Resources

Benefits of joining Chew Valley Snails
The club is affiliated to the Association Of Running Clubs. Our annual membership fee represents great value, and at £10 for the year (1st April to 31st March) entitles you to:

  • Unlimited free social runs throughout the year
  • £2 discount off ARC-affiliated races
  • 10% discount from shoes at Up & Running in Henleaze, Bristol
  • 3rd party insurance when running

To join, just ask your Run Leader for our bank details or give them the £10. The word 'Member' will appear on your RunTogether account when you are registered. Note: Couch to 5k participants from April 2018 have the menbership fee included in their course cost.

Local runs

There are so many local running opportunities and other running-friendly support options in and around the Chew Valley - we're spoiled for choice! Anne says: "When I first moved to the area I bought an OS map and simply set off each time to explore the local footpaths." However, running is at its best when it's sociable, so here are some regular group running opportunities which are within striking distance:

  • parkrun - free, weekly timed 5k runs which take place at over 450 locations around the UK every Saturday at 9am. Simply register online (once), print your barcode, and you can walk, jog or run at any parkrun in the world. We recommend arriving around 8.45am so you can hear the briefing, have a nervous wee, and be ready for the start. Dogs and buggies are welcome. Our local runs are:
  1. Ashton Court - hilly, out and back course with stunning views over Bristol on the way back down
  2. Pomphrey Hill - three laps of the park with a little hill on each lap to keep the legs warm
  3. Chipping Sodbury - a flat lapped course, great for setting a PB (Personal Best)
  4. Bath Skyline - a loop through beautiful wooded trails, complete with a set of woodland steps
  5. Eastville parkrun - an undulating three-lap course (each lap is slightly different) on tarmac around Eastville Park in central Bristol
  6. Thornbury parkrun - three laps of an undulating and at times muddy course, on grass and paths
  7. We also like to tourist, and have been far afield from Wimbledon to Bedgebury to Congleton to Seaton to Harlow to Killerton to..... Copenhagen!
  • Feel Good Friday - run in conjunction with the National Trust, these take place every Friday at 10am every fortnight at Tyntesfield. We run for around an hour, usually covering between 6km and 8km, but no-one is left behind. Beautifully undulating and in glorious scenery. Cost: £3 per week; you get a free cup of tea or coffee and bite of cake after every run, in the cafe. Aim to arrive around 9.45am. Note: parking is free at Tyntesfield because you are paying for the run, however when you register with the run leader please ask for a 'yellow slip' to display in your car windscreen so the parking attendants know you are there for the run. 
  • Bristol Harbourside runners - group of runners who meet at the Mardyke Steps (near the Grain Barge) for a 9.30am run on a Monday morning, typically up to an hour. Very sociable, lots of looping back so everyone stays together. Free.
  • Trust10 - a free, monthly 10k run / race / event at Tyntesfield, comprising two 5k laps on woodland trails, on the 4th Sunday of every month. Register at 8.45am for a 9am start then take the well-marked course at your own pace. There is always a tail-runner so you won't get lost or left behind - and if you're nervous about doing 10k then just stop after one 5k lap and reward yourself with a special deal breakfast or coffee in the cafe afterwards. Note: although the event is free, parking is £3 for non-National Trust members. If you are an NT member then display your sticker in your car windscreen.

Many of the local running clubs also have Recreational Runners, Social Runners, Improvers and similar groups which meet regularly.

Races & events

We have many race opportunities in the area, with listings on websites such as Runners World and the local RunABC South being a good guide. You don't have to be a member of a running club to enter any of these, but often there is a reduced rate entry if you are. Some of our annual favourites are these:

Race For Life / Pretty Muddy: 5k and 10k options

Colour Run / Color Vibe etc: 5k runs with coloured paint for a gentle, colourful day

Aztec West Fast 5k (Bristol & West AC) - September to June, once each month in the evening (Fast refers to the tarmac surface, take it at your own pace!)

Weston Prom Series (Weston AC) - September to May one evening a month, 5 miles

Bath Half Marathon - March

Tyntesfield 10k (Nailsea Running Club) - May

Chew Valley 10k - June (our local and the ideal goal for our Couch to 5kers!)

