Saturday, 31 December 2011

Thursday, 29 December 2011

You must be jesting!

 Unlike this year's period of recuperation, rest and recovery which was "injury driven" ;  the period of  R. & R. in 1986 was well deserved and very welcome.   22 races, including 2 marathons, a 30K and 6 half marathons  had been listed after all.  I was ready for a break.
 The month of November had seen weekly mileage brought down from a peak of 89 at the beginning to just 23 by the month end.   I had picked up things again in december and had an eye on a road race in the New Year on January 6.  A 6 miler at Woodkirk ,  near Leeds.
 But friends we were staying with in Poulton , Lancashire had other plans for me.   How could I possibly not take part in the local POULTON JESTER'S FUN RUN in aid of local charities?!
 Protestations about  competing "illegally" with minors in unregistered races and reference to the copious amount of  lager, wine and and festive spirit we had enjoyed over the Christmas period were waved aside.
 So  I donned longsleeve and tights and  was virtually pushed out of the door to join 220 others for  the 6.5 mile "punishment" run as I called.   I could have said no to another lager.  I could have said no to another glass of wine!  But I didn't. So this race would act as my penance no matter how I felt.
The picture from the local paper  clearly shows how a bunch of local youngsters set  off determined to  firmly put their elders and betters in their place.!
 But local teacher CHRIS NELLIGAN  wasn't going to be beaten by any of his pupils  or me neither and ran away to finish first in 33.42  beating me by a good half a minute for second. 
Not planned but all in all a very good workout!

Nowadays I would follow up such a race with  a very short recovery run of 3 or 4 miles.  The 1986 tells a different story.........13.5 miles the following day.  C'est la vie!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Video.....Ribble Valley 10k 2011

 Resisting the temptation to enter on the day and trundle around well over 50 minutes I decided instead to just do some filming.  If Pat had been with me we could have filmed the start ,  at two  points on the course and then the finish; but being alone it was only possible to film the start and finish.
 Conditions were pretty favourable for the race.  Mild temperatures and not overly windy.  A great tussle at the sharp end between Jonny Mellor, Ricky Stevenson and Alistair Brownlee running a PB over one of his Olympic triathlon disciplines.  
 If you've 13 minutes to spare...........................
                        VIDEO UPDATED WITH MUSIC 
                AND REPUBLISHED ON 23RD DEC 2012

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Up another rung!

 The end of week 3 in my period of rest and recovery.  "Downtime December" is not quite a correct description of this current phase as I am actually running every day  but still no runs above 6 miles;  the mileage 25% down on normal and  only 3 miles this week faster than 9 minute mile pace!
 But being positive I did hit the recovery target for the week of 30 miles and enjoyed a run outside  each day with reasonable underfoot conditions; several days enjoying brilliant,  late morning winter sunshine.  So up another rung on the ladder of recovery and a return to normal routine! Last year it was day after day doing short jogs  on the dreadmill,   nursing what turned out to be a piriformis problem  as Wharfedale froze and stayed frozen for days.
 Let's hope for nothing like that again this winter. But not holding my breath.
 I freely admit that much of my motivation and drive involves "chasing numbers"  and  I know many reading this will  class  me as a bit of a pedant. . But tell me how many runners having  completed a 5 mile run today, which brought their 2011 total to 1999.5,  would not have jogged another half mile to round off week 50 with 2000 me  a neat weekly average for the year of 40 miles!
 Looking back at January posts I can't find reference to setting a target of mileage for the year as early last January I was just concerned to get back to running any distance pain free;  never mind thinking about the whole year ahead.   All in all  I'll settle for the recovery and consistency achieved  between February and
early December. 
 But again there will be no aims made for 2012 for racing and training until I've returned to the track and managed to put together a decent speed session.  This will then enable me to  judge how the recovery has gone and  go forward.  Hopefully shortly.
 In contrast the ladies listed below,  as revealed this week by VLM,  have a very defined aim for the first few months of next  year;  a place in the Olympic marathon,  based on a successful qualifying run in the London marathon.  If anything it will prove to be a better quality race than the Olympic event  itself.  Certainly some very classy Kenyans  and Ethiopian ladies look destined to miss out with only 3 places to go for.   Then of course there is the battle for the remaining place on the GB team.  Bring it on!


