since Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup for England. You can still make a financial pledge by texting BBFB66 £5 (or any amount you wish) to 70070.
Monday 2 May
The mad sprint to the finish line yesterday was worth it! I’ve just checked my official time and I was absolutely delighted to see that I had managed to get round the 10km course in 45 minutes. When the page loaded up I celebrated as if West Ham had scored! That’s how much it meant to me. It was my goal from the very start, I trained hard to achieve it, and I’m so proud that I managed to cross the line in that time! And, the icing on the cake, was that I finished in the top 20% of runners.
Sunday 1 May
Job done! Thank you to everyone who cheered me round GEAR this morning and to everyone who supported me and helped me raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund. It was A LOT warmer than I’ve run in over the past eight weeks, took me a while to fight my way out of the crowd, and I had no mobile pace setter. Now just to wait to see what time I managed…
Saturday 30 April
As I write this there are just over 12 hours to go before GEAR gets underway. I did a bit of research into what I should be eating today and the verdict was to ‘overload on carbs’. The theory goes the more energy or fuel your body has for an endurance race, the better you’ll be able to perform. Eat more bread and pasta? Go on then! As well as the carbs, I also refrained from drinking any alcohol and drank plenty of water. I’ve received plenty of messages of support today from friends and family, which has been really nice. But if I thought I was nervous on Thursday – I’m mega nervous today. Why? I think I’ve put too much pressure on myself to beat my personal best from four years and record a time of 45 minutes or below.
Thursday 28 April
I’ll admit it, I’m nervous. Just three days to go until GEAR. I’m excited for Sunday because I know it’s going to be a great event to be part of. But I’m nervous because I’ve put a lot of pressure on me to beat 45 minutes. Do I think I’ve trained enough for GEAR? Yes and no. I’ve certainly done more training this time round so I feel confident that I’ll be able to comfortably get round. But I don’t think I’ve done enough of my training programme to make me feel confident of beating 45 minutes. All my recent runs suggest it’ll be close, and I’m sure on the day with the crowd, the atmosphere, and knowing it’s now or never, this’ll help me tremendously. Not having run the course is a concern but it’s not as if I don’t know it. My biggest concern at the start of the week was how cold it might be on Sunday and whether or not it’s going to rain. The current forecast says there’ll be sun and cloud at 10am and around 9C – this is a much better forecast than I saw on Monday! I’ll be keeping an eye on this over the next 48 hours.
Wednesday 27 April
This has been the most frustrating week so far with my training. Lovely weather during the day, but as soon as I tied up my laces, there was a rumble of thunder and the rain stayed for a few hours. By the time it cleared, it was too late to go out. I did have waterproofs and running in the rain wasn’t the issue – the lightning looked pretty tasty mind! Another frustrating day but hopefully I can get out on either Thursday or Friday for my final run before the big day.
Tuesday 26 April
After yesterday’s mini-disaster, I was more prepared for today. I ran into the Vancouver Quarter and ran home today with a jumper and gloves. I did both in pretty good times as well. I didn’t cover a huge amount of distance for either – I took the most direct route. I was surprised how cold it was. I thought after a few minutes, I’d be too hot with gloves and a jumper on but it was only really as I got to my destination both times that I had to roll up my sleeves a little. I hope it isn’t going to be this cold on Sunday!
Monday 25 April
Never has the saying “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” been more apt than today. It had all started so well. This morning I’d remembered to pack a bag of my running gear to bring into work and had mapped out the route I was going to run, which would incorporate the vast majority of the GEAR run. I managed to get a good, healthy lunch and around 4pm, I had a Snickers to help me keep away hunger and give me a bit of an energy boost before my run – then it started snowing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to run in all weather, but it was freezing cold, wet and I didn’t have any warm or waterproof clothing. It would have been stupid to have gone out, and it probably would have made my cold a lot worse. As bad as I felt, I suspect this will be one of the better decisions I’ve made during this training programme.
