Saturday, 31 July 2010


  I had several scenarios in mind for this weekend's runs; mindful particularly that the last easy day I've allowed myself was a week last Friday.  One, jog on the grass today and run the Sale 10 relaxed?  No, too early; 9.00 a.m. start.  Two,  a medium length run today,   see the finish of the Sale 10 then rush down the road to run the Alexandra Park  5K then back for our race banners? No, all a bit too frantic!  Third option,  run a good solid 10 miler today and enjoy an easy day at the Sale 10 jogging with Pat and taking some shots of the race.   I settled for option 3.  It would bring the mileage for the last 7 days to 51 but should be OK as long the 10 is kept flat and not too taxing.
  Drove down to the Ilkley Lido, our local outdoor pool,  and ran a new out and back circuit aiming for good consistency of pace throughout.  Usual lethargic first mile followed by 5 good miles at or around target pace (8.30) the last 4 miles showing welcome, reassuring acceleration.

        8.59    8.38    8.30    8.28    8.32    8.29    8.15    8.19    8.16    8.11....................84.41

  Pleasingly the last 7 miles were 1 and half minutes faster than the  7 miler on Tuesday. So better pace for 3  miles more. Looking forward to an easy day tomorrow!


Watched the  womens EUROPEAN MARATHON later.   2 x 1K laps then 4 x10K laps on the streets of Barcelona.  Streets I covered in the 2000 Barcelona half, but more recently  streets I ran supporting Sally Malir when she ran a courageous 3:11.09 in hot and humid conditions in March 2006 for 9th place. (She still hasn't received her prize as I never received mine from 2000.)
  Conditions no less arduous today; with 26C and 61% humidity as the marathoners set off.  

 But the winner ZIVILE BALCIUNAITE loves her running hot. Likes to feel the warming rays of the sun on her back but not on her head as she donned a white cap with Lithuania on it and was one of only a few wearing protective eyewear!  She made her break at 29K.....her coach was on the roadside and said it was time.   She "felt so strong" having been running 200K (125 miles) per week with twice daily sessions.
  On Eurosport TV, Tim Hutchings said today was her 5th marathon in the last 12 months which he considered "staggering".   I was interested to see what her times were compared to my 5 run in 1984 but her record only shows Berlin 2:31:06 (Aug 2009) and Rome 2:35:31 (March 2010).
  All 6 of the Britsh girls performed very creditably in the conditions;
     14. Michelle Ross-Cope    2: 38 :45           16   Susan Partidge    2:39:07
      20  Holly Rush                  2:42:44             21   Helen Decker     2:43:00
      24  Rebecca Robinson      2:44:06             25   Jo Wilkinson       2:44:11
times which several local runners may well be encouraged by as they look to the future.

  Going back to ZIVILE BALCIUNAITE. Almost as soon as she had crossed the line, before running over to hug her coach ( lucky man!),
 she put  a hand around her throat.  Apparently to check her pulse.  Something I've never seen before.   This is a shot of her doing similarly after another race.
  I thought it was amazing that the elation of having just run away from the field to win the European gold medal would have removed this procedure from her mind.  But obviously not; and what is she learning from it anyway?
 She'd won easily without collapsing. Enough evaluation for me!!

P.S.   Jessica Ennis.............respect!    Mo Farah..........espect
                                                  1500 metre runners look and learn!!!

Friday, 30 July 2010


 I can't let the evening pass without giving credit to the gold medal performance of  fellow Sale Harrier ANDY TURNER in the 110 mts hurdles at the European Champs in Barcelona.   Another athlete who has succeeded despite withdrawal of funding.  Well done, Andy!
 Great performance also by local Lancashire lass, JENNY MEADOWS.  A bronze medal despite only being , in her words, only 95% in the 800.
  The running of the 1500 left me totally frustrated and bewildered.  I said to Pat that the 3 Brits should have discussed the Spanish threat and worked together to make it as the commentators say...."an honest, true run race".
But of course they will each have a different coach and it seems this was not likely to have happened. It certainly didn't appear so.  So the slow run cagey race played into the hands of the Spaniards. As it is they all came away with nothing in terms of medals and poor times to boot! 
 It always seems to be the case that once medals are up for grabs at a championship,  where,  of course, the very best are assembled, that so many think that the only way to win is to outsprint the rest. The first 800 of the 1500 was covered in a dismal 2:08 making it into a 700 race.
 A very similar experience for me in the AAA junior national track champs in 1967.   We turned up on the Friday night expecting to run a heat in the 2000 metres steeplechase but they announced it would be a straight final.   I had no "titles" to my name and if there had been  a betting list I'd have been down as a rank outsider.   As we toed the line I looked across at the Northern champion, Midlands champion, Southern champion,  English Schools champion and two other internationals.  Just like tonight in the 1500 we paraded around for 3 of the 5 laps  at what felt like a jog.   With a lap and a half to go I couldn't take any more. I hadn't travelled all the way to Liverpool to record a season's  personal worse.   In absolute frustration I took off, took the field by total surprise opening up a gap of probably 10 metres and  was there to be hunted down!   Case of catch me if you can! I managed to hold out until 200 to go when the winner came by.  I gave up second place just after the water jump and was now holding on grimly  to 3rd place with the hunters coming into sight over my right shoulder.  But hold on I did.   A bronze in a national championship; beating the prerace odds.  
  In contrast, there were other races  in my teens like school sports when I was generally expected to win.   I took the front running approach.  Case of hang on if you can.   It worked.
 I'm not saying Baddeley should have tried to run the legs off everyone tonight but I think between the 3 of them the Brits could have made it a 1500 metre race not a 700; in which case perhaps one or more would be proudly holding a medal . I certainly regard that 5.59.2 minutes of  running in that 1967 steeplechase
as a career highlight of course; whilst clearly no where near rivalling the top 4  best performances of Ron Hill,  referred to last night.
 Anyway, back to the present!  A week of great variety continued today with my weekly journey over to Fewston to  do the "2 RES RUN"   over the dirt trail.   So looking back,  Monday 7 on undulating rocky trail. Tueday, a flat 7 on the road,  Wednesday  the 5 x1k track session,  Thursday  6 mainly grass and today 7 back on the trails.   Variety is the spice of life and all that!
  Hopefully your week is going equally well and you have a good weekend wherever you are!

