Wednesday, 29 September 2010

GORETEX TRAIL SHOES. Love them or hate them?

 The trail run I do frequently virtually from the back door  up towards Troutbeck Park farm is a special with fantastic scenery (see below).  But one niggle is for the first mile the trail runs along the bottom of a steep slope, down from the "Garburn Trail".   Naturally,  it is strewn with many streams which  open uncontrolled
onto the trail and besides being extremely dangerous when turning to ice, at other times of year the feet take an immediate soaking. Quite annoying with another 5 miles to run but  during the summer months the shoe upper dries out fairly quickly as rain water runs out of a mesh upper.
 Many runners, of course,  just put up with having wet feet and socks.  They are content that any water going in can largely flow out if their trail shoe has a mesh upper.   A good number of runners, however, can't tolerate wet and cold feet particularly when running in snow and choose trail shoes with  a waterproof, breathable membrane in the shoe upper usually GORETEX.    These can be up to £100 and above but Complete Runner customers have favoured largely 2 offering from Asics which are available again for this Autumn/Winter season.   The gel trail LAHAR 2 Goretex at £70. Great value!

A very competitive offering even without the Goretex lining with its two way lugs which provide traction for uphill and downhill.   The other Asics shoe which has gone well provides medial support for the overpronator with similar uphill/downhill lugs similarly, is the Gel MORIKO 5 Goretex at £85

Obviously  the runner who encounters deep puddles on the run , by which the foot gets totally submerged, is bound to experience water is going to go down into the shoe from the top;  by passing the Goretex lining.    Others have said that the  breathability of a conventional upper suits their foot better as their feet perhaps sweat more than average.
So perhaps the "jury is out"  on Goretex trail shoes or at least "hung"!   For myself  I think I might just invest because I know if my favourite Lake District trail run is so rain sodden now in September one thing is guaranteed's only going to get worse!  
This is it on a good day.....on a bad day the path becomes a river!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Hitting the heights at the English Schools Fell Champs

Just back from another weekend in the sundrenched, albeit cool, Lake District,  to a damp, dank, drizzly West Yorkshire.  Complete cloud cover over Wharfedale today.
 What a complete contrast to Sunday at Sedbergh.   366 (218 boys and 148 girls) gathered at Sedbergh School for the 3rd running of the ENGLISH SCHOOLS FELL CHAMPIONSHIPS. Blessed with a near cloudless sky, but with a cool north easterly on the fell top to ensure they didn't overheat!  Unlike the English Schools Cross Country Championships where competitors have to earn the right to represent their counties, here they could simply enter and represent their schools. Many competed as individuals, some actually, donning club vests anxious not to miss out despite school back up.

Quite a severe test for the youngsters I felt. Particularly some obviously not "trained " fell runners, just brought in to make up team numbers.  2 miles and 720' of ascent for the under 12s,  2.6 miles 950' for under 14s,  3.58 miles and 1315' for the under 16s,  4.25 miles and 1350' of climb for the sixth formers, making the cross country championshionships look like a jog in a park.....which it usually is! 
Picture shows Crook fell in the Howgills behind a couple of young finishers. The fell formed the basis of all 4 routes.  I would have loved to have competed in an event like this as hill running formed a significant part of my training as a teenager. However, unlike quite a few of the leading runners here I would have still
continued to strive for improvement of track times and road times.   Some of them seem so "blinkered" and prejudiced at a very early age.  I always say to them that the fell runners doing speed work are first to the bottom of the climb and tend to stay there!  For example, I spoke to one young man who goes to college within 100 yards from the track at Seedhill but tends not to use it for speedwork; whereas I drive 45 minutes from Ilkley!
I was back on there on Saturday for my wekly fix,
before going up to Windermere . A session of 5 x 1K which went much the same way as the last time, 7 weeks ago,  with a 12 second differential first to last.
4.32    4.30   4.28   4.26   4.19 .  Better than slowing down I suppose; but frustrating none the less and well short of what I can achieve for 10 straight 1ks in a race. 
This weekend my club is hosting the Northern 6/4 relays at Wythenshawe Park.   I had suggested a M50/60 team be put in just so we to take part, but it seems we are short of cash and have to limit entries.  We have 700 hundred menbers and pay subs annually of £40.   As they do the maths!  So my next race will probably be the much lower key Alexandra Park 5K on Sunday.  Probably more my level I suppose at 61!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Who said running doesn't hurt? Get used to it!

