Tough yoga, a sore ankle and switching brands

This week was a fairly normal week- on Monday after work I popped in to see my sister and niece, and Tuesday was our club run. We ended up walking the last mile or so as one of the runners hadn’t been well, and was struggling- she had told us to go ahead but it was dark and we weren’t leaving anyone behind. On Wednesday yoga was good, but tough. We were focusing on breathing when holding the poses, so some of them were held for longer, and so even the downward dog felt like a bit of a rest!

On Thursday after work I headed out for a run, aiming to do some lamp post intervals, but after around a mile my ankle started to feel weird- on the outside of the right ankle bone it felt like something was clicking. It wasn’t painful, but it didn’t feel right. I walked and stretched for a bit, hoping it would click back into place, but after running again for a bit, the same thing happened. I didn’t want to make anything worse, and there was a shortcut back home (although a scary one through a park with no lights, and then an alleyway with no lights), so I admitted defeat and cut the run short.

I have no idea what it is- it’s not a sprain as I can put weight on it. I did ice it for a bit in the evening, and sat with it up, and on Friday put a bit of tubular bandage around just for a bit of extra support, but it felt fine. After work I had a deep tissue massage booked (much needed in my shoulders especially) and after had a bit of a wander around town. I need a new passport, and after filling the form in, decided to use the Post Office check and send service where they check it all for you. I was complemented on my form-filling in skills by the lady in there, who was also impressed that in her opinion I still look the same. I found the photo thing a bit depressing as there are definitely bags under my eyes that weren’t there ten years ago.

I had some Sweaty Betty vouchers to spend, so I popped into the shop to have a look around. While they had some very cool leggings and tops (one top, which I think was actually a skiing one, I think I would wear as normal casual wear!) but what I really could do with was a new sports bra. I had read loads of good reviews for their Victory bra, but these sorts of things need to be tried on.

I usually go for Shock Absorber (I’ve tried a few others, including M&S which in my opinion were terrible and as supportive as stuffing some tissue down your top), but recently they have been annoying me a bit. I have had a few malfunctions where the straps have come undone while running, and it does seem a design flaw that to adjust the straps you need to jut slide the clip out- it’s only held in place with a hook of a mm long. Plus the strap that goes across the top of your shoulders clips like a bikini top clip, and sometimes even clips undone when I put it over my shoulders.

Ideally I would like a thermal sports bra for the winter (muscle generates heat when you run, but fat does not), so when I started looking and the sales assistant showed me one with padding, I did like the sound of the extra insulation. It’s a similar shape to the Shock Absorber one, but the clip is way more secure as it’s a little metal hook. The sales assistant ended up coming into the cubicle to check the fitting (which was totally stressful and I ended up with lovely red blotches all over the skin on my chest and neck because I wasn’t expecting that- I’d just popped out to ask her for a different size)- I wasn’t sure if I would need a larger size but she thought the fit was good so I went ahead. I am really pleased I did – jumping up and down in the changing room doesn’t really give you much of an idea, but I wore it for parkrun on Saturday (where annoyingly I got a few more ankle click twinges at random times) and Sunday for my long run, just to try it out. So far, so good. I might be a convert, and if it washes well and lasts it might mean next time I need to replace an old sports bra, it will be with this one instead.

After parkrun on Saturday (and breakfast) I headed home for a few hours of work before walking the long way (the 5 mile route) into town, and then it was so cold we put the fire on for the evening- lovely.

Long run day breakfast, some crocus flowers and the factory

Sunday was a long run day- last week I had a bit of a cut back week so I knew I wanted to run at least 10 miles this week. The route I mapped out ended being just over 11 miles, but it was enjoyable, with some hilly bits first thing (before things get too tiring). I saw some snowdrops and crocuses poking up, and the factory demolition is still going strong. Once home and showered I had a delicious chocolate almond croissant (I’d been in to Gail’s on Friday) with some tea for breakfast- so good.

Then I had a bit of time to potter in the garden- I found some snowdrops (I don’t remember if we had them last year or if they were included in the bulbs that I planted). Our willow tree was taken down last week as it was rotten- the stump shows just how rotten it actually was- there’s just a horse-shoe shape of trunk left. I also topped up the bird feeders (and moved one as the pigeons seem to have worked out a way to get to the seeds and scare all the little birds away), and had a shorter walk around to the shops as I had decided to bake brownies so needed a few ingredients. My legs were pretty tired by the afternoon, but by Monday they were OK.

