Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tuesday......Snow reaches Lancashire

Having to be "on duty" with Pat at the Nelson Complete Runner branch, I had hoped to repeat  half of
        Sunday's traffic free canal run hoping to have to cope with just a sprinkling of the white stuff.  But   Lancashire's immunity to the early winter snowfall ran out.....

Thrown out of the car at Foulridge,  sun breaks through trees as I reach the Leeds Liverpool canal.....
Nothing moving on the canal at Barrowford locks..........
                                                       On past Higherford reservoir.......................
Windstopper tights, softshell jacket,  Fastrax thernal hats and gloves,  Sunwise glasses.......sorted.........

Sunday, 28 November 2010



 Sunday 8.00. a.m.  No sign of a thaw overnight;  several inches of snow still lingering on our side of the valley.  The snowfall, widespread in the east , is the earliest since 1993 and already causing problems.  Getting in a daily run being the least of them!
  A return to bed to consider the options for today's planned 12 mile steady run.  Some local roads will have been gritted but this will mean battling against often irate motorists, reluctant to share restricted roads with us runners.  Popular off road routes  will no doubt  today be trails of compacted ice, created by yesterday's walkers. Similarly the canal on this side of the Pennines.  Could be treacherous.
 Solution?  Head west into Lancashire which has not "suffered" to the same extent as eastern parts.  Finishing at the Nelson shop will give us a chance to do some chores, a bit of shopping, and a  nice lunch on the way back. Sounds like a plan!
 Pat forced me out of the warmth of the car into bright but near freezing conditions and the chilling air immediately started to bite into the lungs,  making the first few miles quite uncomfortable.  But the bright late morning sunshine and the solitude of the canal provided ample compensation.  As anticipated,  underfoot conditions were reasonable.
 After 4 miles I spy a group of 3 in front and as is inevitable my speed increases almost inperceptably  and the gap closes.   As one of them has a "pit stop" we form a group of 4 and I enjoy a bit of company for a change  over the next 6 miles which helps a great deal.
 Thanks to Lorna  Balmer, Gary Balmer and Pendle Grand Prix winner Gary Shaw of Clayton le Moors!
Spot on 12.5 as I reach the Nelson Complete Runner branch; so mission accomplished.   46 miles on the week, maintaining the average. 

  A task which will be more difficult next as when driving back east into Yorkshire we are greeted by a blizzard.   But a task of little importance compared to the problems of so many people on Monday morning as just getting out of the drive and into work will pose problems for the majority.

                     Even swans are finding it difficult getting to the shops in this weather...............

 Commiserations, finally, to those who had entered the postponed (?) Thirsk 10. 
I say  postponed as opposed to cancelled ...... perhaps they will find another date ?

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Friday.  Theoretically an easy day after Thursday's track session.  I decided to search out the sun and opted to revisit a training route rarely covered having moved from the west part of town to the east.
  Parking up just past the college the first mile up to the Swastika Stone felt harder than it used to.  What is only really a slope now was felt as a hill!  But at least the going underfoot is good with the trail having been significantly improved. 
  Reaching the Swastika Stone the trail ends. The cloudless skies make for excellent visibility and  the whole of Wharfedale can be taken in for miles.  The holes in the wall make stopping compulsory. More so now metal gates have been added across the gaps and give opportunity for a few shots.   Some what jumbled above.
  I am not ,however, enjoying the rocky path.  Years ago I would have danced along this mile up to Windgate Nick.  Today my pace is much slower; progress cautious and painstaking.  But what the heck, it's an easy day!   Three walkers ahead, one of them asks me if I am training for THE marathon.......where do I begin in answering that one, I think......but just settle for ..."No, don't run them anymore".
  On reaching Windgate Nick,  with the temperature barely above freezing, I am not tempted to sit on the bench and soak in the view;  but take time for a couple of shots,  amazed that Pendle Hill is visible way in the distance.
  I also took time to examine a  new addition to the scene, the stone memorial to the crew members of an RAF MK II deHaviland  Mosquito aircraft which crashed into the Addingham High Moor hillside in 1943.
The plane was apparently returning from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk to base at RAF Church Fenton near York.  Mystery is why is crashed 28 miles west of its base.   The pilot and navigator were both killed.
At this time of remembrance the stone memorial is decorated with the tricolor roundel of the RAF.
 Often at this point I have stayed high and run back along the wallside to the masts at Keighley Gate but yesterday I turned and slithered precariously down the frozen hillside , returning back to Ilkley via Addingham Moorside for 6 miles in all.
 It was a good thing I chose to retrace old familiar ground on the ridge yesterday because today overnight snow will be masking those rocky path from Swastika Stone to Windgate Nick making going very slow indeed.
 As I sit here writing this the hillside opposite is once again bathed in November sunshine and looks inviting.
But underfoot conditons will doubtless be treacherous and the near freezing temperatures don't help the breathing so I might just settle for the treadmill.  I say might.....

