Sunday, 31 October 2010


  The majority of runners, whether competitve or recreational, are keen to learn about any legitimate aid to enable them to recover better. run faster or run for  longer.  Thousands have embraced satellite aided pace/speed/distance devices  such as garmin.,  many have welcomed "music on the run" devices.  Plimsoll wearing joggers in grey cotton sweats are a rare sight; overtaken by runners clad in hundreds of £s worth of high tech wind/rainwear,  "lycra" bottoms and "bells and whistle" shoes.
   In recent years we have seen the advent of "compression"  wear.   An additional dimension to garments containing elastane. A plethora of brands such as Under Armour, 2XU and perhaps notably SKINS  can be spied worn  not just by runners but under the shorts of rugby players , footballers and tennis players etc.  The shoe companies have not been slow to offer ranges as well.  Adidas (techfit/powerweb),  Nike (pro), Asics (inner muscle)  are all on offer. 
  I'd say the main benefit all the suppliers claim from their compression wear is the reduction of muscle oscillation (vibration).  You can understand being somewhat lacking in musculature I was initially somewhat sceptical but seeing runners  in slow motion and seeing the degree to which parts of the body move  I can now appreciate the micro damage that can be caused to the muscle in motion.  Combine micro tears with lactic acid build up and  of course we have pain during and after the run.  Solution....tight fitting but elasticated compression wear to reduce muscle shake.
 Many would refer to increase of circulation as the main benefit of compression wear rather than reduction of muscle vibration.  The theory being increase of blood flow means quicker nutrient delivery to tired muscles and speedier waste product removal.  Benefit......better recovery, better performance in the next run, better results long term.  
  How this is exactly achieved is not made clear by every supplier, however.  But one product , perhaps standing out from the crowd is AMP PRO wear from SAUCONY,  which was dominating the conversation in the shop on Friday when I called in.    To their credit, SAUCONY stress the infusion of a specially formulated responsive fibre , CELLIANT, into the fabic. 
  Micron sized particles enable light emitted by the body to be absorbed by the Celliant  fibres which then acting as a catalyst recycle this energy back to the body. The energy is absorbed, increasing blood flow and oxygen levels and so enhancing recovery.

 SAUCONY are claiming an improvement of 32% in oxygenated blood flow compared to "regular compression" wear. They are offering  a range for training in and a recovery range for wearing after the run or even sleeping in.   Mens tops and bottoms in red/ black.  Womens in sky/black.
As Wallace Spearman, pictured here states,  we can "train harder, push further, recover quicker"  His secret weapon. 

After yesterday's punishing roller coaster 9 mile run perhaps AMP PRO would have been just the ticker to aid recovery for today. But as it was having to be in Manchester to help celebrate my mother's 91st birthday 5 mile was all I had time for and it was more than enough.  Still it brought the week to a close with 46 miles, maintaining the year's average.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


  If I had a coach.........which I don't...but if I did.......... I would have pinned him against a wall...if there had been a wall at the end of the run.....which there wasn't.....but if there was ,as I said, I'd have pinned him against the wall and with my hand gently caressing his neck (!)  demanded to know what the heck  that run was all  about!
  His reply would have gone something like this......... we wanted 9 miles, you ran 9 miles.......we wanted a near traffic free road run, that's what you got......we needed  a more testing course, not dead flat like the canal,  that's what you got. You  wanted some good countryside autumnal views , that's what you got!   Fine.
  It was testing indeed.  Every single mile of the circuit,  in the Thruscross reservoir area,  involved an uphill pull; enough to give undulating a bad name.   If my Big Dipper course involved multiple short hills, this was a Roller Coast of a run.   Consequently,  only one of the mile splits was under 9, compared to 10 of 12 on the canal.
  It's years since I've even driven in this area and at one point I thought I'd gone wrong but the welcome sight off the Thruscross reservoir came into view and the route I'd planned on gmap-pedometer was falling into place.  

