Sunday, 28 February 2010


   Race day. 7.30 a.m., the body longs for extra time in bed but needs must. Head through the curtains. No snow, no rain, no wind.  What happened to the "severe weather warning"!  Today's low key 5 miler will be the only real hard effort in this 2 week period between 2 half marathons. Last week's average pace was 7.14 over the 13.1 miles.  Though I think the Blackpool half is still in the legs I'm hoping for something better than that pace but if nothing else the race will serve as an excellent tempo run with company.  The pace will definitely be better than I could possibly achieve doing a tempo 5 alone.
   The journey to PRESTON takes little more than an hour, the venue is easy to find and there's no problem parking and entering .   We tend to think of the Lancashire town as being inland but it once was a working port; the destination for cargoes of cotton and woodpulp transported across the seas and then up the River Ribble. But over the  years trade was lost to competing ports, so in 1979 the decision was made to redevelop the site. Today, the port is surrounded on three sides by apartments ,offices, restaurants and pubs.
                                                Not unsimilar to Salford Quays.
   The race will take us 3 times plus 1/2 mile around the Docklands "promenade" .   Very flat but with some tricky cobbled pathways and a narrow bridge at the dock entrance to navigate.  We watch the children tackling the charity fund raising Millie's  Mile whilst we warm up and assemble for the 11 a.m. start. Great to see their enthusiasm but I'm not sure I'll be running that fast from the gun!

   I immediately notice a very able vet 60 in the line up and know I'm going to have to work hard to win the category.  I'm away pretty well,  but my rival is away much better and dozens of young,  fit looking bodies fly past in the first mile which takes 6.58.   Not too bad.  I try to accelerate but the cobbled areas impede somewhat.  6.57.
   A better third mile 6.53 but I've virtually lost sight of my M60 adversary who I calculate by markers is 30 seconds ahead.   A fair few of the early flyers are coming back to me now but not his group aren't, not surprising,  as the 4th mile has taken  7.00.   Another corner and  the gap is down to 20 seconds or so.  His group is breaking up and they do appear to be coming back to me as they start to fade.
   The hamstrings are really tight now from last week's race.  Do I settle for 2nd and just run in strongly, not risking a major  pull or do I go for it?  My natural competitive instinct kicks in and I surge to reel them in
.....the gap is closing.....but in the last mile we're having to thread through slow lapped runners.  Thoughts of Billy Mills (U.S.A.) in that unforgettable 10000 metres final Tokyo 1964, thoughts of yesterday's front runners lapping the backmarkers. I try to clear a line, shouting "Keep left!".   By now I'm picking off my rival's group, one by one , until I come up behind him on a very narrow section with 1/4 mile to go. I go for a gap and sprint away to the finish. The last mile has taken a very pleasing 6.32!    I can't get anywhere near that pace for mile reps by myself in training!
                 Running back up the course I meet my wife Pat having her own personal battle. She too is working hard to the line and nudges ahead of her younger rivals.  Well done, Pat!

  The results show 293 finished this Preston Docklands 5. For once I did win the age group with 34.18 in 46th place. But I'm fully aware that several of the North's better M60s were in Pocklington
running faster for twice the distance! Still a first is a first,  as they say. Not to be outdone Pat was also first in the F60 group in 180th place in 44.45.

   So a good day for the Lonergan family. Pat and I managed a rare double and Preston goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan  had a great turnout for the fund raising events. 
  Another race ticked off that I'd never done before but whether it will become an annual one we will have to wait and see.  Based at a Health Club (Carrefour) we were able to enjoy a nice shower in a top class facility, followed by a nice lunch on the journey back to Yorkshire.  Nice one!
  We were back home just in time to watch the Red Devils, Manchester United, retain the Carling Cup
                                                 beating Aston Villa 2-1.


  Returned to the playing fields for the customary prerace jog on the grass on what was an unexpectedly fair Saturday morning.   A couple of easy miles to turn the legs over  before driving the short way to Roundhay Park in Leeds to spectate and give support at the National XC championships.
      The start was as spectacular as ever but how would the runners cope with tackling the infamous Hill 60 several times and how would the organisers cope with the leading male runners careering past the slowest back markers as they hurled themselves down the hill which preceded it.  A downhill which by the time the senior men raced had turned from grass to inches of glutinous, hazardous mud.
 The unrestricted entry to this National championship,  as opposed to being restricted to a club's best 9, inevitably has lead to many slower runners taking part and on a multi-lap course as this was,  it was a logistical nightmare to try to keep these slower men out out of the way of the overtaking runners.  They tried to have 2 "lanes" going up Hill 60 but this meant the slower guys coping with the very muddy approach and some of them just weren't keen to do that and so they ended up "in the wrong lane" much to the distress and annoyance of one very vocal marshal !
  Host club Leeds City will have been very disappointed to have finished 2nd.  My clubmates at Sale managed 18th of the 107 teams with other Northern leading clubs Bingley and salford only 20th and 21st respectively.  Local club Ilkley Harriers finished 82nd , 3 places ahead of the 2004 team effort.

 I'm used to finished a crosscountry race and been handed a disc with my finishing position on it.  Today the runner's time and position is recorded with using a chip system in much the same way as many road races are.
   Either that or this runner is wearing his watch in a very unusual position!

