Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas everyone and a successful New Year

It's customary at this time of year to review what we have achieved and plan for the coming year.

As I have had another particularly poor year I am going to skip the first part of the process and just look forward optimistically and plan for what has got to be a better year.

My hamstring problems have not disappeared but at least now seem to be under control.  Over the last two weeks I have hit the dizzy heights of 50 mile per week and a short speed session - progress indeed!

As mentioned in an earlier post I intend to run the North East Masters Cross Country Championships at the beginning of February. 

This will probably be my first race back, proper, although I also intend to possibly fit in a race before that and definitely a couple of Parkruns just to get back into the habit.

In the meantime - wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fast and painful or painfully slow

That seems to be my choice at the moment.

Over the past 7 or so weeks I have tried rest, massage, foam roller, sports massage, stretching and pilates but still my hamstring problems continue.  I have found, fortunately, that as long as I keep to a steady rhythm and don't stretch out to much that I can continue to run.  Although the icy paths on Monday didn't do much to help.

They may not be fast but at least I am still getting some miles in.  So, hopefully at least I will have a base to work from once I can start doing some faster stuff.

Currently I am not looking to far ahead, with regards to targets etc. but hopefully I will be in some sort of shape by the time the NE Masters Cross Country Champs come around at the beginning of February.

Monday, 1 December 2014

World Masters

Reading the Athletics Weekly over the past few weeks there have been a couple of articles about London bidding for the 2018 World Masters Championships. It would have been great to run in the Olympic Stadium but alas it is not to be, as they seemingly can guarantee use of the stadium for only one of the required 12 days!

However it appears that Cardiff are coming to the rescue as they consider making a bid for the event.

I have competed at the World Masters on two occasions.  Firstly as an M40, when the event was held for the first time in Britain, at Gateshead in 1999.  I was entered for the 10000 m and marathon.  Unfortunately I picked up a virus in the lead up so did not start the marathon.  I did however turn out in the 10000, finishing 13th in 33.54.

The second occasion was as an M45, this time in Puerto Rico.  This time I ran in the cross country and again in the 10000m.  The cross country was over 8km on a flat lapped course adjacent to a beach that would have been perfect for those old Bounty adverts on the TV.  Held at 6am to avoid the heat of the day, I finished in 8th place.

A few days later the 10000m was held on a wet and windy evening.  This time I finished 6th in 35.26.

If Cardiff are successful I will be 61 years old, so towards the younger end of my age group.  So I am thinking this could become another longer term target.

As far as my running goes at present, I am unfortunately battling against a re-occurrence of hamstring problems but hopefully I can get things sorted ready for a fresh start in the new year.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Another beer mile world record

Earlier this year I posted about James Nelson who broke the beer mile world record with a time of 4min 57sec.  This is where you have to run 4 laps of the track and drink 4 beers.

Well, in Austin, Texas, Chris Kimbrugh has also took 13 seconds of the women's record with a time of 6min 28sec.

The beer mile also, seemingly, has its own world championships.  Which this year will take place in Austin, Texas on 3rd December.

If you are interested, beer mile records and rules etc. can be found here

Monday, 3 November 2014

How far would you go?

Well according to the Proclaimers they would walk 500 miles then 500 more.

I know they were singing about a girl but isn't running a bit like a love affair?

I was in York over the weekend and as I settled into one of the local hostelries  and sipped at a pint of beer  The beer mat on which I rested my glass informed me that in his 84 years Alfred Wainwright trekked over 100,000 miles, sketching, mapping and writing about everything he saw.

This week will see me reach 86,000 miles since I started keeping a training diary in 1981.  An average annual mileage of 2606 miles.  Of course anyone reading my posts over the last year or so will realise that I am not hitting that sort of mileage at the moment.

However, with seven and half years in which to achieve it I am now setting a long term goal of reaching 100,000 miles before my 65th birthday.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A runners thoughts

I just happened across this short film, The Runners.  A documentary about runners in London's Victoria Park. 

Made by Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley, it provides some interesting insights as they question runners as they make their way around the park, using a bike with a cart attached for the cameraman.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cramlington Cross Country

With the sun shining and temperatures in the high teens, it was more akin to a summers day than the start of the cross country season.  Although still just slowly building up some base miles I'm thinking that the Harrier League will be a good way to get back into the habit of turning out for a race. 

So armed with a pair of brand new cross country spikes I headed off to Cramlington and the first NEHL meeting of the season.  Despite some efforts by the weather earlier in the week to provide some mud the course was firm and dry as I settled in well down the field, intent on just getting in some harder miles than I would if I had went out on a normal training run.

With 590 finishers in the men's race and 333 in the women's race plus a full programme of races for under 11,s, 13's, 15's and 17's and under 20 girls, the current popularity of cross country looks set to continue.

I don't think I will be running the Sherman Cup race at the end of the month but I fully intend to turn out at the next league meeting at Akley Heads, where with a few more weeks training I should be able to improve on this 'benchmark' run

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sunday Run

As usual we met at Swalwell Junior Football Club ready for a 9.30am start.  To be honest it has become a bit of a habit (and to easy a choice) to  follow an out and back route along the Derwent Walk.

9 arch bridge
Derwent Walk
 This Sunday we decided on a change of route, however.  Heading down alongside the River Derwent to the riverside path along the south bank of the Tyne to the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle and returning via the path along the north bank.

Dunston Staithes
from north bank
Having spent the previous evening at the Snods Edge Beer Festival I was feeling a little dull and heavy, but soon settled into a steady rhythm as we passed the new houses and Europe's largest wooden structure, Dunston Staithes.

