Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Sub 2 hour marathon in spring 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 25 November 2016

Save our track

Blaydon Harriers have been based at Shibdon Road, Blaydon since 1963, where we use an all weather running track.  This month it came to light that Gateshead Council are looking to replace the track with 5 a side football pitches.  A decision being made next month (December)!

Closing the track will deprive not just the 200 or so members of Blaydon Harriers who use the track for training, but also other organisations such as Ryton Tri, who also use the track, of a vital facility.

Blaydon Harriers cater for and encourage fitness and running for those from the age of 5 upwards.  So it seems odd, to my mind,  that the Council want to take away such an important and popular facility.  Especially when one of its targets as a Council is to promote healthy living and reduce obesity rates.

Gateshead Council's own website will tell you that 68.9% of adults in Gateshead have excess weight and that 'this is significantly worse than the England average...' and 19.9% of 10 - 11 year olds were obese in 2014/15.

Gateshead Strategic Partnership - Joint Strategic Needs Assessment states that only 27.1% of adults 18+ undertake moderate physical activity in the Blaydon Ward.  The 3rd lowest figure of all Gateshead Wards (the second lowest being Ryton - from where Blaydon Harriers attract a number of members).

I believe the decision to replace the track with football pitches is purely financial.  But will the 5 a side pitches attract the same numbers and age range of people?  If not then this could possibly have a detrimental affect on the health of the borough (and all the additional costs that will eventually bring) for the sake of a short term financial gain.

Gateshead Metropolitan Bourough covers an area of 55 sq. miles.  Do the football pitches have to be placed on top of the running track?  What about for example land half a mile down the road and in conjunction with the football club that is already based there?

Seemingly, it was suggested that as the  space needed for the football pitches would only take up the first two lanes we could still have the track from lane 3 to 6 - Eh?

And all this from a council which has a past tradition of supporting athletics

Please save our track!

NB - If you are on Twitter - I have posted a tweet 'save our track'  at @AlanDent2 - please re-tweet if you agree.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Avoid the wall

Most people training for and running a marathon will have heard of'' hitting the wall' and received the advice to "avoid going out too fast at the start".  Well in a study that looked at non-elite performances at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, data analyst Barry Smyth provides the data behind such sound advice.

 In this analysis, hitting the wall was defined as when a runner slows down by at least 33% in the second half of the race.

It was found that 50% of runners who hit the wall ran their first 5km as their fastest segment of the race.  However, for those who ran the first 5km as their slowest segment, they never hit the wall and on average finished 50 minutes faster than those who had started too quickly.

Possibly shades of 'The tortoise and the hare' here.

The study also showed that male runners tended to be 3 - 4 times more likely to hit the wall than women.

More details of the study can be found here

Friday, 18 November 2016

Not the Dead Sea Scrolls but Blaydon Backchat

You wouldn't have thought the excitement would have been as great as that generated by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls but I am sure that the unearthing of a few copies of Back Chat,  Blaydon Harriers' old newsletter from the 1990's caused as much interest.  As we sat huddled over them in the Black Bull following last nights training session and rediscovered past events and glories.

Obviously the main talking points were the race results and the times that we did (and why we can't run that fast now).  But also events such as the club relay following Wainwrights Coast to Coast route and of memories of former members who are no longer with the club.

On a personal note, there seems to a worrying number of mentions as to my sartorial habits - did I really dress that differently?

But from a running perspective, without boring you too much,  they detail some of my better performances.  Issue number 3 , September 1992, describes, for example, a successful June and July with the following results:

- Hamsterley Forest 16 miles - 1st in 1.33.08  (New course record by over 6 minutes)
- Tynedale 10km - 3rd
- Phoenix 14 miles - 6th
- Yorkshire Wolds half marathon - 1st
- Hamsterley Forest 10.5 miles - 1st in 62.40 (New course record)
- Hamsterly Forest 5.3 miles - 2nd

Ah those were the days!

As for my current running you can probably guess from the lack of posts on this blog that there has not been much to write about.  I have just about had to start from scratch and slowly build up over the past 12 weeks from very easy jogging.

 Last night I did my first track session for, what must be about, 4 years with 3 x 800m on 75seconds recovery, 2 min recovery then 4 x 400 with 75 seconds recovery and although I would have probably been better off timing the intervals using a sundial rather than a stopwatch - you have to start somewhere.