Friday, 26 February 2010


    Well even up here in Ben Rhydding  the last patches of snow have disappeared but unfortunately not by the warmth of a precocious spring sun rather than a deluge of heavy rain.  So reaching into the wardrobe for a jacket for today's run the hand went straight to a fully tape sealed Goretex.  With no let up in the rain for the trail circuit of Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs it was a good choice.  But the 2 res run wasn't a good choice really.   Think I'd been better on the Strid. Most of the 6.75 miles spent tramping through the water covered paths.  On my next visit to the shop I'll be weighing up the choice of Goretex trail shoes!  At least I was completely dry from the waist up.
     I was asked today whether I was running in the "NATIONAL" (cross country championships) tomorrow.  I said,  " No and I won't be playing for Manchester United in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday either".   Perhaps my answer would have been different if I had known that the club had actually entered me.
   Of course, making the United team is impossible....... as I've no boots!....... but nowadays participation in the National Senior mens race is not restricted to a club's best 9 with 6 to count.  Today, it's open to all    club members. But having rejoined a  "premier" club in Sale Harriers,  there should be no need for veterans like myself to compete with a hope of counting in the points tally.
   I did run the "National"  in 2004 for Ilkley Harriers at Temple Newsam park in Leeds finishing 722 of 1399.     I was 4th counter for the team which finished 85th on 6 to count.  Sale Harriers finished 3rd.  So I think you can understand my logic.  You can see from the photo taken on the day here that at the age of 55 competing against  the fastest young males in the country was very demanding!!
   The most demanding part of the race is of course the start.  If just 2000 of the 2855 men entered run tomorrow you can imagine how it is when the battling masses converge on the first corner.  Think mobile sardines in a tin.  Elbows need to be sharpened the night before and kept firmly held at right angles to the body in combat ready state. The charge from the gun is spectacular as the assembled field is wide but shallow as opposed to a road race which is narrow and deep. Very intimidating to say the least!   I think cross country is the most punishing of the disciplines because it incorporates the speed of the road whilst trying to cope very often with unfavourable terrain and there aren't the "pauses"  that often occur in fell or trail running.
                                            No, I'll be leaving it to the young guns.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


   Today's run was very much as anticipated.  Having delivered into the Nelson shop I ran up the Leeds-Liverpool canal to Foulridge village; effectively circuited Lake Burwain (today's photograph)  and then rejoined the canal for the last 3 miles back to the track.  So we could call it the "Foulridge Frying Pan 9"!  I was hoping  for the last 3 miles to indicate that the recovery following Sunday's half was such that the old legs would be up for a risk free canter in a low key 5 mile race on Sunday.
  First 3 in 27.47.........the undulating loop in 26.53.....the last 3 in 25.17; which was reassuring. 9 miles in total.
  The big event of the weekend, of course,  is the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships at Roundhay Park Leeds. 10 races for boys, girls, men and women: youngest being under 13s. 
Sandwiched between 2 half marathons I'll be opting for the significantly less harrowing 5 miler on the road.
   I'm particularly keen to race this one, the PRESTON DOCKLANDS 5 MILE RUN, as it is helping fund raise for the Willink Biochemical Genetics Unit at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital which has been of much help in aiding Millie, the daughter of Preston goalkeeper, ANDREW LONERGAN.  She suffers from PKU, a genetic disorder which can cause problems with brain development. Andrew is not related as far as I know but must be part of our clan!
 So if you're looking for a race on Sunday, Carrefour Gym, Ashton On Ribble, Preston is the place!
  It was good to be running today without the threat of the snow and ice which forced me onto the treadmill yesterday. Let's hope we have seen the last of it for this winter.   If it does return before Saturday it certainly won't be welcome for the National competitors.
  Anybody out there with any interesting National memories?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


                          A jocular answer I frequently give to enquiries about my running is, 
                                           "I don't know....... I've never been 61 before". 
  There was a time when I knew exactly what I could cope with, training and racing wise.  I knew that I could race on a Sunday and be back running hard on Tuesday.  Gradually that first hard session went out to Wednesday, now I would be thinking Thursday or Friday.  Recovery takes longer as I've aged. I've certainly learn that: whether from a race or a hard session.
   So reviewing last week's training pre the Blackpool half,  I think the 8 x 600 session on the Wednesday took too much "getting over".   Live and learn, as they say.  The legs survived the 13.1 race but I could certainly feel the "deadleg" from half way. There was that constant fear that something was about to pull......but it didn't.  The track session apart all the runs last week were flat and short......4, 4. track, 5, 5, 3. 
    44 miles on the week.including the race,   408 on the year.....average maintained at 51.
  Forced back onto the road today for just over 6 miles.  Hoping to drive out and find some trail to run on tomorrow but there's more snow forecast to fall within the next 12 hours so we'll have to see.

In all your evaluation of Sunday's race you have perhaps overlooked to look at performance for age.......the X Factor!   This might help you and other veterans to stop dwelling on how fast tou used to be able to run rather than concentrating on what you can do now. In Bob Glover's book he has
The factor for men aged 61 for a 94.44 half marathon is .8223.  Your time then equates to 77.53
   Still several minutes short of your alltime P.B. but the age adjusted times might provide some consolation to the ageing   process which is inevitable.  Just count your blessings!

Monday, 22 February 2010


 If you are using a crystal ball to predict your race times perhaps it's time to consult one of the many running websites or running publications which might be a bit more accurate.  Having said that you could consult several such means and come up with several differing results.  I have always put most faith in an old Competitor's Runner's Handbook by Bob Glover. According to that a 20.30 5K predicts to 1:35 for half marathon.  But in his later edition a 20.35 5K , my recent Alex Park 5K time, predicts to 1:33.44.  Taking the first, yesterday's time was 16 seconds under target; but taking the second it was 1 minute down! 
   I referred to the first book when giving myself a target time for the Blackpool half and ran within a second per mile of the predicted target pace.  Fine.  I should be pleased all things considered, I suppose.
But what if I had used the later edition forecasting 93.44,  would I have upped my pace from 7.15 to 7.09 to run "as predicted".  Did having a predicted time in mind put a brake on my efforts such that in the end the performance was just a self fulfilling prophecy?
   The results show that the runners in the group at 5 miles finished up to 8 minutes behind by the end.  Perhaps that first lap was too slow. Without  a predicted time in mind or even running without the garmin and stopwatch would I have run less inhibited and done a better time?   The 19 year student I raced the second lap with yesterday told me at 7 miles his best was 1:43.  I made it very clear he was on for 1:35. He was not phased by this at all.  He obviously had no "predicted" time in mind. He just knew that a grey haired (OK I had my hat on) wiry legged old man was not going to beat him whatever time it took him to.  He fully deserved his great new P.B.
   Of course, as far as the age group went, the discussion is purely academic as Mike McKenna beat me by 10 minutes to win the M60 category. But then again he does top the UK rankings.
     Whichever prediction chart you refer to I think they work at their very best when viewed from the consideration of the time for the longest distance and working down to the shorter distances.   So a 3.00 marathoner is highly likely to be able to run a 40.00 minute 10K but a 40 minute 10k runner is not going to run a 3.00 marathon unless he has trained for a marathon.  Quite clearly just because Usain Bolt can jog 100 metres in under 10 seconds doesn't mean he is going to run 1: 40 for a marathon.

