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Spring is Sprung – get out, go wild and explore the local trails

When it is that time of year where the temperatures begin to nudge the mercury ever upwards, thoughts turn to running in the evening light and being hopeful of a rain-free run, runners often get the thirst to explore their local off-road trails and expand their running routes. Spring is an amazing time of renewal, change, and awakening after the doldrums of winter, this is true for nature as well as runners. This time of year, for many is a return to the trails, and a chance to reacquaint ourselves with our local off-road haunts; for many this will be a whole new running experience and the chance to learn new skills, explore the great outdoors and appreciate that running can get you back out into nature. With a little bit of adventure and exploration your running journey will take on a whole new direction, with a huge array of options to freshen your routine and add that much needed variety after a winter of dark miles. As you pick up your training or begin to explore new horizons, here are a few tips to keep you and your local trails happy and healthy.

Return to off-road running and training smartly.

Many athletes take the winter months as a time to regroup, rest and recover, and are gradually drawn outside with slightly warmer temperatures and longer sunny days. Patience is the key to a successful return to running in spring. Don’t increase your training more than 10 to 15 percent (mileage or time) as you return, the temptation is to get involved all at once. Be mindful that trail running has a greater impact on the musculature and you will not be able to run at the same pace as you would on the road. Playing it smart on your first runs will help you have a long, injury-free season.

Respect the Environment and be kind to your trails

The beauty of your local trails requires a lot of early season rain and run-off to produce the amazing environment full of wildflowers, greenery and wildlife that makes trail running an all sensory experience.

·       Multi-use trails are the most at risk for being punished in the wet months —stay off very muddy trails and consider another activity.

  • If you encounter a big area of water or mud—go through it, not around it (providing it is safe to do so)! Avoiding an obstruction causes trail widening and trail braiding – making the obstacle bigger and bigger; plus it is a legitimate excuse to get in touch with that inner child and get muddy?!

Dress the part - Train in layers

The unpredictable nature of the great British weather will mean that you need to be adequately prepared so that you are not caught out. Getting caught in a cold spring rain shower, exposed on a windy open trail, or a significant temperature drop late in the day can put you in danger if you are not properly equipped.

  • A light windproof/waterproof jacket can provide much needed protection all year long; just because it is sunny doesn’t mean that you will not need it; pack it with you.
  • Layering is the key to being comfortable in early spring temperatures. You can always remove layers, but you cannot add them if you do not have them with you. Always take a Buff and some gloves; it is often the small details that will make a trail run that much more enjoyable; anyone can travel light but the experience will be less enjoyable if the conditions turn.

Fuelling – Hydration and Eating

Warmer days will have you sweating far more than you did in the colder months. Take the time to reacquaint yourself with your hydration plan, or if this is something that you have not previously considered, now is the time. Running on the road you are never too far away from resources, being out on the trails will mean you must be that little bit more self-sufficient.

  • If your run will be more than 45 minutes, then you will require hydration. Take it with you, don’t rely on others to supply.
  • Electrolytes are important even on training runs—don’t just supplement on race day. Trickle feed the system so that you can operate effectively and be mentally alert for longer.
  • There are so many options for water additives: electrolytes, full spectrum (calories + electrolytes), and more. These early Spring runs are a good time to test new products and find out what works for you.
  • Always take some sort of food with you, if for some reason you find yourself out for longer than you planned, then a little bit of sustenance will go a long way. It will trickle feed you and will be a welcome boost to morale.

Fit for Purpose - check your equipment

Runner safety and comfort should go hand in hand. Spring is great time to go through your equipment and see what needs replacing before you are out on the trails and need that bit of kit, plus we all like to buy some shiny new bits of running “stuff”.

  • Clean out all your water bottles and hydration bladders, or replace if necessary.
  • Go through your shoe options—do you need to make a replacement for your trail or road shoes? You are only as fast as your feet will allow…happy feet, happy body.
  • Go through your training clothing – you are only ever going to be as comfortable as your kit will allow. Invest in good quality items of clothing, your body will thank you for it when you are out on the trails and need it the most. Jackets, and more may need repairs and spring is a great time to make repairs or research an affordable replacement.
  • Hydration vests are a great way to carry your kit in a comfortable way. Try before you buy if you can, and again invest in quality.


Lastly be respectful on your trails; leave them as you would like to find them, give other users the space that you would like to be afforded and respect rights of way. Our sport is growing rapidly, especially the off-road element and we are all responsible for treating our training grounds with respect. The time is now to preserve and protect our trails; share your local knowledge with others, be an advocate for the trails you train on every day. Get outdoors, be adventurous and explore the hidden potential of your local trails.