Sunday 24 April
Didn’t manage to get out a great deal last week after my promising run on Tuesday evening, but I did manage to get out on Saturday for another five-mile run. I opted to change my route as I felt I might be getting used to running the usual route I take and feared this might not be very helpful when it comes to running GEAR next Sunday. It was a bit more a struggle than my run on Tuesday as the wind was pushing me back for most my way round. I also found it difficult to breathe through my nose because I’ve either got a new cold or I’ve still not properly shaken off the last cold I had. Disappointingly, I had to stop twice to catch my breath. Not for long, but long enough to add a couple of minutes onto my time. Aside from those stops, the rest of the run went perfectly from an average pace perspective – goodness knows how quick it would have been without the wind!
As for today, I once again took to the squash court to help mix my training up, and keep me ticking over. My programme for the final week of training is all about keeping things ticking over until race day, and I’ve got every intention of ensuring this final week goes to plan. I’m a bit annoyed that I’ve not been able to run the course at least once so I plan to tackle that in the early part of the week and then head out for shorter runs as well as making sure I eat and drink perfectly for the remainder of the week.
Friday 22 April
I’ve been very pleased by the coverage my GEAR run in aid of the Bobby Moore Fund has been given by local media (Your Local Paper, the Lynn News, and King’s Lynn Online). It’s also been picked up by two of the media from my hometown, Epsom Guardian and Sutton Voice, and, delightfully, by those websites dedicated to covering the highs and lows of West Ham United (West Ham World, Up The Hammers, Blowing Bubbles Monthly, and Claret and Hugh)
Wednesday 20 April
My run last night was very strange. I opted for a long run and, like previous longer runs, I was keen to ensure I covered a decent distance rather than worry about pace. But after notching up my first mile, my mobile app informed me of my time for the first mile. It was much quicker than I thought it would be. In fact it wasn’t too far off the 10km pace I’m hoping for, and I felt very comfortable. It was a great incentive to keep going – even up the steep high between miles two and three. I was absolutely delighted with my time over the five miles I covered. I just hope it wasn’t a one-off!
Tuesday 19 April
Another long, tiring game of squash last night was just what I needed to kick off this important training week. I’m looking to get a few long, slow runs and a couple of quick, short runs in this week as well as long cycle. For me, mixing up my training with squash and cycling has really helped keep me interested, focused and stave off the boredom of relentlessly pounding the streets by myself. It’s a funny thing to say I know but I think there will be a few new(ish) runners who would share this view! Luckily there haven’t been too many runs that I’ve been out on my own but I have found that running with others has helped me – as I’m sure it will on the day itself.
Monday 18 April
Managed to find the result of the last time I took part in GEAR, and I was delighted to see that I’d finished 286th out of the 1,330 runners taking part, which meant I was in the top quarter. A sub-45 minutes time back in 2012 would have secured me a place in the top 230. But looking at last year’s results, a sub-45 minute time would have only secured me a place in the top 280, and my previous time of 46:12 would have only been good enough for a placing of 329th. Admittedly there were 553 more runners last year than in 2012 but it was a miserable day last year so that would’ve had an impact on times. I’m not massively worried about were I place so long as I beat my previous time, but what I think it has shown me is that I’m not a bad distance runner!
Sunday 17 April
It’s now just two weeks to go until GEAR. The countdown to the big day feels very much on, and I’ve got mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m excited. It’s an incredible event, King’s Lynn really comes to life, and Thursday’s run proved I can do it. On the other, I’m concerned that I’m not going to be able to get round in under 45 minutes. Perhaps I’ve putting too much pressure on myself? All I do know is that the week I had off earlier this month, and having Man Flu won’t have helped. These two weeks are key. It feels very much make or break this week.
Friday 15 April
Yesterday was the longest run I’ve done probably since last running GEAR in 2012. I felt great today – I was very much still on a high from completing the distance. Yes, I’ve still got some work to do to get my average pace down but I’ve proven to myself that I CAN run 10km, which seems to have been a bit of a hurdle for me. Having had such a break leading up to last night’s run, I was keen to get back out tonight. I didn’t have long between finishing work and travelling to an evening engagement so I decided to run 5km (three miles) at the pace I hope to run on the day. I didn’t do too badly – despite being interrupted by a phone call halfway round – and finished under 24 minutes. I’d like to have been closer to the 22 minute mark, but I listened to my body a bit more. I slowed when my body needed to, and sped up when I felt I could. It was another continuous run so I was pleased.