Elite WomenPB
Mary Keitany (Kenya)2:19:19
Irina Mikitenko (Germany)2:19:19
Florence Kiplagat (Kenya)2:19:44
Edna Kiplagat (Kenya)2:20:46
Constantina Dita (Romania)2:21:30
Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia)2:22:04
Ejegayehu Dibaba (Ethiopia)2:22:09
Inga Abitova (Russia)2:22:19
Korene Jelila (Ethiopia)2:22:43
Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya)2:22:51
Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia)2:23:09
Isabellah Andersson (Sweden)2:23:41
Mariya Konovalova (Russia)2:23:50
Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia)2:23:58
Jessica Augusto (Portugal)2:24:33
Nadia Ejjafini (Italy)2:26:15
Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine)2:27:00

Leading British entrants
Liz Yelling2:28:33
Claire Hallissey2:29:27
Louise Damen2:30:00
Susan Partridge2:34:13
Alyson Dixon2:34:51
Amy Whitehead   2:35:39
Helen Decker2:35:43
Rebecca Robinson2:37:14
Freya MurrayDebut
Sonia SamuelsDebut

AMY WHITEHEAD (Sale Harriers)...a good outside bet  along with
club mate  SONIA SAMUELS?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Women roadrunners......on an equal footing?

 I was discussing Kathrine Switzer, the subject of Tuesday's  blog post, with my wife Pat this morning.  She agreed with the obvious, that  there are vast more numbers of ladies road running now from back in the day when she first started accompanying me to races in the early '70s as a spectator.   My recollection from those days is that the ladies  were only seen running distance over the country but not on track or the road.
 Her conclusion was that  given a typical race today  the numbers of women must equal that of men.  Was she right?   And just how many women were in those races that she stood and watched?
 Given that  it wasn't until the Olympics of 1972 that women competed over 1500 metres  their involvement is road races was to be expected to be low......but just how low?
Just for interest I looked at some random race results from past just before the '80s "running boom" and  recent present.  
 In 1978, the EAST CHESHIRE 7 (no  10Ks in those days)  showed 156 ran, with just 11 vets in the first 100 and  no ladies at all.   410 started the 3 Peaks Race that year.  336 finished but there was no ladies race until 1979.   The CROXDALE  "10" miler won by silver Olympian Mike Mc Leod in 49.17, shows 192 male finishers but  curiously  they organisers acknowledge  that one Norma Campbell of Blaydon harriers ran 69.39 but she is not listed in order in the results!

