Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ageing well!

Last week I attended a conference with work with the main subject of ageing well.  My own interest in this area is around keeping people physically active as they move towards the age classed by the public sector as "ageing".  Incidentally this is now seen as 50!  Just 10 more years for me until I hit this benchmark!

How appropriate then that my first edition of Masters Athletics pops through the letterbox today courtesy of me joining the BMAF (British Masters Athletics Federation).   A "masters" athlete is now classed as 35 and over.   Its a good read and full of stats about masters athletics, a report about the recent Masters International Cross Country in Bellahouston park and details plenty of races to look forward to next year.

It made me think of the ageing well conference I attended where physical activity is just a small area of the bigger picture but in my "humble" opinion a vastly underrated one.   Flicking through the magazine it made me realise how great our sport is where "masters" in their 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond enjoy all levels of competition.   How about these British Best Road Race performances detailed in the magazine.....

Male Vet 60 5km Record stands at 16.19 (Mike Hagar)
Female Vet 50 5km record stands at 17.06 (Fiona Matheson)

Male Vet 50 10km record stands at 30.35 (Tecwyn Davies)
Female Vet 50 10km record stands at 35.15 (Fiona Matheson)

Male Vet 50 Half Marathon stands at 66.42 (Martin Rees)
Women Vet 45 Half Marathon stands at 73.06 (Joyce Smith)

Male Vet 50 Marathon record stands at 2hrs 24.58 (Derek Lawson)
Women Vet 45 Marathon record stands at 2.32.48 (Joyce Smith)

I could go on......Ageing well?   I am opting for running any day over bridge clubs, knitting circles and day centres!

To prove my point I showed a picture of supervet Malcolm Renyard (Male 65+ winner in Glasgow) to my wife...

Q:  How old do you reckon he is then?

A:  38?

Need I say more.............

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

7 Days in the life of a runner!

The last seven days for me has been a good week for me with some quality sessions in.   Last Thursday I managed a decent track session of 5 x 2km @ Half Marathon pace.  A very pleasing session in tough conditions.   This was followed up with a treadmill tempo of 4 miles @ 5.30 pace earlier this week as icy roads meant steady running only was possible. 

Tonights track session was one of the best of the year for me with a 20 x 400m session in the bag.  The intention was to run this at around 10km pace and limit the recovery to 1 minute.   In the end I went much quicker and averaged more like 3km pace for the 400s.  Especially pleased with the second half of the session where I managed to hold the session together despite the increasing fatigue in my legs. 

Congratulations to Sharon Gayter who tonight smashed the World Record for running 7 days on a treadmill by running over 468 miles in less than 7 days.  Now if it was me doing it I would be on my cool down now and reflecting on the glory of being a World Record Holder, catching up on sleep, watching a bit of Corrie on V+ and eating copius amounts of pasta to aid recovery!   Not a chance with Sharon she wants to smash the record and is continuing up to 12pm tomorrow. 

I reckon Sharon is going to continue until she hits the 500 mile mark at least - maybe a new version of the Proclaimers "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" might be in order to celebrate

Sunshine On Leith

Please help Sharon with her chosen charities and donate here....

Well done Sharon!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How much do you love treadmills?

Love them or hate them a treadmill sometimes has it's advantages.   Personally I would rather not use them unless the weather is so bad it makes an outdoor run not an option!

This week I have done one session on the treadmill.  A four miler with a starting speed of about 15km/hour.  Every minute I upped the speed until the last mile where I hit about 17.5km/hour.   Finished the run in 23.51 which I was quite pleased with...better than braving the cold and wind outside.

So three reasons why I dont particularly like treadmills....

1.   They usually involve either waiting for someone to finish or involve a guilty feeling that someone is waiting for you to finish.
2.   Indoor running just is'nt outdoor running!  I get bored easily on a treadmill despite six TV screens to watch!
3.   Lack of air, variation or scenery!......I could go on....

Imagine then spending the next 7 days on a treadmill......This is an extract from Sharon Gayter's website....

Sharon set off on her record bid this morning at 11am supported by a good crowd and officially started by Councillor Brenda Thompson. TV crews from the BBC and ITV, radio crews and newspaper reporters were all in attendance to cover the event launch.

After less than 7 hours there was some drama when the treadmill equipment failed. Sharon was almost due a meal break but the food was not ready so unfortunately some time was lost from the schedule while a back up machine was organised.

By 9pm Sharon was back on track, in good spirits and feeling comfortable having completed 70.89kms.

Current record for the furthest distance run by a person for 7 days on a treadmill is 753km set by Lee Chamberlain on 18th – 25th July 2009.

My record attempt will begin at midday on 14th December and finish at midday on 21st December 2011.

The event will be held in the Olympia Building at Teesside University and is open to the public.

This is a charity event as well as a record attempt so please support Sharon on

All I can say is Wow!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

North East Cross Country Championships

A proper cross country course was the order of the day...plenty of mud, lots of climbs and great competition.   Fair play to the organisers this was a cracking good course in a great venue at Cramlington.

Really enjoyed the whole atmosphere and the challenging course.   Felt like I ran a lot stronger race than previous week at Croft and worked my way steadily through the field throughout the race.  Enjoyed a good battle all the way round with fellow club mate Vic Brudenell who proved too strong on the final lap and finished eleven seconds and one place ahead of me.    Despite my best efforts to shake him off he is in great form at the moment after his recent 33.23 Abbey Dash success.  For me it was all about the "Vets" and 5th place vet sounds ok to me but offers a bit of "room for improvement" as I look forwards to 2012 and a push to get a "vest" at the British and Irish Masters International in November 2012.    Probably an outside chance at the moment but who knows.....

Vets in front of me were Ian Twaddle (13th), Stewy Bell (23rd), Phil Sanderson (24th) and Vic Brudenell (31st).   Ian and Stewy both represented England at the recent Vets International so I have targets to aim for.  Two of the runners behind me also raced in the recent International although one was a Scottish International and was in the Vet 45 category.  Food for thought though I wonder if I have any scottish ancestors?

Winner of the senior men was New Marske Harrier Ricky Stevenson while Rosie Smith was a clear winner of the Senior Ladies race.   Results.....

Good team effort as well from fellow North York Moors AC runners as we fielded a full senior mens team and placed 9th overall.

A few weeks of random training for me now with the focus on the start of Marathon training in January and the remaining cross country races of the season as well coming thick and fast in the new year.

Well done to local athlete Mark Shaw of New Marske Harriers who competed for Great Britain in the European Cross Country Champs and finished 17th in the Junior Mens Race and was part of the Gold Medal winning team...fantastic!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Chasing a legend at Croft!

Its been a while since my last blog so here is a quick update of the last two weeks.....Decent training but nothing spectacular, bit of a cold but not enough to stop training, weekend away in Center Parcs, christmas shopping, kids playing football and decision made to enter the Marathon of the North on May 6th in Sunny Sunderland (hopefully not too sunny though!).

Marathon training will begin officially on January 2nd.  An 18 week programme is primed and ready to kick into action.  Looking at the programme it seems a few tweaks will be in order from my current training which is higher in quality and lower in mileage to get to a position of higher mileage with a bit less quick running.  I am sure though once I get in the swing of this programme the longer runs will not be so easy and the fast runs will be challenge on high mileage.   Although I have done a few marathons before this will be the first one where I have followed a set programme so need to be disciplined to keep to the programme and not get distracted by too many "A" races!

This weekends Cross Country at Croft was one that I was not particularly targetting as it comes less than a week away from the North East XC Championships.    Warming up at Croft was more a case of "keeping warm!" as the wintry weather seems to have kicked in.   After a mile or so warm up I sat in my car looking at some of the poor juniors who were finishing their race in the sleet and some were obviously not happy as the conditions seemed to be deteriorating!   I was thinking long sleeve top, gloves and hat was the order of the day....the next 30 minutes or so the weather was changing as much as my mind and in the end I ditched the long sleeve top for a short sleeve top and vest and in the end as the sun appeared it was business as usual and decided to race in vest only...the hat and gloves stayed though!

Given the nature of the course a fast start was necessary to get the athletes off and also from a running point of view the twisting course meant a fast start was in order to get a good position.  My start was not good and I ended up much further down the field on the opening lap of four that I would have hoped for.   My main rivals (on the Veteran front!) were Gary Grounds of Billingham Marsh House and the evergreen John Hunter - the legendary Loftus runner who recently featured in Athletics Weekly's Top 100 "harriers"....those runners who have given the sport so much service over the years and remained loyal to their club.   As someone who has (and continues to be!) a top class runner John has been there, done it and has many a T-shirt to show for it.  