Thursday, 29 July 2010


 The superb summer of sports which has had us glued watching the highlights of the World Cup, Le Tour de France, Wimbledon and of course Man. United's  preseason tour in America   
continues this week with the European Athletics Championships from Barcelona.

  Tonight's main interest for me was Michael Rimmer's run in the heat of the 800m;  a victory in 1:47.67.  But watch out in London 2012, hopefully, for a young man from our club, Niall Brooks (pictured in his Sale vest here)
who has just run 1:47.02, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal in the World Junior Champs in Moncton, Canada.  Let's hope young Niall can keep improving for at least another couple of years.

 Thursday is Athletics Weekly day and again the main interest for me was a 4 page article on northern legend Ron Hill.  Younger readers will have been amazed and hopefully inspired by his achievements.

 Triple Olympian,  but Ron cherishes his National Cross Coutry win in 1966 ,  his winning the European marathon in Athens in 1969, his Commonwealth marathon gold in Edinburgh in 1970 and his win in the 1970 Boston marathon as his top four performances.   I have a daily reminder of these successes printed on a mug on this desk so no news there. Now over 70 what I would have liked to have heard him talk more about is how he still feels compelled to train everyday and race so regularly .  Also how he feels about his current level compared with others of his age.

  Another magazine which dropped on the door mat was the BMAF magazine. "Masters Athletcs 2010".   There was a report on the previously referred to 5k champs at Horwich.  There was thanks for the Horwich hosts (!)  but also an apology for "the delay of the presentaion on the day".   He continued.."I will insist that the problems are ironed out, before we confirm our venue for next year"   I suspect a new venue.
  So plenty to read as a break from doing  Spring Summer 2011 orders following today's run.   A nice and relaxed 6 miler mainly on grass by the river witnessing Ilkley in full tourist holiday mode;  a picnicing bonanza!  

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Regular readers will recall that I took up the offer of a free  place, compliments of Nike. in the GREAT MANCHESTER 10K back in May.   Of the 28, 000 finishers there were 300 ,male and fenale, in the 60-64 age group.
  I received email notification today of my prize for that 3rd place  in the age category .......a FREE PLACE FOR NEXT YEAR!  Grateful for any thoughts via comments.
 I'd just returned from Manchester having delivered the start and finishers banners for Sunday's SALE 10 mile road race.  Plus COMPLETE RUNNER race prize vouchers  totalling £1150.   If you are feeling on top form there is £100 for the first male and first female!  Mind you the mens winner may have to break 48 minutes to claim the first prize.  You can enter on the day. Check out details on    9.00 a.m. from Wythenshawe Park venue as usual.   Bit early for me, however.   Maybe next week.
  Another visit to the Alexandra Park 5K is a possiblity so I thought today was the best option for this week's track sesssion.   Again, disappointingly, another damp , cool , breezy day at Nelson which did little to warm the body or fire the enthusiasm.   Moreover,  as last Thursday's  600 reps in that wind left me feeling pretty wasted the approach  today was a tad cautious.   Opted for 5 x 1K. .A very modest 4.46 for the first clad in thermal long sleeve as you do in July in England.     Not much better on  the 2nd and  3rd in 4.41 and 4.41  but I was feeling reasonable  so  accelerated on the last 2 to 4.26 and 4.29.   So solid.....averaging  4.36....but far from outstanding  based on even recent race pace. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


  Having pranced through several streams,  sloshed through numerous puddles and opened and closed one gate after another on Sunday and Monday,   I was certainly hankering for a flat, tarmac outing today to put a bit of rhythm back into the run and certainly a bit of extra speed.
  I  drove down the hill into the valley, parked up and was just about to start my 7 miler  when a former runner cycled towards me and shouted "What's the session today?"  I replied, "Nothing special!" And of course a steady 7 is just that, nothing special.  But I know quite a few local runners who wouldn't dream of running on tarmac as long as there is light enough to run off road and many of course even then don their head torches to keep avoiding tarmac!   In my mind they don't MAINTAIN the feel for the unremitting pace the road run delivers and of course when the dark nights come the task is so much harder.
 Of course, there is benefit in taking on the inclines in the Lakes on Sunday and Monday but still the difference in pace is interesting.
 MONDAY. 7 mile OFF ROAD         11.39    10.03    10.57    10.52    9.39    9.27    10.26..........73.07
 TUESDAY. 7 MILE  FLAT ROAD     8.50      8.16     8.40       8.35    8.38    8.34     8.26..........60.03
                    So that was today......7 mile "steady" flat, road......a maintainance run!

