Wednesday, 12 December 2012

North East XC Champs


Had a good solid three week block of training since the Abbey dash averaging 55 miles per week.  Session wise its been a  difficult few weeks with the weather but have managed a few treadmill tempo sessions and a hard fought 9 x 1 mile session in the freezing cold.   The hamstring has stood up well to everything I have thrown at it and the target annual mileage total I set myself (2400 miles) has long been passed.

My last cross country was a bit of a disaster and I've managed to avoid the mud since that first fixture where I finished way down the field having stopped halfway through to massage my seized up hamstring!

So how sensible was it to throw myself into a 12km championship race ?   Four laps of Summerhill on a cold, muddy afternoon would be a true test especially given the amount of mud on the course.  

After a "steady" start which has become the norm for me I found myself in around 70th place but working my way through the field.   After the second lap I was just outside the top 50 but continuing to work my way through I managed to pass a few more and finished in 45th in a time of 47:05. 348 finishers. 
The 2007 Championships were held on the same course and in that year I finished 68th in 48.09.   215 finished that day.  Looking back at some of my other performances in 2007 it seems the last five years have seen my 10km times come down by around a minute as well. 

Overall very happy with that!    

Well done to Andy Wiles of New Marske who flew round the course on Sunday in a very swift 39.48 ahead of Carl Smith from Leeds City and Lewis Timmins of Morpeth.   For those who dont appreciate the work effort of these guys at the front end Andy didnt have the energy to undo his own spikes afterwards and asked one of his team mates wives to take them off for him (by the way she did actually take them off for him - my better half wont let my spikes within 20 metres of her never mind touch them!)

Next race Ribble Valley 10km....after last years mishap on the hills of the Guisborough Woods race I am getting my racing fix over the other side of the country this year.    Its also another race I have never run before but I've heard lots about it.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


After a good result at the Maltby 7 last week (1st vet 40) confidence going into todays Abbey Dash was high.   Last weeks Maltby race was a great stepping stone to my first attempt at the Dash.  I've heard lots about the race and generally it has been good. 

The thing about some of these "big" races is that time just goes in queueing, getting to the start line, getting in the right area, baggage tents etc etc.   Today was no exception and the one thing I didn't really manage was a decent aerobic warm up.  Instead my warm up consisted of lots of stretching, a few short jogs and generally whatever I could do to keep warm in the crisp winter morning.

As a dash first timer I was keen not to go off to fast and to make sure I had something left at the end for the uphill finish I had been warned about.  

It was a great event all in all.   A very quick course, well organised, nice T-shirt, recovery shake and a very friendly atmosphere.  

As for the performance I was 129th overall, 11th vet 40 in a time of 33.56.  A vet 40 pb and my first sub 34 for a good 15 years so happy days all round.

Six males under 30 mins and 6 females under 34 minutes showed the depth and quality of the field.

For the record my splits were:  5.24, 5,26, 5.30, 5.24, 5.23 and 5.34.  Once the hill was conquered it was a battle against the clock as the sub 34 was fast ticking away.   Quite a relief when the text result came through and showed 33.56!  The sprint finish was worth it in the end!

Friday, 9 November 2012

The need for speed!

After bombing out of my last two interval sessions with hamstring related issues I approached last nights session with some nervousness.   Such a relief to get a simple 8 x 700m ish session done and in the bag.   We used our usual estate loop in Saltburn and enjoyed a 90 second recovery in between.  Job done! The pace was not spectacular - about 10km pace so not  flat out but a good feeling all the same to get a session done.

Talked about range of paces last night and I remarked that sometimes when you are feeling good all runs tend to become a little bit quicker but its good sometimes to go through the gears in training.   Last nights session was the first time in a few months that I have sustained running at about 5:30 pace.   There have been plenty of miles run at around or slightly under 6 minute miling.  There have been lots of runs in the last few weeks between 6 minutes and 6 and a half minute miling.   But not many miles outside of 7 minute miling - becuase I have been feeling good and generally my running has reflected that - particularly in the last four weeks or so!  

So just to celebrate my successful interval session last night I rewarded my legs with a nice recovery run at a leisurely pace outside of 7 minutes per mile this morning. I didnt feel guilty at all and quite enjoyed the feeling of an easy run.  

Whilst it's good to run fast (well relatively fast!) sometimes you need to get the balance between lots of hard slog type quicker running and some easy recovery runs to let the body recharge......use your gears! 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

An enjoyable Sunday double!

After what seems like months of struggling with hamstring pain today's run were definite signs that progress is being made and fitness is improving.   My Sunday runs recently have been doubles - fitting a short steady run of around 5 miles in before taking one or both of my boys to junior football matches followed up by a swift 5km or 4 miles on the treadmill whilst they hit the pool at the leisure centre with the swimming club (active kids!).
The morning run started off steadily at 7 minute miling but feeling good the pace quickly picked up after a mile or so and I found myself ticking off the miles at a quick 6-15 to 6.20 pace and ended up with a decent 7.5 miles at an average pace of 6.25 per mile.   The best thing was the weather was almost perfect for a morning run with a light frost and a very light breeze and the legs felt great - no aches and pains and responsive to the pace that I pushed along at.  The kind of run that makes you feel great to be a runner - Sunday mornings were made for these runs!

I decided to hit the road later in the day for a tempo session.   As most of my recent tempo efforts have been treadmill based a road session would be a welcome change.   With the morning effort in my legs I struggled for the first mile to hit the target time of under 6 minute miling but once I got into my rhythm I was happily going along at between 5.45 and 5.50 pace for the rest of the four mile run.  Progress is definitely being made although I must admit the first mile of any run at the moment is a bit of a struggle...maybe that is just an age thing!

The Treadmill vs the Road - A debate many runners have and one which came up recently in a discussion with one of my training partners.

- My own speed sessions on the treadmill have been slightly quicker than that on the road but you cant beat the feeling of eating up the tarmac!  
- There is no maximum speed limit on the road for a runner!
- You don't have to wait for a treadmill or feel guilty if you are on for more than 20 minutes.  For a more scientific view have a look at this article which outlines some of the key differences in propulsive forces of treadmill running and advocates their use only for some specific workouts.  Some "experts" feel the differences between treadmill and road running are so great that excessive treadmill use can actually impair running economy on regular surfaces.

Big test of consistency comes next week as I tackle the delights of the Maltby 7.  My results in the last two years have been just 6 seconds apart so any where near the times of the last two years will do just fine to set me up nicely for the Leeds Abbey Dash on the 18th.  

Happy winter running!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cross Country

Not sure what the conversation was here but it was along the lines of me having a stinker of a run in the opening cross country at Acklam.   Last year I was first vet 40 in just over 39 minutes.  This year I was 37th in over 43 minutes.   No wonder I'm scratching my head - probably in disbelief!  After two of the four laps I stopped in pain with my right hamstring cramping up - as most of the pain has been in my left hamstring recently it was a new experience but equally as frustrating. 