 On the run  I was thinking that in the past I would never have tackled an unknown route such as today without having driven around it.  Great to able to "reccy" it and measure it via the computer. 
 Then of course, the garmin validates the distance and the pace.  In  pre garmin days,  I would have just averaged out the  pace for the undulating course and probably said the run was,  at the very least, 10 miles
.....not a 9. Technology rules..OK!
  After 7 miles the route took me over the Thruscross dam,   before yet another hill to tackle.  A couple of
(borrowed) views going over and looking back ............

Of course, today's run wouldn't have been possible until comparatively recently. It's said at full capacity there are  1725 million gallons of water contained by the Thruscross Dam.  A dam built in in the early 1960s with the loss of the the WEST END village.  No sign today of the remains of the church, school and cottages which can apparently be seen at times of severe drought as in 1989 and 1990. 

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A dogged 5K track tempo run

Thursday. Track day.  Bit late today with the Athletics Weekly and Runner's World  magazines to be perused before setting off and Pat consulting me about business matters.  She doesn't accept I'm supposed to be retired. 
 Both magazines had references to runners having to cope with dogs "off the lead ".   The incident with the family with the fairly large but young dog on Tuesday certainly was unwelcome to say the least.  As the dog
became entangled between my moving legs,  legs which had an hour of  tough running in them,  the strain in the right groin area was very painful. 

It's  a chronic "sore" area and I felt at first that I would have to limp the last 2 miles to finish.  Initially I started to limp away but decided to turn back  and "explain" .....OK I did raise my voice somewhat! the young lady owner that  dogs were supposed to be on a lead in that area and explained further the distress to tired,old legs.   She tried to explain that the dog was a young one.  She did not apologise or enquire if I was OK despite having clearly seen me stumble and yelp in pain, nearly falling down  the bank into the river Wharfe!
   I will be contacting the estate management to see if anything can be done to ensure that dogs are kept on a lead on the Strid trails which are so popular with walking families.  The majority arrive by car and are stopped for payment so it would be easy to say something to dog owners at this point.
  Meanwhile, I think I will stop trying to continue running past "loose dogs"  and encourage owners to grab the collar when we run by.   better to be cautious rather than bitten or injured.

  No dogs on the track today; although last week,  one had paid a visit and left it's calling card!  I didnt't do a 5K tempo run on the track in September and having not raced for a few weeks, I decided it was time for
12 and half laps today.   With the midday sun breaking through the clouds being blown away by a cooling westerly,  it was again a story of gradual acceleration............

 1.51  1.50  1.48  1.50  1.49  1.49  1.47  1.46  1.45  1.44  1.45  1.44   53........................22.25

As this was only 30 seconds slower than that washout 5K race last time out I was reasonably pleased but a sub 22 would have been better.   Perhaps next time.   These tempo runs are hard work run alone but I honestly don't think I would achieve much faster mile splits......7.19  7.11  6.58
...... running them as 3 x 1. 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


    Having waited anxiously by the 'phone all afternoon waiting for the results of Monday's blood rule out tuberculosis you may recall......I eventually relented and rang the consultant's registrar. 
  He said the results were "negative".....which was a postive result!  Meaning they had find nothing sinister basically.   So after previous blood tests, x-rays and a scan I am back to where I was;  having to work out why nearly every run finishes with a form of "stitch".    Pain management of a surgical procedure undergone 41 years ago is now top of the agenda!   But at least  that weight has been lifted.

 On a lighter note,   I  was  having a nostalgia music period today;   revisiting the iconic album "BRAIN SALAD SURGERY" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer (cover above).  By the spring of 1973 E.L.P. and become one of the biggest progressive rock bands on the planet.  Their 5th "concept"  album, was long awaited but immediately created some controversy.  

 The first track was a "rip roaring" (cover notes!) version of the hymn  JERUSALEM. 
England's green and pleasant land and all that!   It was overwhelmingly acclaimed by fans and music critics but it was interesting to learn that the BBC refused to play it when it was released as a single.   Presumably they deemed the E.L.P. version to be  irreverent.  
 It would certainly have been more rousing than the version of JERUSALEM adopted to celebrate the medals gained by the Endland team at the Commonwealth Games.   Never heard the E.L.P. version? ....check it out on YouTube.