Thursday 14 April
I disregarded my training programme for today as I was keen to get back out after a week off but equally I was keen to run continuously for as long as I could. My focus for the majority of my training has been on speed and, as my attempt to do a 5km recently showed, I’d been finding it hard to piece together one mile with another without having a short break. My aim as I headed out tonight was slow and steady. I’d planned a rough route but my aim was to keep running – no matter how slowly – until I’d clocked 10km. I wanted to see that I could do it, and I did – in just over 50 minutes. Admittedly it wasn’t below 45 minutes but, in truth, it was at a very comfortable pace for me, and I really only pushed myself for the last couple of miles. I took a lot of lessons away from tonight’s run. Once I’d got a couple of miles on the clock, I felt I was in a position to speed up. In fact, from mile 3 to mile 5, I managed to knock off a whole minute in my average pace per mile. Tonight’s given me the confidence that I’ve got the distance in me – I just need to work on the pace.
Wednesday 13 April
It’s been a very busy week and my training has suffered tremendously. I’ve not gone out anywhere near enough. It’s been a combination of it being a busy few days at work as well things already booked in for after work – thus leaving me with very little time to get out and train. I knew these seven days would prove tricky but to not have gone out at all has been disappointing the say the least. I did, however, play squash on Sunday evening so hopefully that will keep me ticking over. My aim is to go out for a good run tomorrow evening. I’m determined to blow off the cobwebs from the past week and kick on with my training, but I fear these last few days have probably knocked me behind schedule.
Wednesday 6 April
Tonight’s GEAR training session with the Ryston Runners at Lynnsport was absolutely shattering, but it’s given me back the confidence that I’d lost at the weekend, and confidence that not only will I be able to get round on the day but I’m also on track to beat my previous time. Like the last time I went along, I was keen to push myself as hard as I could so I put myself with the group at the front and pretty much stuck with them. I also managed to keep up with the pace I’m hoping to run GEAR in throughout the evening, and I know I’ll feel it tomorrow. But as the saying goes, no pain, no gain! The beauty of training with regular runners, I’ve discovered, is that they also love to give advice. I picked up a few tips that hopefully will put me in good nick for GEAR – that’s if I remember them!
Tuesday 5 April
A tiring squash game and a long bike ride in three days has helped keep me ticking over since my disaster of a run on Saturday. With the Ryston Runners extending their popular training sessions to later this month, I was keen to avoid doing too much on Sunday, Monday or today. Admittedly I should have perhaps gone for a run on Sunday or Monday (or according to my guide both days!) but it’s nice to mix things up a bit and I think the tiring squash game and big bike ride I had will have benefited my training. According to my research, you need to cycle four miles for it to have the same impact on your body as running a mile so tonight’s 24 miles is the cycling equivalent of running GEAR. I’ll take that. In fact, I might look to do a few more bike rides to mix things up.
Saturday 2 April
The countdown to GEAR felt very much on today. Even during the week, when it was still March, GEAR felt an age away, but as I headed out this morning, I felt a bit more pressure to see results from my run. From the high of Wednesday with the distance covered and the time clocked, today was a low moment. I was supposed to be running a 5KM race to help give me a good indication of how my training is going, and my aim was 22 minutes. I did manage to beat this time but I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. Each time I stopped, I stopped the clock so in reality, although I ran the distance in the time I wanted, the breaks probably pushed me over the threshold. I’m finding it difficult when running by myself to cover more than a mile without having a short stop but when I’m running with others, I find it easy to keep going. Is it boredom? Or do other people give me that push to keep going? Another element that didn’t really help me today was the heat. It was the first time I’d run in the day where it was noticeably warm. This definitely had an impact, and it’s something I’ll need to get used to it if it is a scorcher on May 1.