 The following year,  the FRECKLETON HALF MARATHON  of '78 shows just one lady finisher, with 3  each year in 1979 and 1980.  No sign of a boom there then but going further north that year saw 14 ladies climb out of Bowness and  head to Kendal  in the "Windermere to Kendal 10 mile road race".   The results show UK's  all time female marathon runner, Veronique Marot,  taking 5th spot in 65.05. 
 Going forward to 1982  and the  Lancashire 10 mile race at Clitheroe I was expecting to see a higher percentage of ladies had run.  A field of 529 tackled the undulating  course
but only 18 women.  The winner,  A. Tamplin of Harlow, ran  an excellent 60.25 but it was good enough for 211 place as 197 men ran inside 60 minutes!
 One of the 5 marathons I ran in 1982 was the comparatively low key SANDBACH MARATHON
in Cheshire.  270 men and just 17 ladies  ran in "sweltering conditions".  The ever improving Ms Marot (unattached) won the ladies  race in 2:54.29.  Within 3 years she was down to 2:28.04 (Chicago 1985)  later going on to run 2:25:56 in the London of 1989.  Picture shows her (9) with coach  Brian Scobie (80).
 If  211 inside the hour for 10 miles looks amazing, the 1983 ROWNTREES YORK 10 MILER
surpasses even that . That memorable day  322 ran under 60 minutes including  2 ladies who were contesting the very first Yorkshire Ladies 10 mile championship.  Jill Clarke ran 56.37  and Sheila Catford  58.35.  They were joined by 86 others making up  7.47% of the field.  My 51.41 was only good enough for 21st place in a race won by Holmfirth stalwart  Alwyn Dewhirst in 48.46.
 I think we can reasonably conclude that over the last 20 years that percentage has steadily increased.  But to what extent?
 Looking at 3 recent north 10 mile races  the percentage of ladies finishing has increased to an average of
approx. 28% but Pat 's assessment nearly proved spot on in this month's  GREAT LANGDALE XMAS PUDDING RUN.    The figure of 216 male participants  was almost matched by the 211 ladies who ran.
Race organisers note.  Give a race souvenir which saves the ladies a bit of time cooking in the kitchen and gives them more time for running!
 These "findings" would at first glance contradict  Sport England’s latest participation figures which
have been described as disappointing.  They revealed a significant drop in the number of young people aged between 16-19  and women "playing sport" due to cost and lack of time through work.
No doubt though the snowy November and December of 2010 had a bearing on figures. However, the study does say that running (along with  table table tennis and boxing) is on the up as our
race results show.
 In conclusion there is no doubt the high percentage of ladies in all aspects of running now has to be borne in mind by club committees, race organisers  and of course  suppliers and retailers in the  running business.
Indeed ladies today,  a  running force to be reckoned with  and if not quite "on an equal footing" yet soon will be!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


 The majority of the QUOTE(s) OF THE DAY which flow in each morning from R.W. are often quite insightful but generally quite personal statements about how much running means to the individual  being quoted.
In contrast yesterday's  quote was somewhat more significant with regard to the evolution of  running as a sport today.   Running as we view the activity on all levels.
 The quote from KATHRINE SWITZER went as follows....

"When I go to the BOSTON MARATHON now, I have wet shoulders.......women fall into my arms crying. They're weeping for joy,  because running has changed their lives.
                                 They feel they can do anything"

 Whilst other women had run the  mens  only BOSTON MARATHON unofficially she was the first woman to enter and start the race with a number on.  But she didn't enter as Kathrine.  She entered as K.V.  Switzer as this was her normal signature apparently; no attempt to deceive it seems!  The year was 1969.
 In a very interesting piece describing events leading up to the race she describes how running a mile or so after her hockey training  whilst still at school she was spotted and invited  to take part in a mixed  mile race as a youngster.  Participation which was not well received.   But she persevered and at 19 with the help a 50 year old coach/friend gradually built up her running distances such that  running Boston became a real ambition.
 Knowing Boston was a male bastion of marathon running her friend was initially against the idea.
Women didn't run marathons, couldn't run marathons, he thought.  But realising the strength of her desire he gradually came around and supported her in her training.  Together  they covered up to 31 miles in preparation.
 She describes how the morning of the '69 race the weather was so poor they decided to start  in "sweats" which they would later discard.  So it was not so evident on the line that she was female.
 After 4 miles she was detected  by the vehicle carrying race organiser JOCK SEMPLE, photographers and journalists .     It wasn't long before the volatile, seething  Semple erupted; incensed  at how his race had been violated.  He leapt off the vehicle to drag Kathrine Switzer off the course. 
 But he hadn't accounted for her coach and her hefty brother who was also running on the basis of "anything SHE can do, I can do..."   Together they manhandled  Semple off and she continued running.
 She sets the record straight in stating that contrary to reports stating that  she did NOT finish the race,  she did finish and actually ran about 4:20.  
 She persevered with her efforts and the 1972 race saw women officially "welcome" to enter.  Meanwhile she continued to improve; she  eventually brought her P.B. down to 2:51.  She won the New York City marathon in 1974.
  Lesser individuals would have given up that morning as soon as they were "attacked" by Jock Semple but her determination and perseverence  really opened the flood gates for women in  running.   
  By the end of the '80s women had a good foothold  in American marathons and so when Chris Brasher and John Disley started the London in 1981 based on their experiences in Boston and New York  women would be a key part of the event,  although I can find no record of the male/female split in the 1981 London event which 7055 started.   Previously many marthon fields didn't make 3 figures.  