Having decided on lap two that the pain was not going away I scanned the course for a suitable drop out point - a park bench was in my sights.....stretch out the hamstring and try and get the cramping pain eased...if it didn't ease at least I would have a good vantage point to watch the race unfold.  The stretching seemed to work and after seeing a good twenty runners or so float past I decided to get going again and managed to get round the four lap course.  In the end it was worth it as I helped New Marske to a well earned First Team place - I knew there was a reason to get going again!

After a few easy days and lots of stretching my running has finally got back on track with a week and a half of good solid training with tempo sessions, a solid run at Redcar park run on Saturday and a really pleasing hill session tonight.  Tonight's session was a repeat of a session three weeks ago.  Times tonight were about 6 seconds per rep quicker and a much more consistent (and pain free) run.  It might be a bit presumptuous to say that it seems (touching wood!) that the worst of the hamstring pain seems to have eased and I am now managing some decent sessions that aren't leaving me in pain for days afterwards.

So hopefully it is onwards and upwards now and I'm looking forward to the next few races starting with a trip to Whitby for the next round of the NYSD.   Hopefully my next blog will be about sweet revenge and not more tales of woe!

In this weeks Athletics Weekly there is a lot of talk about money...fees rising...costs increasing...and funding being withdrawn.  Now normally I look through the list of athletes who have had funding reduced and think either fair enough or well they haven't had a good season or two but I must admit to raising my eyebrows at one or two of the decisions.  Steph Twell was one of these and she has written a very heartfelt and passionate letter to Athletics Weekly summing up her disbelief and disappointment at being "dropped".   Having broken her ankle representing her country her comeback has been amazing and has run the Olympic A standard over 5000m and ran a seasons best of 4.07 in the 1500m.  I am sure she will bounce back but one of the things she says in the letter really did sum up the "short sightedness" of this decision....

"having joined the world class programme in 2007 as a TASS (now Potential) athlete and having progressed to Podium C level it is difficult to understand how I could have been deemed as a podium finisher to now being totally removed from UKA's support as I no longer fit their criteria as a "genuine medal contender" or even a top eight finisher at major champs".....

Throughout my time on the programme the most valued support I received was the exceptional medical cover I was able to access as well as the excellent service provision in terms of strength and conditioning, physiology and nutrition support which helps contribute to being a world class athlete....

Endurance is not a short term pathway and this was highlighted after watching Jo Pavey seventh in the 5000m and 10,000m (with a pb) in the Olympics aged 38.

Aged only 23 I have delivered on many occasions in cross country and track at global and European level (Bronze Commonwealth Games 1500m in 2010 and the fourth fastest British female over 5000m) of my biggest concerns is that young athletes will be penalised for achieving at a young age"

Steph is absolutely right that success in endurance events does not happen overnight and it takes years of training to reach the top level.   What comes through the letter is the passion that she has for running and the determination that (even without the funding) she will strive to be the best she can in the sport.  I hope she can bounce back from this setback and let her running do the talking...she certainly has got a point to prove now!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Chester Blues!

This should have been the pre marathon blog special talking about the joys of the taper, the strange feelings pre marathon and the nervous anticipation before the big day.


The human body (or is that the runners body!) is a strange, fickle thing.   My last blog detailed one of my best blocks of training for some time,  my training just coming right at the right time and almost ready for tapering.  


In an attempt to squeeze one last session in the build up I started an 8 x 800m session with the intention of getting a good session in the bag…not too fast but a nice solid 800m interval session to top up the training I had done so far.   Three intervals down I pulled up with the usual suspect of the left hamstring….not a case of the feeling like I have been shot by a sniper more like someone grabbing hold of my hamstring and squeezing it tight and not letting go…a tightness that also had the effect of sending a numbing feeling into my calf.   With 10 days to go until the marathon timing could not have been much worse.  


With a couple of days of gentle jogging and the feeling that it might not be as bad as I first thought I pushed myself on a steady 6 miler to see what it felt like at marathon pace.   Disaster struck again – same old same old…..At this point the marathon seemed further away than ever.


So it was off to the physio again…..It seems the hamstring is not ruptured but the issue is more of old scar tissue that seems to be laying on the sciatic nerve and causing the hamstring to tighten at random and unpredictable moments.  The pain in my hamstring has been worse after driving for anything over 30 minutes.    The physio session included something new to me which was Myofascial Release.  This is a gentle therapy, consisting of a mixture of light stretching and massage work. 


A typical session consists of  hands-on massage strokes in order to release tension from the fibrous bands of the muscles, bones, nerves and joints, by unblocking any scar tissue or adhesions due to injury in the muscles and surrounding tissues combined with  light to moderate traction and twisting strokes to apply the appropriate tension on the soft tissue.  The treatment is a long slow treatment concentrating on lengthening the muscle to achieve a full reflex range of the muscle.


I have to say that the treatment has worked very well and I am back running.   There is still a little bit of stiffness in the hamstring so I am not fully back to normal and I think given the nature of the injury it may take a bit of time to get back to full speed but it’s a step in the right direction.  Training this week has been good with a decent four mile tempo run at sub 6 minute miling, a very good hill session with 8 long reps completed with over 1000 feet of climbing an 8.5 mile steady run at a decent pace and a park run effort in redcar (18.11) yesterday on my way to a good old 50 mile week with a bit of quality thrown in.



Its good to be back running again and I am sure if pushed I could have completed the marathon but back to the Chimp versus Computer theory….the chimp would be on the start line at Chester today  but the Computer has the Cross Country season on his mind.


I have my eyes on five races over the winter:


Abbey Dash 10km in November

North East Cross Country in December

Northern Cross Country in January

National Cross Country in February

BMAF Vets Cross Country in March

Here’s to a happy and injury free winter!   Back to the foam roller for me!

Monday, 24 September 2012


240 miles over 24 days in September in the bag...less than two weeks until the Chester Marathon (13 days to be precise!) and I am definitely starting to "tune in" to my marathon pace.  

After a sluggish start to the marathon training my September has looked like this...

1st Sept - am steady 6 miles @ 6-45 pace.  pm:  4 miles @ 6-30 pace
2nd Sept - 17 miles approx 6-55 pace
3rd Sept - easy 4 mile recovery am.  pm: treadmill 5km in 18.34
4th Sept - easy 3 miles am. pm: 4.5 miles @ 6-30 pace
5th Sept - Easy jog am. pm Coast Road 5km in 16.56 (4th)
6th Sept - am: 3 miles steady.  pm: off road 6 miles
7th Sept - easy 4 recovery run
8th Sept - 10 miles steady @ 6-12 pace
9th Sept - 21 miles @ 6-50 pace
10th Sept - easy jog am.    pm:  Treadmill 5km in 19:00
11th Sept - am 3 miles steady.  pm 8 x 800m @ 10km pace
12th Sept - 5 miles hilly run @ marathon pace.
13th Sept - am steady 3 miles @ 7-15 pace.  pm Woods run 6 miles @ 7 min miling
14th Sept - Easy 3 miles am.  pm:  6 miles @ 7 min miling
15th Sept - Park run (18:15) followed by 10 miles @ 6-12 pace
16th Sept - 20 miles @ 7 min miling followed by 3 miles @ marathon pace
17th Sept - 4 miles hard @ 6-06 pace
18th Sept - am:  easy 3 miles.  pm 6 x 1 mile @ sub 6 minute miling with a 400m jog recovery.
19th Sept - Easy recovery run @ 7-30 miling.
20th Sept - Easy 3 miles am.  pm Hilly run - 6 miles @ 6-35 miling
21st Sept - Easy 3 miles am.  Pm; Treadmill 5km in 19:05
22nd Sept - park run (17:38) followed by 10 miles @ 6-10 pace
23rd Sept - 20 miles long run @ 6-38 miling.
24th Sept - Easy 3 miles am.  pm: Treadmill 5km in 18.51.