Friday, 26 November 2010

Mile reps......back to basics....but a lot slower!

 Thursday.  Track day, once again. 
The threat of the snow which had immobolized much of the north east of England  failed to materialise further west and compared to last week's horrendous affair conditions at the Lancashire track whilst very cold were reasonable. 
 Mile reps.  The classic session.  Back to basics.  A staple session introduced by Sale harrier's Alan Robertshaw back in the early 1960s.
 Going forward to one of my peak years  1984 mile reps were still almost  a weekly necessity .  4, 5 or 6 reps generally.  Part of marathon training but run at 10K pace.
  I ran 5 marathons that year....2.28   2.37   2.28   2.31   2.32.....so about 5.40/45 mileing. The diary shows mile reps generally timed at just below 5 minutes.

          For example,  July 11th...Rupert Road. 4.52   4.54   4.51   4.56   4.54.......3 minute recovery

 (The Rupert Road road circuit is not totally flat but fairly "quiet" traffic wise and I used it quite a lot. I believe it 's still the venue for speed work for a couple of local clubs.  I just think now the track is kinder to my old frame than the tarmac.)
 Whilst speed sessions were run at sub marathon pace.   Prospective marathoners might note that long runs (over 20)  were not done at marathon pace at all. For example, a very windy Tuesday mile rep session in September (average 5.05) was followed the next day with a 27 mile run  (including 25 mile laps of said Rupert Road circuit, yes 25!,  in 2 hours 50 minutes 6.50 min pace.    Over a minute slower that marathon pace.
  The diary also shows an undulating  run from Ilkley to Clitheroe.  28 miles in 3.05.....average  6.36 pace: plus several less defined runs of 3 hours.  Half an hour more than race times.  Over distance and overtime!
 Did I ever train at marathon pace?  No although I did run a couple of races,  which we were selling at, as "training runs"  and as is inevitable was dragged along to approximately marathon pace.  There seems to a feeling that marathon pace (MP) needs to be "felt"; so if you want to "practice" marathon pace,  a low key race over terrain akin to your marathon is not a bad idea. 
  But going back,  days either side of those long runs were the mile rep sessions.  In contrast this year I have only completed mile reps on two other occasions.   Probably because running more 5Ks and 10Ks now I tend to think metric!
  Yesterday's times for the record......7.40    7.30    7.28    7.20......3 minute walk/ jog recovery.
2 mile warm up and cool down.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Saucony ProGrid Triumph 7....a design success?

 Tuesday.  Another chance to try out the Saucony Progrid Triumph 7 on a undulating steady 6 miler.  I've been using moderately supportive shoes of late. But I thought I would try this latest version of the
Saucony Triumph  as whilst it's "classed" as a neutral shoe and as such features no supporting wedge, the full length ProGrid and  midfoot support
device  create a good degree of stability and significantly reduce the flexibility which for me is no bad thing.
  In fact, many of today's neutral/ cushion shoes are no where near as flexible as shoes of this category in the past as so many of them feature similar midfoot support devices.
  With SRC( super rebound compound ) in the heel
and the Comfortride Sockliner the Triumph offers a well cushioned plush ride for runners of all weight but perhaps I am not feeling the full benefit of this as I have inserted the full length canting varus wedge from my Somnio shoe.  I've obviously added a little weight to what many would class as quite a heavy shoe already at 349gs but judging back Sunday's brisk 4 miler the weight certainly didn't seem to hold me back. The rearfoot to forefoot transition was smooth enough. I could however feel the benefit of the medial arch lock cradling the midfoot and with the lightweight breathable mesh upper and moisture wicking collar lining there's little danger of the foot overheating.
  The next time I wear them I'll take out the Somnio varus wedge to feel the real cushioning effect and report later on durability and longer term comfort.
  "Satisfactory" would be the best description for today's jaunt ; averaging under 9 for the 6 undulating miles with the last mile in 8.16.  A good maintenance run .....and a great deal drier underfoot than yesterday's
waterlogged trail run.

Rainbow Monday

After Sunday's 10 miler with 4 miles brisk in there,it would have been good if Monday's easy 4 had been more enjoyable.  However, running out up the Troutbeck valley , the first two miles were quite simply a pain; trudging along the saturated trail, sodden with rain water flowing off the adjacent steep hillside.  Still no sign of drainage work having been done by the National Trust.
 The only redeeming aspect of the short run was the spectacle of the changing weather conditions sweeping across the valley producing this hint  of a rainbow pictured here.
 And , of course,  the magnificent scenery!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sunday's Longsleddale lope

