Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Many of you active runners are no doubt starting out on a cross country season with local league races  followed by  county, regional and perhaps the National. That's certainly how I started out as a youngster in the '60s.   But of course it's not only only way to shape a year's running.
   Having raced the National in Roundhay Park, Leeds in March 1982 for Bingley Harriers  I virtually hung up my spikes for the rest of the decade.  No sooner had I washed the mud off my legs than I changed focus and by the end of October had run 5 marathons, the best being the 2:29 London in the April and finishing the season at the end of October with 6th in the Leeds (2:32.07).  Well due for a rest!!
So this became the new shape of the running year. My fresh  focus took me to Valley Striders, a "marathon mad"  club and I would tend to find a key autumn race to target and finish off the season. Several years I didn't race again until the Ribble Valley 10k which served as a chance to see how fit I was after ticking over in November and December.

 Looking back 25 YEARS AGO to this week 1987 then that  year followed that pattern and the LEEDS HALF MARATHON would mark the end of the racing season on October 24th.  It would also be the 10th and final event in the Leeds Grand Prix but as long as I finished that title was already pretty secure.
 Most of the Leeds G.P. events were fairly short and not having run  a half since the Brass Monkey in January  I decided to race the NIDD VALLEY HALF , 3 weeks before the Leeds on October 4.
On a tough undulating course to the west of Harrogate, the local club gave us Valley Striders a firm reminder that they could run distance as well as us and put 5 in the first 11.  BEN GRANT (3) JEFF HUTTON (4) KEN MOORE(6) TIM INGLEHEARN (10) BRIAN MILLER (11).  I was sandwiched between them in 7th in 73.48.
 3 weeks later the forces of VALLEY STRIDERS would be split for the half and the full marathon.
I seem to recall that we all set off together and I had to respectfully remind my full distance club  mates that they were doing twice the distance as they kept pace with us for the first couple of miles. "Slow down ....you're embarrassing us!!  They did...but not much.
 It's interesting  how the 2 events were reported on the Monday.  Granville Beckett in the Leeds Yorkshire Post quite rightly focussed on the full marathon and described how KEITH CLUDERAY (V.S.) had clawed back the lead of friend and clubmate TERRY BEAN  to win in 2:25.17. with fellow striders MARTIN HOPSON (5)  and STEVE THIIRKELL (7). 4 Striders in the first 7.
 Keith, the winner, was almost apologetic afterwards saying he had beaten "a better runner"!  The pic shows that runner up Terry Bean iwas just happy that it was teammate who beat him. 
 In contrast, Granville writing as "JIM DALTON" in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus highlighted the half marathon win of BINGLEY'S ROY BAILEY IN 66.15.
 I narrowly missed the podium with 4th place in 71.25.  It was just a minute slower than the much faster BRASS MONKEY course (also 4th) and  was a fairly satisfactory end to the season on October 25th 1987.
  25 races with 18 top 10 placings BUT no race win.  However, the first place in the Leeds Grand Prix was excellent compensation and was a good reward for a very consistent season.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


  I must confess that I hadn't planned for this week's running,   brought to a close today , to be one of the most active of the year.  48 miles logged and they couldn't really have been covered over much more varied northern terrain;  in Cumbria, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire.
  MONDAY couldn't quite match Sunday's magnificent weather in the Lake District with such high unseasonal temperatures.  The old body was calling for a just a short run and I decided on a loop from Troutbeck taking in the DUBBS ROAD trail, repeating part of the Sunday run.
 The trail past the reservoir is deceptively steep and becomes quite rugged under foot.  I am happy to start the week with  the 5 MILES. 

But the run proves  tougher than anticipated and hardly an "easy day".

 TUESDAY'S run along the Windermere lakeshore is one I would thoroughly recommend, particularly since the path improvements by the National Trust.  
 Described more fully in a previous post this week, the trail is now fast and firm under foot all the way up to Wray Castle; with work  ongoing at present to create a nice loop around the castle grounds which make the run 6.5 to 7 miles depending on neat to the ferry terminal the run starts.  6.6 MILES.
  After several day's of trail running with the pace rarely going much below 9 mins due to the undulations and terrain, I felt it was time to hit the tarmac!

 WEDNESDAY. The classic Ilkley to A59 out and back run via Nesfield with  views of Ilkley moor starting out and views down Wharfedale as the run unwinds on the fairly quiet country lanes.  Better pace of course and that was what was needed.

