Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Take a close look at this shot of one Jennifer Goebels running in a the Lakefront marathon in Milwaukee,U.S.A.  She was the second woman to cross the line but elevated to first place as the original winner was disqualified for accepting water from a friend outside the official water station point.  Then Ms. Goebels herself was disqualified.......can you detect why?   Check out the white earphones dangling down from inside her vest just below her number.  Yes, she was disqualified for using her ipod violating a USA Track and Field rule which  applied to elite athletes.
(Apparently it was a complete ban on all runners but then changed)  With a PB of 2.52, she ran 3.02 on the day, she had "signed up" to this rule as had the original winner about taking "unofficial" drinks.
 Her view of course was that if she was to be disqualified so should everyone who used music devices. She said she actually only tuned in between 19 and 21 miles when she became bored!  The argument is that if the music is so essential  to completing the event then it is a performance enhancing aid.
 You can imagine,  post race comments were divided between those who said that the women should have stuck to the rules and those who said  bo******! Sorry, balderdash!
   The pros and cons of using ipods whilst training has been well discussed.  Relieving bordom when running solo balanced against the dangers of traffic, being mugged, damage to ears etc.
I occasionally use the ipod when jogging around a grass 1/2 mile circuit before and after hard races  and on traffic free, rain sodden trail runs like today.  But I wouldn't dream of using one in a race itself.  
   At Wilmslow on Sunday, spectating the event whilst running along with the mid to back markers I was amazed by the number linked up to a device.  I would say it was the majority.   Can you imagine the scene if they had all been stopped just before finishing on Sunday and told they were disqualified!
No, I personally have always liked to interact with my fellow competitors whilst racing.  Probably more so now. Certainly in the recent Blackpool and Haweswater half races,  the younger runners seemed to enjoy a bit of banter and cajoling to keep us all going.  None of which they would have heard with ear phones in.
Even when racing at my best I was always a bit vocal which admittedly could tend to annoy some in the group. If I felt we were reeling in a group of slowing runners I might say, "I see death ahead" or if feeling good at half way I might say, "OK, joke over, let's start racing!" or "let's go get 'em!"  
  There was no sign of earphones at the sharp end on Sunday but even around the 7 minute mile pace they start to become evident.  If I overtake someone linked to an ipod  in a race now I'm afraid I can't resist saying, "What you listening to?"  Whatever they answer, I'll then say,  "You want to switch to something faster!"  Before pulling away!  You just have to hope they don't take the advice and come tearing past later!
  To conclude I think in major traffic free races if runners want to isolate themselves from the full atmosphere of the event then it's up to them. Just as long as they have listened at the start to any relevant instructions and  hold a strict straight racing line as they are unaware of overtaking runners.
   Ipods, help or hindrance?   Ban them for elite runners but OK or others? Where would you draw the line?  Will we see civil disobedience on the roads in England soon if a ban comes in? What do you think?

Monday, 29 March 2010


  Well, it really did feel like a miserable, cold, wet winter's morning at the track today.........yes, I know it's spring but to repeat.....it was a cold wet winter's morning!  The weather "men" are even forecasting snow returning to parts of the north for Easter weekend.  Nice!  What's that song ...I'm dreaming of a  white Easter?
  600m reps today.  Frequently run; one of my favourite rep. distances but mindful of Saturday's 13.1 effort and Friday's 10K  only 8 to be completed.  In the ideal world of training theory 2.27/8 per effort , my 5k pace,  seemed a realistic target.  As usual for the first 3 a second per 100 down but by the fourth and fifth I was  getting up more on the toes and the stride was lengthening a touch.   2.30 on the sixth with the rain getting heavier and the temperature dipping.  The final two reps were nearest to target;  probably because I was keen to close the session off and , following a shorter  than normal cool down,  retreat indoors for a hot shower.  Brrrr!
In summary...2.34    2.34    2.34    2.32    2.31    2.30    2.28    2.26.   The best 600m  track  session  for quite a few months.
  With rain forecast for the next 5 days including Friday in Manchester and a 0 degrees night temperature on the way looks like my old legs will be staying covered for the foreseeable future!   At least until Friday.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


  I was back in Cheshire again today to give support to friends and club mates from Sale Harriers competing in one of the country's biggest club run half marathons at Wilmslow.   The plan was to run out in front of the race field to the four mile point, take some photos then run a mile or so further to take some more shots as the runners made their way back.  

  What I didn't account for was trying to get beyond 4000 runners and accompanying spectators before the race started! I didn't make it and so elected to run along with the race  at around 8.30 to 9.00 minute mileing.  Two things struck me. One this pace felt so, so easy in a race situaton yet was only half a minute faster than my training run yesterday.   Secondly,  the number of people listening to music!  I would say it was a good 50% back in the field here.  I had thought they had been banned? Or what that just in America?
  Not racing, I was attired in tights and a windjacket  but was only just comfortable.  The wind in those first few miles was strong and biting.  It would definitely take the edge off the times but would give them a gentle push from behind on the way back.   The mens race was won by Salford Andi Jones in 64.45  (pictured to the left here just before 10 mile)

