Monday, 28 February 2011

Yesterday's 10K

 Yesterday's (Sunday)  run  was solid enough over the 8 miles but naturally the hilly route dulled the leg speed.  So today I wanted to make the 6 miler as flat as possible and ensure that each mile was at or around 8.30 mins. pace.
 But try as I might the first inertia stalled mile showed only 8.47.  Pushing on, perhaps with a breeze behind miles 2 and 3 showed good acceleration at 8.17 and 8.04. Better!

 As the garmin showed 7.52 for the 4th mile I thought why not push on to 6.2 and just see if I could get under the 50.00 mark for 10K.   A 5th mile in 7.47 and a 6th in 7.42 saw the time read 48.33.
I would need to push on hard doing 1.27 to hit the 50 minute
target.   1.26...............49.59!  Nice one as they say.
 Now I would have been extremely disappointed with that time yesterday in a proper race situation but for a Monday lunchtime running solo,  with full winter attire on,  I'll put that down as another (big) step forward especially considering the first 2 miles.   Figure the second 5K in just over 24 mins.

 The way the weeks  shape up Monday is very often my easy day with a rare Saturday race planned this week a rethink was necessary and it worked out well....for once.  

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cyclists 105 Runners 3

 Do you ever get the feeling you are "swimming against the tide" ?  Do you ever get the feeling you are "out of step with the world"?  Do you ever get the feeling that there's a secret that no one is sharing with you?   Ever had the feeling that everyone you know is going to a party but you've not been invited?

  Certainly had that kind of feeling this morning as a constant stream of cyclists flashed past perilously close to my left shoulder on my 8 mile run along local narrow country lanes.   The "traffic"   count was 2 runners, excluding me,  5 cars,  105 bikes and 2 tandems!  
                Message to self.....only run on this lane Monday to Friday!  Far too dangerous.
  There was a fell race on Ilkley Moor which would have involved many local runners but even so it did make me think I should be selling bikes and bike gear rather than running gear. 
  Having time for only 8 today  meant that this week's miles slipped to  just 38 but the average nudged up again to 32.6.   However the pleasing  23.53 5K solo time trial  did serve as some measure of further progress in week 8.
  Progress which will need to be mainatined (and some) judging by performances of many of the county's M60 runners in  Snake Lane 10 miler at Pocklington with 7 running under 70 minutes.  
  I keep asking myself what these guys, who I used to compete with shoulder to shoulder .  are doing  such that their times are being maintained  whilst mine are in freefall.  
                                       No doubt they are biking as well !

Saturday, 26 February 2011


  I shouldn't be writing this post.  I should be getting my kit ready for tomorrow's 10K in Cheshire.  The race details were published on 2 sites; neither of which said there would be no entries on the day.  Just to be sure I emailed the organiser on Tuesday; but having received no reply,  decided to ring him earlier tonight just to be sure.  "No entries on the day", he told me.   So my long awaited return to racing will have to wait a bit longer.
 No that I would have  been looking for anything special. That 5k time trial on Thursday left me quite drained
on Friday.....a slow 3 mile plod on the grass. Today was only marginally better ; another easy 4.  So no big deal really; it was sure to have been a P.W.   Just a tad annoying when we'll still have to travel over anyway
which was part of the exercise.
  Hopefully my leg problems have gone now and I can look to entering races  well in advance with confidence, because "entry on the day" is becoming increasing a thing of the past.  
                              If you are racing tomorrow......have a good one!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Change of plan pays dividends

                  Thursday,  and it was back to the track for my weekly fix. 
Having completed 1000 reps then 600 reps in the last two sessions, I had  pencilled in  300 metre
reps with 100 interval recovery to hopefully bring the pace down under 7 mins.  But I would see how the 2 mile warm up went today.
  Not unsurprisingly, the 12+1 completed on Sunday, the longest run of the year,  took quite a bit out of me. though I didn't struggle on the day particularly.    Monday  saw me sharing a run with Pat for a change over 4 miles and her pace was more than enough.   Tuesday,  a steady undulating 6 on the road and yesterday
it was back to the reservoirs for a very muddy 7 mile circuit. (But 2 minutes faster than last week)
 Consequently I was hardly fresh after the warm up around the park today, which exceeded 20 minutes.   I just didn't  feel up to  300 reps at what would have to be under 7 mins pace! 
                               So for once a rethink and a change of plan. 

