Thursday, 31 December 2009


The last session of the calendar year and indeed of the decade was a memorable one.  A long hill session (4 x 6 minutes) completed in near perfect conditions.  A fairly bright morning without a hint of a breeze on a snow free incline with only one car to cope with for the whole of the hill session. A tremendous venue.
Going back to the review and evaluation of 2009................................................

Yes, I know the feeling, Nobby. (Stiles, Man. Utd.)
I remember when I was a P.E. teacher I put out an under 13 football team and they lost 5-1.  I'm sure they were disappointed but believe me I felt positively sick inside.   In comparison, the good thing about running races is that we all know there will only be one outright winner.  We never really "lose". Even the last person to finish might have run a P.B.! I was fortunate to win  plenty of races as a kid and was lucky enough to win a few races as a "senior".  But for most of us all we can do is strive for a good placing, perhaps even a first, in our age group, or a  time good enough to qualify for UK ranking or that elusive P.B.  Obviously, I'm well past P.B.s but position wise, I managed to hit top 3 M60s in all races from May. Arncliffe 4 was my only first but that was hardly a major event, was it?
As for race times I set the athletics data ranking marks as targets so  when the Power of 10 people moved the goalposts on the qualifyling times as previously mentioned it was a touch disappointung to find my qualifying times wouldn't now count. Having said that I wouldn't have made even top 100 for any distance, except possibly the half, so academic really.   I competed in 19 races in 2009; 5 more than 2008. So that again was pleasing. 
                                        But going back to being a teacher .....
                          END OF YEAR REPORT FOR T.M.W. LONERGAN 
     Whilst showing a good degree of consistency in his application throughout the year, he failed    to concentrate on personal aims and objectives for 2/3 of the year. Latterly, however, he would seem to have refocussed,  as reflected in recent results,  and this augurs well for 2010.   


Wednesday, 30 December 2009


  Fasten your seat belts folks; here we go for yet another year of fun and frolics on the northern running scene. A minimal start to the year on Monday with just a treadmill 3,  having journeyd to Manchester and back. With pockets of green emerging from the fields of snow I was keen to try the trails  yesterday having had more than a week of tarmac and treadmill.  The Strid was the obvious choice for an 7 and it went quite well.  I climbed up to the top path in Strid woods from the Cavendish, looking down upon the many groups of walkers on the main path below skating along periously.  I didn't risk the other undulating side and turned back to avoid the risk of falling.  The trails above Bolton Abbey have been frequented for years. Today's photo was taken in the late 1970s during a Bingley Harriers training run. The run ended at a member's caravan near Skyreholme, near Appletreewick. I would have run from Burley but others would have run over Ilkley Moor from the Bingley area.  The race t-shirt I'm wearing is of THE 3 TOWERS RACE. It was a very runnable but testing run from Horwich, taking in Rivington Pike, Darwen Tower and Holcombe Tower finishing in Bacup. It was a great rehearsal for the 3 Peaks race.  Sadly no longer on the calendar.
  For the first time in months today I had a guest on my run,  being  blessed with the charming, delightful company of one Ms. Jarvis who kindly joined me for an out and back 9 miler.  Fortunately as she is enjoying an easy week she allowed me to enjoy my normal pace and didn't try to run me ragged or leave me like others might have done. Thanks Sarah.  Certainly helps the miles go by with a some company.  A good thing now and again.
  She is focusing now on the London marathon and putting the final touches to her build up race programme.
This real necessity to enter races early is very much a feature of running today,  as so many races seem to be reaching their limits early.  Can you imagine strolling up to race entry desk at 2.45 for a 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon for a race with 80 or so runners, nowadays?  It's called the Arncliffe 4!! but it is exceptional. A half marathon in central Lancashire being run for the very first time this Sunday is showing RACE FULL.  The message is clear; we have to plan and enter our races well in advance. Then try to avoid injury so we can run in them! That's presuming you can afford the exorbitant entry fee in the first place.  I will be reallocating my £125 winter fuel payment to cover races for the first half of the year!
  We concluded this morning, and the splits always confirm it, that once I've overcome the inertia of the first mile or so I can still maintain race pace very well. Generally running the second half faster.  So at least a few more half marathons plus an increase in the shorter races to enhance the speed.  Now where's that diary........

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Sunday saw the sun going down on yet another year of training and racing.......................

Being pedantic, it would have been quite good to finish my year, which actually started on Monday Dec.29,with a week of 56 miles. This would have given me a grand total of 2392 for the 52 weeks, averaging 46 miles. As it was with all the snow and guests to think about ,I think I did quite well to get in 53 miles, just falling short.
   Nevertheless, the last of the year on Sunday was quite a satisfying one.  The ladies of the household were planning  a Skipton visit so I had them drop me off near Halton East on the A59 and I ran the 11 miles back
on clear back lanes with little or no traffic.  This is an old favourite marathon training route of mine from Ilkley which does a circuit of Embsay halfway before returning as I did via Hesketh's Farm, Bolton Abbey Village, Beamsley village and Nesfield.  Even managed to intersperse the 11 with 3 tempo pace miles to add to the effort. Pleasing after the 12 miles covered on Christmas day, two days prior.
   So 2389 miles for 2009.  The majoirty of them Garmin measured. so probably the most accurate total of all the years I been keeping records!  REVIEW TIME!.............. did the year go? did the decade go?
.................................are there any lessons to be learnt?
and the big question........can the downward spiral of slower times be halted?
    I appreciate that the number of miles run in the year is not always a measure alone of effort and consistency.  If too many of those miles are covered at too leisurely a pace, too far above race pace, then the regime perhaps needs to be looked at. (Perhaps come back to that!)  But hey it's useful to look back and
compare 2009 with the last few years.   The last significant break I had was in 2002 when I had the Morton's Neuroma operation that year I covered 2058 then.............

2003/ 2242       2004/2800      2005/2461     2006/2299      2007/2621      2008/2274      2009/2389
  (43.11)              (53.94)            (47.32)           (44.21)             (50.4)            (43.73)          (45.94)
       A good degree of consistency only half a dozen days missed; 3 blips due to chest virus, back strain
whilst cleaning the car and a fall whilst gardening! So all in all quite pleased with efforts made.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

WHY DO I RUN HERE.............

I wish I could claim to have written the poem here but
I will immediately dispel that thought from your head.
I actually discoverd it in a very tiny gift shop in Es Migjorn Gran,  a small village on the island of Menorca.