Tyne and Swing Bridges
  I am not sure how it happened but we seemed to have a slight headwind, both as we headed east and again as we turned having crossed the Millennium Bridge and headed back west and threaded our way through the crowded Sunday Market on Newcastle Quayside.

  The previous evenings  activities started to catch up with me around about 9 miles and so it became a case of just coasting back to the car.  But still it was a useful and enjoyable 12 miles in the bank as I continue to slowly build up my weekly mileage again.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

It's a cruel world

Running like life can be full of frustrations and many of my running frustrations have been well chronicled  in this blog over the last couple of years.

Although it has never happened to me one of the most frustrating and agonising things in running must be celebrating a victory to early and finding that you are suddenly pipped to the post.

A friend recently sent me this LINK of a 5km race in Boston where this just the case

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Another Government u-turn

Back in February (Bits and pieces post) I posted about then Education Secretary, Michael Gove's recommendation that extra physical activity such as running be used as a punishment in schools.

However, Gove was replaced in July by Nicky Morgan and thankfully it would seem that she has requested that running, used as a punishment be removed from teachers' guidelines.

Whether this result came about because of public outrage from such sporting personalities as David Moorcroft, Paula Radcliffe and Brendan Foster.  As a result of the online petition set up by Gavin Megaw of Guildford and Godalming AC.  Due to the fact that Nicky Morgan is a keen runner herself.  Or to a combination of these and other factors, at least common sense has at last prevailed.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Good base training

Yesterday I came across an article about an open touch rugby player named James Heptonstall who raced a Tube train in London.

He got off the train at Mansion House and ran 380m to Cannon Street to get back onto the same train.  According to this article there have been a number of similar challenges throughout Europe.

Well I'm afraid this is nothing new.  As a youngster (13 years old) I lived in Denton Burn on the west side of Newcastle upon Tyne and went to school in Benton on the east side.  This necessitated a daily bus journey across Newcastle which could become quite tedious.

One of the activities a group of us had to relieve the boredom (apart from doing your homework) was to get off the bus outside what used to be Binns (now Start Fitness' Tri shop) on Market Street and run to see how far you could get and still get back on the same bus.

Initially it was just the next stop, we then graduated to reaching Newcastle Central Station and then to the stop outside the model shop on what used to be, I think called, Blenheim Street (now St James Boulevard).  I remember that I claimed the record though by reaching what was then the Newcastle General Hospital about a mile or so away and anyone who knows Newcastle will also know that it is also quite a climb up to 'the General'.

This must have provided a good base for my future running efforts.

If you wish to see a video of James Heptonstall's  (videos didn't exist in the days when we raced the bus) race against the Tube you can find it here

Monday, 8 September 2014

Great North weekend

Well yesterday's Great North Run proved to be a record breaking day.  With the first ever 1 millionth finisher in a mass participation run, Mary Keitany breaking Paula Radcliffe's record and Mo Farah being the first British winner for 29 years.

From a personal point of view, due to my general lack of fitness, lack of training and to some extent a lack of motivation I approached this years run with some trepidation.  I was, as usual down to chaperone one of the celebrities and thoughts of, what if I can't keep up, had crossed my mind constantly over the days leading up to the race.

As it happens the celebrity I was assigned to decided not to run so I was left to run my own race.  I started off a little to fast and after the first couple of miles decided to ease up a little to a more sensible pace and from there it was just a case of keeping it steady up to the finish.  However, just after the 7 mile marker I spotted a couple of fellow Blaydon Harriers up ahead and the competitive instinct kicked in as I started to chase them down.

Passing them both a little further down the road.  They had both gone off too hard and were now paying the price.  The weather conditions were good, if a little warm.  However, once we turned at Whitemare Pool there was a cooling breeze to run into. Although I slowed up a little between miles 11 and 12 I was content with my time of 1.35.55, considering my lack of training.


Saturday, saw me back on the Quayside for the Great North City Games, which once again provided some good, close quarter's athletics over some unusual distance such as 150m and 500m. 


Photos by Francesca - more can be found here

Friday, 5 September 2014

GNR Million ceremony

Well I am just back from two weeks holiday, where I must admit to only doing half a dozen short runs just to keep ticking over.  I am, as I have for the last few years running the Great North Run as a chaperone to one of the celebrities.  However, with the Run being brought forward a week this year I am even less fit that I would have expected.  Hopefully I will be assigned someone who is not looking for too fast a time or else they may have to take care of me!

This years GNR will see the millionth runner cross the finish line since it was first ran in 1981.   Which is another first for the GNR as no other mass participation run has ever reached this milestone. Reaching this milestone is, of course, being celebrated and those celebrations got underway last night with an opening ceremony held on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides. 

Using the Sage Gateshead as a backdrop there were performances on both quays and the river itself.  Celebrating the North East as a whole and the GNR in particular.  It was a great event, with performances by local people and acts such as Mark Knopfler, Sting and Chase and Status.

While away on holiday I read Richard Askwith's 'Running Free - a runners journey back to nature'.  Having previously read his book on fell running, 'Feet in the Clouds' which I had really enjoyed, I had been looking forward to this read. 

The main theme to this book is "Big Running".  "Big Running" is described as the involvement of 'big business' in the running 'market'.  From 'must have' equipment and clothing to mini adventures within a controlled environment provided by organisers of such events as the Mud Runs etc.