In conclusion, whilst it's tempting to leave your garmin in the car or your watch in your kit bag the majority of us prefer to have a predicted time in mind and this helps dictate our racing plan.  Bob Glover devotes 11 pages to the matter and publishes separate male and female charts. He states that "Goal setting is one of the most powerful tools any runner can use to improve performance".  Fine, but I would suggest the most significant P.Bs come when the spirit of competition is so fierce that you don't time or inclination to keep looking at your watch...       you are just intent on not being beaten!


Sunday, 21 February 2010


  Race day. Great North West Half marathon on the Fylde coast where the gaps between snow falling can be as long as Great Britain winning winter Olympic gold medals.   So  whilst we woke up to several inches of overnight snow, (see left)I fully expected that by the time we reached Lancashire it would be disappearing and there would be no evidence of the white snuff on the course.   Not the case!

  Not  very happy bunnies Andy Wiggans and myself as we surveyed the course 45 minutes before the start.  My mind starts thinking that this race is going to be reduced to the level of a fast training run: shifting the emphasis to the Haweswater in two weeks time.  Joining the assembled throng from the front as usual, I slot in a few rows back and then we're away. A cautious first mile on the unwelcome surface but I'm only 3 seconds down on target pace so slide on. The "plan" is to keep all the miles below 7.15.......7.10, 7.10, 7.16, 5 miles.  So it's going pretty well.
A Salford University student from Sale has clocked my Sale Harriers vest and we run shoulder to shoulder for the first lap.  He tells me he is running his first ever race and that his name is ANDY HOLDEN. (Yellow jacket)  I tell him that he shares his name with a very very successful GB international about my age.  We've caught up Gill from Keighley who was having a bad moment.  We climb back up to the middle walk......7.41....and I leave Andy to share notes with a young lady from his neighbouring Trafford who, playing matchmaker, I have introduced him to!  She tells him she's already taken.
7.11 for the 7th mile and  20 seconds down on target.   Another student, WILL HINE, from Lancaster University comes on board at 7 and together we pick off the slowing runners on the second lap.  He tells me he is studying Ethics, Religion and Philosophy.  Not bound  for a great job when he finishes he says but a good lad to go for a few pints with and have a good debate with whilst doing so!   7.21...7.06....7.15....7.15....still going well...we're still going through. Will is on for a PB by several minutes,he appears to be hanging on but his running style belies his strength and he smoothly edges away over the last half mile,  skips up the final slope, turns and sprints away to the finish.   Well done, young man. A student teaching an old dog ....
  But was it ethical to leave me alone to thrash through that 13th mile in 6.42.....was it against your religious beliefs....I could philosophise!
  The charge on the second lap with my young Lancaster student companion brought me back on track for the predicted target time of 95 mins with a time a few seconds slower than Freckleton last summer.   101 done .....a very interesting day!
  Late night confirmed results show that Andy W. was first in the M45s, I was soundly beaten in the M60 group   but managed 2nd. in 94:44.  7.14 mileing average. The students??      Will H. streaked away to 1:32.23.
 A truly metaphysical performance.!   Andrew H. fared less well over the second lap but still achieved a creditable first race time of 1:42.14 whilst Gill Capstick of Keighley, clearly less than 100% on the day persevered extremely well to record 1:40.56.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


   Well, Friday and Saturday's glorious sunshine and clear bluee skies certainly eased the tedium of jogging around on the grass each day.   Just a case of keeping the old legs ticking over at a pace 2 minutes slower than tomorrow's race pace but also to detect amy parts of the lower limbs which still require a bit of treatment....iceing, ultrasound and  massaging.

  I used the local grammar school fields for the easy 3 today and as the body warmed up the mind of course started to think about what the weather would be like tomorrow and what I should wear.   When I stopped  I watched a Ben Rhydding ladies hockey team playing for a few minutes and soon realised whilst the sun was strong , standing still it was positively chilling.   Think I'll be wearing a bit more than when I ran the Blackpool half marathon in June 2007. The cropped vest will not be in the kit bag. 
   That concrete looks quite uninviting doesn't it!   Let's just hope that the sun blesses us with an appearance tomorrow and there is little or no wind.   My prediction chart indicates that if I can run as fast as I did for the 100th half at Freckleton last June (94.27) that will be inside the chart's  forecast time of 95 minutes based on my recent 5K time.  But then again I haven't been training for 5K, have I?
   Whatever it'll be a nice day out at the seaside and as always a chance to catch up with old and new friends.  Excuse me to dig out some thermals!