   It came to mind whilst bashing out a pretty solitary
12 mile run on Christmas Day on quiet country lanes
cleared of snow, devoid of cars and enjoyed in beautiful
warming sunshine. Until the last mile of course running back up to the top of our part of town where we won't see the sun for several more weeks.  Wish I'd bought
a house on the sunny side of Ilkley.  Still the views do compensate.
  So despite all ,the week has gone pretty well. All but 2 miles on tarmac.  However, I am reaquanting myself with some old favourite runs which I used to do from the shop.
  Today, a 6 miler up to and through Denton village. Again on perfectly clear roads. The mile up to the farm up there was always ideal for long hill reps.  So for the first time for many years didn't see any of the local big holiday race, the CHEVIN CHASE. Not really fair on my dear mother in law to have her stood on outside the Royalty catching her death of cold               
                                                 Have scanned the excellent photos of  Running Bear,  underfoot conditions looked as bad as forecast, let's hope no one suffered badly falling. .  Amazing some of the outfits.  Think the guy who ran as a full size Christmas tree took some beating.  Meanwhile others just wore vests and shorts as they would for a race in August!  
                               The rest of the poem......................

Think it was written by Billy............Billy No Mates!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


   Apologies to Phil Collins for today's title but nothing more appropriate to sum up the rise in temperature during today's run.  Looking out from the house on our side of Ilkley I can see the sunnier Middleton side but hard to predict how warm it was in the noon day sun.  A warm up 3 mile approach to a quiet lane predictably free of cars but clear of snow for a hill session.  Soft shell jackets are great for prerace and post race or training in near zero temperatures but prove too warm during today's run. I
   So if conditions are anything to go by as at 12 o'clock today a thaw may well be on the way!   Sorry kids!    Hill reps are hard work at the best of times but at least try and choose somewhere where cars are not an issue and the scenery is easy on the eye.................

Another 8 mile today. The week is going very well,  despite the weather but  a lot of road . Hopefully the thaw will materialise and I can return to some offroad running to ease the impact on the legs.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


It's end of the year and  as always a time to dust the shelves in the office down and throw away a few magazines. During the tidy up I came across some old Athletics Weeklys.  The Letters pages are always interesting but one published November 20th 1976 particularly caught my eye. It was from D.A.Croft the Hon. Sec. of the 3 Peaks Assn. In it he states that previously the race has been limited to male competitors but "fell running is now, however, gaining increasing support from ladies" and he has "received a number of enquiries"  for ladies to take part.(!)  He went on to say that if a  Ladies' 3 Peaks race was to be held in 1977 it was likely to be a separate race.  Looking back to the full results of the 1977 race which I ran in I can see no evidence of runners denoted as FEMALE so can only assume that their participation continued to be unwelcome or ultimately there was a lack of commitment.
   I certainly would not wish to be up Pen Y Ghent, Whernside or Ingleborough today or indeed anywhere offroad as overnight snow
covers iced trails, made even more dangerous by  sub zero temperatures last night. As the snow continues to fall today causing chaos and upheaval to so many throughout the country, to their credit Bradford Met have been able to cope with the amount of snow falling in Wharfedale.  They even responded to emails and phone calls and sent a man on a mini tractor who gritted our road.   Thanks!
       Given open roads and better underfoot conditions, I would probably have journeyed over to Fewston on a Tuesday and covered 6.3 miles in about an hour, maybe more.  Forced to hit the road(s) again today I covered 7 miles in the hour; so the snow has some benefits!  I can't help but think that too many trail runs have taken some of the edge of my speed but they have been kinder on the joints.  

       It will be interesting to see what decision Aire Centre Pacers make about running the Chevin Chase or not. Some of the course must be just solid ice and lethal to run on. They must be praying for a thaw.
     I will leave you with some shots taken today at around 3 p.m.  A view of the COW rock.......whose face it that?........and the Wharfe valley including Beamsley Beacon (again) with the late afternoon sun just catching the highest point.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Quite pleased that the SALE HARRIERS Christmas handicap was cancelled (prior to the bad  weather )and meant that I wasn't even tempted to make the journey this weekend.  It would have been the first time I'd done one since the '60s when I lived in Manchester.  Everyone used to bring a small prize worth about £2 and the club would put up a hamper or a large basket of fruit for the winner.  Each participant would then come forward in finishing order and take something off the table. Much as they do still in many fell races today.  When I opened THE COMPLETE RUNNER in the early '80s I recall a few occasions when we continued the Christmas handicap tradition and it was maintained by the Ben Rhydding running group based at the hockey club and then Ilkley Harriers when based there.  This photo was given to me by ace supervet KEVIN O'HARA ,now Bingley Harriers/Dragons R.C. Yeadon.  He is the runner in the rather fetching Harlequin Jesters number.  The legend that is Steve O (Steve O'Callaghan) is setting his watch, with the red gloves on, joining the group from Valley Striders Leeds.  I have selected matching lycra top and tights in turquoise and pale lilac adorned with seasonal silver trimming.  Umm, nice. 
     A fun festive event but note that all on the start line are wearing current racing shoes.  Not sure who won but do remember anyone who overtook Kevin was turned into a rabbit by the magic wand he ran with.
     Today's run went very much as planned.  The road outside the house is a sheet of ice but walking gingerly
for just a few minutes I found clear gritted roads and managed an out and back 11 miles via the Lido, golf club, Nesfield and beyond but could probably continued all the way to the A59, no problem.  So  an average 45 miles for this easier week as the year drawrs to a close.  Let's hope for a thaw soon and a return to routine but I'm not holding my breath ,as they say.  Could mean a week of road miles and treadmill (sorry,  RUNGRINDER) running  but that's safer than trying to run offroad where ice is likely to be hiding underneath the snow. 

Saturday, 19 December 2009


     0nly kiddin'.................if it's good enough for these steers's good enough for me....can you believe that they put "poor defenceless animals" on such machines to study the "Effect of exercise on the quality of beef"!   In contrast my 3 miles on the treadmill was completely voluntary and not designed to prove anything other than a mile on a treadmill is a lot further than a mile outside and seems a great deal harder.
    Compensation was the Janet Jackson video "Design Of A Decade" including Rhythm Nation.....all military costumes and dance moves kept alive today by Britain's Got talent winners Diversity and Cheryl Cole.
    Got to thinking about the word TREADMILL.  Yes, we all know it's an exercise machine in a gym. For the less athletic it conjures up images of any monotonous , wearisome routine or daily life ; but as a combination of the words TREAD and MILL it's hardly seems appropriate, does it?  But.....did you know.....TREAD  is an old Anglo Saxon word meaning to "step on or walk on".   MILL?  Did you know....The first TREADMILL machine was invented around 1820 by Sir William Cubill as a means of employing prisoners to rotate a wheel or large cylinder through a series of horizontal treads.  As the prisoners stepped on the treads, the axle was turned to operate a MILL  to grind grain..  Hence, the derivation of the word.  I think they should be renamed RUNGRINDERS !
    Want more?  Did you know......American cardiologist, Robert A. Bruce, (1918-2004) promoted the idea of TREADMILLS as an exercise device and a means to monitor heart rate as the subject increased speed.
Amazing that before long every gym and many homes had them and many prefer to run on the machine than outdoor even in the best of weather. For me it's still a "fallback" in bad weather.
    Seems the best choice for tomorrow is gritted road rather than risk falling offroad or sliding along the canal towpath.  I'll be thinking about those steers!