 I decided it would be interesting and meaningful to do another 5K "time trial"  as it was 4 weeks ago that I did the first of the year.   If I had a nice flat "parkrun" handy which started later than 9 a.m.(!) I wouldn't put myself through these alone on the track but there isn't so needs must.
 I recalled that my January time was 25.27.   I was  pretty confident that I could mange a sub 25 so it made the maths easy.  Keep each of the 12 laps at or just below 2 mins, 
sprint the last 200 and "job's a good un" as they say.
The first 10 laps went.............
  1.55  1.58  1.56  1.57  1.56  1.56  1.56  1.54  1.54  1.54
At this point  I was starting to calculate that a sub 24.00 mins time might be possible so pushed on a tad....
finishing with  1.51  1.47 and the half lap in 53  for 23: 53 by the end.  Nice one! 
 I actually started to feel like a runner rather than an aged plodder over that last mile.  So  a very pleasing 1 .34 mins improvement over 4 weeks.   Hopefully it can be maintained ......with care. 
  Last January a similar trial time was 22.42 compared to a race 5K time about 2 minutes faster so today would suggest a race soon would be a reasonable exercise. There is a low key 10K on Sunday within a 2 hour drive.  See how the next 2 days feel!    First task get the ice pads on the legs  for a bit of relief then a well deserved can of Holsten Pils recovery fluid.  (Better than your Budweiser, Danny)


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Finish the race.....whatever?

The expression. "It's not the winning, it's the taking part" is frequently heard
or variations of it.  A "quote of the day" came in recently via RW from DAVE SCOTT, US Triathlete saying much the same thing ..........
    "If you set a goal for yourself and  are able to achieve it, you have won your race.  Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance or just finish the race. It's up to you". 

  Hard to disagree with that sentiment isn't it?   But what if the race you finished was an event you had previously won and last weekend you finished 1296th ?   Just 6 places from last.  
 The event being the (UK) National Cross Country Championships. The climax of the seasom for UK's top cross country runners. Held this year at Alton Towers, the largest  Theme Park and Fun Resort in England.   But after day's of melting snow and rain the venue's main theme was mud,  mud glorious mud!  I'm informed that after one leg fracture , the race distances were shortened for safety reasons.   Lovely..........not!

  The rearrangement  would surely have been good news for those at the back of the senior mens race,  having to "only" run 10K instead of 12K.   Their number included former European and Commonwealth  marathon champion Dr. RON HILL, finishing with just 6 behind him.
  Ron won the "National" back in 1966 (and 1968).  This old Athletics Weekly  depicts the sprint to the line with fellow Lancastrian  Mike Turner of Liverpool Harriers.
(Liverpool was in Lancashire then!)
  You will note that A.W. was priced at 1/3 (one shilling and 3 pence).   6.25p  today.  It is currently £3.95 !
   It's hard not to admire Ron's longevity, perseverance and tenacity at the age of 73.  But  I must confess that if I had been spectating at the event I would have had mixed feelings about watching a childhood hero of mine toiling in ankle deep mud right at the back in one of the most extremes events on the calendar.
   I think true cross country  which can include mud and ploughed fields is the hardest form of racing at any age and in 50 years I've sampled the lot, I think.   Track, road, trail, long and short fells races. 

 The "National" (typical start pictured above) used to be 9 miles for Senior men,  the ultimate  test of speed endurance including a start  so congested it's like running in a crowded lift for the first mile or so; and it used to be so select that only a club's best 9 were chosen to take part. Nowadays there is no restriction.
                       So, in conclusion, well done Ron.   Can't help but admire your valour.  ( Congrats also to Complete Runner XC league winners Leeds City who were Senior mens champs and the ladies of Bingley H. who picked up silver medals )
  On the other hand,  Ron  could have run the Northern Vets AC XC Champs at Warrington in which 10 over 70s, 6 over 75s and 2 over 80s competed with the ladies over just 5K.   But then again he would have had to have been a member as it's a closed club championship. 
  What do you think?   Happy to still compete when your P.Bs are a distant memory?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