Opening lap and John Hunter is in my sights but no Gary Grounds...I wondered if he was running but had apparently almost missed the start and had to catch up.  By the second lap we were running together both chasing John who had a decent lead on us both.   Going into the final lap Gary had pulled away from me and was successfully eating away at John's lead.   By the middle of the fourth lap Gary was pulling clear of John which left me to try and do the same!   In the end I finished 9 seconds behind John which is probably the closest I have come to beating him!   I'm sure if John can remain injury free we willl see a lot more from him this season and a message to those in front of john today would most definitely be "watch your back!"

The Legend that is John Hunter!
1st place went to Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland in 28.09.  Richmond and Zetland also won the tam event with good placing of 1st, 6th, 18th, 19th, 27th and 28th. 

1st Vet 40 and 9th overall went to Gary Grounds with 30.06, John Hunter 10th overall and 1st vet 50 in 30.14.  I was 11th overall and 2nd Vet 40 in 30.23.  Full results at:

Strictly come cross country with the Reverand!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A busy weekend!

No doubt the race of the weekend was the Leeds Abbey Dash.   My own interest in this was purely other people as training partners, club mates and local athletes and fellow competitors made the dash to Leeds!

Well done to my training partner Phil Musgrave who clocked a great 36.35 pb smashing over a minute and a half off his previous pb set at Kirby Moorside earlier this year.   A nice reward for someone who has put a lot of effort into his running - he has "tasted" his lungs on more than one session with me!

The course and guaranteed quality of the field means this is a fast course with pb potential....conditions today were also excellent so there were personal bests and seasons bests all round.   As is the case with a lot of Sundays at the moment my priority is junior football as my two boys are both playing league football so the Abbey Dash was not an option for me.

Instead I opted for a crack at the local Albert Parkrun.  Last time I did this was on the 1st January this year where I won in 17.10.  My pb on the Albert Park course is a 16.54 set last year.  

Set off with intent and once I got rid of the three or four junior runners who can be forgiven for going off at breakneck speed and the two or three "senior" runners who really should know better than to go off at sub 5 minute miling and drop off after the first 200m I settled into a hard but manageable pace (5.17 for the first mile).  2nd mile was a 5.21 and then the crowds of people in the race (over 350 regularly now attend compared to the 20 or so that attended the first one - a race which I won as well!) meant that a slowing down was inevitable.  I made the mistake of calling ahead at one point to a group of five youngsters who were fully taking up all the available path which actually had the effect of sending them in all different directions..a bit like sheep being disturbed!   I do think park run is a great initiative and lots of people get into running this way so please dont take this as a criticism in any way but the numbers do make for a difficult last mile - on the plus side there was no shortage of encouragement from people as I wound my way through the crowds!   My time for the 3rd mile was 5.26 but on turning the corner at the bottom of the lake I found a clear path and managed a good strong kick to finish in 16.42.  A win and a park run pb by 12 seconds but not quite a Vet 40 pb which remains at 16.32.

My park run record now stands at 21 events and 9 wins!    Still a long way off the 100 T-shirt !

Training this week has been very good with another 50 mile week.  Plenty of quality this week though with two interval sessions ( a 5 x 800m session and a 4 x 1 mile session).  

This weeks aim is to continue to build some on the quality....I am also going to do a Hill Session!  See my "school report" post of a few weeks ago!  Ever onwards!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

6 month ban for the bus man Sloan!

A 6 month ban from all competition was given out to Rob Sloan today for the infamous "Bus incident" at the Keilder is the link to the story..6 month ban.    Be warned all those would be marathon runners who are busy checking out bus routes that run alongside the marathon course....You will be found out!

Whats the betting Rob Sloan ends up on I'm a Celebrity Get me out of Here, Big Brother or even Strictly Come Dancing in the next year such is the level of his fame now!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Lazy or Lame?

Having enjoyed a good run at Maltby I went straight into a quality week that went like this....

Monday- an early morning easy run to loosen off the legs (3 miles) followed by a 5 mile run after work averaging about 6-20 pace

Tuesday - an easy 3 miles early followed by a 5km on the treadmill (16.56).   I dont use the treadmill too often but have one golden rule....I am only allowed to use the Increase speed button!  

Wednesday - a lunchtime run where I increased pace over the last three miles to well under 6 minute miling followed by an easy run in the evening covering about three miles in well over 7.30 miling.

Thursday - an easy 3 miler early morning followed by a track session pm.  Aim of the session was a 1k @ 5k pace, 2k @ 10k pace, 3K @ Half Marathon pace, 2k @ 10k pace followed by a 1k @ 5k pace.  I was happy with the times as I hit the last four target times after a shaky start!

Friday - a Day off with absolutely no running just an easy day

Saturday - an 11 miler at steady pace (averaged about 6-33 pace)

Sunday - an early long tempo covering 10 miles in just over 58 mins.

Total for the week was 55 miles.  

Sunday saw the latest NYSD Cross Country which I opted to watch from the sidelines.  Its not something that I particularly enjoy doing as I would much rather be running but family (and football!) commitments meant that this year I would be watching the Summerhill Cross Country rather than enjoying all those climbs, water jumps and general cross country fun!   It was good to see some cross country stalwarts rolling back the years including the evergreen John Hunter finishing in the Top 10, Ian Cook (slightly further down the field than we used to see him) and Dave Parkin of Loftus and Whitby who I enjoyed many a good personal battle with on the country! 

The race was won by Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland who enjoyed over a minute lead over Paul Bentley who definitely sported the top Movember Moustache of the day!    Gary Grounds was the first Vet 40 on the day finishing in a creditable 5th place overall.    Good runs by two members of my ever expanding training group saw Phil Musgrave finish 22nd and Eddie Meehan finish 109th and Fourth Vet 60.   Well done to both of them.  

To add to the excitement and the question on everyone's lips was....  What happened to Adam Blowers Spikes!    Impressive barefoot running to get a Top 10 place!   Not sure when he lost his spikes although the rumour is that his coach confiscated his spikes to stop him from running!   You cant keep a good man down!

Its always interesting to see people's reactions to runners spectating and most people assume you are injured......

Not running? injured? never felt better!
Lame or Lazy?   Erm.....neither actually?

The idea of entering the Marathon of the North on May 6th 2012 is becoming more appealing.....It was always my intention to run a Marathon when I was 40 and that will be a week before my 41st birthday so the timing is right....If running friends Pollard and Frodsham are correct I will only have another four good years as apparently all runners go downhill after 45!   I have heard that the infamous Rob Sloan (Ex Sunderland harrier and the new face of Arriva Buses) has entered already!   If that is true then I wonder what stunt he will pull this year... I heard he was checking out the possibility of parachuting into the Stadium of Light!

Finally How about this for the "race report of the year" - Well done Jon Skidmore for writing this piece of prose that could easily feature in both Athletics Weekly and Farmers Weekly....

Maltby 7 Report by Jonathan Skidmore

Parked car, did warm up, stood on start line, and shuffled back a bit.

First mile ok, 2nd mile ok, felt good, decided to risk increasing pace, flock of fieldfare in Lowcock’s field, must be eating slugs on his rape, still felt good (sadly pace isn't what it used to be), noticed field of wheat near Seamer with majority at 3rd tiller stage, left at Seamer, still felt good, ran past Peter and hounds at Cold Pool, didn't appear to tut or shake his head, can't have seen me. Through Thornton, Case MX125 pulled out of farm, nice tractor, down and up hill and through Maltby to finish in 46.09. Very pleased.

Great Report Jon!

For those wanting further info on the Fieldfare (aka The Turdus Pilaris) here is a link and a nice picture....

For those who like a good motor instead of a bird then here is a picture of the Case MX125...nice bit of kit by all accounts!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Maltby 7

Lots of positives today at Maltby....

3rd overall and 1st vet 40....Last year I managed 6th overall.
39.49 for the 7.1 mile course - 6 seconds up on last year

The best thing about today was that I felt strong at the finish and my last two miles were 5.30 and 5.43 miles - unlike recent races where I have felt like I was going backwards in the last mile or so today I felt good, in control and running with a bit left in the tank.  The first few miles was a bit of a cagey affair with a group of four of us watching NYMAC's Matty Hynes disappear off into the distance.   James Askew took advantage of the early climb to pull away leaving me to work with the two Middlesbrough and Cleveland boys up the hills.  My pre race strategy was to work hard in the first half and see who was with me.  As it turned out the first half was where the race was decided and I found myself clear in 3rd on the hill into Seamer.   Once the hills were out of the way it was just a case of working hard downhill and into the villages of Stainton and Thornton.   Just the Maltby hill to go then home and was nice to finish a race feeling strong and not having a certain fellow clubmate and veteran chasing me down!   Only joking Vic!

