Red Rose Road Runners

365 – Running For The Christie – Karl Hodgson

365 – Running For The Christie – Karl Hodgson

365 – Running For The Christie – Karl Hodgson

Foreword by Ian Wharton
A lot of club members run for charity but none more so than Karl. Last year he ran every single day as well as cycling from Lands End to John O Groats. He also makes a habit of running multiple events in close succession and getting PB’s, seemingly without effort. He does all this while at the same time being a lovely guy and a credit to the club.

Please check out his full blog at

If you decide to donate, the link is at the bottom of this post. Thanks Karl.

Mad March – Getting down to business

Just to say a quick thanks for everyone who has sponsored me so far, I need a total of £500 and I am well on my way. It is all going to a great charity which helps disabled people and their carers have some time away from their usual routines, making new friends and creating memories.

Week 9 – Marathon Training

March for myself was a big month, I had races planned in that would test me in my lead up to both the Manchester and London Marathon. At the end of February I had clocked up 272.9 miles in 43 runs. Running every day last year, it took me until the end of March to reach this distance, so it shows the amount of time I was putting into the marathon training. However, I was dealt a bit of a blow at the beginning of March. I had caught the sickness bug which was going out and it had my pants down, literally. Usually weighing around 11st 3lbs, I ended up losing 10 lbs in 3 days and dropping to 10st 7lb. My training took a hit for about a week which I wasn’t happy with, I was about 35 miles down on what I had planned. I had to move on from this quickly and gather myself for the weeks ahead.

29.02.2016 – Run #43 – 3.1 Miles – 22:38 – 7:15 /mi – Easy 5k
05.03.2016 – Run #44 – 3.4 Miles – 24:38 – 7:15 /mi – Easy 5k ish

Weekly Total – 6.5 Miles

Week 10 – Marathon Training

With now only 35 days until the Manchester marathon, I needed to get back to running some distance and getting back into the swing of things. With the Liverpool half marathon scheduled for the weekend, myself and Ste went out for a 10 mile run on the Monday. Ste was aiming for a Sub 1:40 time and myself a sub 1:22, which would give us both PB’s. The Monday run we ran at a 7:34 /mi pace, which would take Ste well under the 1:40 mark for Liverpool. It was a successful run for the both of us, it got me back in the swing of things and gave Ste a great confidence boost. I told him that if he can run that pace over 10 miles on a training run then he can definitely break the 1:40 barrier. I wanted him to target 1:38 but he told me one step at a time, I let him off as his previous half PB was 1:41:42. The rest of the week I took things steady and worked my way back into the routine I had planned. The runs got easier, I did feel a little fatigued as my eating had taken a hit, was all god though. Cuerden Valley parkrun was back around before I knew it and I woke up feeling good. With it being my 50th run at CV, I was after a PB again, Mr competitive. I am a bit silly when it comes to my plans, having the Liverpool half the day after, I should have been taking it easy, what’s the point when you can push yourself twice? It was a successful run and I took a whole second off my previous PB, finishing with a time of 18:27. I definitely had to work for this and it was the run I needed to give me confidence for the race tomorrow.


Liverpool soon arrived, after a good nights kip at Rob’s house in Liverpool, myself Rob and Ste had a short 10 minute walk to the start line. This worked out so much better for myself, no need to travel in the morning and it gave me some extra time to wake up properly. Walking down to the start my legs felt heavy, don’t know what it was but my legs didn’t feel themselves. There was no pressure for the Liverpool half though, even though at the back of my mind with a sub 1:21 time I could possibly qualify for a good for age place in the NY marathon. No pressure whatsoever, the race was part of my marathon training and was a good test to see what pace I could sustain for half the distance. The plan for the day was for me and Ste to PB, didn’t matter on the times really, faster the better. Rob had taken the Kenyan roll for the day and was pacing Ste round to a new PB, what a guy for taking the time to do this.