   Don't you just love running magazines?  They are a  constant source of valuable information aren't they? 
Sometimes not always quite mindful of the vast majority of runners and their lifestyles.   
It's about this time of year when so many runners re-introduce elements into their training which have not featured over the summer. 
  Perhaps you've been off-road all through the lighter months and embark on a programme of punishing road runs, possibly even reps or tempo runs.  Perhaps you've been concentrating on honing your speed with racing and track sessions and embark on the first session in a programme of hill reps.  Whatever the scenario,  a change in an aspect of our training will without doubt have a severe impact on the old legs.
  You know the one.  September. "Started hills at the club last night. Can't walk this morning.   Calves are mashed.  Quads feel as if someone's taken a hammer to them.  Hamstrings really sore!"
 The technical term for the pain as I'm sure most of you well informed readers know is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).   I would suggest many "new runners" at this point reach for the phone and book a physio.   The experienced  know the score and know that if they "take a hammer" to the legs within the next week and repeat at intervals then eventually the pain goes!

 But our learned magazine writer suggests you  get up on the Wednesday morning following your Tuesday night session and run a cold water bath,  into which you pour buckets of ice which you have conveniently positioned in your freezer.   Immerse yourself for 10 minutes.  Coming home from work at lunchtime, you repeat this.  (Not sure where you have acquired this second batch of ice)   You repeat for a third time on returning  from work.  
 Now you might consider this practice a tad inconvenient;  possibly for the following reasons.  
One, you are always late for work on a Wednesday and risk being sacked,
two, you can't make it home for lunch,
three, your better half and the kids want to use the bathroom before going to school/work,
four, you are afraid this immersion is effecting your love life and the prospect of further kids,  five,   you do not own a freezer the size of an articulated lorry.
                            OK.  So not a keen on that idea.  Don't want to end up like this........?

What about massage?   You calculate that  once weekly this will eat into 5% of your modest salary; so that's not a good idea.    You could always "self massage" the article suggests. Fine.
 Third idea suggested is to stretch and do a "mini-version" as they call it of whatever caused the DOMS in the first place. But just when? the next day? the next week?
  There is no doubt about it,  tempo runs, track sessions, hill reps etc. can "hurt".   I would always suggest planning to gradually increase the load,  is the key to keeping the pain to a minimum and avoiding injury.   But is the club coach working to the same plan?  

  The icing suggestion is just not practical for the majority. 3 x 10 minutes a DAY? but a system using cold/hot pads (not bags of peas!!) is possible with pads only costing £5  and together with "self massage"  for the lower limbs can be very beneficial I find. 
 (I use tubigrip and adhesive bandage with the hot/cold pads!)
  I certainly wouldn't return to "hills", for example, the next day.  I would keep the run flat and if the session has been a hard one surely the pace is going to be "easy" as a matter of course. Just  as long as we avoid running with a mate who has not done had a hard sesssion the night before  and is unsympathetic to the way YOU feel. Anyway....

 5.15. Time for today's run.  Quite a bit of trail this week so I'm going on the road ;keep the legs used to hitting tarmac.   The wind has dropped,  the sun's come out; now let's see if the legs have recovered some more.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A week for recovery and rebuilding.

  Well, how's your week going?  At this end it really has been a case of recovering and rebuilding after that rain soaked , strength sapping but enjoyable 10K last Sunday.
  Recovery isn't quite so rapid for mature runners like myself.   Monday's 4 flat and easy was more than enough.  Tuesday, a 6 but only at 9.30 pace. Wednesday  a 7 on tarmac towpath of the canal over in Lancashire.  A mile added and one or two miles under 9.00.  Slow and steady progress.
Today, Thursday,  a couple of  "bricks" back into the wall of fitness with  8.5 on mainly trail with a particularly testing   climb up through woods towards the end.

                A great sheltered place for hill reps in later months...hopefully with last winter's snow.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The "disappearing" BOGGART HOLE CLOUGH runners!

   In response to a couple of queries about the "peculiar" title of last Sunday's race,  which took place in a park called Boggart Hole Clough in North Manchester................
   A boggart,  seen here sitting  recovering having run the race,  is a malevolent "fairy" which is said to cause things to disappear, turn milk sour and make dogs go lame (wikipedia).
  A clough is a northern word for a steep sided, wooded valley. True!  So Boggart Hole Clough is as per description and said to be inhabited by said boggarts.  Perhaps disguised as the young men doing "community service" in the pouring rain last Sunday. 

