Two, seemingly unrelated, running matters occupied quite a fair amount of my time yesterday. One watching a TV programme and the other reading a magazine. It's a hard life but as they say someone's got to do it!
fastrax vests in action which have gone out recently to several county teams for the Birmingham event.
I was hoping of course we would have one or two winners in our vests. But if nothing else the four hour long programme would serve as an excellent advert for our work supplying specialist vests.
It was interesting to see how the performances of runners who had competed in both the National cross at Alton Towers, in which hundreds of athletes struggled in the thick quagmire of mud, and Saturday's County championships compared. The latter course being much drier and therefore faster.
Not all fared well in both. A case of horses for courses. Like horses, we come to realise that certain runners perform better in certain conditions. Senior athletes come to accept this and can choose races accordingly but for developing young runners it must be hard to see rivals they've beaten two weeks previous on a hard, hilly,muddy course take the medals on a flatter, drier,faster course
The magazine article? Well that was yet another article on barefoot running. (Runners World, April 2011) A long article, which I may come back to, but basically like using spikes for the first time, the message is before going "minimal" or even barefoot tread warily.
We can't just switch from well cushioned, supportive shoes to minimalist shoes, or even go barefoot overnight, without great risk of injury. The transition is too extreme.
When I started running in the early 1960s our shoes couldn't have been any more minimal. So to run barefoot was not such a big transition. As teenagers we inevitably followed the example of Ron Hill, Bruce Tulloh , Jim Hogan et al but generally only on good, firm grass. Certainly not on the road and I personally never risked a cinder track.
But coincidentally I did risk one major cross country event....
The Inter County championships of 1967 held on March 11th at Markeaton Park Derby, looked ideal for running shoeless; grass like a bowling green, Going: good to firm! But the look of horror on the face of our Lancashire team manager will never be forgotten, as half the team peeled off shoes and socks and jogged to the start.
Particularly when it started snowing!!
He need not have worried as we placed 5 in the first 12 in the race (won by David Bedford) to easily win the team prize. Unfortunately for me it was only 4 to count and I missed out on a medal as I was 12th.
But it was much better performance than the week before in the National where having shared the lead with a Sale team mate after the initial charge, I slumped badly to 97th as we hit farm fields of plough and mud.
As we have said.....horses for courses!