Sunday, 31 October 2010

Forward Planning

Shall I, shall I not? Thoughts of the ERR photos from last year’s Guy Fawkes 10 mile race – and me not being on this year’s – was just too much to bear. Following a good track session last Thursday I made the decision to have a go. It felt odd as I went to pick Lisa up in Pudsey for us to then go and meet Gill, Ian & Sophie at Five Lane Ends for a lift to Ripley. My heart wasn’t in it and my head was telling me I shouldn’t do it. Moments earlier I had been literally shaking as I gathered my kit and tried to keep focused on what I needed to take with me, freeze patch in case anything serious happened, ice pack so I could apply it in the car on the way home. Painkillers, was I fit enough? I fought off the negative thoughts telling myself that I could take it really steady and if necessary pull out. Sophie had said that I could do a ‘DNF’ , Gill had said we could run it together – I’d warmed to the idea and made up my mind that I would do it but was it the right decision? Think of that lovely goody bag at the end.

Here I was at the start, Lisa had said she would run with me, I tried to warn her against it. It’s an odd scenario when you offer to run with someone, usually for your own benefit as much as theirs but in either case it’s a noble thing to do and I have to say after the first mile and a half I felt pretty bad, things settled down and then at around mile four we hit ‘The Birstwith Brute’ and it was just that, a brute of a hill, I tried to negotiate it by run walking, Lisa gallantly kept going and waited for me at the top. I really considered dropping out at this point, not because I was in pain but because I felt so tired, my fitness has really has taken a nose dive. I managed to carry on with Lisa’s encouragement which continued throughout the race, there were a further two hills, again I was reduced to run /walk but fared much better on the final one, managing to run up it for the most part. At 91/2 miles Gill came up behind us and we managed to keep a good pace to the finish where there were crowds, in amongst them some of our team mates, cheering and shouting as we willed ourselves up the incline and into the stunning courtyard of Ripley Castle to the finish. That’s team work for you. Brilliant, I had managed it, unscathed, if worn out, and with a little help from my friends.

I now feel able to plan ahead a little and set some goals. I aim to work on my fitness now, lose the extra pounds I've gained whilst not training and as I have just gained entry into the 2011 Brass Monkey half marathon in January (entries closed in just one day), I’m looking forward to hopefully beating last year’s time and setting my new half marathon PB. Fingers crossed! And that all important team photo? We even managed to coax the man himself, Guy Fawkes, complete with explosive, to pose with us!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

to do or not to do?

I have continued to steadily get back to training this week and increase my mileage slightly. I visited Ove my physio again yesterday and he was very pleased with my progress as I explained I had increased my mileage with little more discomfort than stiff ankles each morning. I had intended to seek his opinion as to whether I should take part in the next of my planned races, the Guy Fawkes 10 mile this coming Sunday - Halloween, I think I knew what his answer would be and bottled it. I came away feeling pleased with myself that he had said I didn’t need to go back but continue to carry out the exercises he had given me and adding the ‘plank’ to my routine!
Why oh why are we so complacent and just expect our bodies to perform the gruelling training we put in week in week out? It isn’t until you are unable to train that you sit and consider where you went wrong. It’s only by talking to experts like Ove and Brian Scobie that you realise. It’s a bit like wiping the steam from the windows and then you can see in a little more clearly. I for one am taking stock and going to rethink my current regimes, and consciously try to make amends, I certainly don’t want to end up back to square one. First off is a phone call to Pete May (Runner’s Rub fame) to arrange regular massage to try and prevent future injury and also make an effort to cross train with a different form of exercise, maybe I’ll get back into my twice weekly swimming.......
I cannot believe how quick the sixth and final session with coach Brian Scobie and Assistant coach Michael Delmonte has come about and it was much as I had expected, further progression with the interval training in the form of increasing the effort without increasing the distance. I have to say that these sessions have been absolutely fabulous and left me with so much respect for the experts involved. There is rumour that the sessions may continue with coaches within the Airedale Athletics network aiming to run sessions in the future and if this does materialise I will certainly consider taking part and recommend them to others. I can see how the sessions have helped fellow runners to improve even in such a short time with Sophie gaining PB’s abound and Gill and Dawn motoring along, I am only slightly disappointed that I had to miss out on several of the initial sessions and really wasn’t able to give maximum effort in those I was able to partake in. Never the less I still feel I have benefited both from those I didn’t take part in and those I did.
So now the question is Guy Fawkes or not Guy Fawkes...... oh the lure of a fab goody bag!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Words of Wisdom

Dave is performing magnificently as ‘tail’ runner at Bradford parkrun. It’s certainly not an easy task for the both of us. One minute you’re steadily trailing the last runner, the next they’ve completely stopped, the next they’re off like a shot and we have all on catching them up. On the whole though I’m really proud of him, except that he’s still really giddy when people come over to see him and all he wants to do is chew on their hands, rather embarrassing but I’m seeking literature on curbing that. He’s looks the part in his new coat, which is much thinner than the expensive one I first bought him and more suited to running in as he was getting really warm in the thicker one.