  Every year I receive emails from Help the Aged  reminding  me about the Leeds Abbey Dash 10K.  Initially I think about  the possibility of nudging down the year's best 10K time as so many seem to manage on the very fast course.....well done to those to whom that comment applies amd commiserations to those whose injuries prevented their taking part ( been there with the hamstring problem, Alan).....but then  I think about the hassle of it all and the prospect of charging down Kirkstall road at 9.30 in the morning
and then  press the delete button!
Instead  we headed  across Saturday afternoon for
 another couple of nights up in the Lake District  and whilst thousands were charging back down Kirkstall Road from the Abbey, Sunday a.m.  we were driving up once more to Longsleddale north of Kendal for my up and down the valley 10 miler.
  As we turned off the A6 heading down to the starting point at Garnett Bridge the view up the valley to the snow capped hills confirmed that the 5 miles out would be into a chilling, northly wind.
  It wouldn't matter too much though as the plan today was not just to do another "steady" 10 rather to inject  some pace into miles 6,7,8,9 for 4 miles of effort with a mile easy to finish.  The wind behind hopefully  working  in my favour.
 Not a lot of parking spots in this picturesque hamlet of Garnett Bridge; so Pat dropped me off and headed up the road ahead of me to do her run. As predicted the 5 miles up and into the chilling wind were laboured.  Very laboured!
         9.40     9.18    9.15   9.10    9.24
 Quite reminiscent of  past Saturday morning's  when friends and I ran the out and back Beamsley Bash just a few years ago. The "young ones"  would generally  leave me for dead  going out
(the rule was no regrouping!) and I would invariably shorten the gap on the return.   The kind of run that has been missing from my training as I've tended to do 5K tempo runs on the track.

  The  difference could immediately be felt at the turn. Shod with a "fresh out of the box" pair of SAUCONY Progrid TRIUMPH 7 in eye catching ViziPRO colourway the speed started to come and was maintained over the 4 miles as per plan despite meeting the odd vehicle head on along the narrow country lane.
        7.49      7.46      7.44      7.41
 A pleasing reward for the effort. 4 miles all actually faster that the 1K reps on the track last Wednesday.
 The new shoes had certainly not let me down!
  It had been well worth driving out a few miles to be able to thrash out  a reasonably flat road tempo run; especially as this narrow lane is not a favourite with big groups of cyclists as the Beamsley Bash from Ilkley out and back to the A59 was.

Meanwhile Pat had done her run and was back in Garnett Bridge recording the fact that also being put to the test on the 10 miler  were the new fluorescent yellow FASTRAX  jacket and the new FASTRAX
tights.  I'd  tucked away hat and gloves on the return 5 as the pace hotted up!
 That 10 with 4 tempo miles closed off another week of very mixed running.  Totalling 49 miles.   The times for the 8 x 1k on the track were hardly encouraging no matter the weather but Sunday's times were reassuring.  A good reintroduction to the schedule.
 Saturday was a fairly insignificant easy 5 miles but for this I returned to former familiar terrain and instead of heading for the valley to run dead flat, headed along the moorside up to the Swastika stone and back.  Previously I wouldn't have considered this to be particularly uphill but Saturday I found it fairly testing.
  So this will be another change for easy days as schedules are re-examined  and tweaked. I suspect age will prevent any return to times of the past but hopefully by reviewing the schedule as I have for this weekend I can stop the rot in the coming year!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Harriet Jenkins ...runner of the month?

 There isn't a week goes by without there are some great performances to admire in our sport.  But one performance which I learnt of this week wasn't featured in Athletics Weekly.  
  The performance of a certain 25 year old young lady in


 Hardly a world record but this young lady weighed a staggering 26 stone plus just 18 months ago....just less than me times 3.....a dress size 30.   Comfort eating taken to an extreme.
 Today she is a svelte 11 and a half stone and a size 10 and Slimming World's
Woman of the Year.   In contrast I'm quite keen to put a few pounds on!  But it seems the pounds I put on in the second half of the day get burnt off the following morning. 


Not for the first time this week the Wharfedale was shrouded in a depressing,  dank mist.  But Pat, travelling to Lancashire, alerted me that Airedale, in contrast, was enjoying bright warm sunshine.
 So it was out and back on the canal from 5 Rise Locks;  shedding hat and gloves as the miles rolled by.   Another tale of negative splits for the out and back course with a reasonably acceptable 8.45 mile average..........and  70 minutes of vitamin D boosting as recommended by the Sunshine Vitamin Alliance.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

When the going gets tough...do more!

