Spring is in the air, and we bid (fond?) farewell to Lloyd George Avenue as the site for our midweek sessions, and hello to Bute Park once again. Unless otherwise specified, we’ll meet up for our Monday and Wednesday sessions outside Pettigrew Tea Rooms; there’s a bike rack there if you fancy coming by bike, and car parking facilities in Sophia Gardens.
During the pandemic, we shifted to out-and-back routes to help us administer the sessions easier, and avoid potential choke points like Blackweir Bridge. With restrictions easing, we’re in a position to inject some variety into the Monday runs.
We’re going to alternate between offering 3km / 5km / 7km routes and doing out and back routes on a weekly basis. The routes will be more or less the same as a couple of years ago (if you remember them) but we’ll start and finish in the same place.
We’ll have two different routes for the out-and-back – using the Taff Trail as before on the east side of the river, and alternatively over the Millennium Bridge, up to Pontcanna Fields and heading towards Llandaff Fields.
For the first quarter of 2022 we built towards the half-marathon; for the spring quarter, we’ll look towards one of our favourite events, Cosmeston Relays. It’s been given a provisional date of 06/07/2022 so we’ll schedule this block of training to 29/06/2022 to target that.
We’ll also continue to have scaled versions of all the Wednesday sessions so if you’re new to interval training or returning from injury, you’ll be able to take part.
The first block of four weeks will look like this:
Re-learning the loops: 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m
Partner relays: 600m / 400m routes
25 minute Fartlek
We’ll then post the block of training for May at the start of each month.
But that’s not all! We’ll also be spicing up the Sunday runs a bit as well; whoever’s leading the run that week will make a decision on the route – and that’ll be clearly indicated on the Eventbrite link – so we’re not just locked into doing the same route around Bute Park every week.
We’re not going to totally ditch that route, but we’re going to mix things up to keep things interesting and see some different sights around Cardiff.
We’re also going to look to have some more trail runs when possible, and also see if we can get back to the track (either at Leckwith or Cyncoed). Once we’ve got dates for these, we’ll let you know.
We’ll do a run at some point to collect the Snoopy statues on the Dog’s Trail as well!
As promised, here’s the details of the Wednesday sessions for the first quarter of the year, leading us up to 1 April and our return to Bute Park. As usual, we’ll be running a mix of tried-and-trusted sessions with a couple of new things we’d like to try out.
Our sessions are in this block will be split again between Lloyd George Avenue and Museum Avenue and we’ll let you know where we’ll be in advance.
For those of you who are new to us, our goal for Wednesdays is to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones; shorter runs, intervals, fartlek, circuits and more. Doing this sort of training together helps us all keep up our motivation in an encouraging, supportive environment (with occasional swearing at whoever’s leading the session).
This is what’s planned for January:
Lloyd George Avenue
Pyramid interval (based off junctions)
Fartlek (x2 blocks of 10 minutes)
Lloyd George Avenue
Paced long reps
And here’s the rest of the sessions – we’re currently just confirming our run leaders’ availability before producing a full schedule.
Plyometric-themed exercises and sprints
Circuit training x2
Split junction repeats
1 mile / 1km / 800m / 400m / 200m
We’ll also structure the two sessions before Newport Half Marathon and Cardiff Bay 10km (probably our most subscribed races during this period) so there’s a taper option and full-on option for those not running those races.
If there’s something I’ve learnt from a year of attending CDF sessions, it’s that this club doesn’t do things by halves. Whether it’s Cosmeston Relays, parkruns, Pride events, or travelling all over the country to watch and cheer on club-mates, CDF is surely cementing its reputation as a big and conspicuously noisy gang of runners and friends. Of course, all rules have their exceptions!
And so it was last weekend, on a very autumnal Saturday, when a grand total of four CDF members – me, Debbie, Stewart and Trevor – turned up for the Gwent League Cardiff Cross Challenge at Llandaff Fields!
In all fairness, I had only decided to go on a whim, because it’s a stone’s throw from my house, and I wasn’t injured after Cardiff Half. I wasn’t particularly relishing the idea of running nearly 10k as part of an event that I worried might bring back memories of unpleasant school PE lessons.
Indeed, on arrival, the feeling of being a slightly disorientated school-boy was overwhelming, with a lot of people milling around looking like they knew what they were doing, when I didn’t know where to go, what to say, or how to organise myself. I was handed an envelope (“what’s this for?”) at the registration tent and, having thought I’d already paid, was told to hand over four quid (“I don’t carry cash!”). I didn’t quite understand that, in normal circumstances with a big club team, all the finisher chips are put into one envelope so that the results can be collated.