Thursday, 18 February 2010


   Yesterday's track session ( 8 x600) may have gone to plan and been completed without collateral damage at the time.  However,  there are some peculiar grating sounds emanating from my left knee and it feels like some one has "deadlegged" me on the outside of the left thigh.   More reparation to be done in the next few days. Perhaps I should have opted for a fuller taper and skipped the track session after all. Time will tell.
   A 5 mile easy recovery run late afternoon in the grey Wharfedale gloom provided the chance to test it out. No acute pain: so with plenty of "iceing" and massage it should be alright.  In fact as I type this the effect of the current ten minutes of "iceing" is becoming quite intense......excuse me whilst I unravel ....that's better!
   As many of you know the nationwide parkruns  held each Saturday are free to enter and provide
a low key event for thousands each week. The key word being "event".  So what's the harm?  Apparently the secretary of a N.E. club has called for a boycott of parkruns saying  that  they do have a licence but not for each race and do not pay any other levies to UKathletics. Park runs founder says that they are not races(!), which is clearly a shallow defence but rightly says there are no levies due because no fees are are paid for participation.
I haven't done any "parkruns" as such, I pay £2 (over 60) (to you £3), to race 5K around a fairly pleasant park in Manchester (Alexandra) with on average 100 others under the Open Athletics banner.
   The park is a couple of miles away from the centre of town from where 36000 will pay over £30 (?)  to run behind several invited foreign athletes out to Salford Quays and back.  
If only they knew..................

Another of today's talking points from the athletics press......can you coach properly if you haven't got grey hair?  More tomorrow.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010


  Long runs, tempo runs, track sessions, steady runs, easy runs. Pieces of the training plan jigsaw puzzle. Insert them correctly you complete the picture; although you may not like it!  Try to force a piece into the wrong space, it doesn't pull it out and look again.  Unfortunately when we force out a wrong piece of training on the wrong day we risk injury and often are; but we can't turn the clock back and change the session, the damage has been done.
       As I sprinted......(OK I know, but it felt like sprinting to me!!) the end of the last 600 rep today on the track I was thankful that nothing had pulled or sprained. The final piece of the training jigsaw for Sunday's race had slotted nicely into place. Very relieved.   The old legs had not let me down.   With the 1/2 marathon on Sunday I had brought this week's track session forward from Friday and opted for just 3 miles of "effort" as opposed to 5 (5 x mile) last week.  So 8 x 600 metres today with usual 1:30 (200 mts ) jog recovery. Based on the times achieved 2 weeks ago when I'd done 12 x 600 I felt 2:33 was a reasonable goal.  There was the usual acceleration and a lack of concentration on the 2nd rep.

2:34.4    2:38.2    2:33.7    2:32.4    2:32.3    2:31.4    2:28.5    2:27.7
Average 2:32.3..................approx 6:48 mileing........10K pace.

Active rest for the next 3 days which means a 5, a 4 and a 3: all at minimum effort.  So this week will not amount to a full taper for Sunday.  If it were a marathon I would not have done the speed session today.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


With the half marathon coming up next Sunday,  I was prompted to reflect on where I was ten years ago in 2000 when I ran the BARCELONA MITJA MARATO  in February of that year.  It turned out to be a memorable race in many ways.  I didn't enter until we arrived in the city and was put into classification 5.....51 to 60 year olds.   I'd just turned 51, so as one of the youngest in the age group I was hoping for a good placing.  I'd run the Sitges half marathon near Barcelona the previous year with similar high hopes;  only to find that the Spanish age groups are different to ours.  Having just turned 50 that year I was one of the oldest in the age group, whilst being being pleased to run 76.16.  but only good enough for 9th in their classification 4.

  The race started well enough. The pace of the first kilometre (3.44) was maintained and we went through 5k in 18.34.  No problems on the pan flat course with 10K reached in 37.22.  You will note from the photo that I am racing with a Spanish gentleman who would appear to be about my age.
  As we continued to knock the Ks at 3.45 to 3.50
my Spanish amigo was beginning to annoy me somewhat as he insisted in leaving the road at every corner we came to;  cutting  across the pavement and grass verge.  He did it time after time.
   We went through the last K at the same pace as the first and were just faced with the the last turn and then the sprint to the finish.  I couldn't believe it!  He cut the corner again going across the grass.  Needless to say,  I had to have the last word so to speak and beat him by a second.
   I ran 79. 23 to his 79.24.   We finished 2nd and 3rd in the age group but I could hardly believe it when I saw his full name on the results sheet. Wait for  it...........

                  JOSEP CASALS PRAT....honestly...... PRAT by name and a **** by nature.... 

               Second in the age group in major city marathon; did I come away with a nice prize?
                                                   That's another story...................


   With 2 fairly pleasant days, Monday and Tuesday, it was quite tempting to stick to routine and enjoy 2 decent length runs. But resisted,  restricting Monday's outing to a 4 mile jog on the trail, again circuiting Swinsty, with another 4 today on the riverside from the Lido in Ilkley.
   At the end of my last post, Barcelona Reflections,  I suggested that second in a major city marathon would make it worthwhile attending the presentation.  So Pat and I duly returned for the awards ceremony viewing several tables awash with trophies, some as high as 2 feet.  Quite a show.

Starting with the senior men the M.C. brought up winner of the Mitja Marato, Abel Anton (Rodrigo),
(wearing yellow in the race photo here) who won gold medals in the marathon at the World Championships in 1997 and 1999.  One by one the top ten came and went with huge trophies and white envelopes.  The senior women followed in similar fashion.   We stood and waited.   More awards, more photographs.  The tables were nearly clear now but for one.  Not long now then we can get away for a well deserved lunch.  Then we heard the M.C. say "los ninos " and a parade of children came forth and the final table was cleared.  Very puzzled,  we located the race organiser and enquired about the veterans awards.  He said, of course, there were veterans prizes...............they would be awarded much later?....................he said,  
                                                             "Two weeks later!"
                            Now I know some presentations can go on for a while but 2 weeks!
   We didn't get to the bottom of why it would be in two weeks time but as requested we gave him our home address and he said he would forward the award.................which never came!!
    Perhaps a strange way to recover but that evening we made a visit to the Nou Camp to watch F.C. Barcelona play against lowly Alaves.  The Catalonian greats lost 0-1.  They left the field to the traditional "farewell" from their fans ; the waving of the white handkerchief!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


