Friday, 30 December 2011

It may be good for the soul but what about the heart?

A number of articles have appeared in the athletics press recently with regards to running and heart problems suffered by the older runner.

Following my problems last year and some more distinct problems experienced by some of my training partners over the past few years.  These were articles I read with some interest.

The two main articles were one by
Martin Duff which appeared in the Athletics Weekly and another by Tony Crocker which appeared in the winter edition of Masters Athletics.

Both articles are concerned with the  occurrence of a condition known as atrial fibrillation in runners over the age of forty who have trained to a high intensity over a number of years.

In each case the author points out that atrial fibrillation (AF) is not limited to runners and is in fact quite extensive throughout the population.  So much so, that in its mildest form most people may never know they have the condition.  Tony Cocker, reports that, "according to Dr Mark Porter there are between 200,000 and 300,000 people in Britain with undiagnosed AF." While Martin Duff, who is carrying out his own research into the subject, has anecdotal evidence that there are a significant number of instances where AF has not been recognised by GP's, who have instead diagnosed with conditions such as exercise-induced asthma.

So what is AF - I am no medical person, so in my terms, I understand it to be an irregular heartbeat which ultimately can put a person more at risk of a stroke.

Back to the studies and Tony Cocker seems to lay most of the blame to the current interest and from my reading of his article scare mongering at the door of an Amercian study published in 2009 by Anthony Ainzer.  Questioning some of the validity of the sampling.

AF, however, does exist.  The question is, Is it brought on in later life because of high intensity training at a younger age? or is it that it only occurs in those who suffered from it any way and perhaps the increasing incidence of  reported AF is due to a higher proportion of runners extending their running into increasingly higher age ranges?

Whatever the reason the advantages gained by regular exercise, not least of all the enjoyment, for me still far out way  the disadvantages as long as we remember that old adage "listen to your body"

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A run and a chat

This morning was an easy 8 miles with the training group from the Harriers.  It was a lot colder than yesterday but the wind had dropped from its gale force during the night to more of a blustery wind.  The pace was easy allowing for a steady flow of conversation and banter.

On a there and back route along the Derwent Walk, From Swalwell Football Club to the bridge between Rowlands Gill and Lintzford Green and back, it was good to see a couple of red kites soaring above us.

The Red Kites were re-introduced ito the area in 2004 and are now thriving along the Derwent Vallet

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Still running

What with the Christmas festivities etc. time seems to have been at a premium lately.  Although I have not been blogging, rest assured, the running has continued.  With the emphasis remaining on hill work.  Either by way of specific hill sessions or making sure that I fit as many hills into my other runs, as possible.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and probably like me you are  now planning targets for next year.  I look forward to reading about them and will be posting mine soon.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Running shoes, hills and a saga that just won't go away

Reading a couple of articles in the press this week I was reminded that back in May I posted about barefoot running and minimalist running shoes.

The first article was from Runners World and it was reporting on research carried out at the Institute of Sports Medicine and Science in Italy.  This study we are told is consistent with the results of some previous studies and concludes that cushioned running shoes significantly impair foot position awareness compared to less structured shoes.

The second article was in Athletics Weekly and was a book review for a new book by Rob Hadgraft, about former marathon world record holder Jim Peters called Plimsolls On Eyeballs Out.  The title being a reference to the fact that Jim Peters raced in a pair of Woolworths plimsolls - surely the first and ultimate minimalist running shoe!


Last nights session was again a hill session, with 4 x small hill with jog back recovery then a four minute jog recovery followed by 4 x long hill with jog back recovery,  Total mileage for the session - 7 miles.

It was a tough session, not made any easier by the fact that running up the long hill was also into a very strong headwind - but still - no pain, no gain.


Again, referring back to a previous post.  Back in October I wrote about how, then Sunderland Harrier, Rob Sloan hit the headlines after finishing 3rd in the Kielder Marathon, only for it to be discovered that he completed the final few miles on a bus. Having originally denied that he had cheated, Sloan later admitted that he had got the bus.

This week however, the local BBC TV aired a programme called 'Inside Out' looking at this race and once again Sloan has changed his story, stating that he had not cheated by getting on the bus and in fact had run the whole race.  Despite the evidence that he himself presented, his Garmin recording of the race, showing that in the final miles where covered at 30 mph.  The reason for the Garmin showing this kind of speed being down to a malfunction of the watch/recording!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

North East Cross Country Championships 2011

It was never going to be one of my better runs but I can say that I am satisfied with the way it went.  Although it was cold and the course very heavy in places conditions at Cramlington for the North Eastern's were not as bad as I thought they were going to be at the beginning of the week.

The race, over 12.1 km, was won by Rick Stevenson of New Marske, who managed to hold off  Patrick and Jack Martin of Stockport.

With the course cutting up and getting heavier with each of the three laps the calf strain I picked up at the start of the week was tested to the limit and although I was beginning to feel it by the end of the race, it held out.

The plan was to start off steady and just try to maintain form and that is what I did, although I was definitely tiring towards the end.

I finished in 121st place and first Blaydon Harrier home.  As I said earlier, not my best result, but definitely one of the most satisfying.

Full results can be found at

But some results I noted are -  First over 50, Paul Merrison of Sunderland in 44th position and Andrew Pearson in 32nd .  Andrew has a blog at Running towards 40 and beyond! which is worth a read.

The women;s race was won by Rosie Smith of Durham.

This is the first time in a number of years that Blaydon have managed to field a full team.  Liam Frail being the only one to fly the flag in last years Championships. But we are already planning  a trip to Pontefract, to take in the Northern's in January.

The Photos are of the Blaydon Team and taken by Francesca , who acted as photographer for the day.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Having to ease up

I am not sure if it was the hill work on Tuesday evening or running on icy pavements or a combination of both, but I have developed a bit of a calf strain to my left calf.