I was working out.  The last time I ran in this park must have been 1964.  A day in which matters did indeed turn particularly sour and some runners did indeed disappear. 
  The previous week  most of our  team of Sale Harriers  youths had  run for our various schools in the Manchester Schools Cross Country Championships.  The championships traditionally acted as a selection race for the Lancashire Schools Champs and 5 of us had finished in the first 8 to qualify.  Or so we thought.    
  After the race in Heaton Park it was announced that there would be another race the following week , North Manchester XC league  Vs South Manchester XC league  , acting as a final selection race.   Venue,  Boggart Hole Clough.  Saturday morning.
  The problem was as a club team we had the EAST LANCASHIRE CHAMPIONSHIPS the following week,  in the afternoon.   It turned out  the schools organiser proposing the "extra" trial was a coach at a rival club and it appeared to us that the decision was totally devious.  Deliberately designed to prevent us winning the afternoon championship.
  We couldn't "boycott" the morning race.  So,  we contrived to  start the race,  positioning ourselves at the back.   After a short way we would drop back, hide  behind bushes and wait for the field of runners to come back towards us.  We would then join in at the back again.   We would have been seen to have participated but instead of finishing all in the first 10 as the previous week, we would make our "protest" by all finishing in the last 10.    That was the plan anyway.  But........
  Unfortunately, our "disappearance" from the race field was spotted by a teacher jogging around.  Our action was duly reported and as you might imagine ,  in modern parlance,  "it all kicked off"  after the race as the race organiser and our club coach "discussed the merits" of holding an impromptu  extra trial on the morning of a regional clubs championship.   We listened intently from the changing rooms as the heated debate took place outside.  A rift developing that would take some healing in the future.
  We eventually ran the afternoon East Lancashire Champs event.  I managed bronze with back up 4th, 8th and 10th to win the team race.   We were banned from running for Manchester Schools the following year.   One of the team was stripped of being head boy and nearly expelled.  As ours was not really a cross country school I don't recall much being said to me.
 Thinking back  I think we could have run both races, morning and afternoon, and still achieved our goals. But as 15 year olds we knew we were being forced to make a choice which just was not necessary.  The city championships had always been used to choose the city team.  There was no need for an inter league race the following week.  It was a decision ,we felt, to prevent us winning the East Lancs.  for Sale H.
 The teacher who  created the dilemma went on to found another club very close to ours and to this day it is a major national competitor.   I have met him over the years and said hello but never discussed with him that day when a group of runners "disappeeared"  in a race in Boggart Hole Clough!
  Here's a picture with all the "disappearing" runners on it; our Sale harriers team from that period.   Prize for picking me out!

Monday, 20 September 2010

The ups and downs of THE BOGGART CHASE 10K 2010

Race day.   Plan ....set off for Manchester at 9.00 for the 11.15 start of the BOGGART CHASE 10K.   An unscheduled event. A late decision fuelled by alcohol and a desire to have some company for tomorrow's run.   8.20 still in bed.   Pat is up;  leisurely reading the Sunday papers.  She has forgotten about the revised plan for today. Oops!   9.30. We finally set off.
  As the rain continued to fall unabated there was little traffic on the road and we arrived in North Manchester an hour later and with it being a low key race there was just enough time to enter, warm up and no toilet queues!   £5 to enter.  100 participants. Quite a contrast to the GNR with 39,000 lining up this morning at over £40 each (?)  
 I didin't try to "reccy" the course,just staying on the track to warm up. It would all be a "nice surprise" but being told it was one small lap and 2 large laps I knew we would have at least 3 testing hills to overcome at intervals during the race. 
 No nerves, no pressure for this one.   With the track session last Thursday, a 7 miler on Friday and a 7 on Saturday,  plus the hills and less than competitive attitude,  I knew it would be my slowest of the 131 10ks I've run  and it was. So just enjoy it! I told myself.
 Along with 9 other SALE HARRIERS I toed the line as the rain still fell.  A relaxed start with clubmate Jan Nichols for company around the track.  25 laps would have suited me but it was a tad slippy not helped the "droppings" of geese were obviously frequent visitors to the centre of the track!

  Out of the park , down the road , back into park, steep down hill....7.01.  Not too bad.  Left turn.  Steep uphill.  Concentrate.  Stay upright. Lift knees . Use arms.  Mile 2 ...7.41.  Flat , downhill.  past community service young men,  getting soaked tidying up the park.  I shout ,  "you're doing a good job,lads" 
"You too mate!", they reply.   In broad Mancunian accent.  Mile 3 ...6.56.   A switchback at 5k, 22 minutes .  Those in front race towards us; plenty of slowing runners to go for!
 Steep uphill again....8.11 ! starting to pick them off.   Mile 5....past the "bad boys" again....6.45. Couldn't get anywhere near that for a single mile on the track on Thursday. Amazing.
Going very well now!  One last steep uphill.....7.40.......take another 4 4 on the hill and head for the finish....

                                                         38th of 98.   1st. over 60
Now soaked and getting quite cold, but drag young teammate Cara Kavanagh off for a "cool down".  Just in front of her at Salford on good Friday, she has beaten me by 1.5 minutes here. She has run very well today, having lifted her weekly mileage to 50; proving you get out what you put in.   Her determined finish shown here.................
  Quite a contrast in the race overall race winners.  Junior man, RYAN HOLROYD (Staffs Moorlands)
won in a very respectable 34.32, whilst the very consistent and versatile F45 ALISON SEDMAN hauled back her much younger Belle Vue Racers' clubmate, Emma Jones to win the ladies race with 42.09.  Her best 10K for the year being 39.31.