Do you stick to the same brands/labels for things or do you switch it up a bit?

Unexpected parkrun tourism- Houghton Hall parkrun

So the original plan for this Saturday was to meet my dad at Heartwood forest parkrun, run there together and then go back to theirs for breakfast. Last week however, our plans were scuppered when Heartwood forest announced that it would be closed until the spring to allow the paths to recover. As we had already pencilled in a trip somewhere other than the regular places, I had a little look around. Letchworth was starting today, but they had requested a small launch so we will visit later in the year (I need it for the Queen of Herts title!). I’d seen a few people on Strava run at Houghton Hall, which is located close to Dunstable (so basically very close to the M1)- it would be around a 25 min drive from my parents home. I’d also seen it on the fab blog, blog7t, and realised that the reason why I hadn’t heard of it before was that it only started in December. It was two laps (well, two and a bit) which is always good in our book- and the route looked flat, on paths (not muddy)- winning all around.

So I was up early on Saturday so I could pick up Dad on the way- I was treated to a beautiful sunrise- it was even more pink and purple than it looks.

Anyway, the journey was very easy, although the postcode that we used took us to a little industrial park that backs onto the actual park (some other runners/ people in high viz clothes also made the same mistake as us)- easily solved as I looked at google maps and so we were parked at 8.35am. The car park was fairly small (as I had read on the blog) and although there were plenty of spaces when we arrived, when we left it was full, with people having made up spaces too.  It was so cold though- I’d had to scrape ice from my car before leaving, and thankfully made a last minute decision to bring an extra layer, so we sat in the car until ten to.

The park was lovely- very flat with fields and trees, plus a wooded area. The wind was whipping across the park during the new runners briefing and we were so cold- we did a start line selfie instead of the usual finish line one so we didn’t need to hang about at the end!

The lady in the blue top then came over to apologise for photo-bombing us! I don’t think she really did but it was funny. I also chatted briefly to another cow-cowl wearer who came from High Wycombe- one we haven’t been to yet, but apparently is very flat and an out and back (no laps!) so that’s been added to the list too!

After the main briefing, everyone walked a very short (10m?) distance to the start, where suddenly we realised we were off! The route went through the fields (on hard paths- a bit like compacted gravel maybe?), briefly out of the park and up a sort of alleyway (a tarmac pedestrian path that backed onto gardens) and then back into the park. We seemed to pass the finish line very quickly, and then we knew we had two full laps to go. There was a tarpaulin for jumpers etc., they had said we could throw them on our way past, but it was way too cold and I kept my extra layer on the whole time. After running close to the start, we then headed off into a lovely woodland section (but again, very dry underfoot) before passing through the start again. I really enjoyed it- we ran at a fair pace to try and keep warm, but did manage to chat most of the way and ended up talking to a guy as we neared the end- this was now his local but he used to run at Luton and then Hemel- he’d been to a lot of the Herts ones so we compared notes. The poor marshals looked freezing though- one in particular was jumping up and down- the third time we saw her she told us she’d managed to warm up! The little alleyway bit was a slight uphill slope- the first time it seemed flat, the second time felt a bit uphill and the third time was harder but at least the end was nearly in sight. Dad had more speed left in him, so sped off and managed to finish 9 placed ahead of me in the end.

I was quite pleased with my finish- I think I am usually about half way through the tokens (e.g. 80/160 runners) but this time I was 77/196, only 12th lady, with 27.38. Any finish with 27 at the start is a fast time for me, and this was flat (and no mud) so it felt good to run comfortably at that pace.

We didn’t hang around- on the walk back to the car I saw this cool climbing wall made of old tree trunks- there seemed to be lots of things like that all around the park. We did do some stretches before getting back in the car though- then it was home to Mum and Dad’s for a quick shower and then pancakes- how all weekends should begin!

One I would happily run again anyway- nice and flat, pretty scenery (and if you were touring, very close to the M1 and there is a big Travelodge right by the M1 junction).

Do you chat to other people at parkrun? I am not really very outgoing with people I don’t know, but I find at parkrun people are always so friendly and there is always lots of common ground to talk about.

Mud, museums and mulled fruits

I do like some alliteration!