Monday I did a gym session as planned and not because of the snow and frozen paths (honest) which I enjoyed as a change to running in the dark,  Tuesday as I mentioned earlier was a series of hill reps  over a series of sections of the hill as we ran a loop from Swallwell to Whickham, Dunston and back to Swallwell.. 7 miles in total, (a tough old session).

Last night because of my calf, was a gentle 3 miles, part running, part skating.  The weather today has turned to heavy rain so at least I shouldn't have the ice to contend with tonight.

It will be a case of taking it very easy for the rest of the week so that I can make the start for the North Eastern's on Saturday.

Monday, 5 December 2011

First snow of the winter

Time seemed to be at a premium last week so I am afraid the blogging took a back seat.  Running wise it was a steady week of 50 miles.  Yesterdays 12 miles started off at Swalwell in freezing cold conditions and heavy rain, which had turned to snow by the time we had reached Hamsterly.  So winter is definitely on its way.

The rest of the week was steady running apart from Tuesday and Thursday club nights.  Tuesday, was a hill session consisting of a hill about 100m long with 50 feet of elevation and the session was 10 reps. with jog back recovery.  Thursday was 6 x 2 min with 2 minute jog recovery.

This Saturday is the North East Cross Country Championships which will take place at Cramlington and will, unless I have a change of heart, be my final race of the year.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Does having a pacemaker make a differance?

Statistically, having a pacemaker makes no significant difference.

That is the findings of recent research from South Africa.  In a study entitled 'The Effect of a Second Runner on Pacing Strategy and RPE during a Running Time Trial'.

For the study 11 club runners with 5km times of around 20 minutes carried out a series of 5 time trials over a three week period.  They ran the first and last time trial on their own and the middle three with a pace maker.  Of the trials with a pacemaker, one was ran with the pacemaker slightly in front, one with the pacemaker slightly behind and the other with the pacemaker alongside.  In all cases the pacemakers were faster over the 5km than the subjects.

The results found that although the subjects felt that the pacemaker had helped them run faster, the results showed no significant difference for performance, heart rate or perceived exertion and concluded that "These findings indicate that an athlete's subconscious pacing strategy is robust" and therefore not helped by another nearby runner.

So although, statistically the results show "no significant difference" looking at the average times ran(see below) I would rather be running the faster times.

Average times ran by the 11 runners:

First solo time trial   20.26
Pacer in front          19.57
Pacer behind           20.10
Pacer at side           20.24
Second solo trial     20.03

Monday, 28 November 2011

A mixed bag

Blaydon was the venue for the third race in the North East Harrier Cross Country League and since it was on home soil, I did not want to miss it, despite this lingering bout of cold.

Although my clocking of 34.19 was about a minute down on what I would have expected to run, it was definitelyy a better performance than a fortnight ago, on the Town Moor.  Finishing in 72nd position I was first counter for the Blaydon team.

New club member Peter Hodgson was second counter, finishing 94th in 34.45 in his first cross country race.

Full results can be found at

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hidden talent

This mornings local newspaper the Newcastle Journal featured in its health section a young man who six years ago was a 15 stone "couch potato".  However, this year he ran the Great North Run (half marathon) in 1hr 20 min and last month beat 900 other competitors to win the Newcastle Stampede a 10km assault course/adventure type race in under 30 minutes!!

Closer to home, one of my training partners at Blaydon Harriers joined the club just over a year ago, weighing over 14 stone and with a time of around 45 minutes for the Blaydon Race (5.7 miles).  He now weighs 12 stone and completed the recent Town Moor Memorial 10km in 37.45 to finish in 34th place and the way he is going in training that time is due for further revision.

It makes you wonder just how much running talent there is out there.

In the meantime I continue to sniff, splutter and cough my way through the week as this cold seems determined not to give up.  Monday and Wednesday saw easy 3 mile runs, while on Tuesday I opted for 8 miles, with an 'easier' session (is any session ever easy?) of 5 x 2 min with 2 min jog recovery.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Easy - like a Sunday morning

What a beautiful Sunny, bright, cold, Sunday morning with a touch of frost along the side of the River Derwent.  Unfortunately as my cold has made an unwelcome return and as my chest is feeling very tight I decided on just an easy 11 miles - and what a fantastic morning for a run!!

Yesterday, while in the Town shopping we as we usually do, stop for coffee.  As we sat down Anita mentioned past times.  Ah, I thought is the conversation going to be about some of her past times in the Blaydon Race? Or is she going to pander to my ego and talk about some of my past times? Or was she warning Francesca not to mention any of my past times as I can get a little grumpy, now that I am not running as fast.  But alas she was talking about Past Times the high street retailer.  A shop full of wonderful things you never knew you didn't want.

I notice that the IAAF have changed their minds and that Paula Radcliffe's 2.15 marathon time will now stay as the world record. I should think so too!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Sticking to the plan

Following Sunday's 'race' I decided to have a few easy days in order to get myself sorted and that's exactly what I have done with very gentle 4 milers on Monday and Wednesday and a steady 7 miles on Tuesday.  Although I still don't feel on top form and still have cold symptoms hanging around I did feel fit enough to do some harder running last night.

So last night was an 8 miler around Newburn and Scotswood bridges with a session of 4 x 5 mins with 75secs recovery.  I found it tough going but enjoyable.  To ensure I did not get carried away I aimed to make this an 85% effort and kept my heart rate at between 138 - 146  (83% - 88% of max) for each of the intervals.

I intend to go back to steady running for the remainder of the week.

For anyone who is racing this weekend - Hope you have a good one!

Checking the Stats page for this blog I have noticed that I have picked up a reader(s) in Guinea I have also heard on the grapevine that Mr T is working out there now - So if that's you Paul, hope things are going well!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Not just that Monday feeling

Have been feeling under the weather all day (tired, headaches, sore throat) so hopefully this is some sort of indication as to why I had such a poor run yesterday.  For the record my official time was 41.13.

So, although its not what I planned, I think an easy couple of days are called for.  Hopefully picking things up again towards the end of the week.