  It was distressing to see such an accomplished athlete as Yorkshire 's own Alistair Brownlee in a state of near collapse at the end of last Sunday's  London Triathlon.  Following his excellent swim and "bike" he had clearly pushed himself 101%.   He had gone from  a near certain  World Cup winner to a pained walker in the last 50 metres, having lost places from the 7K point.  Such is sport.  It was really worrying seeing him cross the line in a state reminiscent of Jim Peters at the end of the marathon being carried off to the medical tent.  But  I read that his recovery is assured. I am sure he is in capable hands and will be well look after.
We wish him well.
  Of the near 700 races I've done the event which stands out as the most distressing was my 3rd marathon.
Milton Keynes.  July 9th 1977.  Run in hot humid conditions my 10K splits were 35.27,  37.40,  38.07....
but things really went wrong over the next 10K............45.55 with the final 2K taking 14.31 including a period sat on the roadside as extreme cramp hit one leg then another.........2:54.38 final time.
  I was so utterly depleted that I could not keep down  anything at all!  Not even a boiled sweet!  Pat eventually called the doctor to the hotel we were staying in Newport Pagnell, who reassured her that it was dehydration and exhaustion and I would recover.  Very, very  unpleasant.
  Pat declared I would not be running any more marathons! It would have been so easy to agree with her that the marathon was not my event.  However, in life we generally try to overcome setbacks, don't we, and try again. As with others I came to respect the distance, training longer and harder ,preparing better and went onto to run another 23 in much better times.  I  faced conditions like that again in Blackpool  1989 and was happily enjoying a drink an hour later.
 I would like to think that young Alistair, as a real medal prospect for the London Olympics, will receive the very best advice about what went wrong and ensure it doesn't happen again.  Some consolation that younger brother "Jonny" took second place. It would be fabulous to see 2 local Yorkshire boys on the podium in London in 2012.
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Monday, 26 July 2010


  Thursday's wind handicapped track session left me so spent that when I only had a time window for a couple of miles on Friday I certainly wasn't concerned.  I felt sufficiently recovered to stick to the plan for Saturday; the first day of 3 in the Lakes,  with a routine fitness maintaining 10 miler on the road.

 Easier said than done in a popular parts of the Lake District which is not awash with pavements or safe country lanes.  So had to repeat a few miles on the remote lane up to Troutbeck Park Farm ; no hardship though covering a few good miles twice given the views, partially masked by the incoming cloud cover. 
  The only person seen in  the best part of the an hour was Postman Pat  delivering to the farm.  talk about The Loneliness Of the Long Distance runner.!

  Sunday.  Needing to get off the road but I knew that recent rain would make the run a wet one.  I really must leave a pair of trail shoes with a Goretex (or similar) membrane because this valley side trail run is one that starts just minutes from where we stay and so often repeated.   It never really dries out at any time of year as rain water floods down the adjacent steep hillside.
  The run is an out and back one.   This shot shows the last part before the turn,half way up the hill, below the narrow ridge of Froswick between this Troutback valley and Kentmere to the east.

At this spot I met a mountain biker heading for the gap on this shot.  He was already out of the saddle, miles from the top but determined to  stick to his plan.  I thought that's why they are called "push bikes"!   I hoped he would make it but knew I would be soaking nicely in a hot bath well before he had reached the summit !
  Saturday's  10 on the road and the Sunday trail run brought the week's total to a reasonable 47. Average.

 Another 7 miler today to start off this week; a mix of road and trail.   Several miles of the run today were on the Dubbs Road.  Actually not a road at all but in parts a very rocky trail.  It forms part of the Staveley trail race which swings down from Kentmere via the Garburn trail which then runs into this Dubbs Road. 
  Some great views on a clear day but as with most of the weekend conditions were officially described as "misty and mirky". 

 So yet another damp and dismal few days in the Lake District but not enough to dampen the enthusiasm       with 24 miles covered and for a change some good hill work which Pat assured me were just what I needed!

Thursday, 22 July 2010


 I must confess if my journey to Lancashire today had been for the sole purpose of running on the track,  I would have come away pretty frustrated and disappointed.  I wouldn't normally tackle a session of anything less than miles but the strong winds prevailing dictated a session of 600 reps.
 Diverting slightly at this point I've been asked a few times why I never write that I've done an interval session rather than a reps session.  I just came to take  the view that the recovery between each repeated effort was the interval between them and  thinking that the speed effort part of the session was more important , would always just say I'm doing reps rather than intervals.  Others , of course, refer to repeats. Whatever we call it we are supposed to run fast at race pace or faster , recover (I always prefer a jog recovery) and then repeat as dictated.
  When  running  the fast bit  we are supposed to feel a satisfying glow of aesthetic motion which once the session has been accomplished fills us with an inner warmth of smug contentment;  such that we are the envy of spectating artisans parked in the track car park, enjoying their lunch break
  Not quite like that today I'm afraid.  The last time I ran 8 x 600 it had been the best for months. Today it was one of the poorest for months;  as a stiff cold easterly wind battered into me on the middle 200, taking much of the pleasure out of the session. Fortunately I had predicted well and had put on a Gore WindStopper short sleeve otherwise it would have been more unpleasant.  Last time the average was 2:28.6
Today down to 2:39.1 .  ( 2:33    2:39   2:41   2:41    2:41   2:41    2:39    2:38).   Can't have been just due to the wind; probably Saturday's race was still in the old legs. Who knows?
  I suspect the workmen watching, sat comforatbly in their van trackside, were more likely to have been thinking...."just look at that old nutter struggling around the track on a day like today!"  Still at least I covered 3 miles at just over 7 minute mileing so it wasn't a total waste of time.
 Due for an easy day tomorrow.   Fancy a steady run  of at least 10 on Saturday; finishing the week with some tempo miles on Sunday.   Sounds like a plan......let's just hope for better weather.
                                                   Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Recording your bad times......