We are still working our way through the Christmas food and drink- we were given some lovely items as a sort of hamper, and had also bought a few things ourselves, and last weekend was the turn of this mulled winter warmer drink- basically apple and cranberry juice with spices. We had one cup each on Saturday, but it wasn’t the spiciest so on Sunday I added some cinnamon and star anise when warming it up- just like the Christmas markets.

On Sunday after a long run (10 miles, on a new route that I planned and then it turned out I had run it already according to Strava…) this was perfect alongside tea and breakfast. We spent some time in the garden, building a log store (from flat pack, not scratch!), which took a while but luckily it didn’t rain.

It’s been a fairly standard week- rest (walk) on Monday, OH club run on Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday and a run including some mini hill repeats on Thursday. On Friday evening I was out for dinner with some colleagues, and I was going to walk in as it’s just over a mile, but Andy wasn’t happy about me walking back on my own late at night, so I ended up driving in which annoyed me- If it was the two of us we would have walked back together fine, and so it’s frustrating that because of safety (or perceived safety) I had to drive instead.

Anyway, Saturday I had decided to go to Westmill parkrun. I’ve run there once and marshalled once, and fancied running it again. I’ve been to Ellenbrook and Panshanger loads over the Christmas holidays, so I fancied a change but as we were in London later I couldn’t stray too far.

Westmill is such a lovely location, but it was fairly dreary at the weekend- it was raining gently as I got there and it just got harder as the run went on. The route it just under two laps (you walk up a bit to the start area) and it’s not flat. They warned us to take it easy on the steepest downhill section- I knew I wasn’t going to come away with a course pb, but I didn’t want to linger as it was cold. I had worn a long sleeved thin base layer and a t-shirt, and had a zip up long sleeved top in the car. At the last moment I decided to wear the top for a bit, thinking I would tie it around my waist once I warmed up- well that didn’t happen! It was slippery and muddy but still very enjoyable and I will be back again. The marshals are fantastic (at the top of the hill were two children and their dad- one child was high fiving while the other was calling out your number- I think I was runner 57, and later one marshal called to me that she had legging envy as she liked my purple ones). When I finished, one of the volunteers was using her phone to scan barcodes- I ended up chatting to her mum (who I recognised from Panshanger parkrun and the parkrun tourist group)- she recognised my name when scanning my wristband so we chatted for a minute- I’d heard them talking about the new app on Marathon Talk so it was interesting to see it being used, although as it was raining quite hard I think the phone was struggling a little more than the scanners (but one scanner had stopped working which I think was why they were using the app). Anyway, I didn’t hang around as the rain was turning to sleet and it was so cold- it was a short jog up the hill to the car park, where I decided to not even attempt to swap shoes for the drive home as I didn’t have spare socks.

I took off the jacket and put on my coat in an attempt to warm up a bit, but it was freezing. I do not envy the marshals one bit. I finished in 30.02, and last time I ran 29.30, so I was quite pleased. Plus last time I stopped to walk at the top of the hill the second time around, and this time I ran the whole way. I think once the ground is less slippery I could aim for something quicker.

Although not this fast- I found out the other day that my Garmin has a race predictor feature- it thinks I should do 25.55 for a parkrun (yes I know parkrun isn’t a race, but it’s a timed 5k and I don’t really do 5k races because I do parkruns all the time…)? I suppose the 10k time is close- I have run 54.53 a few years ago, and the same with the half (I’ve managed one sub 2 in Brighton, and although it turned out to be a few metres short, if I had carried on with my average pace I would have still been under 2 hours). The marathon though? Seeing as last time I just scraped under 5 hours I’m not sure where I’d get all that time from.

(Also, it was my 136th parkrun, and with some weird number magic, I have run 36 different courses, 53 at Panshanger and 24 at both Ellenbrook and St Albans, then 2 at Westmill and 2 at Hove Prom- I quite like all that symmetry)

Once home, showered and having eaten breakfast it was time to head into London. We had tickets for the Wildlife Photography Exhibition in the Natural History Museum (fun fact- if you have tickets you can skip the long queues at the entrance).