There's something immensely satisfying about planning a campaign of training working towards an event and running through it to a conclusion.  No guarantee, of course, that the event itself will go to plan and be equally satisfying but at least you don't have that feeling that you've failed to prepare and as they say can be prepared to fail.  With the Gt. North West Half next week as the first main target of the year the basic idea was to keep the weekly mileage average just above 50,  introduce more hill work on a Tuesday, track session on Friday and  race distance / over race distance for the long run.  The ice and snow meant some adjustments to the schedule but not much and most of the objectives have been ticked off in the last 7 weeks.
   With a comparatively easy week planned for next week, other than a moderate track session on Wednesday, today was the penultimate piece of the jigsaw.  Returning to the Leeds Bradford canal I wanted to do a kind of rehearsal for next week with a 2 mile warm up at 11 a.m. , change up to 8 to 8.15 pace for 10 miles the finish with 1 mile cool down.
    I wish I could say that I definitely achieved the 10 mile to plan but I suffered a garmin malfunction and couldn't validate it. (Actually the memory was full. Lesson....delete at least a month every month) Nevertheless,  despite the route being very busy with couples and families enjoying a walk together on a very pleasant Valentine's Day, it certainly felt pretty brisk.
   So WEEK 7 done and dusted.   58 miles with a recovery run on Monday after the 5K, a hard hilly road run on Tuesday,  trail run on Wednesday, flat and easy Thursday, track Friday, trail Saturday and 13 miles in total today.  Average for the year back to 52.

  VALENTINE STATE ?  The nickname for Arizona. So called with reference to the date of its   entry into the Union, 14th February 1912, Valentine's day.
                                         ENJOY YOUR EVENING   

Saturday, 13 February 2010


   With Pat's help I was able to repeat Wednesday's trail run down through the woods followed by a loop of Swimsty reservoir but without the pull up the road back to Timble village at the end.  Possible because she dropped me off at the start and then drove to the Swinsty car park where she would start and finish her run.
I estimated my run would be about 7 according to the gmap.  As I reached the gate at the car park the garmin was showing 7.00 miles. Perfect.   Quite a contrast between the 2 halves of the run . The first half down through the woods  I  saw no one at all.  The trek around Swinsty on a Saturday morning was as busy as expected.  Didn't feel too bad after yesterday's track session.  Pat asked what today's run was...."easy"
"recovery" "steady" "any tempo in there ?".............don't know, I said,..........just enjoyed it!!!

  The plan for tomorrow is the last hard effort before next Sunday's half at Blackpool.  At least 12 on the canal.  I'll use my Somnio training shoes which have proved excellent for this type of run.  But to give them a bit of renewed bounce I've changed the cushioning inserts rearfoot and forefoot and also replaced the well cushioned footbeds.  You can check out more about the customising system used by Somnio on YouTube-Shoe Talk-Somnio Running and/or Somnio
  SOMNIO are the only running shoe company offering customised shoes.  The 6 minute video will show you how the cushioning inserts can vary, the footbeds can vary and the varus wedge underneath the footbed can vary according to the individual needs of the runner.  You can even set up your left shoe differently to the right; and you can refresh the cushioning inserts and footbeds during the life of the shoe as I have done today. I'll let you know if I can feel the difference tomorrow.

Friday, 12 February 2010


   I was going to "title" today's  But when I publish the times I know for so many the reps. can hardly be consider as fast.  Having said that it's all relative isn't it.  On Sunday in a competitive 5K I tagged 3 miles plus together at 6.37 pace.  Surely I could manage that for each rep. of a 5 x mile session on the track.
  I didn't expect to and so targetted a conservative half marathon pace!  Prediction tables would suggest 95 minutes plus for Sunday week so I was hoping today for miles around 7.17.   The wind and rain was going to help but 7.29 on the first!  There was no one around to ask if they had seen my mojo!!
  Determined to accelerate.....7.27......7.22.....on the second and third.   As usual the laps are starting to flow much better now......close eye on the watch at each 200..............7.16 on the fourth.   For the last one, the gloves are literally off and as it to energise me even more the sun bursts through..............6.57!  Much better.
  So 2 mile around the park warm....5 x mile....7.29...7.27...7.22....7.16....6.57....1 mile cool down.....9 in total.  Average mile time 7.18;  a second off target.  Quite satisfied with the session as a whole obviously particularly the last two.

PILS COMMENTS.....I can understand you being disappointed with today's times particularly for the first 3. But you have to accept that you are not going to recover from a 5K race five days previous in the same way as younger runners. You have bearly run at a faster pace that 9 mins per mile in the last 4 days so to average 7.18 for what is a big speed session has to be acceptable.  Besides with a season stretching out until the end of November a cold, wet, windy morning in February is not when we want to see you at your fastest!  You demonstrated today that you are strong but not so "sharp" but then again you are training for two half marathons in the next month not 5ks.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


      Well,  my big news of the day is that this morning I received a call from top international mentor and fitness consultant  PILS STACKEMEIR.  Apparently he had seen my blog at his home in Runsberg near Zurich and is offering me help with my running at no cost!  I couldn't believe it as I am well aware of the success he has had with such stars as Lottie Jogmeister and Hans Onderferspriz.  I am sure his advice will be most beneficial.
  As requested I have sent over to him my 2009 training summary sheet  and he says that when he has had a chance to review it, he will come up with some suggestions as to how I might go forward in 2010.  He has kindly sent me a recent photo of himself.
     I have been looking into his history and it seems he moved to Zurich from East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  He was then heavily involved in pharmaceuticals and some kind of traffic control. 
     I shall look forward to receiving his comments and of course will be passing on any top tips!
     No need to consult anyone about today's run.  I'm pretty sure PILS would have agreed after 2 undulating, testing efforts the last two days that it had to a moderate distance, flat and as much offroad as posible.  So 6.5 miles mainly grass at easy pace.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


   I drove up from the Askwith village and on reaching the ridge turned to view Ilkley.  What an incredible sight.  A force was dragging a curtain of snow across the town.  Half being totally obliterated from sight, the other half still experiencing late morning sunshine, but minutes away from suffering the same fate as blizzard would envelop it.
  I parked at Timble village and headed along the road back towards the woods. The blizzard was at its most fierce now but fortunately I heeded the forecast and had pocketed a pair of protective glasses with pink snow lenses.
 The snow had well and truly settled on the trail and for once I was first to experience it and knew there was no ice hidden underneath.  
  It seemed as if in minutes the landscape had been returned to what it was just after Christmas.