2....10.....1. A runner's dozen

  I'm conscious that I frequently refer to prevailing weather conditions in my posts but then again it does very often dictate venue and direction of the run if's there a strong wind to have to cope with. 
  One advantage I have is that my wife Pat tends to go for her run earlier than me and so serves as my weather reporter!  Today she came back and reported low temperatures and that the chilly easterly was still present though not too blustery.   With that in mind I headed over to run on the canal. I would head out into the breeze and enjoy it pushing me back.   The gritty toepath would be more forgiving than a tarmac road run from home. be decided!

  To be honest as I set off the only intention I had in mind was to do at least 8.  More if Friday's track session had  not taken too much of a toll.
  I treated the first 2 undulating miles up to the canal as warm up  (9.25) (9.33)......I could still feel tightness in the hamstrings and the breathing was laboured ....then hoped for sub 9 minute mileing for the rest of the run.  
  I reached 4 out......8.52 and 8.48......decided to carry on......reached 5 out  (8.52).....decided to carry on.....managed an 8.39  so turning at 6 miles.  Reaching the famous 5 Rise Locks at Bingley.

  The acceleration continued on the way back nudged on by the breeze and the breathing was immediately better.  
8.35....8.27....8.32.....8.22....8.22....8.18.   A much better inward 6.
Really pleased with mile 11 and 12. thought I might struggle here in what was now my longest run of 2011.
But I was able to maintain the overall acceleration. Bodes well.
  Not wanting to get into the car with the heart still hammering I added a 13th mile jog in 11.43.
So  what might have been just 8 eventually became 13, a baker's dozen as they say. 

Today's 13 miler closed off another week. A week which has brought very satisfying progress in several ways...................
   DISTANCE.............week's total up from 40 to 45 miles
   SPEED WORK........a very reasonable 8 X 600 track session averaging 7.15 pace.
   LONG RUN............up from 10 to 12 (plus mile jog).   Longest of the year.
   BETTER PACE.......Middle 10 today in 85.50 compared to 90 mins last Sunday.
   YEAR'S AVERAGE......up from 29.66 to 31.85

  I know several runners who have already raced several times on the road this year but after my period of comparable inactivity I feel I am still in a period of  what footballers would call "PRESEASON  TRAINING" which of course we runners would call building up a base or laying down a foundation.  
                  I think today's run would suggest that the foundation is a sound one.

I hope you have made similar progress over the last 7 days
and if you are   a fellow blogger I look forward to reading about your week!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Snow predicted.

  I must admit to pulling back the bedroom curtains with slight trepidation and my fears proved justified.
As predicted last night 3" of snow fell overnight and throughout the morning , ruling out my normal late morning outing.  There was no way I was going to do a treadmill run. Good job I wasn't planning to do any gardening today.
 So  I decided to wait until late afternoon in the hope that by then the snow would have stopped and local roads would be safer to run on. A decision which proved correct.
  After yesterday's hard track session I only had 4 miles to get in. Just enough to ease the legs out a bit and run the stiffness off.  A reasonable recovery run.
 As expected the hamstrings were quite sore and tight for the first mile or so but pleasingly they loosened such that I could stick to plan.
 Nothing more than an amble pace wise.  Efforts yesterday at 7.15  9.30 .

  Having built my longest run in 2011 to 10 miles I have been harbouring an intention to run the Great North West half marathon next week.  I had planned to do 11 or 12 tomorrow and then make a decision.
  However,  as is proving to be the case for so many races,  late entries are not an option.  The Blackpool race joins the list of races this year declared as FULL.   A rethink is necessary!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Track progression maintained

 After last week's springlike conditions for the track session I was subjected to typical Lancashire wintry weather for this week's efforts.   Falling temperatures and a chilling crosswind did nothing to help the times; but at least it was dry. Could have been worse.
 I opted for a similar volume in terms of effort as last week  (5 x 1K)  but this week went for  8 x 600 in an attempt to step up the overall pace........ if at all possible.   200 jog recovery as usual. (1.30)
 Times reflected the customary acceleration................
                        2:46.8   2:45.7   2:44.9    2:43.7   2:40.8   2:38.6   2:38.9    2:35.3
Shame it takes several reps before my M60 legs come to life and I actually start to feel like a runner rather than an aged shuffler.
  Averaging out at 2:42  pace that translates to 7:15 approx. mileing, only approx. 45 10K pace, but  nevertheless again a bit of a boost to confidence.  I'll be back to over 9 for a recovery 4 tomorrow!