Any questions email: or visit

Marathon Recovery

Marathon Recovery - Post Marathon: Zero Week & Beyond

Generally, it takes a minimum of two to three weeks for the body to recover from the strain of running 26 miles 385 yards. Return too quickly and you increase your risk of injury. Some experts will suggest that you rest one day for every mile you run in the marathon, thus 26 days of no hard running or racing! This can be true if this is your first attempt at this distance and you are not a regular runner. Often the determining factor is not how quickly your body recovers, but how quickly your mind recovers, since you temporarily will have lost your main training goal. Also the intensity at which you ran the marathon will have a large impact on the rate of recovery.

The training you do in the three weeks following a marathon should be a near mirror image of what you did the last three weeks before: in other words, an upward, or reverse, taper. Your eating after also should mirror your eating before, since a diet high in carbohydrates can help refuel your muscles as well as fuel them.

Here is what to do during Zero Week, the week after your marathon.

Zero Week

Sunday: Recovery begins the minute you step into the finishing chute. Keep moving and start drinking, preferably a energy replacement drink with electrolytes. Research suggests that refuelling works best if done immediately after exercise, when the body is eager to absorb energy. As soon as your stomach can tolerate food, start eating. Most marathons provide bananas, yogurt and other easily digested high-carbohydrate foods. These are good for you. A long walk to your car or hotel room will help your body "come down" from the stress you put it through. After that, get off your feet and rest an hour or two. By then, you should be ready for more solid food. It too should be high in carbohydrates.

Monday: No running today! No exercise of any kind! Take it easy.

Tuesday: No running! Today’s a good day for a massage (schedule one before the marathon). Getting a quick rubdown at the finish-line massage tent may have felt good, a massage 24 to 48 hours after the marathon works best. If you have any post-race blisters, or foot problems, get them treated.

Wednesday: No running! And don’t be tempted to substitute cross-training in a mistaken belief that it will help you maintain fitness; you still need to Rest-Rest-Rest to allow all your muscles to recover and to begin the necessary task of replacing glycogen burned during the marathon. Starting to train too soon can delay that recovery and will increase the chance of you picking up an unnecessary injury. You have earned this period of rest, take it! There is nothing to prove by returning to training too early, but everything to lose.

Thursday: Okay, you’re cleared to run again, but don’t overdo it. Easy pace, steady run with no intensity around 30 minutes, listen to how your body feels.

Friday: Now is the time to cross-train; Swim or cycle if that is an option, however this is not a good time to begin any new exercise as it will place the musculature under pressure when they are still fatigued and in recovery mode. The best cross-training discipline for recovery is simple walking. Don’t underestimate the value of this activity. Go at most 2-3 miles.

Saturday: By now, most of the muscle soreness should be gone. You’re probably ready to resume your regular training routine, but don’t rush things. Stick with the 2- to 3-mile routine today. Or maybe take today off entirely.

Sunday: Quite often marathoners who did their training together in the months leading up to a marathon like to get together to debrief each other on how they did. Meet up with a regular training group and schedule a run of about an hour, 6 to 8 miles max. But don’t get competitive and push the pace too hard. Your body may feel better again, but it’s still in recovery mode.

Now that you’re through Zero Week, where do you go from here?

A gradual return to training and a structured routine, nothing too intensive too soon. The key thing here is to listen to your body and heed what it is telling you. Trying to force training at this stage when the body is telling you otherwise, will result in you being forced to take a rest and a visit to the physio couch. Manage the content and ask yourself the question of “Why and I am doing this session” and “What is it doing for me”.

A return to training in this structured way will allow the body to adapt to the stimulus that the marathon provides so that all training benefits can be maximised, you will return stronger mentally and physically and be ready for the next challenge.

Any questions email: or visit


2018 Adventures of peakhealthphil. Pop back and keep updated on the progress of all human powered adventures.

Apr 2018: Chamonix Trail Running Weekend

May 2018: Marlborough Downs Challenge

Jul 2018: Ultimate Trails 55km in the Lake District:

Sep 2018: The Great Glen SUP - 100km in two days, coast to coast across Scotland.

UTMB OCC 2017 - Reflection of an EPIC Adventure


56km with 11,500ft (3500m) of Climbing, 4 mountain passes and 1700 runners.

At the end of August every year ordinary people gather at the trail running mecca of Chamonix in the French Alps, to attempt something extraordinary. Everyday regular runners get to rub shoulders with the elite of the sport and attempt to test just how far human endurance can take you.

The Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB) running festival is arguably the everest of trail running and has been a long term goal on my adventure list. To even be considered for a place at any of the races at UTMB you first have to earn qualifying points from events that are rated as tough enough to be given a certain amount of ranking points. Once you have enough points you can enter the ballot to hopefully secure a place at one of the four events in the Alps.


