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!