 With the weather deteriorating yesterday, after the splendour of Monday, I returned for a circuit of the
Strid Woods at Bolton Abbey, knowing the poor weather would put so many walkers off.  Not so long ago, this 8 mile trail run used to be a frequent "easy" Sunday run with friends after  a hard 10 miler on the Saturday.   Now it's come to be a moderately hard session.  Made even more so with a young dog choosing to entangle itself between my legs..........resulting in  more groin strain!    But not bad enough to deter me from managing a 6 on the road  today.   Tomorrow....back to the track.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The weight of the world..........

 In describing yesterday's  12 miler I didn't make reference to the chronic discomfort felt at the bottom of the rib cage for most of the run.  The condition that I've undergone blood tests, x-ray and the scan on October 6th to help the respiratory clinic consultant get to the bottom of what is causing it. 
 Today was results day at the hospital. .  Would the "weight of the world be lifted off my shoulders"?

The waiting over the last fortnight has not exactly been pleasant.  But unfortunately the consultation was not with the doctor who saw me initially and of course I had to discuss a lot of the same background information with this second physician.   At first, he said that the scan had relieved nothing negative and that he was going to discharge me but then he was handed what appeared to be further information and said the radiographer had detected some "cavaties" in the lungs.  I picked up the weight and placed it back on my shoulders!!
 He thought it was likely that these were historic but just to be sure he wanted a further blood test to rule out tubercolosis.   So one minute I was so pleased to hear they had found nothing sinister then the next minute more tests.  I was not very happy!
 To his credit he arranged for me to have the blood test immediately and I should have a result within a couple of days.   He tried to reassure me that whilst I am not displaying any symptoms they just want to be absolutely sure.   Both consultants seemed to feel that more likely the problem is rooted in the chest surgery I had way back in 1969!  
 Whatever was said at the hospital  it was another fabulous bright and sunny autumn day and there was no way I was going to miss out on a nice and relaxed 5 miler on the trail after yesterday's long run.   Plenty of company out there as well today......mainly grandparents walking their half term holidaying grandchildren!


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Variety the key..... for week 43.

 Sunday.  What a fabulous day for racing!   Bright sunshine,  cool but not too cold and little wind! 

  But needs must and I opted for a long (for me!) run instead.  It had to be one or the other as Thursday, Friday and Saturday had not involved hard sessions.
 Thursday saw me back around Swinsty/ Fewston for my weekly pilgrimage and with Wednesday's track session in the legs it was great to enjoy a relaxed, pressure free amble without any real concern for the time taken..  Friday I was still in possible prerace mode and settled for an easy 4 but I was starting to think about races left for the year and how long it had been since I'd gone over 10 miles. 
 The weather on Friday was pretty foul and for the first time this autumn/ winter I retreated to the garage and
endured the 4 on the treadmill  in just less than 40 minutes.  How can 10 minute mileing feel so hard!!
 Travelling for appointments conspired such that it was early evening by the time I ventured out on Saturday.  A long. long time since I've had to run at that time of day on a Saturday and  so settled for a 5.   Restrained pace again at 9.20. Sunday's run would have to be much faster to justify not racing!
 The plan would be the first 2 miles as a loosener then, hitting the canal,  look for a further 10 at 8.30 pace for a target of 85 minutes.  So 9.16,  9.11 then it started to flow...
             8.33     8.32     8.12     8.19     8.14     8.13     8.20     8.10     8.13     8.14.......for 83.13

My training chart showed that the last time I've been above 10 miles was July 4. Amazing how the weeks pass.  That day the last time was 84.54. So quite pleased with 1. 41 improvement.
  The 12 brought the week's total up to a quite satisfactory 47 miles; a good track session, a decent long(ish)
run , a solid 7 on the road,  some undulating  trail,;  could have done without the treadmill but know I'll be on it again and the weather worsens and a start had to be made sometime.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A shadow of my former self.

"It's not Thursday,is it? was the question from behind the reception desk at Nelson's Seedhill track today.
"No, just giving myself an extra day's leeway with the possibility of a race at the weekend", I explained.
  A good idea as long as my calves were OK;  they were still feeling a touch sore this morning ..but not enough to avoid the track session altogether.   Kilometre reps last week, so in search of extra pace I changed down to 8 x 600 with a 200 jog recovery.
 The average per 100 for the Ks being 26.2 last week I felt it reasonable to aim for 25 secs per 100  which would give me a target of 2.30 per 600.  Bearing in mind the last set of these had been at an average of 2.39
it would not be an easy target.

