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.