Marathon Talk Run Camp in Sandy Balls (yes Sandy Balls) is one of my favourite running events of the year. It’s run by the Marathon Talk podcast, hosted by Martin Yelling and Tom Williams and is basically a weekend of very relaxed and fun running activities.
I’ve now done it four times, and it’s been running for five (I missed the second one). I’ve met some solid friends who I’m sure I’ll be friends with for a long time. This year there were lots of familiar faces going, from both previous Sandy Balls camps and also the Austria Run Camp I did last year. So a very cool crowd and I was super excited. It’s just such a relaxed event – you don’t have to do any running if you can’t/don’t want to, but you get to socialise with other runners and have a bit of a jolly.
Happily I was sharing a lodge with some of these fantastic people. It was a brilliant bunch, and even sharing one bathroom between the six of us didn’t mar the occasion (something I’d probably have been super stressed about before). We had lots of banter, discussions and cake. I was sharing with James, John and Michelle and a couple (Kate and Chris) who I didn’t really know beforehand but who were just lovely.I arrived on Friday night straight from work. I had a teeeeeeeny mishap of missing a few turnings which caused me a lot of stress (*cough* I’m not blaming anyone buuuuuut someone told me to not listen to the SatNav because of a road closure and well, that didn’t work so well for my brain. I may have gotten a little stroppy…). Anyway, Anna-isms aside, I finally made it and eventually the whole lodge gang met up with the rest of the Marathon Talk crew and caught up and chatted away. Martin and Tom were there and it was a very relaxed and fun evening.The next morning we were up relatively early to head out to Moors Valley parkrun as a big group (we’re talking around 100 people here). I’d had a terrible night sleep because the lodge is quite loud (creaking and loud doors with thin walls) and I’m such a light sleeper but I was raring to go. It was cold though. Very cold. We carpooled to Moors Valley and then stood shuffling around in the coldness moaning about the cold, as you do.
My friend Ade was at the camp this year again which was nice as he’s been a previous years and it’s always nice to catch up with him. We then had the standard Marathon Talk group photo and then headed to the start. Jo Pavey was there too (as she was there for the Marathon Talk weekend to give a Q&A and just generally be involved) so it was cool to line-up with her. Luckily Moors Valley had been pre-warned about the arrival of 100+ extra people descending about them so it wasn’t a shock. I wasn’t intending on running very fast as I’m just coming back from my hamstring/calf debacle. Unfortunately I’d put myself far too close to the back though that as we started it took about 30 seconds for me to actually start running…and then a kilometre of winding round people as politely as I could (always awkward).
Photo credit: Moors Valley parkrun Facebook page
As I got into the run I found my legs felt good (everything feeling nice) and I had a bit more energy than I thought. Moors Valley is on compacted trail and is fairly flat, asides from a few gentle undulations. It has a nice out and back bit so you can cheer on faster and slower runners which I really liked, especially when I knew so many people. I managed to maintain a fairly steady pace without rinsing myself, making me feel very really good that I haven’t lost everything since being semi-injured. I finished 22:35. Very pleased indeed.Happily Michelle and James are super fast and we’d already previously had a Lodge Team Meeting to tackle the always annoyingly long cafe queue. The queue was only long due to the sudden influx of people but I’m remember waiting a long time last year so Michelle and James had been deployed to grab us a spot in the queue as they’d be fairly near the front running super fast. It worked out perfectly asides from John arriving just a tiny bit too late (he’s sort of injured at the moment and was taking it easy) and missed us orderingMy fry-up was, as always, delicious. As I knew we wouldn’t be eating again properly until later it was a good way to tide me over. Then we headed back to the lodge to chill for a bit (have a million cups of tea, foam roll, loll about in front of the fire chatting) before meeting back up and hearing a talk from Tim Cruse-Drew, who was the physio for Eddie Izzard during his amazing 40 marathons in 40 days through South Africa adventure.It was fascinating stuff to hear him talk. He explained how under-prepared Eddie was: he hadn’t drunk enough water, hadn’t done enough running prep or anything and yet was embarking on this incredible feat. Tim also mentioned how he swears by Sun Salutations as a great way to get the body warmed-up, blood circulation going getting the body to go through a full range of movements. He also said we needn’t bother with ice baths as there’s barely any difference in the benefits between ice and warmth in terms of what it actually does. Ice will just numb any pain rather than remove inflammation. Good to know!!Then we headed out for our second run. My legs felt good and I wanted to be involved so decided to join but take things nice and easily. Happily John felt the same so we decided to stick together in the same group (we all divided ourselves into pace groups of your goal 5k time). I went in two groups slower than my (current) goal PB with John (must have been about seven groups below John’s usual time ha!).We gently ran to a lovely nearby area in the New Forest where there was a 1k loop and 400m loop. The idea was to do 1k at comfortably tough and then 400m balls to the wall. John and I kept to conversational pace for the 1k and then sped up slightly for the 400m. It was nice and I enjoyed running and chatting. We did four repeats (with breaks in between) before jogging back. I was happy to have survived the second run (something I don’t ever do) and happy with over 8 miles for the day.We returned to the lodge and everyone showered and got ready for heading back to the main bit for dinner with the rest of the gang.
Dinner was a buffet and I filled my boots, now feeling very hungry (tho I did have a sneaky small sandwich after the intervals because I didn’t want to turn up the buffet and feel super hungry and grumpy – or have “hangxiety” (hungry anxious) as Kate called it. Love that term. I do actually get really anxious (hangxious) at buffets… something about the fear of food running out. And I’m greedy.But the food was more than plentiful and tasty. This was followed by a really interesting Q&A with Jo Pavey. Martin and Tom asked her loads of questions and it was just fascinating. She is so down to earth and normal. A lovely (and amazingly talented!) woman.She gave us insight what it was like to be a busy mum while also being an Olympic athlete. How she would have to find new ways to train, being flexible and adjusting her schedule. She also mentioned that when she won the gold medal she only put her arms up halfway as she didn’t truly believe she’d won. I mean, whaaaat! She also said how frustrated she was regarding the doping situation and how it ruined things for clean athletes. She clearly loves the sport and hates the negativity that stuff like this brings.After Jo’s talk, the ever amazing and inspiring Tony Audenshaw (Bob from Emmerdale!) conducted his running-themed quiz. Tony is such a legend. He is literally he nicest person. The nicest. And so funny. The quiz was fantastic. Our team won the bingo round which was great as it meant we got some Ferrero Rochers…yum! But we only Cake joint third in the quiz. Suspiciously Martin and Tom’s team won… uh huh 😉
Then we headed back to the lodges. There was a night run to do (a very very easy 4K plod) but my lodge and I were up for just chilling with a hot drink, midnight cake and chatting. I love these downtime moments of running camps. It’s just nice to chat to such lovely like-minded people.
Do you ever do double running in a day?
Have you ever tried ice baths?
What athletes inspire you?