Maltby is a great race, lots of support, a cracking course and today was a perfect day for running!    Well done Sid Rudd and Billingham Marsh House Harriers for a great event.  Just one minor criticism though - if you are going to give out wine as team prizes dont give us low alcohol!   After 7 tough miles I think a proper drink was in order!

Here are the results......Malby 7 Mile race 6th November 2011

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What you think about when you are running!

Today's run was a nice steady 5 miler.  The sort of run that feels good and you feel like you could run for a lot longer than you actually do.  In fact I stopped myself from doing too much as I want to leave something in the legs for tomorrow.

About half way round my run I thought about some of my early races and in particular my first race.  I say my first race as I dont include the odd cross country race at school where it could be argued were forced upon me!  I was never a natural runner at school so when I took up running at 16 it was because I wanted to run not because I had to.  I remember my first ever race as a 16 year old.  It was the Saltburn Carnival fun run although I must have entered the wrong race as I remembered it being around 7 miles long taking in lots of hills, Errington Woods and more hills!   I dont remember a lot about that race apart from adopting a run - walk strategy, feeling good when I finished and almost collapsing later on the afternoon on my friends sofa watching football on the TV.   I was given the idea of running in that race by my cousin Mark (Edwards) who was a prolific marathon runner at the time and soon became a hero of mine on the running took me well over a year to beat him and i've not looked back since!    Next year as well as being Olympic Year it will be my 25th year as a runner!    

1993 was a year when I saw real progression.....12 personal bests in that year saw me progress my Half Marathon from 1.21 down to 1.16.36, my 10km pb from 35.01 to 33.56 and my 5 mile time go to 27.11

Over the next two years from 1993 to 1995 I progressed at all distances taking my Half Marathon time from 76 to 72.26 minutes,  10miles pb  52.27, my 10km down to 32.26, 5mile time down to 25.17 and 5km down to 15.11.     I may be a little way off those pbs now but they are closer to me now than they have been for some time.    

The motivation to run is still there and who knows maybe those pbs are not as far off as I think!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Mixed week!

In my last blog I spoke about doing the North East Harrier League but the Thursday tempo completed less than 48 hours after the 10 x 800 super session was sign enough to persuade me that I was feeling tired....for me it doesn't really matter too much what the tempo speed is but it should be controlled hard pace...comfortably hard maybe but on that day I struggled to stay under 6 minute miling but more importantly it felt terrible...definitely not comfortably hard...!!

Soon after that session I felt a sore throat come on and this ended up with a bit of a cough so racing was put out of the mind and I opted for steady running only.  

Just about recovered I enjoyed a fairly decent 4 x 1 mile session last night with all four reps around the 5.35 to 5.40 mark.    Next race is the Maltby 7 on Sunday.    My aim is quite simple on this race...quicker than last year!    Last year I definitely wasn't as fit as I am now but managed an average pace of 5-40 per mile for the 7 (and a bit!) mile course.     Looking back at the last year since last years Maltby 7 I have enjoyed an ultra consistent year...the stats show an average of almost 51 miles per week and I have managed to keep those quality sessions going most weeks.    In my next run (expected to be tomorrow morning!) I will have notched up all of my run mileage from last year with almost 2 months left in the year.

In this weeks Athletics Weekly there is an article debating the benefits of twice a day running.   For me it works.  I dont run twice a day every day but usually about four days a week I have a morning run and follow that up with a second session in that day.   A typical week for me is:

Monday:   Easy run am.    Run pm either steady or a tempo session
Tuesday:   Steady run am  Run pm either steady or a tempo session
Wednesday:  Easy run am then Run pm steady
Thursday:  Easy run am then Interval based session pm
Friday :  easy Run am
Saturday:    Long Tempo Session - 8 to 12 miles
Sunday:    Either long steady run (12 miles plus) or Race (if racing Saturday would be an easy run depending upon how important the race is).

For me this seems to work ok and the twice a day running session has the following benefits:

- First run of the day can be a nice loosener and make the evening run more productive with a greater emphasis on quality

- Allows for a bit of a recovery session

Running twice a day is, however, not for everyone and it is important that you build up the number of sessions you do in a week gradually.   It does take a bit of getting used to but in my opinion is worth persevering with.

Finally the sad news this week that Cigar Smoking Marathon Man Sir Jimmy Saville died aged 84.   What an amazing guy.......212 marathons completed amongst many many crazy and outrageous achievements.   What  a legend!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Double Digits on 800s!

Last night's session is still in my head, my body still aches from it and my racing flats are still soaked through!   Sometimes a session just feels good from the start and just gets better and better...doesn't happen often but good when it does!   I switched my main interval session from Thursday to Tuesday due to my intention to race in The North East Harrier League on Saturday at Farringdon and decided to join the Hepples training group on the Field of Dreams that is Victoria Terrace in Saltburn.  

I dont often go into a session "blind" but decided that I would take whatever was thrown at me by Coach can feel the anticipation of the group post warm up when "PC" addresses the troops!   10 x 800m with a jog back recovery was the medicine on offer....duly accepted with a few whoops of inner excitement along with a few nerves!  After a bit of banter, sorting out recoveries, order of starts etc we were under starters orders and off!  

10 x 800m is no easy option and after a first "settler" in 2.37 I put together a good mini set of 5 @ 2.32.    Six down just four to go!   This is where they get harder...legs like jelly...that jog recovery getting harder and the 800s seeming more like miles it was extra satisfying for the last four to be around 2.36.     With the rain teeming down at this point and the session done the post session warm down was a wet affair but once that session is in the bag the old weather can do what it likes! 

I was reminded by a facebook friend that this was a good Yasso's 800m set...where 10 x 800m done during a marathon build up can give a good marathon prediction.   My average last night was almost bang on 2.35 per 800m - I would be more than happy with a 2.34/2.35 marathon but predicition tools are one thing but they aren't a substitute for getting out there and doing the business!  

Talking of Marathons I was intending to go long this winter with a London Marathon outing but have decided to concentrate on shorter distances and have a good crack at Cross Country.   So I will be donning the spikes regularly over the winter and looking forward to good performances at North Eastern Cross Country, Northern Championships and finally a trip to Bath for my first ever BMAF Cross Country. 

This Saturday will see me do the latest North East Harrier League - I have to start in the slow pack and gain promotion up the packs to the fast pack...this marks another new running experience for me as I have not done a "Harrier League" before.  

Well done to all those "lucky" people who entered the Brass Monkey today....apparently sold out in under two hours - who said running is in decline!

info on Yasso 800s here...,7120,s6-238-244-255-624-0,00.html

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tough times at the Sherman Cup!

On Saturday I opted for a trip North to the Sherman Cup (Part of the North East Harrier League) cross country fixture at South Shields.   It was my first time running in that league and unlike other Harrier league fixtures this was off scratch.   Next week in the League fixture I will start in the slow group and try and gain promotion through the packs.   Quite apt I think given that I was given a lesson on Saturday in how to finish a cross country race!

The story of the laps show a very positive start where I established a position probably in or close to the top 25...hard going and no let up of the pace I went into the second lap finding I was passing a few runners and at one point was counted about 18th place.   Going into the final lap of three there were a few faces behind me that I was quite happy to be in front of (James Askew of Durham,  the infamous Stewy Bell and NYMAC team mate Vic Brudenell).  Two of these were fellow Vets with a bit of recent history...Vic "did" me at the Boro 10km in the final 600m or so and Stewy Bell "did" me in the final sprint of the Sunderland 5km in July.  Was today my day?

I worked hard in  the last lap and honestly thought I was clear of anyone behind but as I approached the final climb before heading onto the small loop finish I realised that I would need to up the pace to stay clear...two or three at least were closing on me!!!   Surely it couldn't happen again!!!!

A glance round saw Vic Brudenell on my shoulder....he must have worked tremendously hard on the final lap to come alongside me and I all I needed to do was call on my reserves to match him in a sprint finish...first a Claremont runner and then Vic went past me - nothing absolutely nothing in the tank to match them...In the end an 8 second gap between Vic and I as I almost crawled over the line and collapsed to the ground.   Gutted!