followed by a strong finishing Sale clubmate
Gareth Raven in 65.36 pictured here with another Sale Harrier Matt Bond who ran 65.53.  As to be expected there were dozens of Sale cubmates running; so Wilmslow's one for me to consider next year when hopefully the conditions will be kinder.
  My main interest however today was to support the efforts of  one of Yorkshire's leading female runners Sarah Jarvis (Running Bear) (see below )running the race as part of her build up to the Edinburgh marathon.  Despite a recent 20 mile race and little let up in her marathon training she ran a tremendous 77.43, provisionally 7th in the English championships which were being held in with the race.  
   Talking to several of the leading runners after,  many of them were running the race at the end of a big mileage week. Their minds being on the  prize of a later great  marathon time.   Gareth raven said he eased down to 85 miles for the week (!) aand would be running another 6 miles Sunday evening.
  Many will have been disappointed today.   It's never easy to accept race times slightly slower
 than one would hope for when racing without a full taper.
  They could worse than read or re-read Charlie Spedding's book in which he describes many indifferent race performances on the way to championship marathon medals. But at least their time today gives them a very good guide to dictating their marathon pacing strategy and is very worthwhile if for that reason alone. 
  I reckon I covered at least 6 miles today so that concludes another succesful week totalling 56 with the relay leg and a good track session. Onward and forward!

Saturday, 27 March 2010


  The week has taken a classic hard/ easy/ hard pattern.  Thursday's encouraging track session was followed by an easy pace 5 on the trail in which the pace, unrecorded, was probably no faster than 9.30. So today, keen to return to a double figure for the first time in 3 weeks since the Haweswater half,  I drove over to the canal to cover a minimum of 10 miles.  Quite hard deciding what to wear today as Pat had been out and reported that whilst sunny there was a chilling, blustery wind.  Eventually opted for a longsleeve with a laminated windshirt on top.

  Ignoring the running rule book which states the training should start into the wind to come back with the wind behind when tired,  would mean a touigh second half but I was hoping that with Pat on the bike she would act as a windbreak.  After the usual couple of warm up miles,  I accelerated to 8.30 and stayed there for several miles. On the way back I encouraged Pat to stay just in front as planned and things were going well with an 8.15 then I could see her rear tyre suddenly deflate with a puncture!

I ran on hoping she could reflate it and catch me up but  with no sign of her at 10 miles, I turned back, picked up the car keys from her and ran on so that I could then drive back and pick her up.
  All this added distance to the run which eventually finished up at 13.1.......an unscheduled half marathon indeed.   Still a solid 50 miles on the week with tomorrow to come and the old legs held up pretty well; more than can be said about the bike!

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Following Sunday's less than competitive performance the next time I'll be donning the racing vest will be on Good Friday at the Salford 10k.   With 11 days in between the events I decided to slot in two speed sessions with 3 days between each and the Friday race.   So today, Thursday, saw me back at Seedhill track with the flag at the local cricket club suggesting that for yet another time it would be a disappointing, frustrating speed session.   I stretched the warm up to 3 miles, 2 around the park plus a mile on the track.
They say listen to our body.  Well the body was saying,
                         Terry,  come back tomorrow!  Friday, you'll feel better"  
If the track was round the corner I might have done that,but not fancying another hour and half round trip  tomorrow I persevered but elected for just 5 reps of 1K with a longish 2 minute 200 walk/jog recovery to try to achieve optimum pace.  Less endurance ...more speed! Hopefully.

 With the wind still strong I half anticipated times
 around 4.20 so was quite pleased with the first in 4.16. Encouraging,as I normally accelerate through the sesssion.   4.15 for the second,  4.11 for the third and as usual the reps were starting to flow but also starting to hurt.   I determined to make each 200 just that bit faster then really go for the last 400.   4.07 !!   But could I make the last one fastest?   Yes, 4.06
Times which compare very favourably with those from the same time in 2009 and even some 1K sessions in 2008. So hopefully some better performances to come in the next few months. It would be good to beat last year's times for all distances and halt the slide.
 I have recently changed my asthma prevention regime; by which I have reintroduced the Ventolin salbutamol
reliever inhaler immediately prior to running whilst continuing to take a steroid preventative inhaler morning and evening at non running times. Perhaps that is making the difference.
 Any other asthma sufferers out there taking Symbicort and or Ventolin ?  What's your regime?


Following Tuesday's 8 miler on the road, the old knees were feeling a tad sore on the subsequent trips up and down the spiral in the house. By the evening I was icing and had the ultrasound out.  Inevitably then Wednesday would mean a less punishing off road run and the Strid Woods weer once more  beckoning. 
 Overcast conditions and a coolish wind dampened the enthusiasm of the walkers and for once the trails were fairly quiet.
  On the run my mind went back to the 12 man relay.  When I first ran it in 1967 I was under 20 as were others in the team and the majority were under 25.  I was curious to see how that compared with the Sale team which finished 2nd last Sunday and how the ages compared with that of a team such as Ilkley Harriers who finished a commendable 29th of 46 teams.