Results for yesterdays Memorial 10km can be found at

Luke Aston of Blaydon chasing 2 Heaton Harriers

photo courtesy of Heatom Harriers

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Return to the Moor - not a good one

It was probably a combination of not having recovered enough from Thursday's and Friday's sessions and going off to quick but today's 10km effort was a bit of a disaster.  After 2km there was just nothing in the tank and as I sank down through the field it was an effort just to keep going.

Today was the Heaton Harriers Memorial 10km on Newcastle Town Moor ( I seem to have spent most of the last 6 months racing there).  Prior to the race I had had hopes of showing a continuation of improving form, but during the warm up I felt sluggish and as for the race itself well the wheels just came off.  I have not seen the official results yet but I clocked myself at 41.10.

I will just put it down to one of those days and look to put things right for the next time

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The week so far

6 x 1min, with 1 min jog recovery was last nights session.  Although it was dark, misty and with a persistent drizzle, it was a mild evening and quite pleasant for running.  A bit of an shorter session than of late but a lung buster nevertheless.

Monday became a rest day as I attended the GNR Review on Monday evening and was unable to fit a session in.  The Review was a pleasant and enjoyable social affair, with Brendan Foster suggesting (tongue in cheek) that following the New York Marathon organisers saying they wanted 100,000 runners, that the GNR should go for that number also!!!

Watching the television and reading in the newspapers the build up and the hype towards next years Olympic Games in London is certainly well under way.  But this Friday will see the decision being made as to who will host the 2017 World Championships.  The two contenders being Doha and London. If you visit:

You can join a vote to give your preference.  The current standings are Doha 49.7% of votes with London on 50.3%

Friday, 4 November 2011

Tempo run

Following the eye-balls out session on Tuesday, it was an easy 4 miles on Wednesday and then, last night an 8 miler around Newburn and Scotswood bridges with a controlled 20 minutes tempo in the middle.  By controlled I mean heart rate at 85% of maximum.

The distance covered in the 20 minutes was 3.2 miles which equates to 6.40 min mileing (if my math is correct).  I am happy with that, especially considering I was still feeling heavy and tired from Tuesday's session.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Into the red

As the dark nights are back with us, club training sessions have returned to the roads with street lights and last night was a return to that old favourite - Scotswood Road, with a loop around the Newcastle Business Park.

The session was 8 x 2min with 1 min jog recovery - total distance covered 8 miles.

For me it was an eye balls out session.  I must admit it has been some time since I worked quite so hard in a session. (reminded me of the old days when you had not worked hard enough unless you threw up after the session).

As we finished the intervals about 3 miles from home it was a very slow warm down as I dragged my body back - definitely well into the red!

But, still, all in the aid of a good coarse -

getting FITTER - FASTER !!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Farringdon Cross Country

My official time for Farringdon Cross Country was 39.16 and not the 39.09 I clocked myself as doing.  However at 2 minutes and 2 seconds quicker than last year, it was still a successful outing and shows that I am slowly making in-roads to getting back into some sort of form.

Results can be found at

Saturday, 29 October 2011

This week and next

Having spent most of the last week visiting Amsterdam, training took a little bit of a back seat.  although I still managed to get in a 6 miler, with 10 x 1min on 1 min jog recovery and 2 brisk 3 milers.

Back at home, today I ran the second race in the North East Harrier League, cross-country fixture over approximately 6 miles at Farringdon.  The aim for me was to get in a hard run and pick up some points for the team.  The results are not available yet but I timed myself at 39.09 and was Blaydon's first counter.  So I guess I can put that down as a successful day.

Tomorrow will be an easy 11 miles and then its back into training mode next week

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

If you need a reason to keep going.....

A recent Norwegian study, by Stian Thoresen Aspenes, with the snappy title of:

"Peak Oxygen Uptake Among Healthy Adults: Cross-sectional descriptions and prospective analyses of peak oxygen uptake, physical activity and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy adults (20-90 years)."

Has concluded that it is possible for a 50 year old to be just as physically fit as a sedentary person 30 years younger. 

The study shows that by increasing the intensity of your exercise, you can hold back the risk of metabolic syndrome.  Which can be one of the factors which lead to type 2 diabetes.

The study goes onto say that the key to maintaining fitness is not just how much exercise is carried out but the intensity.  They looked at the benefits of high intensity exercise in the form of interval training and came to the conclusion that, in their words, "very high intensity exercise"  is a quick way to increase overall fitness.  The optimum interval session they suggest is 4 x 4mins with 4 mins recovery.

As for my recent intensity exercise - last nights session was 8 miles with 2 laps around Newburn Business Park and an interval session of 5 x 3 mins with 75 sec recovery.  Despite having to battle with the strong winds in places, the fluidity of my running  and consistency over the session was a lot better than of late, so things definitely seem to be moving in the right direction

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Austerity cuts

In line with the Governments austerity measures and the subsequent cuts to local government spending, Middlesbrough Council have recently announced its intention to close the athletics track at Claireville Stadium.  It appeares that the decision is not yet final and there is a chance that it may be kept open.  With this in mind there is an on line petition to save Clairville from closure.  The petition can be found at:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A round up of the week

This mornings long run was a struggle, so much so, that I cut it short and only did 10 miles.  Although I have a bit of a cold hanging around I think the real reason for not going so well today is more down to tiredness from quite a tough week. 

Monday I did 5 miles with a series of 30 sec bursts with 30 jog recovery.  Tuesday was a 5 min, 4min, 3 min, 2min, 1 min, speed session, all on 1 min jog recovery.  Thursday was a 35 min tempo run over which I covered about a further 100m  than on the same run the week before and yesterday the session was 7 x 2 min with 1 min jog recovery.  Wednesday was a steady run and Friday a rest day.

Next week I aim to change the emphasis slightly only doing one speed session - probably Tuesday, with steady runs the rest of the week and a 5km time trial on Saturday (possibly using one of the Park Runs).  Then a longer run Sunday.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Marathon goings on

Spirit of the Marathon movie poster

The Marathon has certainly raised a number of talking points this last week or so.