Friday, 18 December 2009


For the dawn runner striding along on virgin , cushioning snow has a certain unique appeal.  You've discovered a private playground that is yours and yours alone.  A pure white carpet.......clad with your best trails shoe on,  you boldly run where no one else has run,  or even perambulated, that early morning.  There's nothing like it.  But for those who set forth at 11.30 the carpet is not quite so pure.  Already the trail is  black
 muddy slush. A layer of ice covers tarmac stretches.  A multitude of doggie walkers have compounded the tracks into treacherous ice.    Undeterred I headed up past what was Ilkley College bound for the Swastika stone.  Passing the start of the Ilkley Incline I am faced with
a Landrover deserted on the road.  A sticker on the rear window states
"The Best 4x4 in the World" doesn't add except in snow!!     Running on past the changeover point on the Millenium Way relay  I can't help but think that we are going to be "stuck" with these conditions for quite a few days. Whilst sledging enthusiasts relish the chance to practise thier skills, let's face it for the majority of us it's a real nuisance.
Runners have to "box clever" to maintain planned schedules.

Reaching the Swastika Stone, the view across   to Beamsley Beacon demonstrated just how much snow had fallen overnight compared to yesterday's shot taken 24 hours earlier.
Just 5 miles this morning which was rapidly becoming more of a photo shoot with periods of running in between. but as Fiday tends to be an easy day and days like this with bright sunshine and snow are so rare what the heck!   Whilst I managed a run this morning I can envisage days within the next few months when conditions won't be so attractive so tonight I stepped onto the treadmill in the garage for a couple of miles just to get the legs back into what for me is a slightly different type of running. These conditions can make for interesting photos for many of us but I just hope the God Of Global Warming looks down from high and banishes the white stuff  within the next few days ..............and returns
.............................for just 25th . December. Just for the chill.....dren.



Thursday, 17 December 2009


I know many reading this are young enough to be hoping for future P.B.s and are working hard to achieve them. Even I feel that there is some room for improvement next year on 2009 times. But how about this for a rise to the highest national level?!

On Dec.14 2008, one Jim Dean, M 65 ,unattached of Kendal, ran the Great Langdale 10K in 356th. place with a time of 60.20.  Last Sunday, Dec 13 2009, one Jim Dean, M65, unattached of Kendal, ran the same event in 30th place with a time of 40.28.  So,an improvement of nearly 20 minutes; good enough to see him ranked in 13th. place M65 in the UK.  Absolutely amazing! When and if I found out the secret behind his rise to such heights I will publish all on this blog.

Meanwhile, back to more mundane routine's run.  Post race build up continued with an offroad 8 today.  Might well have been less as the first snow storm of the morning hit me in the first mile and as they say around
here I was "baht'at"......i.e. I had forgotten my headgear.  I must confess to strongly considering to turn back soon after and half the distance particularly as I had a 12.30 appointment,  but I knew I would have shelter in the woods, so I ploughed on as planned.  Besides I hate deviating from the session once I've started. 

  This is how Beamsley Beacon looked at around 11.30 this morning, picturesquely adorned by the
first snow of winter 2009.  Fortunately, the snow
hadn't settled on the roads and I returned well in time for my meeting with my NIKE rep. Adam Sutton.  (Preston Harriers....check out HIS record !!!)
     It's only mid December but I have to sort out the COMPLETE RUNNER'S NIKE shoes and clothing requirements for August, September and October 2010 by Jan.13th.  Adam provided me with a  pair of the latest version of the much sought after LUNARGLIDE training shoes to test.  Comments on this revolutionary NIKE midsole technology to follow.   This is the Spring 2010 mens colourway......

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


My concept of a "recovery run" has taken on a whole new meaning after Sunday's demanding Great Langdale 10K.  A 3 mile jog in driving rain on the grass on Monday night felt as bad as one would anticipate; the old legs were not particularly sore  but internally the engine felt the effect of the 6.50 mileing average churned out for the lakes race.  Sticking to the plan of nudging the distance gradually,  a flat 6 miler on the road yesterday was enjoyed at a leisurely pace, the heart and lungs thankful for not being overly stretched.  Definitely tortoise pace!

I added another mile to the mix today, content with a pace 2.5 mins. above that race pace. It's Wednesday and the recovery is still continuing and being enjoyed!  I had pencilled in doing the listed SALE HARRIERS Christmas handicap this Saturday but it's been cancelled due to Pennine Bridleway reccies and for want of an organiser (we only have 650 members!).   Going forward, it's Sale Festive 5 the Sunday after Christmas but it's a 9.30 start; far too early for journeying from Yorkshire.  The Ribble Valley is tempting on the same day as a sub 42 would be on the cards but that too would mean being "unsociable" having guests, so current thought is to draw a line under the racing list for 2009.  I've raced the Clitheroe event 9 times in the past,  but it's a great holiday event which attracts friends old and new from Lancashire and who knows!?

Monday, 14 December 2009


Headed back up to Troutbeck, east of Windermere, to stay overnight and shorten the journey for Sunday's GREAT LANGDALE CHRISTMAS PUDDING 10K.  Took this shot on exiting the car to jog an easy 3 mile on the Garburn trail, hoping that conditions for tomorrow's race are just as friendly.  Knowing the Lake District ,Sunday could see icy roads, gales, sleet or even snow!  It's a noon start though so there will be time to grit the roads.  As with most races in the Lake District ,runners come from all over the North plus holidaying southerners. So demand for places is so great that you can choose to race on the Saturday or the Sunday.  I tried for the Saturday without success but managed the Sunday start.
Hardly surprising the races are so popular, the backdrop of the Langdale fells has to be one of the most dramatic and outstanding of any road race start/ finish in the U.K. Driving into the Langdale valley via Elterwater and Chapel Stile gave us the chance to assess the course. Underfoot conditions would not prove to be a problem but the course would certainly be undulating with a couple of unwelcome climbs which would edge times up. With just under 400 competitors parking and  toileting were not a problem. A very eclectic field of competitors set off; club runners in vest and shorts, unattached runners many overdressed for arctic conditions plus of course the obligatory santas and elves.

From the start at the Sticklebarn Tavern the course meanders back through Chapel Stile, diverts off the road through the Langdales Time Share, emerges at the Britannia pub, Elterwater,  climbs back to the valley road then left back down the valley again.  Of course this meant on the way back we were heading towards the slower runners on both sides of the road. Yes, marshalling could have been better. Rival M60 Steve Pierce of Kendal had passed me after a mile. "What kept you?" I said. "Had a few pints last night!", he replied and pulled away but as we turned he was still in sight.  Working well with Richard Johnson of Swaledale, Erika's husband, we were going through nicely and I did think Steve P. might come back. But the hill out of Chapel Stile prevented that and he went on to win the category to my 2nd.