I’m pleased that being the tail runner for the last few weeks has given me the opportunity to run/walk thereby not causing me too much discomfort while I was supposed to be resting. I hope that Dave and I can keep up the good work in future. Meanwhile my thoughts are turning to the Winter season of running now that the Summer is finally over with the clocks going back this weekend signalling the end of British Summertime. Here’s hoping club Members can discover the satisfaction of getting themselves out of the house throughout the coming dark, cold nights that are Winter training!!
This month’s Runner’s World (November) contains an excellent article on cross country running – the impending XC season no doubt influencing the Editor’s decision to run said feature. I think if you ask most people these are the races they ‘love to hate’. Runner’s World quite rightly says that ‘knee high mud, driving rain, howling wind and numb hands form many people’s memories of cross country running at school’ – how true! Most of us harbour a dislike of cross country running through our school experiences. I always feel that the races seem many more miles than they are, they do though, provide you with a sense of achievement on completion. Also in the article they state that cross country running is the training backbone for many of our successful distance runners including Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe and to quote Mo Farah, ‘ cross country is a tough discipline as courses can be hilly, muddy or even snow covered, but it makes you strong and it’s a great way to progress your training’. So I’ll try and keep those words of wisdom in mind when I’m cursing as I encounter another batch of mud or a seemingly impossible hill! I also love the team spirit if we can manage to coerce enough people to indulge! I must say I am quite looking forward to them and as one of the club captains will be doing my utmost to attend all 5 races in the Peco series.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Scobie Dobie Do and the seaside capers!

The Thursday speed and endurance course was excellent once again. Although Brian seems to be staying with the same theme each week it is still varied as he introduces new principles into the session. We began with the usual warm up 2 lap jog around the track and dynamic stretches. We also once again used the hurdles for flexibility training, again using differing techniques to step over the hurdles. This week we took the speed work a step further in that instead of timed sprints which resulted in 10 x approx 100m distance followed by walking recovery of 50m across the grass back to the start point we completed 10 x 150m sprints with 50m walking recovery and 200m recovery jog. In effect each week we have progressed with effort without increasing the distance. Simples!

Quite predictably I didn't feel able or indeed that it would be sensible to take part in the Bridlington Half Marathon. We did though, make the trip to the East coast in order that Marc could take part in the last of the ERR junior Summer championship races which he did with gusto. Arriving in plenty of time we had an amble on the beach beforehand. It was absolutely beautiful, the sun shone but there was a lovely cool breeze, perfect for running. In no time at all the throng of juniors were lined up ready for off. The gun was fired and off they shot as if they had been fired from the barrel! Within minutes I saw someone gesture that the leaders were on their way. Excitedly I dashed to the barriers and peered along the sea front. I could see them careering towards the finish line, Marc was amongst them, he gave everything he had and managed to finish a fantastic second place. He had no reason to be, but I knew he was disappointed not to come first, there's always next year, incidentally it will be his last at Junior level and I look forward to him moving up to longer distances.

So to the senior race, we had seen Claire and Rob warming up and spoken to Brian, still no sign of Sophie who I had text to see where she was, she had replied they were en route and then again that they had arrived but were having trouble parking. She was cutting it fine with 10 minutes to go until the start. We decided to walk along the front and find a suitable position to spectate, bid Brian good luck and walked on. Not too far along and there was Sophie, what a relief! She seemed relaxed despite having been unwell all week and sounded up beat and confident but said she was going to run without her watch and just enjoy it, sensible. This is the point when I so wished I was able to run, it's no comfort thinking 'oh well there's next year' - it's then and there that matters. People started to mill around as officials were shouting to get runners onto the start line. Tension mounted and 'bang' went the gun again, they were off. Just 1 hour and 7 minutes and 18 seconds later and the first man was home - amazing, the next one didn't appear until 1:11:52 fantastic lead. The first lady appeared at around 1:23 so we were anxiously waiting for Eccleshill's Claire, who we thought quite likely would make second or third lady. 1 hour 30 passed and still no sign of her, we began to wonder what was wrong. Moments later Martin spotted her along the sea front, walking, I dashed along my thoughts looming, had we missed her crossing the line and she'd walked back? No, she'd pulled out of the race. Was she injured? "No", she replied "CBA" - well that's acceptable we all get a case of 'CBA' every now and then - just not usually in the middle of a race! Next came Rob in a brilliant 1:38:17, then Brian in a PB of 1:47:35 and Sophie again a PB in 2:03:59. A visit to Wetherspoon's rounded off a fantastic day beside the seaside beside the sea.