Emerging from the woods the snow storm had passed through and I was enjoying warming sunshine.  The glasses worn to prevent the stinging snow flakes now serving their primary use as sunglasses.   But it wasn't to last and as I skirted the shores of Swinsty reservoir  yet another snow storm hit me!  So yesterday I was blasted by a succession of Tornado jets; today  one snow storm after another. 
    I must say I was really glad to reach the main Swinsty car park....only then to remember that I'd parked at Timble village ...........which meant a steep half mile uphill to finish my run.  A run of very severe weather extremes.........8.5 miles.....tough........but enjoyable all the the main.


 Another new run was added to the training repertoire yesterday (Tuesday).  Heading to the RUNNERS RETREAT lodge on the South lakeland Leisure Village for a preseason spring clean the plan was for Pat to let me out of the car at Whittington village just to the west of Kirkby Lonsdale.  I had used gmap=pedometer to plan the route and figured it would be very nearly 9 miles.
  Of course, the gmap-pedometer is 2D and whilst the terrain guide indicated it wouldn't be flat I knew by the end of the 9 miler that I certainly hadn't missed my Tuesday hill efforts. Unfortunately the first climb came within minutes of starting out. The incline coupled with a raw biting wind was not very kind to my asthmatic chest.  The worst scenario possible.  With snow capped Ingleborough in view to the east I turned towards Hutton Roof and with the wind behind now was starting to enjoy the very quiet traffic free country lanes.

Until.......the peace and tranquility was defiled by a succesion of extremely low flying RAF Tornado jets presumably bound for Lake Windermere.  These low level sortiies are highly controversial but as the RAF point out they are essential if their pilots are to maintain their skills in this form of flying.   I was ceratinly not flying along as this new route threw one hill after another at me until the last 2 miles or so. 

  When I arrived at the leisure village it was very busy with so many lodges similarly being prepared or owners enjoying immediate occupancy after the "winter break".
  It was good to take advantage of
the Pure Leisure facilities briefly before getting into the lodge preparation project.  After the 9 mile run it proved to be a hard long exercise as it was 8 p.m. before we could eventually call it a day!

Monday, 8 February 2010


   Monday morning and that lace malfunction during yesterday's 5K race is still knawing at me. Thinking back it's happened a couple of other times when using that shoe; so it must the nature of the laces rather than my lacing technique. Fortunately I'd used the locking holes at the top of the U-box on the shoes and so they didn't feel entirely loose.  Fortunate also that the event wasn't a very key event.  I would have hated to have trained hard for months only for that to happen. On the positive side I have to be encouraged that I still managed 20.35 which was the exact time of the December event. It does suggest that on course with a better surface and fewer sharp corners as the pace of the speedwork improves with shorter reps that I might even be able get down significantly.  The Britsh Masters Championships at Horwich?
  As 74 year old Peter Edwards put it yesterday,  it's all down to have to find ways to
ARREST RACING DETERIORATION.....or put another way work out how to get faster even though you are getting older.  He ran 26.44 yesterday which I thought was pretty gown but I didn't see him afterwards to learn his secret.
  We did speak to another competitor who said he was a septuagenarian, over from America and lecturing at
Manchester University on finance. I said,  knowing so much about finance, how come you are still working at the age of 70.  He replied that he could "afford to teach";  implying that he wasn't paid much and was just continuing to do what he enjoyed.   He was planning to do the Ironman triathlon in Hawii later this year.
   Might just give one a miss!    Started week 7 of my year off with an easy 6 after yesterday's race. A run which highlighted no real collateral damage but even so the ise bags have been moved around the the legs throughout the afternoon.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


   An interesting and somewhat dramatic start to the 2010 racing campaign at Manchester's Alexandra Park 5k today. Pat and I arrived in good time and having paid our £2 each (!) (over 60 discount) I set off on my 2 lap 2 mile warm up 1 lap of which I shared with 74 year old Peter Edwards of Liverpool/ Northern Veterans.  I had expected to be competing side by side with Peter Maw as I had in 2009 races but obviously his New Year resolution has been to up his running game and I didn't threaten him at all as he raced away from the gun to record a new 5k P.B. 
  His place at my side was, however, taken by a young teenager probably 45 years my junior, Oscar Bamford of Sale Grammar. Coming together at 1K he glued himself to my right shoulder and resolutely anchored himself there until well past 4K.  Unfortunately as we went through after 2 of the 3 laps my right lace came undone, threatening a fall. But with a constant presence and with only a mile to go I tried to ignore it and race on........going for the Oscar!  From 4K strength and experience just managed to overcome youthful talent but the young man had showed terrific battling quality and like Peter Maw will no doubt be spurred on to take  my grey haired scalp at another month's race.