 The ages of the Sale H. team...27   18   23   24   35   18   33   36   26   28   30   25...average  26.9
 The ages of the Ilkley    team...27   47   28   52   39   55   37   36   41   30   42   40...average  39.5

 Clearly in an event like this with the short legs less than 5k and the long leg not much longer  clubs with the ability to call on fast juniors with a sound track training base are at a great advantage.  I did talk at one time of holding a race for unattached runners,  18 to 30 years of age only, to try to uncover some talent in that age group; but with so many traffic regulations to overcome I think that would be impossible in Ilkley.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


 You know what they say about buses...you wait for ages.......then two come along.  Well having had helpful company on my run yesterday, today I was involved with a 24 miler.  OK, lower your eyebrows. I haven't suddenly jumped up from half marathon distance to nearly a marathon!   When I say involved I mean I joined in for 8 miles in the middle of  Sally Malir's penultimate long run in preparation for the London.  It's only now that I am starting to feel that I could run with her without slowing her down too much.  She said she appreciated  the company on her run of just over 3 hours 15 minutes even though I probably cost her a couple of minutes.

  Sally.....the "pocket rocket" as I affectionately call her
....is a superb example of a runner selecting a goal and then commiting to it.   Electing to run a spring marathon she builds up to over 60 to 70 miles per week whilst working part time, running a home and looking after a supportiver husband and 3 sport crazy young daughters heavily involved in running and hockey with all the travelling that their sports  involve.
  I don't think there is a runner out there who doesn't know someone who has attempted a marathon and heard that they have come apart from 20 miles or so;  "hitting the wall", "the wheels came off"  "reduced to a walk" etc etc.
 In contrast Sally has demonstrated over the last 4 years a tremendous consistency; her times only varying with the prevailing weather conditions or nature of the course.   3.10 and 3.11 in 2006.  3.12 in 2007.
A marathon win in 2008 at Blackpool in 2:58 only to have the distance declared "short";   a fact the organisers still dispute.  Then 3.06 last year in London.   Results achieved due to a careful, measured, dedicated approach commencing  in late autumn with focus on that April race throughout.
    Today's shots show her looking fresh as a daisy after her Barcelona marathon in 2006. I'm sure she will be rewarded with a well deserved top ten placing in the F45 age category in London.

Monday, 22 March 2010


 The start to todays' excursion around the Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs coincided with that of a lovely young couple from Wetherby, James and Jennifer, who kindly shared the loop of the first reservoir.   We chatted all the way around and it transpired that they had completed the Haweswater Half Marathon as I had recently.  On completion of the first reservoir I gently cajoled them into carrying on to complete the other one as I had planned;   which they did . Whilst finishing behind me at the Lakes race having them on board resulted in a time for the run several minutes faster than I would have achieved on a Monday after a race by myself.  So thanks James and Jennifer.   Would not be surprised to see them closing the gap on me within a short time.   With no race this coming weekend the plan is to "make up" for some lowish mileage weeks which has been inevitable with all the recent races.

 An interesting if puzzling post script to yesterday's relay.  A look at the programme for the event revealed that my club had registered no fewer than 94 men from which to make up 3 teams of 12.  Yet we were only capable of completing 2 teams and an incomplete team of 4 as reported in the last blog entry.
 Admittedly several of those on the list ended up on marshalling duties but surely they could have mustered another 8 to complete our "C" team.
 As I said a good job I hadn't journeyed especially from home ....a 3 hour round trip!  With so many races going out of existence, others filling up very early and many races costing so much that they lose the support of the frequent racer I think it is important that club runners make an effort to turn out for their clubs and maintain these long standing events.


Friday's Sale Harriers Grand Centenary Dinner in the Great Hall at Manchester Town Hall was a lavish, splendid affair attended by members from over the last 60 years including Olympians Darren Campbell, Michelle Scutt, internationals Dianne Modall, Kevin McKay etc.  But for me of course the highlight was being able to assemble with my contempories from the '60s; including one from America, one from Australia and one from France.   Generous helpings of nostalgia and as I forecast so many sentences beginning with "Do you remember when......?  The celebrations continued until 2 a.m.
.........apparently....we had retired somewhat earlier as befits our age!

 I could hardly let Saturday go by without making the trip across Manchester to spectate at the English Schools Championships particularly as the field where I began in 1962 was being used as the start for the races.
 However in those days we weren't treated to the luxury of a tented canopy behind the start line in which to make last minute preparations before the gun going off.   It was superb to see this long standing national event still being so well supported. It was only a shame that the weather did not match the level of enthusiasm as Manchester  lived up to its reputation as the city for rain.  Despite two base layers and 3, yes 3, rainjackets I was still getting more and more  uncomfortable as the afternoon progressed and the rain persisted.
  And so onto Sunday and a leg of the Northern (12 man) relay.  We arrived in time to watch the start with 48 teams lining up for the initial charge around the track at Wythenshawe park.  I reported my presence, looked at the team sheet and seeing a lot of crossing off suspected that our "C" team was not likely to be complete. Having been told I was to do leg 5 , a long leg, I was pushed up to leg 4, a short one of just less than 5k.  The warm up over the course proved that it would be less than perfect.  Quite narrow in places with belligerent footballers, dog walkers, mothers with prams and of course dozens of runners warming up, cooling down and spectating.