As far as my long term target of running 100,000 miles before my 65th birthday, I should reach 90,000 miles in about 2 weeks time, about 3 months behind what I had planned.  But I'm slowly getting there

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

I predict a riot.........

............. may have been a 2005 hit for the Kaiser Chiefs, but as far a most runners and in particular those running a marathon are concerned they are only interested in predicting their time for the race.

There are a vast number of prediction tools / tables published in books and on the internet.  The problem with these is that they are standardised and it is difficult to take into account each individuals circumstances.

When I started running marathons my guide was simply to take my most recent half marathon time, double it and add 10 minutes.  If you apply this formula to my marathon pb then my half marathon in the lead up was 67.14 which gives a predicted marathon time of 2.24.28.  My actual time was 2.25.55.

Now Runners World, following published research, 'An empirical study of race times in recreational endurance runners'  have updated their race time predictor based on data of, not just elite runners but recreational runners too.

The predictor uses the results of two recent races and also allows you to get a predicted time that also takes account of your average weekly mileage.  So how much more accurate is this compared to other predictors.

Using the data from the lead up to my marathon pb of 2.25.55 the predictor came up with a predicted time of 2.25.22, which seems to be pretty accurate.

The new Runners World Race Time Predictor can be found here


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Running V Racing

When I first took up running I joined Blaydon Harriers, and the idea behind that was to compete.  The whole idea of getting out for a run was to enable me to compete both against myself (the search for PB's) and other competitors.

I viewed racing as the emotional side of running, while the training, although still enjoyable, was a necessary evil.  Providing  the building blocks and practice to enable me to test myself in a race.

But was this wholly down to me or also in part the attitudes of the time?  My starting to run coincided with the first running boom and the natural progression if you wanted to improve was to join an athletics / running club.

At the age of 24 I was a bit of a late starter compared to the more established members of Blaydon Harriers and apart from watching athletics on TV had no real knowledge or intent towards running.  However, upon joining Blaydon I was befriended by people who had been immersed in running and racing and had grown up on the tales of; and modelled their own running , and strived to emulate legends such as Ron Hill, Jim Alder, David Bedford.....................

The accepted priorities in racing are your time, the distance and your competitors.  However, times and attitudes change.  I'm not saying that these attitudes no longer exist.  There will always be a core of runners for whom running is racing.

However, despite media reports of greater participation in running events this nucleus seems to get smaller.  The reasons for this are many.  Such as the growth of the charity runner, running as a stress buster, running for fitness and so on.  Again I'm not trying to say that these reasons are bad, but I do believe that they have had a significant affect on the depth and quality of races.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon 2016

Well Saturday dawned bright and sunny over the Yorkshire Wolds and I decided that despite my injury problems that I should be OK to just jog around.  The temperature was already rising as we lined up for the start on the road outside the Show Ground and I settled in towards the back of the throng.

The starting list had shown 320 entries but the results only show just over 150 finishers.  Although conditions were challenging this year people must have decided not to run rather than there being a large number of drop outs.

I kept to my plan and ran easy, trying not to agrevate things but as we came to the steep downhill off road section just after the first mile my left hamstring and groin area started to tighten.  Once on the flat again, though and I was able to control things.

It may be frustrating not being able to stride out and run comfortably but it does give you time to admire the scenery and despite having ran this race so many times I had never appreciated some of the views across East Yorkshire before.

As far as possible I did try to compete against those around me and as the race progressed I did manage to start picking up a few places.  However, most of  this good work was about to unravel as on the final climb my left hamstring, groin and glute tightend and became so painful that I was forced to walk/jog to the finish

But at least I made it and kept my run of taking part in this event intact.

The race was once again won by Phil Taylor of Bridlington Harriers in 78.48 from Paul Whitikar of York Acorn in 81.49

For the record I finished in 112.44 for 48th place

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Just can't seem to get off this merry-go-round

It continues to be the same old story, get over injury - start training - after a couple of weeks introduce speed work - things go ok for a couple of weeks - pick up a new injury - repeat -

It's obvious that I need to do something different, no matter how drastic it may turn out to be, in order to try to get off this not so merry-go-round..

The situation following the Blaydon Race in early June is as described above. A couple of steady weeks, followed by a couple of weeks with a speed session, followed by injury.  This has meant for the last 3 weeks I have been unable to train, other than for the odd 2 mile jog.