 Did I enjoy it? Well for someone who tends to choose fast, flat courses to race on, I really did.  The "relaxed hold back"  approach at the start was clearly correct with the hills to follow and there's nothing like reeling in younger, fast starting macho males, is there?! 
 Poor light for photos but Pat managed quite a few despite her hands going numb. Thanks and well  done ,Pat!........

Sunday, 19 September 2010


SATURDAY NIGHT......I've had a nice gym'n'tonic and a glass of white wine but my mind is going forward to tomorrow's run.   Another solo 10 on the road OR.....what about running an unplanned low key race instead? Why not?   How about the BOGGART HOLE CLOUGH 10K in North Manchester?  Said to be VERY hilly, but heck how hard can it be? Having been brought up in this area I know the track at the top of the picture is at the top of a very steep hill.   Last time I ran in this park ...........1964. But that's another story. Later.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Great North Run..........the conception.

 I encountered no runners at all Saturday morning on a 7 mile trail run through the peaceful Timble Plantation and around Swinsty reservoir.  Perhaps all the normal culprits are up in Newcastle preparing for the Great  North Run!
 There are many enduring memories and indelible images of the GNR that we all probably share.  Local legend Mike Mc Leod winning the first, Steve Kenyon (Salford) running 62.44, Benson Masya winning, again and again, sadly no longer with us. Supern ladies,  Grete Waitz, Rosa Mota, Ingrid Kristiansen, Liz Mc Colgan, Paula Radcliffe  etc.  Alan Dent outsprinting Kevin Keegan......Nell Mc Andrew dressed as Superwoman ....tops for me.....Then...the Kenyans!
 But for me the most interesting shots are of the initial meeting at the Swallow Hotel.  Brendan Foster, inspired by the Round The Bays Race in Auckland, New Zealand invited  four intrigued  friends from Gateshead Harriers  to discuss the possibility of a race never before seen in the UK.  A race not just for established club runners but for a much wider non running public.

                           Thirty years later...............see tomorrow! 

Friday's pressure!

What a fabulous Friday morning!  Clear blue skies and nought but a slight breeze  with a hint of winter in it.
  A really pleasant contrast to the week endured.   Another day in the Nelson branch; so I had Pat drop me off  and ran 7 miles into work, mainly on the canal.  Yesterday's track session (2 x 2 miles) means I can have a totally relaxed early morning amble with no concern for the pace.   Emphasis......enjoy the moment! And no apologies for stopping and taking a couple of shots.....

A mile out, on the edge of COLNE with PENDLE HILL , venue for so many fell running events, in the background.   It stated on the radio that the canal had reopened from BARROWFORD to the west.  Well not this section......

 It was very much a GREAT NORTH RUN day in the shop with nearly every customer making last minute purchases for the big race.  Sunglasses, caps, gels,  waist packs for cameras and phones etc.   Again, interestingly, only one customer had ever run 13 miles in training.....!?  
  I can honestly say I really enjoyed returning to the "shop floor" for the last couple of days. Whilst I'm very much in touch with the sport at the races,  touching base with the broad range of customers, from 8 year beginners to seasoned club runners to "run for run" enthusiasts,  gives a great insight into current needs and trends........but at my age .....not every day, thank you!

Thursday, 16 September 2010


 With temperatures dipping and our autumn/winter orders piling in, an end to summer was declared at our Nelson Complete Runner branch today;   with some fabulous new gear from Gore,  Nike, Adidas, Asics, Saucony and Brooks going up.
  All designed to keep our customers warm, dry and safely visible in the coming months.  

I was allowed a pass out, however,  to run from the shop the mile down to Seedhill track for this week's session.   I made the warm up up to 3 with the usual circuit of the park and strides and started into a 4 x miles  session.  As usual conditions blustery and distinctly cool.
I've set this fundamental session for athletes and myself countless times in the past and 10K  pace
should be attainable and reasonably expected.   Less than 2 weeks ago I managed  a road 10K at 6.54 per mile pace....42.50.   But today  for whatever reason (running solo, blustery conditions, etc etc.)
I could only manage   7.35  7.36  7.28  7.24. 
Quite disappointing  BUT  still ,  a  much faster pace than any other mile run this week.   Showing that if you want to do speed work......find your favourite running track and use it !
Or in the case of Seedhill (at weekends).....lose it.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


  Based on my participation in the Great Manchester 10k  I had an email from Nova today and besides alerting me to the fact that the Great North Run is on Sunday,  they gave the current status of voting for runners TOP 20 RUNNING TRACKS.   Naturally, my first thought was to that pinky red circuit of 400 metres with 8 white lines around it, which I frequent most wEeks at Seedhill, Nelson.  Silly me! No, they meant "tracks" as in  album tracks voted  most popular by runners who listen to music "on the run"!  
  Not many that I myself would have put in there. I'm more of  trance/dance man!  So good to see Faithless
but Freddie Mercury top?!   Really!?   Any of your favourites?............


