Newsletter December 2016


Resolution time!

img_4126Christmas is behind us, along with all the overeating, drinking and, hopefully, hangovers (at least until New Year’s Day). This is traditionally the time of year to make New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions, most are broken before the end of January. Studies have shown that those most likely to stick to their resolutions have chosen single, clear goals rather than lots of more general things like getting healthier or losing weight. Promises that involve self denial, like giving up drinking or chocolate are also mostly doomed to failure. It seems to me, if you have to make a resolution and you want to keep it, it would be wise to choose to do more of something you love. My suggestion for Spitfires would be to resolve to keep on running in 2017.

Happy Birthday


On 8 December the Itchen Spitfires turned two and the Thursday run turned into a bit of a party. It began in the Woolston Millennium Garden with the presentation of balloons, flowers and bottles of beer (Spitfire beer of course) to John and Rachel. Then, despite the damp, slightly drizzly weather, there was a bit of running. Obviously, it wouldn’t have been a party without cake so, after the run, everyone retired to The Yacht for a celebratory drink and yummy cakes.

No Birthday would be complete without presents and, thanks to a lot of secret messages, collections and hard work on the part of Amanda and Amelia, John and Rachel now have some beautiful engraved beer glasses.


Sunday Runday!


Races are a little thin on the ground in December but typically, a little like buses, when they do come, they all come at once. On Sunday 11 December there were three races to choose from and there were Spitfires at all of them. If ever I wished I could be in three places at once this was it.

The December CC6 was at Janesmoor Pond, near Stoney Cross. Despite heavy fog a few hardy Spitfires turned out to brave the inevitable mud. A bevy of Santas kindly took time out of their busy festive schedule to marshal the race and, with the lovely Kylie otherwise occupied in Portsmouth, a certain newsletter writer filled in collecting finish numbers. Thankfully no one got lost in the fog but the Spitfires who ran ended the race a great deal muddier than they started. Afterwards there were well earned cakes.


From the photos taken at Bovington by Paul, Kali and Emma, it looks like the Spitfires had far better weather for the half marathon. They may have had blue sky and sunshine rather than fog but it also looks as if they had more mud. Sadly, this meant all the fantastically Christmassy costumes got rather dirty. Still, they did at least get a medal for their efforts.


Meanwhile more Santas than I have ever seen in my life descended upon a sunny looking Portsmouth for the Santa Run. Thanks to Kylie, Maria and Frankie, the event didn’t go unphotographed. There were three races, a 1 mile, a 5K and a 10K along with four medals that went together to make a snowflake for everyone who completed all three races. If that isn’t a reason to get up on a Sunday morning then I don’t know what is.

Obviously, before next year I need to get to work on some kind of teleportation system so I don’t miss out on all the fun and photo opportunities.

Food for thought


For most of us the last few weeks have been one long round of eating and drinking. Now most of the cakes and chocolates have gone, some of us might be finding those running shorts a little snugger than usual. The good news is that running burns around one hundred extra calories per mile so, in theory, it should be easy to dispense with those Christmas pounds. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Unfortunately, one hundred calories isn’t as much as you’d think and not all calories are created equal.

Most runners have favourite pre and post race foods or drinks but, when you look at the calorie content in some of these, it can come as a bit of a shock. The average banana for instance, is around 108 calories and has vitamin B6, potassium and fibre, making it one of the better choices after a run. Just one tablespoon of peanut butter contains 94 calories and a slice of wholemeal bread is around 100 calories, meaning you’d need to run two miles to burn off one slice of peanut butter on toast. A bowl of porridge is a great start to the day but, made with skimmed milk and 50g oats, it will set you back around 300 calories. A swift parkrun should just about burn that off. You’d also need to run a parkrun to burn off the average energy bar as most contain 200/300 calories.

What about drinks though? A specialised chocolate milk recovery drink will set you back around 330 calories while a bottle of Lucozade Sport is around 140 calories. Caloriewise a latte might be a better choice. A medium skinny latte is 109 calories from Costa or 120 from Starbucks, while a Costa hot chocolate is 235 calories or, from Starbucks, 250. Unless you’re running a marathon though, don’t even think about choosing one of the

chocolate is a fruit, really!
chocolate is a fruit, really!

flavoured coffees like caramel latte, they could easily double the calorie count, and those fancy cakes could set you back 500 calories or more!