  I returned to the changeover area on seeing the first leg 3 runners coming in....and waited .....and waited....
and waited.   After 46 teams had come in so our leg 3 "C" team runner arrived and off I went.  The runner in front was too far ahead for me to really chase and the only runners coming through, as predicted, were the relay leaders lapping me.  So the adrenalin was not really unleashed and whilst I did close the gap on the track, it proved more like an anticlimatic time trial.  My time of 20.40 confirming the fact I'd run slower than I would expect for a full 5k.
  It was an in and out changeover rather than a touching exchange so I hadn't realised until Pat told me that no one had left as i came in.   I was the last to run. We were registered as "incomplete" with only 4 of the 12 legs completed.   It was fortunate that I had not travelled from Yorkshire to race.  But at least I'd put in a good effort at faster than tempo pace and shown a willingness to support the club. 
  At least the "A" team ran well to finish 2nd of the 48 teams and great to witness local club Ilkley Harriers contesting both mens and womens events, along with Keighley, when other local clubs who are supposedly stronger failed to do so.

Friday, 19 March 2010


 Well what a busy weekend ahead and its shaping up to be "funfilled and action packed".  Followed yesterday's trail 7 with a flat 6 on the road; battling into very strong winds for 3 before enjoying the push from behind on the way back.   Plenty of action but not much fun in that wind.  No....
  the fun will start tonight with the SALE HARRIERS centenary dinner which is being held at Manchester Town Hall with 350 ex- and current members attending. Hopefully great food, great entertainment and heaps of nostalgia.   I'll count the number of times sentences start with....."Do you remember when.......!"
This photograph shows one of the earliest teams from 1912.  At FASTRAX we were asked to try to replicate the t-shirt they are wearing which obviously predated the now famous green vest with the white and red hoops.

We assumed that the original was green .  No I am not on the original photo; I may be old but I'm not that old!!

  Tomorrow the cream of England's youngsters face their third national level competition in recent weeks. This time they will be representing their counties in the English Schools Cross Country championships taking place
at Heaton Park, Manchester; the venue for my first ever cross country back in 1962.
 Many will have competed for their clubs in the English national and many for their county associations in the Inter Counties last week.  Quite a lot of high level pressure for them; but some will be looking to turn the tables on their rivals.
  The pressure for me will come on Sunday when I'll be running a leg for the club's "C" team in the Northern 12 man relay.  Again the event is in Manchester at Wythenshawe Park. My records show that I first represented Sale in the National 12 man relay in 1967 when we finished 11th;  the first Northern 12 man being the following year when we finished 3rd.  I feel very blessed to be fit and able to be taking part 43 years later.   As with all relays I'll be anxious not to let the team and club down and of course that anxiety brings with it extra tension.   I'll have a good view of the leading teams no doubt as I anticipate many of them lapping our team and they'll be flying past me, one lap ahead.
  The team manager's expectations for us is the first 45, but he's hoping the A team can be in the first 3 teams and the B team in the first 25.   Whatever it'll be a great day as we are hosting the event as part of the centenary celebrations.   See you there!?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I must admit  I was a bit uneasy about how today's (Wednesday) track session would go after a pretty indifferent run yesterday.   The route wasn't particularly demanding but I think the fact that the start time was an hour or so earlier than normal , a first run in new shoes and running into a headwind all combined to take the spark out of the pace.  Shame because wind apart it was another fine spring morning.  As I ran past the abandoned boats at Barrowford locks I thought,  yes, I have that sinking feeling as well.  Still another day done and another 7 miles banked.
  Arriving at the track  it was immediately evident that I would be doing the session in the midst of a Physical Education lesson as the track, long jump pit and shot putt circle were in use by a group of 40 or so 15 year olds accompanied by 3 P.E. teachers.  As an ex head of P.E. myself it would be interesting to compare methods if they were still there after the 2 mile warm up around the park.
  The horizontal flag at the neighbouring cricket club confirmed the strength of the wind and confirmed my plan to run a set of 300s.  I would do the 100 recovery into the wind but it would hit me also on the last bend.  In a perfect world  I would liked to have reported  that I thrashed out 16 x 300 at 40 minute 10k pace (72) but the average was slightly down at 75 (41.25 pace). Blame the wind as always!

  In fact the only time I dipped under 72 was on the 7th rep. when  3 boys and a young lady were being put through their pace over 400 and I caught the trailing young lady up and in encouraging her to keep going,
 she responded well and I in turn accelerated giving me 71.4!!  Adrenalin rules OK!
  I was talking to some of the youngsters afterwards. They told me that they had actually opted for P.E. as an exam subject.  I said that there were no exams in P.E. when I was a teacher.   I think they were somewhat amazed by the number of laps that I'd competed and even more so when I said I would be doing another 4 laps as a cool down!   I thanked the teachers for allowing me to use the track whilst they were holding their chass and thanked them for the company! I must admit  it was good to see the track being used for a change and have others around.
 I frequently look back at how a similar session went in the previous year. The nearest session was 12 x 300
on a similarly windy day last April ; when the average was a poor 81.3.  So 4 more reps in a faster average.
                                                 What was that about a sinking feeling?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


We are all aware of the tremendous performances which the best paraplegic athletes achieve particularly in the Olympic arena every 4 years.  But yesterday's comment on the use of arms in running inevitably brought back to mind the great New Zealand runner, Murray Halberg.   It's hard to think it's nearly 50 years since he won the 5000 metres in the Rome Olympics wearing the famous all black strip emblazoned with the silver fern.   He ran 13:43.4 to win the event within the same hour as his team mate, Peter Snell won the 800 metres.  Both were coached by Arthur Lydiard  whose training methods are still invaluable for runners looking for improvement in middle and long distance events.

