Wednesday, 31 August 2011


 Last week, week 34 of the year(!) continued to follow a pretty clasic hard/easy pattern.  Immensely encouraged by that sub 60 minute time around the res.  I ran a steady 5 mile on the Thursday in anticipation of  the first track session to be executed since stopping the intake of the steroid inhaler.
 I was very keen to see if I could cope with a speed endurance session of 5 x mile; and , of course, how would times compare with the last time before cessation.
 Regretfully I used the Garmin rather than the stopwatch for this session and it was "bleeping" a mile a significant distance  before the measured mile on the track, so it threw timings out somewhat.  So it made a mockery of the comparison I had hoped for with the similar session 2 weeks ago.   I ran the whole mile in lane 1 so found the differential  between a GPS mile and a track mile  very puzzling.
 However, I'm pretty sure the first and last  mile were pretty acccurate and they showed good improvement, the last mile being 7.15.
The main feedback though was that the whole session felt much more comfortable.  Double bonus.
 So a hard but one from which I learnt a lot.   No problem.
As  cool westerlies brought in heavy rain down Wharfedale on Saturday  I was pleased that all I had to do was a short 3 mile recovery run;   with a  rare visit to my club, Sale Harriers, with, hopefully some good company for a 10 mile run, on Sunday.

 I parked up at 10.15 at Crossford Bridge in sale on Sunday morning in good time for a 10.30 start.  Dozens of runners turned up; but  the majority aged between 6 and 11 were not going to be joining me for a 10 miler.  We did muster a group of 4 eventually  and  it was good to have company for 8 of the 10 plus miles.
 Very interesting and perhaps encouraging to witness so many children starting their athletics careers, working on the same "cinder" track  as I had nearly 50 years ago.  Only I was 13 years old.
 Let's hope that many embrace the sport for years to come and many cam emerge through the difficult years between  18 and early '20s when it seems many hang up their running shoes.
  So that was last week.  A pretty balanced week with  a 6 x 400 grass track speed session and a speed endurance session on the tartan track of 5 x mile with a solid 10 mile to finish and sign off the week with 44 miles, maintaining the yearly average above 41.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Before looking at the BURNSALL 10 results from then (1986) and now an update an how things have been since changing my asthma medication.......
This time last week I was strolling towards Bolton Abbey with Pat, having had the E.C.G. in the morning and having had a suggestion from my G.P. to perhaps ease down on the training and,  prompted by myself, yes,  to cut back on the steroid inhaler.
 We naturally discussed the ramifications of changing my routine of training and racing.  Supportive as ever, Pat stressed how important running still is to me.  "It's not just a hobby," she said, "it's your life.  The problem has to be sorted."
 I thought back over the last 18 months again and decided to see if cutting back altogether on the "preventive" inhaler SYMBICORT  could be tolerated.  I should say at this point taking this "glucocorticoid steriod" is not reported as having an adverse effect on heart rhythm but on taking it there is a definite reaction and some of the listed side effects can be  headaches, sore throats, upset stomach, sinus infection, respiratory tract infections, nausea and vomiting. 
                  So basically  if  I could do without it all well and good !
Today, then was the first chance to compare a training run since stopping taking it.  Last Tuesday, albeit having run the Chernobyl 10K on the Sunday, I  tackled the 2 RES RUN around Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs in a very tired and uncomfortable 66.06.   Regular  readers will know that   I very rarely run under 60 minutes on this.  Averaging 61/61.
 Today, mindful of the watch but not really pushing it.............59.19 !! Nearly 7 minutes faster.
I  know I will always have restriction from my 1969 lung surgery but I will be reporting to my G.P.
that otherwise the chest is feeling more open and generally freerer.
OK last week I had just run that 10K.  But Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week were also toughish days and I did a mini track session yesterday.  So at this moment  I shall continue without the steroid inhaler just taking VENTOLIN just prior to my run.
  Having said all this  I shall continue to avoid coffee,  paracetomol,  Magnum dark chocolate ice cream and limit , but not cut out, the alcohol intake.