Wednesday 30 March
As predicted, I wasn’t able to get out on Monday. What I didn’t foresee, however, was not being able to get out on Tuesday evening. Again, there was just too much to do, and too little time to do it in to be able to escape. I must say that I’ve really found running to be the perfect escape from a normal day and this evening was probably my favourite run to date. With the clocks going back on the Sunday just gone, I was able to get out of the house shortly after finishing work and run in beautiful sunshine. It was warm, I felt more energised, and everything just feels better when the weather is like this. My training programme suggested a 45 minute run with 10 minutes of this being at race pace. I mapped a new route to help me take in more of the picturesque scenery around me – scenery I wouldn’t be able to enjoy in previous runs when it was too dark. Not to mention I’d have been too scared to run through these places alone! Yet again I struggled with the concept of just being on my feet for 45 minutes and after 25 minutes I’d completed the route I’d mapped. But I felt good so I just kept running. I didn’t quite manage the 10 minutes at race pace but it wasn’t too far off. Tonight was also the farthest distance I’ve covered to date (4,5 miles), the longest duration of any session (40 minutes), the most calories burned during a session (605) and the highest elevation ascended (197ft). Right now, I’m tired but buzzing from what feels like a huge turning point in my training.
Sunday 27 March
Easter Sunday. A day to spend with the family. Although I held back from tucking into too many chocolate eggs (mainly because I was too stuffed from our roast lamb lunch), I didn’t want to disrupt this important day by lacing up and pounding the streets. I’m also heading to London tomorrow to watch my beloved West Ham taking on an all-star West Ham XI in a testimonial game to celebrate the career of stalwart Mark Noble so that’ll be a full day that won’t give me much chance to get out for a run. At this point I am wondering if I am ahead or behind my training programme. I feel good, I’ve been pleased with the times I’ve clocked so far, and this is the most training I’ve done for any run but has it been good enough? Only time will tell I guess.
Saturday 26 March
I’ve found following my programme interesting and confusing at the same time. What I’ve struggled most with is when it states “run for 60 minutes”. Does this mean I need to be running constantly for 60 minutes? Or does this mean running naturally and taking breaks when needed but just make sure you’re out for that length of time? It must be the latter. Surely! Turning to today’s session and I was advised to not only run for “30 minutes” but do so at an “easy” pace. I really found it tough to jog slower than my natural pace so in the end, I managed to stay out for 30 minutes but I pushed myself in the last 15 minutes and felt much better for it.
Thursday 24 March
After missing out on building on Tuesday’s run on the Wednesday because of work commitments, I was eager to get out tonight. I left it quite late (8.30pm) but still managed to get around in good time. I’m really enjoying the training at the moment. Yes, it’ll get tougher and I’ll be pushing myself harder to make sure I finish below 45 minutes, but I feel like I’ve set some good foundations in which to build upon. What was the one thing I took away from tonight’s run? Don’t try and run after eating dinner. Even if you leave it a couple of hours, you’ll still feel it!
Tuesday 22 March
The cold continues to linger but for the first time since Friday, I felt I had the energy to pound the streets again so I laced up my running shoes this evening and headed out for a run. It was my intention to just get out there and have a steady run to ease me back into it, but it ended up being another four mile run against the clock. It wasn’t the best time, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. I matched my time from Thursday last week, and didn’t feel too bad at all despite the cold. I’ve decided to challenge myself to a 5km against the clock on Thursday evening with the aim of running at sub 45-minute pace. Can I do it? Of course I can. #Believe
Monday 21 March
Another enforced rest day. Yes I’ve only got a head cold but it’s completely drained my energy. Just getting through the day was my main focus. I was seriously contemplating lacing up my running shoes and hitting the streets tonight through fear of falling behind my schedule but I decided to take another rest day after taking advice from Eddie Izzard. Not directly of course (!) but via an interview where he was quoted as saying: “My only advice if you want to run any distance is: listen to your body. We’re animals, but we’ve stopped listening to ourselves… listen to the signals.” At reading this, I asked myself: What is my body saying to me today? And the answer? To rest. There’s still a long way to go before I cross the start line and I should perhaps be grateful that I’m only running 10km – not 27 marathons in 27 days!
