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.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What's your killer session?

To be honest, at present all the sessions I am doing seem to be killing me but an old favourite (?) used to be 20 minute warm up followed by 20 min at 80% effort then up the pace and straight into 6 x 3 minutes - no recovery between the 20 minutes and first 3 minutes, but 2 minutes jog between the subsequent efforts.

I have just been reading through details of other such sessions at Where it lists Julian Goater's 'killer session' as 6 x (2x300m) repetitions on a slight gradient, where you run

downhill at a fast but comfortable pace, followed by 20 seconds recovery, then run back up the 300m.  The aim being to do the uphill section quicker or at least in the same time as the downhill section.

The same website also gives details of a track session Mo Farah completed in his build up to the 2015 World Championships:

All with 2 laps jog recovery and reps carried out at near maximal effort - 1 x mile; 1x1200m; 1x1000m; 1x800m; 1x600m; 1x400m; 1x 200m.

Sounds tough but the website also reports on the times he was doing for the reps:

1 x mile - 3.55; 1200m - 2.57; 1000m - 2.27; 800m - 1.57; 600m - 1.20; 400m - 50 seconds and 200m 25seconds.  Plus the fact that this session was carried out at altitude!

For us mere mortals the stuff of dreams.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Kielder Dark Sky 10km Trail Run

This is a night race so I donned my head torch and trail shoes and set my self for a new experience. It has been 6 months since my last race, so I was not sure what to expect.  Despite being determined to have an easy start and work my way into it I still started to quickly for my current fitness levels and found myself in oxygen debt by the time we reached the top of the first climb.

Starting and finishing at Kielder Castle, the roughly figure of 8 course heads out along forest trail before hitting a single track section.  Once at the top,  I eased down the hill to try and catch my breath as we descended and  crossed back through the finish area at 2.5km to start the larger loop.

According to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the star studded skies above Kielder Water and Forest Park are the darkest in England.  But, star gazing was the last thing on my mind as we headed out through Viaduct Wood which runs alongside the River North Tyne and across Kielder Viaduct.  It was here that I started moving slowly up through the field.  Although there were big gaps between runners and I was running alone I was gaining on the bobbing lights that stretched in the distance before me.

Then came the last hill, from studying the map before the start I had calculated it was probably just under a mile with 100m of climbing but it felt longer and steeper and my pace slowed dramatically.  However, I made it to the top (eventually) and started back down the other side, catching 3 or 4 other runners as I went. Returning to the finish at Kielder Castle in 21st place with a time of 52.52.8, 2nd M50  (16 seconds behind the first M50).

Obviously not a race in which to get a pb for 10km but this was a very enjoyable and well organised event organised by High Terrain Events and I think I will be aiming for a return visit next year.

Friday, 6 January 2017


Watch Eugen Merher's video which captures the essence of running in under 2 minutes

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Sub 2 hour marathon in spring 2017

My running may have picked up over the last few weeks but this is not some crazy target I have set myself.  However, Nike are hoping that either Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa or Zerseny Tagese will be able to break through the two hour barrier as early as next spring.

Runners World are reporting that Nike have announced their plans entitled 'Breaking2' in which the aim is to reduce the world record time for the marathon by 2.5% and run 2.59.59 (4.34 per mile pace) or faster.

The three athletes mentioned above being selected by Nike following two years of preparation and research.

2017, then could be a very interesting year if the project were to succeed!

Back to the mundane, however, and my running,  I have managed to stay injury and illness free for a little while now and things are starting to look up. 

Also in the last couple of weeks the 90.000 mile milestone was breached in my effort to run 100.000 miles before my 65th birthday.  So slowly but surely I'm getting there.