Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Musings on a Wednesday morning

In this part of the world you can always tell when the Great North Run is nearing by a sudden influx of runners on the paths and by-ways of the region.  I live in a small village and as I left home for work this morning (in the car) 3 runners passed along the road.  During the twenty minute drive to work a further 14 runners where spotted.

Interestingly, all but two of these runners were women, and thinking about it, it seems when you do see someone out running these days that they do tend to be women.

 Could this be due in part to the comparative success of the British women endurance athletes in the recent World Championships and Olympics.  Along with the undoubted success, prior to her retirement, of Paula Radcliffe.  Not to mention the success of such celebrities as Nell McAndrew, filtering through and providing inspiration to others?

When you compare this to the fact that, apart from the exceptional Mo Farah, Britain had no other male competitors in the endurance events. It could be one of the reasons for the lack of depth at the 'front end' of men's competition.

The other thing I noticed this morning was that bright fluorescent colours and ear phones for listening to music are de rigueur. I also noticed, that all those I spotted this morning were wearing what I would consider to be 'normal' running shoes. 

I have on numerous occasions posted about barefoot running and minimalist running shoes and, in the press at least, the debate between barefoot running and cushioned running shoes seems to be continuing.

Last weeks Athletics weekly having a double page spread devoted to a new minimalist running sandal. These Huarache sandals are being promoted by Barefoot Ted McDonald who featured in Christopher McDoougall's book Born to Run.

Meanwhile, the published an argument against barefoot running.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A mixed bag

My third week of marathon training turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag.

Monday turned into a rest day as my right knee was still pretty heavily swollen from the previous days race.  Luckily, however, the swelling had reduced by Tuesday evening and although still heavy legged was able to do an 11 mile fartlek session.

An easy 6 miles on Wednesday was followed by 12 miles with 3 x 2 miles with 5 mins jog recovery on Thursday.  Suffering a twinge in the left calf on the last effort saw me nursing the calf through an easy 5 miles on Friday.

Suffering no reaction from the calf and fancying a change of scenery on Saturday, I headed down to the Weardale Walk for a 5 mile fartlek session.

Then 17 miles on Sunday over a hilly route, taking in the nearby villages of Shotley Bridge, Newlands, Hedley on the Hill and Chopwell before heading into Chopwell Woods and down to Lintzford and the Derwent Walk before heading for home.  Worryingly I struggled quite badly over the last three miles.

I know that I have decided to take a more minimalist approach to the training for this marathon than I have done previously.  But I must admit that I am starting to worry a little over not doing so many miles.  With only 56 miles in this last week.

This is quite a contrast to the corresponding week for my last marathon which consisted of 80 miles and included two tempo runs, 1 of 3 miles and the other of 5 miles, an interval session consisting of 2 x 4 mins and 4 x2 mins, all on 2 mins jog recovery, a cross country race and a long run of 22 miles.

The photos were taken during the easier stretches of Saturdays fartlek session along the Weardale Way.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Results and photos

Results for the Silloth on Solway Beach Half Marathon can be found here

The race was won by Howard Seal of Derwent AC in 1.29.24 with the first woman Helen Young of Wigton finishing 6th overall in 1.46.19.

3rd place Stephen Atwell
of North Shields Poly.

photo by Francesca

Further photos can be found at

Monday, 19 August 2013

Silloth on Solway Beach Half Marathon

Sunday afternoon saw me toeing the line with about 80 others for the first running of this race.  As all, apart from about a half a mile at the beginning and the end of this race is on the beach I was not expecting a fast time but rather a test of strength and endurance, and so it proved to be.

This is an out and back race and a very stiff headwind for the first half of the race only added to the difficulty.  Starting a little to fast I relinquished the lead just before we hit the beach.  Trying to shelter behind a Derwent runner who was running a short relay leg (a team relay being held in conjunction with the half marathon) I yo - yo'ed between 2nd and 5th place for the first two miles before establishing myself in an isolated 3rd place for the next two miles.

But I was struggling in the wind and with the terrain and as a result, just after the 4th mile I was caught and passed by two runners who quickly opened up a gap as I floundered in an area of soft sand.  From then on it was a lonely and isolated run for the next 9 or so miles.  Although I did catch and pass the Derwent AC 3rd leg relay runner at around about 8 miles.

The outward leg seemed to go on forever and a glance at my watch at half way came as a shock as it  confirmed the feeling that this was taking an awful long time - 58 minutes!!!!!

Feeling that I was going to be lucky to break the 2 hour mark I turned and thankfully with the wind on my back, began to pick up the pace a little.  Maintaining my position to finish in 5th position in a time of 1.45.32.  This was definitely one of the toughest races I have ran.

I have not been able to find any official results, but I believe the race was won by Howard Seal, I think of Derwent AC, in just under 1hr 30mins.

Following the race my right knee was very sore and swollen, so unfortunately a couple of very easy days are on the cards.

Pictures by Francesca

Monday, 12 August 2013

A steady start

Well my first week of marathon training got off to a very steady start.  Reviewing what happened at my last attempt at the marathon I feel one of the contributing factors to my unsuccessful run was that I 'over-cooked' it a bit in the training leading up to the race, reaching the start line past my best.

So this time around the aim is to just to get around (I have to accept that I am not going to get back down to the times I used to do) and to be a little more conservative in my build up.  With this in mind I am following a 12 week schedule rather than the 15 week schedule I used  the last time.

My weekly mileage for last week was 55 miles and included two speed sessions of 4 x 1 mile with 3 minutes jog recovery and 2 sets of 8 x 200m with 40secs. recovery and 5 minutes between sets.

 This is a lot more conservative than the corresponding week (week 4) of my training the last time, which was 80 miles, with 2 tempo sessions (one of 3 miles and one of 4 miles) an interval session of 5 x 4 minutes and a cross country race.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Following 'The Wolds' half marathon I experienced a reoccurrence of my knee problems. On the positive side though, this coincided with my two weeks holiday and so the situation was not as bad as it could have been.

I am now back and although there is still a little soreness in the knees, I am rearing to go and have 12 weeks until the Town Moor marathon.

My holiday reading included Mark Whitaker's Running for their Lives.  an account of Arthur Newton's and Peter Gavuzzi's exploits in the transcontinental road races across America in 1928 and 1929. Their subsequent partnership and races in 500 mile relays, against horses, in snow shoes during the Canadian winter and 24 hour events.

I found the book enthralling and although I had heard of Arthur Newton, Peter Guvazzi was a new name to me. This book going some way to explaining why such a great runner has remained almost anonymous.