Time to ease down a bit now and enjoy some taper time.   The race pack has arrived and my racing shoes are primed.  

Build up wise this one has not been easy and compared to my build up to the Marathon of the North  I should not be thinking about a pb at Chester but maybe I peaked a bit too early with my long runs before MofN.  I definitely feel I am coming into marathon form just at the right time and Im hoping that the long runs that are in the bag will see me through the 26 miles.  

The long runs have got easier, the marathon pace feels more comfortable and the recovery needed between sessions is minimal...I'm almost there!

I just hope these guys dont take me down in the last mile as I try and breach the city walls!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A proper charlie of a session!

Sometimes you need to learn from the best.  I wanted to get a "confidence boosting" track session in tonight so opted for a session described by Charlie Spedding in an Interview he did for the brilliant "Marathon Talk"

I was lucky enough to meet Charlie after the Marathon of the North and have read his amazing autobiography "From Last to First".  
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In the interview Charlie talks a lot about his training and describes a few sessions that helped him achieve his amazing 2 hours 8 minute marathon.  The session that stuck in my mind was his 5 x 1 mile with a 400m "float/jog recovery between miles.  For Charlie this meant 70 second laps (4:40 for the mile effort) with 90 seconds jog lap recovery (6 min miling).  For my session (bearing in mind my aim is not a 2:08 marathon but a 2:45 Marathon) I opted for 5:58 mile efforts with 7:18 minutes per mile recovery.  Instead of doing 5 I decided to put six efforts in... 

Mile times:  5:59, 5:57, 5:57, 5:58, 5;58, 5:58, 5:57
Recovery laps:  between 6:40 and 7:10 per mile.

With just over two weeks until the marathon it's a big confidence booster...cheers Charlie!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

I'm Back!

Well its been a while since my last blog.   My excuses for not blogging mainly comprise of injury woes, Olympic distraction, a two week all inclusive holiday in Spain and the school holidays!
Since my last blog I have been mostly on the verge of or recovering from injury.  I have dabbled with orthotics which helped resolve some of my left hamstring issues but then transferred hamstring (and achilles) issues to my right side.   It also left me with an inability to run faster than 6.30 minute miling without one or both hamstrings seizing up and leaving me barely jogging!
Two weeks in Spain on an all inclusive holiday with enough food to sink a ship on offer meant one thing...despite the 35 degrees average temperature I needed to run.   I decided that an easy run on a morning between 4 and 6 miles would keep me ticking over.  I enjoyed the runs along the seafront and was surprised to see the number of runners, joggers, power walkers, strollers and even a few roller bladers that had the same idea...get out nice and early before the sun came fully up.   One thing I did notice was not many runners acknowledge each other on the continent where as here fellow runners are more likely to be acknowledged with a nod or a few words...maybe the heat makes them a bit grumpy!
I usually enjoy a good read while on holiday and whilst the majority of the books to be seen around the poolside were "fifty shades of grey" my book of choice was "Run, The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel" by Matt Fitzgerald.   Whilst not an easy read it was a fascinating book with lots of nuggets of valuable information, thought provoking ideas and some chapters that really made sense of training and how running by feel can make you a stronger runner.
I think I have, without realising, been using some of the principles of running by feel for some years.   Probably the most thought provoking chapter was Chapter 9 entitled "The Gift of Injury".    It is hard to accept injury as a gift but this chapter really seemed to hit home...particularly this extract:
"the lesson in the unpredictability of injury treatments is twofold.  First try just about anything to fix your breakdowns, and never give up trying to find a solution no matter how many treatments fail you.  Second never place too much hope and expectation on any single measure....Try everything and expect nothing.    The author then goes onto describe a particularly painful 10 weeks of achilles pain and plantar fasciatis which despite 10 weeks rest from running had not resolved.  It was eventually resolved by the author returning to running. 
This was a bit of a eureka moment for me and I wondered if I was maybe placing too much hope on a single cure...orthotics.  With that I decided that on returning to England again I would try a few runs without orthotics to see how it felt.   Other than feeling slightly strange it felt more natural and I was running quicker than I had done for some time on the first "normal run".   Just over one week later and I finally seem to have put summer injury woes behind me and I am looking forward to getting back to full training and racing mode.
On Wednesday I enjoyed a return to racing at the New Marske Coast Road 5Km where I finished 4th overall in 16.56. Bearing in mind my last 5km was Sunderland 5km where I finished in 16.42 with my hamstring seizing up in the last 200m and not an enjoyable run at all I was ecstatic with my 16.56 which comes off the back of a lot of training at 7 minute miling, no speed sessions or tempos and a reduced mileage trying to get used to orthotics. What was even more encouraging was the way I ran with each mile getting progressively faster (5.29, 5.25 then 5.22).
Four weeks today and I am hoping to be toeing the start line of the Chester Marathon.  I must admit that pre holiday I rated my chances as about 30%.   After a 17 mile run last week and a 21 mile run today I am confident that I have enough miles in the legs to get round.  As for the pb potential the jury is out but after a 10 mile run at marathon pace yesterday I am feeling more confident as each run goes by.     It may just be a case of holding the chimp back once the race starts!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


As a metaphor "to be hamstrung" suggests having limitations, externally imposed or not, preventing full freedom of movement or utilization of resources.

Yes I am definitely hamstrung at the moment but signs are encouraging.  After a painful couple of days post Sunderland 5km I am back into some steady running with a few morning runs no quicker than 7:30 miling and evening runs closer to 7 min miling.

Tonight was the first "speed" session since Sunderland and I opted for steady loops around my old training patch in saltburn.  Generally struggled to get anywhere under 6 minute miling but it certainly was a step forward from previous runs.

Tomorrow nights biomechanical assessment will hopefully give me a few answers about why these left sided injuries keep re-occurring but more importantly may provide some preventative measures to stop the injury cycle.

Interestingly my last few years have been relatively injury free.  In my mid 20's i was in a similar cycle of running well, injury, rehab, running well, injury etc etc and it reached a point where I just ended up cutting back on running and cycled, swam and ran more for fitness than competition.   A few years of this and I got the running bug back and started "training" again.   Its sometimes a fine line between being able to enjoy running as a daily pleasure and training to achieve a pb or working towards a specific target.  With the latter comes an increased risk of injuries but a greater sense of pride!