 Question is........ will we be forced to cope with an overnight snowfall on Saturday ? Hopefully  gone by the time I go out.  Need a lie in after today's efforts.

No strain.

Perhaps like you , every morning I receive a QUOTE OF THE DAY from Runners World U.S.  Many immediately deleteable.  But yesterday's from top USA marathoner KARA GOUCHER seemed to echo very much the mood of many of us at the start of the year. Her quote was, "DO THE WORK. DO THE ANALYSIS. BUT FEEL YOUR RUN. FEEL YOUR RACE. FEEL THE JOY THAT IS RUNNING"   Having a coach, she perhaps missed out plan the work.  But she emphasises that success does not come without effort and that having put the work in,  we must review how it's been going.  Evaluate. So if times and placings are important then recording our efforts is important or else there is nothing to analise.  Aim...implement...evaluate.  Go again...
I take it when she says "feel your run" she means enjoy our training and racing.  Which always brings me back to building variety.......pace,  terrain,  distance, venues etc....into the training week and in my case looking for new events to compete in. 

No great surprise, following my hard, easy, hard regime,  after Wednesday's 6.5 on the road  I treated myself to a nice moderate pace (enjoyable!) no pressure amble around the local playing fields over 4 miles.  A case of No pain, no strain.  9.30 pace.
But back to business, hopefully,  today, Friday,  returning to the Red Rose County for this week's track session where the pace will have to be somewhat faster!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Best run of the year.........I think!

 After yesterday's puddle strewn jaunt  on the trails around the 2 res,  today's run was "crying out" for something faster throughout.  No excuses as the morning developed favourably with bright sunshine and little or no wind.  
  So, the mission today......set out at sub 9 pace and keep it there,  hopefully with acceleration. things started well enough with an  8.48 in contrast to my normal cautious 9.10 or so and continued with good miles in 8.24  8.12 and 8.07.

  I  looked to be on for the best (non track)  training run of the year. Each time I checked the garmin it was reading just above 8 mins pace....then it got it's knickers in a to speak......AND THEN THE BATTERY WENT !  Just after 4 miles.

 WARNING! Prospective garmin purchasers should note that this a purely a visual image and that the garmin you buy is very unlikely to distort itself in this way. Unless perhaps when subjected to  extremely high temperatures. Should you be subjecting said garmin to high temperatures it is advisable that you should not be wearing your garmin at this time as running in such high temperature could have a detrimental effect on your health!

  Undeterred I think the pace was maintained and estimate that the 6 mile point was reached in less than 50 minutes  which is a clear indication of returning strength.

  I'll be the first to hold my hands up and say that,  as with many runners of my generation,  I've neglected stretching and strengthening exercises.   But one of the plethora of emails which flood in from RunnersWorld US  included some very good videos which  might just have me selecting some of the easier ones.  Several of them,  however, require flexibility to start with which  I just don't have!
 Plus, of course,  I think there is the danger of over working parts of the legs which are already sore or heeling;  thus only exacerbating the situation. 


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Puddled but not discouraged

 A fairly significant morning run today,  as I'd planned to return to one of my regular training venues  for the first time  since last November.   A full circuit of Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs for what I call the "2 Res Run".  
 Being a slave to the watch I was naturally keen to see how this run in my "comeback" period would compare with  several outings around the waters  in 2010. 
 I never run it very hard but on  a good day I can be close to 60 minutes and on a recovery can be around 65 minutes as on the Wednesday after the Gt. Manchester 10k last  May.
 With the trail awash from recent rain and feeling Sunday's 10 miler
(90 minutes on the road) progress was somewhat laboured and I failed to dip under 10 minute pace until the last 2 miles.  With a charge up the last hill I just managed to dip under the 65 minutes mark.
So room for improvement on this one, even on a recovery day.  On a positive note this was the longest undulating off road run this year and the legs survived. No strains.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A soggy end to week 6