I’ve not been there for years, so it was great to have a wander around before going in to see the photos. The exhibition itself was amazing, although there were themes about how humans were affecting the animals, and one of the portfolios contained such a shocking image (it was part of a portfolio about poachers hunting rhinos) which actually made me tear up it was so awful. There were entries from children (in a separate category) which were equally as impressive. Anyway, we must have spent a good 90 minutes just inside the exhibition. We had timed it to match with the Lumiere festival, where light installations are all over London for one weekend, so once it was dark we headed outside. We managed to find a few of them, all impressive in different ways, before heading to Mildred’s (a lovely veggie restaurant) as we had vouchers. The one in Soho was jammed, so we got the train over to Kings Cross and walked up to the one there- still busy, but only 30 min wait for a table. I was totally starving, as we had not had lunch, only a nakd bar (we were going to get some tea and cake, but all the cafes by the museum were full or outdoor seating only, and it was pouring with rain, and in the museum itself the cake was over £4 a slice so we didn’t bother), so we shared some guacamole and corn chips to start- they didn’t last very long! After dinner we wandered back to the station as there were more lights around there- and huge crowds too.

The demolition of the Shredded Wheat factory continues

On Sunday morning I did a slightly shorter long run, of just under 8 miles. The forecast was for snow all morning and possibly icy pavements, and we were going to the cinema at 11.45, so I didn’t want to be out running too long. When I left it wasn’t snowing, but as I ran it started, and gradually got heavier. By the end I had snowflakes going in my eyes, and each time I stopped my glasses fogged up so I had to keep going really!

It was really cold though and I was glad of my ridiculously thick headband to keep my ears warm. Then again, a quick shower, breakfast and hair-dry and it was off to the cinema to see The Post. It was a brilliant film- I didn’t know much about the story it was covering, but it was very interesting, and with the stuff going on in the US at the moment, was very fitting.

Do you like going to museums or exhibitions? It’s the first time I’ve been to this one (a friend recommended it to me) but I found it brilliant and would definitely go again in future years. Have you ever been to a light festival? This was certainly better than the Nottingham one we went to a few years ago. Do you think race predictors are accurate? 

Power tools and beauty products

That’s two sort of opposite things right there!

But first, the week: Monday was a rest day, and after work we went to see Jumanji. I don’t remember the original film very well (just that it was scary) but this one was pretty funny so a good way to spend a couple of hours. I was really pleased to actually manage a club run on Tuesday- since November time things just went wrong (bad traffic/ late meetings/ run leader being ill) and I think I only managed one. We met up for a planned 4.5 mile fartlek run- we ended up warming up for a mile or so, doing alternate slow jogging/ faster jogging/ sprinting between lamp posts, and then running steadily for the last bit to total 5 miles. It was great because someone came out with us who usually ran parkrun distance and had once run 4 miles- she was so pleased with herself for managing the 5 miles so it was great to celebrate with her. I managed my fastest time going up the road with the lampposts which I was pretty pleased with too.

On Wednesday yoga was back on after the Christmas break, and it was fantastic. There were lots of new people (including a couple from my running club) so the teacher kept it a little more gentle. I was glad I’d completed the “homework” a few times (we were emailed a sequence with warm ups, strength exercises, options for the middle bit and then cool down) as I think usually after a break m arms would struggle in the downward dog. I always sleep well after yoga too and this week was no exception.

On Thursday I headed out for a 4.5 mile run- I was originally going to do some sort of lamp post interval but as we did that on Tuesday I kept it steady. The new shoes are so comfy- I really wish I’d changed over sooner as these are just like running in springy slippers or something.

I’ve tried out this deodorant as I would like to use a more natural product. This is the best of the ones I have tried, and the smell is not too strong which I prefer. I’ve been using this Body Shop lotion at the moment as after a run my skin gets very sore- I try very hard to not go from cold to hot quickly (the number 1 cause for the chilblains too) but even if I wear a buff and potter around at home for a bit before a shower, my skin will go red and get all itchy. This cream does sooth it, plus it smells amazing too. My only complaint is the packaging- I don’t know why it isn’t in a tub because I have to cut it in half and scoop out the cream after a while as it doesn’t squeeze out very well. I do like the Lush pots that you can swap for a face mask too.

For my last face mask I tried out this seaweed one, and it’s really good. It makes me feel like I am channelling Mrs Doubtfire. Last time I tried the Oatifix one, but that was so thick it was hard to keep it on your face.