Naturally, all of this became clear very quickly, but it’s a reminder that new people at new events sometimes have no idea what is going on and can feel a bit intimidated as a result. A friendly or welcoming face, and a polite explanation, goes a long way – an attitude that CDF excel at I should add!
Anyway, the course: if anyone knows Cardiff parkrun’s ‘alternative to the alternative’ route, then this broadly follows that. It traces the perimeter of Llandaff fields, but to make up some extra distance, it cuts into the centre of the fields with a few hairpins and twists. There’s a short but sharp hill near the beginning, which inevitably leads to a downhill section, but the rest is pretty flat. There was even a log to jump over. I really enjoyed the course, and found the winding and the turns (and the log jump) fun; it was disorientating enough to take my mind off the fact that, for the senior men at least, you had to do three laps of all of this.
There were plenty of Senior Women running, including our very own Debbie, who put in a sterling performance having already done the parkrun that morning. What a hero! Once the male under 20s had finished it was the turn of Stewart, Trevor and I to give it a go.
By the time we started, a couple of sections had turned into that infamous no-man’s-land bog that can sometimes be associated with cross country. That’s actually an exaggeration, but it certainly was properly muddy and difficult to pick up any pace over. Thankfully, most sections were completely manageable, and nothing a pair of trail shoes couldn’t handle.
The field was competitive and I spent a lot of the first lap fighting for space, but once it opened out a bit – and once the bulk of runners had surged ahead – it all got a lot easier. At parkrun and various races, I’m not used to being in the bottom third, but that’s a testament to how good the standard was here. I finished 366 out of, perhaps, 550 runners, and just avoided being lapped by the winner. Some of the front-runners were truly amazing.
Thanks are also due to Mike who was on hand to provide support and good-natured coaching. As I was about to begin my second lap, someone I knew shouted a word of encouragement. I waved a quick thanks for this, and immediately heard, from Mike in the distance, ‘Stop smiling Sam! You’re not trying hard enough if you’re smiling!!’. Naturally, this only made me smile more!
For a run I entered on a whim, I was elated after finishing. This was a varied course, with a good atmosphere that offered something different to do on a Saturday afternoon.
So, a word of encouragement for all CDFers thinking about taking part in up-coming cross country runs this season, or this same event next year: definitely do it.
The standard is very high at the top end, but the ability range is broad. It’s also cheap as chips – and the effort justifies chips, or a pint if you’re like me. It might be a bit confusing when you first arrive, but most events are regardless, and anyway, some of us now know how it works! For fans of the fluffy four-legged-friends there was also a range of lovely dogs to spot and say hi to in the crowds.
If you haven’t done cross country since school (like me), then that very particular smell of freshly churned up earth will certainly prove nostalgic. And even though it’s hard work, I firmly believe that the concentration required to pick your way through muddy tracks makes the time fly by.
And in future events we need to be there in numbers large enough to make our presence felt – and so that the announcers start saying our club name correctly…
Cross Country is open to CDF members, with fixtures on the following dates:
9 November 2019 – Pembrey Country Park, Llanelli
7 December 2019 – Blaise Castle, Bristol
8 February 2020 – Chepstow Racecourse
1 March 2020 – Singleton Park, Swansea
Please check out the events in the Affiliated Members Facebook group, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Last week Run Leaders Rich, Nina, Matt and Zoe sat down to draw up the next block of training (we had Adam along as well for quality control – if he made a face when we suggested something, we knew we were on the right track); with this block of training we’re trying to give you some interesting and challenging sessions on a Wednesday night to keep you going for the rest of the year. It’s a 10-week schedule that’ll take us to 11 December 2019, and on the 18th we’ll have our annual seasonal fun cavalcade before breaking up until the new year.
We’ll be splitting the sessions over two locations – Lloyd George Avenue and Museum Avenue – to try and keep things varied and interesting.
We’re also not assigning specific dates to a session – we’ll take a look at what the weather’s going to be like and pick something appropriate; for example, if there’s rain scheduled we’ll look at something with a low recovery time between sets. The sessions will be as follows:
2x Circuit sessions
Relays (teams of three)
Lloyd George Avenue
Long junction reps
Junction based pyramid session
Individual and team fartlek
Split distance session
The session will usually be decided on a Monday and announced on our Facebook page as soon as we can.
Rather than look at specific distances, during the winter we try to use the natural breaks in the roads to set the distances for each session. The principles remain the same as the sessions we ran during the summer – we’ll split the groups by levels of ability, but give everyone the platform to push as hard as they want to on that night.
Nina, Matt and Rich have been beavering away working on a plan for the Wednesday training sessions that’ll take us up to the Cardiff half-marathon.
