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Road Running - Tips and Plans

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

Author - Graham Ascott


Well I can honestly say that I don't know whether I am pleased or disappointed.

The weather was perfect, I felt good but when I spoke to one or two of the runners at the start I found out that the course had been changed and was much hillier than previous years, great!

There were around 2500 runners so that also made the start slow, so the first 1k took 6 minutes (not what I wanted) then between 2k & 4k there were at least 3 fairly steep hills so by 5k I was well down on my target. Mentally I was shot, but I forced myself to not stop running and try and enjoy the second half of the race.

Would you believe it? I missed my target time by 1 second!! I guess that if I had known how hard the course was my target would have been easier but such is life.

A big thank you to the organisers and marshals who did a great job and if I am honest I did enjoy the race and got a great T Shirt, table mat & welsh cake at the end.

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone who wants to do a 10k but make sure you do some hill training (which luckily I did do!).



One day to go, followed my 10 week plan, done all my speed work (god I hate the interval sessions but I know how important they are). Even after doing over 100 races I still get nervous the day before the race. Ridiculous really cos I know I can do the distance easily, I have set myself an ambitious target time (no I ain't telling you!). I think the nerves are more because of my sight problems and it's a circuit that I don't know, although there is a brilliant video, online, which somebody shot using a head camera in the 2015 race. Needless to say I have watched it several times and have made a mental note of the bollards that I need to negotiate.

Ah well, with the weather forecast saying rain and 10mph breeze at least I won't have the problem of the sun in my eyes so that is good. I am just gonna give it everything I have and see what happens cos my times in training have been improving, especially over the last 4 weeks so that has given me a lot of confidence.

Anyway if you can't get down and meet us tomorrow I will post an article after the race to let you know how it went. If you can get there give us a shout (I am number 78) and have a chat with Richard who will be around the start/finish line in Cwmafan.

Fingers crossed!


Sun 4th Nov - Why not come and meet us at The Richard Burton 10k Road Race, 11.00am start - Cwmafan, Port Talbot. Richard will be around the start/finish line and would love to chat with you while Graham is taking part in the race. There are also sideshows and a Bar!!! If you are up for it why not enter the race, you can enter on the day and there are T Shirts for all finishers too.


Thought I would give you an update on my own training for the Richard Burton 10K on 4th Nov. Basically I did myself a 9 week plan which I am sticking to however I am feeling. Strangely, and I have never experienced this before, my best runs have come when I have had to force myself to go out with tired legs, or just feeling lethargic generally.

Now I am not a phsychiatrist so I can't explain this, but I am getting good results and, if it continues for the next 3/4 weeks, I am very hopeful that I will beat my target time.

It's funny, as you get older, cos my times are nowhere near as good as they were when I was at my prime in my late 30s early 40s, yet I am still getting a kick out of going out and bettering my last effort at different distances, according to my plan.

Don't get me wrong cos I am not going out every session to beat my last time, that would be folly, but I have built at least one effort or target race pace run each week and I am convinced that this, combined with the interval sessions, is what is working for me.

For anybody interested I will make a generic 10 week 10k training plan available on the site and don't forget I am always available to do a personalised running plan, for any distance, just email me at and let me know what you want and give me as much detail as to your present levels of fitness etc

That's it for now, keep on running and as I always say JFDI!!


Sadly I have to report that Willow has had to pull out of her Half Marathon because of her injury. She has been advised by her physio (and me!) not to risk doing the race, and, let's be honest it definitely is not a good idea to do 13.1 miles with a bad injury.

The good thin is that Willowis determined to recover from her injury and then go fo the race next year. It's easier said than done but commonsense has prevailed and hopefully she willgo on to do many more races in future.


All of us here at Animal Performance would like to wish one of our members, Willow Stapley, the best of luck in her first Half Marathon next Sunday (30th Sept).

Willow has not had the ideal preparation as she picked up a niggling injury which has limited the mileage she has been able to do in training, but she is running for charity and is determined to finish.

So go for it Willow, don't worry if you have to walk part of the course, the important thing is to enjoy the experience without making your injury worse. Watch the hills going downwards, as you hit the road about 4 times your body weight, and take care with the kerbs too!

Hopefully Willow will share her experience with us in this Blog after the race.


Hi All, well so much for hanging up my running shoes. I have decided that, as we only get one shot at life, I am gonna keep on running and racing (where it's safe for me to do so.

Sooooo I have entered the Richard Burton 10k in Port Talbot on Sunday 4th November 2018. Why not come down and meet me and Richard, even better why not enter as well, it's an 11am start and I am told it's a good flat course (mind you I've heard that before - Pendine!!). I have lost another stone as well so it will be interesting to see if that makes any difference to my time.

Anyway I am doing a sandwich 9 week training regime to get ready for it, if anybody wants a copy of my training plan just send me an email at

Cheers All


Hi All, firstly apologies for not posting for a while but my interenet isn't working at home, trees have nroken the phone line and it's gonna need an expensive bit of work to sort out.

One question I have been asked is about dehydration, let's face it we have had unusually warm, dry weather for this country.

Anyway it's quite simple really, always make sure you drink plenty of water, at least a litre, about an hour before your training run/race, and get yourself a hand held water bottle, you can get them in all shapes and sizes, but I used to prefer the type that fits into your fist. Then make sure you have sips every mile or so, depending on what distance you are doing, but whatever you do don't wait until you are thirsty, cos by then it's too late. Drink from about 2 miles onwards.

I used to get a friend to come out with me on his bike and actually pass me cups of water every mile or so, that helped me practice for drinking in a race, cos it ain't easy!!