Returning to the track after the usual park warm up, the autumn skies were cloudless and the trees were still.
The gloves came off, the hat came off,  jacket and warm up bottoms came off, the Brooks racers were triple tied(!) and off I went! checking as I reached each 100 how close I was to that 25 secs target.  Straight away I could feel the north easterly chill on the home straight that had produced the overnight frost and knew at least the hat would have to go back on.   Not quite as warm as it looked.
The reps proved pretty consistent but I "lost my way" slightly in the middle of the rep, mainly through concentration drifting.  It was only for  the last 2 that I managed to go  under the 2.30 target.  But averaging 2:31.8 a big  improvement on 2.39!
2:33.5      2:32.0      2:33.5      2:33.3      2:32.2       2:31.7      2:29.5      2:29.0
So all in all a reasonable session; but with the low temperature and protecting the legs somewhat it was far from comfortable despite the average pace being "only" 42 10K pace.  
I know I shouldn't dwell too much on past glories but as I pushed myself around the track today I couldn't help but think that here I was running 600 metres at a pace far slower than I used to be able to run for 26 miles.  Somewhat depressing, but inevitable I suppose.
Make the most of your potential whilst you can!   Me...just a shadow of my former self.....


Tuesday, 19 October 2010


  Sunday's trail run was only 6 miles but as it contained that 2.5 mile uphill stretch,  quite logically  the old calves didn't need any more torment and a couple of days of flat running, where I could avoid getting up on the toes, was a must.
  After 5 on the road yesterday, ideally a flat run  on a more forgiving surface would have been just the ticket but the way the morning went it was 1 p.m. before I could slot the run in and that meant a canal run from Foulridge towards Barnoldswick and that part of the towpath is now "tarmaced".
  A quick squeeze around the calves confirmed as expected some soreness so the first couple of miles were
a cautious shuffle coping with a fairly strong headwind, going out in 33.22 for 3.5 miles.  But with the sun emerging through the early afternoon clouds and the breeze now pushing from behind the last 3 miles were quite satisfactory. The last mile a minute and twenty secs faster than the first.  29.00 for 3.5 coming back!
Yes, a run of two halves.  9.43   9.21   9.11   8.50   8.29   8.22   8.23
  Calves?  Just let's say that they  were wrapped in the ice pads as soon as I could after!

  As we all do I was looking at the results of the race I opted against running last Sunday. Particularly of course the times recorded in my M60 age group.  The category was won by ALAN HUDSON of Wesham in an excellent time of 30.00.  Alan has been racing probably as long as I have.  Certainly since 1968 when he ran for Blackpool in the Northern Cross Country champs finishing 39th to my 9th.  Sadly I can't match his times nowadays. Possibly because he seems to be rejuvenated by periods of injury! Perhaps that's what I injury to force me to take a rest.  I 've known quite a few runners over the years who disappear from the scene for quite regular periods only to re-emerge and start running good times again. They do say that female runners seem to race better than ever after pregnancy and giving birth has forced a break in much the same way. 
  4th in the category at the Green Drive 5 miler at Lytham was Steve Pierce of Kendal who I nudged ahead of in the Illuminations 10K in September. He ran 32.29 on Sunday so it looks on paper that I missed out on a good chance to improve on this year's 5 mile best of 34.04C'est la vie!  