 I'm probably tempting fate by refering to it BUT as we always should I was looking back on the training summary sheet on excel and it's been a year since I've had a significant injury setback.   Problem was this time last year I was just nursing my way back after a calf strain when I strained my back .....reaching over the bonnet when cleaning the car!
 The calf strain occurred doing a track session on the Thursday after the Freckleton half marathon,  June 21 2009.  It was a shared session,  too much,  too soon at my age and I like to think I have learnt from it. My record shows that I didn't actually stop running altogether just jogging on grass 2s and 3s with the calf strain. It was after 10 days that I suffered the back problem and did miss the following day. It was too severe to run through.
 With the ability to "insert comment" on the excel file and now the blog I don't tend to  keep a daily hand written diary any more but I think it's important to record our times of injury and our jogs when not running 100%.
  If the unknown runner shown above here had a blog I would like to read why he felt he had run himself to the pictured state of apparent collapse after his marathon, for example, and read how his recovery went.  
 I have suffered a bit of "collateral damage" after the Burtonwood 5.  Groin pain mainly which has come and gone over the decades. Not enough to stop me running .......a 7 trail on Monday......a hot and sticky 6 yesterday.  I had planned 8 but  just didn't feel like adding another 2 miles as I reached the point where I'd park my car! Felt a bit like the elite runners in the London marathon who reach the Tower Hotel, look up to the room they are staying in and drop out.
 So a canal 8 miler today., postponing  the today's planned track session until tomorrow.  Usual scenario;
35.08 out and 32.47 back.
                                           Fingers crossed my streak can continue  ............

Monday, 19 July 2010

Double category win at Burtonwood 5 miler

  All praise to the satnav which enabled us to make the Saturday 4 p.m. start  of the BURTONWOON 5 miler as we were faced with a wall of traffic on the M62 and decided to divert off onto the A roads towards Warrington.   If you like low key, small entry races with low entry fees, a fast flattish course and the promise of a post race burger then this could be one for you next year. Just pray for less wind.
  Of course,  a race is only as good as the prevailing weather conditions and as with many events last weekend the strong wind would have to be combatted twice on this 2 lap course.
   I was hoping for a sub 34 minute 5 miler;  so splits averaging 6.48.   The wind pushed me through the first mile in 6.45; so far so good!  No problems except for overtaking runners who insist on immediately cutting in!  Really annoying!
  We swing into the winds blowing across the Cheshire Plains during the second mile bringing with them a rather acrid stench  which has each in the group saying...."It's not me!  A glance at the garmin at 2 mile shows I'm down with 7.02.
 We pass race HQ at the Bridge Inn and head onto a slighter longer second lap.  I'm in a small group of 4 and we hit 3 in 6.45 but as I fight on into the wind on mile 4 they fall away.   I'm now targeting the lady on my shoulder in the shot of the start,  Anne Pugh, a strong F55 from Altrincham  less than 100 metres ahead.  I pass 4 mile 6.56 and the gap has been bridged. 
  As I pass her I encourage her to tuck in behind and hold on,  as I feel confident of a good last mile.  She responds well and I act as her leadout man all the way through to within sight of the line.  At which point in true Mark Cavendish style she pulls out and repays my help by trying to rob me of a place!
 But I'm not having it and manage to hold her off.  There's gratitude for you! 
  Despite the mile markers being bang in line with the garmin for 4 miles the garmin indicates 5  just before the finsh and so despite a last garmin mile of a very pleasing 6.22  (where did that come from!)  for 33.52;  the official line is a further 12 seconds we both timed at  34.04.   Couldn't help thinking that the extra was to take the race onto the pub car park.  Not surprisingly Anne Pugh won the F55 whilst I was M60 category winner.   My entry cost £6....I won £5 back!   So a 5 miler at the same pace as  my dismal uncomfortable Horwich 5K outing  6.49. 
  Boston U.S. based Sale Harrier MARTIN TIGHE recovered sufficiently from his M50 win in the Sale H. sizzler 5k less than 48 hours before (17.19)  to record another win in 28.49.  But as with last Thursday it was another close call as he repeated his one second margin over the second placed M50. 
  Martin enjoyed much success in his younger  days with Sale and showed with a 2:32 marathon only last year that despite being over 50 he is not ready to retire any time yet,  as they say.  He is Dean at a college in the U.S. and still covering 60/65 miles per week in training.  This shot at the 2 mile mark shows him trying to dislodge Blackburn Harrier, John Chaplin.
  One reason for choosing this Saturday race was  to free up Sunday for a pleasant day in the Lakes but the incessant rain requested by Manchester Corporation to fill their reservoirs and avoid a hosepipe ban,  put a "dampener" on the plan and we retreated for home late Sunday afternoon.  I ran the last 5 miles home to bring the week's total to a par 46. 
  Began this week with a return to the usual 2 res run and for once managed to scrape under the hour with 59.55.  A good start.  No race this weekend,  so hoping to get in a good solid few days of training.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

A race on Saturday?....surely not?

  There was a time when all races took place on a Saturday afternoon.  Assemble a small field of 100 or so runners.  Have them all blast around a 10 miler in less than an hour....quick prize giving....back home for the football results! Only cross country events on a Saturday nowadays generally.  So an exception today as we journey down the M62 for the Burtonwood 5 miler near Warrington.  No doubt going to be wet and windy but I haven't raced for 3 weekends so will do nicely.   Said to be accurately measured on country lanes.  Report on  Monday.
   I've mentioned previously that for 6 months or more I've tend to do my medium/ long runs in SOMNIO. Regular readers will remember that a few weeks ago I replaced the footbeds in the shoes  which can and should be done for any make of shoe. But I also replced  the midsole inserts,  which is a facility unique to SOMNIO.   Today I received a pair of one of their new models for autumn/ winter 2010-11.
                                              The PACEMAKER.  It's a  lightweight trainer.  