THURSDAY.  Having put 45 miles in over the last 7 days, many of them tougher than normal running in the Lakes  it was tired for an easy day.  A retreat to the local playing fields for a very easy 3.4 mile jog.
FRIDAY.  Track day. Seedhill. A session of two halves.  Back straight ,  wind behind, sun on the face nice and comfortable.  Home straight,  into chilling north easterly
very uncomfortable!  4 x mile.
10k pace would have been good but  not achieved. At least they were all under 8 mins pace.  AS usual, the session proves  there is NO faster place to achieve pace better than the tartan track.
SATURDAY.  I decided to the "2 RES RUN" of Swinsty and Fewston in reverse. Readers who also do this run may be pleased to know that the stretch from the main Fewston car park to Blubberhouses is now undergoing improvement by Yorkshire Water.  More work which may upset those who like their running to be rugged under foot and muddy in places.  I shall look forward to the path reopening and seeing the fruits of their labours.

SUNDAY.  Back on the STRID WOODS trail on the Bolton Abbey grounds.  The Halloween Pumpkin Trail  has attracted the families who are seemingly not deterred by late morning cool, damp conditions.  But it's clear that many of the bedraggled youngsters have lost count of the orange pumpkin pictures pinned to trees along the riverside trail and would rather be warm and cosy watching CBBC at home.  "Are we nearly there" being heard more than once.
It was a slow fairly labourious jog today but it was  a case of persevering and sticking to the plan for the day.  The 7.5 miles of undulating trail brought the week's total to 48.  The second biggest week of the year.
  All in all a good week.  Great scenery most days but very frustrating changeable weather, making choice of kit for the runs difficult.  A track session, a longish run, plenty of undulating trail and one easy day.
 One week in which the pieces of the jigsaw DID fit nicely together.
 I hope YOUR week went equally well.  Now to think about NEXT week...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cruising along the Windermere trail

How much would you pay NOT to have to swim across lake Windermere?  

Why would you want to swim across Lake Windermere?  

To have a run along lake shore on the other side of course!  But is the run worth it as it costs £8.60 return on the Windermere to Far Sawrey ferry?
 We had expected to pay £4.00 each way but apparently the "area manager" decided to put the price up to £4.30 as a final leaving gesture! 
  No doubt to annoy the ticket collector who would then have to find giving change to motorists. cyclists and pedestrians a lot more diffciult.
 Pedestrians pay 50p single.

 The crossing is a mere .2931 miles. 

So by my reckoning a ferry from Bowness On Windermere to London at the same rate would set you back £3684!

 But anyway was the run worth it?  

      Well, of course it was!!

The trail along Lake Windermere up to Wray Castle is quite popular with walkers, mountain bikers and runners as it provides a magnificent view of the lake and all its traffic, the islands and of course the surrounding hills.  
 Tuesday's  weather wasn't quite what it was on Sunday but unlike most of the rest of the country which was covered in mist and fog, sufficiently clear so as not to obscure the great views.  
Just a trace of low cloud covering the tops of the Troutbeck Hills and Wansfell.

Some tourists may have been put off by the state of the trail in the first undulating mile or so 
but thanks to ongoing work carried out on behalf of the National Trust,  the 3.5 miles up to and now around Wray Castle are far safer and less arduous for all.

Particularly safer at this time of year when autumn leaves cover the trail and would in the past have covered up  multiple hazards.

Again, as with the stone slabs on Ilkley Moor, I'm sure there have been objections, but I
would imagine  the majority of "tourists" are in favour.

Of course, a visit to the so called castle would have to wait for another day. I say "so called" as I read that it's not a "real" castle ; more of a "folly".  A private house built in 1840 for a retired Liverpool surgeon. Apparently, his wife, whose money contributed to the cost of the build, took one look at the house and refused to live in it!

So the next time you are in the lake District check out this 7 mile trail run to Wray castle and back.

But don't forget your £8.60 or you'll have to ditch your car and swim across!

Windermere sunset

                                        RELAX..............JUST FOR A MINUTE!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


 Just back from a couple of days in the Lake District which began with a great trail and road run from STAVELEY over to TROUTBECK via High Borrans on a fabulous autumn day with summer temperatures. As usual I was overdressed as I didn't expect the temperature to be so unseasonal but even so I didn't expect to meet a topless (male) runner coming over the fells!  
                                  TRAIL FROM STAVELEY TO HIGH BORRANS
It always great to sample a new route and this moderately challenging run didn't disappoint; certainly  when it came to the splendid views on the way. But of course the near cloudless sky and bright sunshine  added much to the enjoyment  of the 7.5 mile trek.  
 Patience required with the many gates on the route but they did provide some good photo opportunities on this relaxed Sunday run.   

                                                       BORRANS RESERVOIR
                                                             DUBBS RESERVOIR
                                               VIEW OVER LAKE WINDERMERE
                                                           TROUTBECK VALLEY

                                          THE "TONGUE" TROUTBECK VALLEY
                                                     GREAT END TO THE  WEEK!

Friday, 19 October 2012

10K races should be K distance marked!