  Unlike prior to a race nowadays  the diary shows there was no real ease down for this tough Yorkshire Dales Saturday race with 2 speed sessions in the week prior and an "easy" 10 the day before for good measure!   No doubt faster than I can manage in a 10 mile race  at this present time. 
  As always in those days Burnsall attracted a good quality field from far and wide.  Weymouth, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, plus of course,  all parts of Yorkshire and many from Lancashire.
I was 3rd Valley Strider home in 9th place in 53.51.  The race was won by Brian Eden (V.S.)
in 51.43 with Mick Day 3rd (V.S.) overall in 52.51.  So 3 inthe first 9.
 Just behind (and still active)  were Jack Verity (ASVAC now Saltaire Striders) 11th in 53.53
and Andy Hauser (then with Macclesfield)  15th in 54.33 and Rob Eccles (Bingley) 18th 54.51.
  72 runners were back within 60 minutes.
  I only have the first result sheet which registers the 102nd finisher in 63.07
  There were only 18 veterans in those 102. 
It could be left at that but of course it demands comparison with the 2011 race. 
 The race was won by Alan Buckley (unchallenged) in 55.26. We know he is capable of much faster.  5 men were inside 60 minutes.  72 in 1986.
This year they appear to have stopped timing at 97th place in 94.57
In 1986  97th place recorded 62.69
  Very often we say at this point less quality but much more quantity.  But not with regard to this event for some reason.  Only 106 finished.
 What is of most concern I feel is the percentage of under 40 in this year's race.
Only 28 of the 106 were under 40, male and female.   82 in 1986.
 Not startingly new revelations but again hardly bodes well for the future of the heart of our club based sport.   It would appear there is a desperate need to recruit more members aged between
20 and 40.  Perhaps soon race prize presentations will skip the open awards as there are no particicpants and go straight to the veterans!


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Coping with the effects of decades of running.

 I enjoy a daily run and I enjoy a daily drink of alcohol.  Rarely miss out on either.   Not unique in that. Many runners "reward" themselves with a couple of pints of beer or lager after a club training session or on the way back from a race.  After half marathons and even the odd marathon I have genuinely felt a couple of pints has served as an excellent recovery drink.
 But over the years a degree of moderation has been introduced.  With my training  I am running on average about 60% of what I was in the peak years.  Over the last couple of years I have felt alcohol has needed moderating and cut down to one can of Pils per night with the occasional glass of wine.  Hardly a "session"! I had been sharing a bottle of wine with Pat Thursday through to Sunday with the cans as well; and I decided it needed  cutting back.  Seems I was right to do so.   Not because of weight gain or the effect on the brain but how it effects the heart.
  This time last week  I was reading an article about how otherwise healthy people often have just a few too many units of alcohol whilst on holiday and consequently suffer "heart rhythm problems".  A phenomenon known as "Holiday Heart Syndrome".     With alcohol coursing through the body, palpitations, breathlessness, chest pains and lightheadness can be suffered. Not good.
 I would have guessed that "Holiday Heart Syndrome"  referred to  what young girls experienece when boys they fall in love with on holiday fail to get in touch afterwards. But no,  binge drinking , very often when away is the cause. 
 I've certainly been there going away with friends.   Strolling down a foreign  promenade, blazing sun high in the sky, passing beach cafe late morning  or for lunch and already  sat with pints of the ice cold amber nectar in front of them.   We take a table and  stroll on two pints later.  Only problem being I would have to train for the second time in the evening.  Perhaps OK when I was younger but not anymore.
 I have been suffering some abnormal "heart rhythms" over the last couple of years; sometimes going to bed only to lie awake with the heart  hammering away disturbingly for some hours.  Extremely unpleasant and quite alarming.  Naturally I've been trying to work our what has been "triggering" it off.
 I tried to relate the occasions to hard sessions or races.  Not so.  
 I  thought it might be paracetomol; so I stopped taking that.   No luck.   I  thought it might be down to coffee; so I stopped drinking that.  Still the occasional problems.   I experienced severe palpitations having eaten a very dark chocolate ice cream;  thought that might be the cause.  Still occurred.
 The article gave some explanation as I read further. It  said that another group prone to abnormal heart rhythms (atrial fibrillations) are MEN AGED 40 TO 55 who are still training  strenuously ....PARTICULARLY RUNNERS! and that if such runners experience palpitations they should consult their doctor.
 You can imagine at this point alarm bells were ringing.  Particularly when I had a very bad occurence that very night. but needed to know just what the medical people thought.
 So come Wednesday morning I was on the 'phone making an appointment and minutes later was sat discussing the problem with my G.P,  within two hours I was having an E.C.G.! 
 The initial diagnosis is that what I have been suffering is ATRIAL FLUTTER.  Not sure quite how this is different to ATRIAL FIBRILLATIONS! But no doubt further discussions will follow.
 Whilst accepting that decades of running enlarges the heart and accepting that alcohol can have a toxic effect  I  put it to the G.P. my asthma preventive medication may be playing a part. She said it might and suggested cutting it down from 4 "puffs" to 1. 
I decided to cut it out altogether.
She suggested also perhaps easing  back on the training.  Well I did that day; just a vert pleasant 2 mile walk with Pat.  But  needed to see how cutting out the preventive inhaler  would  effect things.
So how has the last week been? 
Well I have not really eased back on the training...much.   A good hill session on Friday,  a couple of solid hilly runs whilst in the Lake District, Saturday and Sunday and  6 x 400 on the grass track today.
   How has the heart been?  Pleased to report, no problems!
So I'm going to report that the "preventer"  is a major factor though accept that the alcohol intake needs watching.
I'm really hoping that this could be a turning point and remove a negative factor which has been taking the edge off  training and racing.  Whilst I have continued with my Ventolin "reliever" before training runs, cutting out the steroid preventer inhaler (pictured here)
does not seem  to have had an adverse effect.  