With homeowners in Cornwall having to cope with up to 5 foot of putrid water invading their ground floor accommodation this week,  I am loathed to use the word horrendous about the conditions prevailing for today's track session.  So let's just say then that they were somewhat less than comfortable!  Cold with
strong winds and persistent rain. Nice!
 So any thoughts of anything short and sharp went down the drain and out of my mind.  I had planned 5 x 1K but having struggled around the first of  1K in a disappointing 4.44,   being blown into lane 2 at times and blown to a standstill at others, I abandoned quality for quantity and decided to plough through another 7 at a
slightly slower pace with a short 1.30 recovery.  No doubt Sunday's 1 hour 40 minutes on that undulating trail  was blunting the speed as well.
                          So  8 x1K  4.44   4.54   4.56   4.52   4.55   4.55   4.54   4.54.  
 Looks relatively poor on paper but a disciplined exercise I suppose and certainly at a much better pace than I would have achieved plodding up and down the canal; which would have been the alternative if I'd have decided against the track.
 Just what impact such a session has on my general wellbeing is questionable!   I think there is a strong argument for doing a speed session on the treadmill when the weather is as poor as it was today.  Having said that today's session totalled 9 miles.  Not sure I could cope with that amount on the rolling road!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Running cheats never prosper?

As is her want, my dear wife Pat was up with the lark and returned from a swift pre-breakfast 3 miler
through the cold, damp murk of early morning Ilkley.  By late morning  when I was ready to run there was still a  dense mist covering the Wharfe valley but  looking out from home I could see at the higher level  over to Round Hill the sun was out in full force.  A thermal inversion no less. 
So I drove north and enjoyed my weekly 7 mile trail run in warm(ish) pleasant conditions.  A real benefit, being able to run in the light at this time of year. Returning early afternoon to the town it was still shrouded in mist.  A mist which never lifted throughout today.   Not very pleasant for Tuesday club nights but it will no doubt get worse.
 It's often that said that alcohol banishs inhibitions or loosens the tongue. For example, mature male readers will recall the saying, "2 Babychams and she's anybodys!"
 But what about the power of pizza?  Let me explain, having read about an interesting magazine article today.

 Eddy Hellebuyke is an ex-U.S.A. Olympic marathoner (1996, Atlanta). He now lives in exile in Tucson. He moved there from Alburquerque, having failed a drug test. The test showed he had used the endurance enhancing drug EPO in 2004. 
  He vehemently denied the charge and strongly contested the results; going all the way to an arbitration court in Switzerland!
  Runners World (U.S.) reporter John Brant flew out to interview him and they met over a pizza lunch.  His wife and ex manager called into the restaurant midway through the meal. She was clearly not keen on husband Eddy being interviewed. "Why stir up mud that's taken so long to settle?"
 She continued to "chant the mantra of denial" that they have maintained for the last 6 years.  She urges the reporter to write something positive about the great coaching work he is doing locally.
 After she has left, the 2 men continue to eat their pizza lunch. The reporter starts to think that he won't be writing much of a story; but  despite the years of denial and protestations he chances his arm and asks
Hellebuyke straight out if he did in fact take the EPO.

 "Do you think I did ?" the runner asks.
"I don't know.  All I know is what I've read and heard"
Hellebuyke hesitates. He no longer looks like a man at home in the world.
 "Yeah,"  Hellebuyke says,  "I did it"

 So be careful the next time you enjoy a pizza, you might just end up saying something you live to regret!
Perhaps it was pizza that loosened the tongue of  self confessed drugs cheat Dwain Chambers or, as cynics would have it,  he confessed to sell more copies of his autobiography, "Race Against Me".
 No doubt Eddy Hellebuke's wife is trying to get her EPO taking husband  a book deal at this very moment.
   As a runner who only just conceded that water should be drunk occasionally  but certainly not when training and only in the hottest racing conditions,   I can't say I've ever been tempted with drugs.  Although it could be said my asthma inhalers are performance enhancing.
                            I would rather describe them as performance essentials!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Running highs and lows

Well, we did suggest last Monday that Haile's retirement statement was made in haste and that given time he would have a rethink.
 Not much time apparently.  Just 8 days after his emotional announcement he has announced that he will run at least until the 2012 London Olympics.
 As predicted coach/agent, Jos Hermens hopped a plane to Ethiopia and had a supportive pep talk and
no doubt convinced the marathon world record holder to reconsider his decision.
  Obviously not alone in this, according to reports Haile gave thanks to all for their support and said
"Running is in my blood and now my mind is clear again. I can continue competing."
So good news. It will be interesting to see what his next event is and he does.
 Lesser mortals without such encouragement and support  would no doubt have stayed in the trough for a lot longer.  We've all been there haven't we?
 The last time I was "there", in a trough that is, was in 1994.  A particularly lean year for races with
only a couple in January,  an unplanned ,late entry London marathon and just a 10 miler in August.   I didn't have a coach/agent to sit me down and discuss what the problem was.  I eventually realised  that I wasn't in the "right place" clubwise.  I was becoming more of a "chief" than an "indian" and my training and racing was suffering.
 A tough and self centred decision leaving that club maybe but the malaise passed and the following year I turned out in 20 races, about my average.  I suppose sometimes it takes a bit of time to stand back and see just what is going on.  
  I was glad to "retire" after just 4 miles today.  That trail run may have been only 10 miles  but the undulations and terrain  took their toll.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The solitude of the medium distance runner

 One song I've not been singing along to in my running this week has been..."climb every mountain"....so today the main ingredient would have to be  some hills.  Being Sunday, fancying a bit of a drive and looking for a run away from the maddening crowd and their canine friends...