Hope this helps.

07/05/2018 Hmm - there are two sayings 'There's no fool like an old fool' and 'you are never too old to learn' well I proved them both this morning. I ran my last last race (yes I thought Pendine would be my last) the Carmarthen Mayors 5K Race. Now I have always hated races that have more than one lap, so, when I got to registration and they told me it was 3 laps of the town centre I thought 'what a twit' why didn't I check it out first. Then I found out that there were too short but sharp hills on each lap that put the tin lid on it. The weather was warm and sunny too, first time my white legs had seen the light of day for years!! The course also provided me, with my sight problems, a few challenging kerbs, sharp turns and bollards to negotiate, but I thought 'sod it' I am just going to enjoy this and go carefully. I suffered the humiliation of being lapped by the leading 5 runners near the end of the 2nd lap, and, if that wasn't bad enough I also managed to turn the wrong way at the finish and had to run back around the bollards to the amusement of a large crowd of people!!

Lessons learned - Always check the route before you enter a race, once at the race, especially when its a town centre lapped race, check out where the finish is!

Having said all this I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the race, which was really well organised and supported and I want to say a big thank you to all the marshalls for doing a great job, especially the one at the finish who told me I had gone the wrong way (I only lost about 5 seconds and nobody overtook me so I wasn't too annoyed with myself.

I would recommend this annual race to any runners as Carmarthen has a smashing town centre, its well organised, well supported, cheap to enter £7 and you get a smahing medal at the end.

15/04/2018 Well I did it! In absolutely horrendous conditions, I completed the Pendine Sands Half Marathon which is basically out and back along the huge beach at Pendine. We had to run against a howling wind and driving rain for the first half of the race and to make matters worse we had a mile of soft, sticky sand to deal with at 5 miles, but on the upside once we turned to go back to the finish the wind was at our backs and it stopped raining. I am proud to say that I achieved my goal of running all the way, and, as a bonus, I ended up as Mens Champion in Under 69 Category (which I did not expect especially with a personal worse time, but I guess in the conditions not unexpected). A big thank you must go to Richard our Senior Personal Trainer who has encouraged and trained with me over the last 6 months or so and helped me lose nearly 4 stone which definitely helped my cause!

I would also take this opportunity to thank the organisers Ultra Running UK for a really professionally organised event. Have a look at their site at

Look out for a photo of me resplendent with medal and certificate, proud in my TriDri Tec Tee Shirt which definitely played a big part in my success :-

We offer personalised training plans for all standards of runners and any distances, contact us for more details
Me after finishing the Pendine Sands Half Marathon 2018


Actually this should be titled 'how not to ruin your chances'!

I'm going to share with you the mistakes I made which stopped me getting my time under 3hrs, which most runners would be well proud of, so:-

1) Don't overtrain the 2 weeks leading up to your race, if you have been increasing your mileage for the previous 20 or so weeks, the worst thing you can do is to increase again in the last 2 weeks, instead cut your mileage to half your previous weeks and don't do any hard, effort based sessions. You won't lose any fitness and you will stand on that starting line bursting with energy.

2) This leads to the next no no, which I was guilty of, you will feel so good but don't be tempted to go faster than your target time per mile. I made this mistake in the London Marathon, I had previously run in the Stafford 20 and achieved the exact time I needed to get my sub 3 hrs marathon 6 weks later. But, because it's difficult to get off to your target rate in the London, I panicked and had caught up with my time by the 6 mile marker, big mistake! The golden rule is you pay for the first 6 miles in the last 6 and that's exactly what happened to me. I should have realised, when I was passing some of my club mates who I knew were better than me, that I was overcooking it, but no, I just got carried away, damn!

3) If you start slowly just catch up gradually, this way you won't break down later, unfortunately for me I reached the drinks station at 20 miles smack on time, but then had to walk for the length of the drinks station and could not get my pace back, so ended up missing my target by 14 mins.

4) Make sure you drink water early, don't wait until you are thirsty, it's too late then.

5) Get somebody to stand around the 16/17 mile point and give you a banana, make sure you practice this in training, this will give you a boost for the final 10 miles. Yes this works if you practice in training. Once again I experienced the wrong end of this in the Abingdon marathon. I had been running with another guy for around 8 miles at the same pace, chatting away, when, at the 17 mile marker he was given a banana, he ate it slowly, and blow me down, a mile later he increased his speed and left me behind doing the same pace.

As I said these were mistakes I made, please let me know your experiences, we are never to old to learn. Good luck and as they say - JFDI

Hi all, I'm Graham, co founder of Animal Performance Ltd and veteran of over 100 running races, ranging from 2 mile relays round Hyde Park, through cross country with my old club in Birmingham, through to 6 marathons (the best of which I managed 3hrs 14mins at the age of 40).

I would love to share my experiences, both good and bad, with anybody that's interested and can also create training plans to suit individuals, no matter what level of fitness you are at, whatever distance you are doing, whatever time your target is, or whatever goals you have (weight loss, general fitness and well being, beat your personal best etc).

Why not drop me an email at with some details of your circumstances, goals etc. As far as plans are concerned there is a small charge of £5.00 for any plan and don't forget to check out our fantastic range of training gear.

In the meantime keep hitting that road!

Well I am 3 days away from my last race, after over 100 of them, I am running the Pendine Sands Half Marathon which is totally on the beach (good job with my eyesight) and the weather forecast is dreadful, oh well, as I said above, JFDI!! (see the top of the blog for what happened on the day)

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