I must admit to agreeing with a lot of the arguments presented in this book.  However, as the GNR can be described as "Big Running" and as I have described elsewhere in this blog it was the first GNR that got me into running in the first place.  I think "Big Running" does have its place but it would be good to see more people make the transition from being a "big runner" to competitive runner or a 'real' adventure runner.  Rather than see races  as a sort of rite of passage where just completing is the aim or adventure runs within manufactured and controlled conditions.

With regards to this year's race a full list of the elite athletes can be found here

As usual the photos are from Francesca, more photos of the evening can be found here

Monday, 11 August 2014

Written off

Regular readers will know that I have been having problems this year, firstly getting over some surgery carried out in April and also an on-going nagging hamstring problem. 

So with only 4 races and a park run to my name since October last year I decided on Saturday that as far as targets are concerned I am writing this year off and will concentrate on sorting my body out and building up for 2015.

This does not necessarily mean no more races this year, but I will only race when I feel ready and use them as part of my training. 

Perversely, I managed a 12 mile run yesterday morning, and although still down on what I would normally expect, I ran the 12 miles 6 minutes quicker than the 10 mile I struggled through the Sunday before!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon - Results

Thank you to the organisers for emailing a copy of the results.

 This year's race as last year was won by Mike Jefferies of Billingham Marsh House Harriers in a time of 76.58.  Second overall and first M40 was Simon Ryecroft of Pocklington Runners (85.23), with York Acorn Running Club's Chris Puolton, 3rd in 85.55.

Mike Jefferies

The first lady and 14th overall was Cathy Wood of Bridlington Road Runners in 1.31.20.

As far as my age group is concerned, unattached runner, Robert Barker took first place with 1.38.06, while finishing 25th overall.  Not far behind finishing in 28th place with a time of 1.38.22 was Mike Pullon of Pocklington Runners.  My 44th placing with 1.45.35 bringing me home as 3rd M55.

3rd Place
Mike Pullon

Meanwhile, another 'Wolds' regular Andrew Meskimmon of Dewsbury Road Runners had another fine run (89.37) for 8th place overall and first M50.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Yorkshire Wolds half marathon 2014

The hills are the same, just in a different order.

Owing to a change in venue of the Bishop Wilton Show.  The route of the half marathon , although essentially the same. Has had to change slightly.  Starting and finishing near the old 6 mile point gives the race a new dynamic, with the finish now being at the end of a long climb.

To be honest, if this had been any other race I probably would not have done it.  But, having ran this race 24 times (first time in 1987 and then every year since 1990) it has become one of my favourites and I wanted to keep my run (pun wasn't intended)  going.

As we lined up at the start the conditions were warm and muggy.  With an average weekly mileage of 25 miles and no speed work or long runs, I knew I wasn't in any real condition to race what can be a challenging course.  So my plan was just to get around as best I could and try to enjoy it.

And, that's how it started, settling into a comfortable rhythm we soon hit the off road down hill section and I was starting to move up the field a little?

However, as soon as we hit the road and a short sharp climb I was struggling.  Knowing what was still to come I knew that I was in trouble.

Just after 6 miles and another long climb I actually caught and passed someone and then on the following downhill caught a young runner in black.  I managed to hang onto him until just before 9 miles when my legs 'went' completely.

From just after the 10 mile point its a long climb to the finish and I dropped back down through the field.

As the intention for this race was just to get around I did not wear a watch and as yet I have been unable to find a copy of the results.  This means as yet I am not sure of my time or position.  Although I think I may have scraped into the top 50 in a new personal worse of around 1.44.

Obviously not the best but the target of just finishing was achieved and
I still enjoyed the event.  But, I will be back next year to make amends.

As usual thanks to Francesca for the pics.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blackhill Parkrun

Following last weeks fiasco of missing my intended race I decided to run a parkrun by way of compensation.  Blackhill parkrun is held only about two miles from my home and Saturday was its first anniversary.  It was, however, the first time I had run this particular parkrun.

As it's name might suggest Blackhill Park is on the side of a hill and so I was expecting the course to be a little bit tougher and my time a little slower than those at the Newcastle parkrun.  Still not running to form and still bothered by this irksome hamstring problem I started off very steady as we headed uphill from the start for the first of three laps.

Conditions were very warm, bright and sunny as I settled into some sought of rhythm and tried to move up through the field as best I could.

Blackhill parkrun is not as well attended (with just over 100 runners) as that at Newcastle, where there are frequently around 400 runners at each event but I found it much more enjoyable  and there was also a bit of a party atmosphere as a number of runners turned up in fancy dress to celebrate the anniversary. Some photos can be found here

As expected my time was down on those of Newcastle but with a time of 22.05 I was disappointed to have not gone under 22 minutes.  Having said that among the wealth of statistics parkrun provide you with regarding each run I discovered that this is the fastest time by a M55 - M59 on this course.

Finishing in 10th place my time was age graded at 70.79%.

The race was won by Jordan Bell of Blackhill Bounders in 18.38.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

In the words of Victor Meldrew............

"I Don't believe it!"

I know I am not currently in the best of form but I had based what running I am doing around a race  this week - The Bridges of the Tyne 5.

The only problem being that I  realised late on this evening that the race was not tomorrow night but today.

Yes, I had missed it!

To be honest it is not the first time I have got the race date wrong, such as the time I drove down to Preston for a half marathon only to find out that I was a week early or the time I drove to Richmond to find That the race was the next day.  But at least on those occasions I returned to take part in the race. This is the first time I have actually missed a race.

To rub salt into the wounds I thought, since I had missed out, I would enter the Great North 10km on Sunday, only to find out that entries had closed at lunchtime.