Sunday, 17 October 2010


What a fabulous end to the training week!  A good track session on Thursday and a solid 9 on the canal yesterday allowed me the reward of a "no pressure" 6 mile trail run up to the Upper Barden reservoir; starting off in bright autumn sunshine which was  bound to have attracted hordes to the narrow paths of the nearby Strid Woods below.  In contrast I encountered just 7 walkers and 2 bikers. 
  One feature of this circuit that I wasn't happy with was the testing uphill mile to finish. So I ran the circuit anti-clockwise, meaning that the first mile was downhill /flat to make for a good loosener.  Ready then for the 2.5 uphill climb up to and beyond the reservoir with a good runnable 2.5 to finish. Much better!
  Significant in several shots today was the smoke coming up from burning in the distance; presumably of heather or bracken.  I've been informed in the past that this practice can only be undertaken in the "burning season" , between October 1 and October 15 with a licence issued by Natural England . So with today's date of October 17th the burning witnessed was illegal.
  I  thought on the run was a great morning it would have been for those racing.  I had pencilled in the Green Drive 5 miler over at Lytham which I've run in the last couple of years.  But there are still plenty of good options left for the year including to good 10 mile possibilities at Preston and the Guys 10.
 So another week done totalling 46 miles. A return to the average for the year after last week's easier period.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Post race recovery, doctor's visits, two afternoons at the hospital  plus holiday cover at the shop,
all conspired to make for a very easy low mileage week of just 25 miles last week. Having said that I did manage to squeeze a run in each day; so my current " streak " continues. 
 This week it was normal service resumed  and it would appear the low par week has been of some benefit.
Giving the body a bit of a rest from the near 50 weekly and a chance to recharge.

 Returning to the reservoirs on Monday I parked very easily. One of only 5 in the car park in contrast to Sunday when Pat drove around and around before finding a spot .  No walking groups for me to navigate and I was very close to the hour for the "2 res run" with 60.34. Very rare I go under the hour for this regular run but not far off on this occasion without particularly pushing it except up the last hill.

 Tuesday it was time to get back on the road and consequently nudge the pace up a tad.  A couple of easy miles then a 8.48   8.30  8.22  8.29 with a 9.04 to round off.  Best pace since the saturation 5K 10 days prior but again some discomfort akin to a stitch in the last mile. The pristine greens of the Ilkley Golf club
certainly looked appealing at this time.

 Warm sunshine and beautiful clear skies tempted me up onto the Ilkley moor for Wednesday's short run of 4 miles.  I won't describe it as easy as the initial climb involved  13.26 and 11.29 miles. . But a bit of homage to hillwork and not too painful with today's track session in mind.
  Distinctly cooler at Seedhill track today Thursday,   but only with only a breeze blowing the session of 1Ks went quite well. So much so that I reached 5 reps going better than last time on this session 3 weeks ago and opterd for another one. Again  gradual accleration throughout the set.

 6 x 1K  ........... 4.29   4.27   4.24   4.20   4.18   4.11
             Averaging 5 secs per rep faster than last time;  so quite pleased with that.....for a change!

I'm working on road rankings for Sale Harriers at the moment and it's interesting to see runner's race choices which are extremely varied.   Many report only one or two races for 2010,  citing injury usually as the reason for low participation.  Quite a lot seem to only run Parkruns which they do on a weekly basis(!) , throwing in the midweek 5K for variety.  They start too early for my liking. Several again race every week whatever the distance!  In the North West there are races every weekend without  having to travel far and they seem to need a weekly fix!  Many of them surprisingly vets of my age. 
  Several mirror my approach;  forced on me by the passage of time. Race..... recover..... pick up for a week or so , then look for another race. So,  after 41 weeks of the year I've  notched up 18 races  including 2 1/2 marathons, 5 10Ks, 3 5 milers, a 4 and several digs at the now ubiquitous 5K.
  But as last year no 10 miler.  Probably because I don't want to record yet another personal worse with a time beginning with a big 7....It would be touch and go!
  Anyway, with the last quarter of the year to go at,  we all have time to review the races we've run and perhaps plug some of the gaps, haven't we? 

Monday, 11 October 2010


  Wow! What a fabulous start to the 2010/2011 cross country season with the first regional fixture, the opening event in the COMPLETE RUNNER cross country league which was organised with the usual efficiency by hosts, Skyrac A.C.  Bright sunshine and warm conditions made for good to firm underfoot conditions and we spectators, many with jackets draped around their waists, enjoyed some keen racing.