I was sent these Better You magnesium products a while back and have been using them after running. Magnesium helps with muscle recovery as well as sleep, and I do have some supplements that I take (when I remember….), particularly when I’m not sleeping well.  Applying it to the skin directly can result in faster absorption rates, plus some people may find it easier to use this than remember to take a supplement.   I was sent some flakes (saving these for after a super long run), body butter and spray.  The Recovery Spray is easy to apply (just spray on) but I did found that it stung a bit- initially I wondered if it was down to sensitive skin/having just shaved my legs, but I tried it on my arms and it was the same. According to the bottle, the tingling indicates a magnesium deficiency and will reduce once you levels go up. The Body Butter has a lovely scent- with coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter- it’s rich but not overpowering. It takes a bit of rubbing in,  but I haven’t found any stinging or tingling with this. They are all suitable for vegans and are not tested on animals.  As well as being available online they are on sale in Holland and Barratt and other health food stores.

On Saturday I was off to Ellenbrook to meet my dad and brother- it was Dad’s first parkrun since his little knee op and he was really looking forward to it. For the last few visits I’ve arrived pretty late- I always forget how long it takes me to drive over to Hatfield. For some reason today I was early (8.30), so I had a little run around the surrounding streets before it started. This very much confused Dad as he parked close to my car and then could not work out where I was! Anyway, the run was good fun- there are still some big puddles but most of the paths were OK- we ran around together at 9 min mile pace – Dad had been saying he felt tired but then as the finish came into sight he wondered if we should go for it- I said yes and we started speeding up- he was going to slow and let me finish ahead but he was way ahead of me (well, one second) so he stayed ahead- just before I got to the finish a lady overtook me and promptly apologised- she’d heard us say we were going for it and decided to try and keep up with us. Of course I don’t mind her going past me- it’s a timed run and not a race, and it’s all good fun.  My 135th parkrun and a little quicker than last week (the ground is getting better at 28.39.

I planned to walk over to the Galleria (a sort of outlet centre) as I wanted to look for some cheap tennis balls, and was going to go to Aldi on my way back to the car, so I changed trainers to less muddy ones and added a hoodie and coat to my layers. When I got to the shops, they weren’t actually opening until 10am, and I realised that it would be a while before I got home, so went to Caffe Nero for a toasted teacake and cup of tea.

After not finding any cheap tennis balls, I walked over to Aldi- I was only after a few bits (chia seeds for porridge, nice cereal bars, maple syrup) but ended up being tempted by maca powder (with vitamin B12 apparently), cacao powder, stollen bites and biscuits. Not such a healthy shop!

When I got home it was power tool time! Well, I had to wait for the water to heat up for a shower, so I thought I may as well do the hard work all in one go. I wanted some bits of wood for work (another teacher is going to burn some numbers onto them with a special pen) and we have piles of wood in our garden. Andy gave me a quick lesson on using the electric saw before he was heading out. I was never a fan of D&T when I was at school (I spent several weeks using a hand drill that looked like a little egg whisk to drill holes in some metal so that I didn’t have to use the metal heater thing to bend it) so this was not my forte.

It was slightly terrifying (even though it only works when your hand is on the trigger) and also really hard work as it vibrates loads. I managed to saw up 10 pieces and the plan is to do the rest tomorrow- I was tempted to do a few more but my hand and arms were getting tired so I decided to quit while I was ahead (and still had all my limbs). After that I got on with the garden jobs within my comfort zone (no power tools needed)- raking the lawn, sweeping the moss off the patio and putting leaves in the compost.

It’s been lovely to have time pottering about in the garden. With the days so short, I am only at home in the light at the weekends, so it’s nice to actually make the most of that time. After putting up new bird feeders (for seeds) last week, I noticed another old bird feeder stand, so I got a little cage thing to hold fat balls (I did have a long debate with myself about buying them because they contain animal fat, but in the end the stuff I read about birds needing food at this time of year won- I’m not going to eat them, and I suppose lots of vegetarians have dogs or cats and buy them meaty pet food), and put it out this morning as soon as I got back from parkrun. While I was hanging it up, I noticed a robin on the compost bin- it then hopped to the fence and then down to the feeder- is this a record for shortest time for a bird to find the food?

Mum and Dad lent me some of their old binoculars, and already I’ve seen a woodpecker, the robin plenty of times and a little blue tit. I’ve around moved the plants on our dining room window sill so I can sit at the table and have a view  of the garden (the biggest one was in the middle and blocked a bit of the view before), so I had a leisurely lunch watching the garden.