Unfortunately for me, it is the Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon this weekend.  An event that, if not my favourite race, is certainly up there as this will be the 26th time I have ran it.

To be honest, probably any other race and I would not be considering running.  But I am not quite ready to break my sequence of turning out just yet.  Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that my last 4 attempts of running this race were all affected by health problems. So I had been hopeful of putting in a better performance this year.  It seems that this won't be the case as I am in no way capable of racing this.

But I may just treat it as an 'easy run' and just jog around to keep my sequence of participating going at least.

Well I've got until 10.00am Saturday morning to make my mind up.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Trials, tribulations and a little joy

A redistribution of the prize money for this year's Blaydon Race meant that the usual clutch of East African runners did not feel it was worth their time to travel up to the North East and as a result the front of the race had a more in depth local feel.

The leading trio of Peter Newton, Ryan McLoad  and Ian Hudspeth. heading a field of 4000 runners from Newcastle to Blaydon.  Peter Newton making an initial break around about Scotswood Bridge, only to be reeled back in by McLoad and Hudspeth.  Before surging ahead once again along Chainbridge Road to take first place.  Ali Dixon taking the woman's race.

Not that I saw any of it mind you, as I helped make up the trail of runners who followed in their wake. But to be honest I was just glad to be running ( not that I had ever expected to be up at the front end mind you). Having got a couple of steady weeks training in, following yet another injury, I did an interval session last Thursday only to suffer a reoccurrence. This required a further few days off and when I tried to run on Monday this week could only manage 2 miles before breaking down again.

However, another couple of easy days saw great improvements and me standing on the start at St Nicholas Cathedral in eager anticipation.  The plan, to just jog the course, went out of the window as soon as the horn signalled the start of the race.  The suspicion that I was probably running to fast for my current fitness levels was confirmed when club mate Liam, who is running very well at the moment came past me after the first mile.  By the time  we had reached  3 miles I was already just hanging on to the end of the race another 2 and a bit miles away in Blaydon.  But I got there in 38.23 and I must admit I am quite pleased with that.

- under the circumstances.

As ever Thanks to Francesca for the photos

Friday, 27 May 2016

How do you run your race?

If you look through the myriad of books and articles on running a race you will find many extolling the virtues of the negative split.  But how many people actually run negative splits?

If I look back over my running and particularly the marathon, out of the 10 marathons I have raced only 2 have been with negative splits.  Yet a fellow Blaydon Harrier, Steve, always seems to run negative splits.

The first time I ran negative splits was in my second marathon (Newcastle 1983) and it was a definite plan from the outset, having suffered so badly in my first marathon (London 1982), where I had went through 20 miles in 2 hours only to take 56 painful minutes to complete the final 6 miles.

Newcastle saw me set off and maintain a steady pace just below my average planned race pace for the first 13 miles.  After which I steadily picked it up and worked my way through the field to finish strongly in 8th place with a 22 minute improvement of 2.34.

It would be wrong of me to credit all of the improvement to the tactic of negative splits as other factors like increased training, experience etc. also came into play. But it did work and I felt really strong at the finish. Despite this I only managed to run this way on one other occasion.

And it seems I am not alone.  The following statistics regarding marathons in America have just been released atrunnersconnect.net following research by Phil Miller:

  • 3 out of 108 men who ran the 2016 Olympic Trials ran negative splits
  • 4 out of 149 women finishers ran negative splits
  • There were 37408 finishers in the Chicago marathon of which only 5% ran negative splits

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Time is a tough taskmaster

I have not posted anything for a while as quite frankly I have not had anything particularly interesting to say.

My new found enthusiasm of a month or so ago was short lived as I picked up another injury (groin and abductor).

I am now, however, back to steady running every other day and find that I have a race against time to get into some sort of form with the Blaydon Race a little over 3 weeks away.

Time dominates your life as a runner.  Be it a race to get fit in time to compete,  Finding time to fit training into busy life schedules etc.

Time plays an important role in our training eg average pace, race pace, timed reps, time taken to run a particular stretch of a run (if you are a Strava addict).

