Great South Run 2019: A new Personal Best!

Great South Run 2019: A new Personal Best!

“How did that happen?” – Me, post-race.

I went into this race with having not done any decent distance training: My training runs are typically between 8-12 km, intermixed with football refereeing and speed training. Nothing that was leading me to think, “I’m going to nail 10 miles!”, for sure.

Whenever anyone asked about what my plans were, my response was always the same: I’d target the last time I ran the race (in 2016) where my notes said I treated it as a ‘long run’. Sensible.

I’ve done this a few times before…

This was the 6th time I have done this event. That has really crept up on me!

Great South Run times to date

What’s the story behind the graph?

2012 was my first stab at it, and before I was doing much running in its own right. So that’s the benchmark. I then suffered an annoying achilles injury afterwards, more of a niggle than anything else, but it really impacted any form of training. Hence 2013 was significantly slower.

2014 was a bit of a return to form.

I then lost a fair amount of weight and trained more seriously, going out regularly with Farnham Runners. This had a significant impact on my running: The routes typically involved a mixture of hills and off-road, which was a far cry from my lazily selected routes which were very flat (Especially down on the south coast where I was working).

This was shown in 2015 where I set a PB, by 8 minutes or so! Needless to say, I was very happy with that.

I entered in 2016 as well, but as I hadn’t done any particular distance training in preparation, I decided to treat it as a long run. Still, a decent enough time, and only 1 minute away from my PB the previous year.

By this point, to be frank, I had got bored of the route that the race uses. The beginning is pretty cool: The atmosphere of the seafront, the streets, and the Historic Dockyard. However, after mile 6, it becomes running in a straight line east, before turning round and coming back the other way. It’s just not interesting.


I needed a break. So I took two years off and didn’t really miss taking part.

Hello 2019!

Inspired by my running club (Waverley Harriers) having a contingent going to the race, I entered again. It was also the 30th Anniversary of the event.

I didn’t do a great deal of distance-specific training but hills were now a regular feature of my training runs, and my local ones were around 12k or thereabouts. As a result, I felt pretty confident about the whole thing, but as I said right at the beginning, my feeling was to aim for my ‘long run’ 2016 time and just enjoy it.

Waverley Harriers – ON A TRAIN!

We got the train down there. This meant I did a lot of walking before the race: Down to the train station, and then from the Portsmouth station to the starting area. I think I did around 30,000 steps during the day in total. Suffice to say, I was warmed up before the race started.

We got there in good time, and thanks to Gary from the club, we had Club Zone bands which gave us our own little semi-VIP area! Own toilets, a hut for changing and security. That was pretty cool, and not something I have had on previous occasions. Nice one, Gary!

Crowds slowly building up… Note: Nice weather!

Thankful for the nice weather, I slipped into the Orange wave starting zone, and was somewhere towards the back. It was not long before the race started, but I reckon about 5 minutes before I got to cross the Start line.

I had set my watch to pace for my 2016 time of 1:17. By the time I had got to the end of the seafront, it was already showing I was 15 seconds or so ahead of that pace. Obviously this was very early on, and I just decided to keep going steady. I was still enjoying it, although having to weave around a lot of people due to starting so far back – my fault!

As the race progressed, I was clearly putting more time into the bank. The ‘ahead of pace’ display clocked up to 30 seconds, then a minute, and by about the six mile mark had stabilised at 1:30. Now, as mentioned above, the six mile mark is around when I start to get bored on this race, and also my legs were starting to complaining a little bit as I edged towards seven miles.

However, I knew that being this far ahead put me in line for a PB… so I could be lazy and slow down (and still get last year’s time…) or sustain my current pace and PB it!

I kept going.

It did feel like a slog, for sure, especially as the 6-8 mile part of this race felt really tedious. However, it was then the turn back onto the seafront and time to get home! It’s at this point I realise I was now somehow 2 minutes ahead of pace, so no idea how that has suddenly happened!

However, this was tempered by the fact that my watch thought I was 150m further into the race than reality: It was always flashing up progress for each km before I hit the markers. This meant I had to be really careful not to be complacent.

This proved to be accurate. As my watch beeped to congratulate me on completing the 10 miles, the Finish line was still 150 tantalising metres away. I put in a sprint (in reality, ‘I ran slightly faster’) to get over the line.

1:15:24. Compared to my PB of 1:16:06.

The Aftermath

I was really happy with that. In no way was I expecting a PB, but everything aligned on the day:

  1. I had been doing a decent amount of speed and hill training, and this course is very flat! (So the lack of pure distance training didn’t hinder me too much).
  2. I did a good amount of warming up before the race.
  3. Great conditions! Wind was down — otherwise, the final couple of miles can be a real killer.
  4. Post-race, even more walking, so no evil DOMS.

Lots of success from the rest of the club as well, which was really pleasing to see. Pub lunch afterwards very well earned by all!

Now I just need to decide whether to go for it again next year… and perhaps really train for it, to see if I can throw another PB on top of this one… Decisions, decisions?

As a post-script, the really impressive achievement from the race were these guys:


‘Operation Pulled Pork’ – They pulled a Police Car round the entire course ! They were successful and the above link is their Fundraising page. Help them out!

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