Time To Step Back And Reflect



run future copy



I have been taking running as a serious activity just over a year now. Running at least 3 times a week (when not injured!) and am now a member of Saffron Striders running club. While i’m resting up with my current injury problem i thought it would be an idea to look back at where i was in March 2012 and how far i have come so far. Back in November 2011 i hadn’t been doing any serious exercise having quit the gym in September 2011. At best i had been running once a week because i had booked to do the Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest in November of 2011. It was booked as bit of a laugh rather than taking it seriously and wasn’t so worried back then about how fast i could do it. The time came in at 1 hour 6 minutes and 10 seconds, considering this was an obstacle course i was quite happy with that time. It was around that period that i had some friends pass away and was a motivator in the new year to do something positive and channel my energy. So from March 2012 forward i was going to take running as a serious hobby, i had a bench mark over 10k of the 1 hour 6 minute time, let’s see if i could improve on that. I started out running locally 3 times a week and found it a real struggle to start with but slowly the mileage and the the times improved. I now felt i needed to set some targets and entered some 10k’s for later in the year, the first was Stansted in June 2012. my progress Through the year was as follows:

Stansted – 10k – June 2012 – 51m 55s
Clapham – 10k – July 2012 – 47m 59s
BBC – 10k -August 2012 – 45m 59s
Saffron Walden – 10k – September 2012 – 46m 13s
Manuden – 10k – October 2012 – 45m 01s
So through 2012 it can be clearly seen i was doing something right with my running as the times were regularly coming down with every competitive race i was doing. Over the Christmas period i was beginning to increase my mileage and had entered the Bath and Cambridge half marathons. To the present moment my race times are as follows:
Bath – Half Marathon – March 2013 – 1h 40m 42s
Cambridge – Half Marathon – March 2013 – 1h 42m
St Clare – 10k – March 2013 – 43m 27s
The slight drop in time at Cambridge was due to running on an injured ankle, not sensible but i knew the risk i was taking and was willing to drop out if it became to bad during the run. I’m not really sure if the drop in 10k time was partly due to the continued commitment to running regularly or the extra mileage i had been running for the half marathons or possibly a combination of the two. As i write up this reflection of the years events i am still recovering from tendonitis in my Achilles so on my return i am expecting to have a dip in running times. Once back to full fitness i hope it bodes well for the year and i can continue to bring down my times. The St Clare run was also the first time i had a part in winning a trophy for the quickest men’s team. I was the third man home and our cumulative time was quick enough to win the trophy. May be this is where my strength lies going forward through the year. Aim to be the third man for our club in future events, i can here the laughter of some of the club members from here! There are easily a dozen or more runners at the club that are far quicker than myself being able to run a 35 minute 10k. Although i don’t realistically think i could get that fast i do feel that those that run at around the 40/42 minute mark are within my reach, which in some races would give me a chance at that 3rd place team spot. Here is hoping that my current injury hurry’s up and disappears and that the rest of the year is injury free. Happy and healthy running to everyone!