The weighing scales I have by the shower are set to stones and lbs. I regularly see I am about 10 stone.  My garmin is set to miles. I monitor my training in miles per week and per year.  Thats' my choice.
 When I was younger, the change in my pocket was "tanners" (six old p..2.5 new p)  3 penny bits,  a "shilling" 5 new P. A guinea was 21 old shilling. But now of course there's no choice: money went metric.
 I still think that sugar comes in 2lb bags.  But times change....
  And so of course did many race distances as the 10k distance grew in popularity from the early '80s.
For example, the Salford 7 became the Salford 10K. Yet  for many years the distance markers remained imperial, in miles, until changed a couple of years ago. Nagging sometimes works!
 It's now 2012 ; yet still some race organisers seem to insist on putting race distance markers denoting MILES when the distance is METRIC! 
 Now you might say it's just "old farts" of my generation but that's not always the case.  The Lancaster 5K series races were mile marked  and the race organiser appeared  to be half my age! Last Sunday's Fylde Coast Running event , the Autumn Breaker 10K was mile marked but then again  Ron Mc A. is about my age!  Still no excuse in my opinion.
 I feel it very frustrating and puzzling but have come to expect it happening. 
 I don't know about you,  but personally I find dividing by 10 to be so much easier than dividing by 6.2!

E.G.  I want to run 40 minutes for a 10K......4 minutes per kilometre.  Mile pace...look it up!
         I want to run  43 minutes for a 10K....4.3 minutes...4mins 18 seconds per K. Mile pace...look it up!
         I want to run  50 minutes for 10K.......5 minutes per kilometre.  Mile pace....oh I give up!!
I think you get the point.  But how come so many race organisers don't?!
  I posed the question on my facebook page and an overwhelming 80% felt that 10Ks should be K marked NOT mile marked. (That was Steve, Tim, Mary W., and me) whilst 20% (Bill Fox ) was a staunch imperialist!     OK not exactly a massive sample but conclusive ,don't you think?
 If YOU think 5K and 10K races should be K marked NOT mile marked please add a comment on this blog or my facebook page and if you run a metric race which is not K marked have a bit of a nag with the race organiser.  
                   You'll find him at the refreshments stall trying to pay a "tanner" for a cup of tea.

Monday, 15 October 2012


There were 3 10Ks on the menu for yesterday. 2 to the west in Lancashire, the AUTUMN BREAKER 10K and the LEA TOWN 10K and 1 to the east, the WISTOW 10K from Selby.
 The Selby event looked  attractive but would have involved me struggling along at 7 mins 10k pace along country which I'd previously raced down at 5.40 mins marathon pace. Could have coped with that but glad I didn't support it as the only vets age grouops appear to have been M/F 40 and M/F 50 according  to the results. Surely not?
 In the end it came down to where I could get a shower before journeying down the M61 to see my fragile mum in Manchester. So I opted for the AUTUMN BREAKER 10K.  A repeat of last year's Spring event;
2 convoluted laps of a busy Sunday morning in Stanley Park, starting and finishing on the track. 10.30 start.
A Fylde Coast Running event.
 171 turned out for the race on a beautiful, sunny autumn morning.  A wide range of ability from the winner IAN GRIME  (Newham & Essex Beagles) winning unchallenged in 33.21 to the last lady in 78.46.
As she set out on her second lap, the first lady, who had also travelled over from Yorkshire, SUE BROWN of BAILDON had already completed her 2, in 37.12,  7th overall.
With one and half laps of the track to start my first mile was a tad faster than normal, 6.52, followed by a 7.01 and a 7.14.  The video shows I was around the 50th position at the end of the first lap but as is now fairly customary my ability to maintain the  pace means there are plenty of slowing younger runners to target.
 Second lap miles of 6.54, 7.00 bring me through to 43rd position. I pass two more runners but lose that gain as I go slightly off course (despite a clear sign) and it needs an unwelcome surge to pass them again before we hit the track. 6th mile in 7.04.
              I refer to mile spilts as this once more this 10 kilometre event was MILE marked!!
 I fully expect my young "rivals" to charge past on the track but I pleasingly manage to pull away to finish in 43.38.   2nd M60, well beaten as usual by ARNOLD MELLING who ran exceedingly well for 40.06 (18t) overall.
 So 146th 10K and another solid run at a reasonable consistent pace throughout.  I seem to be plateauing at the moment which is perhaps good as at 63 I should perhaps be getting gradually slower.   But then I think about the course today. The twists and turns, the puddles we had to run through.  That fast 4th mile when I was actually running shoulder to shoulder with another runner rather than battling through solo. 
                                Perhaps a sub 43 is possible again, who knows.
Pat was out on this sunny morning with camera.  