Do you like bird watching? I used to be a member of the YOC when I was a child, but my knowledge has faded a bit. I do like seeing birds in the garden and find it very relaxing to sit and watch. Have you tried any new beauty products recently?  Do you like shopping in Aldi? Where we used to live was about a mile away so we would sometimes walk there and get a few bargains, but now we have moved it’s not so easy. We have a Lidl a similar distance away and although it had good Christmas things, the regular items don’t seem a nice as the Aldi ones. Although we are supposed to be getting an Aldi in WGC so I may be able to walk to one again.

*The magnesium products were sent to me in exchange for a mention on my blog. All opinions are my own.

The Hertfordshire parkruns

Since running all of them, I thought I would do a post about the different parkruns in Herts to give you a bit of an idea as to what they are all like.

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Near to Elstree

How to get there: I don’t think you would be able to get there via public transport. We drove, using the postcode provided on the website. You have to pay to park as it is held in the country park, but you get a discount by showing your parkrun barcode. It’s close to the M1 so easy to get there from other parts of the country too.

Course: Two flat laps of Aldenham reservoir- really nice scenery as you run through wooded areas as well as next to the water.

Amount of runners: It’s a really small parkrun, according to their page it’s 60 runners on average per week. If you fancy a high placing, it’s a good place to go.

Post-run food options: There is a cafe on sight, but we didn’t sample anything from it when we visited.

Anything else: Somewhere I’d like to revisit (although it was 2016 I went and I still haven’t been back!).


Hoddeston (between Cheshunt, Hertford and Harlow)

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How to get there: I drove and parked in the car park (postcode EN11 8JY)- it was free to park and around a 5 minute walk to the park where the run was held. Lots of people were walking to the start as it’s very close to the town centre.

Course: When I visited they had to modify the course, but it is essentially 3 laps of a town centre park- there’s a lake in the middle, there is a hill to run up each lap.

Amount of runners: When I visited it was fairly busy, but the local running club Ware Joggers (famous for their lovely cakes- they are the ones in red in the photo above) were giving out cakes to promote their 10k and 10 mile races. Usually there are around 60 runners (according to their website).

Post-run food options: Well I had some cake when I went there!

Anything else: The Ware Joggers are a super friendly bunch and it seems there will always be someone from that club at this run.



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How to get there: I followed the directions on the course page and parked in the underground station car park (it takes cards- phew), although there seemed to be plenty of on-street parking nearby if you were willing to take the chance. If you were travelling from London, the underground would be an option (it’s a 5 min walk to the park from there).

Course: Two and a half laps of a section of the park- fairly flat (gently downhill then gently uphill on each lap but a fairly fast course really). All on paths so would be a good one for the winter time.

Amount of runners: It’s a busy one for around here- around 300 runners a week.

Post-run food options:There’s a cafe right by the finish area, although I was heading to breakfast at Mum’s so didn’t even sample a cup of tea.

Anything else: They had a nice cheer station when I was there (by the local club, Watford Joggers). It is very close to South Oxhey, which has tiny numbers of runners each week in comparison.

Castle Park

Bishop’s Stortford (close to Stansted airport)

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How to get there: I used the postcode (CM23 2BA) on their course page which took me directly to the town centre (pay and display) car park. The start was very close, although I hadn’t looked in advance. I walked through the Waitrose car park, crossed the road and then saw the park. It’s a central parkrun so using the train would be an option.

Course: Two very flat laps of parkland and playing fields (dodge the stray footballs). I imagine it would be very muddy in the winter.

Amount of runners: 250 per week

Post-run food options: You’re in the town centre so there are a lot of options. After Hatfield Forest we drove into Bishop’s Stortford and went to Bill’ for breakfast, and after I ran Castle Park I went to the Starbucks in the shopping centre, but there are plenty of options all within a few minutes walk.

Anything else: This is an unusual one, as it started up when Hatfield Forest  had to close. I think most of the event team transferred over. The team had a good sense of humour with some of the event signs.

Ellenbrook Fields


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How to get there: There is free parking in the University (make sure you use the post code and don’t end up in the wrong campus though)- the Sports Village backs onto the fields where the run is held. The train station in Hatfield isn’t that near (2 miles ish) so you could run it if you fancied a longer warm up/cool down.