 The race as they say is history.  The interest in the London marathon  sparked a surge of interest in distance running generally with hundreds of new running clubs focussing mainly on road running starting  up throughout the country,  as traditional clubs generally failed to cater for the new non-elite runner.  Gradually over the last 20 years the proportion of female members in these '80s clubs  as we all know has increased and increased.
  Results from the late '70s and from current races  shed light on how this increase is manifested in the area of competition.  But that's for another day........

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Patiently behaving myself!

 The  target for this second week of rest and recovery was  approx. 20  miles.....easy!  just less than half my normal average mileage.  Designed  to satisfy both the need to give the old body a bit of a respite and of course not overwork the recovering calf strain.
 Runs of 2,  3,  3.5, 2, 3 off road through the week had gone OK so yesterday  I felt ready to test the leg on the road over 4 miles.  Normally this run would be the easiest run of the week. Yesterday it was elevated to the hardest  run of the week and an important one as far as monitoring the recovery was concerned.   Fortunately all went well.
 Today it was good to revisit the reservoirs,  albeit for one circuit of the shorter one and  it was pleasing that the calf coped with a long uphill finish.   Another 4 which tipped the total to 21.5. 
 So basically I think I'm behaving myself quite well!  No choice really.
Regular blog readers know how much I like my,  perhaps pedantic,  quantity targets.
Anything to aid motivation!  
At this stage, fingers crossed, I should have no problem  reaching 2000 miles for the year as I only need  to run another 25.  But it would have been nice to reach 2080 and notch up the yearly average to 40, wouldn't it.
  A few weeks ago that looked no problem but now might be a big ask.
 Meanwhile , I'll keep treating the leg and see how the rest of the year goes.
Finishing the year in better spirits must  be PAULA RADCLIFFE and MARA YAMOUCHI who learnt this week they have been preselected for the 2012 London Olympic marathon.  I experienced the  greatest high of my running career running shoulder to shoulder with Grete Waitz in the London marathon;  with the crowds in the last miles  screaming her on to that world record.   So just think how uplifting the atmosphere will be for the GB girls will crowds lining the whole course!  It's going to be so amazing for them!
                                             Question is who will grasp the third place?
Claire Hallisey,  Jo Pavey,   Louise Damon or perhaps Northern stars Susan Partridge or Alison Dixon.   What a prize to get them through the winter!!

Friday, 9 December 2011

The 3

   If you didn't  get  a spare 15 minutes or you weren't really interested in the Senior Mens race in last Saturday's Manchester XC League  here's a few minutes of highlights from the stream crossing in which you can study the various techniques employed ,  some in slow motion for enhanced appreciation.  Entitled......
                                          CROSS COUNTRY CAPERS