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Stepping out on Ilkley Moor

Well that was some weekend for fine weather,wasn't it; two runs in, both of which did much for the confidence at this time of year with some targets still to achieve.  A 12 miler on the canal in 1.39, with the last 5 miles well under 8 mins pace following a solid tempo run was especially pleasing.  A 5 minute neagative split  and faster than the equivalent run this time last year.
 Perhaps I am halting the advance of  age...for the moment at least.
Having started this week with a very easy 3 to recover from Sunday;  today Tuesday it was time a run "up the moor"

 I first started running on ILKLEY MOOR, aka Rombalds Moor,when I came over to Yorkshire from Manchester in 1969.  A circuit from Guiseley taking in the moor was a regular Sunday morning training session. Races tended to be on Saturday afternoons  in those days.
 The majority of the paths up there at that time were very narrow; we would run single file for many of the 15 or so miles. With the passage of time, time which has seen a large increase in the numbers walking , running and even mountain biking up ont' moor, the paths have become more and more eroded. As erosion occurs and bogs form, so we have tended , naturally, to skirt around the boggy bits and as a consequence the bogs gets wider and wider. In many places there is a danger of sinking thigh deep into clawing, black peat.
 The Bradford Countryside Service  solution has been the importation of mill flagstones from Accrington and ,using helicopters,  deposit them for laying down later. Regular readers will know that I have previously posted about this practice.
 Recent letters in the Ilkley Gazette have referred to more work going on up there. Some are in favour but it would seem that "purists" prefer to walk or run with that constant danger of sinking up to two feet.  So with the sun high in the sky I made a rare excursion to see for myself what the "fuss" was about.
 I was pleased to discover that one notorious short section had been addressed.  I called it the "red bog".
Only 100 metres or so but a stretch that could spoil on a great run on a summer night and ruin many a pair of socks in a matter of a minute.  Deep, very soft, red goo! Gone!
 Carrying on up the main trail to the masts at Whetstone Gate and then swinging left to the trig point I found the flag stones laid in the last couple of years have been existed even further; to the trig point and beyond.
Hardly surprising that a letter debate is ongoing in the local press.
 Personally it suits me as I like to keep the pace safe and steady and not get bogged down. Whilst getting well away from traffic and enjoying superb views of Wharfedale and Airedale. But I can see why  many walkers  are upset about the so called improvements.
 But surely even the purists of purists would admit that certain pathways were becoming impassable.
But they haven't finished yet. I came across more flagstones ready to be laid.......

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Many of the RUNNING QUOTES which are sent by email from RUNNERS WORLD U.S. each morning of the week are
immediately deleted.  But on occasions a quote comes in which is mildly thought provoking. This was from KARA GOUCHER (see below) was particularly interesting as it echoes greatly my philosophy ref. running training and racing.
Whilst competitive runners must train hard to achieve a given aim and evaluate success or failure in that quest,
the pursuit of that goal and the actual race itself should have intrinsic value and be enjoyed whilst being undertaken.
 She states,
      "DO THE WORK
Kara Goucher, born July 9 1978 is an American long distance runner. She was 10,000 metres bronze medallist at the 2007 World Championships and represented U.S.A. in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  She was 3rd in Boston marathon (her debut)
  I recall repeatedly stressing to my school teams as a teacher that getting their names in the paper, the plaudits of the classmates, their medals were all well and good ; but their running now at school and later in life should be as enjoyable as possible.  
                So extrinsic rewards fine but intrinsic value paramount.
For myself, at this stage of 2012, 3/4 of the year having gone, Kara Goucher's  quote prompted me to just think about how things had been going and what I still had to achieve.
(A)PPLICATION.......I think I have applied myself pretty well,all things considered. (My age! and the number of years I've been "at it".  I set myself the target of averaging 40 miles per week.  I'm on 39+.  I have only missed one day of running this year and  most weeks I've managed a speed session of some sort.  How about you?
(C)OMPETITION....I generally like to race about 20 times in the year.  A delayed start (first race March 11th) but have now added 13 races to the grand total.  Nothing longer than 10K though so
perhaps look to getting a one or two 10 mile races before the end of the year.
How's your race programme?  Too few, just right or too many?
(T)IMES.......always difficult to assess. Even running the same race we expereince different weather etc.  The books suggest at 63 I MUST be slowing down but at least I've clocked a faster 5k this year (20.59) and my recent BOGGART CHASE was faster than 2011 so perhaps I'll settle for plateauing!   How are your times looking?
(S)URROUNDINGS...I think introducing a bit of variety in our training is a key to keeping things a bit fresh,  preventing boredom and maintaining the intrinsic enjoyment.  So changing the surroundings occasionally is important.  OK we all have our favourite runs and settings but I like to drive out and frequently explore new surroundings and race where I haven't previously.  Sometimes the result is good sometimes not so good but if you don't try....
                                Are you in a training rut?  
                 Time to make some changes?  
                    New places?  new races?