Again, we’ve tried to mix things up, making sure that we’re not repeating too many of the sessions we’ve done over the last session block and we’ve included three circuit sessions to take advantage of being in the park because after this block, we’ll be back on Lloyd George Avenue.
Here’s an overview – we’ll have the full details of each session on our Facebook page the Tuesday beforehand:
We had such a fabulous time at the Pride Cymru Parade in 2018, that we want to do it again, and this time we want YOU there too.
Whether you identify as LGBT+ or someone who just appreciates the importance of showing support to your friends and fellow club members who are, we’d love to get everyone together to march atPride Cymru 2019. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CDF Runner, unaffiliated, a social runner or a member of any other Cardiff club,
We know that sport is a huge factor in improving health and well-being, but also that joining a club can be a big step for many people. Running clubs can be intimidating, so let’s all come together to show how inclusive and welcoming we are!
Can we get a member of every running club and group in Cardiff? That’s up to you…
Marching under a Runners of Cardiff banner will be an opportunity to wear your club colours, wave your flags and banners, and proactively show that you encourage LGBT+ runners, and will never tolerate homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.
Everyone taking part will be asked for a £2 donation to Pride Cymru.
The parade is on the morning of 24th August 2019. The time and route is yet to be confirmed but don’t worry, you’ll have time to do parkrun! #parkrunfresh
If you’re a member of another club and want to join the march, please email email@example.com for more details, or if you’re a CDF Runner, keep an eye out on Facebook.
Runner of the Month is back and the first for 2019 is our new Chair and Head Coach Rich.
Runner of the Month is not about who’s the best runner or who has achieved the most, it’s a way for us to share our running stories and learn more about each other.
Oddly enough, my running journey started with a boat.
I’d gone past my 32nd birthday and I’d taken part in Llandaff Rowing Club’s annual Pub and Club Regatta, where they take novice crew and train them up for a race. I’d not really done any sport for about a decade and I was still smoking about 15 cigarettes a day; taking part really brought it home to me how unfit I’d truly become.
This was my running equivalent of a moment of clarity.
Decisions were made; I was going to start running and give up the smokes. Digging out a pair of very old, very cheap trainers that even Sports Direct would balk at before selling, a pair of beach shorts and my most disposable cotton t-shirt I planned out a two mile loop and proceeded to run-walk around it, using the lampposts as markers. It was awful, but I stuck with it.
In 2007 I completed my first 5km ‘fun jog’ event, and then six months later tried my first 10km and almost murdered my feet with the aforementioned trainers. I ran the very first Cardiff parkrun in 2008, and my first Cardiff half-marathon in the same year but the running bug had still to really bite me – I wanted to be better at, but didn’t know how.
The idea of joining a traditional running club felt intimidating, but I noticed the newly-opened Nike store was providing a weekly free running club and that appealed to me – something that could help me improve my running but with a minimum of a commitment. The group was pretty small initially but friendly and encouraging; we pushed each other and had fun doing it while being coached by some fantastic athletes.
From here, my running and my general interest in running grew and grew – my times over all distances improved and I completed my first marathon. Inevitably, however and I tried to get faster and faster injury struck – I had problem with Achilles tendon pain, plantar fasciitis and more over a period of several years.
Being injured was rubbish – I found that I relied on both the exercise and community to help cope with day-to-day stress from work and private life and having this taken away really hurt. To try and deal with this, I started volunteering at parkrun to try and give back to the event that I enjoyed so much and took the Leadership in Running Fitness qualification with Welsh Athletics to enable me to help out with the weekly sessions.
Then, abruptly the Nike store closed; I’ll be forever grateful to them and more importantly, the staff who organised the run club (Ieuan, Fran, Emma, Jon, Lauren, Jack, Beth, Charlotte and Kieran) for both their expertise and the principles that still guide us today – that running should be a fun, friendly, inclusive experience open to everyone, be it someone who’s just starting out on their journey to the 20-year vet.
My goals really have changed in the 10+ years since I started running; I’ve realised that I want to be running for the long term and while it’s great to be chasing personal bests, for me to be healthy and enjoying my running is more important for me (that’s not going to stop me trying, though!). Additionally I’ve found I take more now from helping others achieve what they want from the sport – whether that’s finding a friendly place to come and run, having a parkrun to go to on a Saturday morning or working towards a distance or time.
I could just tell you it’s a 12 mile trail race in the Gower with about 500m of elevation, and whilst i’d already be pretty excited about that, it doesn’t tell you half the story.