It's just not my day!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Lambton Run results

These are the main results from Sunday's Lambton Run:

1st  Mark Hood (Sunderland H) 34.14
2nd Steve Rankin (unattached) 35.11
3rd Craig Deacon (Jarrow & Hebburn) 35.37

First Lady
M. Avery - Sunderland Harriers
1st  M. Avery (Sunderland H) 42.17
2nd Joanne Levey (unattached) 42.47
3rd Judith Thirwell (unattached 42.54

As far as my run is concerned, a little slower than thought (I am not wearing a watch while racing these days) at 43.47 for 54th place.  With regards to my age group this placed me 3rd M55.  Sam Daley of Heaton Harriers taking the honours with 41.12 for 30th place overall.

Full results can be found here

The Start

Monday, 30 June 2014

Lambton 10km

Held fully within the Lambton Estate, used by the BBC for the filming of their drama 'The Paradise', this was the fourth running of this multi terrain event.

It's probably fair to say that this is one of the lower key events in the region, but it was my first attempt at this scenic and undulating course. The plan was just to get around in one piece, starting off easy and trying to worm (that's one for those with a knowledge of North East folk lore) my way through the field, depending upon how I felt.

Conditions were good, a little overcast, warm with a slight breeze as the race got under-way.  I perhaps started  a little too far back and found it very difficult to overtake people on the narrow path as we headed down towards the River Wear.

The first 3km went reasonably well despite having to weave my way between other runners.  After this point though I seemed to be moving at more or less the same pace as those around me but still feeling relatively comfortable apart from the uphill section.  Still there was no reaction from the troublesome hamstring, so it wasn't all bad.

Between 3 and 6 km I continued to make some progress passing more runners than passed me.  But, the effort was starting to take it's toll.

After 6km I started to loose my way and began to drop back down through the field.  I particularly struggled on the up-hill section towards the end.  Dropping even further back.

But I managed to hold it together to finish in around 43 minutes.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any results yet to confirm my time.

However, it was pleasing to finish with only a slight twinge from my hamstring.  Also, although my pace was well down on what I would consider to be normal, a pace of something in the region of 6.50 miling on this course compared with an average of 6.44 on the shorter and faster Blaydon course a couple of weeks ago, I will put down as a slight improvement.

A little worrying though, in light of the Yorkshire Wolds in 3 weeks time was my inability to get up the hills!

I will provide a link to the results, when I find them.  In the meantime, Thanks, once again to Francesca for the photos.  More of which can be found here

Friday, 27 June 2014

Patched up and off we go

The hamstring tweak that I suffered during 'The Blaydon' turned out to be a little more serious than I originally thought.  This necessitated taking a few days off, followed by some gentle running as I eased my way back into the swing of things.

The plan to be back to some form of fitness for my next race therefore soon disappeared.  However, I do believe that I am 'patched up' sufficiently to allow me to run around the Lambton 10km on Sunday.  Hopefully this time its the start of the road back to racing.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Blaydon Race 2014

Last nights Blaydon Race was held in near perfect conditions and as the race got under way, although I did not go off as fast as I would have liked.  It was faster than planned and as my pace at the end of the race confirmed, obviously too fast for my current state of fitness.

Despite not wearing a watch I realised that as we approached 2 miles and recognising some of the other runners around me, that I wasn't that far off where I should have expected to have been, had I been in reasonable shape and probably on for a time of somewhere around 36 minutes.

However, any sense of satisfaction was short lived as between 2 and 3 miles I felt a painful tweak of my left hamstring.  I would like to say that the resulting slowing of pace was in order to protect said hamstring.  However, it was probably as much the inevitable slowing to my current level and so it became a question of just hanging on as best as I could to the finish.

Finishing in 446th place in a time of 38.58 gives an average pace of 6.44 per mile for the 5.9 mile course.

Full race results can be found here however the main positions were:

1st Peter Emase 26.34 (average pace 4.34 per mile)
2nd Boniface Kiprop Kongin 26.48
3rd Nick Swinburn 27.11

1st Joanne Chelimo 29.42 (14th overall)
2nd Gladys Yator 29.42 (15th overall)
3rd Rebecca Robinson 30.22 (21st overall)

Despite how the above account reads, I still 'enjoyed' the run.  After all the aim was just to have a harder workout than a run by myself would have given.  Also after not having raced for so long it felt good just to be back in a competitive situation.  Hopefully this hamstring will sort itself out quite quickly and I can get some more races in.

More photos from the race can be found here and here

As usual thanks to Francesca for photos

Monday, 9 June 2014

Decision time

The plan was to have reached a level of fitness to be able to put in a good performance at this evening's Blaydon Race.  Unfortunately though, this just hasn't happened and I have had to ease even further back in my training. 

 As Gary Dunn would say in his blog dunnrunning "The best training plans are written in pencil".  So with this in mind the decision is to still run tonight.  With the emphasis being on run, not race. 

Adopting the theory that I will run harder in a race than I would on my own.  I am treating tonight's race as a hard training run.  I aim to start well back in the field and try to maintain a steady pace, picking it up a little, should I be feeling good at any point.

Because, I will not be 'racing' tonight I have slotted another race into my upcoming schedule.  The Lambton 10km on 29th June.  So hopefully I will be in a better position by then.

Monday, 2 June 2014

A mighty fine read

As my training is still just ticking over, it has afforded me some extra time for reading.  Yesterday, I finished 'Running with the Kenyans' by Adharanand Finn, and it has to be said it is a great read.