The shoe came with the blue varus wedge fitted underneath the orange footbed (to the left of the shoe above)
But I "customised " the shoe by replacing the blue varus wedge with the red and replacing the orange footbed with the blue.   This will afford me more support and more cushioning.  With a choice of 3 wedges, offering varying degrees of support, 3 footbeds, offering 3 choices of cushioning plus 3 alternatives in forefoot and rearfoot midsole inserts  the combinations are numerous.  In the same way I can change the lens in my sunglasses so |I can change what I insert into the shoe ; for example I might like the less cushioned footbed for faster paced runs.  Like buying a bike and been given 3 sets of tyres!

 As SOMNIO say they...."Don't just sell shoes......SOLVE PROBLEMS"

If you are reading this prior to racing as normal on Sunday ...have a good one....particularly those
                      mixing with the masses in the GREAT NORTH 10K  up in Sunderland. 

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday sports teaser

What do the "lady" and "gentleman" pictured here have in common?    Answer below...meanwhile....

The SAUCONY rep was the latest to wheel his bags of 2011 offerings into the office yesterday.   Several colour updates and tweeks of your favourite models in the cushioning, stability and performance categories.
But addressing the increasing number of runners looking for lower profile, lightweight shoes they have introduced a new category with 4 shoes in it they are calling MINIMALISM,  featuring a 4 mm differential heel to forefoot as compared with the normal 10mm, . for that "lower to the ground feel".
  Nike fans have already had the Free to satisfy this minimalist need.   Saucony aficianados might check out the new GRID FLEX   at £60. Coming in at 253g it's light, flexible as the name suggests and ....minimal ! 

Need support?  Look out for the ProGrid Mirage (252g  !) .  No support?  Check out the ProGrid Kinvara and for trail fans they offer the ProGrid Peregrine.
Friday's Teaser?..........
Well, I'm sure many of you will have worked out the connection.  The cyclist is Australian MARK RENSHAW,  HTC -COLUMBIA  team-mate of Mark Cavendish. Renshaw's main role in the team is to toe the Briton through at the end of the stage if in contention so Cavendish can then launch his final sprint for a stage win. Yesterday, leadout man Renshaw overstepped the mark, headbutting Julian Dean three times to clear the way for  Cavendish just behind.  Within minutes, Renshaw was disqualified from the tour altogether. The "lady" pictured is NATALIA RODRIGUEZ of Spain.  She was disqualified having "won" the Womens 1500 metres in the World T.&  F. champs in Berlin for pushing past Ethiopian favourite Gelete Burka. there was no appeal from her federation.    By a strange coincidence the winner of today's stage in the Tour was a compatriot and namesake of Natalia......Joachin RODRIGUEZ!  As far as I know he won the stage fair and square!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Breakdown breakaway!

  Firstly, commiserations if your run today was after a hard day in work and you were drenched.    Still a few more storms like we are experiencing now and who knows we might just avoid that hosepipe ban.
  After two days of easy trail running in which I could feel Sunday's "brisk" second half"  5 of the 10,  I thought it was time for this week's speed session.  Didn't want to leave it until Thursday. Particularly as I've pencilled in a 5 miler near Warrington for Saturday afternoon.   The Burtonwood 5 at 4 p.m.  Unusual time but amounts to a more relaxed Saturday evening and  frees up Sunday.
  I decided on 3 x mile and opted to do the reps on the canal rather than making the longer journey over to the track.   In contrast to tonight's weather it was vest and shorts temperature. Sorry. On the positive side,  running A to B felt "shorter" than 4 track laps but on balance I think I preferred the precision of the track distance.   I used to do miles reps,  up to 6,  on the road but wouldn't risk injury doing that nowadays.  Pleased with times on the reps however, at  just over 7 minutes.
Pat and I worked on 2011 Complete Runner orders after lunch with one eye and ear on Le Tour De France. Some absolutely magnificent scenery (check out Col Du Noyer downhill section) and pictures from the helicopters as a group of 6 broke away with the peloton enjoying what was described as a "recovery" day; up to 12 minutes behind for most of the afternoon.  Today the breakaway worked as 2 were left sprinting for the line in a virtual deadheat.  But very often this tour,  the breakaway has failed; the peloton have bridged the gap and swept by, leaving the sprinters to fight for a glorious stage win.  
  Pat commented that breakaways as in cycling don't tend to happen in our sport.  She's right. A race winner tends generally to come from a group which edges away gradually.  The group breaks down one by one leaving a winner. 
  But one very memorable breakaway which I recall occurred as you might expect in a marathon.  Selby Marathon. 1985. Yes, a low key local race but over a dozen on the start line capable of going under 2.40.  A case of sitting in and patiently breaking down the opposition, surely. 
  Not so!..... for one Rowntrees runner.   He looked at the "peloton" including myself as the 1984 winner and simply  took off.  His breakaway took him further and further away until he was nearly half a mile clear.  Then, according to the report in the local paper...."tragedy" struck....."he hit the dreaded wall"......and "had to be taken by ambulance to the race H.Q. where he recovered."
  The way it was written  was that the rest of us were lucky that we had not hit the wall!  Not that his breakaway was ill advised and wreckless in the extreme;  to the point whereby he was almost hospitalised.
Not that we had all run a more calculated, sensible race resulting in 14 running under 2:40.
 I have written previously how I failed to repeat my win; with club mate Steve O'Callaghan leaving me over the last mile to win in 2:26.59;  despite his having won the Sheffield marathon the previous week! He only told me about this AFTER the race, of course, with a wry smile on his face.  B****r! 
 The 28 year old Rowntrees runner had no regrets about his tactics.  He said he would do "exactly the same
if he was running the race tomorrrow".  He said...."he just ran out of steam" .....saying a bit "more training will help".   Having run 52.16 to my 53.27 on the tough Otley 10 course, only the previous month   I think he was capable of at least finishing with us.  But as can often happen in a marathon, following a good taper,  he had just got carried away, broke away and........ broke down!