 I went onto gmap-pedometer and found a route which looked  quite isolated , promisingly runnable and knowing the area,  likely to face me with some testing climbing. Driving north on a road to the left of Thruscoss reservoir which I had run along last week I soon discovered the "route" would be  out and back on fairly wide trail along the eastern boundary of the Bolton Abbey  Estate,with Barden fell to my right.
Barden Fell which becomes Barden Moor further to the west.
 With temperatures dipping and black clouds gathering overhead,  I did meet one lone walker almost immediately. His 2 young terriers peeked their heads out of the drainage ditch to my left but showed little interest as I ran downhill in the first mile.  But that was it for company this morning except for one lone mountain biker who raced towrds me downhill on the way back.  A ex- runner friend from nearby me in Ilkley who must have been surprised to see me coming towards him so many miles from home.
 The out and back 10 was really "just what the doctor  coach ordered".   Undulating with a capital "U".
Evidenced by the mile splits 
                    11.05   11.03   9.07   10.24   9.33   10.06   10.42   10.29   8.34   9.42
Yielding underfoot but not generally  too soft or muddy,  hilly but not severe.  Purists would criticise the few gates blocking the trail. But stopping at these gave me a chance to record the varying weather and scenery!
  Weather which at first looked threatening brightened up to give me some fantastic views on the return journey of the U.S. Memwith Hill base and the Thruscross and Fewston reservoirs which would have been very busy at this time with walking groups.
  I had measured the route  roughly  on gmap-pedometer last night and calculated I would be turning as I approached the  B6285 road between Hebden and Greenhow Hill, after about 5 miles.  In fact as I reached a gate within a yard of this road the garmin turned to 5.  A very runnable, undulating 10 miler which was good today but on a warm, sunny day with drier underfoot conditions will make a really great run.
  So a good end to another week of training.  Just 3 mile on the treadmill to start but picked up with some good solid maintenance runs , a good 20 x 300 track session in appalling conditions ending with this undulating 10 mile trail run today. Another 50 miles banked.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Tour Of Pendle. A hill too far?

Pendle Hill. One of the most distinctive skylines on the north of England landscape.  A whole multitude of fell running events take place on this hill of "witches" but the Tour of Pendle is possibly considered to be the "big one" and as such saw several customers coming into the Nelson shop today for last minute footwear, thermals , SIS isotonic powder and , of course, the now ubiquitous gels (which I really must try one day!)
After the weather of the last few days one thing is certain.  Setting off at 10.30 tomorrow morning, before very long on the 16.8 mile journey,it's going to get boggy.  But that will not phase the intrepid competitors as they battle up and down the slopes of Pendle Hill covering a mere 16.8 miles.
The field will include Nelson branch shop manager John Henry who will be representing Spenborough A.C.
We wish him well. Have a good one, John! 
Meanwhile,  other clubmates will be tackling the less taxing features of Witton Park in that Mid Lancs XC league mentioned previously.  
Let's hope there will still be some runners not competing tomorrow to keep us busy in the shop! If not I could be travelling on to Blackburn complete with camera.
A  steady 6 for me today after yesterday's 20 x 300 rep session on the track.  I had Pat take me a couple of miles beyond Nelson so that I could run the best part of the 6 with the wind behind, sneaking onto the track for a couple of miles on the way.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

There's no such thing as bad weather for running.......is there?

 Despite the horrendous forecasts for today's weather I decided to maintain my weekly pilgrimage to the track; mainly on the basis that if the gales were sweeping across the lanes,  at least they would be pushing from behind  for part of the lap.
 Pat and I set up the Nelson shop for the day and donning a Windstopper jacket AND a Goretex jacket and bottoms I set off jogging to the track.   5 minutes later someone turned a hosepipe on me; at least it felt like that. Nice start!
 I must admit seeing several people of my age on the treadmills in the gym looked tempting, but a plan is a plan and so I stripped off the goretex suit and set about the session.......20 x 300.

 Having raced last Sunday and with conditions in mind, I was not planning to be running the reps  "eyes balls out"; hence adding to last week's 16 reps.  I'd run them slower but have a shorter 100m recovery.   I thought 45 mins pace would be suffice.......81 secs......but only manage 82, 83, 83, 83.   Consistent if nothing else.

  Hosepipe time again!   I retreated inside but just to gain extra protection from the Goretex jacket.  No thought of giving up!  A few more reps...all 83.....then unbelievably  the sun decided to tease me with it's presence before the weather had the last laugh and soaked me again .......but as they say there's no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing, undeterred rep. after rep.  were ticked off at a constant 83......with a final hurrah of 80 on the last.  Compared to 68 , 7 days ago.  Poor times maybe......but.....
                             What a morning......and it's only November!