Course: The route is very flat, across fields on the old airfield (even through a field of long-horned cattle), past woods and then finishing on the old taxi-way. You begin on the taxi-way a little way along, running a small loop that takes you back past the finish area, before going on a big loop around the fields, finishing on the taxi-way again.

Amount of runners:133 on average- it’s a fairly small one.

Post-run food options: There’s a coffee van that parks up in the finish area. There is also a Starbucks inside the Sports Village building but I’ve never found it (I’ve only been inside once though!). You are also a short walk from the “Outlet” shopping centre of the Galleria with Caffe Nero and Costa for quick things (plus pre-cinema places like Nandos).

Anything else: I may be biased but the OH ladies make the most encouraging marshals. We also have parkrun royalty in the form of Danny Norman’s mum and dad, who set up, marshal and tidy away pretty much every week without fail.  Although I don’t usually like laps, this one isn’t really (you only repeat the first part of the first loop a second time) and I do like running past the finish area as you get lots of cheers and smiles from the volunteers. Saving Private Ryan was filmed on the fields, and there is lots of wildlife (I’ve seen foxes, owls, red kites, woodpeckers and heard cuckoos…).



How to get there:I used the free car park mentioned on the course page, which was easy to find and you could pretty much see the start from the car park. It’s fairly central to Hemel, (a walk through the park takes you to the town centre) and about 1.5 miles from the station.

Course: Quite hilly! It’s pretty much two laps with a bit of out and back at the start, but you run under the road (an underpass), up along a ridgeline and back down.

Amount of runners: 133 on average

Post-run food options: A short walk through the park would take you into Hemel town centre where there are lots of cafes.

Anything else:

Heartwood Forest

St Albans/ Sandridge village

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How to get there: You can’t park in the Heartwood Forest car park, so you need to find somewhere in the village of Sandridge. There’s lots of street parking (I think I used St Leonard’s Crescent) but make sure you allow time to walk to the start from wherever you park.  If you live in St Albans you can easily run or cycle- it’s close to the Jersey Lane cycle path.

Course: Just under two undulating laps of lovely countryside.

Amount of runners: Hovers around the 100 per week mark.

Post-run food options: There are a few pubs and even a tearoom in Sandridge village.

Anything else: It’s a fairly new forest, so lots of the trees are still very small. It is filled with amazing wood carvings and is well worth a walk at another time.


Welwyn Garden City/Hertford

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How to get there: You can’t use the main car park (it starts in a car park) but there is plenty of street parking in the village of Hertingfordbury, or parallel to the main road into Hertford. Lots of people cycle and there are lovely cycle racks presented to the parkrun team on their second birthday. It’s close to Hertford town centre (1 mile ish) so you could come by train and then walk/jog to the start, and it’s close to the Cole Green Lane old railway (now a cycle/footpath).

Course: One beautiful lap of lovely parkland, woodland, fields, past lakes… it’s very very beautiful. It is undulating, but not a slow course (compared to Tring/ Gadebridge). Yes, it is a bit uphill at the start, but then it’s flat with long downhill sections before a teeny uphill finish. It does get congested at the start as it narrows immediately for the section through the woods.

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Amount of runners: 250 average, but they did get 364 on Christmas Day this year.

Post-run food options: There is a coffee van in the car park by the finish area.

Anything else: It’s really worth a visit- in the spring there are bluebells carpeting the woods and lambs in the field, in the summer the lakes twinkle in the sunlight and in autumn the  colours on the trees are stunning. It’s also one lap- my favourite type of course! The park is gradually being opened up more- there is a very old oak tree that you can walk to, and a bird spotting area.


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How to get there: I used the info on the course page and parked in the car park of the Rickmansworth Aquadrome – the car park is free.

Course: Two flat fast laps of the lakes. It did feel busy on the first lap as the paths are narrow in places.

Amount of runners: 200-300, although they had 501 on new year’s day!

Post-run food options: The on site cafe looked lovely but Mum was cooking for us so we didn’t hang around.

Anything else: Lots of bird spotting opportunities here- seems like a lovely place for a walk after. If you like this, you’ll like Aldenham (and probably place much higher too!).

South Oxhey


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How to get there: We followed the directions and parked in the pub car park (for free), right by the start area.