Self treatment on Friday and Saturday eased the soreness in the knee area and they held out today. Evaluating the overall performance the splits.....4.04   4.11   4.10   4.08  4.02   showed pleasing endurance strength and given the time of year and the balance of distance to speed training I have to be satisfied with 20.35.   It was only seconds short of my undeclared prerace wish time of 20.30 and equal to my 2009 best.  28th of the 125 who finished.
 Pat (pictured here) also made her racing debut for 2010 with a solid 27.32 and resolves that there is more to come.  91st today and a minute behind the 74 year old Peter E.
  I'll no doubt be returning to the event later in the year but just hope that the parts of the course which have suffered really badly due to the snow and ice will have been repaired for our next visit. Quite tricky underfoot in places.
  So mixed fortune on the day and extra care needed when  wearing those shoes again.  Another week which went to plan.   No days missed.   A good track session,   45 miles on the week, maintaining the 2010 weekly average at 51 miles.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


  Perversely, this easy 4 miler on the grass proves once again to be the hardest run of the week.   Icing sessions have eased the soreness in the knee area and I should be Ok for tomorrow's 5K but having wriitten this I'll treat the left quad to 10 minutes from the ultrasound machine.
  The tedium of lapping the field solo was eased by music from a nearly new ipod nano I bought last week. I thought it was a good buy at £60 but then I discovered it was "preloaded" with over 1800 "songs" from a whole of artistes, the majority of which are very much to my taste.  Nice one!

I said in the last blog that the barefoot running debate whilst interesting academically in reality is pretty futile. However, if you are not really convinced by the commonly shared philosophy of the major companies....offering neutral, support, motion control , trail and lightweight shoes and want to sample perhaps the nearest thing to barefeet, you might try the NIKE FREE 3.0 as my photo here. 
  I personally won't be running in them as you can imagine my old feet are rather delicate after nearly 50 years of running........but they make great slippers!  

  Well, that's the end of blogging for today....3 submissions catching up since Wednesday.  Off to prepare my racing kit for tomorrow, a nice meal,  with a limit on the alcohol, and then watch Man. United's 5-0 demolition of Portsmouth.


  If you look back to my blog entry for Friday December 11th 2009  I wrote about barefoot running but only really in relation to the advantages from the weight saving point of view rather than as part of a debate about running gait and training shoe design. 
   Friday saw the arrival of a press release from offroad shoe company INOV 8 stating that......
   " the running world has been awash (!?) with debate about barefoot running recently"....this was following a study in "NATURE", one of the World's leading scientific journals.  In short the article queried the validity of a 12 Billion dollar industry. INOV 8's take on it was that they had been designing, manufacturing and supplying low profile trail shoes since 2003 and therefore were not part of the same school of thought as the major running companies with their air, gel, wedges etc etc.
   I stated in that December blog that I had raced cross country for Lancashire in bare feet. In fact my fastest mile was recorded on a grasstrack in Wigan in barefeet.......4:26.....not too bad for a steeplechaser.  But that aside surely the idea of barefoot running is totally unrealistic unless............

  Your villa is a front line property on the coast. Shoeless, you exit your front door for the 30 metre walk to the beach. The path you walk down is covered by rose (coloured) petals forming a fragrant carpet. On reaching the golden sands, as always the firmness underfoot is perfect, washed smooth by a rhythmical action of the waves, no ripples to hinder progress.  The beach stretches for miles into the distance. You look ahead and spy a few runners and walkers.  No dogs are allowed on the beach which is cleared of seaweed and other debris everyday at dawn.  You cover 6 miles on the pan flat sand.  Forced onto your forefoot to maintain traction your style is steady and efficient. Your calves are well used to this mode of running now.
Turning inland, a short path leads you onto a delightfully, manicured golf course. You wave to the club President who has sanctioned your daily excursion on his hallowed turf.
   Going past the club house at 4 miles a sandy path leads to the running track where tomorrow you will do your speed session.  The tartan used has been especially developed to offer extra bounce and comfort for the barefoot runner. Since the 2010 barefoot running debate the surface is now used for all road races as well, on special circuits.  These purpose built race courses have been laid by the government;  funded by the millions of pounds saved in podiatry and physiotherapy treatment no longer necessary as runners have stopped wearing harmful running shoes  thrust on them by multinational corporations.

   You wake from your dream............and think about your run for the day and the surfaces you'll encounter...concrete, tarmac,  parkland (!),  thorns, pebbles, grit, stones, rocks, boulders.....

   End of debate. 

   The run for today was a 4 mile jog on grass.  If I was allowed to run on the hockey field I could have possibly run it shoeless. But on the adjacent playing field which is not quite so well looked after way.



   Wednesday's snow was still very much a feature high up on the hillside of Ben Rhydding on Thursday morning. With a 9.30 run arranged with Sarah J. from her's in Addingham I anticipated a run on the trail or along snow covered roads and so chose  a pair of trail shoes for the steady 7 miler.   As it was the snow had largely cleared from the rest of the roads of Ilkley and Addingham and we opted for a road run as last week on the quiet back lane to A59 and back.
   The run went well; Sarah's "easy" pace equivalent to a solid steady for me but  I was bemoaning the shoe choice later in the day with soreness in the knees and the vastus muscles, above the knee. A clear case of hammering 7 miles on tarmac in  shoes insufficiently cushioned and suffering accordingly.  Why  didn't I
just put a pair of road shoes in the car as well ?
What about a pair of shoes which came from new with 2 pairs of outersoles?  One suitable for road runs and another set for trail runs.  Impossible !? How would you change the sole of the shoe?
    One such shoe model was developed in the 1980s by a company call TURNTEC. They launched a model called the APEX.  Shown to the left here. Excuse the poor illustration, it's an old advert!!

The outersole was held onto the midsole with a form of velcro.  So going back to arriving at Sarah's, once we had opted for a road run I would have simply peeled off the trail outersole and stuck on the road sole!      Simples....
   We did sell the shoe in the early '80s but as far as I remember it only lasted one season.  Like the Puma Rs Computer shoe another case of a company "running a risk" spending a fortune on expensive R.& D. only for the model to experience limited success. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Great times recorded at the track today..for 800 metres.....averaging 2: 35......sadly I was doing 6oos!!!