 KATIE WALSHAW is a very familiar face on the northern running scene and it was good to see her emerge from the pack to notch up her 4th. victory of the year; her other 3 1st. places on the track.
 F35 Helen Berry followed her in in 2nd and with an 8th and 12th they won the team race from Keighley.
(Fairly) new mum Jo Buckley, racing her way back to full fitness, was a fine 3rd .
  90 ladies finished compared to 98 in 2007 the last time Skyrac hosted the first leagie fixture.
  Numbers may increase in one or more of the other 3 events particularly as there were some quality runners missing from Bingley, Leeds, Scunthorpe and Wakefield.  Perhaps with the weather they forgot the cross country season had started.

   By contrast, the winner of the mens race was probably a new face to many spectators, certainly myself.  ALI MAUIZBIN. His record shows this Sudanese athlete has been progressing in the 3K steeplechase over the season and now making his mark on the country, pulling away from HOLMFIRTH'S MATT PIERSON.
 Superb, super vet MARTIN ROSCOE (m45)
was 3rd showing a clean pair of heels to so many younger athletes.  Leeds City with 6 in 12 were clear winners but Bingley did  put 4 infront of Leeds'
5th counter with 7/8/9/10.

Participants in the mens race were well down from 2007 from 232 to 170.  Compared with twenty years ago when 10% of the first 100 were over 40 yesterday 40% were over 40.  In the younger age groups it was pleasing to see numbers for the boys races up from 2007 but the girls were slightly down.  the youngsters peak at u/13 and u/15 then go down dramatically  at u/17 level as they get into sex, drugs and rock and roll!  Or should I say the pressures of GCSEs and A levels ?
  Hope you enjoyed the slideshow of yesterday's races. No apologies for picking out this one which perhaps summed up the mood of the afternoon...................



Saturday, 9 October 2010

Races we didn't run!

  With regard to atheletics data/ power of 10 and now Runbritain listings, I have been puzzled this year that several races on the Fylde coast do not feature in my list of perfornances and that of several other people I have looked at .  In my case, I have tried unsuccessfully to add my 94.44 in the Great North West half marathon. a time which would have improved my handicap score.   Others have told me that the Blackpool marathon is not recognised as having taken place either. Both being organised by the same company.
  Enquiring with the admin team at athletics data/ Power of 10  it appears that the main race organiser in that Fylde coast region does not ....."take out a race license; not just UKA? runbritain nor ARC either" Consequently they do not feel they can.... "use these races in our site"
 So there you have it.  If you want to improve your handicap score and choose a Fylde Coast race as a means of doing so,  check if it has a license.  Judging by race entry forms for next year I believe that the race organiser inquestion may well have reconsidered the license policy. If it's a race organised by one of the local clubs I think you'll find it will have a license and be recognised.  If not your performance won't be recognised on your published record. 

  Training wise my easier than par week continued with just a 4 along the canal into the Nelson branch prior to another interesting and rewarding afternoon in the shop.   Another amazing variety of runners from a really enthusiastic London marathon runner weighing 19 stone (!) (that's twice my weight)  to several youngsters eagerly preparing themselves for their first cross country races.  Great stuff!
 Shoe of the day was undoubtedly.........the SAUCONY KILKENNY cross country spike.

Friday, 8 October 2010


  I haven't made anything of it on this blog but since the first months of this year when we suffered day after day of freezing conditions I have been experiencing "discomfort"   at the base of the rib cage predominantly on the left side; to a lesser extent on the right.  I suffered for a few weeks before eventually going to my GP. I had some blood tests which revealed nothing sinister.   However,  I have increased water intake and reduced alcohol intake as I suspected hydration was a factor  but also that the discomfort was probably linked to the surgery I had back in 1969 to "cure" my collapsed lung condition.  The scars are quite extensive on the outside of each ribcage. So i'm told the internal scar tissue is equally considerable.
  Pat and I ran the 5K in heavy rain last Sunday and  whilst I didn't feel particularly bad afterwards, coughing a bit of blood on Tuesday morning I thought a return to the GP was called for.
  We rang at 9.00 a.m.  The GP saw me at 9.30 a.m.   The next day I had an appointment to see a respiratory consultant at 2 p.m. I had spirograph, blood tests , x-ray and the consutlation and was out of the hospital by 3.30.  How was that for service!!
  The consultant felt that the pain was highly likely to be linked to the previous surgery but suggested I have a CT scan to investigate further.