Murray Halberg was memorable at the time because he won the Olympic title despite effectively running with one arm. His left arm had "withered", the legacy of a school rugby incident. His success could be used as an argument that arms are not important.  But as Percy Wells Cerutty said at the time "Had Murray Halberg the use of two strong ,effective arms,he might well have proved the greatest distance runner the world has known".   I would agree but I still maintain my position that we have to be happy that we have ticked all the necessary running boxes, appropriate to our given distance before we  think about whether  weight training or other methods of conditioning can be added and when.   Meanwhile,  week 12 of the year started with a gentle jog around the reservoirs after two solid days at the weekend with the tempo run on Saturday and yesterday's canal 9.  The plan is to train on the basis that I'm in the "C" team for Sunday but I shall not be surprised if they have sufficinet younger faster athletes.                     

Monday, 15 March 2010


 I think you have always to be open minded when it comes to running and marathon running in particular because there are so many more people prepared to tackle the 26.2 mile event and many of them come up with new and interesting ideas. Many in contrast to that which would seem logical.
 I was reading snippets of a marathonblog in one of the Sunday newspapers today.  Now whereas I would recommend reaching 20 miles by Christmas for a spring marathon and going on from there, this gentleman decided to start his London marathon training on February 15th 2010. Interesting when you consider he'd only done a few 10Ks previously
  Whereas I would have thought it sensible to enlist the help of an experienced marathon runner, interestingly he turned to an Olympic wrestler for help.  He describes how his marathon training "gets under way" with boxing (classes each week!) walking lunges,(?) push ups (that's a type of bra isn't it?) press ups (same thing?
body weight squats etc etc.
  All this is based on his advice that
 "Running does not only involve the legs, a strong core is essential especially in the marathon to keep the body upright (!) and eliminate inefficient movements, a strong and flexible upper body is also required as the arms help with propulsion and the faster and stronger the arm movement, the faster and stronger the legs stride"
   But just think what I could have achieved if I'd run fewer miles and done more sessions with a personal trainer who was a wrestler.    Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that upper body strength isn't  important in running but I feel the longer  the distance the less important it becomes. And certainly starting his "build up" in mid February, I think he has his priorities slightly wrong,  devoting large amounts of time to upper body strength and core stability.
 I've never been over 10 stone. I get banned fron beaches because my skeletal physique upsets children.
But it got me round in 2.25.   I will concede that a full time marathon runner running over 90 miles a week may well ADD some weights work but get the running sessions in as the priority.
Sunday brought with it a return to a period of windy weather and will have made the task harder for  all those marathon aspirants racing 20 milers throughout the country today. Well done to all but especially Sarah J.
http://theadventuresofrunningbear.blogspot.com/   whose 2:06 + takes her to the top of 2010 UK rankings!

I just settled for an out and back  9 on the canal accompanied by my dear wife on the bike.   Heading out into the wind in 39.42  I was pleased to come back 3 minutes faster.  Was it the wind or Pat's pacing?  Probably a combination.

Quite pleased with the week after that second half marathon in the month.  Mileage was lowered slightly to 45 but yesterday's track tempo run indicted that the recovery has been fairly satisfactory.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


    With the strong possibility of having to cope with a very sharp 3 miler a week tomorrow, in a regional championship event,  I felt it was important that I had to inject some pace into the running today.  For me there's no better place to do that than to touch the tartan at the track.  Bearing in mind that the fastest mile I've managed all week was 8.24,  at the very least,  I was looking to the pace being maintained below 8's throughout.
    Rather than tackle a set of short, sharp repititions and risk pulling something in recovering 1/2 marathon legs,  I opted for a 5k tempo effort.  Ideally then my 5k pace (20.35) plus 10%.  So anything around 22.40 would be a good solid run. 
   I arrrived at the Seedhill track mid morning.   Not one single runner was taking the opportunity to enhance their speed on a near perfect spring morning.  No runners from Pendle, who are based there, nor local clubs Clayton or Trawden.   On entering the facility I read a notice saying that as from April 1st. the track and gym will  be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.  Gym users can go to another council facility but the few runners will have to squeeze through the railings and make alternative showering arrangements. Risking being sued for trespass, of course! 

   I still find it amazing that no local training group takes advantage of this expensive facility in east Lancashire; but they haven't and now they can't.  Two years before the Olympics!
   Anyway, it means that the inside lane is clear and there's no congestion.  Pleasingly the tempo run proved to be a good acceleration exercise.  A 58 200, then laps of 1.56., 1.54, 1.54, 1.53......7.37 (mile) 1.51,1.52,1.50, 1.46 ( 7.19)  1.48, 1.48, 1.46, 1.44 (7.06).   23.03 for the 5k.  After a tough week which was indicative of how much that a tough half marathon had taken out of me it was good to be moving well, up on the forefoot and driving on that last mile particularly.