Let's hope that we've sorted the "trigger" out and these "flutters" don't reoccur.  I may be 62 and have nearly 50 years racing under my belt but I still feel I have hundreds of miles to run, sessions to complete and races to run.   Watch this space!

Monday, 15 August 2011

CHERNOBYL 10K AUGUST 14 2011........a short video

For many runners a weekend is all about their Sunday race.......for them the weekend starts as the gun goes!

P.S. It would appear that my Chernobyl video has been "pulled" because of copyright issues with the music used. The music was from my library.  If I had used a piece of music from the approved list offered by Youtube it would have taken days to upload though they say it only takes minutes. They have a flaw in their system but point to "copyright" when users try to add music from their own source. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

CHERNOBYL 10K...a successful late decision

 For so many years the majority of the races I competed in were those which we had arranged with the race organiser to take the van to and sell our wares. In the discussions I would generally ask him to reserve a number for me.   It was very rare that Ihad to actually send a postal entry. So that's my excuse for not framing myself as well as I should nowadays and entering races before they fill up.  
 The last week was essentially constructed with the thought to run a 5K over in York on Tuesday night. Quite attractive as they are having 2 5k races and the "B" race is for over 60s and slower runners.  It would have been a good chance to compete at the sharp end again.
 However, late on Saturday evening I saw that the online entries had closed and decided not to risk not being able to enter on the night.  So despite having run a 7 on Friday and a 7 yesterday, not my usual ease down, Pat and I headed west once more into the Red Rose county for the CHERNOBYL 1OK in Preston.

MEDICINE CHERNOBYL  is a charity run by volunteers to help the children of Belarus affected by the accident at Chernobyl in April 1986 whereby 70% suffered radioactive fallout caused by the explosion. The races help raise funds to provide respite care in the nearby Ribble Valley. 

