Six weeks to go: Countdown is on to Berkhamsted Half 2015

Ed Banks is the reigning Berkhamsted Half Marathon champion. Picture (c) Sussex Photography
Ed Banks is the reigning Berkhamsted Half Marathon champion. Picture (c) Sussex Photography

There’s only six weeks of training to go until the borough of Dacorum holds its biggest mass participation event, the Berkhamsted Half Marathon and Five Mile Fun Run – so it’s time to get training.

The event takes place on March 1, and six weeks is ample time for regular runners – those who run at least five miles, two to three times a week – to complete either course.

Rotary Club logo

Rotary Club logo

So the coaching team from the road running section of Dacorum & Tring AC will be providing a series of weekly suggested training sessions and pre-race advice in the lead-up to the event.

Many runners planning to run in Berkhamsted will already be putting in the miles, possibly as part of a training plan culminating in a spring marathon.

An experienced runner will be aiming to do at least one session of long intervals and one long run at this point, in addition to two or three easy runs ranging from six to eight miles.

One runner with first-hand experience of running in Berkhamsted is Ed Banks, four-time winner of the men’s half marathon, most recently in 2014 when he blitzed the hilly course in 1:12:18.

Dacorum & Tring Athletics Club logo

Dacorum & Tring Athletics Club logo

Ed also holds the men’s course record, with his 2011 time of 1:10:57, and he’s coming back to the Berkhamsted Half for the 10th time in 2015.

With six weeks to go, he give us his expert insight into how he’s preparing for the big day.

“At this time of the year I try to run fairly high mileage,” he said. “A typical week for me would involve a session on a Tuesday night with a group, a tempo run on a Friday or Saturday and a long run on Sunday, with easy runs every other day.”

Ed’s course record time is only 10 seconds slower than his PB at the distance, achieved in 2012 on a flat course in Bristol – proving that, contrary to expectations, Berkhamsted does produce speedy times.

The three big climbs on the course – Bullbeggars, Nettleden to Little Gaddesden and then back up from Frithsden at mile 11 – are surmountable, he says, “if you pace yourself sensibly. A course like Berkhamsted will punish you more than a flat one will if you start too fast.

“Accept that you won’t run as fast up the hills; rather than work harder to maintain your pace, keep the effort level constant and don’t let your heart rate get too high.

“Cross country races are the ideal way to prepare for a race at this time of year as they prepare you for running hard uphill and for the changes in pace that are inevitable in a race like this.”

Many people like to run alone, but for those who prefer company, Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners offer twice-weekly training sessions tailored for all abilities.

Tuesdays are speed sessions, with interval training tailored to all from sub-3 hour marathoners to new runners. Thursdays are long runs, with five different groups out on the roads and footpaths of Hemel Hempstead.

Join them for a free taster session at any club night from 6.45pm to 8pm – more information can be found at www.dacorumandtringac.org.uk

Online entries and race T-shirt orders for the Berkhamsted Half Marathon and Five Miler can be found at www.berkorun.com