Ste’s half PB – 1:41:42 – Last year at Liverpool – 1:44
My half PB – 1:25:12 – 1:22:54 on a training run in 2016

Race time was here, wishing Ste and Rob good luck I moved towards the front and think I got on the 4th row, near the men who would be running sub 1:10 races. I wanted to get a clear start so I didn’t get held up, every second counts on a new PB. From what I knew, the course was flat except the first 2 miles, so my plan was to take the first 2 miles then steady, pick up the pace until 7 miles, steady from 7-10, then smash the last 5k with everything I had. To get sub 1:22, I had to run at 6:16 /mi, I had no idea if I could run that fast but time would soon tell. The race has started and my plan had gone out of the window after the first mile, 6:00 for the first mile, covering the first 3 miles in 18:01. I was feeling good and was involved with a group of 6/7 runners who pushed me a long. Through 6 miles I was at about 36:10 which I could believe, I was flying and still feeling really good. As my plan had gone anyway, In my head I just wanted to keep up with the pace I was running at. Even after 6 miles I knew I was a on for a big PB. I think at the 7th mile there was a drinks station, I took my drink but I saw another guy in our group had missed it. I kindly made a bit of an effort and caught him up and offered him the drink which he happily took. 30 seconds after he had overtaken me and was looking comfortable, the little burst took a bit out of my legs and was hoping I wouldn’t regret it. My competitive side soon came into play, how could this man overtake me after I gave him a drink? He wasn’t beating me, that was a fact. The next 4 miles went quick as I was focussed on sticking with this man and matched him for pace. The 10 mile marker went passed and I had it down as about 1:00:50, which would leave me a 21 minute 5k to get below 1:22:00. That wasn’t an option now, sub 1:20 was the target if not faster and I was so happy inside. I was smashing it, faster than I ever thought. With there being a good group of us still the pace was still very good and it was picking up again. No-one has passed me since mile 5 and I was confidence of my finish.


As I passed mile 12 I was on about 1:13:00, with just over a mile left I decided it was time to make my break. Within about 400 yards I had overtaken 3 people, the man who I had targeted was still 50 yards ahead and he was slowing, I had him and he didn’t even know about it. I overtook another man and then with a couple 100 yards to the finish I flew past him and he had no response at all. Sprinting down the home straight I saw the clock turn 1:19:00 and I finished seconds after. I couldn’t believe the timing but had little time to think about it at first. I went and collected my goody bag and then went back to watch Ste and Rob finish. At about 1:38 I saw Rob coming to the finish but no sign of Ste. I waited another couple of minutes but deep down I knew he hadn’t run sower than 1:40. Walking back to the finish I was met by Rob who had finished in a time of 1:39, no sign of Ste. Eventually catching up with him, he had left Rob earlier on and picked up the pace. Finishing time for Ste was 1:33:36… We had both SMASHED to hell out of the Liverpool half. I had taken 3:50 off my best half and Ste over 8 minutes – He told me 6 days before 1:38 was unrealistic for him. As he was running at least a mile a day for 2016, you could clearly tell the fitness he had gained and he was only going to get faster. It was great to see someone improving so fast, it was exactly what I did last year and now he’s on his way to great things. As for myself, I had smashed my PB, finished 38th out of 4825 runners, had given myself an opportunity to apply for the NY marathon in 2017. Liverpool was a successful trip and I was more confident than I had ever been going into my marathons now. My target for 2016 was the reach sub 1:22:00 – Smashed this in the first 3 months of 2016 – It was also Ste’s 28th Birthday, happy birthday and all that.

07.03.2016 – Run #45 – 10 Miles – 1:15:49 – 7:34 /mi – Steady 10 Miles
08.03.2016 – Run #46 – 3.1 Miles – 18:27 – 5:55 /mi – Steady 5k
10.03.2016 – Run #47 – 5 Miles – 29:41 – 5:56 /mi – Steady 5 Miles
10.03.2016 – Run #47 – 1 Mile – 6:30 – Warm Down
12.03.2016 – Run #48 – 3.1 Miles – 18:27 – 5:56 – CV parkrun – New PB
13.03.2013 – Run #49 – 13.1 Miles – 1:19:04 – 6:02 /mi – New PB

Weekly Total – 36.3 Miles

Week 11 – Marathon Training

After a hard run on the Sunday I thought I would treat myself to a Monday off, it wasn’t part of the plan but I allowed this. It had taken a lot out of me the day before so I had to refuel and rehydrate for the upcoming training.