Time also determines who we are as a runner and provides a comparison against others.  If anyone asks me what my marathon pb is for example I will say 2.25 (if you check the panel at the side of this page you will see that the exact time is 2.25 and 55 seconds. Missing off the seconds emphasises the time, especially for me, as my second quickest marathon is 2.26.00 (those 5 seconds were hard worked for).

As today I am officially another year older I have looked at my long term goal of running 100000 miles before turning 60 and calculated that I need to average 35 miles per week.  A few year back I would not have seen that as a problem.  But, not having even reached 20 mile a week for the last month or so,  it now seems a little daunting.

Having said that a challenge is not a challenge if it is not challenging.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Hang your head in shame

It may be that I am just extra grumpy because I'm injured yet again but the news that Stoke Gifford Parish Council, near Bristol, have voted to charge people who do the weekly park run there, I find particularly annoying.

There have been various debates such as, whether Parkruns are or are not a race;  debate as to whether Parkruns take away prospective members of athletics/running clubs or whether they have helped attract new members.  What does not seem in doubt is that most people are open to and welcome Parkrun.

The decision by Stoke Gifford Parish is for me a backward and short sighted step.  Their reasoning for the charge being to help upkeep of the paths due to there extra usage.

What we should be asking ourselves though is. Do we want a healthier population or not?  The costs to all of us of inactivity and poor health are immense.  Parkrun with the aim of breaking down barriers to participation in and delivery of physical activity should be congratulated and supported.

I have noticed that Twitter has been abuzz about this with Chrissie Wellington tweeting that 'in 2015 over 2000 hours of volunteer time helped to deliver the 5k and 2k junior events at Little Stoke Park which is valued at almost £28k'.

Not only that but Parkrun also helps to develop the sense of Community.

So shame on you Stoke Gifford Parish Council.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


A challenge should be achievable but with the risk of failure.  A little while back I set myself a long term target of running 100,000 miles before my 65th birthday, and when I calculated the weekly average mileage it was indeed achievable.  In fact very achievable.

Last week saw my grand total of miles ran reach 89001.  Although still on course to reach my target it is becoming, thanks to one injury after another, illness and to be honest a lack of motivation, just that bit more difficult.

But just one good run can change all that.  Last night I ran a good 8 miles along the River Tyne to the Redhuegh Bridge and back through Dunston to Blaydon.  The pace was good and I felt strong, only fading slightly over the last quarter of a mile.

So it's back to it, with that 100000 mile target once again looking very achievable.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Another relay leg

I have not been posting anything latterly as yet again it's been a case of battling against an injury, this time a groin injury.  However, I still managed to get a couple of sessions in prior to this years Good Friday Elswick Road Relays.

It has been a number of years since I have turned out at this event but managed to make the over 40's team this year.  I had originally been pencilled in for the 4th and final leg but our lead leg runner not being anywhere to be found come the start of the race resulted in a quick re-shuffle with Liam going off first followed by me on 2nd leg, Carl remained on 3rd leg andEric who was the planned lead off running last.

Liam returned fro his first leg with 13.35. For the 2.22miles, in 27th place (in the over 40 race ran I conjunction with the senior race).  As I set off , I found it very difficult to relax and although I passed one runner almost immediately I was passed by two others fairly quickly. As I tried to settle into reasonable pace I managed two get back a few more places coming home in 14.14 and 23rd place. Carl ran his leg in 16.53 and Eric brung us home in 14.07 for 31st place.

Blaydon also had a senior team running which finished 20th with

David Heslop 11.47; Alex Muir 12.21; Lee Hutton 12.53 and Daniel Flint 12.05

Friday, 26 February 2016


Anyone who is familiar with my blog will know that I enjoy reading about running and athletics nearly as much as actually doing it and frequently mention in my blog posts the book that I have been reading.

Unfortunately I have not had the time recently for very much reading.  However, I have been following closely Rob Hadgraft's blog Diary of a clapped-out Runner

Rob has written a number of books about runners of the past and is currently researching material to write a book about Sydney Wooderson.

As part of his research he is visiting (by way of a personal challenge to celebrate his 60th birthday) and running at 60 of the places where Sydney Wooderson raced during his career.

The blog, recording the progress of the challenge gives an interesting insight into the race venues used in the past. and is well worth a follow,

Here's looking forward to the publication of the book.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Royal Signals NECAA Road Relay Championships

Saturday saw me making my second outing of the year.  This time it was the 'Signals' relays.  I ran  for the Over 50's team and this consisted of 4 x 2.2 mile legs (2 laps of Hetton Lyons park).  There were 21 over 50's teams and the race was ran in conjunction with the women's race, giving a total of 88 teams all together.