Don't stop me now         Queen
Eye of the tiger              Survivor
Mr Brightside                Killers
Lose yourself                 Eminem
Sex on fire                     Kings of leon
Insomnia                        Faithless
I gotta feeling                 Black eyed peas
Born to run                    Bruce Springsteen
Pump                              Black eyed peas
Sandstorm                     Darude
Pounding                       Doves
Living on a prayer        Bon Jovi
Keep on running           Spencer Davies Group
Proud                             Heather Small
Bat out of hell                Meatloaf
Holding out for a hero   Bonnie Tyler
Dog days rover             Florence &; the machine 
Greatest day                 Take that
Fire                                Kasabian
Black & gold       Sam Sparro
Adagio for strings         DJ Testo

Pic shows Freddie at the time he ran for Southampton Athletic Club  and had made a pair of shorts out of his club running vest.  Nice!   But seriously............ 
                          hope you UK runners coped with last night's strong winds.   
  Today began no better but working from home allows me the flexibility to run when there is a window in the weather; which today was early evening. An easy 5 miles before tomorrow's TRACK SESSION
That's track as in athletics stadium type track.......not album track!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Well blow me down!

Enjoyed  the delights of an undulating circuit of the Strid Woods at Bolton Abbey yesterday, starting off from Barden Bridge,pictured here.  Aim being to give the legs a reminder what running inclines is like. 6 miles; a reasonable start to the week.  No real attempt to push the pace after yesterday's 10 mile on the road but concentrated on trying to maintain good style on the inclines.

Today, I returned to the canal  to give the calves a bit of a rest on a flatter, more forgiving  course. I watched the clouds darken and the rain fall for most of the morning and equipped myself accordingly;  preparing to suffer a very wet run.   But by the time I'd driven from Wharfedale to Airedale, very strong winds had blown the clouds through and the skies were blue and cloudless.  Typical English weather!
  Of course it meant contending with a headwind  for 4 miles. took me all my time to avoid not being blown into the canal on occasions. At least the back half 4 went well with the jacket firmly tied around the waist.   8 miles.  Significant negative spilts!
  I see the mention of  future INOV 8 road shoes has sparked a thread on a fellrunners website  and perhaps as expected  there is some "eyebrow raising" about the £95 price tag and the diversion of interest from the offroad company.   INOV8 might also be concerned that the price of their GORETEX shoes looks high compared with others. ASICS ( one model 30% cheaper) ADIDAS and NIKE all offering very competitively priced GORETEX shoes.  More on these to follow.  Meanwhile,  any new fell running readers might find a previous blog posting on the minimlaist trail shoe the SAUCONY PEREGRINE to be of interest.
  8 p.m. now and I'm comfortably dry and warm typing this whilst watching Manchester United v. Rangers in the Euro championships league but I'm mindful of the hundreds of runners out there coping with the autumn/winter elements for the first time this season.  It would be remiss of me not to mention a great new jacket FASTRAX have introduced for nights such as this.  A snip at £30!  Check out


Sunday, 12 September 2010

ASICS introduce GEL -FUJI whilst INOV-8 HIT THE ROAD.

 It's never fails to amaze me that the "easiest" run of the terms of pace....turns out to be the hardest run of the week to get through.   Friday's "easy" 5 mile recovery run.  Due , of course, to the 2 x 2 miles on the track the previous day.   I was truly running on empty and 5 miles was more than enough. 
   Ideally I would have put off the track visit for another day but Friday I had a meetimg with the rep from ASICS.  He was keen to remind me of the imminent arrival of their new low profile trails shoe,  the ASICS GEL-FUJI ES  in November. RRP £65.  Said to be based on the HyperSpeed road racing shoe it  should satisfy many "minimalist" fans.
  It's only one of 7 trails shoes the company will offer for 2011 including 3 Goretex upper models; starting with the excellent value for money GEL-TRAIL LAHAR 2 G-TX at £70 RRP.   Whilst Asics have increased their offroad offering,  offroad specialists INOV-8 have gone the other way.

  Inov-8   will offer 3 new road shoes.  The "hypersonic" Road-X  222 (gs) , racing shoe, Road-X 233 "super natural racing shoe. Both of these are "unisex".  Plus the Road-X  255(male) and Road -X 238 (female) for racing/training. 
  Inov-8 ask us to consider the foot in its natural   No support, no medial posts,
no gel, no air pads. The foot flat to the floor with no raised heel.  These road shoes reflect their desire to incorporate "minimalist" barefoot running principles into their shoes.
  Inov-8's don't expect us all to "go minimalist" overnight.   They suggest we might start with the Road-X 255 then gradually reduce the cushioning with the Road-X233  then later the Road-X 222.