Off to put my feet up now and  spend the afternoon watching all the races making up the Inter Counties Chamionships taking place today at Birmingham.  The team at FASTRAX  have had a very busy  time producing vests for the event.  Cornwall, Hampshire, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, West Wales amongst others.  We'll be hoping to see Steph Twell and Andy Vernon of Hampshire wearing our vests and making the G.B. team; but  most particularly will take pride in seeing our local Yorkshire athletes wearing their new FASTRAX vests as shown here.   Amongst the Yorkshire teams will be the father and son pairing of John Convery, running the senior event and his son,  Sam, contesting the under 13 boys race.
                    Good luck to them all!

Friday, 12 March 2010


   It's Friday now and I'm still searching on the watch for some sign of a return to a decent pace after last Sunday's half marathon.  To be honest the legs have held up pretty well. The main area to have suffered most has been the lower rib cage. I can only think that the effort of the race aligned with the low temperature we experienced forced the intercostal muscles to work overtime.  So the last mile of the race was 6.46 and the fastest mile I've managed in the week since has been 8.24. 
   That was the ninth mile of yesterday's 9 mile run which was followed by 6 today.  The "recovery" week then has been a gradual build up of miles at easy pace.  3 to 5 to 7 to 9 dropping down to 6  today with the weekend to come.
   Yesterday,  I borrowed some old copies of Athletics Weekly from the late '60s. The one to the right from May 6th 1967 features 2 Sale Harrier club mates from that time, Jack Frost and Peter Abell.  The magazines were bound togther for that year and it was significant that by far the majority of the front covers were male middle or long distance runners of quality.  Only 6 covers features women. Several being field event performers.
   Certainly not the case with Athletics Weekly today which frequently features female athletes on the cover reflecting continuing  emergence of women in the sport.  This week's issue features an interview with Jenny Meadows and she is featured on the cover.

 Runners World's covers in contrast have been blatenly sexist.  They have swung completely the other way such that it's as if only women run and they only run in warm temperatures when the sun is shining.
  I can't remember the last time they featured a male runner on the cover or a runner wearing what we all wear in the varying seasons.

  This cover from the February ....yes February...will have "hit the news stands" in January when we were all running the streets in hat and gloves ,jackets and thermal tights (weren't we?).   Yet they feel they have to feature a young lady attired as even very few women would in the highest temperatures of summer.  If you query it with them they claim that this type of cover conveys a positive image we all aspire to and are therefore encouraged to buy the magazine.   
  Of course because they always features young attactive females on the cover then the theory can never be proved one way or the other.   
  If you were starting running and saw this magazine on the stand would you be encouraged to buy it on the basis you could look like that (sorry guys!) or would you be put off ?                                                          


Wednesday, 10 March 2010


  A.C. Milan's David beckham was interviewed tonight after coming on for  the last third of the game against his former side Manchester United. A game which saw United humble the Italian "giants" by 4 goals to nil, 7-2 on aggregate.  He was asked if he thought he would ever play at Old trafford again.  He said he doubted it.
  I turned to my wife Pat and said he should take up running.  He could be making the team for years to come!   In 1968, as a "senior" rookie I was called up to Sale Harrier's 12 man road relay team for the Northern championships.  I ran a long leg, second fastest on the leg (sure they got their maths wrong!..pre computers!!) and helped the team to third position in a star studded event.  At the age of 19 I was able to share the stage with world record holders (Derek Ibbotson of Longwood)  and Olympians like Ron Hill then running for Bolton United Harriers. 4.75 miles in 22.19...those were the days!  4.42 mileing.
  Today,  I had an email from Sale Harriers confirming that I've made the squad again.........except 42 years later it will only be our "C" team.  The team manager has listed 17 names so I'm not certain to run but it would be quite good to turn out for the event which we are hosting as part of our centenary celebrations.
                       All being well that will be my next event a week on Sunday.
  A return to familiar ground for todays's run with a 7 mile trail run. Again legs felt pretty good.  I'm not hung up on "streaks" of uninterrupted day's running like Mr. Hill as above but I am quite pleased that it's now 34 weeks since I've recorded a Zero on the training sheet and that wasn't running related......I strained my back cleaning the car!   That's another job I pay someone else to do now.


  Everyone knows that some of the popular walks in the Lake District can get very, very indeed at any time of year.  By far the majority of visitors heading for the lower lakes bypass Kendal and head straight on to Windermere before perhaps branching off to the Langdales or over Kirkstone pass to Ullswater. 
  As United Utilities turned off the region's electricity at 9 a.m. we decided to pack up early but stop off to investigate the valley of LONGSLEDDALE. It's situated just north of Kendal, literally minutes off the busy A6 but rarely visited.   Alfred wainwright, the famous writer of pictorial guides to the Lake district, wrote...
  "Down on the left (of the A6) and extending far into the hills, beyond a middle distance of scattered farmsteads and woodlands is a perfect picture of quiet rural charm....the valley of LONGSLEDDALE. This is a view of classic beauty and is always so no matter how often one sees it"
  The dale starts at Garnett Bridge cut through by a single track road for 5 flattish miles to the dale head at the hamlet of Sadgill.  Trail walkers and runners will park here and head off on the good trail which can be see behind me in this shot.   The trail climbs steadily for a few miles and many will then carry on over the top towards Mardale Head at the top of Haweswater where we turned in Sunday's half marathon.   Perhaps try that another day but for today Pat's welcome suggestion was for me to run the 5 miles back down the dale to Garnett Bridge where she would pick me up.