  Now I've some bad news for all young ladies in the North West hoping to notch up victories in local events for the near future at least.  Charnwood's international TARA KRZYWICKI has come up from the Midlands and with partner Chris Black, has moved to Burnley.  She has already made her presence felt with a win in the local Burnley Fire Station 7.  With a season's PB of 34:23 (alltime 33:40) and 2010 F35 top 3 rankings at 5m and 10K,  she'll be showing a clean pair of heels to some of the local male runners as well on the roads.
   Visiting the Nelson Complete Runner shop today to equip herself for the hard winter months to come she said her next race would be the Mid Lancs cross country at Witton Park on Saturday running 2nd claim with Accrington Roadrunners but unable to count! 
   We wish her well  and hope her move works out well.  She will certainly grace the local scene.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Puddled on the Leeds Liverpool canal.

A very pleasant run this morning sharing a 8 miler on the Leeds Liverpool canal with Ilkley's marathon specialist Sally Malir.   A return to what was a regular midweek steady,  heading up towards Bingley past the famous Saltaire Mill along a  very puddle strewn towpath following recent heavy rain.

Much busier  on this stretch than coming from the west at Silsden as I usually do.  It was good to see former Bingley teammates and veterans champions, Mike Smith, followed several minutes later by Les Haynes  running towards us. Enjoying a fine sunny late morning's run as we were.

 It doesn't seem that long since I could run up to 20 miles with Sally as she built up for her Spring marathons.
Looking back over the last couple of years it's probably a significant negative factor that I have rarely gone over 12 miles for my long run.  Hardly good preparation for half marathons. 
 Today between puddle hopping and squeezing through several "bike gates" we averaged 8.30 pace. Perhaps if I am to tackle that half marathon, earlier next year,  which I put off last weekend,  I need to be joining her for her long runs as she is knocking out at nearer to 8.00 pace.   Thanks for your company today,  Sally.  A nice change.
  I'm over at the Nelson branch for the rest of the week, so just researching  the weather forecast for that area.  Not looking good..............winds up to 23 m.p.h.!!   Bit like this........

Ask a friend to drive you out as far as you want to run in and come  back with the wind behind.  I've done that before.   Not possible for me; could be 300s on the track again...... with the wind behind! Best of luck.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Haile Gebrselassie is for turning?

 I  took time out this morning to look up on YouTube  the post race comments of Haile Gebrselassie following his failure to finish the Sunday's New York marathon.  Coming out at 16 miles with fluid on the knee was certainly not what he had trained "very hard" (his words) for. 
 He appeared adament from the start of his announcement that what he was about to say "could not be changed"  and that all present would be "shocked".
  Seemingly, he didn't want to continue racing if it meant "complaining",  presumably apologising for a deterioration in future performances, and it was, therefore, "Better to stop here".   A phrase he used again and this was taken to be his way of announcing his retirement  from the sport.  
 It would appear that he could not actually bring himself,  or could not find the words,  to state categorically that he would never race again: a reporter having to query with him whether they had interpreted his announcement correctly. 
  He confirmed it was....better to stop here....to devote himself to "other work" ...."other jobs" ( he has a hotel and a car dealership amongst other business interests) ...he would leave the way open for the "youngsters".
 Significantly, and somewhat surprisingly, he had not discussed his immediate retirement with his coach/agent and as I ran through the many puddles on the trail this morning (goretex shoes?) I couldn't help but think that his announcement was a "knee jerk reaction" and that once he had spoken to Jos Hermens and others and thought about bowing out of the sport that he has graced so magnificently,  that he would probably have a rethink.  As it's always put..... finish at the top! 

 Indeed, as of the last hour, it would appear that he may be reconsidering his decision.  He writes..

   "What a disappointing weekend. I didn't plan to come back to Ethiopia this way.  I wanted to succeed in New York.  Now it is time for me to think about a lot of things.  I still love running.   I will always run. Just give me time to think things over."

   I would suggest that we may not see Haile Gebrselassie race another marathon as the "very hard" training he has had to endure has obviously taken it's toll and will have undermined his confidence. 
   I maintain there is a vast difference between racing a marathon and running a marathon.  I really stopped training for marathons in 1988 having run 2:36 on a very hot day at Blackpool.  Slogging on alone from 14 miles was very hard work. I was 39 and decided that , rightly or wrongly, that the marathon long runs were taking the edge off my speed and having run 24 .............enough was enough!
  I did, however, do another two.  A late decision London in 1994 , clocking 2:56 and more calculated approach towards the Amsterdam marathon in 1998, finishing in 2:50.  (Pictured here....another sunny day but somewhat cooler than Blackpool) .
 With a few months proper preparation I am confident I could finish a marathon reasonably well. But clearly I would be absolutely nowhere near the 3 hour barrier  and with all previous 26 under, why put myself through all the work necessary?   As Haile says, why do it when the result is a lot of "complaining"  about leg problems ..which I know  there would be!!
   No, once Haile has had chance to discuss his future at length I would like to think that he still consider he can continue to contest  world class 10ks and half marathons for a few more seasons.  Let's hope that is the case. 
  But, yes, having risen to the very greatest of heights I can't imagine he'll be "racing" at my age,  writing blogs "complaining" about yet another niggle and yet another "personal worse",  can you?