  For the second week running the weather conspired to spoil what would otherwise have been a very good end to the training of week 6 in 2011.
  A perfect end would have been a nice flat 10 miler on traffic free country lanes with the sun high in the sky, a mild February temperature with nothing more than a gentle breeze.  A day full of promise of perfect spring days on the horizon.  Much like last Thursday.
  Some hope.  No such luck!
  Once again I drove out to discover  yet another new route  which would take me past  the R.A.F. Memwith Hill station which I've always previously viewed from afar as shown on an earlier photo., on the horizon, but never actually viewed close at hand.

  Locally always referred to as "the golf  balls"  the facility is said to be the largest electronic monitoring
station in the world.  As it provides an intelligence and communications support to the UK and USA,
American readers might be interested to learn that fellow Americans (USAF) provide the majority of the services there. 
 As I ran past the entrance the Stars and Stripes
was flying proudly alongside the RAF flag.
 It was interesting to see that there is  a running track in the grounds.  Perhaps they let the general public in?  Will have to check.

The run itself was far more challenging than desired or required.  An undulating,  testing out and back course,  with a cross wind driving unwelcome , wintry rain at me for the whole of the 90 minutes.
  At least the traffic was quite light and  very surprisingly not one single cyclist , a contrast to  the menacing groups we encounter in Wharfedale on a weekend morning. 
  Given the conditions and the course I quickly realized that if I could get under 90 minutes I would be doing well.  Going through 7 I was well off the pace but last 3 miles with last 3 miles in 8.40  8.39 8.43 I was able to bring it around.
  So that was week 6 put to bed.   3 targets accomplished.   A consolidation of last week's 40 miles but progress made with a slight longer "long run", from 9 to 10, and a reasonably satisfactory first track session.
A training week which I did not imagine would have been possible 5 weeks ago when week 1 ended with an aborted 2 mile walk on the shore of Lake Windermere.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


 At this time 25 years ago,  Sunday 16th. February 1986,  I toed the line with just 139 others for the inaugural MALTA MARATHON. The 26.2 mile race would see us tackling an undulating route from the inland start at Santa Lucia to the finish on the seafront at Sliema.
 Since the 4 x 1 mile session completed 9 days before I had run no further that 9 miles and had even enjoyed a couple of games of tennis in the marathon "taper".  But Pat and I flew out on the Thursday to the mediterranean island looking for a good rest more than anything else.  Whilst I  would be giving the event 100% effort,   the main focus woul still be the Bristol marathon 10 weeks on in April. 
  We were eagerly looking forward to much better weather than we were experiencing in the UK ; snow and gales.  So when race days came and we found that strong winds were plaguing Malta as well  it only added to the early morning tension.