Sunday 20 March
Disaster! Man Flu hit me this weekend. My rest day on Friday heralded its arrival and I just didn’t have the energy to pound the streets on Saturday. I sought advice from a few runners I know and they all said to listen to my body, and that I might find taking a couple of days off would be more beneficial so I didn’t feel too bad taking it easy on Saturday. My training programme called for me to do a bit of circuit training today but instead I opted to play squash. Both require the same effort – short sharp bursts of pace followed by a short recovery before going again. It was just nice to be inside in the warm playing against a friend rather than being outside, cold and on my own. I feel worse having played squash this evening and I’m seriously debating whether to put my running shoes on tomorrow or take another rest day.
Thursday 17 March
After the successful session last night, I mapped out a four mile route for me to tackle tonight. My aim was to try and get round it with an average pace of eight minutes per mile and with a one minute break after each mile. It was tough going – mainly because I’d chosen a route that saw me run uphill for two miles – but I managed to hit my target. GEAR is a very flat course so uphill training isn’t really required but I’m sure it didn’t do any harm. I was really expecting my feet, ankles, knees or hips to hurt during or after the run but my new running shoes have really helped to limit the damage running on concrete has on bones and joints. I’m in a good place right now!
Wednesday 16 March
Tonight I joined some 70 other runners in taking part in a GEAR training evening at Lynnsport which was run by the Ryston Runners (I’m hiding behind the chap in the middle wearing grey jumper!). This was the third of four sessions aimed at beginners and improvers entering the GEAR. I took part in a similar session four years ago and I remembered there was practical help to get us through GEAR and advice on all aspects including training, what to wear and what to expect on race day. I also remembered how tough it was but I decided to really push myself tonight and see what I could achieve. I was delighted to run two miles that came in at sub-45 minute pace – the first time I had achieved this. Now the challenge is to build up to the stage where I can run at this pace for six miles!
Monday 14 March
Back to GEAR training tonight. I was joined by a good friend of mine, Rich Atkins, who works at Listers in King’s Lynn. He’s offered to keep me company on my runs over the next few weeks, and judging by this evening’s performance, I benefit from having someone to run with. We managed 6km in just over 30 minutes. Again, the pace wasn’t especially fast but I was pleased with the distance covered. To go from not having run for as long as I can remember last Monday, to running 6km in half an hour a week later, was a great feeling.
Sunday 13 March
I received some excellent news today. I approached GEAR Race Director Roger Partridge last week and asked him if it would be possible to have race number 1966. I wanted this number because I’ve decided to run GEAR for the Bobby Moore Fund and with this summer making 50 years since Bobby lifted the World Cup as England captain, it seemed fitting to have this number. Roger has replied to say he thinks it’s a great idea and has reserved the number for me. Now I just need to go about setting up a fundraising page and start reaching out to friends and families to sponsor me and help raise money for a charity that does so much in memory of Bobby, who died aged just 51 from bowel cancer, by funding pioneering, life-saving bowel cancer research. My history with the charity dates back to 2009 when at a West Ham game, I heard Bobby’s widow Stephanie Moore talk about the work they are doing. After a bit of research after the game, I discovered they were planning on visiting South Africa ahead of the World Cup in 2010 with a group of volunteers to help renovate a dilapidated school, and after raising £4,000 I joined them for what proved to be a life-changing experience. Such was the success of this project, that many of the 40-plus group I traveled with signed up to take part in a similar project in Namibia in 2011. Both trips were both equally incredible, changed the lives of children for the better, and saw me play alongside former professionals on behalf of the Bobby Moore Fund against local sides that I’m sure Bobby would have been proud to watch.