I made the decision to miss Sundays Great North 10km and concentrate on getting back to some decent running.  I have a few other races lined up so the decision was a sensible one.  The "computer" made the decision not the "chimp".  For those thinking I have gone a bit mad this is a reference to the British Cycling Psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters who uses this paradox to explain athletes behaviour....once ive sorted the body I may invest in this book to sort out the mind!   On this occasion the decision not to race was the rational "computer" making the decision and not the irrational and impulsive "chimp"!  The chimp sometimes wins the day though.....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Its been a while...


Doesn't time fly!  Its been a while since my last blog so it could be a long one...if only I could remember half of whats happened in the last three weeks or so since my last post.

Training has been going reasonably well up to the last week or so with a few decent track sessions in the bag and a few tempo type efforts at Redcar Locke parkrun.  One of the sessions on the track was a repeat of my 15 minute "Balke" test which I ran in June.  The distance covered was 2.83 miles compared to 2.85 miles in June so I know training has at least been consistent!

Last night I did the Sunderland 5km and hoping for a fast (sub 16-30) 5km I ended up with a solid 16-41 once again outsprinted by Stewy Bell on the grass finish!  Gutted !

One of the themes of the past three weeks or so has been a niggling hamstring injury which has gradually got worse.  It has not stopped me running too much but has been a painful after effect of hard sessions lasting for a day or two.  In the last 200m or so of last nights 5km my hamstring ached, creaked and seized up leaving me jogging over the line.  

Frustratingly it is always my left hand side where I pick up injuries...calf, achilles, ITB, hamstring so I have decided to bite the bullet and have a biomechanical assessment

In the meantime its a case of easy jogging, ice packs, stretching, more stretching and ibuprofen.   Hopefully by Sunday I will be recovered to run the Great North 10km and then my focus will turn fully to the Chester Marathon in October. 

Maybe I should look at barefoot running - The BBC Panorama documentary tonight explored the issue of expensive trainers...A shoe catalogue that came through the post this week had a very flash looking pair of Asics at £159.99 - Will they make you run faster...probably not!

Lets hope I make the start line on Sunday!  

Monday, 25 June 2012

Its all about the Vets !

I enjoyed my first ever taste of Vets Track and Field on Saturday as I ventured to the track at Monkton for an afternoon of racing.  Having entered three races (1500m, 800m then a 5000m) I decided after the way my legs were post 3000m on Tuesday that I would stick to the 5000m only.

When I arrived at the track I picked my number up and was easily persuaded to enter the open mile at 2.15pm (an hour at least before my main event the 5000m).   Thinking this would be an opportunity to post a time for the mile (my first ever race over that distance on the track) and a chance for a decent warm up pre 5000m.  
In the end quite a competitive field was assembled with Sparrow Morley of Tyne Bridge and Jason Stobbs of Gateshead leading out the first three of the four laps.   Kenny Mcpherson of Tyne Bridge made a bold move on the final lap and opened up a gap between us and then promptly chased Stobbs down to move into 2nd.  I found a final push to grab 3rd on the final straight having somehow found a sprint finish from somewhere!   My mind then switched to the next event the 5000m. 

Having experienced the wind on the track properly during the mile I decided that times and pbs were not going to be easy today so I decided (literally at the last minute) to have a go at the 800m as well.   In the end I finished 3rd in 2:26.5 after a competitive race which was won by 800m specialist Norman De Bruin of NSP in 2:15.3 followed by George Harden of Sunderland who held on for 2nd in 2:24.6.  As both athletes in front were in different age groups I ended up with the Gold Medal for vet 40's!   Who would have guessed that one in only my 3rd ever outing over 800m!   Is there a future in that distance for me...maybe not!

Onto the final event (legs feeling pretty tired now!) I led the 5000m from about two laps out to 11 and a half laps before Tim Field of Sunderland Harriers showed me a clean pair of spikes and took the win in 16.42.  I came 2nd in 16.49 which under the circumstances (2 races in the bag already) and the weather I was very pleased with.   A solid run!  Again the athlete in front of me was in a different age group so by default I became the Gold Medal winner in the Vet 40 age category.   Happy days!

All in all a great afternoon of racing, good company and everything about the event was well organised with excellent officials, results coming out very quickly and bags of enthusiasm from all involved - well worth the journey!  Well done to Vicki Thompson for putting on a great event!

It was great to see lots of athletics on the television over the weekend and for me the highlights were Laura Weightman's domination of the women's 1500m , the gutsy performance by the young Jessica Judd in the women's 800m final and Jo Pavey's finishing sprint in the 5000m.  A couple of other notable performances were Kenenisa Bekele's 27.02.59 in the 10,000m and the amazing 50 year old Roald Bradstock throwing an amazing 72.78 meters to finish 2nd in the javelin.   He is ranked 5th on the all time list and is still producing the goods!

  Go Ro!

I would like to wish fellow blogger Alan Dent a swift recovery having fallen ill during the 1500m race on Saturday.   Get well soon Alan!  You can read Alans Blog at:

I certainly enjoyed the weekends athletics far more than the weekends football.....enough said! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

NYSD 3000m

A dilemma...stay in and watch the football or go to Darlington for the NYSD 3000m?   No contest for me as I swapped Rooney and Co for the tartan track!  

What if England played a blinder and I missed it?
What if I have a stinker of a run?
What if everyone stays at home and watches the footy and I end up running seven and a half laps on my own?

In the end there was a decent field for the 3000m with Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland taking the honours in 8.57.5.  An early lead group of five soon established themselves and I was running off the back of them for most of the race.  I ended up in 6th in a new vet 40 pb of 9.39.8.  

An improvement of close to 3 seconds over my last 3000m in April.   Could be a combination of spikes and less marathon miles in my legs or it could be my effort to sort out my footstrike...hopefully there will be more pbs to come over the summer!

Even managed to catch the second half......

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Track Test

Last nights track session gave me lots of food for thought....
In a bid to get some pre-marathon build up speed I have bought myself  a pair of spikes.  Nothing flash but a pair of middle distance spikes that will do the job! 

Having only just recovered from Blaydon I wasnt sure how the legs would react so decided on a mixed bag session of 3 x 300m (after a decent warm up of course!) and then a 15 minute effort.   This was to be followed up by a set of 4 x 400m @ 3km speed.

I read a great article by the late Frank Horwill about how to improve VO2 Max which gave me some great ideas.  It starts with a BALKE test which is 15 minutes of sustained running on a track where the aim is to try and run as many 400m laps as possible.  It is then possible (with a certain degree of accuracy it seems) to be able to calculate VO2 max.  

I managed 11 full laps and about 160m of a 12th lap in the 15 minutes.    The pace I ran for the effort was about 5-16 pace average which would work out to be a sub 16-30 effort.  Very pleasing considering a sub 16-30 is something I have been aiming for this season.
Using the site above this works out to be a VO2 Max of 62.71mls/kg/min.   For a 40 - 49 year old male this works out to be Superior!  I will be repeating the test again in about 4 to 6 weeks and see if I can improve.    Nowhere near the VO2 max reported for the legendary Dave Bedford reported to be 85 mls/kg/min!   Its likely that people will say that this test cannot be that accurate but as long as it is repeated under similar conditions it is worth a go to see how you are progressing.