I was overtaking still but R.J. had nudged away. Photo here was taken with about 200 metres to go.  I'm just about to launch my Usain Bolt like finish but results show that those to my right had the edge with a right hand turn finish but I did manage to  keep ahead of the others in the group; all much younger than myself, of course!  The splits, based on race markers, illustrate the race undulations.
4.14    4.08    4.30    4.10    4.11    4.14    4.20    4.27    4.12    4.04
     42.33.  49th of 397 and of course, 2nd M60 behind Mr. Pierce.
So, I would say the nature of the course put paid to any chance of the 42 minute time I had hoped for; but it did suggest the sub 42 target is realistic in the New Year.  Most encouraging was the fact that Steve Peirce was only 33 seconds in front over 10K compared to 1min23secs.
in front over 5 miles in October.  But then he had had a few pints on Saturday night.....and I hadn't??

Friday, 11 December 2009


        I did say that after the first two reps. yesterday things had started to come together quite well.  What I failed to mention was that on several of the 300s I was actually breezing past a European 400 metre hurdles champion hogging lane 1.  Believe me, I was going past as if he was standing still!  Mind you KEITH WHITAKER is 79 now.  A track star for most of his career with Airedale & Spen Valley A.C., Keith travels from (nearly) Harrogate to the track at Nelson to jog around 16 laps. As we say "use it or lose it"

     Todays' run was a flat offroad toddle.  Toddle?  Well there's easy.....very easy ...then there's toddle.  Toddle pace is centred between " jog" and " fast walk".  Weight of shoes today? Of no importance,  but
certainly heavier than when I set off, as the trail , frozen overnight , thawed late morning  and lbs of mud were picked up.

     Following on from Thursday's comments on weight of shoes, of course, you can't get any lighter than no shoes at all!  Ever tried running barefoot?  On the beach?  On a highly manicured golf course?  How about
snow or even 26 miles of tarmac?  In the '60s barefoot running was quite in vogue.  Aficionados included many of G.Bs top 6 mile runners ....Bruce Tulloh, Ron Hill, Jim Hogan. Bear in mind tracks were cinder in those days not tartan.  Of course, as teenagers we followed the example of these distance stars of the day.
Imagine the look of horror on the face on our Lancashire team manager when we lined up for the Inter Counties championships without shoes! No problem. On Derby's Markeaton Park's lush grass we put 5 in the first 12.  Snow started to fall during the race as it did for the Worlds XC champs. one year in Boston but it didn't deter one young Kenyan runner as can be seen from the photo below.

     Later we had the arrival of ZOLA BUDD from South Africa without shoes.
Remember Mary Decker and the Olympic fall?
 But the most notable barefoot performance is surely that of ETHIOPIAN ABEBE BIKILA.  In the 1960 Rome Olympics he won the marathon in a then world best time of 2 hrs 15 16.2. Four years later after Onitsuka Tiger (Asics) has convinced him of the benefits of their
footwear he won the Olympic event again in 2: 12 .11.  Remarkably Bikila's  1964 time matches the fastest UK marathon this year....Dan Robinson 2:12.14 and the time of Andi Jones (2nd) matches his barefoot time...2.:15.20.
I will not comment on today's "advances" in
training methods, nutrition or shoe technology!!
Save that for another day.


Thursday, 10 December 2009


Sorry workers to dwell on about the weather but the last two days, late morning, have been really fabulously spring like temperature wise,  with sunglasses compulsory. Yesterday, the fine December weather, however, was only scant compensation for the soreness of the legs still prevalent after Sunday's Alex Park 5K.  7 miles averaging "easy" pace of 9 mins. proving more than enough.

     It had me thinking about the decision to revert to my adidas Adilete racing shoes for last Sunday's 5K and the soreness in the legs.  The lower profile racing shoe is 266 gs.  The adidas Tempo racer/trainer I usually do my track sessions and races in weighted in at 323 gs.  22% heavier but offering more cushioning.  Just for interest I weighed a adidas adistar M.D. spike which came in at 208 gs.  The Supernovas came in at 370gs and my Somnio training came in at 408 gs. in comparison.
    Handling the spikes made me think how great it would be to return to wearing spikes for my track sessions but I would certainly have to "wean" my aged legs back to getting used to the lack of cushioning and support. I couldn't just take them out of the box and do a session in them, certainly not at my age. Then again is it worth the risk?
   I did , however, take out of the box a new Brooks lightweight training shoe, the Ravenna, to test today.
After working on the legs with some self massage I decided to a "1/2" track session .....10 x only 3000 metres as opposed to the normal 6400 with  Great Langdale 10K in mind.
   Looking at recent 300 rep times I would have been happy with 75....41.40 10k pace.  The first 2 were on target but the remaining 8 started to flow very well. The new shoes were proving very comfortable and supporting me well as I tried to get up on the toes .  So,
74.3     75.4    72.4   72.5   72.1    70.7    71.7    72.2    70.2    69.3.........average 72....40 min 10k.pace
                       Gave myself quite a generous recovery of 1 minute.
   Looking forward to a couple of easy days now before tackling the new event for me on Sunday, in line with the "keep it fresh" with the new running experiences resolution which I hope to take into 2010.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Family matters meant that Pat and I were in Manchester on Saturday night, so I opted for a shot at recording a year's best 5K at ALEXANDRA PARK on the Sunday.  This meant missing the GUYS 10 near Preston,
breaking a sequence of having run at least one 10 mile road race each year since 1976! 102 in total.

A classic race distance, 10 milers are always competitive bringing together those for whom it's their longest racing event and longer distance specialists dropping down. I often refer to the highest quality 10 mile race I ever competed in ...the ROWNTREES 10 MILE in YORK in 1983 which saw 322 inside 60 minutes!  My 51.41 was only good enough for 21st place.

Going back, Saturday's easy 4 felt only fractionally better than Friday but with Sunday's 5K  at least run in dry, breezy conditions and I was determined to give it a go from the gun.  I say from the gun.  The event is so low key,  a young man gives out a warning about pot holes on the far side of the course and then just shouts "Go!" (95 took part this month)   Chasing a wee pre- teenager (doing a 3k)  helped on the first of the 3 laps, although it was difficult to avoid hitting him on the head with my driving elbow. Then I went shoulder to shoulder with young Peter Maw of Manchester Met.  who I had met at the September event when he was racing for the first time. As then, we battled on until 4K but I was then able to run my fastest K split and edged away for 20.35. So a season's best for me and a well deserved P.B. for Peter.  I'm sure he'll "have me" in the future at this or some other event in the Manchester area.

The race SPLITS were......4.04     4.13      4.10     4.06    4.02.  
My average for last Wednesday's 6 x 1K track session was 4.21.....lack of adrenalin!?
Just need to find someone of my standard who can train at 11.30 a.m. mid week.