It does sound as though the Bradford runners had a great day too with Eccleshill out in force with 9 taking part in the Half Marathon and 4 forming a relay team. Excellent times for what was a tough course so next year's decision will be a tough one Sunny Brid or (gut) Bustin' Bradford? Time will tell.......

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Goodie bags and get togethers

Team ERR

I've been extremely busy this week and as I prepare to attend the track again this evening I'm amazed that we only have another two weeks of our 'taster' training course left. How time flies!

So to date I have missed several planned races, the latest casualty being the Woodland Challenge last Sunday. I did however, have a brilliant day supporting the people who did run, these included 11 from ERR and quite a few from Hyde Park Harriers. I really did enjoy the day, it is run in beautiful surroundings and there was a fantastic camaraderie and excellent catering facilities too (bacon or sausage butties!) To top it all ERR's Claire came third lady, giving us a valid excuse to stick around for the prize presentation - wonderful hampers for all presented by the legend that is Ron Hill! The only downside to the day was the fact that the race clashed with the penultimate Vets race at Skipton which split the club up, many probably having done the same as I had done and entered Woodland Challenge many moons ago before the YVAA races were announced on the premise that it is a difficult race in which to gain entry, quite possibly due to the lure of the infamous goodie bag.

A girlie get together at 'Don't Tell Titus' in Saltaire afterwards reiterated the advantages of club running once more! Am I starting to paint a picture that I partake in this sport for the social side of things? That's ok isn't it?......

So next on the agenda is the final race of Eccleshill's Summer Championships, Bridlington Half Marathon, another race I have been looking forward to as I ran it with a groin injury last year and despite really enjoying it I was going to give it my 'all' this year, although I'm not sure what my 'all' is anymore. It isn't, however, looking too promising at the moment.

I don't envy those people taking part in the Bradford Half this weekend whilst we are beside the seaside but I do wish them luck. I am told a tough course awaits them so this is one race I don't have a longing to take part in but I'm sure they'll all do their best and have a brilliant day whether they take part in the half or the relay. So on that note I better get moving on down to Horsfall Track and see just what Coach Scobie has in store for us this week.....

Friday, 8 October 2010


Yes today I'm positively 'BUZZING'! Not a word I usually use but very apt in this instance. I'll tell you for why. After several short jaunts since last week my ankle was still feeling slightly sore but ok. I have been careful not to over do things and ice the area when I get back home. Still being left with some discomfort after each attempt but being something resembling OCD or perhaps anal about carrying out the physio exercises twice each day, every day, Ove has given me. Wednesday I did a very steady 2.85 miles, setting off with Gill, Val and Tony from club and returning alone, I have to admit very dejected. However, still determined to attend the Thursday 'speed work for endurance runners' course I turned up in my kit intending to do the warm up this week, last week I didn't even do that. So after our tete a tete with Brian off we went out onto the track. Two lap warm up followed by some dynamic stretching. Everything felt fine. Hurdles? Yes hurdles, we didn't however leap over them in the usual manner, more a case of using them to attempt the correct style in which to get over them. Nowhere near as high as the professionals use and nowhere near as fast. The techniques used though being extremely beneficial in assisting with stretching and warming up. Yet another light bulb moment, I'll definitely be putting it to the committee that it would be advantageous to purchase some, four to six being sufficient.

So the session progressed onto the speed work following on from the previous weeks. I'm obviously a little out of the loop as the rest of the groups have progressed each week. I joined the (slowest) group - I'm not keen on that word but the other two groups were faster groups and were having to do longer intervals. This week instead of distance, say 50 or 100 m we did timed sprints. Starting on the line and sprinting until Brian shouted 'stop'! The plan was that we would reach the exact same distance round the track each and every time. With each rep I began to realise that my ankle wasn't giving me much, if any pain at all. I decided to push it and completed all ten reps. I have to say I regretted it afterwards thinking that I would suffer next morning. Oh well what would be would be, I went home, iced the area whilst having my tea, got in the shower, massaged my lower legs with my trusty 'Runners Rub' and off to bed. I was awake for a large part of the night with toothache (I'm in the middle of root canal treatment) and on finally getting out of bed to stay out I realised my ankle was not hurting.... I'm still smiling now after an emergency hour in the dentist's chair. Toothache doesn't even come close to ankle 'ache'. Buzzbuzzbuzzbuzzzzzz.......
Off to club tonight and a short steady jog with Tracey who's also suffering with injury and fingers crossed that things get better and better.