So I enjoyed a very pleasant 5 miler on a good road
seeing one solitary car.  With views to my right (west) of Kentmere Pike and Shipman's Knott which form part of the Kentmere Horseshoe.  Last time I was up there racing was back in the '70s!   I think the legs felt better today than they did all those years back by the time I'd climbed to those heights.
  45 minutes later Pat caught me up and within 5 minutes we were on the A6 and heading back home. 
  So that was LONGSLEDDALE, a hidded gem
just off but very close the beaten track!


 I had hoped to enjoy a good night's sleep after the 13.1 mile effort but no such luck.  The day's activities and the event itself were still churning over in the mind in the wee small hours with the pulse rate seemingly fast as well.  
 The plan this week will be to nudge the miles back up gradually starting with a gentle 3 miler on this Monday. It was a good chance to see how the legs felt and pleasingly they felt pretty good. So on yet another morning of bright sunshine and a cloudless sky the run went well.
  A gentle stroll along the shores of Rydal Water, north of Ambleside , served as another post race loosener.  Time to reflect on the end of a good solid
10 week strengthening period with 498 miles under the belt and 4 reasonable races.  Reasonable, but which suggest that with a gradual shift to speed,  can be improved upon.
  Unless something really attractive comes up I may well leave running another half marathon until the autumn concentrating on events of 10 mile and under.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


  Race day dawned and forecasts for a cloudless but chilly day proved pretty correct.  Despite staying  in the region of the Lakes for the weekend and the race location being fairly close "as the crow flies" we allowed an hour for the drive as there are no roads crossing the mountains that a crow might fly over!  So after an interesting drive through Shap and down the narrow lanes we arrived at the village of Bampton, between Kendal and Penrith where the race would start an hour before the 11.30 start time.  Plenty of time of my compulsory warm up of 2 miles but with prerace chat and search for the start and the finish,  the warm up becomes a touch panicky and shorter than planned. 
  I have always said that the first lesson in road racing is to find the alternative toilets;  the ones that are out of the way, with no queues.  The local pub , situated 100 metres before the start, serves the purpose nicely. I thank the landlord and leave him preparing his post race barbeque!

  I join the assembled throng of 517 taking part and optimistically place myself on row 4 or so of the narrow start.  Elbows firmly out as usual practice, as I manage  6.58 for the first mile and runners are passing me as if I'm going backwards.  I can't believe the number who are operating at sub 90 pace.
  Significantly, a couple of lovely Lancashire lassies,
Sarah and Michaela  who were just in front of me at Blackpool two weeks ago have overtaken me plus
my one M60 who beat me over 10k just before Christmas.   I can see them and could have slipped behind them but the pace feels more than fast enough and I let them go.
The undulations kick in almost immediately and the pace shoots down to 7.47 and 7.44 but after 3 miles we reach the spectacular view we've come along to enjoy on this "most scenic" half and enjoy the marvel for 2 flattish miles.....7.16 and 7.19

The road unfortunately leaves the reservoir edge and  we climb again........7.42.  The pace isn't bad but the hills are taking a toll on the hamstrings. At the top of the hill, we can now see the turn around point. We know that the next mile will be a downhill section (7.06) but of course we now witness the leaders coming back towards us, tackling the incline we're running down and know that it'll be our turn to endure the challenge within minutes.
  Of course,  I see my M60 rival still with a significant lead.  He is going to have to fold badly for me to win today.  But there's always a chance and I make a determined challenge overtaking several on the climb on this 8th mile.....8.02. Over the top and I'm still overtaking and things are really starting to flow now whilst the legs still feel a bit fragile.  I shorten the stride, quicken the cadence and select another target to go for.  My two Lancashire lassies are amongst those I've nudged ahead of.  Four good miles follow......7.09,  7.20 (uphill) 7.16 and then a good charge for the line with some much younger fast finishers.
The results confirm my "rival" didn't fold and went on to beat me by 2 minutes with another M60 slotting in between us.  So 3rd in the age group of 18. 135th of the 517 who finished.  Time?  Well, I knew it was going to be slower than the much flatter Blackpool; my differential was plus 1 min. 46 secs. 96.30 compared with 94.44. This compared well however with 3 who beat me at Blackpool  who had differentials of over 3 minutes and were in turn behind me today. 

 As forecast my 50 miles per week average for the year and good consistency over the last few months seemed to have stood me in good stead.    All in all, no way a P.B. race unless it was someone's first!  But a really memorable one that I was happy to add to the list and a nice mug as a souvenir.                                    I leave you with another view of the source of Manchester's water ........the reservoir they created in 1935, flooding two villages to do it. 84 billion litres of water when full but when it's not, in extremly dry weather, the stone walls and Mardale village bridge can still be seen. 