The 400s that followed were all hitting target times and the spikes worked a treat!

We also used a bit of video analysis using my new IPAD App (Coach's Eye).  With footage of me running the 15 minute effort at the start, mid point and end I had the opportunity to use a bit of freeze frame analysis and have a good look at my running technique.  I know I don't have the best running style but it has always been fairly effective in getting me from A to B.  What I noticed most of all was my foot strike was bit too far forward of my centre of gravity and may be acting as a bit of a brake - it may also explain some of my hamstring injuries over the years!  
What I need to work out now is what to do about it...How much can I change my technique and do i risk injury by making changes at this stage of my life to something as fundamental as the way I run.
My morning run today I consciously thought about where I planted my foot and it did feel a bit different - considering I was tired from the session last night I felt quite bouncy and light trying to mid foot strike rather than heel striking.  

There will be plenty of opportunities to test these things out in the next few weeks as I tackle a few more track races.

Time to attack those targets I talked about a few weeks ago!

800m = Under 2.21
1500m = Under 4.37
5000m = Under 16.12

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Going to a race that is as big as Blaydon for the first time is a bit of a learning experience...having decided to drive to Blaydon and get a bus into Newcastle for the start nice and early everything seemed to be going ok.   The long queues for the ladies portaloos (not sure why there were no mens but everyone was using them anyway!) was able to be accomodated into the timetable, as was getting my kit onto the Blaydon baggage bus and warming up in the hustle and bustle of Newcastle.  What a strange mix of shoppers, masses of runners and people starting hen nights, stag nights and general partying...not to mention the can can girls!  All part of the Blaydon experience. 

The race info said to get to the start nice and early as we would need to be lined up by about 5.35.  Conscious that a good start was needed I decided to do my homework.  First I asked a marshall where the best place to be to get a good start.  This side of the fence he assured me and close to this area pointing to the traffic lights.   Which direction do we go..."West!" he replied....Thanks...

Ok so far...then the masses descended on the area and I was in what I thought was a prime area for the start when I saw a couple of North Shields Poly lads.   Local knowledge I thought and followed them as they worked their way up the road to get to the "prime spot to get a good start!"   so after a lot of winding through the crowd I thought right that's great I am sorted.    After a couple of minutes there was a bit of movement from all angles and suddenly the race was off......surely not 15 minutes early where was the famous bell ringing, the sing song come to think of it any kind of warning that the race was underway.   This was just the race to the start line.  I found myself probably in the middle of something like the 15th row from the start with no chance of moving.   In front of me must have been a couple of hundred runners.   I decided to accept fate and stick to where I was rather than try and improve my position.  

First mile was a mass of bodies a bit like the frenzy of an open water swim where everyone wants a good start and goes off like crazy only so slow after a couple of hundred metres and become a moving obstacle to everyone else.   In the end the 5.31 mile wasn't too bad but I dread to think what that would have been like if I had a better start.   Then the rain came !  

I don't think I have ever run in such torrential rain with rivers of water crossing the carriageway - the sight probably makes for great action shots if anyone had been brave enough.  Actually the support along the route was unbelievable considering the weather.

Splits were:  Mile 1 - 5.31, Mile 2- 5.13, Mile 3 - 5.17, Mile 4 - 5.29, Mile 5 - 5-37.  Ended up finishing the 5.75 (Garmin distance !) in 31.20.  

Not sure of my finishing position but in the last mile caught Rosie Smith (4th lady) and Les Smith (fellow Vet 40).   Les had a bit more in his legs and took me down in the last half mile.  I have seen a photo on facebook of Les on the front row at the start now I'm not making excuses or anything but.....  Well done Les on a great run!  

Just in front of me were 3rd lady (Alyson Dixon - 2.35 Marathon runner) and local lad Andy Chadfield of Billingham Marsh House.  

So i survived the Blaydon Race...probably be back next year a little bit wiser and a bit more race savvy - hopefully I wont need to get past a couple of hundred of runners in the first mile although it made for an interesting experience!   It reminded me of a recurring dream I used to have where I missed the start of a race and started from the back....I did actually do that in the Nottingham Half Marathon a long time ago which is another story! 

Results below:

There are some great photos here from Runner Wanderings.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Do the Double...

Well it was a monumental night on the track at Clairville last night.  My first 1500m on the track since 1993 and my first 800m since 1995.  Since becoming a vet 40 I have become reinvigorated and looking at vet rankings made me think...maybe a few track races might be in order to get some speed back in the legs.  It feels a bit like a mid life crisis! Its all about the rankings!

So the 1500......last done in 1993 on the same Clairville Track.  I finished in 4 mins 26 seconds on that night in 1993 and it was the last one I did (usually opting for 3000m and 5000m on the track having realised I wasn't fast!).   Last night I finished in 4.40.3.   So 14 seconds slower in 19 years!  That works out at around a 5.5% reduction in performance in 19 years - not too bad! 

The Reebok Pump Circa 1993 - the last time I ran an 800m! Yes I had a pair..fine until they punctured!

Onto the 800m....last done in 1995 as part of the Chester and Ellesmere Port AC Cheshire League Team.  I was asked to do the 800m because we were short.  I went through the first lap in about 65 seconds thinking that's not too bad..there is nothing to this 800m lark....then one by one the whole field passed me and I finished last in 2 mins 14 seconds cursing my lack of speed and vowing never to run an 800m race again!
17 years later, a lot wiser I was lining up again for an 800m.  First lap 72 and in last place...second lap another 72 but managed to pull a few places back to finish in 2.24.6.   Probably a more pleasurable (???) experience than my last 800m but 10 seconds slower.   That works out to be about an 8% reduction in performance in 17 years...again not too shabby!

So how does this reduction in performance hold up against the 5000m that I did at the 5000m best in 1995 was 15 mins 26.  In Saturday's 5000 I did 16.33 - a reduction of 67 seconds.  That works out to be about a 7% reduction in performance in  17 years....

So Track targets for the year to come are to get within 5% of my 1993-1995 track pbs.

800m = Under 2.21
1500m = Under 4.37
5000m = Under 16.12

Mmmmmm...mid life crisis...wonder if it might just be easier to buy a sports car!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Busy Weekend

Enjoyed a busy weekend of Athletics/Running this weekend.   Saturday morning was Park Run morning in Redcar and we enjoyed a bumper turnout of 104 runners.   The previous best was 72 so we welcomed a whole host of new runners into the park.  I opted for tag handing out this week as my mind was on my first 5000m of the year at Whitley Bay later in the day.   The Pearson representatives on the day were my two boys Jacob who managed a 31.20 min 5km and younger brother Tom who managed 33.13.   Although 10 year old Jacob holds the bragging rights this week it is younger brother Tom (7) who edged on the Age graded by over 3%.....Tom followed his 5km up with a mile junior run and then after everyone departed Whitley Bay wanted to do a 400m timed run!   Duly completed in 2 mins and 3 seconds he earned a share of an Egg Foo Yung chinese meal after a long day!   It was he said..."the best day of my life".....

Onto my we had a full team I only needed to run the 5000m which was quite a relief given that I had not raced since the Marathon.