I finished 22nd in the end and 4th Vet.   Not a bad result but it could have been much better had I got the final lap right...In the end I think it came down to just a lack of speed in the final 300m and probably a few too many miles in the bank over the past few weeks having maintained a mileage of between 50 and 60 miles for quite a few weeks now.   Whilst it is always disappointing to be beaten in a close finish like that the blow was softened by reversing the defeat over 5km inflicted by Stewy Bell in July...ironically three seconds the difference which was exactly the amount of time I was beaten by in July by a fast finishing Bell!

Well done to my sometime training partner Steve Hepples who ran a great race to finish 2nd overall behind Ryan Mcleod and of course well done to Vic for giving me another reason to up the training in the next few weeks!

Today was the second NYSD fixture at my younger days I would have thought nothing of doing two races in a weekend but somehow I knew that the efforts of yesterday at South Shields would not allow me to even think of doing a second XC race in two days.   That said it was the intention to travel down to Scarborough to watch and if necessary don the spikes if needed for the team. 

In the end it wasn't to be as Sunday league junior football with the kids that took preference.   For some reason Tom (my youngest who is 6) was talking athletics on his way to the game (which they won 3 -0 for the record) and was comparing himself with Usain Bolt....I know he is quick down the wing but maybe this was taking things a bit far...he then described his friend Sam as Mo Farah because he is not as fast but can run for longer - keen to keep this conversation going I quizzed Tom further...

Dad (me!) - So Tom who is your favourite athlete of them all?

Tom - You.....

Dad - great Thanks Tom!....

Tom....No Dad I mean Yohan Blake!

Dad - really why?

Tom - Well he doesn't try and get a false start and he's cool!

So all in all Tom's Dad isnt cool at all cos he just cant sprint!

Sherman Cup Results 22nd October 2011

Report to follow!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Another solid week

After last weeks cross country my training has gone very well and I am now looking forward to more muddy mayhem as the cross country season unfolds.   Two big sessions for me this week with a 3 x 2 mile track session on Thursday followed by a decent tempo effort on Saturday.

In both sessions the name of the game was consistency.  In the 3 x 2 mile I set a target pace of 5.30 per mile or 11 mins for the two miles.    10.53, 10.49 and 10.53 were the three times recorded for the two mile efforts.  More than happy with that session which although was a tough one showed the kind of strength and consistency that I have been looking for - especially as I had to dig a bit deep on the last effort.

The tempo on Saturday was at the end of a good training week where I managed to log 60 miles in total - probably one of my best weeks of the year for training.   The tempo was over a course of almost four miles and again showed good consistency with miles of 5.37, 5.33, 5.36 and 5.32.   What was more pleasing was how it felt as it actually felt like a tempo effort and not a race type effort....things must be going in the right direction!  Definitely needed a couple of easier days after those two sessions.

A good article recently in Athletics Weekly offered 6 tips to improve winter running....

1.  Consistency - planning your training, incorporating rest days and a constant reliable programme.   My week usually involves some staple stuff like a longer run, a tempo type session and an interval based session.  

2.  Periodisation - structuring your training and working in different phases as part of an overall master plan.   This sort of planning takes a bit of time and sometimes means looking at the type of training you do and the races you are working towards.  Each run should have a purpose and be part of an overall master plan. For example a 12 week block of training towards a 10km race could involve a 6 week block of higher mileage, longer reps and tempos as you build up a good level of endurance.  This could be followed by a four week phase of reduced mileage, faster intervals and race pace tempo runs followed by a shorter period of sharpening and tapering as race day approaches.   On the bigger plan you could be looking at winter endurance, some spring races, aerobic conditioning, summer racing and autumn recovery phase before entering the cross country and winter period. 

3.  Time trials or tempos - working at a high intensity at a pace that produces an elevated, steady state accumulation of lactic acid - this is often up to 80/85% of VO2 max - (or "comfortably hard!).    They can be anything from 3km up to 10km type efforts.  Once a week for this type of effort works well.

4.   Resistance work - either in the gym or using resistance sessions while running such as uphill running - incorporating some form of resistance training has shown to be beneficial to runners - resistance training improves leg strength, relaxes the upper body and can make us less prone to injuries - all of which can help to make us faster!

5.   Alternative training - the article mentions deep water running which I find excellent for a bit of recovery session.  Jump in the deep end of the swimming pool with or without a flotation belt (I prefer not to use one!) and start running!  Simple!

6. Rest and Recovery - could be non running days, getting extra sleep, eating the right foods, getting regular massages or even just doing a few sessions of easy on grass.  All counts.   I will often run easy and early one day and then run again the following evening.  24 hours non running with a sleep makes such a difference but allows the daily run to be enjoyed.

I generally agreed with the article and found it really useful and thought provoking.   Here is my top 6 tips "school report!

Consistency - Good effort  with a well structured and consistent training programme:   A-

Periodisation - Good use of this and often plans ahead:   A-

Time Trials - Regular and consistent: Well done  A+

Resistance Training - Could do a lot easily distracted and avoids the gym unless injured - D-

Deep Water Running/Alternative Training - Often gets the bermuda shorts on  but could do better - B-

Rest/Recovery - could probably sleep more, good use of massage and has  plenty of recovery tricks on the go : B+

Finally please take the time to sign the online petition about the proposed track closure of Clairville Track operated by Middlesbrough Council.   It will be a tragedy for local athletics to lose this facility.  It only takes a short time to register and sign the petition.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Cross Country 2011/12 up and running!

Enjoyed the first cross country of the season on Sunday with a 9th place overall, 1st Vet 40 and part of a winning NYMAC Team.   The course was a long 6.75 miles and after a competitive first two laps the race settled down and I found myself in a reasonable position inside the Top 10.  

NYMAC had a great turnout with 18 male runners and a solitary lady - well done Clare Lowe!  Its always good to catch up with some old faces on the Cross Country circuit and enjoy the banter of the event!

The senior mens event was won by Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland in 37.08.  

1st Marc Scott (R+Z) 37.08 (1st U20)
2nd Paul Bentley (NYM) 37.53
3rd Dean Moore (NYM) 38.04
4th Daniel Hardy (Shildon) 38.10
5th Shaun O'Grady (NMH) 38.23
6th Alan Piggford (NMH) 38.41
7th James Askew (Aye) 38.53
8th Adam Mitchell (Midd) 39.04
9th Andy Pearson (NYM) 39.18 (1st Vet 40)
10th Richard Hunt (R+Z) 39.33 (vet 40)

Thanks to Dave Aspin of New Marske Harriers for the photos.  

I heard a funny story on the news that someone in the Keilder Marathon had hopped on a bus part way through the event (presumably to drop out!) only to be reinvigorated and decide to rejoin the race and finish 3rd overall (Wonder what he consumed on the bus to revive himself - it must have been good!)   He was only found out when the runner who was third overall complained that he had only been given fourth place!   The guy in question was a local club runner and you can just imagine now the kind of ribbing he will face on the long sunday club runs!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

All Change!

Sometimes you just dont feel right and yesterday afternoon I got a wave of tiredness that has resulted in me changing my plans from going down to Sheffield and running in the 10km to staying closer to home and running in the NYSD at Acklam.  Having had a busy week at work, a lads curry night out in Whitby on Friday and a trip to the cinema and Pizza Hut yesterday with six kids for a birthday party meant I didnt fancy the thought of a 200 mile round trip to Sheffield and It sounds like we have a great team going along to Acklam so I'm looking forward to mixing it with all the usual crowd of mud lovers!

Spikes are ready and raring to go and I'm looking forward to start of the XC season...there is just something about Cross Country that is hard to resist! 

For those people who like a podcast and are interested in Scott Overall's Marathon build up, race day approach etc there is a fantastic interview that is well worth listening to.  Scott ran a debut 2-10 marathon in Berlin recently and the interview can be found at..

Check it out!   Will "Double blog" today with news on the NYSD. Bring on the mud!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pre Race Nerves!

24 hours to go until the Sheffield 10km.     I have been happy with my training over the past few weeks and all signs are looking good for a decent race tomorrow.   I decided to do my interval session this week on Monday to allow an extra bit of recovery.   Most of my recent 10kms have been a case of a fast first 4 or 5 miles then a bit of a struggle in the final mile.    I'm hoping tomorrow that with a slighty more cautious start I can crack the final mile and achieve the goal of a sub 34.   There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting a race right and finishing strong at the end.   Compare that to the feeling of getting it wrong and finishing like Bambi on ice and you will know what I mean!