We drove up to the Lake District after the race, conditions deteriorating as we went further North. Very heavy rain overnight meant the hilly approach to Troutbeck village, on Monday's easy 6, was akin to navigating a river bed but the valley road towards Troutbeck farm was surpringly dry, with low rain clouds clung to Lowther Brow and High Mere Greave in the distance. (see photo below) This is a lane leading to Troutbeck Park Farm only. So virtually traffic free; ideal for speed work. The bridge on the left marks  the 1K point  and a gate further on is exactly a mile. Perfect.

Back home and back to routine today, Tuesday, with the Strid 8 miler which was very slow.  The old legs really feeling the effects of 5K at 6.37 mile pace.  A pace I struggle to achieve for any distance on the track by myself.   Illustrating the value and benefit of these 5K Park races; whether we ease down for them or just  run then as tempo runs within a normal training week.

I tried to get an entry for the GREAT LANGDALE 10K on Saturday; failed, but did manage to squeeze into the Sunday version.  I would have definitely skipped the track session this week if I had made the Saturday race; not quite sure now it's Sunday...see how i feel tomorrow.

Friday, 4 December 2009

No one said it would easy!

No one said it would be easy?  Well, that's what I had writted on the week's plan for today.  " Easy 5".
Made it as flat as I could.   From Ilkley Lido, over the swing bridge, through the park, out past the golf club and return.   Total time....48.31.....average pace  9.42!!  So,  easy 5 but seemed like a hard work!  But then
again when we're "jogging" just prior to a race and are deliberately not pushing the pace don't we always feel so lethargic?   That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

Was thinking on the run about races for next year, particularly up to Easter.  Going back to yesterday's blog entry, even when we've "learnt where and when we perform best" putting together a reasonable series of races is not always an easy task.  I can find the race information easily enough.......  and perhaps a lesser known site
for races in the North/ North
But some "fancied" races fill up very, very quickly, of course.  (Even past winners of the Brass Monkey aren't guaranteed or offered an entry)  Snake  Lane 10 in Pocklington is another already full. Others look
attractive until I spot the entry fee and feel like writing to Rip Off Britain.  Sadly some worthwhile charities
are organising good events but seem to be charging exorbitantly.  Yes, I know I can afford it but that's not the point. Then there's "Great" events.....enough said.....a good way of sponsoring international athletes. I
suppose ideally it's best to support moderately priced long standing events put on by athletics clubs and try to keep these going.   So I'll be looking for perhaps 3 half marathons in the year, similarly with 10 milers but
try to maintain better speed with plenty more 5Ks, 5s and 10ks.  Particularly like the 5ks because they can be used as excellent tempo runs slotted into the training without ease down.  Sounds like a plan.  Now to find the events.

In a previous entry referring to racing frequency I said the Spring Marathon for some nowadays becomes such a priority that afterwards the anticlimax sees a racing lull.  How this for focussed prioritization?
The M45 winner of the London marathon, judging by his 2009 published record,  ran no build up races.....ran the London in 2:28 plus .....and has only run a 5K and an off road race since!  Check out Nick Martyn of Highgate Harriers. Presumably he works weekends!?

  I'm off for a lie down now that EASY 5 has worn me out!


Thursday, 3 December 2009


Having completed a fairly tough track session yesterday at just under 7 mins. pace and with a race looming on Sunday,  today's run would have to be "easy".  I define "easy" as race pace plus 2 so the target for this 8 mile run would be  72 minutes.  Setting off up the canal from 5 Rise Locks the legs did not feel great and the strong wind wasn't helping.  The outward part of this out and back run didn't go to plan.
9.28        9.18        9.31      9.17   (37.35)   With the wind behind I was able to pick  up the pace  and things thankfully started to flow with only a tad more effort.   8.43       8.32       8.33     8.34 (34.23) The legs started to feel better as the miles passed. Hit the 8 mile finish in 71.58........2 secs inside target!

Before the run I'd had a visit from one of the country's top M45s, John Convery of Bingley Harriers.  John ran 54.39 for 10 miles last Sunday; placing him 7th on the UK rankings.  His approach to his running is very much "race as you train".   His work and involvement with the running of his very gifted son Sam means that he isn't a high mileage, run every day athlete.  Consequently he tends to concentrate on 5ks, 10ks, cross country and road relays, adding just one ten miler and 1 15 mile race to make up over 30 races in 2009.   The photo shows him (centre)(Ist) with myself (3rd) and Nigel Monaghan (then Leeds City)(2nd)  after the Kirkstall 10K in 1986.  John ran 32.30.   His devotion to his speed sessions, twice a week on the track at present, has seen him run 33.03. in 2009 ...23 years later!  He has  runs a few marathons but seems to have learnt the distances where he performs best and has clearly focussed well.    Food for thought.  Limit the long runs and run faster 5Ks and 10ks or maintain the long runs and add a few half marathons to the list next year?    My time behind John was 33.04 in 1986 . I'm 9 minutes slower now in 2009. Perhaps if I'd hadn't run all those marathons.........

And finally............I saw the suicidal runner from the track yesterday on the canal's that for a coincidence.  He greeted me really enthusiastically and was clearly tons better............not at all like someone ready to end it all.  
   " Well, you're clearly better!,  I said, "I thought you wre going to end it all"
   " Yeah, I was,  I managed to get all the Neurofen lined up ready to go. A few hundred of them"
   " So what happened?,  I said.
   " After the first two..........I felt a lot better! "

   I ran on slightly bewildered.....runners, eh!


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Nah, then lad, that were better!

I could feel the effects of that harder than normal 8 mile trail run undertaken yesterday as I set out on the 2 mile warm up around the park before getting into today's track session.  No matter what your age,  if you've suffered a strain or a tear whilst doing a track session there is always that fear that if the legs are not rested enough or the warm up is not sufficient  then you might suffer again.  But one advantage of doing the track session alone is that the warm up does not have to be rushed.  The strides can be done, the stretching can be done. There's no one else to worry about; and is it turned out,  there was nothing to worry about. The session went well........for a change.  

6 x1k. So nearly 4 mile of effort with 90 second recovery.  If I could achieve sub 7 min. pace (10 mile pace) I would be pleased.  Last month I did this session it went very badly.  It was windy but I only averaged 4.39 with the last best rep. beiong 4.30 .  Today was a fine dry, calm, cool December morning. If this is global warming......give me more!  

Went back to wearing a lighter racing shoe today; giving them more support by transferring the wedges from my SOMNIO training shoes.  Seemed to have worked. Good acceleration through the reps.
    4.25.5       4.23.9       4.24.9       4.22.3       4.18.5       4.15.5      90 second  200 jog recovery.

So  a much better average   4.21..........6.56 mile pace.......69.20 for 10 mile..........better!

Nothing testing now for the next 3 days.   After today's session I'm thinking of running the monthly Alexandra Park 5k but treating it a little bit more seriously and less of a tempo run.  It should be then possible to do a
10k in the Lake District the following week which I've never done.