There has been the annual discussion around who has had their entry for next years 'London' accepted/rejected and who will be putting in for a club entry.

There was also Patrick Makou's recent new world record at the Berlin Marathon, of 2.03.08.  Knocking over 20 seconds off Heile Gebrselassies previous record and Gebrselassie dropping out of the same race.

Talking of world records - What about the IAAF's ruling on the women's world record?  Re-classifying Paula Radcliffe's world record of  2.15.25 as a world best and making her third fastest time of 2.17.42 the 'official' world record.  The reason for this being that her two fastest times were achieved in mixed races and not women only events.

And what about this Sunday, the local, Kielder Marathon, saw Rob Sloan of Sunderland Harriers being disqualified after finishing 3rd.  The reason for the disqualification being that he got on a bus part way around the course before jumping off just before the finish to complete the race. Not only that, but on discovery, he first of all denied it,  then seems to have said that it was some sort of accident and he did not mean to do it and then again today there seem to be further reports that he is again denying it.

Also on Sunday at the Chicago Marathon there was the lady who gave birth to a baby girl only hours after completing the race.

Monday, 10 October 2011

A change to plans

The original plan on Saturday was to run a 11km leg of a team bi-athlon at Kielder.  However, this fell through and so I headed to Cramlington for the first of the North East Harrier League Cross Country races.

It was a mild afternoon and the course offered firm conditions, so much so, that the spikes stayed in the back of the car and I wore a pair of off road flats.

My aim was to set off at a 'good' pace and try to maintain it throughout the race.  Although there are no real hills on this course, I did still struggle on the inclines.  However, covering the 6.08 (Garmin measured) miles in 39.04, I am reasonably happy with my run.  Especially as I was feeling generally 'heavy' and have a bit of a cold hanging around.

Team wise, having been promoted to Division 2 last season our aim is to at least maintain our Division 2 status this season and our 8th place out of 11 teams is a steady start.

A special mention to Caroline Acaster of Blaydon and Sunday morning training partner for winning the ladies race, leading from gun to tape.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bunny Race series - Race 3

Strong windy conditions greeted another small field (13) for the final race around Newcastle Town Moor. From the off John Bell (celebrating his 50th birthday), Kevin Lister and myself broke away.  However, part way around the first small loop, Jon and Kevin opened up a gap of about 10 yards on me, which I managed to close as we completed the loop and headed off across the top of the moor towards the hills. 

As we neared the turn, towards the hills, Jon broke clear and then as we started to climb, Kevin opened a gap on me. It is becoming evident that I will need to incorporate some extra hill work into this winters training.

Coming off the hills, I was able to raise my pace closing and passing Kevin at almost the exact spot as the previous race.  Pushing on, I was able to close the gap slightly on Jon but was unable to catch him.  The results:

1st Jon Bell 18.39
2nd Me 18.56
3rd Kevin Lister 19.14

So another slight improvement from me, knocking 14 seconds off from the previous race - have got to be pleased with that!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Ghost Runner

I have just finished reading The Ghost Runner by Bill Jones.  I found this to be a fascinating account of the life and times of John Tarrant and his fight against a lifetime ban from amateur athletics imposed because as a teenager in the 1950's he had been paid £17 expenses for fighting in a boxing match.

Among John Tarrant's list of achievements are:

40 mile world record (1966) of 4hrs 3min 28sec
100 mile world record (1969) of 12hrs 34min 10sec

Tarrant also won a number of prestige races including the London to Brighton Race (twice).

I must admit there are times I found the narrative a little condescending but I guess the idea was to add some emotional texture to John Tarrants' own account of his life, also called The Ghost Runner, published  by Athletics Weekly (I think during the 70's and no longer in print).

Well worth a read!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Causey Arch

Normally I would incorporate Causey Arch into a long run from home.  But, sandwiched between last nights 8 miler which included 30 min at tempo and tomorrows planned 5 x 3 min session, all that was on the menu for this evening was an easy 5 miles.  So I drove over to Causey Arch and in hazy sunshine and with temperatures still pushing 25C I set out alongside Tanfield Railway at an easy pace allowing time to take some photos.

The Causey Arch is the oldest surviving railway bridge in the world and when it was built between 1725 and 1726 was the longest single span bridge in the country.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Got that ol' racing bug back again

As I have only raced 6 times between January and the end of August, 5 races in the last two and a half weeks has come as something of a shock to my body. Even though I feel that my performances are still down on what they could be, they have served their purpose - I have shown some slight improvement and as the title of this post suggests I'm getting back into racing and want more.

Having said that, following Sundays 10km at Preston I have decided, although I am not going to abandon racing altogether, what is required now is a good block of training over the next 8 weeks, with the aim of further improvement. So am looking for a target race towards the end of November, and have penciled in a 10km in Workington on the 20th.

So, last nights session was a start back to some speed work with 10 x 1 minute on 1 minute jog recovery. In unusually mild and warm conditions, as we bask in the start of this 'Indian Summer' it was an enjoyably hard session around Newburn Business Park.

Following the session I was asked if I fancied running a leg in a team bi-athlon event at Kielder, a week on Saturday - how could I resist! So with the final race in the Bunny Run series next Wednesday, that's another two races next week.

What was that plan again?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Preston 10km

Although pretty damp, conditions where good for running in this years Preston 10km.  Although my knees were a little tender and my legs still a little heavy from the recent races I was looking forward to today's race.
Again I opted to run without a watch and just run as I felt. 

Over the first 2km I felt good and kept a steady pace but seemed to struggle a little after dropping down the steep hill into the park but was able to maintain form and although I was passed by one or two runners I was at the same time passing others.  However, just after 7km I was feeling last Sunday's and Wednesday's races in the legs and as last year found it a struggle returning up the hill out of the park. But things are improving (even if it is very slowly) as I crossed the line in 38.43 (27 seconds quicker than last year and my fastest 10km since April 2010) to finish in 28th place.