All well and good. However, despite stripping the shoes of the "bells and whistles" of other premium priced road models,  the Inov-8 shoes will be initially £95 RRP !  A limited appeal I would suggest!  Not just because of the price but also due to the fact that 100% of existing Inov-8 buyers are off-road runners ; a big percentage of  whom NEVER EVER race on the road and even resort to head torch running offroad to avoid running on the roads in the dark nights of winter. We shall see.

 So that was Friday.  I would need another day before returning to the road,  so SATURDAY it was back on trail for a steady 7.   With a mile to go I caught up to a young lady who had stopped her run on the narrow trail  in front of me and had pulled aside to let me pass through.  However, as is my want, I slowed down just a tad and encouraged her to keep going for that last mile.   She said she would be doing the Great North run half marathon next week and was "terrified" at the prospect !  I  asked what her longest run had been since entering in June and she said that, because of her degree finals,  she had only managed to get up to 8 miles.  We agreed this would be one exam in which she won't be getting a "first" as she is hoping for in her university exams!   I 'm sure on the day with the encouragement of the crowds and the adrenalin she'll be fine but I stand by my belief that you have to be able to train the distance before you race the distance and that goes for marathons.  I spoke to several customers in the shop on Friday and none of them had exceeded 10 miles in their longest training run in preparation for the World's largest 1/2 marathon from Newcastle to South Shields in England's north east.
                                   ON YER BIKE!
   Meanwhile, my training week was brought to a close with a good solid , undulating road run on narrow country lanes.   Significantly, starting out at 11.15 a.m. I only saw 3 other runners; in contrast  well over 100 cyclists of all shapes and sizes jostled for space with  oblivious car drivers.  Makes me think I am in the wrong line of business selling running gear rather than cycling gear!  
  Not a sparkling  run today time wise but coped with the hills quite well and finished with acceleration as usual.   The 10 brought me up to 51 miles for the week; just one track session (the 2 x 2 ) in there following last week's race.  Maintaining the year's average at just over 47 miles.   But if I am to do another half marathon this year I must practice what I preach and add a few miles to today's length of run!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Track daze.....nudging up the pace.

  The autumn,  or "fall" as our American friends prefer to call the season,  and winter orders placed back in February continue to arrive .   Yesterday it was BROOKS apparel; the NIGHTLIFE range.  Designed to keep us all warm, dry and safely visible in the coming months.  I say us.  It will be  a rarity for me to have to train in the dark as I'm able to get out late morning every day.  A privilege of semi-retirement  having been selling running gear since 1975! But there's plenty for customers to go at.
  So today saw me journeying once again over to Lancashire to deliver the Nightlife etc. to the Nelson Complete Runner branch and then on to the track at Seedhill.

  Since Saturday's race, a 10K at sub 7 minute mile pace,  I've run 26 miles. But only one of them, the last in yesterday's 8 miler, has been faster than 8 minute pace.  Such is the impact of the race at my age. That would have to change today.  But nothing too pacy to risk anything pulling on tired legs!
  The way I felt on the 2 mile warm up around the park it was quite tempting to skip the session and head off down the canal but that would have been a waste of a 50 minute drive.  So I opted  for sustained speed; the safest and least punishing option.   2 x 2 miles. With half mile recovery between the efforts.
  Nothing spectacular in the times but at least some progress pacewise with   7.29 and 7.30 for the first 2 mile effort.....14.59  but a much better 14.32 on the second.  Mission accomplished but hard work particularly with no one to share the session with on a humid, blustery day.
  The main problem I find  doing these track sessions is one of concentration.   Without another runner to focus on and be aware of, the mind drifts onto other matters and as the pace drops.   Still a solid session; next week , shorter reps, faster pace.  

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


If today I was writing out the week's training following a Saturday, September 10K for an athlete of 41 who had just run 34.12 it would NOT go like this......THE NEXT DAY...

                           ......don't hold back 100%......aim for  74/75 minutes. (Done............74.37
MONDAY........A.M........easy  6..............................P.M.  Steady................6
TUESDAY.........A.M.......hill steady......6        P.M.   Pendle track.......8 x 800... (average 2.38)
WEDNESDAY..................slow and easy 10  on road (73.34)
THURSDAY......A.M.........steady   5               P.M.........steady    5
FRIDAY.............A.M.........steady   5              P.M.........REST
SATURDAY.............same run as  6 x 3 min efforts   9 mins. faster   64.48
SUNDAY..................steady     12
WEEK TOTAL.............72