Once tomorrows race is done and dusted it will be cross country all the way for me for the winter.  Tomorrow sees the first NYSD Fixture at Acklam Grange.  The spikes will be in the car just in case I manage to negotiate getting out of Sheffield and get to the start in time. It will only be a case of making up the numbers if I need to...otherwise I will enjoy the first cross of the season as a spectator!

On Thursday I was a spectator again on the track as I put three athletes through a decent session of 6 x 800m alternating 10km pace with 5km pace.    Well done to Jayne Parkin, Clare Lowe and Eddie Meehan who put in masses of effort and showed super pace judgement.  Looking forward to regular track sessions over the winter both as a coach and as a participant - you can't beat it!

I will be using the NYSD League races as decent hard efforts and concentrate on the North Eastern Championships in December and Northern Cross Country Championships in January.

I love cross country!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

8 x 800 - an old classic!

Feeling the effects this morning of an 8 x 800m session on the roads of Saltburn.  It marked the third tough session in three days and was the last tough session before Sheffield 10km on Sunday.     Just easy running now before Sunday, lots of stretching (holding for 30 seconds of course!) and plenty of work on the ITB using the foam roller.

It was a windy night last night but managed to complete a good set of 8 x 800m with 3 mins recovery.   A nice consistent set with interval times of 2-40, 2-38, 2-41, 2-40, 2-38, 2-38, 2-35, 2-38, 2-39. 

A good session also by Phil Musgrave who showed some of the start of year form that smashed his 5km pb and led to good performances in the relays and at Thirsk 10. 

A few things from the Athletics World this week that deserve a mention....

Scott Overall  who ran a great debut marathon in Berlin did so without wearing a watch or a GPS device on which proves you can get it right without worrying about your mile splits or your average pace per mile etc.  His splits are pretty impressive with 10km in 30.46, Half way in 65.17 and a 2-10.55 finish (2nd half in 65-38).   Respect!

International Cross Country runner Steph Twell returned to racing at the Southern Road Relays on the 25th September having recovered from a badly broken ankle in January in a Cross Country race.  she posted the 8th fastest time of the day which is great news for her.   It's always good to hear of an athlete coming back from a serious injury and I am sure she is working hard to gain full fitness again. 

Sometimes its a long road back from injury and most runners will make this journey on more than one occasion!  Its never easy!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Everything hurts!

Over the past few months I have been getting a bit of treatment on my ITB that has been a bit niggly...I have also had a few massages just to "keep me right!"   On Saturday I decided to do my usual out steady and tempo back session early in the morning and go off for a relaxing sports massage to end another 50 mile week.   The tempo session went well with a decent 4 mile effort (after a four mile steady out).  The average for the session out was about 6-25 min per mile and I came back averaging 5-41 per mile.   It wasn't as quick as a session two weeks ago but all the same it was a decent effort considering the early start and the hot weather.

So onto the massage....  a little tightness on the left hamstring, ITB a little bit tight but other than that am ok was the reply to the physio when she asked me if I had any injury issues. 45 minutes later as I struggled to get up from the treatment table and tried to bend down to put my shoes on I learned that......

1.   My calf muscles were full of knots and painful areas skillfully found by the physio and worked on...the dreaded question was asked "do you hold your stretch for 30 seconds?"  This threw me as I usually do stretch but have to admit it's not usually for 30 seconds...the pause before I answered was enough to confirm that I didnt!

2.   Hamstrings were worked on and the ITB was pummelled...."Your ITB is like a rope!"   The tone of the voice was enough to convince me this was not a compliment...My ilio tibial band is my nemesis at the moment...despite lots of attention with the foam roller it seems to be winning the battle!    Massage seems to be the only thing that is making a difference but now armed with a new super stretch (and holding it for 30 seconds) I will be attacking it more regularly from now on.

Having endured 30 minutes of pain so far the finale was the problems anticipated there as they felt fine going into the massage.   Ouch!   Plenty of wincing still to be had as the physio successfully located plenty of painful areas to work on.

Todays run was an interesting affair...feeling stiff from a combination of the massage and from yesterdays tempo I decided to go for a longer run aiming to get a minimum of 10 miles at a pace close to 6.15 pace.   Took me a while to get into my stride with the first 6 miles all around 6-20 pace but managed to push on and ran a further six miles at about 6-10 pace.  12 miles in total at an average of 6-15.  

Its a bit of a taper week ahead for me as I intend to race Sheffield 10km on Sunday...Sunday is also the first NYSD Cross Country of the season so am a bit gutted that I might miss that.   I dont know too much about the Sheffield course but the winning times in the past four years have been quick so I am hopeful of a decent race.

2010 Craig Mottram (AUS) 28:50
2009 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 28:30
2008 Mustafa Mohamed (SWE) 29:10
2007 John Kibowen (KEN) 28:40

2010 Freya Murray (GB) 33.01
2009 Freya Murray (GB) 32:38
2008 Grace Momyan (KEN) 32:44
2007 Benita Johnson (AUS) 32:55

I just hope this Indian Summer doesn't last...a nice cool, drizzly Yorkshire day would be nice next Sunday!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Its that time of year when the old London Marathon Mag comes through the door!

Its that time of I in or am I not in?   I decided not to enter 2012 London Marathon through the ballot and chase a qualifying time which I acheived at Chester way back in May (74.47 for the Half) so all the talk about Marathon Magazine (Congratulations vs Comiserations) are passing me by.

I last did the London Marathon in 2000 and throroughly enjoyed the experience finishing in a modest the finish I was in quite a bit of pain and ended up not running for six weeks or more as I recovered from a hamstring injury.   I've since entered in the ballot a few times and been unsucessful then got in for 2009 only to be struck down with sciatica early January and not run a step (apart from a few "test jogs" for a good six weeks.   Deferred my entry for 2010 only to get knocked off my bike and ruin the winter training (essential for a good marathon).   2011 I didn't bother entering thinking I would save myself for a big effort to get in as a vet in 2012.

I like the idea of doing a marathon again (have only done two with my last one in 2005).   Trouble is I dont mind the training but have had such a great year this year with going well in the relays, returning to the track for some 5000s and making some great progress again over 5km and 10km that I think a Marathon will take over my running focus from January to May (given a decent build up and adequate recovery) that I will miss the opportunity to have a decent crack at the shorter stuff early in the year.

Tonights session was a bit of the short sharp stuff to make a change from the longer intervals and tempo type efforts that have been the focus over the past few weeks.   Forgot how tough a 12 x 400m session is!   A reminder that you need to keep a bit of short stuff in your schedule every now and again.   Not a spectacular session but averaged around 75 seconds (5 min miling) for the majority of efforts.   Felt like summer was back - hard to think the cross country season starts a week on Sunday!   Now where are those spikes!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Warrington Relays Report

In  a previous blog I have waxed lyrical about the relays.  They really are a superb day out and a great opportunity for ordinary club runners to run alongside internationals and an opportunity to see many great runners who you often hear about in the athletics press or see at the start of races disappearing into the distance.

This was officially my first relay as a Vet 40 so I am going to start with some stats!

My time of 19.53 was probably as quick as I have run all year and would probably get close to my 5km season best had the course been 5km.  That said I did run pretty quick from the start and had to hold on at the end.   A first mile of 5-10 probably wasn't a text book way of running a relay but it felt (relatively) by the latter stages of the second leg I wished I had run a bit more conservatively at the beginning but its all part of the fun!  That said I did finish with a sprint and managed to outkick a few runners over the last 300m which is a bit unusual for me...

Over the six stages there were only 13 veterans quicker than me including the evergreen Ian Hudspith of Morpeth who posted a fine 17.21 on the last leg to send Morpeth home as runners up to Leeds City.  So 14th Vet overall in the six stage is a fine result that will make training this week (once the stiffness in my legs has gone!) seem that little bit more special! Overall in the event I posted the 158th fastest time of the day out of a field of 595 finishers. 

Team wise we had full teams in the Mens 6 stage and the Womens 4 stage.    Here are the full results...

North York Moors Ladies finished 34th out of 48 complete teams.  
North York Moors Men finished 60th out of 93 complete teams.

A huge well done to New Marske Harriers who finished a very creditable 8th overall.   A fine individual performance from Andy Wiles with a 17.42 (10th fastest of the day) on the second leg backed up with some solid performances from Shaw, Best, Piggford and Jackson.  

I usually scour the relay results by team and see where I might have featured in the Top 10 teams.  ThisYear I would have been 6th Counter in the Altrincham Team who finished 7th, 4th counter in the New Marske Harriers Team who finished 8th or 6th Counter in the Liverpool Harriers B team who finished 9th.