 I anticipated a fairly low key event based mainly on traffic free country park paths near the River Ribble and that essentially was what we were delivered.  except the convoluted course threw up several testing short climbs which served to blunt the pace.
 211 supported the race and hence the charity.  I  fought my way through as usual, overtaking to reach 53rd place and secured another M60 category win (another bottle of wine for Pat)
But with the cream of the regions veterans competing in the Northern Vets 10K up the road in Blackpool I am not flattering myself.  Evan Cook won the Northern Vets M60 in 38 plus!
 Considering the inclines  and the lack of ease down I was reasonably pleased to record 44.03.  Actually faster than the very flat Platt Fields,  though that was a hot one!  Brings 10K races done to 136.
 Surprisingly the race was mile marked rather than K marked and the Garmin came into its own as the 3 mile marker was .45 out of place!  My garmin splits being  7.07 7.26 6.50 7.09 6.50 (1.33)  indicating that given a flatter faster course a time inside 43 should still be on for this year.

 Weight has never been an issue for me.  I don't think I have ever been over 10 stone in my life.  So it was interesting to share the 2 mile ease down after the race with SAM TULLY , a young man from North Wales, he was telling me how he has seen the light in that he had stopped excessive drinking, taken to running and reduced in weight from 16 stone to 11 and a half.  It transpired I was in front of him the Manchester but he was just in front today.  I'll be looking out for him at futrue races but no doubt there will be even less of him to find.  Well done, Sam.

 So  in conclusion  I need to frame myself  to organise a programme of events for the rest of the year to try to match last year's times over distance up to half marathon  and have the confidence to know that I will actually be fit enough to race then when the time comes.  Could take some travelling.....probably going west again!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Best week of the far

  I really wish that the ubiquitous Parkruns started a bit later.  It was 9 o'clock on Saturday morning when I woke up.  Just the time when thousands of early risers were setting out on, for many, their weekly 5K effort.  
 I'm pretty convinced even if I made the effort of going to bed that bit earlier and making that early start time I wouldn't perform any where near to 100%.
 Not that the start time is the only handicap,  as the nearest venues of Hyde Park Leeds and Lister Park Bradford are hardly on the door step. 
 I was keen to record a tempo 5K on Saturday so a convenient Parkrun would have been ideal as it was , what with the dreadful weather and athletics  on the tele,  I ended up at Nelson track late afternoon.  Interestingly 2 others had much the same idea.  I passed through torrential rain on the way over but the 12 and a half laps were completed in dry albeit breezy conditions but still hard work.
 As I was warming up, one of the others on the track asked with I suspect just a hint of sarcasm, "Have you started yet?" (Cheek!)  So  perhaps determined to demonstrate that there was a distinct difference between my warm up pace and my tempo 5K pace I went through 4 laps in 7.13, slowed on the next 4 to 7.17 and with the year's fastest previous effort  for this training exercise of 22.35 in mimnd had to work very hard to record 7.13 for a final time of 22.33.

Meanwhile ,at much the same time I think Lancashire's finest HELEN CLITHEROE was completing her 5K on the Crystal Palace track in the AVIVA LONDON GRAND PRIX.  Pleasing to see the 37 year old   received the award for the best UK performance of the day finishing 2nd to US runner Lauren Fleshman, running a 15.06.7 and booking her seat on the plane for the World Champs in Daegu.  Not only  an improvement on her PB  by over  23 seconds  but now faster than my 15.18 !  But would expect nothing less from someone who shares my birthday. Her running this year shows that sometimes we have to just re-evaluate the training we are doing, the races we are competing in and not be afraid to make significant changes.
Well done to her.   

Many would suggest that 5K on the track is hard enough in a race with others let alone doing it solo but at least there are no impediments that we face on the roads or even the canal towpath.
  With 2 track sessions then "in the bank"  for the week I was interested to see how I would cope with another 12 miler yesterday with Jon W.   and again a touch apprehensive  as he is younger and faster.   But it went pretty well again; just a few seconds per mile down on the previous Sunday
when both of us were just that little bit fresher.   Customary 2 mile jog intro. then 10 miles in 82.13.
   So 53 miles for week 31.   I've been over 50 a couple of times this year but as we all know quantity is not the only factor.   So for the week to include 12 miler, 8 x 1K rep session and a 5K
tempo solo track effort was particularly pleasing. 
Needless to say, today's Monday outing was a short 4 mile jog at 9.45 pace.   My "rest" day!