There was a lot of talk of sub 16 efforts before the start and it did look like a good line up.  

First lap the whole field was fairly bunched and I sat at the rear of the field wondering who was going to make the early move.  In the end it turned out to be Carter of Tyne Bridge and Mcmillan of Jarrow closely tracked by clubmate Tom Danby of New Marske and Sparrow Morley of Tyne Bridge.   Throughout the race I worked my way through the field and ended up in 5th place chasing Sparrow Morley down who finished in 16.27.  Had I managed to get near him on the last lap I suspect his finish would have been stronger than mine as I saw him do a super fast 55ish second relay leg as part of the 4 x 400m team!  Im fairly certain my legs do not possess a 55 second 400m especially not at the end of a 5km.

In the end I finished 5th in 16.33.00 which I am pleased with as it represents a personal best as a Vet 40 for the 5000m and also it is almost 7 seconds quicker than the same fixture last year.   Its always nice to see progress being made!   Breaking 16.30 has become quite a focus for me now and it is something that will hopefully come by the end of the summer either on the road or on the track.

Today I opted for a spectator role as I took brother in law Phil to the Melmerby 10km and for the first time experienced life on the other side.....I saw the start go off, took a few photos then headed to the village hall to see that the boys had made about half a dozen friends and were in the middle of a mini soccer game.   So there was only one thing to do....  A cup of coffee and a big slice of homemade fruit cake made by the village hall committe at Melmerby...delicious!    There were some extremely hot looking runners coming back from the narrow lanes and I think times were probably affected by this with Phil coming in around 38 minutes.    Given the heat I didnt think this was too bad at all!
Half Time Scone!

Feeling the Heat!
There were lots of other races on today but special mention to Ross Murray who followed up a big pb at the BMC Sport City meeting last week with another big pb today at Hengelo with a 3.34.76 will be nice to be within a minute of that when I run a local 1500m at Clairville on Tuesday night.    That result puts him 21st on the all time list for 1500m on Power of 10...nice also to see Jess Ennis hit pbs in three events contributing to a British Record in the Heptathlon.  

Things are looking good......

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hamstrung no more....

Last weeks blog was a mixed bag of recovery, post marathon thoughts and talk of tight hamstrings and a below par track session. In my experience of quite a few years of running sometimes the body needs a kick start. Since the track session where I struggled throughout with tightness in my hamstrings I have been running with a spring back in my step and a renewed focus. A decent park run at Locke Park in 17.42, a 13 mile effort on Sunday, a tempo on Monday night and a great track session last night have set me up nicely for a blast over 5000m on Saturday in a league event. Last nights session was a 1 mile effort @ 5km pace followed by 6 x 600m followed by a 1 mile effort @ 10km pace. All target times were well and truly hit with the mile efforts @ 5-17 ad 5-24. 600s were all around 5 minute miling.

What a difference a bit of sun makes...sunglasses remained on for the whole of the session and a real sense of achievement in the air from all the group!

An easy 40 minute run along the beach at Marske was a well earned recovery session today. The sun was hiding behind so much sea fret (sea fret: a wet mist or haze coming inland from the sea) you couldn't see the pier at Saltburn which is quite bizarre but a stunning run all the same. It always happens that I hit the beach for a run and end up thinking "why do I only run on the beach once in a blue moon!". The beach will now become a regular feature over the summer!

Treated myself to a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines! Couldn't resist jumping on the Union Jack/ Jubilee bandwagon and went for a red white and blue version - jubolympic!

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 Men's Running Shoes (SS12)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Post Marathon Thoughts

Almost two weeks ago my efforts were directed at the marathon. It's been a case of recovery since both mentally and physically.   I have run easy most of the first week except for my post marathon Monday when I took a day off. 
Any running straight after the marathon was always going to be a bonus so I'm happy to have run about 80 post marathon miles in the last 12 days.   Up until today whenever I started to up the pace I felt like my hamstrings were seizing up so it was a case of keeping things nice and steady.   I did manage a fairly light track session on Tuesday consisting of 6 x 800m.  It was nice to look at the watch and see sub 6 minute miling again but the hamstrings were twitching for the majority of the session!
On Wednesday I expected sore legs but it didnt materialise.  In fact I felt pretty good on my morning run and managed 4 miles @ about 6-30 pace.   Today was equally satisying with a 5 mile run before work at about 6-30 pace and a woods run tonight with a fair bit of climbing.  I felt strong and back to my old self.  Whenever I hit the woods I always work on an overall target pace of under 7 minute miling which means pushing it along the flat sections to make up for the climbs.  6.55 average tonight for the 6 mile loop so generally happy.  

I have not over analyzed my marathon performance but have felt a bit disappointed with the way i finished.  The splits tell a story...

Miles 1 to 5 completed in 30.40 (Garmin time).  Fastest mile 6-02, slowest 6-11.
Verdict:  Held myself back and ran a sensible (if slightly fast) pace.

Miles 6 to 10 completed in 29.54 (Garmin time).  Fastest mile 5.55, slowest mile 6-03.
Verdict:  Went a bit fast here.  Four sub 6 minute miles - would I pay for these later??? In my defence it was here I was chasing the lead two runners but this is the section where I went wrong and went too fast.
Miles 11 to 15 completed in 30.28 (Garmin time).  Fastest mile 6.03, slowest mile 6.07
Verdict:   Solid section of the race.  got myself clear in 2nd and was making an effort to reign in the leader.  When else in the future might I get an opportunity like this?

Miles 16 to 20 completed in 30.39 (Garmin time).  Fastest mile 6.02, slowest mile 6.07
Again happy with this section.  Clear in 2nd and enjoying the atmosphere going to the stadium but knowing the last 6 miles were almost upon me!

Miles 21 to 25 completed in 34.51.   This is where the wheels fell off.  A 6-18 followed by a 6-17 was not too bad on paper but I think i lost a lot of concentration at this point having missed the turn into the University section and U-turning.  Then some confusion over where to go meant I went into the tough haul up to Seaburn knowing that my glycogen reserves were low and i was beginning to slow.   Mile 23 in 6-41 was followed by Mile 24 in 7-13, Mile 25 in 7-18 and finally mile 26 in 7-39. 

Relief to finish in a new pb of 2-46.29 but as the dust settles its a case of learning from the experience and looking forward to the Chester Marathon in October.  The tweaks for me to make are:

- Nutrition - work out optimal nutrition strategy to delay onset of the wall!

- Hill work to build strength

- Variable pace sessions (In his Marathon talk podcast Charlie Spedding talked about a session on the track as follows:   5 x 1 mile @ 4-40 pace with 400m jog recovery between efforts @ 6 minute miling - that is hard core and of the reasons he was a 2-08 marathon runner!)

-  Core and cross training - maintaining good technique over the later stages.

Its 142 days until the next Marathon...roll on October 7th...Its revenge time on that wall!

No not that wall.....

That wall !!!
Thats wall folks...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Determination !

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than
sporting excellence. Underpinning the Games is the
philosophy of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the
Modern Olympic Movement

He saw in the Games an ideal opportunity to develop a set of
universal principles – or Values – that could be applied to
education and to society as a whole, as well as to sport itself.