It was also good to see a few old faces at the relays from my days in the North West of England and have a good catch up.

On the coaching front two of my athletes competed on the day with good solid performances from Jayne Parkin on the first leg with a 20.19 for the 2.98 (ish!)  mile leg and Lucy Clough with a 20.04 to help the team to a creditable 34th position.   Judging by the banter between the two of them it could get quite competitive between them in training over the next few weeks as they build up to target races over the Autumn/Winter period.

Enjoyed watching the Berlin Marathon today despite the camera problems meaning we got lots of shots of cycle outriders, BMWs and Tourism shots of Berlin oh and the occasional glimpse of Haile, Paula and big groups of pacemakers.   The world marathon record took a step closer to being under 2 hours with  Patrick Makau smashing the world record with a fine 2-03.38.  Its the first time I have ever seen a marathon winner go back through the finish and hand slap the majority of the crowd on the finishing straight...awesome!  Also some great British perfomances with Paula Radcliffe back on form with a great 2.23-46 third place but also a great run by Scott Overall who finished 5th in 2.10-55 to get the qualifying time for London 2012.

Where next for Haile after dropping out with stomach problems?  I wonder if the "The greatest distance runner ever" might have had his day - who knows what drama will follow in the build up to 2012!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Building Blocks!

After the track session on Thursday which was my first for a while I enjoyed an easy day on Friday.  Easy at the moment is just an easy run am of not more than 3 miles or so at a pace outside of 7 mins per mile.  On Friday even this was a challenge as my legs were stiff and tired from a very satisfying track session.

I arranged an early run on Saturday morning with Steve Hepples which focussed my mind to a) try and get to bed early on Friday night b) Not to drink too much red wine and c) wake up early to have a decent walk and some breakfast before hitting the road (especially as there was talk of this being a tempo session!).  

So after a late night, drinking probably slightly too much red wine and waking up to a text message at about 6.45am from Steve confirming the run at 7.45am I realised the error of my ways!

Actually it turned out to be a great run with a steady pace out to Lazenby and a good runners type gossip about the previous nights Diamond League, training, race plans etc we arrived at our destination ready for a stretch, few strides, more stretching and plenty of limbering and a few encouraging words we set off on our tempo pace effort back home - a distance of slightly under 4 miles.  

Knowing that Steve was giving me a 2 min head start I set off with great intent and managed to hold a super steady fast pace of 5.29 miling pretty much all the way.   In fact we were both buzzing about our session at the finish as Steve managed a pace under 5 minute miling as he chased me home - his best for a while! 

This tempo was followed up with another decent run on Sunday (Pre Great North Run TV Spectacular training run!).  I set off at about 6-15 miling and gradually increased my pace to under 6 minute miling for the second half finishing the run at tempo speed.   An 8.6 miles decent run in the bag again at an average of just over 6 minute miling.

Tonights run was therefore the third hard session on the trot and was to consist of 4 x 1 mile hard with a 400m jog plus 2 minutes recovery.  I was joined on my session by Phil Musgrave who is slowly returning to full fitness after his recent wedding and honeymoon break.   Probably my most satisfying mile session for ages as I did three intervals from the bandstand up the hill at Saltburn in 5.31, 5.28 and 5.29.   The last mile we decided to reverse the route which meant an uphill section early in the mile but then a nice long downhill section in the mid part of the interval.  It meant a nice quick finish to the session with a 5.15 mile - feels great to get the legs turning over with gravity helping me along!

There has been some wonderful athletic performances over the past few days but here are my own highlights...

Galen Rupp smashing the American 10,000m record in 26.48.00 to set a new American record
Keninisa Bekele coming back from injury to run a World Lead 26.43.16 in the same race!
A stunning Great North Run winning Mens time of 58.56 by Martin Mathathi and having the energy to do a celebratory jig after finishing!
Ian Hudspith claiming 15th place in the Great North Run in a superb 64.14 as a Vet 40!
Lucy Kabuu from Kenya winning the Womens race in a super quick 67.06 and also a great debut from Helen Clitheroe in 70.57.

Now its ease down time ready for Saturday's relays...steady running from here onwards then its back to the pre Sheffield 10km time for slacking!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Track session 3 x 3km

Tonights track session was one of those ones that plays on your mind all day...3 x 3km..thats 9km of hard running...thats 22.5 laps...thats...almost a 10km...thats....ok ok you get the point!

My aim tonight was to get close to 10km target pace for the 3km efforts but more importantly to hit all three efforts within 15 seconds of each other.

34 minute 10km pace is about 10.12 for the 3km so this was the target.

1st 3km = 10.22
2nd 3km = 10.09
3rd 3km = 10.12

Although my first effort was a bit slower than target the overall session was pleasing.   The difference target of 15 seconds from slowest to fastest was achieved with a 13 second differential.

I am branching out into a new area for me in running as I have revalidated my UKA Coaching Licence and am actively coaching four athletes at the moment with a few more coming into the group. 

A good solid session also by NYMAC Ladies Jayne Parkin and Lucy Clough who both completed tonights session with a 10 second differential across the set by Jayne and a 15 second differential across the set by Lucy.    Both athletes managed to hit target times for one of the three 3kms but the aim of the session was to get a consistent set of three x 3km in which they both get a big tick in the box...just need a few lessons on lap counting to be done :).    Well done both.

The other two athletes I coach both competed last weekend.  Phil Musgrave ran a solid 1.34.58 Half Marathon pb while Steve Mussett ran a solid relay leg in the Yorkshire Relays for Loftus and Whitby.   Its early days for all of them as they are all working to longer term aims over the winter and beyond.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Raving about Road Relays!

Just a short blog to keep up with my weekly update.   In the week since my last blog I have done a load of quality runs (nothing spectacular I might add!) managing to log a solid 55 miles in the post race week and a further 33 miles so far this week since Sunday.  The gales have made for an interesting few runs with some interesting splits on my steady run Monday lunchtime (6.47, 6.51, 5.45. 5.51!). 

Tomorrow night I head to the track for a first track session in a few months.  After the disappointment of Middlesbrough 10km I decided to pick myself up and put some hard efforts in prior to a run out again over 10km in Sheffield at the Great Yorkshire Run in October.   As ever things change and now I am building in an appearance at the Northern Road Relays in Warrington on Sept 24th.   This means that my three week mega block of quality will be reduced to a shorter block of two and a half weeks as I reduce mileage for the Relays.  The best plans are the flexible ones!

In reality I know we probably dont stand much of a chance of qualifying for the nationals as the team we have going to Warrington are not the strongest on paper (and that is no disrespect to the guys turning out for the club who will be giving it their all I am sure) but for me the important thing is that we are there as a club and taking part in what should be a great event. 

I personally think that the road relays are a fantastic opportunity to race against top quality opposition, it gives you the chance to see some great race action and is a great day out.   There has been a lot of talk about the demise of the road relays and this really is a shame.   I wonder if we are becoming so obsessed with personal bests and accurate courses (the garmin brigade?) etc etc that the road relays are not as attractive because of the random distances...I think the warrington distance is advertised as 6.8km or something similar.   I have ran in the Northern six stage relays about seven or eight times now and have thoroughly enjoyed every one - some I have started as a Leg 1 runner and endured a fast and furious start, others I have taken over way down the field and pulled back a dozen places or more, others I have taken over from someone having a "flyer" and tried desperately to hold the team position!   The common thing in all of the relays was the feeling of being part of a team...the anticipation of seeing your team mate coming into the changeover area,  the feeling of every place counts in that mid section of a lonely leg trying to reel in the runner in front to gain a place for the team...oh and every now and again seeing a "superstar" fly past you on his way to glory!  Forget the times, the mile splits, the pb's and the "my garmin says that was 5.09km not 5km!" - enjoy racing for racing sake!

So well done in advance to all you club runners who will be turning out at Warrington a week on Saturday.   Keep the relays flag flying strong!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Post Boro Blog!

Ok so Sundays race might not have gone to plan but I'm over it!  

Here is how my last three days post Boro have gone...  Have I....?

A.     Not run a single step...drunk a bottle of wine a night and eaten so many biscuits, crisps and sweets that I feel like I have doubled my body weight!


B.    Got stuck into some post race training that have blown the cobwebs away and made me feel really positive that I am going to move on and get closer to those elusive 2011 targets (these being a Sub 34 10km and a Sub 16:30 5km)....

And the answer is....


Monday - Ran a 4.6 mile loop before work averaging a cool 6-23 per post race 8 minute miling shuffle for me...I meant business!    Followed this up with a steady four miler later in the day not as quick but still not slouching at 6-40 miling.