Whilst many traditional races have now been axed, particularly all those marathons that we were offered in the '80s, there are a lot of new races to be looked at.   I know one particular runner (not me!) who at the moment is at a cross roads in his running career which would appear to have become stale.  Introducing new training sessions and reconstructuring the year's racing programme so that it involves a bit more variety or is more challenging is something worth trying. It's certainly something I'll be doing in the New Year. 

And finally....there was another runner at the track today doing what looked like a hard session.  As I finished he was sat at the side of the track in tears, his head between his knees , obviously distressed.
  " What's the matter?", I asked
 " Another rubbish session.  I'm getting slower and slower; no matter what I do.  I'm going to end it all!"
 " What do you mean, stop running?"
 " No.......commit suicide!   I've no job, little money and I'm a crap runner!"
 "Don't be silly, how would you kill yourself, anyway?"
 " Neurofen!"
 " Neurofen,  but you'd need bucketsful!", I said.
 "Do you think? Oh, I couldn't afford to buy bucketsful............I've got altitude training booked for the end of the month!"

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Waking up to the first real frost of the winter, I anticipated a bright, sunny late morning and wasn't disappointed. As I jogged across Barden Bridge ready to start two laps of the Strid Woods, I thought how fortunate I was to able to wallow still in the pure intrinsic enjoyment of a run in such a venue.  I recall instilling into teenage runners in my teaching career that above all else their running should be enjoyable; the medals,
the name in the paper, the kudos around school were but extrinsic bonuses.  Spookily,  the next music track coming through the headset was "HIGH ROYDS" (KAISER CHIEFS/ "Yours Truly Angry Mob" 2007) in which they sing "Running Around High Royds isn't fun".   High Royds was the psychiatric hospital opposite St.Mary's Menston where Kasier Chiefs went and I taught P.E.  Obviously I'd left teaching by the time they went there.......otherwise they wouldn't have written that!

For variety today I introduced 2 further changes to the traditional Strid 8 miler, besides the Barden end start. Looped anticlockwise and used a higher (drier) path which added to the undulation and gave a different
perspective. Such that I couldn't help stopping to take a couple of quick shots.

Further into the run my pace was matched by the pulsating, hypnotic sound of FAITHLESS; the track being
"HEM OF HIS GARMENT"(Sunday 8pm, 1998) in which the only real lyrics are
"This Is My Church......This Is   Where I Heal My Hurt"
They meant the club dance floor, no doubt, but for us it's running in places like the Strid, isn't it? Certainly giving thanks for the ability to enjoy our sport and develop God given talent. Healing our hurt, I would suggest,  by thinking about life's problems , untangling them as we run and very often solving them by the end  of the run. 

Monday, 30 November 2009


Having a spring marathon to aim for is certainly one of the biggest motivational factors to enable a runner to haul the body through the cold,often wet and dark autumn and winter days.  But it seems for so many once the marathon has been run they are left aimless. Whether they have a good or bad the anticlimax is so great they fail to lift themselves for other events or even another marathon.  Even at the highest level many think that one marathin is enough in a year.

Last Friday I mentioned that today 25 years ago saw me running my 5th marathon of 1984. Having run the Leeds marathon on Oct. 28 (2:31.24 for 6th) it begs the question why didn't I just "call it a day" for the year. After all I had already run the other 4 in pretty good times, winning a couple of them.  On the other hand Morecambe was March 4,  Bradford May 20 and Selby June 24; so they weren't quite "back to back".

I can only think that we had probably arranged to sell at the Barnsley race (Complete Runner "mobile")
and rather than stand around for hours, as with so many other races, I would mix business with pleasure. Another factor was the team aspect. Steve O'Callaghan and Martyn Hopson (Valley Striders) had both run Leeds and were to do Barnsley, so we would have a good team.  Some would say one good marathon a year is enough.  Others a couple one in the Spring, one in the autumn.  How would this 5th go?

Conjure up a cool, crisp winter's day. Dry and sunny.  A flat course, meandering through idyllic South Yorkshire countryside.  Got that? Well it was nothing like that. It was industrial Barnsley on a cold, dank winter's day on an undulating course which had little to commend it.   Nevertheless, early pace was very promising....through 10 mile in 54.57....through the half in 72 plus....leaders still in sight. But my recollection is that conditions took a hold and the pace thereafter started to dip.   Through 20 in 1:52.47, still well under 6s but then slower still.  Managed to stay under 7s though to hold on to 10th place in 2:32.43.   Steve was 8th (4 mins. slower than Leeds) Martyn  (only 1.5 mins slower than Leeds).  So my time was much in line with theirs.   8th, 10th and 12th, we upset the locals in winning the team race.

Surveying the results, I'm certain few at the sharp are still racing.  Keith Singleton (7th) of Wakfield can still be seen locally.  Tony Kingham (11th), the driving force behind so many successful Bradford Grammar teams (Richard Nerurkar etc) and is still racing; now under Bingley H. colours. In 20th was Dave Woodhead who is perhaps better known now for his races up at Haworth with wife Eileen. But very notably in 43rd was Malcom Coles of Skyrac (2:42.46) who you will still see EVERY weekend and midweek in the summer in races of every description. Incredible!

So that was the year that was.........1984.....5 marathons, a 20 , 6 half marathons and 6 10 milers. All
entered and run voluntarily. No Orwellian totalitarian "Big Brother" state forcing me (and many others) to partake in some form of ritualistic torture in the name of sport. December would start with a couple of lower mileage weeks but then increase quite quickly to kickstart the New Year. I'm shaking my head reading  that I finished the year with a run back from Clitheroe 10k to Ilkley giving me 109 on the week just 5 weeks after Barnsley. So much for post marathon recovery.

Today's run?  After 13 mile yesterday...just 6 recovery run on the grass....coincidently same as 1984!

Sunday, 29 November 2009


After a good track session yesterday on top of a fairly hard week the plan today was to nudge the  "long" run
up to 13 but not be constantly looking at the garmin for pace. Just cover the distance nice and relaxed without putting pressure on calves and hamstrings delicate after yesterday. Checked out the local church flag as usual and saw the wind was blowing strong N.E. so plumpted for a Silsden start heading into the wind on the canal to 5 Rise locks. Heavy rain on the drive over and for the 1st mile but with laminated tights on and seamed Goretex jacket on anticipated no problems.  As they say there's no such thing as bad weather....just bad clothing!  How wrong was I?

After just 1.5 miles I met an an oncoming dogwalker who said I wouldn't reach the canal as the narrow lane was under water.  I ran to check though and found there was 18" of water covering the road. The work done a few months ago by the council hadn't worked it would seem.  Decided to wade through and stick to the plan. 

Danced through puddles most of the way there after and of course 40 metres of wading up to my knees in the last mile, but covered the 13 at "easy" pace (2 minutes above race pace) to give me 56 miles on the week.  Having shed other running commitments the last 6 weeks have gone really well with weeks of 50,50,
51,56,56 and 56.  Next decision is whether to run the Guys 10 or nudge the season's 5K time down again.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


Stuck to the week's plan arriving at Seedhill, Nelson track mid morning. Dry and quite still for a change. Quiet as usual. A couple of veteran sprinters and two young lads jogging around the track. 2 warm up miles as normal, back to track,......... two young lads still jogging aroung the track.