The race was won by Gary Pennington of Preston Harriers in 33.32.  First over 50 went to David Barker (not sure of which club) in 37.12 and 10th place overall.  First lady again went to Gemma Adams of Preston Harriers,

I would like to thank Francesca for being photographer for the day - she obviously knew I would be struggling up the hill.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bunny Run series - Race 2

With 20 runners toeing the start line it was a  slightly larger field than race 1, two weeks ago.  Conditions were slightly worse with a stiff wind blowing across Newcastle Town Moor, and anyone who knows the Moor, will know that there is absolutely no shelter.

As the race got underway, Race No.1 winner, Jon Bell soon hit the front.  As his pace did not seem quite as quick as the last race I decided to tuck in behind him with Mike Friberg of Blaydon and Kevin Lister making up the leading group.  However, as we headed out towards the hills Jon started to pull away and I was soon passed by first Kevin and then, club mate, Mike, who forged on and soon passed Kevin also.

As we climbed the first hill I started regaining some ground on Mike and Kevin.  Cresting the hill and down the side to immediately start climbing the second hill I sensed Kevin was struggling and as we headed back down the hill and out towards Exhibition Park I cought and passed him.

Although I closed the gap slightly on Mike the gap was too much and I finished in 19.10 and third place.  the final placings being:

1st Jon Bell 18.35
2nd  Kevin Friberg 18.57
3rd me 19.10
4th Kevin Lister 19.29

Direct comparrison of times with the last race are a little difficut as we ran slightly further than in the first race. Seemingly just before the start of the first race, cows had eaten some of the route markers which resulted in runners taking a slight short-cut.  But with Sundays half marathon still in my legs, the windy conditions and a slightly longer course I am looking on tonights 19.10 as compared to 19.01 a fortnight ago favourably

Monday, 19 September 2011

Great North Run and City Games

Over the last 5 years I have ran the Great North Run as a chaperone for a celebrity runner - usually Nell McAndrew and again this year I was due to run with Nell.  However, as she was aiming for a pb of around 1.24/1.25 I felt that in my current form I would probably be more of a hinderance than a help and so it was with some reluctance that I declined the offer. Nell went onto record a pb of 1.25. 

As a result I was given the opportunity to run without a celebrity so decided to not to wear a watch a just run as I felt and enjoy the day.  So after a quickish first mile I settled into a rhythm at what felt like 7min mile pace.  So it was a pleasant surprise when I reached 10 miles and my first opportunity to see a clock, in exactly 66 minutes.  I went onto finish in 1.26.24.  Still a long way short of what I feel I should be running but obviously I am in better shape than I thought!

The results show that I finished in 414th position and have me down as being in the 40-44 age group.  Obviously going from my youthful good looks rather than my date of birth.

At the front end the race was won in a new course record of 58.56 by Martin Mathathi with 2nd and 3rd placed Jonathan Maigo and Emmanuel Mutai also going under the hour.

On Saturday I went down to the Newcastle Quayside to watch the City Games.  This year it was a match between GB and the USA. Which the USA won 7- 3.  But, the action made for a good afternoons athletics with Mo Farah looking awesome in the 2 mile race.

Photos from City Games:

Mo Farrah leading mens 2 mile race

Mo winning 2 mile race

Hannah England winning Ladies 1 mile race

Womens 100m Hurdles

Friday, 16 September 2011

80000 Miles

Back in February I posted how I had been running for 30 years and had in that time clocked up 79105 miles.  Well this evenings 7 miles has brought, not as quickly as I hoped due to injuries etc, the total up to 80000.

I think a visit to The Miners Arms and a couple of pints of Bombardier to celebrate are the order of the day.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

10000m Championships

Yesterday saw the combined running of the North East AA and VAA=NEE 10000m Championships at Monkton Stadium.

I knew that I was not in shape for this but could not let the year pass without one race on the track and this was my last chance and anyway a run out here would, even if I struggled, mean a faster run than a normal training run.

Of the 12 runners who toed the line in warm and blustrery conditions, numbers may have been affected by the Farringdon Cross Country meeting a few miles down the road, only 2 were seniors, still not the best of showings considering this was a championship race.

As the gun sounded a group of 3,Stew Bell, Jeff Priest and Guy Bracken moved away from the rest of the field, and as they set the pace I slogged my way around the 25 laps to the finish 8th overall and a time of 40.00.6, to give me second V50 in the VAA- NEE Championships.  First V50 in the Championships going to John Stephens of Low Fell, although first over 50 was actually Martin Farren who was running as a guest.

Leading results:

1st Stew Bell V40 Chester le Street 34.24.3
2nd Jeff Priest, Trafford, 34.31.8
3rd Guy Bracken, V45, NSP, 35.04.4

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Bunny Run series

Last night was the first race in a 3 race series organised by All Terrain Events and held on Newcastle Town Moor.  Billed as 5km, the actual distance is 4.85Km.

Unlike the weekly 5km Parkruns which are held on the flat footpaths across the Town Moor, last nights course took you off the paths and included the two hills in the north west corner of the Moor.

With only 12 of us turning up for the race, this was certainly a low key event.  In fact, while waiting for the start, I counted more people (36) running around the Moor on training runs!!- presumably in preparation for next weeks Great North Run.

As the race got underway, in blustery conditions.  John Bell, Kevin Lister and myself immediately moved away from the rest of the field.  However, as John powered ahead and Kevin opened a gap on me, I felt uncomfortable and heavy.  In fact, I did not seem to get into my running until after the two hills as we ran past the top of Exhibition Park, about 3/4 of the way into the race.  Probably the result of a poor warm up.

John maintained his lead, finishing 1st in 17.59; Kevin was second in 18.40 and I clocked 19.01 for 3rd.