  The above was the way I  "recovered" (!) from the Kirkham 10K  in 1990.  Running  a half marathon the next day and get back on the track on the Tuesday.   Hardly looks sensible. Quite a gung ho approach  which had even me raising my eyebrows when I looked it up to compare THEN and NOW ,  but it was 20 years ago But even so I would vehemently discourage an athlete if I was advising them from replicating  the stunt.
  Nowadays at 61 I'm far more cautious after races.  After last Saturday's  September 10K the week has seen me nudging up back the miles.  A 5 on Sunday,  a 6 on Monday,  both on road, so a trail 7 on Tuesday.   Today  I wanted to add another mile and up the pace as well, aiming for an average of 8.30 for the 8 on the canal.
  As usual the first 2 miles I just failed to hit the mark and yet again the run became an acceleration effort ...........
      9.12   8.55   8.46   8.29   8.12   8.08   8.08   8.08   7.51 .  Out in 35.33  back in 32.21  Aver. 8.28
So I managed the target average but it proves a hard way to do it.

 Going back to last weekend one of the races I considered was the City Of Salford 10K on the Sunday. Decided against it because of the t-shirt delivery and the £17 entry fee.  But , as you do, I was looking at the results today and was somewhat puzzled by the age categories adopted for the race. Which for men were as follows.......MV20    MV25    MV30    MV35    MV40  and that was all!
  I thought it was odd when I kept scrolling down and could not find any M45, M50, M55 ,M60 etc.  the normal age groups we see every week.   I did notice that Ron Hill ran and finished 111th in his age group.  Not 111th in the M70 of course.   111th in the MV40 !
 I could hardly refer to this age grouping in this blog without  a comment from the organisers. They  informed me by email that they were very aware of the "traditional" age groups but the sponsors, a well known non running specialist sports company wanted the above age groups as they "were in keeping with their target customer audience". 
 Let's just say if you go into JD Sports to buy your running shoes over 40 you might be asked the question......"aren't you too old to be running?!"



Tuesday, 7 September 2010

2011 Brooks mens Green Silence......and race recovery.

Firstly, in response to a couple of email queries I've received ref. next year's Brooks racers featured in blog July 6 2010.  Yes, the GREEN SILENCE shown was indeed the womens version and , yes, the mens version is ,logically, to feature GREEN, NOT TURQUOISE as the womens does.  See here....


So there you have it.......or should I say....... will have it....if you buy year.

Meanwhile, a rather different recovery run on Sunday following the previous day's 10K.   Very often a few easy miles on grass suffices.  But last Sunday we had to drive to Manchester to ensure Sale Harriers
Young Athletes had their event day t-shirts for their National Young Athletes Final at Sportcity.  The u/13 u/15 and u/17s were competing on the Sportcity track which was the warm up track for the Commonwealth Games Manchester.  The main stadium , now called Eastlands , is of course home to Manchester City F.C.
 So the recovery run was a precarious one,  in late morning east Manchester traffic to my mother-in laws.  5 miles of multi exit junctions and traffic lights galore.   The type of run so many runners experience no doubt on a daily basis but far removed from my normal running experience nowadays!  Quite intimidating!  Not something I would like to do on a regular basis but one that I forced to endure when I ran to and from school and later work in Manchester
in the 1960s.
Regular readers will recall that I made reference in an earlier post that Runners World have for months and months featured a female runner, usually clad in shorts and crop top,  no matter what the time of year and never ever feature a male runner.   Well, well, well.  Guess what?  Yes the October issue features a male runner...

I don't think for one minute that the editor ran my blog and thought it was time for change.  No, far more likely is the fact that two new running magazines have been introduced to the market, coming out of the same publishing house,  Wild Bunch Media.  Called Womens Running and Mens Running; they naturally feature a woman and a man on the front.  So with a competitor on the newsstand appealing to the male runner, still in the majority, no doubt they thought it was time for a change.
Continuing male and female balance I failed to refer to the first lady to finish in Saturday's BLACKPOOL ILLUMINATIONS 10K.  It was JAYNE TAYLOR of Wigan Phoenix, 28th of the 340 who finished but just outside 40 minutes with 40.01.  Jayne is a F45 category runner.   In the mens race 12of the first 20 were OVER 45.   Where have all the young men and women gone?

Saturday, 4 September 2010


 Up and out early on a Saturday for a change.  Destination Blackpool promenade for the BLACKPOOL ILLUMINATIONS 10K.   My 130th. 10k. A low key 10K compared with the big BEAVERBROOKS 10K which attracts several thousand.  Today 340 lined up for the 11 a.m. start outside the Hilton Hotel and headed uphill north towards Bispham with a following wind.   A wind which would work against us on the way back.
 Not a lot of familiar faces but I spot two significant "markers" to keep me alert to the task.  LIZ TOMES of Keighley who beat me by one place and 4 seconds at Arncliffe 4 and rival M60 STEVE PIERCE of Kendal who beat me by 2 minutes in the Haweswater half  marathon earlier this year and by 33 secs. in Gt. Langdale 10K last December.   I'm still keen to dip back under  42 minutes for the distance; will today be the right day? I know I will need 6.45 mile spilts to achieve this target; the race being mile marked not K marked.  Hopefully,  the first outing in the new BROOKS RACER ST 4 will do the trick.
  The first mile features an unwelcome incline but with a 6.52 I think this can be brought back.  Liz has slipped past and is gradually pulling away as expected.   No sign of rival Steve with his distinctive trademark yellow headband.  But sure enough  moments later he appears on my shoulder and nudges away establishing a tantalising 20 metre gap.