 I had already seen one European marathon champion running from the hotel since arriving,  in the shape of RON HILL,  but during the mile warm up I bumped into another European and Commonwealth champion, IAN THOMPSON.  Naturally all the prerace banter was about Ron and Ian and all they had achieved and of course they were labelled as prerace favourites.  Hill had recently run a U.S. marathon in 2:29. Thompson was said to have been hoping for 2:20.
 Undeterred,  fresh from a victory in the Brass Monkey half just 3 weeks before,  I was clearly no great respecter of their reputations as the early race photo shows me setting the initial pace! Blissfully unaware of what was to come.
  Ian Thompson is over my right shoulder,  local rival Paul Pickup of Longwood is over my left shoulder,  Malta's favourite CHARLIE PORTELLI  features a stride to my right and Ron Hill is tucked in behind.
  Both the local newspaper report and "Ron Hill's ramblings" ( report in his magazine)  refer to how the strong winds hampered our efforts in the first ten miles.  They give no reference to what I witnessed go on.......
  Local hero Portelli had passed me and taken up the running but he in turn was passed by Thompson and Pickup who moved away leaving Portelli isolated,  as I was now in 4th place.   I clearly remember the course turning up to the Ta' Qali national stadium as the gales were becoming increasingly troublesome.  
 Soon after a large group of cyclists overtook me and rode on to catch Portelli in front.  We hadn't reached half way at this point.  I fully expected the cyclists to similarly go past Portelli as they had me.  But no, to my amazement and annoyance,  they surrounded Portelli, sheltering him from the wind and urged him forwards.  I could only watch in frustration as I ran the last 14 miles alone only slowly chipping away at the gap.  
  As we reached the seafront at Sliema,  Portelli still had the luxury of his moble windbreak and of course the encouragement of his gang   but  the gap was closing significantly. I was close enough to see that despite all he was by now struggling quite badly.  I charged on still hoping i could snatch 3rd place but I ran out of road and had to settle for fourth .   I ran 2:33.52 to Portelli's 2:32.50.    Paul Pickup had gone on to run 2:27.48. Two minutes ahead of Ian Thompson (best sub 2:10). Ron Hill , another 2:09.28 best in 1970,  was clearly disappointed with his 2:43.09 for 6th place.
  Having crossed the line,  Charlie Portelli  collapsed to the ground and was immediately picked up by St. John first aid and carried into the cinema foyer near the finish.   I jogged for a few minutes then went inside.
I could hear someone wailing ...."Charlie!"  "Charlie!! It was Portelli's  wife and young daughter in great distress as they leant over a very poorly looking husband and father still horizontal and still clearly in a very tormented  state.  They obviously thought he had just run his last race.
  The cyclists had simply  "run him into the ground". He had been forced  to give more than his all.   I peeled off my specially made Malta colours Fastrax vest and  lay it across the troubled runner.
  We waited around for the presentation; only to discover that awards would only be given to the first 3. 
A recovering Portelli  received a prize for 3rd and  a holiday in England for first localand a trophy twice the size of the F.A. cup.   I was the "weakest link" , 4th .........and went away with nothing.
    Maltese Cross? bet I was!  Needless to say, we have never been back. 

To be honest simply because we didn't feel the island compared well with other islands in the mediterranean.
 There was some consolation for myself and Ron Hill in seeing my wife Pat running 79.19  and Ron's wife May running 88.26 in a ladies 10 mile race run in conjunction with the marathon. 
                          Both of them coming away with age group trophies!

Friday, 11 February 2011


 Oh, how time flies.  It was back to the track  for a "speed"  session at Nelson yesterday as planned,  after an 11 week enforced break.  All things considered I wasn't expecting the tartan surface to be set alight by my speed.
 I emphasis MY speed!   accepting fully that the current pace  I classify as speedwork  would be "steady" for most and "easy" for others.  But it's all relative to the pace of the rest of the week's running, isn't it?
 A considerable amount of this year's off road running is falling between 9 and 10 minute mileing and road runs falling between 8, at best, and 9 minute.  So  not having any recent race times to work to I just thought yesterday that if I could just do a session in which all the running was sub 8 it would be a good starting point to this year's campaign.   I had decided 5 x 1K would be manageable and would give me reasonable feedback on current fitness as it's a session I would be able to look back on the training sheets and make a comparison.

  For once, conditions were quite favourable.  Cool, of course, but sunny and not too windy.  I set out on the first conscious that each 100 split would have to be under 30 secs.  No problem.  4.47.  But not totally comfortable and I started to think 5 reps might be one too many.
 Better, however, on the second (4.41 ) and by the third and fourth  it was starting to flow pretty well and the form was starting to improve.   4.38 and 4.39
I must admit to thinking at this point ,why not quit whilst I'm ahead , with no leg strains,  but resolved not only to stick to the original plan but also see if I could nudge the time down to a more respectable 4.30.   Not quite...4:30.5
                    So  5 x 1K rep session 4.47  4.41  4.38  4.39  4.30.
                    The "interval",   was 1.35,  a jogged 200.
Naturally I would like to think that will be the slowest K session of the year and eventually the number of reps,  will increase.  (I went up to 8 x 1K in 2010) But in the immediate future just an improvement in times will suffice.
 What did I learn?  That  doing those miles through a painful period has meant that I've not lost too much fitmess  but does tend to indicate that  if I was to run a flat 10K fairly shortly,  I couldn't reasonably expect anything  faster than  45 minutes compared to a 2010 best of 42.19. 
  Still I had to start back at sometime and hopefullyI can  go forward !
Today, Friday,  back to a welcome relaxed pace for an easy 4 mile on the trail.  Similarly tomorrow before tackling the Sunday longer run.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Doing your own (running) thing.