The story is of a year spent in Kenya by the author with the aim of discovering the secret of the Kenyan success at distance running and the pursuit by the author in improving his own pb's.

I found this an enthralling book. From immersing, not just himself but his whole family into a totally different culture to the descriptions of Kenyan training along with anecdotes such as the delay to the start of the Lewa Marathon due to there being lions spotted on the course.

Well worth a read.


Talking of marathons, my last post was regarding the organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon not issuing full race results.  However, it now seems that they have bowed to public pressure saying:

"Thank you for all your feedback and for telling us what is important to you.  We value our runners and we now know that only publishing your results within your My Details account was the wrong decision. We thought that this was the runner’s preference to receive results exclusively, however we have been listening to your feedback and now understand and accept that this is not appropriate for you."

Full results of all the races held over the marathon weekend can now be found here


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

What's your position?

Last weekend was the 12th Edinburgh Marathon Festival.  On the Saturday my nephew ran the 10km, finishing 4th and on the Sunday two of my training partners ran the marathon finishing in 2.51 and 3.06 respectively.

I know these times and positions because I have spoken to them since their races.  Unfortunately this is the only way I have been able to find out how they got on.  As usual following their races I had scoured the internet to try and find their results and compare them to others in the race ie How they compared to other runners I recognised in the results, How their times compared to the winners time and such like.

 But to no avail. The reason, the organisers decided that they would only publish the results for the first 3 male and female runners in each race.  Individual results for the rest of the fields only being able to be accessed by the runner themselves.  The reason being given seems to be one of data protection!

I understand the need to protect certain information but keeping peoples results private, ie their position in a race and the time it took them to complete the race, is to me nonsense.  To me and I know many others (who spend considerably more time than myself analysing race results) the results are an intrinsic part of the race package.  We like to compare ourselves to friends, clubmates and rivals from other clubs.  As well as other runners in our own particular age category.

The results provide an indicator of progress against others and can become a strong motivating factor.  By not issuing results the organisers are saying that participants are only interested in completing the course and not the competition a race provides.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Changing tack

My current approach of trying to get back to race fitness is just not working.

In principal the idea of slowly and steadily increasing the workload seemed simple and with a little patience on my part the correct way to go.  However, even the modest increases in workload I have managed over the last 5 weeks have not resulted in any improvements.

In fact, things are getting worse.  It seems weird that having only increased my total weekly mileage to 48 miles over the 5 weeks that I may be suffering from 'overtraining'.  But, the symptoms are there:

- Results reversal, although I have not been racing I am actually getting slower with every run and can't match any times for the routes I use, from 4 weeks ago, never mind the times I should be able to do when fit.

- General Fatigue, yes I normally feel tired after training but not to this extent.  It seems to take an age to recover from the easiest of runs plus feeling run down and tired all of the time.

- Injuries, past problems with my hamstrings etc. seem to be resurfacing.

Obviously I don't want to stop training but I am going to have to re-structure what I am doing by allowing longer recovery periods between sessions, reducing the intensity of the session or by making the higher intensity sessions shorter ie reduce the overall mileage.

So it's back to the drawing board.  Things are looking tight for the Blaydon Race so I may have to sacrifice going for a good run for just run around, but if it means a greater overall improvement a little later so be it.

Friday, 16 May 2014

View from the back of the pack

I am still sticking to my plan of slowly building up the training.  However, I must admit to struggling and a sense of frustration.  I have started back training with my usual group.  Although I use the term

Newburn Bridge
'with' loosely, as even in the warm -up on Tuesday I found myself about 100m of the back of the group.  The ensuing pyramid session was tough but satisfying to get under the belt.

Last night was a steady run along the banks of the rivers Derwent and Tyne, up to Newburn Bridge and back.  Once again I was 'tail end Charlie' and had to slog it out. But at least I finished before closing time and rewarded my efforts with a refreshing pint of Black Sheep.

Yesterday, I also entered the Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon in July.  I think this is about the 25th time I will have ran this race and have got to admit to it being one of my favourites.

So my upcoming racing schedule now looks like this:

- 9th June; The Blaydon Race
- 9th July; The Bridges of the Tyne 5
-19th July; The Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon

For the time being I guess I will just have to keep slogging away

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The first Newcastle to Blaydon road race

As regular readers of this blog will know, my aim following my recent tribulations is to get some sort of fitness back for this years Blaydon Race on 9th June.

Those who have been reading my blog for some time will also know that I have posted about the traditions behind the race and how the route follows as near as possible the route described in Geordie Ridley's song of 1862.

The Blaydon Race in its current format is organised by Blaydon Harriers and has been running (excuse the pun) since 1981. However, how many people know that the first Newcastle to Blaydon road race was held over a 5 mile course as part of The Blaydon Race centenary celebrations in 1962.

As a 5 year old at the time I must admit to not remembering the road race to well, but I do have vivid memories of standing outside The Ord Arms pub on a packed Scotswood Road just before you reached Scotswood Bridge, watching the parade and floats go past enroute to Blaydon.

The race in 1962 had 99 competitors and was won by Tommy Elliott of Gateshead Harriers in a time of 29.41.  Footage of the race can be seen as part of a film of the celebrations here If you are only interested in the race rather than watch the full 40 minutes or so then footage can be found between 4.05 and 5.38 minutes, 6.48 to 7.37 and 10.12 to 11.00.  There is some charmingly dated commentary to go along with the film such as the comments regarding Tommy Elliott's winning time, where the narrator comments on whether the time means anything to the watcher but going on to say " it seems to be generally considered to be a pretty good effort."

