Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Part of the pleasure of going to races is maintaining contact with contemporary friends and club mates.  But  invariably  a race will throw up the chance to chew over past running times with old running friends or acquaintances. 
After Good Friday's SALFORD 10K  I  had a chat with running legend MIKE FREARY of Bolton United Harriers.   Ten years my senior he was setting the roads and tracks of the North alight when I first started senior competition in the late '60s as witnessed in featuring on the front cover of Athletics Weekly (number 81) with team mate Ron Hill , who Mike beat by nearly a minute running 25.46 for 5.5 miles in this case.  Now 72, Mike recaptured vividly and so enthusiastically , albeit with his customary expletives(!), events at a road relay which took place over 50 years previous at the same Kersal venue.  Described  just as if it had happened yesterday. I think it's fair to say that Mike's achievements in Bolton, Lancashire and indeed the country were slightly overshadowed by those of Dr. R. Hill, his team mate.  But on this date , APRIL 27TH 1968,  in the AAA National Road Relay at Leicester Mike indicated he was , quote A.W., "on the brink of athletics greatness",  running the fastest long leg of the day, nearly 6 miles in 26:33 on a tough course on a windy day.  Bill Adocks (27.09) Dick Taylor (27.21) Ron Hill (27.28) and some fresh faced young teenager from Sale H. (30.06) were no one near him on this day 43 years ago.
Mike's  run was described as "astonishing" by reporter Mel Watman.   Certainly equivalent to a sub 28 mins. 10K at least.  Mike was telling me he is still in the sport with Bolton United harriers, " putting a bit back" as he put it. 

I also  caught up with another former local athlete I used to race against; now coach to one of the UK's leading marathon runners.  In the conversation I asked him what was the length of his athlete's longest run.   He replied that it wasn't done on distance, rather on time.  Time seemingly equivalent to his target race time and the run was generally done off road.  I could only conclude from this that the actually length then would be a good distance short of 26.2 miles.
 It left me thinking again whether this decision,  that it is not necessary to train 26.2 and over,   is a major factor determining the much talked about performances of today's leading UK marathon men.    Perhaps more over distance training runs might just be the missing ingredient?
Going further back to the big London/Boston marathon weekend one performance which stood out for me was that of  RYAN HALL in Boston.  2:04:58.  for a new U.S. record and 4th place.  Now he's certainly one who believes in training over the 26.2 distance.  More to follow tomorrow on this...

It's 5 days since that Salford 10K but I think it was still in the old legs today as I returned a very sunny but wind swept Nelson track for this week's "speed session"......8 x 600.  It's 9 weeks since I did this session last and I must admit I was hoping for signiicant progress.  Last time the average was 2:41.8 , today  2:39.2.  So some progress but not at much as expected.  Racing takes a toll at any age but more significant at 62.

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