 Meanwhile I have a young 13(!) year old Preston Harrier  for company  who is clipping along very nicely.  (This photo courtesy of Tony Croft)  I decide not to threaten him with double detention if he beats me!  Miles trip by in 6.40 and 6.57 as we turn into the wind.   We go through in 7.10 and that 42 minute barrier looks like it will have to wait for yet another day; but it seems to be hitting rivals harder than me.  Liz has come back into sight and Steve is now within touching distance.
  As I always preach, I accelerated as I passed but the Kendal man responded well and we raced shoulder to shoulder for a mile and a half. 

Locked together  we were passing fading runners including Liz.  Our duel continued but with a 6.37 sixth mile I pushed slightly ahead and thought I had him.  I tried to take the last short slope back up to the upper walk well but Steve the terminator caught me again!   I nipped arond the corner and finally managed to pull away to finish 5 seconds in front.

  A great duel which at least kept us both under 43 minutes for 1st and 2nd in the M60 category. Liz Tomes ran an equally solid 43.13 to win the F50 category; 6th overall.
  So mixed views on the event.   Good to win the category and record a solid run but the icing on the cake would have been 41......something. 
  A  sociable cool down jog with Steve P., a quick shower in the hotel and just nade the presentation for the
"fabulous" (according to the entry form) prizes, "supported" by The Hilton Hotel.  A very nicely wrapped... bottle of wine.(!?)

                                                              Liz Tomes  Keighley......
Daniel Whitlock   Preston Harriers........
                                        Race winner in 32.35 David Muilvee Herne Hill......

3rd and Ist M50 in 35.09 Paul Muller..........

 5th in36.38  Ist M45  Paul Archer Clayton le Moors......

  We would have had to stay in Blackpool for another 6 hours to fully appreciate the Illuminations.  Never been?   here's a taste.................

Friday, 3 September 2010


It's 3 weeks since the 4 miler up in the Yorkshire Dales at Arncliffe.  I haven't entered a race this weekend but I've been consulting websites which I'm pretty sure most of you also use.  The most comprehensive one for us northerners is surely John Schofield's site . Then there is , and . A good insight into north eastern races can be gained at  The internet has quickly become taken for granted for so many things including searching for and entering races. The latter being a process which  I   find tends to take more time and effort than filling out and posting off an entry form. Besides I like having my number before the day and many races make online entrants collect number on the day.  
But how did we go about finding out about races  before these the sites listed above came into being?  The magazines were obviously a key source and way back in the '60s that meant mainly the back page of  Athletics Weekly.   This one is the back of the 5th August 1967 edition  mainly advertising September races. You will note that all the races are scheduled for Saturday afternoon or evening .  The Freckleton half marathon in 1967 started at 7 p.m.(!); possible because only 57 ran . The winner ran 67:35, the 56th 93:33 but a 14 minute wait then for the last straggler in 1:47.  The last runner of the 532 competitors in the 2010 took 2:51.29.   Ben Fish won in 2010 in 68:27 not much slower than the 1967 winner but 2nd in 2010 (75:03) would only have been good enough for 20th. position in 1967.  
Confirming once again that despite the numbers of runners increasing 10 fold the quality at the sharp end has diminished.  ( We'll leave reason why to another blog, Rogan!)
Check out the entry fees as well.  For example, the 7 mile road race on the Fylde Coast at Thornton Cleveleys will set runners back the grand sum of 2/6.....12 1/2 p in new money!  Interesting the prize for the winner is 40 times the entry fee!  Similarly with the 5/- (25p) entry fee for Ben Nevis race with £10 for the winner. Not many races today where you pay, say,  £10 to enter with a £400 prize up for grabs!
By coincidence there is a race on the Fylde Coast this first weekend in September.  The BLACKPOOL  ILLUMINATIONS 10K will run from the north pier up to Bispham just south of Thornton Cleveleys and back.   Puzzling title for the race really. With the event starting at 11 a.m. there'll be a long wait before dusk when the lights will come on.  Fair enough for those making a weekend of it, I suppose.   With a journey booked to Manchester on Sunday, the Blackpool race looks my best bet.
I leave you with the front cover of that 1967 Athletics Weekly....the blue period...