Sodbury Slog (Bitton Road Runners) - November 2017 (one of the muddiest around!)

Pensford 10k - April (t's a hill, get over it!)

Castle Combe Chilly 10k - a firm favourite with our Snails! Can you beat Pip's time of 53 minutes? (Pip started C25k in April 2017, graduated in July 2017, then smashed out this amazing time in November 2017!)

Weston Christmas Cracker 10k

Other local race organisers we love are Relish Running, Aspire Running Events and White Star Running. They offer lots of races for all distances over all sorts of terrain and are generally lovely people. Have a look at their sites for the full range.

Got a race you'd like us to include here? Please contact us.

Other runner support

Dynamic stretches: Arm swings / circles, high knees (slowly), high knees (fast), skipping, walking backwards straight legs, squats, walking lunges, side lunges, back lunges, leg swings, bottom kicks, karate kicks, "open the gate" (hip flexor and hip mobility), "shoo the chickens" (hamstring sweeps), "close the gate" (reverse hip action). Check out Ben Andrews' exclusive Chew Valley Snails stretch videos on YouTube.

Static stretches: try to stretch every muscle group you have used, to help reduce stiffness and allow your muscles to return to their 'resting' length and state. Only hold each one for 10-15 seconds, but do both sides. Shoulder stretch, side bends, quads (front of thigh), calves, hamstrings (back of leg), glutes (bum muscles), hip flexor (forward lunge and stretch up), inside of thigh (side lunge). Gentle spine rotation and arm / shoulder stretches can be helpful too.

Gait analysis and shoe fitting
Gait analysis is a way of looking at your anatomy and running style, then finding the right running shoes for you. Many shops who offer this only look at your lower leg, whereas you should be looking for somewhere that will video your running style all the way up to the hips and pelvis. Allow at least an hour for an appointment! My favourite is Moti on Whiteladies Road in Clifton.

One of the trueisms of life is you should always pay for the best quality item you can if it'll go between you and the ground. This includes mattresses, tyres, and (of course) running shoes. Expect to pay a hefty whack for shoes which are properly fitted to your feet and your anatomy. As shoes age through use, their cushioning changes and compacts. This will change how you run and will have a knock-on impact for ankles, shins, knees, hips, back and so on. Changing your shoes after 250+ miles, or when you feel those first niggles, is a good idea. If you shoes are several years old then go for a gait analysis as your body will have changed over that time, and shoes which were right for you then may not be right now. The proper shoes in a good fit are a worthwhile investment.

Shoe fit: most runners go up at least half to one size from their normal shoe size. Your feet will expand while you run, and tight shoes will cause nothing but pain, blisters and misery. Conversely, loose shoes can be just as bad. Getting a shoe fitted will help to avoid those little problems which can ruin an enjoyable jog. Have a look at the heel-locking technique video on YouTube if your trainers are a good hit, but a little loose on the heel.

Sports Massage
Sports Massage is an incredibly useful tool not only in helping you to feel better after exercise, but also to help prevent injury and keep you moving in between sessions and races. There are many Sports Massage therapists in the Chew Valley area and further afield. My personal go-to is a it of a trek but always worth it:

  • Ben Andrews - he's a keen runner, a member of Bristol & West AC, and also a Personal Trainer. He operates out of Clifton and Portishead.

More locally we have:

Physiotherapy
If you pick up an injury or have a chronic condition, you may need the services of a physiotherapist. My local go-to physio is Sarah Pike in Chew Magna (Chew Magna Physio), and further afield Danny John Brown at the THE Medical, Christmas Steps (Bristol). Physios use a range of techniques from mobilisation to acupuncture to taping to ulrasound, but it's not a magic cure and you do need to follow their advice and complete the exercises they give you afterwards for the maximum benefit.

Other exercises to help running
Yoga and Pilates are both fantastic ways to build a strong core and foundation on which to build your running. We have a host of practitioners locally, so why not try some of these:

Raynaud's: Do you suffer from cold hands and feet? This article by Laura Try may be useful.