Course: It’s three laps of a big field (but with a sort of wooded area in the middle so you can’t see all the way to the end)- a bit uphill at the start of each lap and a lovely long downhill to finish. A bit of a hidden gem.

Amount of runners: Very small compared to the other Watford one (Cassiobury)- 45 per week on average

Post-run food options: A coffee van (when we visited, someone was doing her 50th and supplied slices of watermelon which was the most amazing post-parkrun snack for a warm day).

Anything else: This was so friendly- the RD greeted everyone and chatted to tourists and new runners- I think the smaller number of runners meant it felt like a real community.

St Albans

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How to get there: I always drive and park (pay and display starts at 9.30 so unless you are super speedy and can guarantee there won’t be a wait for scanning, you’ll need to buy a ticket). If you were local you could easily walk or cycle.

Course: Flat. Along a path to the far end of the lake, three laps of the lake, then back along the path to the finish. They do sometimes have an alternative course which is three laps of the playing fields (not flat).

Amount of runners: Busy. Regularly over 400, and as the paths around the lake are narrow in places it can feel very congested.

Post-run food options: The official place is the Inn on the park, but a short walk down the road you will find The Waffle House, which is possibly the best option. Or you can walk through the park (seeing as you have paid to park) into the town centre where there’s loads of coffee shops and restaurants.

Anything else: It was where I started parkrunning so I try to go back once a year (now usually when my car has a service as the garage is in St Albans).  They have a parkrun band (they played at the parkrun evening I went to) and are very funny at adapting songs to a parkrun theme (for example changing “It’s all about the bass” to “It’s all about the lake”.  Get there early if you want a parking space!


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How to get there: We drove and parked in the large (free) car park in the Fairlands park area.

Course: Two laps of the lake and parkland. Fairly flat, although you finish on a hill. In speaking to other people, if this is their only parkrun, they think it’s hilly- if they have been to other parkruns, they realise it’s fairly flat!

Amount of runners: 230 on average, but inching closer to 300

Post-run food options: There is a cafe in the park (but in a break from routine, we actually came back to mine for breakfast that day!).

Anything else: Stevenage has a bit of a bad rep as a town, so finding this huge park in the centre was a bit of a surprise.


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How to get there: The car park is a short walk from the start- apparently now it’s getting quite busy, but it’s close to the centre of Tring so you could park  elsewhere.

Course: One glorious lap with a big hill (partly hidden in the trees so you don’t realise how steep it is. You come very close to the finish at around the 4km point, but then veer away. When we visited it was very foggy, so we didn’t see the amazing views (or cows- they have a cow marshal apparently).

Amount of runners: 161 on average (but quite often well over 200)

Post-run food options: You could walk to the town centre- the official venue is a pub in the town centre, but there are lots of other options.

Anything else: This is top of our must revisit list, as it’s meant to be stunning when you can see across the countryside. It was tough, but a one lapper is always going to beat other ones anyway. They have a pb bell- they let me ring it on my first visit (as technically it was a course pb) but to ring it properly I shall have to go back and beat my time- easier said than done!


Close to Ware at the Edge Outdoor Activity centre

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How to get there: I drive and use the first car park by the activity centre, but if you drive down the track there is a car park right by the finish area. Not sure if you could run or cycle there. Parking is free.

Course: Nearly two laps- you begin half way up a hill, run a lap of up and down, around a golf course, past some lakes and along the bottom of the valley, before running up, past the finish area and doing the same again. The uphill finish is a bit tough, but it is a really stunning location.

Amount of runners: 70 on average- it’s a diddy  one.

Post-run food options: They have a waffle house on site (but not the same as the St Albans one) so we are going to sample it when it’s warmer (as you sit outside).

Anything else: You sometimes see people on segways or going on the high rope course- you could make a day of it if you liked that sort of thing!


So, there you have it- the Herts parkrun venues. If you are ever visiting any, let me know (and feel free to ask any questions). I feel like I am so lucky to have so many brilliant parkruns so close to me. I tend to go between Ellenbrook and Panshanger, but I am sure I will be adding Westmill into the regular rotation.

Which parkrun do you like the sound of the most?  Why do you think there’s such a variation in numbers in relatively close events? Have you collected any parkrun “sets”?

P.S. Letchworth is coming soon (end of January) so I’ll add that in once I’ve visited… a parkrunners work is never done!