 Very pleased to have been able to have logged 40 miles for last week.  Whilst none of them were approaching the pace I would hope to be racing before too long, at least I feel as if I'm steadily building a foundation of fitness again to enable me to return to where I was last November. It was then that the advent of the snow resulted in too many deviations from a safe routine and the problems started.
 This week  the plan was to not only consolidate on that mileage total but also introduce more hills into the miles,  see what a moderate track session would show me and all being well finish off the week by nudging up last Sunday's 9 by another mile or so.  
    Slow and steady progress,  sticking to my plan, doing my own thing and all being well staying injury free.
 Wednesday and so far ,so good.  I say good, the so called "easy" 4 over Bingley way on Monday was made much harder than intended as the continuing gales did their best to pitch me into the Leeds Liverpool canal.
Tuesday I was back on the road for a testing hill circuit and today I made a welcome return to the Strid Woods for the first time this year for an undulating trail 5.  See how the track goes tomorrow!
  Variety in the training is key to me to staying motivated and injury free. So it's been good in the last week to get back to my old haunts; running on the canal , the Strid Woods and tomorrow doing the first rep session for the year. 
  I'll be tackling it by myself of course.   But that's another factor in staying injury free, isn't it?   I think sometimes it's best run alone rather than  with  friends  if we know it will be too hard share a run on that particular day;   or  even do your own thing on a Tuesday club night after a race,  when you know that others who haven't done the race ( or are younger and recover faster) will  be giving it some as usual!  
  Don't get me wrong,  it was always great to share hard miles with others but  as I've got older and lost fitness I've learnt to be wary of trying to keep pace with my younger and faster friends.  Older but perhaps wiser. 
 Having said all that,  it's half term next week;  perhaps I'll find a friend or two to run with late morning!

Sunday, 6 February 2011


 Faced with an undulating out and back route and a south westerly gale, gusting at over 30 m.p.h.  I was not expecting anything in terms of fast times today over 9 miles on the road.   But  I must admit setting off  my thoughts (and sympathies) went to those training and racing off road on higher ground than I would be experiencing.
  I know from having been in the shop on Friday that many were up in the Dales preparing for the 3 Peaks Race. Will have been tough!

 Popular distance running advice is that we start our runs INTO the wind, whilst we are fresh and strong,  so that the wind is behind when we are tired later. Unfortunately, that strategy does not suit aging astmatics;  starting off into a gale tends to find me wheezing within minutes.  So the plan was 4.5 out with wind behind and 4.5 back into the wind , when I tend to be stronger anyway.
 I was pleased with the pace over the first two flat miles until a rather mature gentleman breezed past.....riding a penny farthing!  Presumably borrowed from the guy in this picture. Just how he managed to stay upright in today's weather conditions I just don't know. Very strange!
  Much of today's run was on country lanes through Castley and Weeton towards Harrogate so there was some shelter from the hedgerows but in open stretches the gusts would just bring me to a standstill. Not pleasent at all.   Still as is my want I somehow managed negative splits.
  Setting off I would have been satisfied with 81 minutes for the hilly 9.  Clocked 81.45. So not too bad.
That brought the week's total to 40 miles.  (5, 5, 5, 8, 4, 4, 9)
 A week in which the emphasis was really on continuing to restablish distance tolerance and regain strength and confidence with an 8 miler on Thursday and today's 9 miler.  Amazing to think that just 10 days ago I had to stop 6 times to stretch and relief the leg to finish 3 miles on grass.


 With a gale blowing and rain sweeping down the valley,  so pleased I don't have to do much today, Friday,
after Thursday's confidence building 8 miler.  What a difference in less than 24 hours;  could have been mid April as I set out from Foulridge Wharfe yesterday.
 At least the snow has not returned. But there's no guarantee.........