Monday, 12 July 2010


   2 halves? No, not a reference to the World Cup Final which no doubt had us all questioning the parentage of most of the Netherlands team,  so much as a description of yesterday's Sunday run.
   As Pat and I set off for a one night stop over in the Lakes I was looking forward to a steady 10 miler up and down the "secret valley" of Longsleddale, just north of Kendal.  Weather in Yorkshire wasn't too bad. Sunny but coolish. I was hoping going west for better.  How wrong could I be!

   We parked in the one parking spot in Garnett Bridge .....think hamlet, rather than village....
and I headed north; optimistically clad in short sleeve.  As you might expect the road clings to the valley bottom with just a few sheep hugging the slopes as spectators.  The sheep outnumber easily the 82 people who inhabit this beautiful unspoilt valley. Within minutes, a biting northerly head wind was making things very uncomfortable for this asthmatic and if I'd have been offered gloves and a wind jacket by a bystander at this point I'd have gladly taken them.   What a depressing contrast to recent weeks! 
   Going up the dale,  the undulations and the adverse conditions took their toll....9.38(!)  9.00  8.34  8.49  9.04.   A sad 45.07 on a pretty good surface. Rubbish!

   At the head of the dale where the tarmac runs out at Sadgill bridge farm ,pictured here,  the trail begins,   the few cars which have passed me have parked and the occupants can be seen heading up and over to Haweswater and beyond.  I'll run that trail one day but today I turn and surprisingly come alive somehow.  I'm not so much running on empty as running angry.

An 8.05 8.15 mile.....going from "sluggish"  to "brisk"  somehow.....8.07 ......8.10.   I'm actually thawing out a bit by now.  I think I was just keen to get the run over with  as I retraced my steps.
   No cars have overtaken me in 4 because the lane is so narrow that I won't let them is just so isolated a valley;  yet within minutes from the busy A6.  Desperate to get back to the car and get a few layers on,  I finished with a 45.07 up the dale and 40.19 back.  Shame I couldn't have done that pace both ways; but hey, the second half was some consolation.
   A dash back Monday morning for a meeting with our ASICS rep.  He is keen that I should keep the delights of their new 2011 range under wraps and not give you a sneak preview,  but I can't help but share with you one shoe that I know you will be queueing up for come November....needless to say it's a tri shoe!


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Back to school (s)...........

We've had World Cup football,  Wimbledon,  Le Tour de France and the fabulous summer of televised sport continued today with  4 hours of track and field action from the English Schools Athletic Championships from Birmingham on Sky Sports 3.   Eagerly awaited by myself as so many of the county athletes were performing in vests supplied by FASTRAX  and so the programme becomes nothing short of a 4 hour advert for us but of course for our competitors also.  If you haven't already done so, why not check out our website..  .  

  As always of course some great performances but  sadly for many their national title is the height of their career whilst many defeated finallists go on to greater glory later.   But the winners certainly enjoy the moment and why not...

    I recall representing Lancashire Schools in these
championships in 1966 (!) running the 2000 metre steeplechase at Witton Park, Blackburn; managing a moderate 7th in the final in a time which would have made me 4th this afternoon. Teams were billeted with families in the Blackburn area and the family who hosted me  had a son who was determined to show me that whilst I might be able to beat him at running he was better at me at table tennis, snooker, darts , cards etc etc.
 Quite an interesting experience! 
Sadly whilst  many of the other county runners enjoyed a very "sociable" Saturday night away (think a mixed team of teenagers!) after the two days of competition,  our Lancashire team was back in Manchester early evening.  A real anti-climax!
  After yesterday's 3 mile tempo run on the canal  I enjoyed a 6 mile easy run on the trail.   Another visit to Fewston beach as I now call it.   Need 10 tomorrow for another par week of 50.

                  Any readers have English Schools Track & Field Champs. memories to share?

The best laid schemes...

                     "The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew
                      And leave us nothing but grief and pain
For promised joy"

     As Pat drove me over to the track at Nelson I going over the scenario for the session.   I would run a 5K tempo instead of mile reps as we were pushed for time.  I would start with a couple of laps just under 1.50 then gradually accelerate towards 1.42. As likely as not the track would be very quiet; no one providing any distraction, just a strong westerly breeze to contend with.   Another solo session.
Wrong!  As we turned into the road to the track  dozens of coachs,  hundreds of youngsters, a full track meet in progress.    Rossendale Schools Championships!   Think again!

    To say the plan had to be changed resulting in grief and pain is somewhat of an exaggeration.   I would have to to do the 5k effort on the  Leeds/Liverpool canal towards Burnley
and I can think of a lot worse venues.  But whilst the surface is tarmaced it's very uneven and would certainly not be as smooth a run and of course no 400 metres times to help with the pace judgement.   

So 4 miles warm up ....and how warm it was!....out into the wind past Reedley marina................................
with great views of Pendle Hill on the skyline...

averaging just below 9 then good acceleration 7.35   7.24   7.10 with a mile jog in 9 to finish.  So not quite as planned but a good solid alternative.   Another 8 mile in the bank.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

adidas go green in 2011

  Starting the warm up before yesterday's hill session, I was immediately aware of the impact on the legs of 4 hours driving to and from Stockport for the adidas meeting.  I set off  at what felt like a fast walk.  I was certainly thinking of alternatives.  But thought that many of you reading this who work and drive like this most days and have to run straight away on getting home  so why should I wimp out just because I'm used to late morning runs.  Stick to the plan, I thought!
  By the time I reached the hill after a mile and a half the legs were fluid.  The reps were not "agressive " but they would be testing enough as this was the first hill rep session for months (I think there was snow on the ground) but as I do so many flat runs in the week some hill work cannot be left out any longer.   The hill can be split into 3 sections and so I opted for 6 x short,  4 x medium and 2 x long reps which gives me plenty of scope with permutations for progresson over the next few months.
 Only 5.5 miles in total with the run back cool down but a good session; getting back just in time to see Spain beat Germany.  Had to use ice compression on the knees before today's flat 6 on the trail. But as we always say......No pain, no gain!