Managed to stick to the week's plan on Friday; taking time out from the preparation for the few days away in the Lake District to pop in a very easy 4 on the grass.  The usual no risk prerace run which betrays little of how Sunday might go as the effort is not exacting.
 Saturday was similar.  Simply a case of turning the legs over and keep the airways working with an easy 3.
There is real optimistic feeling in the Lakes for the new season after a winter which has seen businesses in the region hit badly by the snow and  the floods.    No problems on the roads but much snow still firmly in place on the mountains.  This is a view from the shore of Ullswater.
I wish I could say I have an optimistic feeling about tomorrow.  It's Ok doing races for the first time to keep things fresh but of course the feeling of apprehension is heightened by "the fear of the unknown".  Just how much of a challenge will it be!?      Unlike a lot taking part who will be using   the race as part of their build up to a spring marathon, perhaps London, Edinburgh or Lochabar,  for me it is more a case of taking part in an event whilst up in the area for a few days's; hence the token taper this week.  Having said that there is always the race for the placings in the age category.  Let's just hope I feel better than this in 24 hours time.   One thing certain.....the weather will be as bright s today..................


Thursday, 4 March 2010


  One of the great advantages of running on holiday is that we are able to see and find places and things of interest which non-runners would possibly miss or just not reach.  It's a great way or getting one's bearings and helps plan the "things to do"  list.  It was a bit like that today as I "discovered" a marina and marina cafe bar that I'd hadn't spotted driving by several times but was conspicuous from the Leeds Liverpool canal, (heading towards Burnley, Lancashire ) on the run from the 7 mile easy run from the track at Nelson.

 After the run I drove back for lunch at the cafe bar and took a few shots on what was another fabulous spring day. 
  Amazing to see that's there is snow still on the tops of Pendle Hill.
  So if you have a few thousand to spare to buy yourself a barge you now know where you can
moor it......


  One of the dreams I've had since I was a small child  was to visit the place where the water came from that was used to fill my tin bath placed before our coal fire on a Saturday night.  You see our mam insisted we were clean when the relatives came a callin' on a Sunday afternoon.  (Only kidding..........we didn't even have a coal fire we were so poor)    But seriously...........
 Learing that the Manchester Water Corporation were authorised,  by a bill in Parliament no less,  to use Haweswater in the Lake District as a reservoir, it seemed only fitting that once in my life I should run the HAWESWATER HALF MARATHON.
   I know it's only 2 weeks after Blackpool but having averaged over 50 per week this year I should be strong enough to race both of them reasonably well.  However, I have been reliably informed that the course, to my surprise, is "a killer".
 From other souces I learn that it is "the most scenic half marathon in the country"  and "challenging".  So all in all certainly not a course in which it's likely to see an improvement on the Blackpool time but plenty to look at whilst we're all  suffering.   I had thought that the main part of the race would be a nice flat road by the water but as you can see from the shot here .....there is no road.  One thing seems clear we'll be able to see those in front of us when they are on their way back. Might take the camera and "shoot" whilst I race!  That will be a first.
   The "wind down" to the race was planned as 8......7........4.......3.   So Wednesday saw back on the Bolton Abbey and Strid trail for the 8 , the first time in weeks.  Couldn't have gone much slower if I had my legs tied together and was quite happy to stop when approached by two young ladies from my old college in Leeds who wanted to directions to the Strid waterfall.

 I showed them and warned them to be careful; telling them about the young honeymooners who had slipped in and failed to get out.
   I saw the young students  again 10 minutes later and they were as close as they could get to the water, ignoring my warning.  Having said that Wednesday was a dry and sunny day.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010



  Not wishing to make this running blog a weather channel but what the heck.....what a fabulous day!
First item of kit I reached for  was the "shades".  15.38 now and this shot shows the cloudless skies we've been blessed with today.
  Apologies to those who have been chained to a desk or whatever but then again you'll be retired one day too.

 Very tempted to head up to the moor for my run today: but common sense prevailed. I decided the uneven terrain would not be welcomed by the lower limbs which are still delicate after Sunday's race, particularly that adrenalin driven last mile.
  So I played safe for the 6 miles, albeit on the road and saw a welcome notch up the gears pace wise.
Yesterday's average 9.45 for 4 on grass.....today's 8.52 for 6 on road.  Much better.

Monday, 1 March 2010


   Allow me to record a moment in time.  It was 11.45 a.m.  I was back on the grass jogging a post race 4 miler at an average of 9.45 pace.  Turning a corner of the field I am facing north.  Suddenly I have the strongest urge .......to take my jacket off......the warmth on my back is quite penetrating.   It's March 1st!!
Spring has come.  I turn the next corner and I zip the jacket back up . A biting westerly wind reminds to be sensible: but it was nice whilst it lasted.........about a minute.

   In yesterday's race report I mentioned the native American runner  Billy Mills. If you haven't heard of him check out the climax of the film Running Brave on You Tube then check out the actual race also on YouTube (2 mins 15) which also shows the last lap of that 1964 Olympic 10000 metres.  Great stuff!
  There's a bit of talk about running films at the moment with the BBC doing a film about the Coe Ovett rivalry.   We all know Chariots of Fire of course.  I saw "Pre" one of the films about Steve Prefontaine. Other listed films are The Jericho Mile, The Games, Gallipoli,  Geordie,  Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (which I've seen)  Run! Lola! Run!  and Endurance about Haile Gebrselassie. 
            Any comments on these?  Any others not listed?

And finally....."Every Passion has its destiny" (Billy Mills)