My main aim for the week was to stay fit for Sunday, it was the Trimpell 20 race, 20 miles around Lancaster which would be a nice little tester a few weeks before the marathon. Leading up to this I did an easy 5k and 12 miles with the mighty RRRR. I had been a member for nearly 12 months and I had never been to a Thursday run at the poachers. Poor on my behalf really. I thoroughly enjoyed the outing as it was nice to ease of the pace a little bit. When I go out on my own I always push myself and very rarely take it easy. It was a great change to have a chat with fellow club members at a nice steady pace. Cleared up a few things on the marathon side and talked about the upcoming year and doing well for the club. I will make sure once the marathon training is over I make more of an effort to get involved with the people that help run the club and keep it going. As always, Saturday was here and it was parkrun time again. With the 20 miler in mind, I said to myself I would take it easy, I didn’t. I set another PB with a time of 18:26, 1 second faster than the previous weeks and 4 PB’s on the trot. I had to work very hard for that 1 second but it was progress still. Now onto the biggy, Trimpell 20. I had been looking forward to this for weeks. I had prepared well and it was going to be a great test just a few weeks before my marathon. After my really good half marathon the week before, I really didn’t know what time I could achieve in race conditions. I had been through my plan and thought it through for the past week or so. My aim wasn’t to run as fast as I could for 20 miles, it was to make it to 20 miles in a good pace and still have a lot left for the last 10k.
If I could run 20 miles in between the times of 2:05 and 2:15, that would leave me a lot of time to play with come the last 10k. Thing is, I don’t think I have ever stuck to any of my plans before so this was going to be a challenge on its own. Race time was here and it was time to get the legs moving. It was a very nice day, nice and fresh with a bit of a breeze but nothing too much. It was a quick start and the first mile I ran in 6:06, straight away I knew I had gone off to quick. I slowed it own straight away and settled into a pace of around 6:20 /mi. It took me a few miles to settle in but by mile 5 I was feel good about the day and already 1/4 in. I had covered the 5 miles in about 31:30 so was a really good pace. As for the past few races, I had been a similar pace to a certain Robert Walsh. As you can see in the photo he was ahead of me from the start. Robert is a really strong runner and I knew if I was close to him I was on for a good time for sure. The miles seem to fly by and before I knew it I was at the 10 mile marker. I had covered the distance in 1:03:27 which worked out 6:21 /mi. So half way through I was well on for my target time and feeling good. The course had been pretty flat so far and I knew there was more of a challenge in the 2nd half of the course. It was at about the 10 mile mark I eventually caught up with Robert and we ended up running together and pushing each other on. It was great to have him running next to me as he dragged me through some bad times. I wasn’t struggling physically but at about the 14 mile mark we did a 180 degree turn and at this point I just started to waver for about a minute or so. Straight back into it I cracked on and kept up the good pace which was round 6:30 /mi. At about the 16 mile mark one of Rob’s fellow club runner was coming up to the 12 mile mark the other way and he had shouted that we was in 25th/26th place. Straight away, literally seconds after I had eyed up the competition in front and was working out when I would be overtaking them. As long as no-one came past me I knew I could squeeze into the top 20. This kept me focused and no matter what distance I run I always have a strong finish. Some of the people ahead of me had already passed me earlier in the race, at speed, so I had a feeling I would be stronger over the last 2 miles.


