The best Surrey running events to train for in 2016
PUBLISHED: 12:07 09 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:19 10 May 2016
With such beautiful countryside on our doorstep, Surrey is the perfect place to take up running. Here, Christina Macdonald, author of the new book Run Yourself Fit, looks at some of the many health benefits – and brings us a few of the best local events to consider training for…
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2016
Anyone can run. Provided you’re healthy and mobile, it’s never too late to start. You don’t need to be thin, and you don’t need to be young.
What is more, running is one of the best ways to burn fat and improve your health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), regular cardiovascular exercise like running can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 30 per cent, reduce your risk of dementia by 30 per cent and decrease your risk of coronary heart disease by 40 per cent.
It’s beneficial for older people too. A study at Stanford University in California that looked at runners’ heart health found that older runners were at less risk of heart disease than their peers.
It’s also convenient. You don’t have to join a gym or learn a new skill, and you can start at your own pace. What is more, there are some beautiful scenic routes across Surrey, which definitely helps when it comes to motivation!
In addition, there are plenty of great running clubs if you fancy some company, as well as a number of fantastic, fun, family-friendly events suitable for all abilities. So if you want to boost your motivation, it could be worth signing up for a summer or autumn 5K or 10K race and giving yourself a compelling reason to get fit – we’ve listed a few of the best local events for you just over the page.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, so long as you stick to a regular schedule, your fitness will improve swiftly.
Get the right kit
Before you start, though, it’s essential to get fitted for a pair of running shoes that suit your running style and provide adequate cushioning where you need it most. For women, it’s also important to ensure you have a supportive, high-impact, running sports bra.
It’s worth visiting a specialist running shop where trained staff can advise you on what you require. Runners Need has stores in Chertsey and Kingston, and there’s also Alton Sports in Farnham, Fitstuff in Guildford, Simply Sports in Oxted and Reigate, and Sporting Feet in Richmond, to name but a few. You should try out several pairs of shoes before making a choice and it’s worth investing in a wicking top and pair of bottoms, which draw moisture away from the body, keeping you comfortable when you run. A high-visibility top is also a good idea if you intend to run in the dark.
How to start
Many people think they can’t run because they tried it in the past and found it too difficult, but it’s often because the person went off too fast. Running as if you’re sprinting for a bus isn’t the right pace. Even professional sprinters can’t sprint for long!
When you first start, begin with a five-minute warm-up of brisk walking, then jog or run at the speed of chat. This means being able to have a full conversation if you had someone next to you. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 out of 10 being a flat-out sprint and 4 out of 10 being a gentle warm-up, aim to be at a 6 or 7.
Mix running intervals with walking. After your warm-up, run for 30 seconds or one minute, then walk for one minute and then repeat. Gradually build up to running non¬stop for five minutes. As you get fitter, the walking breaks can decrease and you can begin to run for longer. Eventually, you won’t need the walking breaks.
Finish your run/walk session with a cool¬down, where you gradually bring your pace down over a three¬to¬five minute period, giving your heart rate a chance to come down gradually. Afterwards, stretch your legs and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
The next day, either rest or do some low¬impact exercise like yoga, Pilates or swimming. Running is a high¬impact activity, which means your bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments need time to get used to it. So don’t run on consecutive days – three times a week with a rest day in¬between is perfect.
On each run, add another walk/run block, but build the distance up gradually. Don’t jump from running for 15 minutes to trying to run for 30 minutes. Always follow the 10 per cent rule – which basically means not increasing the total volume per week by more than 10 per cent.
Once you start feeling fitter, you may want to set yourself a challenge of taking part in a race. A 5K or 10K distance is ideal for newer runners, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t build up to running a half¬marathon one day.
Setting a goal
As mentioned earlier, there are some excellent local events coming up in Surrey this year, so on the following pages we’ve compiled a few of the best. Find a friend or partner who fancies a challenge and sign up. There’s nothing like the focus of a deadline to help get you fit…
Christina Macdonald is the author of Run Yourself Fit (Summersdale, £6.99), available now online and in all good bookstores, as well as editor-at-Large of Women’s Running and a Level 3 personal trainer. She’s also a keen runner herself, and has completed ten half-marathons and two marathons. She lives and runs in Surrey. Follow her on Twitter : @writefitchris
Dates for your diary
Date: Sunday May 22
Location: Pippbrook Meadows, Milton Court Lane, Westcott Road, Dorking RH4 3EQ
A great one to do with family and friends, the Colour 5K includes a colour zone at every kilometre, where ‘Colour Bandits’ shower you with powder. Each zone has a different colour. The £20 entry fee includes a free white T-shirt.
Find out more: colour5k.co.uk
Polesden Lacey 10k
Date: Sunday June 12
Location: Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham RH5 6BD
Enjoy a 10k run across this beautiful 1,400-acre estate with stunning views across the Surrey Hills. There is also a 2k fun run for those who don’t want to tackle the whole thing. Entry fee: £16.
Find out more: eventstolive.co.uk
North Downs Way Marathon and Half¬Marathon
Date: Sunday July 10
Location: Reigate Golf Club, Gatton Bottom, Reigate RH2 0TU
A scenic summer run starting from the Reigate Golf Club and following the North Downs Way trail on an out-and-back course. This route will be a mixture of steep, downhill/uphill trail running, so one for the more advanced runner. All finishers get a race medal. Entry fee starts from £26.
Find out more: hermesrunning.com
Thames Meander Marathon and Half¬Marathon
Date: Saturday August 13
Location: YMCA Hawker Centre, Lower Ham Road, Kingston KT2 5BH
A flat, scenic, riverside trail along the Thames path with spectacular views and all finishers get a race medal. Entry fee starts from £31.
Find out more: hermesrunning.com
Dash of Colour 2016
Date: Saturday September 3
Location: Frimley Lodge Park, Frimley Green GU16 7HY
Another powder-paint 5K race that’s lots of fun and also raises money for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. Entry fee from £18.
Find out more: pth.org.uk/events/dash-of-colour
Surrey Bacchus Marathon, Half¬Marathon and 2.5k Fun Run
Date: Sunday September 11
Location: Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking RH5 6AA
We kid you not, this is a wine-tasting marathon and half-marathon with six wine-tasting stations, a post-race barbecue, fancy dress and stunning off-road views. For those new to running, a 2.5K fun run is also available. Entry fee is £46 for the main races and £5 for the fun run.
Find out more: eventstolive.co.uk
Run Reigate Half- Marathon and 10K
Date: Sunday September 18
Location: Priory Park, Bell Street, Reigate RH2 7RL
Starting in the stunning Priory Park, this is a closed-roads race of either a half-marathon or 10K. With a warm-up led by British Military Fitness, there is live music on the course along with water stations and a T-shirt for finishers. Entry fee from £27.
Find out more: jellyfish.co.uk/runreigate
Surrey Hills Challenge
Date: Sunday September 25
Location: The Greensand Way, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
People of all ages and fitness will be able to participate in four different running and walking challenges, ranging from an easy 5k to a super-tough 60k, with all funds being ploughed back into supporting this spectacular stretch of countryside through the Surrey Hills Trust Fund.
Find out more: surreyhillschallenge.com