   Several factors dictated the choice of session for today's Seedhill efforts. I wanted to progress. Firstly,in terms of total distance completed, having done 5k, then 6k in the last 2 visits since the snow.  Secondly, there was  a need to get the legs moving at a faster pace. Consequently, I went for 12 x 600 to give me 7200 metres of effort (4.5 miles). Question was could I manage to dip below 7 minute pace overall. Looking back to mid March 2009 I'd done 6x 600 averaging 2:34.3 so doing 12 I thought if I could keep them all under 2:40 I'd be quite happy.
   Fears that the Nelson track might be white rather than red were unfounded and whilst experiencing very cold conditions , for once, there was no unforgiving wind.  The first 6 went reasonably well averaging 2:38.
But again lapses in concentration in this solo run session added several seconds on a coupler of the reps.
   Over the last 6 the concentration was improved . Better arm action, higher knees and more "forefoot" emphasis. The reps started to flow a lot better. I felt i was running rather than shuffling fast. Average being 2:33 for the second half........saving the best for last 2:28...the best speed for 2010.
   Nevertheless, no matter what anyone says about the inevitability of losing speed with age it is hard to accept that I could once run faster for a marathon (5.35/mile) than I did for 600 metres today!  On the other hand, looking back to February 1999 (Keighley track) I ran a 8x600 session and was only 20 secs. faster than that last one today.  2 seconds per year?  Perhaps that "ain't"  too bad after all......

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


   Yesterday saw a change to the Monday easy 6 with a switch of the run from the road to the trail;  having run 14 mile on an undulating road course the previous day.  The rest of the week would also have to be adjusted,  bearing in mind the intention to race on Sunday.  Friday's track session will be brought forward to Wednesday and today's hill session was changed to a steady 8, road and trail.  Then steady Thursday, easy Friday, easy Saturday, race Sunday...........sounds like a plan!!
   Today when we plan and have intentions to run definitive distances it's comparatively simple.  Using  planning the exact distance is easy to do even if the run is a trail run. The only problem is a trail run that takes the runner through a forest or wood and the path can't be traced on the screen.  Then if you can afford a Garmin or similar you do the planned run and generally find your planned route is usually pretty accurate.  I was asked last week how did we go before computerisation.  Well, we knew our pace on measured road reps or on the track but for "steady" runs we just divided the total time by what we thought was a current fitness pace for such runs.....approx. 1.30 mins. slower than race pace.....
e.g. if 49 minutes at 7 minute....7 mile.  Fair enough but I would say in retrospect that we didn't allow for the much slower pace we run at when offroad and on undulating courses.
   Having said all that and just in case you think that computer monitoring of training runs is a 21st century phenomenon check out this
                                                      PUMA RS COMPUTER SHOE. 

It contained a custom-designed computer chip built into its heel which recorded the run, then communicated the results to Apple Commodore or IBM PC.  A software program included with the shoe automatically calculated time, distance and calories expended.  Not a great shoe for playing 5 a side football couldn't easily back heel could you?

                                  Year of its launch?.....................................1986 !!


Monday, 1 February 2010

SUNDAY'S RUN............14 POINTS !

   You historians out there will know well enough that The "14 POINTS" was a speech delivered by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to Congress in 1918 assuring the country that the the First world war and U.S. involvement in it was justified and would lead to peace in Europe.
   The point and justification of Sundays'  14 mile road run was as an over distance half marathon exercise and would lead, hopefully, to peace and harmony in the Lonergan household after a good run at the great western half marathon in Blackpool.  A lot of customers running half marathons, Great North Run etc, screw their faces up when it is suggested that they should be able to train over the distance if they are going to race it; much the same way as a lot of marathon entrants screw their faces up when it is suggested ..."you can't race a marathon if you haven't "trained"  a marathon".  With a Sunday luchtime "date" I didn't have time to drive over to the canal,  so it was the Beamsley Bash plus 2 each way.  I won't bore the reader with the mile splits: but will record that I came back 3.30 minutes faster than the outward trip and with the last 3 in 8.16    8.12   8.19(uphill)  was very pleased that I coped with the distance and the extra mile (13 last week) .  Bonus being that it was the same average pace as last week's 13 on the much flatter canal course.


  So, another week completed.  A very satisfactory one as well: again no missed days and including the Tuesday hill session, the Wednesday tough trail run,  the Friday track session and to finish a solid 14 miler.  56 on the week....260 on the year.....average 52.  Fingers crossed,  good preparation for the races to come.      

   Probably starting with the low key Alexandra Park this Sunday.  No need to pre-enter!  and only £2 for over 60s.  Last run in December 2009 when I was only 60 so I can't possibly run faster can I ?  But seriously, it  will depend on the degree to which I ease down this week.


What a fabulous day, weather wise!  With manager, John Henry, on holiday Pat, the very promising young Scott (Wharfedale Harriers) and I covered at the Nelson branch again, but to get my easy 5 in she threw me out of the car at Foulridge.

Down the lanes then along the Leeds/Liverpool canal from where the tunnel starts to Nelson.  Past Barrowford Locks.....with superbly maintained barged looking splendid in the morning sun and past others which will never sail again!

I always enjoy this stretch of the waterway but under a cloudless Lancashire sky today it was particularly memorable.  A circuit of Barrowford reservoir then onto the shop. 

It was just a pity that I only had 5 to do as my recovery run today......track yesterday....and it was tempting to do more. But there's a 14 pencilled in for tomorrow, Sunday......let's hope the sun blesses us with it's presence again!

At the shop it was as if the customers had waited for me to finish my run, give me time to shower and then descend.... by the coach load!

  All day the talk was of races to be run ...the Great Western half....the London Marathon ....the Great North week's Lancashire Schools cross country championships...... and we had the shoes for them!  A great day.