Another interesting aspect of the film is the size of the crowds at the finish, with the runners only having enough room to squeeze themselves across the line.

There was also an athletics meeting held at the Municipal Stadium in Newcastle which featured races of up to 2 miles footage of which can be seen between 23.07 minutes and 24.28 on the film.

For those interested in other sports there was also a cycling race and rowing races.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Hash house fun

As usual for my Sunday run I drive down to Swalwell to meet fellow Blaydon Harriers, where we normally base our runs along the Derwent Walk.

As I left home this Sunday I noticed an arrow chalked on the pavement outside our house.  I thought nothing of it and headed off to Swalwell.  The aim being to slightly increase the mileage over the previous Sunday, as I slowly build back up to some form of fitness.

Having laboured through a slow 11 miles I then headed back home, feeling a mix of
Satisfaction, for managing to increase my mileage, and frustration, for being so slow and fading over the last couple of mile.

It was a surprise therefore that I noticed, on my return home, a large group of runners assembling in the pub car park next to where I live.

Was there a new race that I did not know about and literally right on my doorstep?

As I got out of the car I recognised a face from some years back of an ex Elswick Harrier.  Are you coming to join us? He shouted over as he in turn caught sight of me.

It wasn't a race, however, but Newcastle Hash House Harriers on there monthly Hare and Hounds type run.  For anyone not familiar with this, it is where one person, the hare, sets a trail using flour, and in this case chalk, which the other runners, the hounds, have to follow.

Newcastle Hash House choose a different location for each of their runs and on this occasion they had just happened to have chosen Medomsley. I was tempted to go with them and indeed if I had been fitter would have, but  I was well aware that in my present state of fitness I would be better off declining the invitation to join in  on some 'old time' running fun.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Another mile record

As the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister's world record breaking sub 4 minute mile approaches on 6th May, I have noticed a number of athletics magazines such as Athletics Weekly are quite rightly preparing to celebrate the great event.

However, one of the more stranger celebrations must be the first ever sub 5 minute beer mile.  This honour goes to James Nielsen who ran a mile in 4 minutes 57 seconds, while drinking a can of beer after every 400m lap. You can see the record broken here

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pole pole

When a group of us climbed Kilimanjaro last year our guide told us that for the purpose of acclimatization to the altitude our mantra for reaching the top should be pole pole.

Pole pole is Swahili for slowly slowly, and it looks as though it is a mantra that I am going to have to adopt again.  This time with regards to my running and getting back into some kind of form.

A couple of easy jogs have now been accomplished and although there seems to be no adverse reaction following the surgery, the rest of my body and in particular, my knees are strongly protesting against a return to exercise.

Although it is not going to happen as quickly as I had hoped I am sure that a slow, steady build up will get me back on track.  The Blaydon Race on 9th June still being the target.

So Pole Pole it is then!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Frustration rules

My plan of easing back into things with a few easy jogs seemed to me to be the sensible approach.  However, in reality even this has proved to be a step to far.  Without going into all the gory details it has become obvious that at this point in time even a very easy jog over 2 miles on grass is beyond me and as a result I am side-lined once again.

You can, no doubt, imagine my frustration at the situation.  A frustration which is being heightened by the fact that friends, family and fellow bloggers who run all seem to be going particularly well.  Such as:

Shaun - who ran a solid first leg at last weekends 12 stage and who would not surprise me if he set a new pb at this weekend's London Marathon.

Peter H - who ran a pb for 10km at Blyth last weekend - always a good sign as you prepare for a marathon, in Peter's case Edinburgh.

Peter C - who put in his usual solid performance at the Manchester Marathon on Sunday

Also at Manchester was fellow blogger Andrew Pearson. Read his account of his race here Andrew ran a pb of 2.39.21 and as a result is currently sitting at the top of this years M40 rankings for the marathon!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Looking forward to getting back

It is now just over two weeks since my last bout of surgery and I am really looking forward to getting back into the running.  Obviously I will have to ease myself  into it  but I am really itching to start pounding the roads again.

My short term target, then, is going to be The Blaydon Race on 9th June.  This coincidently was the same race that I came back on following surgery last year.  However, last year I only had 2 weeks between resuming running and the race.  This time around I will have a couple of months!

Talking of pounding the roads.  How many times have you heard people say that all that running can't be good for you and the such like?  We'll a study carried out at Bristol University shows how the opposite may be more accurate.  That pounding the roads is actually good for you.

Although the study confirms that subjecting bones to abrupt stress prompts them to increase mass or at least reduces a loss in bone mass as people get older.  The study also suggests the amount of 'stress' required.  Citing running at a pace of 10 minute miles as a minimum requirement.

Hopefully when I start back, I can at least match that pace to start with.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Is this the first example of a Masters race?

Like many 'older' runners I  enjoy racing in Masters age group races.  But is this the first example of  such a race?

The venue is Stamford Bridge Grounds and it is December 1892.  A  race over 10 miles has been arranged for 'Peds!' (Pedestrians /foot racers) over the age of 50.  Certainly The Adelaide Advertiser of the 24th January 1893 thought it a unique event.

The race, the brainchild of Sir J D Astley, believed an "old timers" race would not only attract a good attendance but would provide an opportunity of a final pay day for:

Men whose names years ago were household words in sporting circles, but who have been gradually going downhill both in age and pocket.

With a prize of £50 for the winner and lesser sums for those who followed.  There were 48 entrants, of which 38 actually started.  Those that did not make the start line included the famous "Gateshead Clipper" Jack White.