 I reported for that today  at 1.20  and again was dealt with promptly and efficiently and was on my way within less than an hour.   Hopefully the scan will not shown up anything untoward.
  Hardly surprising to state then that with all this "in the air" I have giving myself a bit of a break with a very low intensity training week.   2 on Tuesday, 3 on Wednesday and 4 on Thursday. Sure it won't do me any harm!
  Going back to the blog on those Runbritain handicaps,  I was wrong in assuming that they take age into account.   They don't.  This became apparent as I checked a few of the runners who are normally near to me in races.   Whilst a variety of ages and both male and female their handicap scores were very near to mine.
  I could conclude that my handicap at my age can only go up but if I may well run a faster half marathon than the tough Haweswater which is contributing to my score. As I said they do not seem to recognise certain Fylde coast races.   So my faster time in the Great north west half marathon is not on my performance list.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Runbritain rankings..what's your handicap?

  If anyone asks me if I play golf I always lie and say ,"yes", because inevitably the next question is,
"what's your handicap?"  To which I then reply,  "I've got no clubs!"   I do know that the lower the number of the handicap , relating to strokes, the better the player. 
 As if I don't have enough running websites to look at from today I learnt of another.  Probably known to you.  The site is linked to the well known Power Of 10 site but goes further. It's scoring system uniquely measures our progress (!) and gives a comparison to others coming up with a handicap score.
 As in golf,   handicaps go from "scratch" (i.e. zero or even slightly negative for elite runners) to 36 with increments of 0.1.   Your personal handicap is computed by combining recent best performances at 5k 10k ,half marathon and marathon;  adjusted for course difficulty and weather conditions using what they describe as "their special formulae".   Now I could say my main handicap is my birth certificate but presumably this is taken into account to achieve a handicap of  9.7  
 Why not check it out and let me know yours?   If I receive a few I'll compile a table.
                                                        This is the format of the page

The Progress Group is interesting. My best 5k and 10k times were run in May taking my handicap up and since then it has plateaued.  As Power Of 10 they don't recognise that the Great North West half marathon
ever took place (which I can assure you took place in Blackpool on Feb 21!) so they compute the slower Haweswater.   From the "your rankings" section you can calculate the percentage of runners in front or behind at each distance.  Mine being 14% at 5K,  14.5% at 10K and 12.5% at half marathon.
Are there any other running sites that you regularly look at that you really feel I might be missing out on?

Monday, 4 October 2010


  As the once monthly ALEXANDRA PARK 5K in S.Manchester is very much a low key "enter on the day" kind of race ( not being part of the pre-enter barcoded Park Runs) it was hardly surprising that only 33 diehards turned up to wade through the puddles on the waterlogged course.   A course which is a tad tricky at the best of times with a couple of sharp corners and potholed under foot in parts.   I posted about the merits of Goretex lined trail shoes earlier this week;  Sunday we could have done with Goretex racing shoes.
  My wife, Pat and I had stayed in Stockport overnight following Saturday's Northern 6/4 relays.  We suffered a fitful night of interrupted sleep, lying awake listening to the approaching roar and decelerating drone of incoming planes,  preparing to land at nearby Manchester Airport.  So when we drew the curtains back and saw the incessant rain,  it was tempting to just pack up and come straight back to Yorkshire. But plans are plans and surely it would cease by 11.30 a.m.? But it didn't.....

Shedding the Goretex jacket and bottoms after the usual 2 mile warm up, I retied the laces and off we went.   Immediately,  I was isolated between the swift and the cautious!   After 1K  I started to pull back the gap on a couple of the over ambitious and then a wet lace became undone!   With shivering hands it took half a minute to retie and I gave chase again, managing to pull back just a couple by the end.   In the end with the lace malfunction and the underfoot conditions it became a case of settling for a solid sub 22 minute clocking.......21.53. 17th of the 33.  Probably first M60 but they don't show age groups on the results, despite the fact they ask for "age on the day" on the entry form.  Naturally I bring this to their attention each time I run in this event!
 The presentation was taking place as I entered the building after a further couple of mile ease down and heard them calling for Pat.  I said she was just putting her make up on and was on her way!   She has finished 2nd lady overall (at 61)  in very creditable 28.19. Goodness knows what she could achieve if I let her train as hard as me!  But one of us has to keep the business going!
  What an unbelievable contrast in the weather today. Felt like mid July running this morning ..what a shame it came 24 hours too late!