Olympic Creed

These Values are:
  • respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s health and the environment
  • excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life; taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives
  • friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any differences
The Paralympic Values are based on the history of the Paralympic Games and the tradition of fair play and honourable sports competition.
They are:
  • courage
  • determination
  • inspiration
  • equality.

Apparently according to my son Tom who is 7 and his classmates I showed determination in carrying on running on Sunday when my legs hurt!  

I am now featured on the Westgarth School Olympic Values Noticeboard under "Determination".  He also took my Marathon of the North finishers medal in with him to school for "Show and Tell".   

He also said that Pierre De Coubertin visited the school last week for an assembly....

File:Baron Pierre de Coubertin.jpg  That must have been exciting!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Marathon of the North in Pictures

The Marathon of the North

Pre Race thoughts...

They say the marathon takes a long time to master and I have to say that is very true indeed.  Yesterday was my third marathon and my third under 3 hours.  It was also a pb by over 2 minutes as I clocked 2nd place in the first Marathon of the North in 2 hours 46 minutes 29 seconds.

The weather was almost perfect pre race with a light wind, cool temperatures and the start area around the Stadium of Light was well organised, everything within easy reach of the start and plenty of toilets, baggage areas and lots of people out supporting the first event. 
My race plan and aim was to run under 2.45 and set off at a pace that was going to take me comfortably under that goal.  In the back of my mind my ultimate goal was a sub 2-40 but I was not confident that the course profile was going to make that very easy so I put that at the back of my mind.  What I didn't expect was the kind of race that this turned out to be with a podium place coming into my head and ultimately affecting the way the race turned out.  

The first five miles (30-40 Garmin time) heading through Hendon and Grangetown was a case of holding myself back.  The lead pair of Wilson and Atlee had pushed ahead and held a decent lead and I found myself in third place with a fairly big group of runners tracking me including Steve Potts of local club Sunderland Harriers who had a large contingent of supporters tracking him on bikes and giving feedback on those in front.   Steve and I ran together for a few miles and found ourselves clear of the group.   I decided after about 7 miles that I would push on a bit as it seemed the lead two were coming back in particular early leader Atlee.   Miles of 5-59, 5-59, 5-55, 5-56 pulled me clear in third and then it was a case of watching Atlee come back to me.  He did after 12 miles and despite a surge from him in response I pulled clear and found myself in 2nd.   The next few miles I was steadily running miles of 6-07, 6-05, 6-04, 6-07, 6-03, 6-08, 6-02, 6-07, 6-09, and 6-11 saw me go through 20 miles in 2-01.41.  At one point the leader (Paul Wilson of Hartlepool BR) was about 45 seconds clear and the feedback I got from a few locals were that I was catching him.  

The next few miles once we passed the Stadium again became tough.    Losing a bit of concentration I managed to miss the turn into the University area and had to double back for a short while before coming to a couple of points where without marshalls I was trying to work out which way to go...not ideal when you are tired and on your own but I am sure the organisers will address this in future years.   Miles 21 to 23 were hard work and my mile times reflect both the toughness of the course and the start of the tiredness coming into my legs.  6-18, 6-17 and 6-41 meant a tough last three miles was coming.   The road and beach path up to the turn at Seaburn felt like it was going on for ever and I was relieved to get to the turn.   What happened after that was simply a case of my body running out of energy but thankfully being clear in 2nd I resigned myself to the fact that a sub 2-45 was becoming less likely.   The last three miles were the toughest miles I have run for a long time and finished with 7-13, 7-18 and 7-39.  

People often make comments after such races that the garmin distance was much longer.  I know from conversations about race measuring that the measurement is taken on the running line and often the course can become over or under distance because runners stray from the running line.  In the end my Garmin showed 26.5 miles a good 400m+ over distance.  One of the reasons I think for this was that as you were running on closed roads and lots of twists and turns you often were not aware until you were almost on the junction which way you were heading so it was difficult to take an effective running line.   This is not a criticism but an observation from someone who was running completely on my own from 7 miles out except for a brief encounter with the 2nd place runner as I overtook was a lonely run so all in all am happy with the time in the end which on a flatter, faster course with a bit of company would be worth a sub 2-45 or quicker.

I think it is worth congratulating Steve Cram and the event team for bringing this marathon into the race calender and it is definitely worth doing.  I'm sure they will learn a lot from the event and will make it even better next year.  Well done Sunderland!

It was super exciting (once I had some energy inside me and had a massage) to meet marathon legend Charlie Spedding at the presentation.   Charlie is a 2-08.33 marathon runner and the current English Record Holder.   It was a proud moment to be on the stage being presented with 2nd place in a big marathon and 1st Veteran.  

Paul Wilson Hartlepool Burn Road ran a great race to win in 2-43.30 and Ian Bloomfield (59 year old ex 2-17 Marathon legend) finished 3rd in 2-51.25.

I have learned a huge amount yesterday about the marathon and will make some changes to my build up for October...nothing drastic more tweaks.   The sub 2-45 still eludes me but it is getting closer.

Recovery time for me now and then tackle some shorter races before the next big one!

Pictures to follow......

Sunday, 29 April 2012

7 days and counting...

Ok its the final hurdle.   The countdown has well and truly begun and its less than 7 days until race day.   This time next week it will all be over.   In my head I know 2 hours 45 is more than achieveable but it will be a pb for me by almost four minutes.  In London (2000) I ran 2 hours 48 mins 56 seconds.   My build up for that race was a bit haphazard, I injured my hamstring at 16 miles and couldn't run post marathon for about 6 weeks.   My longest run was about 22 miles and in all honesty I did not really know what to expect or how to prepare.

At the London Marathon expo that year I met 2:08 marathon runner Paul Evans who told me to think of the race in two parts - 20 miles was the half way point and then the race begins!   Great advice.   2.19 marathon runner Steve Way was interviewed on the fantastic "Marathon Talk" podcast and he describes the fact that at the end first half of the race you should feel pretty easy if you go out at the right pace and be able maintain that pace until 21 miles or so then see if there is anything left in the tank!  This pretty much follows my race plan which will be to go out at a shade under 2.45 pace and maintain that until past 20 miles and see what is left in the tank....hopefully there will be something to call on!
Training this week has gone well.  My last long run was Thursday when I did a steady 16 mile run followed by a rest day on Friday.  Saturday was an opportunity to have a bit of a blow out as the new Redcar Locke Park run started.  I have been organised in developing this run and so it was great to see 91 runners turn up for the first run.   After a steady first mile in 5.33 I pushed on with a 5.31 mile and a 5.27 mile to finish 1st in 17.16.   A good sign that training has gone well over the past few months but also an indication of the work that needs to be done to get under 16.30 later in the summer. 

Locke Park Park Run up and running!
Check out the Redcar Park Run site and join us on Saturday mornings at 0900.  Please register in advance via the Park Run website.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Kippers - the perfect marathon breakfast?