For 2017 I was lucky enough to secure a place to run in the OCC (Orsières – Champex Lac – Chamonix) a 56km run through the mountain passes of Switzerland and France. Starting from Orsières in Switzerland the route takes you through awe inspiring and unique alpine landscapes: ultimate peaks on the eastern flanks of the Mont Blanc region, following the franco-swiss border the route goes through nature, ascends and descends epic mountain passes in a trail running adventure the like of which I have not experienced before.


The day of the race started early for me with a 4am alarm as I had to be on a 5am bus to transport me from France to Switzerland. It was a slightly odd feeling driving through the mountain roads knowing that the way back for me was on foot!?! The atmosphere at the start was one of excitement mixed with nervous energy with a truly multi-cultural vibe as there were runners there from all corners of the globe. It was awesome to be able to rub shoulders with the elite runners in the field as everyone mingles and chats before the action begins. With the music pumping out and the MC building up the atmosphere, the heavens decided to cool us all down with a mini downpour…this would be an indicator of things to come.


The gun went and the elite runners started off like they had stolen something from a shop, it was a true sight to behold to watch some of the finest endurance athletes in the world jostle for position at a pace that for most would be sustainable for a mere half mile or so, to see them ascend the first bumps of the course was amazing…awe inspiring to see their easy technique dismiss the ridiculous gradient.


For us mere mortals the early steps through the village were awesome, lined with the locals the atmosphere at the start was truly something that will forever be a lasting happy memory. The early climbs were mere bumps and just a warm up for the severe tests that would face us later in the day, they did serve to string the field out and I quickly settled into a relaxed steady pace, conscious of regulating my effort knowing what was to come. This event has been long in the planning, I had learnt the course, worked out how long the steep alpine climbs could take me, and planned my nutrition so that I was able to maintain my effort over a long period of time. I knew where I could put maximum effort in and where it would be wise to regulate the effort so that I could be efficient, what I had not planned for was the truly biblical weather conditions.


From very early on the low level cloud would prove to be a major factor in setting the tone for the run; the rain went from a manageable shower to a full scale downpour, that was to last for round 8hours, it is safe to say I have never been so wet running, ever!?! Coupled with high winds and unpredictable footing due to the alpine trails, the sheer amount of water meant that conditions under foot were a true test of technique and mental strength. Due to the steepness of the ascents the water flowing down the mountain made the ascents truly testing, with poles being an absolute must to maintain any sort of stability; the descents were just as testing as the water was now flowing with you and each footfall was unpredictable…the conditions were a huge factor in dictating my pace. I was strong on the climbs and maintained a steady rhythm, overtaking many due to my good rhythm; the descents despite being treacherous were a strong part of my run, confidence coupled with sound technique saw me again gain a number of places on each descent.


The true wonder of running through epic mountain passes was a little lost as the low cloud obscured the view, with just a few fleeting glimpses of the awe-inspiring terrain letting you know where you were. The first serious climb would come after the first checkpoint at around the 10km point and was a serious test, topping out at over 2000m it was the second highest point we would ascend to. I felt strong and positive and reached the interim checkpoint at the summit of the climb in good spirits; the following descent was amazing, the clouds broke briefly to allow us a glimpse of just how high we were and the sight of the tiny houses down in the valley where the next checkpoint awaited was a reminder that each descent was going to truly test the technique. I absolutely loved it, the water made it even more testing but I controlled the descent and overtook a number of people, I was still conscious at this point of not totally letting gravity take effect as this would fatigue the quads for the descents to come.


The checkpoint in the valley was around the 26km point and I knew that I would see some familiar faces there, Sarah my wife and my mate Neil were waiting in the torrential rain to get a glimpse of a soaking wet, slightly mad English guy, grinning from ear to ear running through an alpine village. Seeing them was great as it is always gives you a boost, my state of mind was all good at this point, I ate some hot food and quickly got back out on the trails. The next climb would take us into France but the steep gradient meant that the climb would take around 2hours, yes 2 hours of climbing!!


I had broken the race up into bite size chunks as I find this is the best way to manage my mind, and keep my slightly mad chimp under control!! Each checkpoint and each summit was used as a marker throughout the race to tick off little milestones in mind; I ate a gel religiously on the hour every hour as well as trickle feeding myself throughout with real food (liquid porridge, hot soup, ginger biscuits and salty crisps) Tailwind Nutrition in one water bottle and Precision Hydration electrolytes in the other.


The entrance to France was heralded by a lone local stood on a rock in the middle of a field at 2300m dressed in period alpine dress serenading us on his alpine horn. This randomness just made me giggle and kept any negative thoughts at bay…the ironic madness of it!! I had gone around 30km in distance at this point but had been out running for just shy of 6hours…which will serve as a guide of just how testing the terrain was. With the highest point of the course behind me I was again boosted by a brilliant descent into the next checkpoint, sweeping singletrack, with switchbacks a mix of technical terrain, wooded paths and mountain streams to cross and a rousing welcome from the locals…I just couldn’t stop myself from smiling. A brief stop and then a section of rolling terrain similar to the South Downs near home meant a good section of running which was great as I could get into a good rhythm, this terrain at a slightly lower level meant that there were a good number of people dotted along the course, despite the still torrential rain, which was a welcome distraction from the final looming climb that was ahead on the horizon.