The next race is on Wednesday 21st September, with the final race on October 5th, hopefully these will attract a few more entrants.

Following the race and this morning my knees are quite tender and sore but a couple of easier days should see them all-right.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Getting back into the swing

Getting back from holiday mid-week, getting back into work and other family commitments left limited time for running or for watching the IAAF World Championships from Daegu.

I did, however, manage to get 30 miles in over last week.  Which included a 10 mile run with a fast stretch in the middle around the Rowlands Gill loop (3.15 miles).  I covered the loop in 19.37, which when compared with the 19.16 I did at the begining of August, means I have have not lost too much over the holiday period and it is now just a question of getting back into the swing of things.

I have seen very little of the World Championships on the TV and in fact only saw yesterday's 5000m final thanks to Channal 4 + 1 highlights programme.  But it was well worth waiting for, with just about the whole field in contention at the bell and Mo Farah out-kicking Bernard Lagat and Imane Merga over the last 200, it was gripping stuff!!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Marrakech Express

Menara Gardens
  Following my last post nearly three weeks ago I completed my biggest mileage week of the year, so far, with 54 miles.  However, the knee pain I have been fighting all year started to flare up again.

As it happens the end of the week coincided with the start of our family holiday during which I had planned to reduce the mileage anyway.

So for the last two weeks I have totalled 30 miles altogether ( a little less than I hoped. but...) around the roads and gardens of Marrakech.

Koutoubia Tower
 I would like to say that my running was best described by the title of this post but a more accurate description would probably be the Marrakech 'Puffin Billy', especially as on one morning when a taxi driver pulled over and asked if I needed a ride! - I must have been looking good!

All the runs were carried out first thing in the morning before it became too hot, but even then temperatures were already well into the 30's.  A bit different from the high of 16C when I left Newcastle.

All of the runs were based around Mohammed VI Avenue, the Minera Gardens and Oliveraie Bab Jdid.

 Unfortunately on three occasions I had to change my planned route due to packs of stray dogs, when I decided caution was the order of the day, rather than run through them.

But at least the lighter training has been successful in reducing the pain in my knees and now I'm back home can start building back up again.

Mohammed VI Avenue
The Mohammed VI Ave is a flat and mainly straight road which is 5km long and would make an ideal flat fast point to point 5km road race or out and back 10km.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Another small step

I am trying to increase the mileage slightly again this week and it is so far so good.  Monday was a staedy 7 miles and this evening a steady 8.  Last night, though was a 10 miler with the middle three miles at tempo.  The 3 miles tempo is actually covered over a 3.15 mile loop along the Derwent Walk and around Rowlands Gill. 

The last time I did this session was June last year when I covered the loop in 19min 24 sec.  Last night I went around in 19.16.  So it looks as though I am getting back to where I was in the middle of last year at least.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Moving in the right direction

14 miles this morning took the weekly mileage up to 52 miles, my second biggest weekly mileage for the year! This mornings 14 also followed an outing at the Newcastle Park Run yesterday morning.  So all in all a big improvement from last week.

275 people turned out for the 5km Park Run on Newcastle Town Moor yesterday morning and it was good to meet up with some familiar faces from former years.  I did not have much of a plan in mind but talking to Jon Bell (formally of Elswick Harriers) prior to the start, he had ran 18.30 the week before I decided to try to hang onto him.  Things started well as I went through the first Km in 3.40.  The second Km was also in 3.40 and although I missed the 3km marker I am sure I did not slow, but John was by now pulling away and the wheels were starting to come off and by 4 km I was just hanging in until the finish.

My finishing time was 19.03 for 31st position (1st M50) and an age grade of 79.97%.  For the record Jon went on to finish in 18.34 for 19th place.

Although not a spectacular time by me it is an improvement on my last attempt at the Park Run of 14 seconds and even more pleasing in that it is the first time for 18 months that I have shown an improvement over any distance. 

So hopefully things are now starting to move in the right direction.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

If its not one thing its another

Having shook off the cold I had picked up last week, the problem with my right knee flared up again.  So much for the plan of racing myself fit.

 Despite these problems I have managed to keep running though and have actually increased my mileage.  Although the miles (46 last week and on course for 50 this week) have been slow and steady rather than any fast stuff.

One Blaydon Harrier who has been racing recently and racing well is Hester Dix.  Congratulations to Hester on her 1st woman 10th overall position at Tuesday's Morpeth 10km in a time of 35.17.  Full results can be found at and photos of the race can be seen at Running Commentary

As for my plans now, well firstly to reach the 50 miles,mentioned earlier, this week and then hopefully increase the distance again next week but adding some speed work in, before having a couple of easier weeks whilst on holiday

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Off the back

Unfortunately I picked up a cold towards the end of last week which is lingering on and although it has not prevented me from training I would like to think it is the reason I struggled in last nights session.  But in reality it is more down to a lack of fitness.

I again decided to go out with the group rather than a track session.  The session was a 9 mile run which included 6 x 3 min with 2 min jog recovery.  After the first rep I was off the back, trailing Liam, Paddy and Mike. Normally I would at least be able to match pace with them, but was left struggling in their wake.  But at least I got the session in.

Today saw a welcome return of some sunshine after a series of dull and miserable days and this evening  gentle 5 mile recovery run.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon 2011 - results

Full results can be found at

The results show I actually finished 28th overall in 91.09 and as I posted earlier first M50.  But only by the skin of my teeth:

2nd M50 was Jim Holding of Pocklington Runners in 91.26 and 29th position
3rd M50 was Steven Croft of Stadium Runners in 91.33 and 30th position

As for the front of the race:

1st Matt Moorhouse Salford Harriers 74.37
2nd Phil Taylor Bridlington Road Runners 74.56
3rd Tim Midgley Bingley Harriers 77.56

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pyramid session

Following the exertions of the weekend last night I decided not to go to the track for the Tuesday track session.  But, not wanting to ignore speedwork completely, I instead, decided on joining the group running from Blaydon.  They were doing an 8 mile run which included a pyramid session 1 to 4 minutes and back again, with 1 min jog recovery between the 1 and 2 mins and 2 min jog recovery between all the other efforts.  I must admit I felt sluggish at the start of the pyramid but was able to work my way into it and pick up the pace as the session went on.