Trials And Tribulations Of A Long Distance Runner

What lengths would you go to to get yourself to and from a race? Today has felt like a scene straight out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I had been online and checked my travel plans. Now, in a perfect world i could have got the train to Harlow Mill and then cycled the 3 miles to the race. As per usual being a Sunday there were engineering works on the railway so a bus replacement service was in place, awkward for the bike. No bother i’ll get the bus to Harlow Mill then jog the 3 miles to the start, it’ll be a good warm up. So i looked on google maps to check the quickest and safest way of jogging there. All my kit was ready and i went through the usual pre race rituals of porridge and honey for breakfast and a good stretch. Waiting for the bus and the first sign of things to come was the bus was late. Mild concern washed over me thinking it wasn’t going to arrive but fortunately a few minutes later it arrived. Continuing merrily along we the left Bishops Stortford and the driver decided to drive down a one way road the wrong way! Cars were tooting and swerving out of the way, great that’s all i need to be involved in a bus crash. We made our way out of the road without incident and after another 15 minutes or so arrived at Harlow Mill. Now to follow my rough map i had drawn out, a gentle jog and i should be there in good time. A short way down the road and i got the feeling google maps isn’t all that up to date as what should have been a cricket pitch appeared to look far more like new Flats and houses. Don’t panic just follow around the outside of the buildings until you get back on track. Further along i came to a bridleway that was going in the right direction, phew! another 20 minutes or so and i should be there. Except i was now lost in an estate that the bridleway cut through. A bit of common sense, ask someone. Pointed back in the general direction i should be going i came to the common i had to cross. What is marked on the map as a common i would have been more inclined to describe as a swamp! Can this get any worse today! with shoes filling up with water and mud i really wasn’t happy. i eventually made my way of the common back on to a road, another mile or so and should be there at last. Sure enough down a country lane, up a hill and i had made it to the start with some time to spare. What a start to the day! With the bag safely stored i met up with the other club members as we all prepared for the start. With the more than adequate warm up and not being in the best of moods i was determined to get it out of my system by having a good run. We were off! i got off to a cracking start and felt good. Once people had spread out i checked my watch, i was running at 6 minute 30 second miles, well inside my PB. At 4km i was with one of our clubs best female runners Fiona Halls and was thinking “either she is having a bad day or i’m going quite fast!”. I made sure i didn’t ease up and kept pushing the pace and my comfort levels. Eventually my pace did start to drop but as long as i stayed inside 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile i would be on for a PB. At kilometer 6 i really started to feel tired and all i was thinking about was getting on to 8km which was slightly more down hill. The 8km mark came around and i used the down hill to relax a little and try and let my legs flow a little more, i was really starting to feel it now. One of our other Female runners cam up along side and gave me some encouragement which was really welcome. Then shortly after that another competitor ran up beside me and asked what time i was trying to achieve, so i told him sub 45 minutes. He then went ahead of me but was really helpful that he kept shouting me on and telling me not to give up. The last kilometer was absolute agony and i was really spent and didn’t have any energy for a final sprint that i would usually manage. I crossed the line in 43 minutes and 27 seconds knocking 1 minute and 33 seconds of my 10k PB. I was so pleased i had really pushed myself and i knew i couldn’t have given any more on the day. After collecting my finishers medal, getting my bag and catching up with the other Saffron Striders i now had to make my way back to Harlow Mill to get the dreaded bus. So i set off on a gentle jog knowing what time the bus was due, 3 miles later i had made it back with 6 minutes to spare. The time for the bus came and went. It was now 10 minutes late, something wasn’t right. i turned my phone on and checked up on the travel detail. The trains were now running and i was standing waiting for a bus that was never going to turn up! The train had long gone and i was faced with having to wait almost an hour for the following train. I checked the bus timetable and there was a local Sunday service running. So i ended up getting on the local bus back to Bishops Stortford making it just in time for a train to Audley End which is 2 miles from home. At least if i got back there if my wife was in i could get a lift if not another 2 mile walk to ad to the 12 miles of running i had clocked up today! Fortunately for me my wife was at home and came out to pick me up. What a day! So what would you do to get to or from race day?


st claire


Having to leave soon after the finish i didn’t wait around for the results. At tonight’s club meeting i found out i helped contribute towards winning the men’s team trophy. My first trophy since taking up running seriously in March 2012. For everyone that reads my blog and has aspirations to better themselves…proof that hard work pays off!


Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest Results

I had to make an early start on the Saturday morning. I got myself up and ready, had breakfast of oats and whey powder and also a cup of coffee and felt human enough to set out to London. I got the 08.43 train from home and met friends on the train. At about 10am i had a banana to keep me going, then changed on to the underground and headed for Vauxhall station. We arrived at Vauxhall about 10.25 am and had a short walk to Battersea Power Station. Arriving at the site about 10.40 we then made our way to registration, the place was absolutely packed as the competitor limit had been increased from last year. At 11.30 i had a powerbar gel to see me through, we all then went to get changed and store our bags. The weather was overcast but remained dry, the temperature was about 12c. Then the moment had come, a 10 second count down and we were away! Obstacle 1 was some highly stacked straw bales, i tackled this full on and got over so quick i almost lost my footing straight away, but strong legs and core kept me upright. Charging onward over differing levels of up and over obstacles then a flat run for a few hundred yards. Then onward over a 6 foot wall then quite a long run out of the power station grounds and toward Battersea Park. Along the river front, then turning into the park itself, 1 lap of the running track, over hurdles, a steeple chase jump into water then back into the park. We then headed along the main road going back toward the power station and came to an abrupt halt! we had to wait for traffic lights!! the marshalls wouldn’t let us continue until it was safe which cost about 2 minutes in time! This was a change from last year a quite annoying. Once over the road we headed back under Chelsea Bridge over the top of a huge pile of old tyres and back into the grounds of the power station. In the back of a car and out the front window, in and out of some skips, over some scaffold obstacles, trying not to think about the tied legs. Over some parkour type obstacles, i was now well over half way and feeling pretty bashed and bruised. We then had to put on a hard hat to enter the power station, pick up a sand bag and run along and over some road blocks, back out and dump the sand bag. Into the opposite side of the power station over some scaffold frame, pick up a traffic cone, run, dump that and out. Dumped the hard hat and headed over some army style obstacles. A 10 yard crawl through ice, a 10 yard crawl through freezing water as well. The what can only be described as a double skate ramp. I had to attack the steep slope, grab the top and pull myself up, then do the same again up a second ramp, threw myself over the top and slid down the opposite side. There was then a large inflatable swimming pool to wade through as well as a large tank to jump in and wade through. The end was almost in sight. A 6 foot wall with crawl through section and then on to the final 9 foot wall. A queue of people was forming with people not really knowing what to do themselves. Eager to get a good time i charged in grabbed the girl in front and threw her up, closely following behind. The same tactic was used on the 9 foot wall, simply got hold of the person in front, gave them a leg up then got the person behind me to give me a leg up, up, over, 10 yards, finish!! Cuts, scrapes, bruises, freezing and shattered, but happy to have done it. Last years time was 1 hour 6 minutes 10 seconds, this year i came in at 51 minutes 04 seconds so was really pleased with the result. Will i do it next year? give me a couple of weeks to heal and we’ll see!



I ended up at 790 out of 7821  http://www.mhsurvival.co.uk/assets/pdf/London_SOTF_day_race_results_d2_17thNov12.pdf

Main Event Of The Year – Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest

The time has eventually arrived! All the training since March has been leading up to this event and trying to better last years time of 1hr 6min 10sec. I’m reasonably confident but when you have up to 300 other runners getting in your way and obstacles to contend with…you never know what’s going to happen! I could really do with running a flat 10k race because i’m sure my time is down to around 42 minutes. My last officially timed race was 45min 01s, so the time i could possibly run would be anywhere between 45 and 55 minutes. This past week has been fairly relaxed with working all the time i’ve been more concerned with getting enough sleep, which fortunately hasn’t been too bad.The weather has been really cold and foggy around this area but remained dry. Still stuck to my 8 miles trying to run the first half fast and the second return leg as a recovery. The last few days have been rest days with stretching in place of running. My race day meal plan is 8 a.m. 50g oats with 50g whey and 30ml olive oil, 10 a.m. banana, 11 a.m. beet-it sport shot, 11.45 a.m. powerbar gel, 12 p.m. race. A full race review, time and pics will be posted in a couple of days one the time are live online.

Halloween Hell Run Home!!

I rely on the train to get too and from work. We only have the one household car so on the odd occasion where i finish later than the last train leaves i’ll borrow the car. Unfortunately this particular evening being Halloween the kids were going to a Halloween event which meant i was unable to have the car for work. On a couple of previous occasions i have cycled home out of desperation but having a heavy work bag work clothes and shoes, basically the wrong kit for the job!, it was bit of a slog. Then the thing happened, the thought went through my mind, i can cycle the 10 miles home in an hour, may be i could run it! I convinced myself it was a good idea, i had a day off the next day, yeah! i’ll do it!

The weather was forecast reasonably mild but rain was also forecast for the early hours of the morning. I took a gamble that i would just about be in front of the rain and could make it home without getting too wet. A couple of firsts as well on this run. First run at night and a first run wearing a backpack. The pack i used was one i’ve had 18 years from snowboarding and is a DaKine helipack, slimline, 10 litre and capable of holding a hydration pack. There was bit of a cock up at work and instead of finishing at about 00.50 when there was only a slight drizzle in the air, i finished at 01.40am and the heavens had opened!! By time i had got changed into my running gear i was starting to wonder if it was a good idea, may be i should grovel to the company for a taxi home! No!, i was committed and it was time to get moving.

