Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Relationship between runners and navigation.

Hi everyone,

I've finally found some time in my busy summer to post a new Blog!! With my hours at work going through the roof this time of year with the school holidays it's been hard to find the time. Training has been going great which has reflected in recent race results :-

St Ives Bay 10k (beach & dunes off road 10k) 4th/ 38mins 24sec.
Indian Queens Half Marathon (road & trail) 20th/1hr 22mins.
(included my quickest 10k/10miler/half marathon times)
The Plague (64 mile coastal run) 3rd/13hrs 17mins. (race report to follow)

So as you can see training and racing is going well and I'm feeling super confident in my running at the moment which is always a great place to be :). If you have been following my blogs, there is a pattern that runs through most of them, it involves going the WRONG way!! If my running is going well with some good results, my navigation isn't!! It has always been something I have struggled with, coming from a road running & Triathlon background, navigation was something I didn't really have to think about with plenty of marshals and direction arrows to follow. Once I made the transition to Trail & Ultra running, I soon realized that the marshals and arrows can be far and few between! It was my first Ultra trail race of the year when I knew I had to put in some work to try and up my navigation skills, finishing in 6th overall, which I was happy with, but it could have been so much better if I hadn't run 42.5 miles in a 40 mile race and crossing the finish line the wrong way was a little bit embarrassing!!!!

Obviously you are taking part in a running race so your running ability is very important but the more I race the more I realize that navigation is just as important! You can be the best runner in the world, but if you keep running the wrong way you're never going to win anything! Having spent a lot of time this year thinking about race preparation & navigation, I've worked out that when I run long distances I like to 'zone out' and get in a trance like state! I find that this helps me deal with the distance and the pain that you suffer running a long way. The only problem with this method is if you're zoned out, you're not paying much attention to where you're going!! To try and avoid this problem I now try to 'zone out' when I can in a race but when I come to a tricky navigation section I make sure I'm switched on and I'm paying full attention to what I'm doing. I also think it's really important to double, triple check all the difficult sections. By checking the way you are going a few times might cost you 10-20 secs, going the wrong way can cost you 10-20 mins and a lot of wasted energy (see 'The Plague' race report!!).
Also race preparation plays a big part in going the right way, if you can get out and run some of the course before race day, I would advise you to do so. Just running parts of the course before hand is always a massive help and gives you lots of confidence for race day, but with races being all over the country, it's not always that simple! If I can't get out and run on the course, I will try and study maps and course details supplied by the event organizer. By putting all of these methods in place, I feel that my navigation is improving, but I need to make sure that I use them coming in to a race and not just chance it and hope for the best like I did going into 'The Plague'!!

Race Report - The plague 2013
With training and racing going really well in the build up to 'The Plague' I was feeling super confident going into it. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to finish in the top three and get on the podium for the first time this year. Having a lot of 4th place finishes this year, I was beginning to think I had a 4th place curse!!! On the way to the race I got another big boost in the form of a text message from Kay www.at-your-pace.co.uk telling me that I had become an ambassador for her running shop and she had sorted me out with sponsorship from www.salomon.com/uk/ , I cant thank you enough Kay for your support!! Having done quite a lot of the training for 'The Plague' with fellow Hayle Runner, Steve Wyatt, we decided to run the race as a team. I thought it would be nice to have some company on the night section of the race and two pairs of eyes are better than one, well that's what I thought anyway!! Steve is a naturally strong runner and loves running off road on tough courses so I knew he would push me really hard on race day, which is what I needed to get that podium finish.

We arrived at race H.Q on Friday at 4.30pm after a busy morning at work running around like a headless chicken, not the ideal race preparation!! With camping on site and a lot of Hayle Runners taking part over the four distances: 11 miles, 20 miles, 32 miles and 64 miles, it should make for a great after race atmosphere. Tents all set up, we made our way to registration, registered and got our kit checked for the race. Having a busy morning, I wanted to get something to eat and try to get some sleep before the start of the race. After eating, sleep was proving difficult, so I got out of my tent and went to join the other Hayle runners who were setting around taking about there races that started the following morning. Once the sun went down, myself and Steve thought we would give it another go and try to get a little bit of sleep before the race, alarms were set and off we went. I spent the next hour lying there trying to sleep, but it didn't matter what I tried, I couldn't sleep. With my alarm due to go off at any minute I thought I might as well get up and start to get ready for the race start at 00.05, I know its a crazy start time!!! Half an hour before the start I was all kitted up and ready to go but I still hadn't seen Steve so I walked back to the tents to try to find out were he was, as I got closer to the tents the door opened to Steve's tent and out came this sleepy figure having set his alarm for the wrong day!! Yes, the WRONG DAY!!! He had only just woken up (typical Steve!). He quickly got his kit on and we got over to the race safety briefing just in time.