Decision made, at the 18 mile mark I would make a break and step up the pace. At the 18 mile mark I was at about 1:55:35 so I knew I had run well so far and had a lot left in my legs. I started to make the break and overtook 3 people on the 19th mile which I ran in 6:35, pretty steady I thought. I kept working on the runners ahead and I was closing in on them towards the finish. What I had forgotten about was the horrific hill back up to the finish which was inside Lancaster Castle. I made a dash up the hill pushing hard and caught another 2 people and nearly caught a 3rd but just ran out of ground. I didn’t know at the time but I had made the top 20 with a finish time of 2:09:12 – 6:28 /mi. I was more than happy with this, yes I had pushed myself at parts but I felt like I had quite a lot left in the tank. This pace would leave me over 50 minutes for the last 10k on marathon day. Overall a very successful day and with 3 weeks to the Manchester marathon I was feeling good about it all. A sub 3 marathon was well on the cards, this would qualify for a good for age place opening the door to London, Boston, New York and Chicago for future marathons.

15.03.2016 – Run #50 – 3.2 Miles – 22:32 – 7:02 /mi – Easy 5k
17.03.2016 – Run #51 – 11.4 Miles – 1:41:27 – 8:52 /mi – RRRR run
19.03.2016 – Run #52 – 3.1 Miles – 18:26 – 5:56 /mi – CV parkrun – New PB
20.03.2016 – Run #53 – 20 Miles – 2:09:12 – 6:28 /mi – Trimpell 20 – New PB

Weekly Total – 37.7 Miles

Week 12 – Marathon Training

With Manchester now 3 weeks away, it was time to begin the tapering process. I had read so much on how tapering will give you the best marathon results and it’s better going into a marathon well rested than fatigued, which makes obvious sense. Being honest, yes I had followed some sort of marathon plan but I had pretty much blagged the past 12 weeks of training. Never the less I was blagging it well and was confident in my body and had a great mind set approaching the final few weeks. Over the period so far I had listened to peoples views on marathons and how they train. Everyone has a different view and it’s great to pick up tips from each individual. Some people swear by the 3 weeks taper, as well as the magazines, which I should listen to really. Other people have said listen to your own body, if you’re running well then why stop. I find myself as a confidence runner, if I am improving, running well, legs feeling good, then I would happily run all day long. This being the first set of marathons I have trained for, I am willing to make my own mistakes and learn from them. In the long run it will make me a better runner and going through certain experiences will only make me stronger. Not that I had made any real mistakes yet, I was prepared to though. Saying this, the taper was put on hold to an extent as the 3rd RRRR Championship race was scheduled in for Easter Friday. It was going to be a nice little trip to Calder Vale for a hilly 10 mile race. I spent the week resting up quite well after Trimpell as it had taken a little bit out of me, the rest was needed as Calver Vale was going to be a tough race. Race day soon arrived and it was time to head north. Traffic being a nightmare a lot of runners missed out on the start of the race and some missed out all together. I had also struggled getting there but I got there 10 minutes before the start. Trainers on, a quick jog to get my bib number and it was time to race. It wasn’t the best prep at all but was my own fault. With there being a great turn out from RRRR again with some very good runners, I was going to have to work hard to maintain my good work. I knew before the race that I had competition from Duncan and Simon so had to run well to keep up with them. Race underway, I had a good start, this did help with the first 2 miles being down hill. The first 2 miles I covered in 5:39 and 5:27, I knew this was too fast.