When it comes to pre and post race snacks, maybe it’s best to stick to fruit. Of course, the cocoa pod is a fruit and the bean that is made into chocolate is the seed inside the fruit. Technically then, chocolate is a fruit….

Upcoming events 


Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events

This is not a complete list of all races. If anyone knows of any I’ve missed please let me know so I can add them next time.

Interview with the Spitfire of the Year!


Every year a vote is held at the End of Year Party to choose the Spitfire of the year. This year’s winner was the  wonderful Paul Leeming. As Paul was Spitfire of the month in August it felt a bit cruel to question him for a second time  but, hey ho…

How  does it feel to be chosen as Spitfire of the Year? 

It feels really humbling as well as surprising, especially in a club full of so many great people.

What’s the best thing you’ve gained from running?

The people I have met and the encouragement and support I have received.

What advice would you give to new runners?

Don’t worry about everyone else’s pace, just enjoy your own. After all, you are out running and not sat at home.

What is your favourite bit of running kit?

My running belt and marmite water bottle. I feel lost without either of them.

If you could go running anywhere in the world where would it be?

The Falkland Islands for the amazing wildlife and challenging running conditions.

Will you be making any New Year’s Resolutions and, if so, what are they?

My goal for next year is to complete my first marathon which will be in Dorchester.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

The ability to remember people’s names – not considered a super power by a lot of people but it would be for me.

A marathon, not a sprint

img_4252Running a marathon is probably one of the biggest challenges most runners will face. With Southampton hosting a full marathon in 2017 quite a few Spitfires will be tackling the full 26.2 for the first time. Obviously, training is vital when you’re aiming to run such a long distance and there are lots of different training plans available. In fact, there are so many and so much conflicting advice, it can be hard to know where to start. To help any would be marathon runners I asked a few marathon veterans for their advice. This is what they told me…


  • The biggest challenge is getting to the start. All the hard work, the tears, the soreness the aches and pains and all the self doubting are worth it as soon as you get to that start line.
  • Go with what you know, on marathon day do not wear that new top, shoes, shorts or socks if you haven’t already run your long run in them! It’s a long way to the finish line and chafing at mile 10 is usually time for tears by mile 20!


  • Don’t start training too soon and don’t try skipping to the furthest distances too soon! Following a three month plan works.
  • Maranoia actually exists!! You will think you are injured all the time and everyone around you becomes a potential infection risk, especially in the last few weeks before the Marathon. I’d convinced myself both knees were hurting, like my original ITB injury, and that I had an appendicitis (lol) on Marathion day. As soon as the run started, I felt no pain. It had all been in my head!


  • Decent trainers are essential. Definitely get a gait test before you start training
  • Find a training plan, tailor it to what suits you and you life (eg. long runs don’t have to be on a Sunday). Print it, stick it on your wall and tick each run off as you go. I found this strangely motivating.


  • Use your training to practise your hydration and nutrition. New gels on race day can be disastrous.
  • Listen to your body and rest if you need to. Missing the odd run is not a disaster but overdoing it can be, especially as the big day gets closer.



  • Run your own Race- if you plan to run with someone, make a pact that if one goes down the other continues guilt free.
  • Run your marathon in all of the kit you trained in.  Don’t do anything new on the day.



  • Use a good on-line route planner, “map o meter” or “map my run” as they will help you plot varying routes.
  • On long runs, try and get a group of equal (ish) ability. Helps relieve the potential monotony!



Watch out next month for more pearls of marathon wisdom. If you’re a marathon veteran with some of your own to share, let me know, I’m sure Spitfires preparing for their first marathon would be all too glad of the advice.

December PB’s 


There were a surprising number of PB’s again this month, despite the cold and the fog. Thanks to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who appears on it.