And ,finally,  congrats must go to 2 other local athletes, brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee  (Bingley Harriers) who were first and 3rd in the Hyde Park, London World series triathlon.
Nice if they could repeat that in a year's time at the Olympics but would the younger, developing Jonny be taking the gold? Time will tell.

Friday, 5 August 2011

FRIDAY: 8 mile at conversational pace.

"Why are you talking to yourself?"
"I'm doing a run at conversational pace but I'm not running with anyone else"
"Oh, I see."
"What run are you...sorry we.....going to be doing?"
"8 miles on the trail, past Bolton Abbey and on to the Strid"
"Are you sure?  It'll be busy; holiday time and the sun's shining"
"Be worse, Saturday or Sunday"

"How far have we done?"
"A mile. How are you feeling?"
"Not too bad but Wednesday's track session is still in the legs"
"What did you do?"
"Usual simple rep session. Nothing complicated.  8 x 1000"
"What the interval recovery?"
"Minute and a half"
"How did it go?"
"Rubbish, to be honest. Legs were still suffering after Sunday's 12 miler"
"But you could have predicted that, surely?"
"Yeah, but I was delivering into Nelson so I just carried on to the track as usual"
"So you could describe the session as a perfunctory one?
"I could, if I knew what the word meant. Does it mean slow but got less slow as it went on?"
"No it means done as a matter of routine, I think. Still, 8000 metres of effort, can't be bad."
"Suppose not. I actually did another, making 9"
"Why was that?"
"Well, I had been given a pair of shoes to try out by a fashion footwear brand and thought I would see how they felt over 1000 metres"
" I have been selling running shoes since 1975 and can honestly say they are the most unusual shoes I have ever worn!"
"Why was that, then?"
"When you first put them on you feel as if you have a big lump under your arch. The idea is that you are forced to run on your forefoot. Actually works when running fast but the initial feel is so different I don't think they will sell"
"What make are they?"
"Can't say.....but I could do a sketch?
"Yeah, get it!"

"Any other news then?
"Yeah, I'm thinking of trying a new line for the business. An idea from America."
"I thought we'd seen all new running ideas. Was is it then?
"Running wedding dresses!"
"How do you mean?"
"Custom made white wedding dresses which you can run your race in properly, even achieve a P.B. and then get married in at the finish line."
"You mean with technical wicking fabrics used and made especially for the bride?"
"Yeah.  You know what they say; what the Americans do, we copy"
"How much do they cost over there?"
"From 1760 dollars!!"
"Must be very technical fabric!"

"How far have we done?"
"2 miles in 20 minutes.  All these stiles are slowing us down"
"Not exactly Mo Farah pace is it"
"Oh I don't know. Did you see that 5K he ran at the weekend"
"Yeah, he jogged  14.00 to win the UK trial"
"Not that one. The one he ran the day before in over 23 minutes."
"You kidding?"
"No he ran the Bushy Parkrun with his wife, Tania"
"Good for him. I should run with my wife Pat more"

"Cavendish tea rooms are busy"
"Yeah, loads of cyclists taking a break"
"You never see runners stopping for tea and cake on a run, do you?"
"Perhaps that's where we 're going wrong"

"There's a mountain biker ahead"
"Thought they didn't allow biking on the Strid?"
"I think he knows that. That's why he's not pedalling"
"Or perhaps he hasn't worked out that pedalling helps him to move forward"
"You going to make a sarcastic remark to him, aren't you?"
"Moi, would I do that"
"Yes, you always do.......knew you would!"
"Speed up a bit....he's started to pedal ....and catching us up!"