The race briefing had a fantastic juxtaposition of the Race Director telling us it was a community race, and that we were raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance, followed by race MC ‘Skillsy’ who said it was the stupidest race in the country, and that “500 of you are going out, and I honestly couldn’t care less if only 200 of you came back”. I already knew this was going to be fun.
Instead of starting in waves, this race uses 6 pelotons, which set off in reverse order, slowest to fastest. Holly and I opted for the ‘Indefatigable’ peloton, so we went 4th in a group of about 30. The unique thing about these pelotons is that you’re not allowed to run ahead of the pacemakers in each one. While most pelotons spread out fairly quickly, not making this much of an issue for most, for the fastest group, the ‘Immortals’, this creates a paced run before a dramatic fast race finish over the last mile.
The opening section through the woods started to get crowded as we caught the tail end of the ‘Inbetweeners’ and so we lost our peloton pacers as we queued for a river.
Yep, we got to run through and along a LOT of rivers, which was brilliant fun. There was a lot of mud too of course, so a good opportunity to cool down and give my trail shoes the only clean they ever get.
We ran to Three Cliffs Bay, which is a beautiful part of the Gower and definitely worth a trip there for a walk at any time. This involved lots of sand, more river crossings, some more mud, a long hill and a slippery clamber through a natural cliff arch.
Not only did we get to run rivers, but at Darth Mannion you get to go in the sea! There should have been three dips, but for some reason, we only did two, but they were hilarious. Of course the sea in these parts is pretty shallow when the tide is in so I ran out and hurled myself face first at the 8 inch deep water only to get a mouthful of sand and seawater. It’s certainly a unique experience to have to pick yourself up and then carry on running, unable to wipe your face and eyes with anything clean!
After a sandy, energy sapping climb back up the cliff we were rewarded with some spectacular views over the coast.
This is a good time to mention the support out on the course. Not only the marshals, which were plentiful and vocal, but what appeared to be randoms out for a walk would clap and cheer us past, loads of families and kids at the aid stations and other points along the route gave so much support. Everyone we passed was chatting and supporting each other, and laughing at the ordeal we were putting ourselves through.
The most disgusting part of any race I’ve ever done was the ‘Sheep Dip’, which was exactly what it sounded like. A brown, stagnant, pond we had to wade across, touch the island in the middle and get out as fast as possible. My feet immediately sunk in up to my shins in what can only be described as a whole load of shit. It was worse than you’re imagining it to be. 🤢
A sprint down the cliff led us out to the next sea dip, which completely drained my energy, and the climb back up off the beach over the stones started to get hard. I had hoped for another river run to clean the poo and seawater off, but the last river was a bit murky and salty, so no such luck, Darth Mannion is not that kind!
A long hill and then a few short steep climbs got us back up towards the finish for what the Immortals would have treated as a sprint. I was very much in plodding mode at this point, and dragged myself over the hay bales in the final field to cross the line.
Upon crossing the line I was offered a can of Carling. Uh, nah mate, cheers.
That can be forgiven as the next person who came up to me offered me a big cup of soup and bread! I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive this, there can’t be a better comfort food at the end of a tough race. There were ample showers and hot tubs(!) at the end and loads of great food while everyone was cheered in.
The peloton system meant you were never running alone, as there were people to overtake and plenty to overtake you at the same time. While it wasn’t timed, I definitely felt like pushing it when it flattened out as there was always someone to try and catch.
Obviously, i’m going to recommend this hugely as it was such good fun, and so different to anything else I’ve done. It’s like the Rabbit Run on steroids. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but I’d suggest doing it with a group or in a pair so you can spend the whole time laughing together.
I talked about this race a bit more on my podcast ‘Running is Bullshit’.
Matt and Rich are excited to have been joinedon the coaching team by Nina, who’s qualified with an MSc Sports Coaching & Performance in putting together our Wednesday training plan for April – June 2019, and we’re really happy with how it’s come together.
We’re back in Bute Park now and we intend to take full advantage of the variety of green spaces available. We’ve incorporated an extra circuit session into this block, along with a couple sessions which are pretty different to what we normally do – a handicap run, and the bleep test – mixed in with our traditional interval work.
We’ll also be having a focus on the posterior chain during our warm-ups – showing you a number of exercises you can do to both stretch and strengthen this important set of muscles including the calves, hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Finally, we’d like to give everyone who’s not given one of our Wednesday sessions a go the chance to try them out on a scaled level – so on the dates where we’re be running a circuit session, we’ll also be running a separate introduction to to speed work session as well which will be focussed on runners with little to no experience in speed work.
‘CDF Runners’ is three years old today, or at least the name ‘CDF Runners’ is. The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted the ‘Estd. 2010’ on our logo that hints at life pre-CDF.