Feeling tired after last night though, this evenings run was a very steady 4 miler, by way of both recovery and hopefully not putting too much pressure on my knees, which remain in a delicate state.

Unfortunately I have not yet been able to find the results of Saturdays, Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon 2011

My original plan had been to have a steady run around the course, taking in the scenery.  However, heavy rain and low cloud sitting on the hills meant there was not going to be much too see.  So with a slight revision to my plans, I lined up about 3/4 of the way back in the starting area aiming to go off very steady and try to reel in as many as possible.

As the starting horn sounded the volume of runners surrounding me on the narrow road helped me resist the urge to start fast and in fact in an unusual show of self control I did not even try to react as others came past.

After a mile or so when a lot of the jockeying for position had stopped I started slowly to work my way through the field.  By three miles I had passed well over thirty or so runners and at the bottom of the first climb there was a group of four about 20 meters ahead.  Working steadily up the hill I picked the four runners off one by one as the hill took its toll on them and the group broke up-

Just after 6 miles there is an off road section and as I picked it up slightly as we headed back down hill I started to recognise some familiar runners up ahead.  Slightly taken aback but pleased by this I gradually worked my way through.

Not having many miles under the belt in training I had been expecting to struggle over the latter part of the course and although my tempo did drop a little I still continued to pick runners off all the way to the finish.

As for time and position, at the moment, I can tell you I finished 1st over 50 in 1.31.07 (not a great time but one I'm happy with on the day).  As for overall position, I am afraid I do not know yet as the results are not yet on the internet and I am afraid that I must admit to missing the presentation due to sheltering from the rain in the beer tent.

Although I do believe that the first two home were the same as last year with Matt Moorhouse of Salford again taking first place (after missing the start and working his way through the whole field - he passed me at about the first mile) and Phil Taylor of Bridlington taking 2nd.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Change of scenery

Fancying a change of scenery for this evenings run I headed down to Tunstall Reservoir near Wolsingham, in the Wear Valley.  As I am keeping it steady this week I took the camera with me, for another 5 miles.  The conditions were warm and sunny and the run very enjoyable.

Following the run around the Yorkshire wolds on Saturday I aim to start doing a number of races in order to race myself back to fitness. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

More of the same

Headed to Hepper Hill Woods again tonight for another steady run in drier but still humid conditions.  Found a couple of tracks I had not ran on before.  Another enjoyable 5 miles.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Hepper Hill Wood

As I am planning to run around the Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon this Saturday, I am taking it easier this week in order to try and protect my knees.  It was raining but still hot and humid this evening as I had an steady run around Hepper Hill Wood.  The rain had made it muddy and slippery underfoot.  Slipping into a stream as I crossed the slippery stepping stones and an abundance of nettle stings as I ran the narrow paths only seemed to add to the fun.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A fartlek run, some research and a past incident

A group of 11 of us did a fartlek session over the Blaydon Burn / Thornley Woods loop.  However, we did the loop in the reverse direction to the usual and added on 3 laps of the track to make distance up to 8 miles.

I must admit I found the session tough (but enjoyable).  Towards the end of the session as we completed a mile and a quarter tempo section and passed behind the Black Bull and along the banks of the Tyne I could visualise the refreshing pint of Black Sheep I would soon be having there.

I see that the results of a recent study by psychologist Dr Laura Chaddock published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggests that people who run have an improved ability to multi-task.

The experiment that forms the basis to this claim involved 36 students, 18 non-athletic and 18 athletes, who were placed in a virtual reality situation where they had to travel through a virtual world at their own speed and safely cross an unsigned road intersection, while avoiding traffic that was moving at speeds of between 40 and 50 mph.

The results found that the athletes group had a higher success rate than the non-athletes as they had faster processing skills.

I suspect, however, that the results may be influenced by the fact that the athletes were more practiced at negotiating such situations through a variety of their training experiences.

This reminded me of one of my past experiences and shows that practice does not guarantee success on every occasion, as the newspaper article from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, below, will testify.

It was back in 1984 and the week leading up to the Northern Six Stage Road Relay Championships.  We had a good team and felt confident that we would qualify for the National Championships for the first time.  The session we were doing was a 10 mile loop around Crawcrook with 10 x 1 min efforts.  I remember, it was just after the start of the second effort and we had to cut across a small side road.  I was leading the group and after a quick check started across the road.  I was about half way across when a car appeared from around the corner and there was no way I could avoid it.

Despite still having swollen ankles and right knee I still ran on the Saturday.  However, it still rankles with me that a below par performance by myself as a result meant we just missed out on qualification to the Nationals.  The team had been  steadily working its way through the field when I took over on the penultimate leg in 13th position.  However, instead of moving us higher as was expected I dropped to 17th leaving Nick far too much to do on the last leg.  We eventually finished 16th.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Back to The Riverside

Following two weeks absence, last night saw a return to The Riverside track at Chester le Street.  Since my knee problem is still on going I decided not to put too much presure on them and to do only 4 of the planned 6 x 600 with 2 mins jog recovery.

The conditions were warm and humid with a hint of rain, which did not materialise.  I wasn't sure how the session would go but was pleasantly suprised with the results of 1.59, 1.59, 2.01, 2.01

Not sure I could have maintained that pace if I had ran a further two reps, but a very enjoyable session.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Slow progress, but getting there

I must admit I thought I would be back  to racing by now, but although things don't seem to have improved as quickly as I had hoped I can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

I really enjoyed last nights fartlek session, despite being caught in a couple of heavy downpours of rain.  But more importantly, yesterday was the 8th consecutive day of running, with very little painful reaction from my knees.