  On a positive note, todays' trail run of 7 mile actually went pretty well considering I'd raced on Sunday. It may well be down to my Saucony Amppro tights which I've been wearing for recovery but without wearing them on one leg only and making a comparison,there's really no way of knowing is there?              

Monday, 8 November 2010

No fireworks at Alexandra Park 5K (N0VEMBER)

Monday 3 a.m. Troutbeck  Lake District. 
  Lying awake.  Regretably for once the weather forecasters are correct .  Woken by very heavy rain pummelling on the velux overhead.  Another broken night's sleep.  Would the forecast for the first snow of the winter also be correct?  It was.......... as this shot over to Troutback shows....A one night stop over would be enough as the morning showed no sign of improvement.

  I was awake at a similar time last night when I lay  contemplating the last few week's of testing, the last few days dealing with niggles in each leg and considering the impact that 13.1 miles at race pace might  have.  Would it be worthwhile for another personal worse?  Or should I stick to the plan of racing but be sensible and choose a shorter distance?  
  We decided for the latter and by 10.45 found ourselves back in Manchester for the Alexandra Park 5k.  Only this time a bright and sunny autumn morning.  A more pleasant experience than last month's deluge when only 31 finished.  So much so that just prior to the line up nicely warm having doing a couple of miles loosener I even considered running without a t-shirt underneath.  I say considered..then remembered it was November.

  Despite the good weather only 52 had turned up.  Well actually 54 because the field  included  one young man who had firmly fixed himself on the start line with a double buggie complete with what looked like twins.  I did query whether this was a good idea on the narrow park path.  He replied that , with a hint of sarcasm, that the buggie had a motor attached.  The "gun" went and he sped away, pushing the buggie  as if someone was trying to kidnap his kids........he pushed his way to third place apparently in 17.57!   I say apparently as whilst he didn't lap me,  Pat said he came past her like the proverbial express.  She improved from last  month with 27.50 from 28.19.
  For myself, finishing in 21.30 the time was  an improvement on last month but of course I did have a lace malfunction that day.  Nevertheless, not exactly a sparkling run. Again the sparsity of the field makes the event very much a time trial; no group to run alongside this month again....

  I've mentioned previously that they have  failed to register age groups at this Alexandra Part event in the past which is an Open Athletics event rather than part of the "park run" set.  Well following "suggestions"
they have remedied that. Although it did highlight that I was only 3rd in the M60.
  We parked next to the M60 winner,  John Ward of Bolton.  It was good to hear how much he is enjoying his successful running at the moment.   Thrilled to be doing so well but as with other "latecomers" to the sport regretting not starting earlier and just thinking about what he might have achieved..  He started running just ten years ago at 52.  He ran 19.41; over a minute faster than the October event.  Well done to him!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thank gooness for Goretex.....again.

  What a morning! Heavy rain driven by strong winds provided the backdrop for a gentle 3 mile jog around Swinsty reservoir.  Thank goodness for Goretex.  Still it was a chance to assess the collateral damage from yesterday's track session.   Sore groin (as usual) ,  calf not too bad, (last night's ice treatment worked )  but
quite weary all in all.  3 miles at amble pace was certainly sufficient all things considered.  
   As I was only in first gear it didn't take much slowing down to pause briefly for just one shot to record
today's  predominantly grey scene,   lifted only marginally by the autumnal colours of the trees on the south bank  failing to reflect in the choppy water.

   Based on a call yesterday there would seem to be no problem getting a number for the Lancaster half marathon on Sunday which is forecast to be a cool, but bright and sunny day.  What I have to decide is whether a 13.1 mile race which may well produce a "slowest ever performance"  is what I need at this time.
I think the weather could be the deciding factor.   If the forecast is correct,   a sunny day on the Lancashire coast might prove just the tonic after the few days of sun starved greyness which  we're having to endure now.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


   If I'd have had a coach overseeing my session today and he'd asked me how the warm up went and was I feeling up to the session, I would have said that I was feeling quite  weary from 15 miles in the last two days and my left calf felt was sore and likely to hold me back. 
   With 16 x 300 metres on the track scheduled  I think he might well have cut the session down to a half so that he wasn't risking having one injured athlete on his hands.
    But not having a coach  my plan today was to run one , check the time and then use this to determine the target.  I would run as many as I could  at or around that time, hoping the calf would hold out.