Sunday, 3 October 2010


  I must admit to being somewhat surprised when Sale H., ably led by Dave Rodgers and  team, had the responsibility of hosting the autumn North of England 6/4 relays having already hosted the spring 12/6 relays at the Manchester Wythenshawe Park venue. You may recall I ran leg 4 on the "C" team for Sale only to find that the other 8 in the team had failed to turn up.   I would have liked to have run this time in a full team but apparently Dave R. was told 3 teams was all Sale  could afford;  so no outing for the slow and old like me. So I opted for the role of photographer.
  In the mens event 96 teams toed the lined from 62 clubs  so 34 clubs turned out "B" "C" and some presumably wealthy clubs like Salford even managed a "D" team".   Leeds City were under strength ,eventually finishing 5th.  Club coach, Phil Townsend, said it "no bad thing that an other team wins the event for a change!".   Yes, Phil.  A very sincere comment.   As Sunderland slid from 1st to 8th, Altrincham rose through the field from 13th to joint 1st with less than a mile to go.  Richard Weir of Derby
flashed through shoulder to shoulder (see pic.) with Andy Norman of Altrincham  before pulling away to win by 15 secs.

Leading after leg 3 of the 6,  Liverpool H. slipped to 5th but rallied on the last leg to finish 3rd.
  It was good to see local clubs supporting this regional championship on a weekend which brought up a clash with the Ian Hodgson fell relay in the Lake District the following day.  Bingley were 22nd,  Keighley A 40th, a combined clubs(?) team, Airedale Athletics 48th, Valley Striders 56th, Otley A 63rd, Keighley's B 74th and Otley's B, including Julian Mawson making a welcome comeback, in 87th place.   
Some shots of Keighley, Otley and Sale H. ladies and men......

Friday, 1 October 2010

A commonwealth of young talent

 After a fabulous summer of sport, I was looking forward to the next chapter in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.   OK, not the Olympics, for me THE championships for home country athletes after the "big one".   Particularly with the emergence of the participating African countries and,  of course, the superb standard of the Jamaican sprinters. 
 However, despite having had years to "deliver",  as it is put, clearly preparations have not gone to schedule and many top athletes are pulling out day by day.  I hope these athletes will be replaced and some emerging young athletes will grasp the chance to take part in these Delhi championships and perhaps treat them as a step on the ladder to the London Olympics.   After all living conditions can't be anywhere near as bad as those which many of them would put up with at a 4 day Pop Festival!   Yes, it would have been good to have seen Bolt, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Idowu etc. but certainly judging by this shot of the England team we'll be well represented and we can look forward to great competitive races  with
the athletes enjoying 3 star (as opposed to 5 star ) accommodation in between.  

Sale Harriers had 17 athletes in the original selection, 5 of them hammer throwers.  I am particularly looking forward to seeing how 19 year old Niall Brooks fares in the 800 metres and Kate Dennison in the pole vault.

To be honest, my concern would not be so much about the athletes'  village rather than the level of security!

 I was back on the track myself today for this week's session .   Last week,  I managed  5 x 1K averaging 4.27.   The plan and the hope was that by reducing to 600 metres (albeit increasing the number of reps to 8) I could achieve some acceleration.   That at least was the plan.
As it turned out I just couldn't produce the leg cadence .  So, on a dry track with the usual strong cool breeze down the back straight  it was a solid start  without the usual acceleration.
2.39    2.39    2.39    2.40    2.39    2.38    2.39    2.39
Cosistent if nothing else!
The shortest rep session distance I go down to on the track is 300 mts;  and I've only done these 300 sets 4 times this year.  Even then striding them out just prior to a race.   I think these is a case for  looking  to doing the distance more often , with more effort and with generous recovery. might even dig out some old spikes!