Saturday 12 March
Today was my first rest day and I decided to do a bit more reading up on rest days and their importance. What was clear to me from what I read was that I’ve overlooked the benefits of giving my body the chance to recuperate in the past. “It’s so important to give your body love and attention and to take the day of rest to reflect on how far you’ve come and acknowledge and be grateful for your body”, said one article. Yes, I’ve only had a couple of runs but I’ve already clocked up two runs that were over 5km (half of GEAR) and I feel great. Today also gave me chance to look again at my programme and make sure it works for me by changing things ever so slightly to suit me, my life and the time I can afford to dedicate to training. Upon completion with reminders placed in my diary to ensure I don’t forget to train, I’m really hopeful of being in the best possible physical shape to smash 45 minutes come May 1.
Friday 11 March
According to my programme, today was supposed to be a “rest day” but given that I’m going to be busy this weekend, I decided to tackle Saturday’s run. This was described as essentially running around a park 20 times, 10 times at a pace quicker than you’d normally run and 10 times at a pace slower than you normally run or walk. With my local park being quite large, I did a bit more research and saw a similar session that was more friendly. It was 1 minute at a quick pace and 1 minute walking, and I decided to do this on way into the Vancouver Quarter and into work. The route I took into town saw me cover almost two miles and my route back to Gaywood was much more direct at 1,5 miles. The only hindrance was having the run with a backpack but, as GEAR gets closer, I’m sure I’ll take advantage of being able to run to and from work to help with my training.
Thursday 10 March
After a bit of research this morning I unearthed an eight-week programme that has been specifically designed for those hoping to run 10km below 45 minutes. Taking into account I’ve now only got seven weeks left before GEAR, I’ve decided to ignore most of the first week! Before I took to the streets for the first time, I went into King’s Lynn to purchase the only thing missing from my running “look” which was something to hold my iPhone in place to help me keep track with my training through app “Runkeeper“. A quick look around King’s Lynn saw me succeed in finding a holder and velcro strap that will do the trick nicely. This evening saw me head out for my first run. The emphasis of the first two week’s training, according to my programme, is just to get used to spending time on your feet and the start of a gradual build up of training. Tonight should have been a 30 minute run with the final 10 minutes at sub 45/10km pace. Including a warm up and cool down, I managed to be on my feet for 30 minutes with my main run seeing me cover 5km in 26 minutes. It wasn’t quite the pace I was looking for but it was good just to be on my feet and running. It’s been a while since I was last asked to try and cover such a distance at a constant pace and I think my biggest challenge over the next few weeks will be trying to maintain a steady pace and then work towards pushing myself to lower this in the weeks leading up to GEAR. The positive from this evening was that my running shoes were great. So comfortable. My feet, ankles, knees and hips felt absolutely fine afterwards – something I’ve never enjoyed before when running in the cheap trainers I’ve had in the past!
Wednesday 9 March
The weekend just gone offered me the chance to visit Sweatshop in Clapham, London to purchase a new pair of running shoes. For all the previous runs that I’ve taken part in, I’ve opted for cheap running shoes and I’ve always paid the price. This year, I’m taking GEAR seriously so I wanted to ensure I had the right equipment to give me a slight advantage over the 2012 me, who crossed the line in 46 minutes and 12 seconds in trainers that those in the know branded “awful, awful shoes for 10km”. After an hour of having my gait assessed and trying on a few different pairs of trainers, I opted for a pair of Asics running shoes that just felt so comfortable. Cushioned, and supportive, I can’t wait to start training in these. As well as these running shoes, I also opted to spend a bit extra to have a special insole made to match my feet and a few new running shirts, shorts and socks.
Monday 7 March
Four years ago on a whim I decided to take part in my first GEAR. I signed up with only a few weeks to go before the big day and I only managed to get a few runs in beforehand. My expectations were therefore somewhat low and I placed myself in the “Sub 60 minutes” group. I surprised myself by clocking a very impressive time of 46 minutes and 12 seconds. The atmosphere around the town was incredible and it really was the cheers from the crowds that lined the route that got me across the line that day. This year was really my first opportunity since 2012 to take part in this wonderful event and I’m really hoping to beat my previous time.