Bishops Stortford is a market town on the Hertfordshire border so is well lit so no need for the headtorch at this point. Heading out of town i passed by the Cock pub c1590’s. No sign of any headless apparitions, also no sign of any legless ghouls either! they had either been locked in or had been long since kicked out! Making my way along the London road passing by the Roman road into the old Roman part of town. Apart from the pad of my own feet on the wet pavement and the sound of hammering rain there was no sound of hobnail shoes of marching legions tonight! The water was rising in the streets and there were some large flooded road areas. Into the half mile poorly lit section between Bishops Stortford and the next village of Stansted Mountfitchet. Over the railway bridge passed the Old Bell Inn and on Into the village which again is a well lit area, still no ghostly sightings! Heading out of the village the next 3 miles has no lighting and had to use the headtorch to help light the way. Still the water was rising and covering the pavement in a lot of places and it was easier to run in the road for the most part. By this point i was absolutely soaked but pretty warm and was having to launch through ankle deep ponds of water as the roads were covered.

Heading on towards the villages of Ugley and then Quendon i was now out into the “sticks” of North Essex which consists of open fields and wooded areas. I think even the dumbest of wildlife had the good sense to be taking shelter for the night and wasn’t going to be bothering me. If anything they were probably having a good laugh at me being the dumbest of them all!! Passed Dick’s wood were a homeless fella lived for 30 years or more of his life and only passed away a few years ago but even his ghost didn’t fancy venturing into the horrendous nights weather to try and scare the wits out of me. On reaching Quendon i was effectively on the home stretch with 3 more miles to run. My soggy feet squelching away, breathing into the dark night air, soaked to the skin, i was almost there! I rounded a couple more bends, up a small hill, along a cut through and finally at my front door.

No ghosts, ghouls or apparitions on the run home. The scariest sight of the night was seeing myself in the mirror, drowned rat is an understatement!! I’m the first to admit absolutely hating the rain, cold and snow i can handle but i hate the rain and i chose the wettest night of the year to run home. I set off at 01.55am and made the 10 mile trip home by 03.05am, 1 hour 10 minutes and 59 seconds. Not bad for an absolutely hellish Halloween run home.



Running Progress Update

The weather has definitely turned a lot colder this week!! The running leggings have made their way out of the wardrobe and the long sleeve tops have gone on. Have continued on my 8 mile route with time ranging from 59m to 1hr 17m. I was exercising 6 days a week and have found it too much and my legs were struggling to recover, i am now doing 5 days a week 3 running and 2 of weights, 2 full days off and more stretching. The Men’s Health run is coming up on the 17th November and am quite hopeful of bettering last years time. I am now booked up fro Bath Half marathon on 03/03/2013 and Cambridge on 10/03/2013 so i will be spending the winter months preparing for these events. I think i am capable of running faster but it seems quite hard to do this when running alone. A point on my run the other day proved this. I was at about 4.5/5 mile mark and passed another runner going in the opposite direction, said the brief hello and continued on. He seemed to me to be doing the same route as myself, carried on running. At about the 6.5/7 mile mark the same fella comes striding passed me!! He’d not only gone passed me once, got to the turning point but come back and caught up as well!! Suddenly the competitive head went on and put my toe down . I couldn’t catch and pass him but i did manage to keep up for my last mile, thus proving a point that i can run faster under the right circumstances, sometimes you just need the right motivator at the right time!

Happy running!

New Charity Idea,Raise Money And Try And Win Some Too!!



For only £3, guess the result of my Men's Health Survival of the Fittest - London for Cancer Research UK and you could pocket the prize fund in an online charity sweepstake!

Just click on the link to go straight to my page and make a guess:


How Guess2Give works:
1. Each guess is just £3 (got your debit card handy?)

2. Up to £2.50 (inc. Gift Aid) goes to Cancer Research UK while 50p from each guess goes into the prize fund.

3. If you’re closest to the result - happy days - you pocket the lot. 

Cheers for your support and good luck with the guessing.

Be one of the first to make a guess and be sure to secure the result you want.

Good luck and I'll be in touch with the result.