I had been warned that the final section of the run was the toughest due to the initial rolling terrain and then the killer climb towards the end. So it proved that this ascent would prove to be forever giving, in that it just went on and on and on…mentally I was prepared for this and in my slightly warped mind enjoyed the challenge of the terrain. The steep terrain finally saw us break the treeline and we were on the ski slopes (another giggle moment “were we actually this high”) heading towards the ski lifts at 1850m, the final part of this climb proved to be the toughest part mentally as I could see other runners ahead of me and knew how far I still had to climb. I just broke it down into small chunks, just keep going until the next ski slope marker, the next tree etc and despite my internal cursing I made the welcome last checkpoint at the 50km point after 9:43:00 of human powered adventure.


I knew that the final descent into Chamonix would take around an hour and I just could not contain my joy as I ran down the initial ski slope descent (a red run for those winter sports enthusiasts) knowing that I could enjoy this descent to the finish…I let gravity take effect and despite my legs screaming at me to slow down there was no way I was going to give into the chimp now…I managed to gain around 30 places on the decent and felt absolutely amazing running the final singletrack into Chamonix.


I knew that the finish would take us through the race village/expo and through the town before entering the main square to finish. I was so lucky in that I arrived around dinner time, so the town was buzzing and the amount of people to welcome the runners was amazing. The field was well spread out at this point so I had the luxury of running through the streets almost on my own…the noise from people clapping hands on the barriers was like thunder, people high-fiving you as you ran the crowded streets, the music and the announcer screaming your name as you cross the finish line is a memory that will last forever. Crossing the line to see Sarah and my other friends to meet me was absolutely awesome, I felt elated to have achieved a long term goal of running and conquering a small part of the Alps. It is a truly awesome, inspiring and humbling playground that is a true test of endurance, technique and mind management… I absolutely loved it, an EPIC adventure in one of the toughest playgrounds in Europe.


When you stand on a start line, you take a risk and you take on a challenge for what lies ahead. You have done the training, you have prepared as well as you could and you control what you can. You choose to embrace or to explode from challenges. This sport is unpredictable and makes a champion out of anyone who dares to stand on the start line. In the crazy world of ultra running the focus is never on the time, but on the journey and the adventure along the way.



White Star Running - "East Farm Frolic"

Chickens, pigs, cows, superheroes...
That was just the runners that had turned up to participate in the inaugural White Star Running "East Farm Frolic"...a 12hr event that involved running around a 3.8 mile rural lap as many times as you wanted to. Runners could opt for a solo run or participate in teams of 2, 3 or 4 runners as a relay event.

For those that are new to White Star events then the scene could best be described as organised madness...runners of all abilities pitch up in an array of outfits that would grace the shelves of any self respecting fancy dress shop; the thing is that nobody gets a second glance even if they are dressed as a huge inflatable chicken about to toe the line for an 12hr endurance event!?!
It was great to see a wide range of clubs, groups of friends, seasoned runners, newbies all taking to the start line for a rural adventure.

I was in a relay team of 4 from Stubbington Green Runners and our intention was to just run and enjoy the event...we had no plan of action apart from transporting our pink & purple rubber chicken baton around the course as safely as we could (nothing unusual about the choice of baton!!)...we had strict instructions to hand our chickens across to the next runner in the specific "Chicken Handover Zone"...pretty sure I have not come across one of these in any other event.

The course was a cheeky rural 3.8 mile lap with a few good climbs, mud, straw bales, the infamous "Lovestation" and great encouragement from all of the other runners. As a team we made our way around 11 laps before deciding to put our feet up, collect our goodie bags complete with a souvenir rubber chicken and have a well earned cuppa.

It was great to see that the Fareham Crusaders had 3 teams taking part and had even gone the extra yard by actually making a costume for their rubber chicken...attention to detail. A special shout out to 2 other local runners who had decided to take on the solo challenge...Stubby Greens Julie Ashman and Gosport Road Runners Lisa Hennen were ticking off the laps at a consistent rate and were always smiling and loving the extraordinary atmosphere.

If you enjoy trail running and are just a little bit mad (aren't all runners) then any White Star Running event is a must will be guaranteed a great atmosphere, rural miles, mud, hills, an eclectic mix of running attire and some great bling...what more could you want.

Peak Health Runner Blog Creation

Check back here for various ramblings about all things running & fitness...

Peak Health and RunCamp is off to Dorset today to take part in the White Star Running "East Farm Frolic" team relay event...Rural Miles, Hills and Rubber Chickens, should be a blast!?! Event report to follow

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