FRIDAY.  Noon.  As I sat in the car at the local playing fields ,  waiting for a hail flurry to blow through  and looking towards  the sunshine which was clearly on it's tail,  I  was weighing up the pros and cons of  this fortnight since the ill fated 5K in Preston. 
  Thinking positively,   this fortnight I will only be doing what I constantly keep reading we need to do for a period in the year.......take a REST.  A forced rest maybe but at a time when the weather has taken a down turn,  so not really too frustrating.   Back in the day  43 weeks averaging 43 miles per week would have been considered only moderate but nearly 63  I'm  sure the majority would suggest a few low mileage weeks are well deserved and well overdue.   I keep reading how this period of rest will REgenerate, REbuild, REvitalise.   So  with the leg recovering  from the strain , the week's mileage will be 50% of average.  The pace has been very easy.  There will be runs more than 4 miles.  No attempt to run fast. 
  BUT  I  have been at least been maintaining some fitness .....and getting outdoors.....with  the jogs of 2 and 3 miles.   I  don't "buy" the idea of stopping running altogether.  I will not be hibernating to a cave by the sea to "find myself again"!
 I think it would make January and February very hard indeed attempting to return to a level where by I can enjoy my weekly routine and race moderately if I stopped running altogether.  A bit of "cross training", maybe.
  The negative, of course, is that I am already missing my favourite sessions and runs.  But if I get back to routine I'm sure I will appreciate them all the more. 
The REcovery from the grade 1 calf strain  ties in with the rest quite nicely, being positive.  So whilst the calf is recovering and healing the rest of the legs and the old cardiovascular system are feeling the benefit as well.
I tested the leg on the Tuesday after the race with a mile walk and a mile jog and decided to more or less write off the rest of the week   whilst continuing to ice and treat.
 This week I've  coped with  2,  3  3.5, 2 , 3  with the leg  well on the mend.  I have put the ice pad on for 10/15 minutes after each jog,  however, to maintain some treatment.
  The third R,  Reassessment.  I  was aware that  Aldershot veteran Martin Duff was investigating the effect of long term training and racing on  the heart.  Sadly he reports   heart attacks, strokes and atrial fibrillation as being very common whilst stating that perhaps those who have not suffered negatively have not contacted him.
  A very significant factor seems to be damage done to heart, organs , muscles as the immune system suffers because of the "need" to maintain high mileage (I would suggest above 70 miles per week).  Conclusion being,of course,  don't train or race when unwell or run down.  Don't train to exhaustion.   Maintain an even
running/work/life balance and recover well after races.
  I may be wrong but judging my race times today  the majority all club runners today  have the number of miles they run per week  well under control  as they cope with so many responsibilities of modern life.
 I have had no real trauma,  (mine was atrial flutter), since I reduced my "preventive" asthma medication so it would appear that  scaling down my training over the years has worked.   However,  I think next year  perhaps  there needs to be more highs and lows in each week, in each month  and  a "scale down" period in the year like this,   when the weather  is so uninviting.  A reassessment required as I reach 63!
 I would have such highs and lows automatically in the '80s when I ran 3, 4 or 5 marathons per year.  The days before and after the event  giving me time to catch up with  a pile of paperwork or household chores.
Without them it's been easy to bash out  40 plus miles per week , week after week coming down only slightly
for one or two races in the year.   With no children and minimal work responsibilities I could do more but  I think I appreciate the need to "detrain".
                  Again, I keep reading less quantity more quality; perhaps that's the way to go!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


A large field of 324 men contested match 3 of the MANCHESTER CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE last Saturday afternoon.    A home fixture for us on a course designed by Dave Rodgers which included 3 crossings of the in the stream in WYTHENSHAWE PARK.   You can see how they coped and look out for Dave R's own crossing of the muddy waters.

 A 15 minute video of the mens race (with music by Elbow  "Weather To Fly"..... which somehow managed to get through their filter.....  competing with the noise of the strong winds)  is  up on YOUTUBE now.   Copyright prevents it going on this blog. 
  Click on the above for the  10 minute video of the ladies covering LUCY O'GORMAN's  "easy" win.
 MATT BARNES had no trouble with the course scoring a  pretty easy win from  DAVE NORMAN.  But it was particularly pleasing to see our no.1 GARETH RAVEN continuing his great recovery from injury with a superb run working through to 3rd.
 Meanwhile,  after a week of rest and recuperation nursing my calf strain ,  a test run of a couple of miles on the grass was tried, tested and went well.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A large field of 324 men contested match 3 of the MANCHESTER CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE last Saturday afternoon.    A home fixture for us on a course designed by Dave Rodgers which included 3 crossings of the in the stream in WYTHENSHAWE PARK.   You can see how they coped and look out for Dave R's own crossing of the muddy waters.
 MATT BARNES had no trouble with the course scoring a  pretty easy win from  DAVE NORMAN.  But it was particularly pleasing to see our no.1 GARETH RAVEN continuing his great recovery from injury with a superb run working through to 3rd.
 Meanwhile,  after a week of rest and recuperation nursing my calf strain ,  a test run pf a couple of miles on the grass was tried, tested and went well.