So with half of the year over, and my lowest ever mileage and fewest ever races at the midway point.  I am looking forward to a more successful second six months

Monday, 27 June 2011


Recent circumstances have meant that I have not had much time to post anything over the last week.  however, hopefully this will change.

I am still struggling to pick up the miles, with only 38 miles in for last week.  The reasons remain the same, with a continuance of the knee problems I have been having.

One of my favourite races, The Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon, is in 3 weeks time.  Described as a challenging course, I have ran this race every year since 1990.  Although there is no way I am going to be fit enough to race it, I still intend to turn out and just run the course, treating it as a hard run.

I have just finished reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  This is a book that is written in part as an adventure tail and in part as an editorial, but which I found to be a good read.  The book combines the history of the Tarahumara (an Indian tribe, living in the Copper Canyons of Mexico) known for their amazing feats of endurance and running abilities; the American Ultra Running scene; the authors own experiences; and theories of how man was born to run; while at the same time taking a swipe at the running shoe industry.

Monday, 20 June 2011

A frustrating week

9 arch viaduct - Derwent Walk

Yesterday's steady 13 miles on the Derwent Walk was quite a pleasing end to what started as a frustrating week.

Having got over enthusiastic following actually completing the Blaydon Race on the 9th June and putting in a few miles over the following 3 days, my knees decided once again, to mutiny.  This resulted in no running on Monday and Tuesday and a slow and steady build up to the 13 on Sunday.

Patience is obviously a virtue I have not quite mastered yet.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Is it the water?

In his posts at Terry Lonergan frequently describes one of his regular runs around 2 local reservoir and recently described that due to lack of rainfall, how empty they are becoming.  But having read an article in this weeks Athletics Weekly, from an athletics performance point of view, dwindling water supplies may not be so much the problem but the water itself.

Stoud AC runner Derek Hough, has written an article where he points the finger of blame, not just for a decline in general running standards, but also for the general increase in the size and physical shape of the general population, over the last 50 years, on the water we drink.

He believes that the decline in western distance running is due to environmental pollution, in that chemicals in tap water and elsewhere have lead to fat gain.

He argues that Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) in the water supply are the culprit.  EDC's get there by waste water being pumped into the river system for re-use in the water supply.  These EDC's come not only from natural hormones that we all secrete but also from the likes of contraceptive pill hormones, medicines, detergents, pesticides, etc and affects the endocrine system, altering its normal function.

The endocrine system controls the secretion of hormones into the body.  Hormones, of course, having a major effect upon how the body's growth and development are regulated. 

The article goes on to argue that it is not the case that young runners are not training sufficiently hard but that an increased body size is contributing to a general lethargy by the population towards exercise such as running.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Blaydon Race pictures

Some more pictures of the finish of the Blaydon Race - Thanks Francesca

A short video of the race can be found at

Friday, 10 June 2011

Blaydon Race 2011

Winner Edwin Kipkorir
time 28.25

2nd place T Shiferaw

First British man home
4th place Ryan McLeod
 After spending the whole of the last week in two minds whether to run Blaydon or not I eventually decided to just try and run around as best as I could.  I also decided not to wear a watch so that I had no pressure from checking times etc.

Conditions for the race were good with temperatures at around 13C, although there was quite a fresh headwind for the majority of the 5.9 mile route from Newcastle to Blaydon.

As usual with the sound of Jackie Browns bell ringing in our ears, the field was off to its customary fast start.  Up front there was a terrific race (or so I am told - too far back to see any of it) between Kipkorir, Shiferaw, Kiptoc and local lads Ryan McLeod and Ian Hudspith (first V40 in 5th place in 28.37).

In the ladies race Justina Heslop, of Clapham, managed to hold off her rivals to once again take the ladies title in 31.44, finishing in 24th place overall.  Also in the ladies race Blaydon's Hester Dix had a great run to finish 8th lady, 70th overall in 34.15 and first Blaydon Harrier home.

From a personal point of view, I started off steady and managed to keep a consistent pace until Scotswood Bridge (about 3.5 miles), where once I hit the incline onto the bridge, I found myself starting to struggle.  I had decided before the race if I could manage to run around in under 40 mins I would be satisfied.  So I have to be happy with my 37.28 clocking. 

Hester Dix
Blaydon Harreirs

me heading for the finish

And a welcome bottle
of Ale at the finish

Thank you Francesca for the photo's - hopefully more to follow

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Dont you just love the British summer

Still in two minds as to whether to run Blaydon or not, I was again at the Riverside track at Chester - le - Street.  The session was 6 x 600, but I decided to just do every other one, in case I do turn out on Thursday.

Just as we got started we were greeted by a roll of thunder, quickly followed by a heavy downpour of hailstones the size of peas.  Within 400m the track was totally white as we crunched our way around.  Thankfully, this did not last the whole session and we finished off with clearing skies.

For the record I did all the 600's in 2 min. but this was obviously with a longer recovery than I usually take.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

More than a race

Following an easy four days Sunday saw me once again doing 12 miles tempo.  Although more successful than the previous Sunday, I am still no where near being race fit.  However, with the Blaydon Race this Thursday, I am going to have to decide if I run or not.  If I do it, I will have to try and treat it as a tempo run rather than a race.

Frequent readers of my posts will know that the Blaydon Race is a race I refer to often and as I have posted elsewhere that the race celebrates the original horse races as described in Geordie Ridley's famous song.

Next year will see the 150th anniversary of the celebrated song.  One of my early childhood memory's is at the age of 5, standing in the crowds on Scotswood Road, outside the Ord Arms, watching the parade celebrating the centenary.

I think, I have since read, somewhere. that there was also a road race that day, not a version of the current one, but I am not sure if that is correct.  If anyone reading this knows could you please let me know.

Anyhow, getting back to next year, there is a group campaigning to have special celebrations once again.  which would be great.  Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah has agreed to submit a formal Parliamentary petition on the campaigns behalf.

Anyone interested in added their  voice to the petition can do at