It did in 1986 as I put the final touches to preparation for the MALTA MARATHON.  Ten days prior to the mediterranean
island event,  on the Wednesday,  I put in the last long run of 18.5 miles on "snowy" roads  at just under 7 minute mile pace.  More than a minute slower than marathon pace.
 Just a 5 on the Thursday then the last rep session on the Friday.   4 x mile on the local infamous Rupert Road circuit.  5.33.....5.26.....5.23.....5.15.   Faster than marathon pace. 2 mile warm up/ 2 ease down. With only 1 minute between each; unusally short for me. 
 Job's a good 'un, as they say!  9 days to go; time to relax.
 Time to catch up with some work and check the vest has arrived for the race; especially made in Malta's colours of red and white.
 The next day I didn't run...........had game of tennis instead!  Yes, in February; indoors at Ilkley T. & S.C.
  But back to the present day......FRIDAY'S RUN.
   Frankly,  less than pleasureable.  2 hard, tired miles into the prevailing westerly wind;  conditions very unwelcome after yesterday's hard run.   Obviously a lot easier coming back!

Thursday, 3 February 2011


  I must admit after the problems of the last few weeks I was quite pleased to be able to drag the old legs around an undulating countryside circuit near Boston Spa last Sunday.   However, it took me 74.06 to complete and it was the right groin which gave me most discomfort.

 After  3 days of 5 miles each day, alternating road and off road,  today I wanted to consolidate the "come back" by repeating Sunday's distance but would be asking the body for  one step forward  in the form of  a better rhythm and pace.  No excuses for slowing down on a the flat canal towpath from Foulridge.

  Weeks back this run would be regarded as a straight forward maintenance exercise. Today it took on greater significance  in attempt to return to last year's fitness levels.
 Setting out at noon, Lancashire was bathed in warming sunshine and with a breeze behind it was pleasing to be back under 9 minute pace after the usual tentative first mile.  Question was could that pace be maintained for another 7 miles? 

 Much is written about running through pain. For the record , the right groin was sore for the first two miles but eased off after that and was not an impediment after that much to my relief.  35.21 at the turn.
 I had hoped that I might manage  70.00 for the 8 miles so with a slight push that looked no problem; but with the wind pushing me back it wouldn't be easy.
 With just over 2 to go I could hear rapid footsteps behind and within seconds a young man flew past, leaving me for dead and bringing home just how slow I was going.   But within a minute he had stopped!   I encouraged him to join me,  which he did and  he told me he was doing a "test run" for the "paras".  (Best of luck, Tom)
  It was good to have some company over the last 2 miles for a change and as might be expected the pace increased by nearly a minute. The last 2 miles being 8.10 and 8.00.  Amazing how running with others can bring out that little bit more.   The second half completed in a very pleasing 33.35 for 68.56. 
            So, one step forward taken.....hopefully no steps back!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Thumbs up again for the NHS

 This is hopefully the last time I have to refer to the problem I have been having with my left leg.  Followers of the saga may recall my own diagnosis that it was sciatica.  I failed before Christmas to consult my G.P. and as the condition hadn't improved by New Year consulted a chiropractor as previously reported . 
 In the initial consultation he said is was hip bursitis not sciatica and I paid for that and 3 more visits based on that assessment.   Unhappy with his "bedside" manner I eventually did speak  to my G.P. about the problem and today I saw a musculoskeltal consultant in the practice.

 Based on my description of "training" since the end of November,  running in the snow, treadmill sessions and reintroduction of rowing,  the consultant agreed that the pain I was having right down the leg was indeed the sciatic nerve...........being pinched by the piriformis.  So piriformis syndronme.
 He immediately demonstrated several piriformis stretches designed to bring relief.  Some of the positions may well prove difficult for my old inflexible body to even get into but if they are to eventually work I have to persevere.  I will continue also to use my ice massager.   Several polystyrene cups frozen ready in the freezer.
So once again  the NHS would appear has come up trumps.

 As I walked through the door  after the consultation, the phone was ringing.  It was Saga offering private medical insurance.   I  politely declined.

 Today's run was  another 5 after Sunday's 8.   Target time 45 minutes........time achieved  43.44.