It's 10 days tomorrow until the Marathon of the North and I am at the point in the taper where the body feels a bit lethargic, doubts are creeping in and I'm itching to get to the start line and forget about Marathon training for a while.   Last week was a relatively low mileage week with just short of 50 miles in the bag (or the watch!).   Saturdays run was in the beautiful setting of Northumberland as we were away for a family wedding.   Brother in law Phil (Musgrave) arranged an early morning run and we met at 7am on the landing of the farmhouse we were staying in....8 miles of stunning scenery, deer, hares, hawks and lambs (lots and lots of lambs) were our company...8 miles of local roads and only one car...heaven!  Feeling smug about 50 miles being done for the week I checked out the stats on the dreaded Garmin...bugger....49.78 miles.    This usually bugs me and I had two choices...put the garmin on and run round the grounds of the farmhouse or round it up....needless to say I rounded it up but it reminded me of pre- garmin days when we used to estimate all of our runs.  I often wonder how accurate we were...My Monday night 10 milers at the club were possibly 9.5 miles or maybe they were 10.5 miles - who knows...who cares?  

A few people have made comments post London that the Garmin showed not 26.2 but 26.5 or 26.7....I haven't done London for some time but I'm sure my Garmin (had I worn one!) would have shown a similar distance as i weaved in and out in the early stages not to mention the weaving at the finish as my legs went a bit wibbly wobbly!

Are we all becoming too reliant on the GPS watches...?  Probably I guess!

I repeated the run the following morning and added an extra mile to make sure the excesses of the night before were worked out...Kippers followed for breakfast so wanted to build an appetite.   As it was the day of the London Marathon I was particularly keen to get a run in and this time came across human contact with an elderly gentleman walking his dog.   "if you speed up now you might make the start line" he shouted....blimey even in remote Northumberland people make funny comments about us runners....better than 118 or Run Forrest Run I suppose! 

I enjoyed my kipper from Craster!

Last night I made a return to the track for a local 3000m race.   Happy with my 4th place in 9:42.2 as I set a target of 9.54 for myself.   Happier still with the way that I was able to pick up the pace in the second half and pass the runner in front to finish 4th.   Brother in law Phil clocked an impressive 10:05.05.   I predict this year will see Phil out kick me in a race as he is showing a good turn of speed at the moment.  Training partner Jayne Parkin also had a great 3000m (and track debut) with 11:59.5.  Cutting it fine to make my target of a sub 12 but done all the same!

Results are below:

Well done to all who did the London Marathon...only managed to catch the highlights so far but massive well done to Claire Hallissey who took the last remaining marathon place for London 2012.   Also well done to my good friend Belgrave Harrier Louise Blizzard who completed her 18th London in a super fast 2:58.10 and was part of the winning team.  Well done Lou!  Lots of other people to mention but Good luck to Paul Cleasby (New Marske Harriers) and Mark Brown (NYMAC) who are running the Marathon of the North just two weeks after London..rather you than me!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A frank training session!

Tonight I was looking to do a track session that would be a marathon type effort to give me the confidence going into the taper that I was in good shape and ready for the marathon on May 6th.   After a bit of research about tapering etc I came across an article by Frank Horwill.  For those who dont know Frank Horwill there is an excellent profile of the man on the Serpentine Running Club website.   He sadly died in January this year but his legacy lives on.   I have read a number of his articles and they are absolutely fascinating and thought provoking.

One of the articles is entitled Leaving No Stone Unturned and is about marathon training.  In it he describes a variable pace session that he calls "the greatest training aid for the marathon".   The session is a 10km continuous run alternating laps at 5km speed with marathon pace laps as recovery.   He describes an athlete who he was coaching being able to (eventually) run 25 laps alternating 80 second laps with 90 second laps for 25 laps.  The athlete in question went onto run 2.37 for the marathon.   With that in mind I decided that tonight was the night to try this for myself.  Only time will tell if this session is too close to marathon day but here was the outcome.

82 (88) 82 (89) 81 (91) 81 (91) 81 (90) 80 (90) 81 (89) 80 (90) 80 (90) 80 (91) 80 (90) 80 (91) 80.  

The full article can be read here....Article Number 11

Frank - I salute you Sir!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More running less blogging!

Its been a while so this blog captures the crucial weeks pre taper as I build up to the Marathon of the North on May 6th. With two and a half weeks to go and the race pack imminent in its arrival it is now TAPER Time!

Here is a run down of the last few weeks since the welcome distraction of the Road Relays.

Week Ending 8th April - started the week with a few days recovery post Relays trying to shake off a tight hamstring.  Wed - 10 miles at marathon pace (actually a bit quicker in 6.13 per mile), Steady Thursday and a 23 miler on Good Friday at average pace of 6.35 per mile.  Most pleasing was the final four miles of this run completed in 25.53 which was the quickest four miles of the run with a bit left in the tank!  A recovery run Saturday was followed by a 10 miler again at Marathon pace on Sunday.   This ended my biggest week of the build up with 80 miles.    4 weeks to race day!

Week Ending 15th April - spent a few days away so opted for early morning runs before taking advantage of the hotel's all you can eat cooked breakfast washed down with lots of fruit, yoghurt and danish pastries....carbo loading right? What too early! Damn!  These early morning runs were all 8 miles and all completed at around 6.30/6.35 pace.  Thursday - easy run am followed by a very satisfying 5 x 1200m on the track.  These were meant to be at 5km pace but ended up being slightly quicker with reps of 4.02, 3.54, 3.55, 3.55 and 3.57.  Recovery was scheduled as 400m jog recovery.   As a warm down I decided a mile at marathon pace was in order - it ended up being a 2km warm down at 5.40 pace.  Amazing how easy this felt after running a set at 5km pace.   Not so easy the next day when my body refused to go any quicker than 7.15 miling!      I decided to finish the week with my my final long effort.  After much deliberation I opted for a marathon pace run for the first half of my long run then a steadier pace to finish with the aim of a total run of about 19 to 20 miles.   As has been the theme of my long runs I broke down the runs into 4 mile blocks.  First four miles (24.45) felt fairly easy and comfortable.   Miles 5 to 8 (24.57), 9 to 12 (24.52) all completed at a pace slightly quicker than marathon pace so decided to continue in this vein.    Miles 13 to 16 was completed in 24.54.   At this point I felt that continuing at this pace would have started to become counter productive so "eased" down and finished at around 6.30 miling.   Ended the week with an easy recovery run on the Sunday to notch up a 70 mile week.   3 weeks to race day.

So far this week I have opted for shorter runs mainly at a steady pace but did throw in a few "tempo" miles yesterday at the end of my steady run (three miles @ 5.45 pace).  

So.....the main work is done.....In 2012 so far I have run 850 miles....10 runs have been completed over 2 hours......longest run 23 miles (twice) and now 17 days to taper, sharpen, recover, carbo load.      I have read a fair bit about tapering and there is a lot of different opinions out there but generally a reduction in mileage, less long running, more easy days should see me right.     I will be watching the London on Sunday but unlike previous years where I have been motivated to the point of going out before for a long run and pondering if the marathon distance is something I should have a serious crack at I will be sitting there pondering my own race strategy for two weeks time!

In the words of Mr's time!

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