We’ve had so many new members and developments recently, perhaps it’s time for a history lesson? Well, gather around and i’ll tell you a tale…
Long before ‘CDF Runners’ was a twinkle in the eye of a Nike marketing executive (we’ll get to that later) ‘Nike+ Run Club Cardiff’ was established in 2010 by the Nike shop in St David’s 2.
There were Nike Run Clubs in cities all around the world, and various members have visited them in places such as Lisbon, Athens and Miami!
Nike staff member and Decathlete Fran Baker founded the club and coached the group for many years. In fact, the club has been lucky to have a number of extremely talented coaches including Welsh 1,500m Champion Ieuan Thomas, Irish 400m Hurdler Emma Peters, Team GB Triathlete Jon Harrhy and Malta’s top 100m and 200m runner Charlotte Wingfield.
Despite their elite status and training, it was these Nike staff who gave us our ethos of being super inclusive, supportive and noisy whilst encouraging runners to push themselves.
We’ve also retained the basic structure of running on Mondays and Wednesdays, though Mondays used to be women-only. This changed in mid-2012 and both sessions became mixed with the Monday ‘Recovery Run’ and Wednesday speed sessions we still do today.
The group was relatively small for a few years, without much mass involvement in races and parkrun until 2014 when the club entered it’s first team race, the Cosmeston Relays. 5 teams of 3 entered in brightly coloured Nike t-shirts and a questionable Power Rangers team naming convention.
Cosmeston has become a rock solid fixture for the club ever since, peaking at 22 teams in 2018!
Numbers had started to pick up in 2014, and by 2015 the club had grown significantly. There was more and more interest in races, and we started to become much more organised in terms of travelling together and supporting each other. When a large number were talked into entering the 2015 Manchester Marathon, the Sunday long runs were established. Many runners did their first ever marathon that year, having signed up within weeks of their first session!
It seemed Nike+ Run Club Cardiff was on an unstoppable rise, but in early 2016 we were told that Nike had had a change of policy and the clubs in Cardiff, Liverpool and Glasgow would have new names and branding separate from each other. We were told we would still have the backing of Nike, along with the free coaching and hosting but only the London shop would have the Nike+ Run Club name from now on.
Three new names were conjured up by Nike and were given to us to vote on. To be honest most of us we were a little underwhelmed by the choices, but ‘CDF Runners’ was chosen over ‘CF10 Runners’ and ‘Cardiff Run Crew’ and we learned to love it in time, and now couldn’t imagine being anything else. One of our runners designed the new logo, which coordinated with the new Dockside Runners in Liverpool and GLA Run Club in Glasgow.
The first big event for our new name was the Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships, and we gathered together a good number of CDF Runners along with representatives form our ‘sister’ clubs from Liverpool and Glasgow.
It was at this time we created a website and twitter account, and they’ve been a huge success in expressing our personality and attracting new runners.
It didn’t come as a huge surprise when just over a year later we were told the Nike shop would be shut down and the club would have to relocate or close down. Faced with this choice, we did what we always do when we have decisions to make, we went to Wetherspoons.
After a session, more than 30 people packed around a few tables and held a meeting to decide what we do next. There was a unanimous decision to continue as a club and to take on the coaching and all the background admin ourselves. A group of volunteers were chosen to take over from the Nike staff to moderate the Facebook group, which was where most of what we did was planned and discussed.
The word that Nike was closing had spread fast, and we quickly received an offer from Moti in Queen’s Arcade, which ticked all of our boxes. After our final run with Nike, we transitioned smoothly to Moti in June 2017 without missing a session.
At this time we discussed but resisted the idea of affiliation to Welsh Athletics, as we wanted to keep everything simple and most importantly free. We continued in this way for a little over a year before it was suggested again, but this time with the caveat that we could maintain free training sessions for everyone and offer membership for those that wanted it.
The club remains at it’s core a social running group, but has grown to become so much more besides.
We’ve run Couch to 5k and helped brand new runners take their first steps, which is one of the most rewarding things we’ve done. We’ve inspired people to run their first 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, and ultras. We’ve taught people to swim and cycle and taken part in aquathlons, duathlons and triathlons. We’ve travelled together around Europe to race and holiday together. We’ve taken part in Pride Cymru with our special Pride logos which are now a permanent option for anyone buying a new t-shirt. We’ve helped raise over £3,500 for homelessness charity The Wallich. We’ve helped to create new and lasting friendships. We’ve become more than a running club.
Thank you all for being part of the journey, and perhaps you now know a little more about who we are and where we come from!