 The first was a pedestrian, lacklustre, "down at heel" 76  seconds.   I decided with a push over the last 100 I should be able to manage 75 seconds. 
  I couldn't even manage that on the first 4..........  75.8    76.1     76.0    76.0.  A little progress on the next few  reps .....74.9   74.7   74.4    73.6  73.9 but as the reps continued,  thankfully  and unexpectedly,  I seemed to be gathering  strength .  The stride was lengthening and I was running more on the forefoot.   73.8   72.5  72.3. Better!  
 I was now confident of completing the 16 reps and managed 70.5 and 68.1 for the final 2.  Better still!!

Very pleasing.  Not particularly because of  the times which have been faster overall for 300s  but in the way a session that during the warm up was nearly abandoned,   then  nearly halved,  was eventually completed with acceleration throughout.
  It's said we should listen to our bodies.  Today,   the body was whispering in my ear,  "don't do it"  then
"only do half of it".........but it wasn't shouting  "this is a mistake"!    So I stuck to the plan.
  I never like shortening a planned run or curtailing a planned track session.  It would have been so easy today but it seems to be the case at my time of life that allowing  the body to loosen and become more fluid  can produce dividends.  
  I'm sure all of us,  no matter what age we are,  quite frequently think "I can't be bothered " or
"I've had enough".     But  give in to that thought too often and  bad habits develop leading to a loss of fitness.  
  Glad I  persevered today and felt better for it . Lesson learnt.    I've never been this age before so yes I'm still learning.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


 Hard to believe I know but looking at today's published list for athletes on lottery funding (WCPP World Class Performance Programme) for the 2012 Olympics it seems I've been passed over.  I guess Charles Van Rental,  or whatever he's called , doesn't believe I can improve on my 2:25 marathon over the next 2 years.  Perhaps the fact I'm 61 blurred his decision making.  Ageism, I call it.
 At least I'm trying; having run 18 races this year.   One female marathon runner is on the Podium funded list and she has only run 13 races in the last 5 years,  only 2 in 2009 and none in 2010.  So much for him saying "athletes must prove themselves continually to maintain their position on the programme which has performance at it's core...."   But then again she was pregnant. 

  Following the birth of her second child, Raphael in September,  hopefully  we will see Paula R.  justifying her support and performing very soon.  Her reaction?..............No doubt,  I can't believe it!!

 One race she won't be running is the BRASS MONKEY HALF MARATHON , organised by the Knavesmire Harriers club in York.   In fact many runners who would have liked to have run the race will miss out because, as with Gary Dunn of Thirsk and  Sowerby, they were out training when the online entries opened and by the time they returned the race had filled up!  

 I suggested to Gary  that having won the race in 2007  he should have received a complimentary entry,  never mind  missing out.  But despite knowing I'm still racing that privilege has never been extended to me as a past winner so I don't think he'll be holding his breath. He can but try.      Presumably runners without a  computer had no chance at all.  Technology rules. OK?
 There was no need for any technological aid to work out the team winners in the mens race at the COMPLETE RUNNER cross country league on Saturday at Huddersfield.  A magnificent show of club solidarity and commitment from Leeds City athletes,  with  9 men finishing in the first 12 in the race.
 It's perhaps a shame that the Northern and National XC champs no longer restrict entries;  as the battle for selection of the 9 Leeds City runners for the National cross country championship race would have produced 9 runners in the very best of shape to take on the Southern challenge.  

Despite  this team domination none  of them could challenge race winner M35 Andrew Pearson of Longwood.
Having recorded a 4:05 mile and a 28:32 10K, amongst other notable performances,  in his younger days,  Andrew was sparing  in his efforts for long periods in his '30s,  seldom racing. 
 His record show no races at all in 2007.
 But in 2008 he, and several "extra pounds" around the midrift, reappeared in the C.R. XC league at Wetherby (Nov. 2008) where he finished  a very creditable 30th.  2009 saw him win 3 of the league fixtures plus 17 other excellent road performances including a UK top M35 10 mile ranking with 48.54 at Thirsk in November. On Saturday his class showed again,  beating the winner of the first  league race  by one minute and 23 seconds.  Amazing "comeback". As they say, cream will always rise to the top.
  My week's running  started fairly well with a solid run over at the "res" yesterday.  I gave myself a thrill by running around anticlockwise and became even more excited (!)  when I discovered a new path , leading from the shoreline up to Fewston Church.  Perhaps they are considering using the new path for baptisms in the reservoir. 
 Today I was back on familiar territory with an 8 miler on the canal which was superbly quiet compared to a weekend.  I  passed only 3 people in over an hours running.   Back at the track I think tomorrow before some thoughts about the weekend 's racing.   One consideration is what may turn out to be my 103rd and possibly last half marathon as one thought I'm having for next year is to concentrate on retaining speed; replacing  runs of ten and over with an extra speed or hill session to try to maintain times over 5K and 10K.