"Was there anything interesting in the Athletics Weekly mag?
"Nice picture of Kelly Sotherton with no clothes on!
"Other than that!
"Interesting result from the UK trials with the womens 10K"
"Why interesting?"
" There were only 5 entries and only 4 finishers. One Ethiopian,  2 Japanese and Soina Samuels from my club Sale. So Sonia became UK champion with only her in it"
"Doesn't say much for Uk endurance director, does it!"

"This bit's quite hilly, isn't it?
"Yeah.  I think I'm having a turn"
"How do you mean?"
"I 'm seeing double.  2 women coming towards me with red hair, black tops and white jeans"
"They're identical twins, you nutter!"
"Thank God for that!"

"What are you doing this afternoon?"
"Probably do my blog"
"Does anyone ever read it?"
"To be hoped so.  It's taken me ages to type everything I've said in red!"

"Do you ever get any comments?"
"No, because it's b****y difficult to do!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Running on empty meets running on empty!

  I didn't mention earlier in the week when referring to Sunday's run with Jon W. that we were joined for a couple of miles by a 3rd runner; a very capable looking young lady who had crossed  one of the canal bridges in front of us and run ahead on the towpath.  Naturally our pace quickened...
 We caught up to her and she ran with us until we reached 5 Rise Locks where we turned back and she carried on.  But the couple of miles we shared were long enough for us to ask her about her running.  Usual obvious questions, "Do you run for a club?" " Run any races lately?" 
 I was expecting to hear about some good performances but neither of us expected to hear that she was a former Great Britian and England team member as a junior;  a highlight being  a 4th in the World Junior Cross County Champs. as a member of a south of England club, Parkside Harriers.  She has performed excellently up to a couple of years ago but it was her experience with coping with the development of an eating disorder which perhaps colours her present running approach.

 ALLIE OUTRAM  learnt that her  eating disorder problem, was shared by many other females in the G.B. team  and  has written a book called RUNNING ON EMPTY in which, I read, she describes with  "heartbreaking candour and poignant intimacy" "the complexities and inner struggles of her battles with anorexia" (Amazon product description). 

Allie has without doubt written her book  to increase awareness of anorexia and  bring the hope of a brighter, healthier, more successful future for sufferers ;  as she now enjoys. 
A  world class runner writing to inspire others trying to cope with a disease which we learn this week is even touching the lives of children as young as 5 years old. 
She "lifts the lid" on an international scene in which she could almost justify,  whilst concealing,  her "eating disordered behaviour".   An obsession with weight which she says many coaches actually encouraged; hopefully without realising thedamage they wre doing.
 She is currently helping others in her role as a psychological wellbeing practitioner.  But,  having reached the top rungs  on the running ladder of success, is at the moment not quite ready to accept slower times than those she previously enjoyed.  Far from alone in that view.


Monday, 1 August 2011

A return to Golden Acre Park

 Yesterday's 12 miler was without doubt the best distance training run of the year.  So naturally I wasn't going to be up for much today; whether quality or quantity.  I decided to drive to Golden Acre Park on the way to Leeds where I have raced once,  but never used for training.    I hadn't figured on it being so very busy with it being school holiday time,  but within minutes the trails were pretty empty and I managed 4 slow miles.   Could become another regular training spot.
 The park  was the venue for last week's GOLDEN ACRE RELAY.  A 3 x 2.75 mile grass/ttrail evening relay hosted by Leeds based club, ABBEY RUNNERS.  I went up last Wednesday to hopefully advance video technique which I apprecate is still pretty basic  whilst , of course,
enjoying some local action which I see less of being a member of a North West club.
  The delay in posting is due to the universal problem Youtube have in deleting the original audio sound track and replacing it with the piece of music  chosen  from their approved catalogue.
  For those unfamiliar this procedure known as "audioswap"  youtube says it will take " a few minutes"....but I gave up after 3 DAYS as I suspect thousands of people worldwide have.
     3 days is a lot of minutes Youtube.
Apparently this function has had problems for several years!
 Consequently I did my own thing with "Fanfare for the Common Man " by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.....................