Race briefing over, we made our way to the start where there was a surprise waiting, starting the race was ultra running legend 'Mimi Anderson'. So after an motivating speech from Mimi the air horn sounded and off we went on our night time adventure. The first part of the course was straight down hill in some long and soaking wet grass, which was great - soaking wet feet in the first 100 yards!! After 500 yards across the long grass we made it to the coast path we would be spending the rest of the race on.
The first mile on the coast path was the most dangerous with quite a few badger sets to avoid along the way. Currently myself and Steve were running in 1st & 2nd place and feeling good but that was all to change with one wrong turn! Yep, all that preparation I spoke about earlier I hadn't done! I hadn't run any of the course before hand, I hadn't looked at maps and course directions and I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going! Hence why we went the wrong way :) After about 3-4 minutes going the wrong way, we realized and turned round and made our way back to the race pack. When we made it back, we had lost around 8-10 places, so we were really pissed off! Making sure we didn't lose too much time, we quickly got round the first few runners and made our way back to 5th & 6th place. Steve was not happy with going the wrong way and wanted to get back to the front as quickly as possible, I spent the next 15 miles trying to slow him down so that we didn't use up too much energy early on chasing them down. Unfortunately I think it was falling on deaf ears and we made it back to 2nd & 3rd within 16 miles, but I had given too much to catch up in such short time in a 64 mile race and I was pretty sure it would come back to bite me in the ASS!

It wasn't long after catching them up that I started to feel low on energy and a little bit hot too, it was a hot, humid night and I think I started with too many layers on. By the time we got to the next check point I was burning up and had to get some layers off and take on some fluids. Once you get too hot, its such a hard thing to regulate while your still running, by this time in the race we were lying in 3rd & 4th, the guy in 2nd was looking strong and ran away from us but the girl and guy in 5th and 6th looked to be struggling so we pushed on. By the time the sun started to come up, we had covered a lot of the tricky, tough sections and were on the relatively flat run-in to the turning point. At this point I had got over the low points and was feeling quite good, so we were both making good time clocking sub 8 min miles at some points. We hit the turning point in good time and making sure we didn't spend too much time there we filled up with water, Steve had a cup of tea (he gets upset if doesn't get his tea!) and off we went again heading for home :). The turning point would give us a great idea of how far we were ahead of 4th and 5th. We knew we were too far behind 2nd to catch him, so we wanted to make sure we held on to 3rd. We were surprised when we saw 4th and 5th were only 8 mins behind, so we decided there and then to go for it on the 4-5 miles from the turning point, being the only real flat section on the course, we had to make the most of it and make the most of it we did with some really strong running clocking 7.30 min miles for most of the 4-5miles!!

Once we got back on the hilly sections, my energy levels were starting to drop again and I was feeling pretty weak by this stage, never mind only another 24 tough miles to go!! From this point on going got really, really tough for me, I started to cramp up pretty bad in my calves and quads, which is not ideal for hard coast path running. It showed how tough this race was, because I have never seen Steve suffer so much either. I think we were both paying for the fast pace we set at the beginning of the race trying to catch the leaders. All we could do at this point was try to keep moving forward walking the hills and running (kind of!!) the flats. This was my first time I had ever suffered from cramp in any race, so I knew I was having a really bad day, but there was no way I was stopping, I just kept telling myself that I was finishing the race no matter what so just get on with it! Steve was brilliant at motivating me to keep the pace up and keep pushing up the hills. As we arrived at the penultimate check point we knew we only had about 10 miles to go till the finish and it couldn't get here quick enough for me. We had another quick stop at the check point and off we went, but to our surprise, about 30sec after we left the check point we heard some clapping, turning to have a look we could see a women in 5th place catching us up. We must have slowed down a lot more than we thought and she must have been running strong. Once I saw her my heart sank, I turn to Steve and said: "She can have it, I've got nothing to give!!". At that point I'm pretty sure Steve felt the same way. We kept going expecting her to catch us at any minute, but after about 5 mins she still hadn't passed us. It was at this moment that Steve changed his mind and said: "Lets keep pushing, you don't want another 4th place". So that's what we did, I still don't know how we did it, but we pushed and pushed even running some of the hills!! By the time we got to the last check point with only 4ish miles to go we had lost sight of the women in 5th place, we had pretty much stopped talking to each other and just kept our heads down and pushed on to the end. Arriving back at the field with the long wet grass was a great feeling, seeing the big 'Redbull' tents at the finish put a massive smile on our faces. We had both been on a super tough journey, battling the highs and lows of Ultra running and had both come out the other side finishing in joint 3rd!

 I learnt more from this race than any other: firstly, Steve is a great guy to run with (even if a little un-hinged!) - so strong physically and mentally, I don't know if I would have come away with 3rd without him! Secondly, I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was, suffering from serious dehydration, terrible cramp's from 35miles I still had it in me to push hard when I needed to. I have never had to dig so, so deep in any race before and I'm super happy with the result of 3rd overall. Looking back at the times at the finish, we realized how hard we had pushed over the last 10 miles, the woman in 4th place was over 16 mins behind us and we had even managed to take 10 mins out of 1st & 2nd!! I would like to thank the race organizers www.mudcrewevents.co.uk for putting on an amazing, tough event, the support was amazing all the way though the race and lastly I would like to thank Steve for pushing me on when I though I had nothing else to give and dispelling that 4th place curse!! Cheers Steve :)

P.S - I would also like to thank my lovely girlfriend for her support over the weekend because without her being there for me after the race I would have struggled, being in such a bad way after the race with cramp, she was a massive help. Sorry for being so useless, Liga!!!! :)


  1. Well done Loyd. Awesome PBs! Great news on the Salomon sponsorship too!!

  2. Great post Loyd. And well done on the Plague and the Salomon sponsorship. Fab gear:-)