The race was a handicap, with those over the minimum age of 50 receiving 50 yards for each additional year of age.

The starters included well known "peds" such as " The American Deer" and Bill Lane "Crowcatcher".

Two runners started off scratch with E Moorhouse the "Waterloo Pet" at the age of 73 gaining a 2,270 yard advantage.

The newspaper report goes on to describe that:

after a few laps had been covered some of the competitors began to find that they were not quite so active as they used to be, and one by one a dozen or so dropped out, but at 5 miles there were still 25 left in and nearly all these finished.

The race was won in 1hr 1 min 39 sec by "Choppy" Warburton of Liverpool with Shipley, who started off scratch second.  Unfortunately the winner was later disqualified, when it was found that he was only 48 years of age.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Another date for your diary

There seems to be another new race heading our way.  Unfortunately, as yet I don't know that much about it, other than it is a 10km trail race in Gateshead on August 16th.

Thanks to being a new follower on Twitter @gateshead10K, tweeted these basic details.  However, looking at the photographs they have posted it appears that the race will take place around The Derwent Walk.

It appears that they also organise races in Sheffield and one to be held in June, a multi- stage trail race , held over 1 day looks interesting. More details can be found Here

Monday, 10 March 2014

Dentdale Run

Conditions were good for this years race with the sun finally breaking through just before the start. I had decided to start well back in the field and not wearing a watch, just run as I felt.  As the race got underway I was surprised at just how far back I had actually started in this near 400 runner field.

As we made our way down the narrow road,  I could initially only, trot along at just faster than walking pace.  Looking ahead as the field snaked its way ahead of me I could tell that I wasn't even in the top 200!  However, as gaps in the wall of runners appeared I started to slowly work my way up the field.

By the time we had reached 4 mile I hooked onto a group which included fellow Blaydon Harrier, Peter Chaffer, and as I moved to the front of this little gang, the group responded and came with me. The group staying together until just after 7 miles, when I decided to push the pace a little more.  After about half a mile I realised that I was not going to be able to maintain such a pace and decided to run in surges for the remainder of the race.

Dentdale is an undulating, figure of eight course and the last couple of mile contain a couple of nasty little climbs which took any wind that I had out of my sails.  However, I managed to keep it together to finish in 1.40.56 for 81st place.  Not too bad for my current level of fitness.  A couple of mile warm up and warm down, with Peter, giving me about 19 mile for the day.

The race was won by McBride of Royton in 80.01.  Which for the record was one second slower than my time for 3rd place back in 1990.  Fellow Blaydon runner, Peter finished 98th in 1.42.46.

A great race - hopefully I will not be waiting another 24 year to run it again.

Thanks to Francesca for photos.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Snakes and ladders

If I had to liken running to a board game then it would be snakes and ladders.  With the board representing the plan to get you from your starting point to your target.  The ladders representing those little extra improvements that help you move more quickly towards your goals and of course the snakes which are those injuries, illness and other set backs which creep up on you and knock your training back.

Over the last couple of years I seem to have landed upon all the snakes as it seems to have been a case of one step or forward, two back.  I must admit that the snake I am about to land on is not unexpected.  I have just received the dates for my next round of surgery and so will be heading back towards square one.

In the meantime however, with three weeks training under my belt I will be heading off to the small village of Dent in the Yorkshire Dales for the 14 mile 379 yd Dentdale Run.  It's funny how priorities change.  I remember when I used to, pre-race try to determine my chances of winning the race.  Now it seems to be a case of trying to determine whether I will get finished before dark!

This will be my first race since last October.  The last time I ran the Dentdale was way back in 1990, finishing 3rd (78.00 min) behind J Crehan of Warrington (76.45) and Alan Catley of NSP (77.22).  It was already my 11th race of the year ( I did 42 races over the course of 1990).  How times have changed.

With my enforced rest looming it will give me some more time to catch up on some reading.  Mind you much more and I may have to change the title of this blog to denty's running book review blog.  But let's hope not.

I have no set plans for getting back yet and am just waiting to see how things go.  Hopefully recovery will be on a par with last time.  Anyway I have entered the Blaydon Race in June and The Bridges of the Tyne 5 in July and intend to be back in some sort of shape by then.

Monday, 24 February 2014

14 Minutes

I would love to be now going on to say that 14 minutes was my new PB for 5000m, but alas, no.  That is still nothing but a dream (the best I ever managed for 5000m is 15.03).

No, 14 minutes is the title of the latest book I have been reading. An autobiography by Alberto Salazar and the 14 minutes in question, is the length of time that his heart stopped beating following a heart attack in 2007!

This autobiography is an engrossing read. From his family history:  His father was a friend of Fidel Castro and fought alongside Castro and Che Guevara, prior to falling out with them and escaping to America;  His determination to become the greatest Marathon runner in history;  His faith, Salazar is a staunch Catholic;  His battles against injury;  His approach to coaching; And of course, the near fatal heart attack of 2007.

The book was written during the period, shortly after Mo Farah joined his training group but before the 2012 Olympics.

 However, while talking about Galen Rupp and the marathon he states that he has advised Rupp to hold off on the marathon.  Saying "Once you run a marathon you can't return to the track with the same consistent short-distance speed that you exhibited before running 26.2."

Interestingly, another running legend Haile Gebrselassie in last weeks Athletics Weekly, while discussing this year's London Marathon suggests that he feels it is too early for Mo Farah to run the marathon as he still has potential for improving his times and possibly a world record on the track.