Barry Taylor

Last year i ran 1hr 6mins 11 secs, i will be looking for a sub 1 hour time.

Why Do I Keep Running?

Most of my posts have been fairly standard ” got out the door, went this far in this amount of time.” Although it’s useful information for me and some people are happy to read my progress i felt like writing a post about why i run, what motivates me and some longer term goals.

Anyone who has read my about me page has a small outline of my background. My job as a train driver is quite sedentary so an obvious aspect of running is the health benefit. I wish to remain healthy and active into my older age so i’m trying to make it a permanent lifestyle change rather than all my previous on and off efforts. The main reason i run and like to run is because of the personal challenge, the “how far can i push myself” whether it be time or distance. So far this year i have been running 10k’s. At the start of the year i was running at an hour for a 10k. I now have that time down to 45 minutes. So the next challenge is to now improve on distance.  am now running an 8 mile route and managed 1hr 01m 54s on Wednesday 11th Oct 2012.

These colder and wetter months are making it harder to get out the door, which is why personally i have been entering regular races to keep my motivation up. I also buy three running magazines, Runners World, Running Fitness and Men’s Running. These have some great features and articles for keeping the motivation up. I am also a member of Saffron Striders running club in Saffron Walden, North essex which is also great for meeting like minded people of differing abilities.

The only time i run without my mp3 player is during races as a lot of them don’t allow it. Personally i find it really useful to run to my favorite motivational music and music that has a beat that can help with my pace. I always find the first 2-3 miles the hardest when i go for  a run. It seems to take this long to get in to a steady rhythm and pace. Usually i must admit i tend to set out a bit quick and run as i feel comfortable which at the start is about 6.30/6.45 per mile. By the 2-3 mile i settle to about 7.45 a mile. My breathing always seems to be more of an issue than having tired legs. Again this usually settles by mile 2/3. My main mental goal when on the road is to not stop moving, slow down if i need to but just don’t stop! I’ve started reading Dean Karnazes book, RUN! 26.2 stories of blisters and bliss and am totally amazed at his and others ultra endurance feats.

I hope to keep pushing my own personal boundaries, next, half marathon then marathon then may be 18 months or so time i should be in a better place to attempt my first ultra, so i hope you’re planning to follow this blog long term!! Another reason for running is to give myself and life a bit more purpose and validity. Instead of being passive in front of the T.V. or spending too much time online, actually taking a physically active part in life. When training it may be only a quick hello to fellow runners, cyclists or dog walkers but at every race i have got talking to someone involved at some point of the day. I enjoy travelling as well so entering races gives me the chance to go to new areas an places. My Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest is at Battersea Power Station on 17th November i am in the 12,30pm time slot. Only 5 months of cold weather to get through! I’ll have to keep reading others blog entries to keep me going.

Manuden 10k Results

This is another local race not far from home so i had a good idea what the race would be like. It was 99% on a road/country lane that connects 2 villages, so 5k out, turn and return. The weather was absolutely freezing to start this was still at 11am. I wasn’t feeling particularly good either and had taken headache tablets before leaving home and went with the view of getting around in one piece. Not travelling over this stretch of road very often i’d forgotten about a steep hill at the 1k point that was about 500 yards of incline which meant my legs felt it right from the start! I kept forging on using gravity to my advantage on the down hills and just using the minimum amount of effort on the up hills. from about 6k i felt myself fading a bit and this was shown by being overtaken by quite a few people. I stuck with my strategy of a semi sprint downhills with a slower recovery on the flat or up hill sections. Once the finish was in sight it was enough to spur me on to push to the end. This is certainly a course i wouldn’t expect anyone to get a PB on with all the hills involved. My regime is obviously doing some good as from previous posts people will know i average about 48m for a regular run out but was amazingly surprised and pleased to see a new PB with a time of 45m 01s. I have 1 more 10k planned for this year which is an obstacle 10k so although flat it’s not really looking like the sort of race to chase another PB, maybe i’ll book 1 more flat course 10k just to see where i could push my time to. From end of November on-wards i’m really going to start pushing the miles up in preparation for a half marathon in March, hopefully Bath and Cambridge. Manuden results can be viewed on the link below. Barry Taylor 50th position. As usual any comments and feedback are welcome!.