Friday, 16 June 2017

It's a u - turn

Margaret Thatcher may have famously said "the lady is not for turning'. But it would appear that this runner is.

While training with the group the other evening I was reminded that a couple of year back I had said that when I failed to break 40 minutes for the Blaydon Race then it would be time for me to hang up my running shoes and buy a pair of carpet slippers (and perhaps a pipe?).

Seemingly, nobody thought I would actually keep to my pronouncement but reminding me of it was a good way of winding me up a little and probably had the desired affect.

Yes - unfortunately, that day has come.  A time of 40.21 for this years race should be heralding my change of lifestyle.  But there is not a chance - I'm sure it was only a blip anyway and I will be back under 40 minutes next year (although I don't think I will ever get back down to the sub 30 minutes of the past).

Anyhow I have the Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon coming up in four weeks time.  Not to mention my long term goal of running a grand total of 100,000 mile (should reach 91,000 next week) before my 65th birthday.

The end of this years 'Blaydon' and just about to be passed by
Eric who kindly reminded me of my retirement pledge 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Blaydon Race

Friday evening saw Morpeth's Peter Newton lead home a field of over 4000 runners to win this years annual trek along Scotswod Road to Blaydon.  His winning time was 27.50, with fellow Morpeth Harrier Carl Avery finishing second and Abraham Twelde of Saltwell third.

The women's race was won by Sonia Samuals of Sale Harriers in 29.46 from Sunderland Strollers' Alyson Dixon

Following a week of rain, conditions were good, warm and sunny with a slight head wind.

This was my first race since turning 60 and although I wasn't as quick as I had hoped, I am relatively pleased with a time of 40.21 (despite it being my slowest ever time for this race).

Thanks to Francesca for photos

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The stuff of dreams

I went for my run this morning, some what earlier than has been the norm of late.  And as I coaxed these tired old legs to turn over, leaving a trail of footprints across the dew covered field.  The thought crossed my mind that Eliud Kipchoge was probably warming down at a quicker pace than this.

Prior to setting off on this run I had just been watching the Nike Breaking2 project's attempt to break 2 hours for the marathon.  In what was a phenomenal run Kipchoge just missed out with a time of 2.00.24.

Having followed a lot of the build up in the press etc.there had been some criticism of how the attempt had been structured and how it was part of a marketing ploy by Nike.  Whatever the motives behind the attempt it was still a piece of exceptional running.

I am being lazy here ( as I can't be bothered to check the fact) but I believe that in his quest to break the 4 minute barrier for the mile, Roger Bannister also employed a system of pace makers jointing the attempt at various stages, the year before he actually broke 4 minutes.

Could it be that Kipchoge, now that he knows he can run that fast can break 2 hours next year in a race?

Ah the stuff of dreams........

Friday, 28 April 2017

May 6th

May 6th is already a date synonymous with the world of athletics, as on that day in 1954, Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4 minute mile barrier.

But could May 6th 2017 also become such a significant milestone day with the breaking of the 2 hour barrier for the marathon?

If it happens, it will not be recognised as a world record as the use of pacemakers who will step in and out when required and the staging of the event on the Monza Formula One track in Italy, rather than as a race, do not meet IAAF rules.

But, the Nike project Breaking 2 athletes Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zerenay Tadese could prove that a sub 2 hour marathon is indeed possible.  To do this they will have to run an average pace of 4.34 per mile. 7 seconds a mile faster than Dennis Kimetto did when he set the current world record of 2hrs 2 minutes 57 seconds. 

Another area were IAAF rules may not be met are the Vaporfly Elite shoes that have been developed by Nike as part of the project.  Seemingly a special carbon fibre plate in the soles make the runner 4% more efficient than when wearing Nikes previous fastest marathon shoe.

IAAF rules state that shoes must not offer "any unfair additional assistance, including by the incorporation of any technology which will give the wearer any unfair advantage"

Although interestingly, I read somewhere, after this years London Marathon that Kenenisa Bekele attributed his problems mid race, when he dropped off the pace, to the foot positioning produced by his wearing a pair of the Vapourfly Elite and the resulting blistering of his feet. 

Whatever your views are on whether such projects are  the correct way to attack the 2 hour barrier or whether it should be left to natural progression.  It will be interesting to see if a sub 2 hour marathon will be achieved next weekend.

Friday, 21 April 2017

'Exercise is a Social Contagion'

A recent study of how sharing workout data influences people's fitness and achievements has been published.

Studying data over a five year period from over a million runners, researchers concluded that the sharing of personal fitness data over social networks pushed people to run both faster and farther.

Claiming that exercise is a "social contagion" and that including peers into your personal fitness regime is a huge motivator.

Interestingly, they also found that comparing ones own information to that of better runners wasn't as motivational as comparing data with less fit peers.  Possibly showing the need to stay ahead of 'slower' runners to be more motivational than chasing quicker ones?

The study also showed that while men were motivated by both other men and women to exercise harder, women seemed only to be motivated by other women.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A shock to the system

Good Friday was the annual running of the Elswick Relays and I had managed to get myself onto the Vets B team.  The conditions were excellent for racing and I was setting off on first leg.

The course is a flat, fast 2.2 miles and having not raced for so long it came as a big shock.  A shock that was not helped by the fact that I missed the start  and ended up trying to play catch-up (not very successfully).  Although I didn't clock it, at least I know my actual running time was faster than the official 14.54.

Liam our second leg runner took us around  in 14.15, while Eric ran the third leg in 15.07 with Carl bringing us home as 25th Vets team in 16.00.

Despite the mishap of missing the start I still enjoyed the run and it was good to be racing again.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A most diverse sport

Running as a sport, traditionally, has always been diverse in terms of disciplines, with the likes of track, road, cross country and fell running. As a whole these were only pursued by a small minority of the population.

Barriers began to be broken down in the 1970's with the first running boom and the advent of the 'fun run'.  Since then running has become a norm.  Nobody looks twice when they see a lycra clad figure running through the streets or through the woods. This growth in the number of people running has, as well as swelling the ranks of those participating in the traditional areas of the sport, also seen the explosion of a whole range of new events. Such as mud runs, colour runs, sky runs, adventure racing ................

A quick search on Google will turn up a whole host of lists of events such as "11 of the UK's Quirkiest races", "The top 10 fun runs to sign up to in the UK", "The world's coolest themed runs", plus an almost limitless list of more specialist events.

Figures, from America (Running USA) estimated that there were  4 million participants in themed races during 2013. a massive growth considering these types of races / runs barely existed prior to 2010.

Further reports from America ( show that obstacle races and mud runs were the most popular.  Following a survey of 1200 participants.

These events are fun and add variety to your racing calendar.  I have tried night races and a colour run and  enjoyed  both.

 Some of the innovations and ideas are now successfully entering 'main stream' events, such as Highgate Harriers 'Night of the 10,000m PB's' which included pacing assistance, photo finish and chip timing equipment, and a live band. Spectators are able to get up close to the action as after the gun goes the cordon is moved towards the inside lanes giving spectators a unique experience of being close to the competitors, creating an exciting atmosphere for the athletes.