Tuesday - hit by the DOMS a bit (delayed onset muscle soreness!) so the morning run was a bit of a seven minute mile easy run...apparently Jon Brown used to swear by lots of recovery running at 7 min miling!   Calves a bit tight and generally tired but not too bad.    I had arranged to do an 800m session with one of the athletes I coach to kick start his training after his recent break due to an all you can eat honeymoon!    So we hit our usual Saltburn Victoria Terrace 800m loop with the intention of doing a short set of 5 or 6 x 800m with target times of under 3 minutes being the order of the day.

A good session all round with my set of 6 looking like : 2-42, 2-41, 2-41, 2-41, 2-37, 2-39 and Phil getting all his five reps well under target with plenty to spare.

I had booked a post Middlesbrough 10k rewarding massage on Tuesday so the 800m session was a bit of a squeeze before I rushed off to the Physio....Have you been doing the stretches...oh yes definitely.....have you been doing much running....oh yes about 50 mile per been out tonight....oh er only a light session knowing I was coming here ha ha!!!.   45 minutes later and I crawled off the massage table somewhat worse for wear and wondering why anyone would pay to have such pain is all part of the bigger picture!  To be honest the pain was all coming from my left calf which was severely knotted and going into spasm apparently!   So much so that a respite from the normal massage techniques were required and an acupuncture needle was inserted into my calf...aaargh that was a relief!  One topic of conversation focussed on my extremely tight calf muscles and how this doesn't usually affect me like this.    Dehydration was offered by the physio as a possible reason for the tightness....given that the 10km was quite hot in the end and I quite possibly could be feeling a bit dehydrated I wondered if that theory held some truth....A quick search on the internet and I found that there are several articles and research studies that have found that dehrydration can indeed increase the chances and intensity of DOMS.   Might be worth remembering that extra bottle of water or electrolyte post race to ward off DOMS!

Today I woke up with only a slight stiffness in my calves and feeling relatively pain free (except for sore fingers presumably from gripping the massage table so hard!).    After an easy run this morning I opted for a steady 5 miler tonight where after a steady start I averaged around 6-08 for the five.  

I was tempted to do the Coast Road 5km but having raced on Sunday, the sessions I have done since and the wind I decided against it.    One of the things I am trying to do is to structure my training around A, B and C races where A is a race that I really want to do well in, B races are a build up race where I do not taper or anything and use as a decent training session.   C races are well just something a bit different and could be a bit of fun or something a bit different.

Middlesbrough 10km was always going to be an A race so racing a few days later was not going to be anything other than a B race.   My next A race will be the Sheffield 10km in October which gives me a good block of training to get some decent sessions under my belt.    Lets hope I hold it together from 9km out this time - I am working on my 53 second lap just to make sure!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Boro 10k - Every picture tells a story!

Thanks to the Aspin Children for a load of great photos - you capture my pain well!
A good start...
Feeling good!


A Vet 40 pb at Boro 10km but not a happy runner!

I went for it today....set off knowing that a quality run would be needed to hit the Sub 34 goal that I have set myself this year.   I am not one for negative splits (are these a mythical thing for non kenyan runners?).  The first few miles were bang on track with mile splits of 5-22, 5-25 and 5-21.   At 5km I really did feel good running 16-40 (only 8 seconds outside of my 5km best this year).  Surely it was just a case of ticking off those miles to get the sub 34?  

Mile 4 and plenty of movement in the group I was with as some of the group dropped off the pace and others pushed on.  Another 5-22 mile I was still feeling ok and making good progress.  The 5th mile started to feel a bit tough but I felt I had enough in the tank to keep the pace going and the 5.33 mile reflected the course profile and the stage of the race.  27.05 for five miles would be quicker than I have ran for some time...just 2km to go and 6 mins 55 in the bag to play with.....aaarggh who just took my legs away!   Not sure when the actual race went pear shaped for me as I do not remember the 9km mark I just remember the sudden onset of drowning in lactate and breathing like an old steam train driven by an asthmatic chain smoker!

Well done to fellow NYMAC member Vic Brudenell who ran a great race today to finish just one place ahead of me in 34.06.   I thought I had dropped Vic about 3km into the race but you can never write him off!   He probably ran a steady race (might have even done a negative split!) and finished tremendously having overtaken me on Hall Drive sometime between 9km and 10km.  Last mile split between 5 and 6 was a 5.53 with the last 400m taking me 85 seconds (respect to Mo doing a 53 second last lap - if only I could pull that one out of the bag I would be sat here raving about a sub 34!).

I know I put some effort in today as a threw up five minutes after I finished (I cannot remember ever doing that!).  

Well done Middlesbrough for another great 10km...Well done Ian Hudspith from Morpeth for flying the flag for us vet 40's winning the race outright with a fine 30.24.

On the positive side for me it was a Vet 40 pb by 6 seconds and it will move me up the Power of 10 rankings by a few places.  

On a final note well done Mo Farah on a fantastic Gold Medal in the 5000m! 

Results from Boro:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Well done Team Aviva GB + NI in Daegu!

So far five medals for the GB and Northern Ireland team....mixed results so far from Daegu but I think overall a fantastic World Championships so far....

Well done to all the medallists to date:

Mo Farah  Men’s 10,000m Silver
Andy Turner  Men’s 110mH  Bronze
Jess Ennis  Heptathlon  Silver
Hannah England Women’s 1500m Silver
Dai Greene  Men’s 400mH  Gold

Three days until Middlesbrough 10km and I cant wait to toe the line in a massive 10km race with loads of local athletes taking part.    Last year I had a disappointing race finishing in 35.18 for 27th place.   I went into the race full of confidence that a time in the low 34's was a real possibility but a hamstring twinge at 2 miles into the race put paid to any ambition I had of a fast time....I remember the feeling of runner after runner going past me on the fastest part of the course and not being able to do anything about it other than grit my teeth and push on.

This year I am in much better shape and go into the race with a few races under my belt that would suggest a low 34 posting is a real possibility.  It is really fantastic that we have such a quality road race on our doorstep and the numbers who enter every year prove the popularity of the event.  I'm in taper mode at the moment and going through the usual balancing much running should I be doing?   Will too many easy days mean I am feeling stale on race day?  Is that a cold that I can feel coming on?

This week has looked so far like:

Sunday - 5 miles steady run @ 6-30 pace
Monday - 8 x 400m intervals all @ 5km pace and under
Tuesday - warm up then 5km time trial - me versus the Virtual Garmin Partner...I won by 3 seconds with a 16-57 effort!
Wednesday - Easy run am and a pm jog with a few strides/easy hills thrown in
Thursday (Today) - a 4 mile run before work average about 6-20 pace.

Next couple of days will just be short steady runs of maximum 5 miles each which will leave me feeling fresh on the start line on Sunday...

Yesterday I got my London Marathon Championship entry through the post.  This was as a result of my 74.47 Chester Half Marathon time back in May.    The Marathon in April seems a long way off but already I am thinking of how my training will be moving towards the longer runs over the winter. 

I love winter running...especially the Cross Country season......On Sunday as we hopefully enjoy the Middlesbrough 10km we will only be 5 weeks away from the start of the XC season.   Unfortunately I am going to have to delay the start of my own Cross Country season as I will be enjoying another big road race event as I line up for the Great Yorkshire Run (thanks to a complimentary entry from the organisers).  

An update on the new Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes - quite possibly one of the best shoes I have worn!  Felt good from the off and for a motion control shoe feel really responsive and they look good (especially with my jazzy laces combination!).

Finally a big well done to Eurosport for the coverage of the World Championships in Daegu....Sorry Channel 4 you have a lot of work to do...a tip from me would be to ensure your presenters know a bit about athletics and can provide a bit of an insight into the events - there have been some shocking moments on Channel 4 that have proved they are not up to the standard of the BBC coverage or Eurosport!

My predictions for medals in Daegu - Farah (Gold) in the 5000m and Meadows in the 800 (I predict Bronze)....there is also the triple jump where I am sure Phillips Odowu will come away with a medal of some sort (I think Silver).   As for the relays...finishing them would be a bonus!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Go Mo Go Mo!

Wow!   I have been glued to the TV over the past few days as the best athletes in the world compete in the World Championships in Korea.

Today reminded me why I love athletics.....

The 10,000m full of drama, emotion and effort.  Despite a 53 second last lap Mo Farah was pipped at the post for the Gold Medal by a relatively unknown Ethiopian athlete Ibrahim Jeilan...I loved the interview with Mo afterwards when he was told he had run a 53 second final lap...yes it was fast but not fast enough he said!  I was on the edge of my seat!  