Session to be 4 miles of "speed"......any more and I knew the pace would drift to become a speed endurance 8 x 800 with 90 second jog 100 recovery. Should be capable of 7 minute/mile pace so target is 3.30.   Make a start......two young lads still jogging around.   I run
     3: 35.6      3:34.3     3.37.6       3:34.3
Halfway.  Times are down.....not going that well........two young lads still......
     3:32.0       3:29.1      3: 28.2      3.25.7
As usual a better second half; particularly that last one. Average not too bad for another solo effort.

Cool down on the track as the 2 young lads jog on.
I join them for a while in late morning bright sunshine.
"Are you OK lads? How far are you doing?"
"Yeah, we're doing a marathon"
"Really, you know that's 104 laps!"
"Yeah" They reply as if it's a normal activity for 11 year olds on a Saturday morning.
"Why are you doing so far?"
"Keeping fit", says one.
"A challenge", says the other.
"How many laps have you done?"
"64 laps in 2 hours 39 minutes"

It's past noon now and as I get into the car to drive home the lads are still jogging around and a parent is approaching the track with bottles of Lucozade for the courageous boys.  Can't help but admire their fortitude and endeavour. Whether they'll be fit for school on Monday is another matter. At least they'll have Sunday to recover.

Friday, 27 November 2009


Oh behave! ........It's Friday, so back easing the legs with a gentle pace recovery run on the grass. Despite a tough week, all went well, music on, avoiding the rabbit holes then......a bright light in the sky in the east....rapidly approaching. Was it Halley's Comet? A supernova?

Or was I about to be whisked up to heaven by the star of Bethlehem?  The bright light morphed into concentrated landing beam guided by the floodlights on the all weather pitch and as it hovered overhead forcing me to divert my planned  route and the noise increased I knew it was an approaching helicopter. The point for the end of the run coincided with the landing spot for large helicopter bringing Sir David Jones back to Ilkley from Wigan.  Minutes later a Bentley swings in to take him the last mile to his £2m mansion on the hillside (it's up for sale).

In case you don't know, Sir David Jones is in the same line of business as me. Sports retailing.  Except
his company JJB Sports have a few more outlets than the Complete Runner. We, however, do a make a bit of a profit.  He is executive chairman of the Wigan based company  JJB  who posted losses of £42.9 million in half a year.  Whilst I'm semi -retired and easing down, he at about the same age, and suffering with Parkinson's Disease, has the task of trying to "rescue the troubled company" (Daily Telegraph).  I did ask him on another occasion why?  His response was something on the lines of....what else would I do?    I know where I rather be at 11.30 each morning.   Of course if he ran home instead of using a helicopter then the losses of the company wouldn't be so great!

Nostalgia note.....the run recorded for 25 years ago .....Friday Nov.23rd 1984.......was 4 mile easy as today.  Final taper for the Barnsley marathon the following Sunday.  It was to be the 5th of the year and only
4 weeks after the Leeds marathon.  How bad could it get?

Thursday, 26 November 2009


5 Rise Locks to Low Lane farm at Silsden is becoming firmly established as my midweek, medium length run. Wet and quite breezy setting off but the pace throughout was consistently a few seconds faster than last week; each mile being nudged down to my humble "brisk" pace for the last 3 to 4 miles. Last week 78.02
today 76.40.                     9.07     8.48    8.38    8.37    8.31    8.20    8.16    8.15    8.03

Again it was tempting to push those last 3 miles up to tempo pace but I decided to save that effort for Saturday.

This picture of  Paula Radcliffe in tears conducting a post race N.Y. interview made me think again of Spedding's 3 key motivational questions. What do I want? Why do I want it? How much do I want it?  Presumably she wanted to win in a world class time. Presumably she wanted to record a return to form that would guarantee her the biggest cheque of the day. Presumably despite her past performances she wanted "it" enough for not achieving what she wanted to reduce her to tears. Tears for which in A.W. last week she was strongly criticised for wallowing in self pity instead of maintaining her dignity and pouring praise on Derartu Tulu (N. Y. marathon winner), conceding she was beaten on the day by the better runner. The A.W. piece was this week described in "Letters" as sour, cynical and mean spirited.

I can understand her being disappointed but her 2.29 plus was entirely predictable based on her N.Y. half marathon time of 69 plus and of course earnings wise she will still have pocketed a handsome amount. As they say one died.

Ever cried after a race?  I recall one occasion....but only one.  National |Cross Country Luton 1967. Having been coached to start every race very fast through the winter, I recall spearheading the field with a teammate after 1/4 mile; only to suffer very, very badly as we hit plough. Probably deep in oxygen debt,  runners streamed by in droves as they do in the National.  Eventually, I finished 97th. exhausted and quite upset!
Northern champions we (Sale H.) were favourites to win.....we finished 5th.

Redemption came the following week, however. 12th in the Inter Counties running for Lancashire.  I'd put the bad race behind me straight away and learnt from it.  When will Paula's redemption come?  Probably not for many months before giving herself the chance to pick herself up.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Much as Sarah J. reported  a couple of weeks ago, hill sessions can be a real pain in the butt!  For her most likely because she had done hers with a higher knee left than normal, pain resulting via the stretched hamstring. For me, I could feel the effects of that return to hill reps. yesterday. A session in which I'd try to concentrate on maintaining good form much as Elliott was showing in yesterday's photo.  I'll  continue the hills programme now and build it up. The pain should be easier after next time.

Anyone training tonight has my sympathy as far as the weather goes, as I witnessed the "turn " today at lunch. I was back on the Strid 8 and in the first mile, past the cricket field heading towards the Abbey,I had a pleasant breeze pushing me along, the warm late morning sun was soothingly warming my back and I felt blessed to be not working and enjoying such a great day.  The run would be an easy pace, I could just run the trails and enjoy the exercise.  The rain came as I ran past the Cavendish on the way back and retracing my steps over the field it had a nasty cold bite to it and I know that it has persisted throughout the rest of the day. Let's hope tomorrow will be better.

I finished the Charlie Spedding book today. It's a good read and there is much to learn for runners whatever their level.  He laments the decline in standards, of course, and in line with me puts much blame for this at the
hands of London marathon and Great North run organisers who invite foreign stars leaving British runners with a lack of incentives and giving the "general public" the impression that besides the foreign stars, the rest of the field are fancy dress runners.  This false perception means that youngsters are not inspired to take part in events which perhaps their mother has run in wearing a pink tutu. It's just not cool. There's something in it.

Consequently, as can be seen in so many clubs without track/ field sections, there are few members in the 18-30 age group and there is no sign of matters improving. Certainly not before 2012.