 The big "story" for 2011 for mens "apparel" as they call it from adidas was green.  The colour featuring very strongly in running but also evident in tennis and outdoor.   Jackets, tees, singlets all offered in green with black/ green as an alternative. 
  Racing shoe wearers will see the colour featuring heavily in their favourite shoes (now black/ yellow)
as well.  Tempo, Ace, Man etc.
  Ideal for the boys at my club Sale Harriers if they like to match the vest!

 Ladies?  Fresh pink. Lovely!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Racing into next year.

 Nipped over to Fewston/Swinsty reservoirs for my weekly circuit this morning prior to a visit from Brooks rep. Gavin  with their offering for 2011.   I say reservoirs.  Unless we have a period of sustained rainfall soon we'll be able to walk across them not run around them.  Some very attractive beaches emerging however.
  Parked in a different spot today which meant I could enjoy a mile jog "warm up" and a mile jog "cool down" after the 6.5 mile circuit.   Nice for those who of us have the time rather than start the run at pace and finish the run at pace every time.
  Just back in time for the Brooks meeting in which the main change for 2011 will be seeing the custom cushioning of the Brooks DNA system in their midsoles going into several more models. The Trance 10, the Adrenaline GTS 11, the Ravenna 2, which I've been racing in and the Cascadia 6 trail shoe.
  For Brooks racing shoe aficionados here's a sneak preview of next year's racing shoes.

Brooks........GREEN SILENCE

Brooks.............RACER ST 5

and the Brooks T7 Racer.................


Monday, 5 July 2010

Ladies..growing old gracefully

Yesterday I posted the mens age adjusted racetime chart and as promised the equivalent chart for the ladies.


The age factors are said to express the rate of decline in times with age in comparison to the world record by a runner in the 20-34 age group.  As put yesterday, calculate your age adjusted time for a particular distance by multiplying your actual time by the age facor.
  For example,  a 60 year old female runs 50 minutes for a 10K.  The factor for her age for 10K is 0.7954.  Multiply 50 x 0.7954.
her age adjusted 10k time is 39.46.
  The differentials for each distance given the same age would suggest that a confirmation of a recent blog which referred to us losing speed before endurance. 
  Staying with ladies performances today female readers might be interested to learn of the times of winners in the various age group for the popular 5K distance at yesterday's British Masters Track championships.

F35    Sally Gray            17.59                       F40    Emma Stallard    17.27
F45    Clare Elms           17.25                       F50    Lesley Wright     23.21 (!)
F55    Gail Duckworth   19.27                       F60    Ros  Tabor          20.24
F65    Pauline Rich         23.51                      F70     Cecilia Morrison  22.19  (World Record !!!)

  Take another look at that F70 ladies time. Amazing.  I would like to think that I could have achieved that F60 time but given yesterdya's wind perhaps not! There was a period when I could say that only one female had ever beaten me in a race and that she had to break the world marathon record to do it.  Not any more!
  The running week started as is often the case on a Monday with  an easy run 2 minutes slower than 10K
over 6 miles.   Flat on the road.   Need to slot some hills in this week as per my new half year resolution.
                                                     Happy calculating, ladies!!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Slowing down?....a chart to cheer you up!

I said in the last post that many runners, particularly those who reach the very top find it hard to accept the inevitable...that PBs generally cease with age!   I said that age category placings become a key factor in maintaining enthusiasm for racing but another interesting means of "consolation" which I often forget about  is the age adjusted race time factor chart.  So at this time of year when you are perhaps writing are own half year report bear the following chart in mind. (Ladies tomorrow)
  Perhaps your are racing better than you think you are!
Many of you will already be familiar with how the factor chart works.  But for those not so...
taking my times for 2010  I cheer myself up by
 factoring in the adjustment for my age (61)
 So taking my 5K 2010 best....20.20...I multiply this time by .8113 (see chart) and hey presto I'm up guys running 16.29!

 5 miles....34.04 (x .8142)................27.44
10K.........42.19 (x.8156).................34.30
 1/2 m.......94.44 (x .8142)................77.54

Now doesn't that look better!!

 OK, they  don't "age adjust" back to my PBs so not total consolation but the figures help ease the pain of personal worsts!   Go on,  get your calculator out and cheer yourself up.

 With an eye towards that autumn half marathon (wherever!?) I followed Saturday's 7 miles  easy (but hilly)
on the trail with a steady 10 (12) on the canal.  The plan was to jog a mile to start with,  complete the 10 at an average of 8.30 (1.5 minutes over 10K race pace)  then finish with a mile jog.
 Buffetted about by the strong blustering winds, seemingly swirling from all directions, I could tell from the first easy mile that it was going to be a very uncomfortable journey down and back to the 5 Rise locks.  But pleasingly the miles started to edge under target and the 10 was completed 6 seconds inside in 84.54.  Solid but leaving scope for improvement over the next few months I feel.  Today's run took me back just over 50 for the week after several lower weeks due to racing. 
 The weekend's results will be coming up on screen shortly and I will not be surprised to see once again several club mates who raced last Sunday and Thursday will have turned out for yet another 5K.  I was happy to put in a solid week's training;  the first time for a while.


Accepting the inevitable.