Another observation that Salazar makes is more general, but I am sure it is one that every runner can relate to.  When comparing runners and why they keep on going, as compared with those who do other sports, Salazar says "a runner of any calibre almost never outlives the need to run.  Once you get hooked - once the day comes when you suffer more by not running than by running - you're stuck with it."

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bits and pieces

On the 29th January I posted a blog 'Is it a race or not? - of course it is' in which I talked about Parkrun and whether or not it is really a race.  Well coincidently, following that post, Parkrun has featured quite heavily in the Athletics Weekly, over the past two weeks.

Firstly in an article by Jason Henderson where he felt that Parkrun was a race but had been criticized by 'parkrun' for the use of such terminology as 'race' and 'win' where they prefer terms such as 'coming first'.

Then in last weeks AW, the 'Your Say' page features a letter from a Mr Hamilton.  Although he supports and actively takes part in Parkrun, he does express his concern with the prohibition of the term 'win' within Parkrun vocabulary.

Mr Hamilton also raises another interesting point.  "that on September 21st a total of 294 Veteran men (M40 plus only) ran in Kent county's 6 Parkruns.  On the same day there was a total of just 10 finishers from M35 to M70 level in the Kent County Veterans' 5000m Championships"

Semantics  aside though Parkrun, whether it's used as a race, time trial or as part of a fitness programme should be applauded and supported.

As for what effect Parkrun has on entries to more 'traditional' races, well I suppose that will also depend on how the organisers of such events promote their races.  Personally, I intend to do both Parkrun and County Championships.


I realise from checking the data for this blog that a number of readers are from outside the UK.  However, for those of you who are located in Britain I am sure the arguments and the uproar raised against Michael Gove and the Department of Education for their promotion of exercise and running in particular, as a punishment for mis-behaving school pupils, have not gone unnoticed.

It's obviously not just me but it is difficult to believe how someone can include such an idiotic idea into Government education plans.  Especially when you consider one of the Government focuses is supposed to be the encouragement of a healthy and active lifestyle etc.

Brendan Foster was interviewed by the Daily Mirror and accused the Government of 'demonising running'.  Saying that organisations and events such as the GNR had gone a long way in popularising and getting people involved in running and a healthy lifestyle.

I also liked, if that is the correct term, another of Fosters comments aimed at Gove "I'd like to make him run around a school field - If I could find one.  He has been selling them off."

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Walking a tightrope

My training at the moment seems a little bit like walking a tightrope.  Last week was my second week back following my Achilles problems and I managed to increase the mileage to 54 mile for the week.

The week started promisingly with a tempo run on Monday.  The planned speedwork on Tuesday, however, was swapped for a steady 10 miles due to the snow.

Wednesday was a comfortable 5 miles followed by a 9 mile fartlek on Thursday.  Friday and Saturday, however, were very light, easy runs due to some painful twinges from my right Achilles.

On Sunday it was a steady 15 miles.  Which started well but I found myself struggling over the last 5 miles and again had some reaction from my achilles.  Especially on the hillier sections of the run.

So now with only3 weeks to my next planned race (The Dentdale) I find myself torn between the desire to push on and the need to be cautious about this irksome Achilles.  I suppose it's all a question of balance.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Another new race - hopefully!

There are proposals for another half marathon on Tyneside.  With the start and finish on the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides.  The race would head out east towards the coast as far as the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel which it will pass through before returning back up the opposite river bank.

Currently the organisers are trying to establish how much support there would be for such a race.  So if you are interested please let the organisers know by visiting www.tynehalfmarathon.co.uk to let them know.

The Tyne pedestrian Tunnel is presently undergoing a major multi-million pound refurbishment.  The pictures to the left show the tunnel prior to work starting.

Hopefully I will be fit by the time the race is actually arranged.  Having had a couple of easy run outs on the treadmill and a couple of easy jogs with very little negative reaction from my achilles I am intending to start to slowly pick things up this week.

The photos, by the way, were taken as they often are on this blog by Francesca.

If you are interested in photography why don't you check out some more of her photos at www.francescadentphotography.co.uk

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Is it a race or not? - of course it is

By now I think everyone is aware of the phenomena known as Park Run.  The free to enter 5km races have not only spread throughout the country but have now gone world wide.

Park Run attracts runners of all abilities from the serious runner to those who want to use the run to keep fit and for 'social' purposes.  Despite the race format and the main results appearing in Athletics Weekly, I still know of some who would not consider the Park Run as a race.

So it was with great interest that I learned today of the new initiative to be launched by Brendan Foster's 'Great Run'.  Styled upon Park Run and recently piloted in Manchester and known as Great Run Local, The organisation will be rolling out across Britain free to enter 2km and 5km races.

One of the aims of this project is to get 1 million people to take part in Great North, Great N Great Run affiliated activities in one year.

From a personal point of view, the more people who get into running and an even greater choice of races has to be a good thing.  It will be interesting though to see how these additional races affect the current running scene.

Will they affect entries into current / traditional road races?

Will they have a positive affect on running / athletic club membership?

The answer is obviously yes but hopefully it will be positive in both cases.

Roll on Great North Local.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ice and eccentric training

Last night my optimism of the other day went up against reality and was found wanting. 

Following an almost twinge free, gentle 4 miles on Wednesday night my right Achilles gave out last night forcing me to walk/hobble 2 miles back to the changing rooms.

So its back to the ice pack supported with eccentric training (heel lowering) and some gym work to try to maintain my general fitness until I can get back running.

(please note that this is an objective description of things. I don't think I can put into print how I really feel about it)