Clare McCusker 21.04
Cameron Sommerville Hewitt 20.47
Christopher Manighetti 23.51
Gary James Nias 24.23
Marcus Hewitt 26.14
Sarah Sherman 30.29
Lucy Pearce 28.07
Darren Palmer 21.32
Theresa Quartermaine 29.15
Jamie Foster 19.10
Emma Hart 22.11
Olivia Risk 34.47
Adam Ruddy 21.06
Lucy Ashton 25.05
Vicky Waters 31.08
Charley Lloyd 33.12

Five Mile

Gerry Robson 30.33
Andy Herman 20.28


Jamie Foster 40.47

Name the Spitfire 

This year I’ve been taking photos of Spitfires at lots of races and I’m getting quite good at recognising them from their running style when they are just a blur in the distance. How well do you know your team mates? Can you name the six Spitfires below?


How much did you know about Parkrun? Here are the answers to last month’s quiz

  1. There are 425 parkrun locations in the U.K.
  2. The first parkrun was in 2004 with just 13 runners.
  3. 14 Countries have parkrun
  4. The first international parkrun was held in Denmark in 2009

Club run/pub run 


The last official club run of the year, on 22 December, was more like a pub run than a club run. A squadron of Spitfires, including a walking group led by Theresa Hamer, left the feather in full festive gear and ran or walked into Southampton, stopping off at a total of three pubs along the way. From the photographs it looks as if everyone stayed well hydrated courtesy of a great deal of alcohol, although I’m not sure it’s the ideal sports drink. Thankfully Lindsay, Frankie, John and Theresa stayed sober enough to take a few photos.  The citizens of Southampton must have wondered what had hit them!

Christmas parkruns 


Despite the need for last minute shopping and the lure of unopened presents, the two Christmas weekend parkruns were well attended. On Christmas Eve the weather was kind. Mrs Clause came along to help out the Run Director, Rob and an assortment of elves abandoned their gift wrapping/toy making duties to volunteer.

On Christmas morning there were more Santas, elves and assorted fairies on Southampton Common for the penultimate parkrun of the year. Run Director, Kate, assisted by Toby, made sure everything ran smoothly and organised all the wonderfully festive volunteers.



imageNew Year’s Day Parkrun Double! 

Don’t forget the parkrun double on New Year’s Day. If you’re not too hung over, or maybe if you haven’t actually made it home and gone to bed at all, you could start the day with Netley Parkrun at 9.00 and then nip over to Southampton Common for parkrun number two at 10.30. If you don’t fancy actually running but would like to soak up the atmosphere, why not volunteer? The parkrun team always need more volunteers, especially over the festive season, so your help would be very much appreciated. In fact, why not make it your New Year’s resolution to volunteer regularly during 2017? Click the link to find out more or to put your name down.

Watch out winter is here 

img_4481Winter is well and truly with us and, with it, the threat of ice and maybe even snow. If you’re out running in the freezing weather please keep a look out for ice. The last thing you want to do is fall and break something. The last time that happened to me I broke someone’s garden fence!

When running in snow or icy conditions, shortening your stride will keep your feet under your centre of gravity and help keep you stable. Remember too that running in these conditions uses different muscles so don’t expect to be able to run as far or as fast as normal.

Hats can make you overheat but, without them, ears can get painfully cold. Headbands or ear muffs may not look great but they can be a useful alternative to hats. You may also find your feet get very cold. Thicker socks can help with this but only if you have plenty of space in your running shoes. Thick socks and tight shoes can lead to circulation problems that will make your feet even colder and could cause blisters or injuries.

Snow, if we get it, needn’t mean you have to stop running either. Yaktrax make some wonderful little dodads called Yaktrax RUN you slip over your running shoes and they are available from Blacks,  Ultimate Outdoors and Amazon. They’re specially designed to give you stability on ice and snow. I always have walking Yaktrax folded up in my bag in winter just in case and they really do work.

And finally… 

There were a clutch of parkrun milestones this month.

img_4585Sarah Shave completed her 100th run on Christmas Eve and celebrated with a well earned bacon sandwich in the Hawthorns…






img_4848Darren Palmer kept things low key when he ran his 50th parkrun on Christmas Day…






img_4845…while, also on Christmas Day, there was nothing even slightly low key when Rob Kelly notched up an amazing 250 parkruns!






Well done one and all!