I often talk about having a significant AIM,  planning OBJECTIVES towards that aim, planning and executing the training, running the races then evaluating the results.  In much the same way Spedding's major marathons became significant AIMS and he performed quite badly comparatively in the races in between.
He just didn't want success enough in shorter races. His mind was thinking of the main goal.  For the major races he adopted the mantra of..."What do I want?  Why do I want it?  How much do I want it?  the positive answers to these questions resulting in success.  He doesn't really say how much running he is doing nowadays. Certainly not racing as far as I know.  But if his answers to those 3 questions are all negative then I can understand it.   Not having an Olympic bronze medal I'm quite happy to still compete and try to finish in the first three in my age group.  

Personally, I think with a more positive attitude it's possible to train say for a marathon and still record good performances on the way; but of course with marathon training miles in the legs there has to be a degree of what if....?  


Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Deciding what to do on the Monday after a Sunday race is a fairly simple choice for most of us. Of course, some choose to rest completely.  Many, probably the majority,  opt for an easy shortish recovery run or if it's your club night (yes, why Monday?) you risk going down and being sucked into a damaging hard session by someone who hasn't raced the day before.

I have found as the years have rolled by that if the Sunday race has been anything over 10k that it has become necessary to be careful about what I do even on Tuesdays. Waiting until Wednesday before attempting to push the pace again.  On Sunday at Preston I spoke to Evan Cook of Blackburn after the 5K and he said he had suffered hamstring problems having done a speed session on the Tuesday after his 36.26
10K at Trafford.  He is 58!  Too much, too soon, we agreed.

Having said all that, Sunday's race was "only" a 5K so I decided to do a hill session today, ( a speed session without the speed) offroad tomorrow, a sustained run on Thursday, easy Friday, track on Saturday and the longest run on Sunday. Sounds like a plan! 

As I've retreated from road runs over the last few years the hill sessions have become increasingly less frequent.  So today, a couple of miles warm up then  working to 3 lengthening markers did 4 x A, 4 x 2A, 4 x 3A. Doing the first set I thought the session would prove to be too easy but by the time I attempted the 4th rep on the last set I was feeling the strain. 7 in total with cool down.  Quads quite sore.....where's that ice!   Today's session was on tarmac but the hardest hill sessions I ever did were on sand.  I think Percy Wells Cerutty the famous  coach started the trend at his Portsea training camp in Australia. This old photo (circa 1960) depicts one of his groups working on the dunes. Notice the excellent arm and knee action particularly of the second runner 1960 Olympic 1500 metre champion , Herb Elliott.  To replicate the sessions Sale Harriers organised for groups to holiday in Llanbedrog in Wales in the '60s. If you find some big dunes next time you're on holiday give it a go...but remember you have been warned!

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Hard to believe with my love of detail I know,  but writing Friday's blog entry I was forced to check my records for marathons run and found I'd missed one I completed in October 1983, the Leeds!  So without months of training, without breaking sweat and without running a single step I've added a marathon to bring the total to 26. 

Anyway, another funfilled, action packed weekend draws to a close. Kicked off Saturday with a mainly flat offroad 6 miler to leave training/ racing options open for today. Options becauseI wasn't sure how I'd feel after a wedding later in the day or indeed whether we'd wake up today to heavy  rain and gales as forecast for parts of the country.

Well, the wedding (the daughter of a friend) was a wonderful occasion. A beautiful service in Rawdon followed by a splendid meal and very entertaining speeches at the very tastefully renovated Mansion House in Roundhay Park. Cautious with the alcohol and taking in plenty of water for a change.

So with no sign of rain we set off for Preston to run the BEST 5K around moor Park based at Preston N.E.
football ground. The torrential rain hit us at Clitheroe! But persevered with the plan and lined up with 256 others in welcome dry conditions to tackle the flattish traffic free course. Underwater in a few places but only added a few seconds to our times. My Garmin is set to miles and showed good consistency with 6.42 6.48 and 6.47 but puzzled that the course itself was mile marked in miles as well. Amazing for a 5k in 2009.

I was then looking forward to getting straight back for a nice restful afternoon. But stopping off in Skipton to refuel we both got out of the car with the keys in the ignition and as Pat filled up the car "passively" secured itself!  With a wait of over 90 minutes for the RAC man to come i eventually decided to go for a jog of anoyther 5 miles to stay warm. So 56 miles on the week but I'd have settled quite happily for 51 and an earlier hot bath.  Glad to get the race in though. I certainly couldn't have summoned up that pace doing a 3 mile tempo run by myself.   2nd M60  but as my dear wife Pat managed first F60!  Today's picture is of her first.......only appearance on a tartan track in the Alan Robertshaw Memorial relay at Sports City Manchester in 2007.

Friday, 20 November 2009


You may not know but I've never been 60 before. So I'm still learning what my old skeletal frame, muscles and joints can cope with running wise, if my daily running regime is to be maintained. After all, having given up the sex, drugs and rock and roll as I was advised what other pleasures in life do I have. (No eating a bag of Maynard's Wine Gums will not compensate for my daily fix!). Obviously, it's key to remain injury free.  I think a lot of my injuries over the last few years have resulted from trying to fit in with the training of others; very often sessions I've set for them myself.  Sessions young bodies could cope with, but I couldn't.

The benefit of training solo is that you can plan your own sessions and have more of a chance of sticking to them. I'm not planning too  far ahead though at the moment. I'm a bit torn between trying to get some speed back over 5ks and 10ks or pushing the long run up and up to possibly tackle a spring marathon. But my concern is that will tackling 20s and over blunt my speed at my age, whereas in my thirties the marathon training strengthened me for all distances down to 10k.  Of course there is that nagging niggle that if I hadn't
got caught up with marathon fever (4 in '83; 5 in '84; 3 in '85) then my 5k and 10k times would have been better. Plus I turned my back altogether on the track; only returning as a V40 in 1989. Who knows?

Anyway, not sure about plans long term but at least this week was planned and today's run was to be 9 miles in 78 minutes. Had in mind usual 2 mile intro then 6 at 8.30 plus last easier mile back at 9. The pick up in pace from 2 didn't quite materialise but managed to pull it back to record 78.03.  There was a danger of "taking off" as last Sunday but some times we have to hold back and not get carried away. Reason being all being well I'll do another 5k on Sunday.

So there's days for "having a go" and days for holding back and sticking to the plan. I remember a night I put up a session at the local club and said it would be 8 miles at 8 mins......64 minutes total as I had raced on the previous Sunday. All went well with the group of a dozen or so staying together for the first couple of miles. The first to break away was what I call a "Tuesday night racer".  He never races at weekends so Tuesday his his only chance to show how good he is. Away he went ....and one by one went the rest. With two miles of the run left there was just two of us. But she too couldn't hold back and I was left to run the last 2 miles alone.   I arrived back at the club 63.50.  So why had the other 11 elected to do the session then been carried away by the "Tuesday night racer"?