I was on 4th leg, so Paddy got us off to a steady start with 14.09 for the first leg.  Bringing us back in 25th place overall. Eric ran 2nd leg moving us up two places with his leg timed at 14.50.  Up next was Liam with 14.44 and a further two places gained.

I knew that this sort of distance was going to be a shock to the system and so it proved as I managed 14.56 for the last leg.  Moving us up to 20th position overall and 9th Over 50 team.

Blaydon also fielded a Senior team who finished 18th in their race.

It has been a number of years since Blaydon have turned any teams out for the 'Signals' so it was good to be fielding two teams and from a personal view point, its another small step towards getting back.

Full results can be found here along with some video footage of the Senior Race.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A race at last!

My first race since July.

It may not have been the build up I would have wished for, with the hamstring niggles.

It may not have set the world alight.

But it felt great to at long last get a race under the belt.

Yesterday saw Wallsend Burn host the North East Masters cross country championships on a 3 lap course with two steep hills on each lap covering around 7.5 km.  I started off easily, with the aim to just get around.  The hills were steep and slippery but I managed to keep a fairly steady pace throughout and picked up about 10 places as the race progressed.  Finishing in 75th place in 39.39.  As I said earlier hardly a result to set the world alight but it feels great to be racing again.

Next race up in two weeks time and the Signals Relays

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Getting ready for the start...............

.................... and we're up and running

It's a while since I have been through this but I naturally fall into the old familiar routine of preparation.  This routine it's self acting as a cue to trigger dormant emotional memories.

There is a shiver of excitement, at once enjoyable and a little scary.  The tension increases and the heart rate rises, as I concentrate on the task in hand and remind myself  of my belief in my ability to succeed.  After all it's hardly the first time I have successfully competed.

As start time approaches I maintain emotional control and focus on what's about to happen.

Then We're off..........................................

49 minutes later and my online entry for the Blaydon Race is accepted.  Sometimes the competition just to enter a race is just as fierce as the actual race and with 1192 people ahead of me in the queue at seven o clock as the entries open, the 49 minutes is also longer than it will take to run the race.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Here we go again!

Despite having a heavy cold over the Christmas and into the new year I managed to keep getting the miles in and over the last week or so started back with the speed work.  However, following a couple of mile warm up, as I got into the first of my 4 minute reps - my left hamstring tweaked sharply and painfully, brining the session to an abrupt end.

Although still painful and tight,  hopefully things aren't too bad.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

You're having a laugh

Where will you be on 20th March?  I know where I will not be - Manchester (not that I have anything against Manchester mind you).

I know I haven't been racing for a while and I need to get out more but if you check out the 'Run like a legend 'event taking place in Manchester in March, where the organiser's are inviting us to 'Find your fast over the iconic mile', then you can do for the entry fee of a mere - £24!

Perhaps I am just a miserly old grump but that does seem a little excessive to me, just to run a mile. 

Mind you, with an expected 2000 people (figure taken from thier web site), perhaps they are having a laugh

- All the way to the bank

Monday, 4 January 2016

Out with the old and in with the new

A review of my running for 2015 I'm afraid doesn't make for much shouting about in either quantity or quality.  So at least I can be hopeful of a more successful 2016 with some degree of confidence.  On the race front, I only managed to turn out 6 times over the year (and 2 of those were Park Runs) with the last time being back in July.

Mileage wise, I must admit to being reasonably happy with chalking up 1851 miles for the year, considering the problems I have had(which keeps me nicely on target for my long term goal of reaching 100,000 miles before turning 65 - currently I am at 88,575). Unfortunately most of those miles have been slow and steady.  Mind you three operations in the last three years have done nothing to help my speed but at least I am still running and looking forward to  some improvements during 2016.

I have been thinking about targets for this year and have decided to target 3 'A' races up until July. All are race I would normally do but feel have not performed well in over the last couple of years. Then review where I am at and set targets for the second part of the year. 

The three races will be:

- The North East Masters Cross Country Championships in February
- The Blaydon Race in June
- The Yorkshire Wolds 1/2 Marathon in July