Not surprisingly a lot of sales reps and tech reps employed by our shoe suppliers are runners.  Several have families and what with all the travelling they have to do often find it very difficult to maintain the high standards of performance which perhaps helped them get the job in the first place.
 One of the lads bringing his wares to  the office last week was talking about "making a comeback".   With a 10K best of 29.36 in 2005 he said he "wasn't hoping for much......probably 32 something" (!)  I said he should be happy with that but he shrugged and said, "Um. I'm not sure"
  Many "top runners" of course just cannot take a decline in standards.  Whether it be because of injury or just getting older, they can't handle the  slide DOWN the ladder and give up racing altogether.  I've seen so many "finish at the top"   when still capable of times which 99% of runners would love to run.  They have their head in the clouds if they think PBs continue to come year after year, they don't. A fair few drift onto the fells where times are less of a measure. 
  I know of several who refuse to even acccept that they have reached veteran (masters) status even though well into their forties. I watched the Northern cross country one year and said to an experienced finisher that I thought he was first vet to finish.  He gave me a scornful look,  showing me his high scoring finishing position disc.  First vet was no consolation as far as he was concerned.
  Some years ago I spoke to another local runner who resented being called a "vet" despite having turned 50(!).   When I pointed out to him that the World Masters track championships were in England later that year and that he had a chance of winning the M50 steeplechase, he said "maybe....."  He put his prejudice aside, entered, ran it and became a  World Champion!
  I was only a county level runner at best. OK, I won a couple of local marathons and a few local halves but I
didn't  reach the top rung of the ladder and so I think it proved easier to accept the slide.  
  Other than those coming to running from say cycling, football or squash or those returning to running in later years the majority of us diehards have to accept the inevitable that we will slow down.  Category placings become a key element of race evaluation; but one other "consolation" is age adjusted race times............I'll do some calculations and get back to you!

No sizzling for me....until Friday.

 The first of 4 Sale Harriers Centenary Manchester 5k "Sizzlers" took place on Thursday evening last week.  Back to Wythenshawe Park for many who had previously run there in the Northern Relays, the Sale 5 miler and the Sale 5K.  Familiar ground.   Race director, Fechin McCormick was rewarded for his attendance at many races prior giving out  his entry forms, with 407 finishers. Not bad at all for a midweek race.  Simin Horsfield of East Cheshire won in 15.15 with Candice Taylor (Clayton) first lady in 18.17 followed by a young lady with whom I've shared many a mile, Amy Green of Keighley in 18.28.
  Of course,  several  turned out who had endured the Platt Fields 10K just 4 days before in high temperatures; yet felt "recovered" and enthusiastic enough to toe the line for more race pace running.  A decade or so I would have probably been there with them;  but wasn't inclined to do so this week.  
  I've found with age that the first "session" after a race has gone out from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday very often.   This week I was quite happy to leave the track session until Friday;  knocking out a 2x 2 miles, my favourite "return to pace" session after a race.   Twenty years ago, following a 78.31 tough hilly Bradford half marathon I was happy to do this session on the Tuesday in 12.11 and 12.12 followed by 14 on the Wednesday.  Then eased down for a another 10 mile race on the Sunday.   Those were the days.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Into week 27 of the year and with no race numbers set aside waiting to be pinned onto the race vest for another sortie, it's time for a review before setting new goals. Goals which as those who know me well dictate my training.  Dictate the length of the long runs,  dictate the volume and pace of the speed sessions, dictate the choice of build up races on the way to the ultimate objective.
   It was simpler when I used to run marathons.   The 26.2 event is such a major goal that it has to dominate the planning for the best part of 16 weeks before.   Fittting in the long runs  up to 30 miles,  fitting in sessions like 6 x mile,  fitting in half marathons,  fitting in up to 70/80 miles a week.   For a good performance the work has to be put in . But having raced 26 all under 3 hours I'm not sure I want to put myself through all that at 61 just to record an inevitable personal worst time.
  So going down the other road and reviewing the 13 races completed so far this year,  the two half marathons I coped quite well with. The  50 plus miles per week stood me in good stead but  both indicated potential for improvement.   One, undulating with patches of ice on the circuit: the other involved some long drags.   With that in mind a late summer or early autumn half marathon would therefore present a creditable aim.   Weekly mileage and the long run have "suffered" these last few weeks with so many races.   With recovering and resting this was unavoidable but now upping the weekly average and getting back to some runs up to 16 mile will help towards that aim but do no harm in tackling a 10 miler in August and maintaining current standards in any 5Ks and 10ks which will serve inevitably as objectives on the way.
   So,  I'll take the road signposted to......"AUTUMN HALF MARATHON"...... looking for 5ks ,10ks and a 10 miler on the way.  As they say....sounds like a plan!   Suggestions on a good flat half marathon welcome!  Preferably which does not involve a flight!
   Hopefully, with care and thought, I'll be able to remain injury free as I have this year, not missing a day. In fact this particular streak has been a year.  The track sessions lately have produced some of the best times for a long time.   The long runs in the first quarter went OK.  
   But I've ignored the hills for preservation of pace and this has to be addressed.   A weekly bike and a couple of row sessions would help maintain leg strength and upper body strength would profit from some light weights to help me run tall and aid arm drive.
  My times still fall short of those required to make the rankings on Power Of 10.   20.20 for 5K short of the 20 minute mark.   42.19  for 10K short of their 41 minute mark.   I've said previously their standards are deliberately high to limit the work of the statisticians! but still perhaps with a bit extra effort who knows....?
  Generally though the first half of the year has gone pretty well.   Good consistency,  daily and weekly,   several new races run,   reasonable times but...........could do better!!
   Now let's have a look at some events to run.............