Just as I thought there could be nothing more dramatic than the 10,000 came the 100m.   The showboating Bolt, who was head and shoulders favourite to win and could have waited for everyone to start and still win,  unbelieveably false started and was given the red card joining Chambers, Ohuruogu and a poor lone athlete from the Niger in the "False Start Hall of Shame!".    Gripping stuff!

Cant wait to get my next fix of the champs tomorrow but I dont think it will top the drama of today.

Apparently as well there was a football match in Manchester as well today...Manchester United 8 Arsenal 2....What a day for sport!

My own training is going well and I am looking forward to Middlesbrough 10km next Sunday.   Despite the wind tonight I ran a five miler averaging 6 minutes per mile.   My thoughts turned to the 10,000m in the last mile as I turned back into the wind.....I seemed to find an extra gear and managed a 5-44 final that the power of Mo!

Nice bit of bling mo!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Decisions Decisions!

I have officially switched allegiance to Brooks shoes after a long and happy marraige with my Saucony Omni's I have decided to see what the fuss is about with the new Brooks DNA...cradle type thing - apparently it is like a memory foam for your feet...sounds good.   With a load of race vouchers in my hand I ventured to Up and Running in Darlington and made the purchase of a nice shiny pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s.   No miles yet run in them but a quick check on the treadmill gait analysis confirmed the shoes are a good un.  

BUT........on closer inspection out of the box what do I find...they have only gone and put two sets of laces in the box...A nice corporate grey pair that match the shoes very nicely...and a bright yellow pair that say "look at me I am making a statement!"

After much dilemma and soul searching I asked the family....Wife Alison said grey....Youngest Son - got to be yellow they look cool....Oldest son....Couldn't care less - running is rubbish anyway!

What have I decided ? of each...Yes I am going to go totally crazy and wear one grey and one yellow!   I know I know it's a bit mad but hey life is about living right?

Cant wait to get stuck into the viewing of the World Champs from Daegu this week...Go Mo Go Mo!   I will be looking out for other crazy dudes wearing shoelaces of different colours!

Happy Running Folks!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

4 x 1 mile hard in the rain!

I love running in the rain!    I'm not sure that extends to running intervals in the rain!   Tonight I opted for a hard option rather than an easy option of a steady run in the rain.   4 x 1 mile with 2 minutes recovery.   With only a short time before Middlesbrough 10km I want to get a few key sessions in and this was one of those sessions.   I wanted to hit under 5-30 pace for the four intervals to equate to around 34 minute pace for 10km.  Typically a still night on our estate didnt mean a still night on the coast road and intervals one and three would be into a slight headwind - rain and wind - nice!
Mile 1 :  5:29
Mile 2:   5:21
Mile 3:   5:27
Mile 4 :  5:24

Job done and back home for a shower and some warm (we are still in August aren't we?).   Must have worked hard tonight as cramped up on the cool down - no pain no gain!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Darlington 10km

Bit overdue but here is a belated blog about Darlington 10km.   This was never an A race for me but I thought after putting in some decent mileage on holiday I thought a 10km would have been a useful indicator of my fitness at the moment.    I finished in 34.28 which gave me 14th place overall and 1st veteran over 40 which was a good result for me for a few reasons...........

1. My first over 40 win.
2. My Darlington 10km pb - previous best on this course was 34-52.
3. My Over 40 pb (12 seconds quicker than the Great North 10km).

Things are definitely going in the right direction although the last two miles at Darlington were tougher than they should have been and I probably lost a good few places and about 15-20 seconds as my pace slowed rapidly on the second lap.   As I write this we are only two weeks away from Middlesbrough 10km - plenty of people will be targetting this as it is a fast and flat course with great pb potential.  Last year I didn't have a great run there as I tweaked a hamstring about two miles into the race and carried on not feeling good for a 35.19. 

After darlington 10km I had a visit to the physio - the ITB still feels like a rod of iron at the moment so a good old loosener was needed...after half an hour in the hurt locker I feel it is making good progress but not quite 100%.....must keep up the foam rolling!

Another good mileage week this week with 55 miles and a 400m interval session on grass.   This week looking to get a couple of good sessions in the legs ready to toe the start line at Middlesbrough 10km in pb shape!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Camp Clumber!

Its been a while since my last a bit of a catch up since my last blog I have not raced since Sunderland 5km (where I enjoyed a good blast over 5km in 16.32)....lots of non running things going on like a great family wedding, helping organise the first ever Redcar Triathlon and a camping holiday in Clumber Park!

I managed to keep a decent amount of running going in Clumber and covered about 72 miles over 9 days - mostly off road with some decent efforts over 9 miles at a decent pace (between 6 and 6-15 miling).   Coming back I feel pretty good despite the over indulgence in red wine (i believe compulsory when camping!)

My ITBS (and associated knee pain) seems to be generally on the mend although at times It sends a few reminders to get me back on the foam roller again.  

Sunday's Darlington 10km will be a test for me and see where I am.  I have raced the Darlo 10km three times and amazingly ran each time within three seconds (34-52, 34-54 and 34-53).  It's a challenging course but I feel a 34-30 might be on the cards this year but my main aim is Middlesbrough 10km in three weeks time.   Havn't done a speed session for a few weeks but enjoyed a decent run out last night on my usual Ings course and managed my second best time ever so I know I am in decent shape.

My holiday read was Mark Cavendish's Boy Racer.   That guy (Cavendish) is some racer and a real hero of British Cycling...One thing that came through in his book was the passion and determination he has for his sport...he is often misunderstood and at odds with the establishment but the book made me feel a great respect for the guy who has won some 20 stages in the Tour De France and this year winning the coveted Green Jersey - the guy is a legend in my eyes!  I would recommend the book to anyone who has a love for sport and wants to understand a bit more behind the scene of cycling as a sport.

Darlo here I come on Sunday !

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

An odd week!

Had a bit of an up and down week really since Sunderland 5km last week.   My tender knee and tight ITB has definitely improved...its not quite fully cleared up but I have not missed a run because of it and am managing to keep on top of the tightness in my ITB and the resulting pain in my knee.   The advice from the physio has been spot on and the tendoachilles retraining exercises have really helped the sore achilles...managing the ITB with foam rolling has been helpful and self massage on my knee to cause a "bit of havoc" has managed to reduce the pain to a dull ache.

I managed 52 miles last week (including two races) and this week have put in two good quality sessions so things are really back on track.   The first session was a tempo session of almost 9 miles out and back on my favourite Lazenby course.  After a first mile of 6-11 to get into the "groove" I clocked miles of 5-54, 5-54, 5-55, 5-54, 5-53, 5-53, 5-59 and finished with a 5-56 average!   Mr Consistency strikes again! Runs like this will become a feature of my training in August as I build up the mileage again looking towards the Nottingham Half Marathon on 11th September.   Looking for anothr sub 75 clocking on a challenging course.

A slightly different session tonight was on the cards as I met up with Messrs Hepples and Mussett for a "bit of short stuff!".   After a steady warm up we decided on 16 x 1 minute hard with 1 minute recovery.    I knew from the start this session was going to be a tough one - its the kind of session where the recovery starts to reduce and disappear...more time on each interval is spent with hands on the knees sucking in air and all the time the legs are filling up with lactate.   The other thing about this type of session is that you do not get a reward for running fast...You run eyeballs out for one extra few seconds recovery for finishing a rep in 57 seconds!   The session just gets harder as it goes along...great when you finish but it just hurts!  

Actually it turned out to be a good session.   First five intervals only one was at an average of under 5 min miling...slow start!   From interval six we seemed to bounce off each other a bit and the pace picked up...maybe getting a bit competitive as well which is one of the advantages of being in a group.   The next eleven intervals were all at an average of under 5 minute miling so we really finished off with a bang!   Session done and dusted and shuffled home to the foam roller!

The feeling of finishing a session like that is great...leaves you on a big high!   Just got to prepare myself for the big low tomorrow morning as I struggle down the stairs and shuffle out for the morning run....In the bigger picture the session will help no end but there are no instant dance with the devil and now and again you get burned...I'm not sure of the relevance of that but what I think I mean is tonight I felt like I was flying...tomorrow I will be well and truly grounded!    Might even hit the pool for a bit of aquajogging!

So far this year I have clocked 1515 miles which equates to 51 miles per week...I think it is probably my most consistent period of running ever and the results seem to be showing...just got to be careful not to dance with the devil too often!