After mile 2, the elevation started to kick in and at this point I was regretting the fast start. With some major hills to come I knew I was going to have to work. It did help at first by the fact Simon and Duncan were by my side and 3 Red Rosers were occupying 4th, 5th and 6th place and running strong. For the next couple of miles we kept as a trio and ran well, think it was about mile 5ish that Duncan made a break and start powering off up the hills. I think the fact me and Simon had run Trimpell we was both still recovering from that run 5 days earlier, even though Duncan had cycled 18 miles to the race. Anyhow, the hills started to get to me and I could feel my thighs burning and definitely working over time. Some of the hills were just silly, over 10% gradient, it felt like I was walking up them at times. It as a good feeling that after mile 7 a nice little down hill section appeared from nowhere which I was delighted to see. Me and Simon still pretty much neck and neck, I could still see Duncan a head. I had worked out he was about 45 seconds ahead at the 7.5 mile mark. I clocked him run past a car and timed it until I got there. These are the tactics I use in races sometimes, I told you I am not competitive at all. At mile 8 it was back up hill again and I had no power left to drive up, at this point Simon made a move and went passed me, I had no answer at all as I was spent. It lasted for about half a mile but he had already gained some good distance on me and it was going to be hard to claw it back. From what I knew it was all down hill for the rest of the race so it was going to be a good finish. I had covered mile 8 and 9 in 5:53 then 5:57. I was about 15 seconds behind Simon and about 40 behind Duncan at the end of mile 9. With only the 1 mile left, it was time to put my foot down and see if I could possibly catch either of them. I was moving fast over the last mile but didn’t have enough to catch them. Duncan finished in 4th with 1:01:12, Simon 5th with 1:01:22 and myself 6th with 1:01:35.


It was a strong from all 3 of us and we had definitely won the men’s team prize with those finishes. Was a great team run from the 3 but on the day I didn’t have enough to keep up with them. My time of 1:01:35 averaged at 6:10 /mi which I was very happy with considering it was at least 750ft of elevation. Gave me a lot of confidence for other 10 mile races knowing I would be able to give it a good shot at running it under an hour. As well as the men’s prize the mighty RRRR won about another 4/5 categories and several other individual prizes. Overall another great day out, 3 points towards my Championship quest but I knew there was a lot more work to be done to keep up with the big boys of running. Saturday saw me back at parkrun for a change, I was there but my legs didn’t want to be. I ran a time of 19:23 and that was all out. With the tough race the day before my legs definitely didn’t want to play ball and kept me from climbing hills any sort of speed. It was a good leg loosener and was great to be able to relax a bit and smile for a photo for a change. Sunday I had a day off as I classed the 10 miler as my long run for the week, also the small matter of tapering as well.

23.03.2016 – Run #54 – 6.2 Miles – 39:53 – 6:25 /mi – Steady 10k
24.03.2016 – Run #55 – 3 Miles – 22:09 – 7:21 /mi – Easy 3 mile
25.03.2016 – Run #56 – 10 Miles – 1:01:35 – 6:10 /mi – Calder Vale 10
26.03.2016 – Run #57 – 3.1 Miles – 19:23 – 6:14 /mi – CV parkrun

Weekly Total – 24 Miles

So with 12 weeks now done and dusted, I now had 14 days until the Manchester marathon and 28th days until London as well. I was very pleased with my progress and was training really well. I was most definitely the fittest I had ever been I was really looking forward to smashing both marathons in under 3 hours. I never find training an issue, I enjoy every part of it. Pushing myself hard and having to keep disciplined for sure. I have stayed away from drink for most of the year and this has kept me in good shape. I do not miss the hangovers at all but I am really looking forward to having a good night out after London, until then, I have to keep my head and stay strong. As you know I have been battling with smoking since February and smoking has taken over again which has disappointed me big time. I think it was the day before the Liverpool 1/2 marathon, I bought a pack for some reason and smoked 5 of them the day before the race. I then went and ran the fastest I had ever run which in my mind gave me a reason to then smoke the remainder of the cigarettes. To cut a very long story short, I was back smoking from the 13th March until the 29th March… 16 days of 3/4/5 a day and I was officially back smoking. How could I be so stupid? I was running well and getting better ever day, one good result and my mentality changed and I became cocky again. It definitely played a part in some of the races recently, especially Trimpell and Calder Vale. I will once again learn from my mistakes. Typing this on Sunday 3rd April, I have now done 6 days without cigarettes and I am feeling good about it all. Really hoping I can stay strong and resist the urge. With 2 marathons coming up I need to stay focused, if I want to reach my long term goals I need to change this way of life.


Well thanks for reading again – Manchester and London will soon be coming up and I am ready to smash both of them.

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Thanks as always.

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Karl Hodgson