Reigate Half 2023

Race Information


ASub 1:40No
BPB (sub 1:41)No
CFinish Strong & Enjoy itNo comment…
Set less ambitious goals in future!



I used a half-marathon plan from Ben Parkes for this event and the training generally went pretty well and I enjoyed the plan and the mix of runs. It had me running further than I ever had before, and doing more volume than I had before but I wasn’t injured and I was able to achieve all the specified paces for the effort sessions. Due to the summer holidays and planned trips, I did miss the last three long runs. I’m ok with that decision, as I chose to prioritise being on holiday with my young family rather than going out for 2hr runs. But I can’t help that think this affected by race performance

So the training went well, up until the last couple of weeks. 10 days before the event (Thursday) I did a double session of run in the morning and 30min strength workout in the evening (as per the plan). I probably pushed the strength work too hard as I was back home so could do Nordic hamstring curls and weighted squats which I hadn’t been able to do while on holiday. Then I was still tight when I went to run on Saturday morning, meaning that I had bad form and that evening was dealing with what felt like some plantar fascitis in my left foot and ITB issues in my right knee. Maybe unrelated, but I also seemed to have got ill – sleeping HR was elevated and I was very snotty and congested. The week of the race I just did two 30 min runs and by Sunday I was hopeful that I had enough miles in the bank from earlier in my training to get me round and to achieve my goals.


I didn’t sleep that well, and then the taxi that I had booked to get me to the station was late so not an ideal pre-race. I got the train on time though and then headed to the event. On the train I ate a banana and a chia flapjack bar and drank a flask of coffee. I normally run fasted first thing in the morning, this event was a bit later but I didn’t want to have too much food inside me. I arrived at the event in plenty of time, picked up my race number and used the toilets before the queues built up.

I had quite a lot of time to kill so tried to relax as much as possible before it was time to head over to the start pen. I’d been weighing up what pacing strategy to follow, in the end I decided to just go with the 1:40 pacers and let them worry about all the pacing. I hoped this would allow me to settle into the run more. The alternative was to try to start slower and run negative splits and also slow on the hills more but I decided that having a group would be more helpful based on my last experience (

The course was hillier than my last half-marathon, but I’d trained more for this one (with the exception of the last couple of weeks) so I hoped that a PR was still a plausible goal.


I felt great at the start, there was music playing and a really good atmosphere. There was a bit of a false start which was weird but then we were underway. The course started with a bit of a hill and the pacers went up it pretty fast, maybe faster than I would have done on my own. I decided to stick with them though rather than changing plan. In hindsight I should maybe have gone slower up and faster down the hills but who knows.

Everything was going pretty well, I tried to not look at my watch too much and just sat behind the pacers hoping they would pull me round. I had a gel at about 33min in, and tried to take water from the water stations. It was quite hot and humid and I was sweating a lot. The water was in paper cups which were difficult to drink from and so I ended up mostly pouring them over myself but my gels were isotonic so I wasn’t too worried.

After about 14km it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to stick with the pacers much longer. My legs were really heavy and I wasn’t going to be to keep that pace to the end. The last time this had happened I really pushed myself into the pain cave to get round, this time I decided that I would drop the pace right off and treat this as a training race before a 10k that I have in a few weeks. Today wasn’t going to be my day for whatever reason, and so I decided to back off. I tell myself this, but realistically I’m not sure I could have done anything else and my HR was still 180+ for most of the last 7k. I saw the 1:45 pacers go past me but I was really suffering.

Throwing water over myself and the warm conditions meant that my shirt was sodden. This would have bad consequences for my left nipple.

There was one brutal hill right in the last 2k and I pushed hard up this, with some encouragement from the crowd. I was looking forward to cruising down the other side but got cramp in my left hamstring which I’ve not had on a run before. I don’t think the 3 gels and bits of water from the stations was enough for the conditions today.

My right nipple had also bled through my (white) shirt by now. Again not something I’d had before or was expecting, but think it was down to just how wet my shirt was from all the sweat and the water. So a few funny comments from spectators, and shocked looks from children but by this point I just wanted to get to the finish. I tried to smile for the cameras as I came across the finish, but this is the face of a broken man:


I couldn’t stop sweating for about 20min after the race. Very tired, despite “backing off” for the last 7k and giving up on the PB. I stretched off, had a couple of beers and headed off. It was a great event, really well organised and a good course. Would be really fun to reach that final hill with something in the tank and then fly up and down it into the finish.

My legs were sore for days afterwards, quads were really sore for about a week. The run also really aggravated the plantar fascitis and ITB issue that I’d picked up the week before the race. Was actually struggling to get down stairs

Lessons for next time:

  • Running with DOMS is a bad idea and will impact you long-term. Go easy on the weights if you haven’t done them for a while
  • Park the ego, go with the slower pacer group or do own thing and finish stronger for a more enjoyable race
  • When it’s hot I need to take my own water + electrolytes and actually drink what’s given out on the course
  • Tape / Vaseline / Bodyglide nipples!!

This was a great event though which I’m keen to do again to lay to rest some demons. I’m not sure it’s a PR-friendly course with that big hill at the end, but I imagine there can be an awesome runner’s high coming down the other side if you have paced yourself appropriately

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