Reading a blog I'm following the author made a reference to yet another running website. is a website where as well as lots of useful information, runners can input their 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon times for the year so far and obtain their handicap score and rankings. This is a quote from the Runbritain website:
The runbritain handicap scoring system is a unique way of measuring your progress and comparing yourself with other runners.

As in golf, handicaps go from scratch (zero, or even slightly negative for elite runners) to 36 with increments of 0.1.

To compute your handicap we take a combination of your recent best performances at 5K, 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon but adjusted for course difficulty and weather conditions using our special formulae.

This means that you can improve your handicap at any race as on harder courses you won't need to run quite as quickly as on faster ones.
I'm not particularly impressed with my handicap score of 22.3 but I intend to keep checking back and see if I've improved - once I start racing again that is!
BTW Eccleshill's Claire Elener's handicap is 7.5 she is also ranked 37/100 for the marathon distance - Mara Yamauchi being 1/100. Claire having run 3:09:20 in Berlin last month!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Tail running

After the incident at Parkrun last week where the finish area was packed up before the last runner had crossed the finish line I decided to action something I had been considering for some time. I emailed Linda Bussey to offer mine and Dave's services as sweepers or tail runners as my 'thank you for volunteering' email aptly titled it!

Linda replied to my email accepting my offer and saying it was a brilliant idea. She has been away for the last few weekends and was not going to be there this week, giving consideration to that and of course, my injury I toyed with the idea of whether or not to go and 'sweep' this week or simply carry out my usual marshal duty. I made the decision to go ahead with the 'sweeping'. Went on Ebay and searched for 'high vis dog coats', ordered Dave a 'marshal jacket' and looked forward to it, run/walk, hopefully would be perfect in helping with my recovery.

The coat for Dave didn't arrive in time for Saturday but hopefully it should be here for next week. So, how did it go? Fairly well. Obviously it is going to be a learning experience for a few weeks. We positioned ourselves at the back of the pack and off they went, on the first lap the back runner overtook to leave a track suited lady in front of us, all going well, a really steady jog ensured we stayed a fair distance away from her, one of my concerns is not to make the back runner feel intimidated or pressured. Up the 'teeny tiny' hill we went for the first time still keeping our distance, upon us came the left turn to signal the start of the second lap when much to my surprise the lady we were following carried on up the hill - panic set in, we weren't behind the back runner at all, how could this be, my heart sunk and I began to speed up in an attempt to catch the lady who had overtaken her. All the while thoughts that this was a no win situation loomed around my head. How on earth does one know who is taking part in Parkrun and who isn't? Anyway not too much longer and I was back behind the back runner, much to my delight she had now overtaken someone else and this someone else was the lady from last week who had endured having to crossing the line as the finish was being dismantled. I rested my laurels on the fact that she had returned despite probably feeling disappointed last week.

We will continue to learn from our experiences, and in future I will ask the race director to request that the runners give the tail runners a wide berth as at one point a chap came a little too close on a bend causing me to panic a little and in trying to get Dave as close to me as I could I tripped over him! I can't see who is coming up behind me. No harm done but it could so easily have resulted in us tripping the runner up or me standing on Dave or worse! Another lesson learned this week is that we need to take along a dish and some water so that Dave can have a well earned drink afterwards.

All in all our first duties went really well. Let's hope that it continues to do so and becomes beneficial both for Parkrun and Dave's exercise regime!

Friday, 1 October 2010

In awe...

On many occasions throughout the (nearly) four years I have been running I have found myself in awe of people in this field. They may be runners, coaches or 'famous' athletes. Few however, have I been able to get in close proximity of.

I do admire many people and quite recently have been privileged to speak to and feel the benefits of those in the know. Firstly through being given the opportunity to take a Leadership in Running Fitness course and the multitude of people I have come into contact with through our club being in the Airedale Athletics Partnership. Most recently the Speed work for endurance runners course I signed up for. Despite my inability to take part due to injury I have turned up each Thursday for the sessions in the hope of gleaning information from the experts. I have not been disappointed. I can liken some of the things I have listened to as 'light bulb' moments. To quote athletics coach Brian Scobie from this weeks session, 'the human body is lazy' - Brian went on to explain how it is necessary to train the body to do more (in our case push ourselves when running). Our bodies will not voluntarily work harder, we have to physically train our bodies to do more. Which makes sense. Continually running at a pace which is comfortable for us will not help us to sustain running at a higher pace - hence speed work, intervals, fartleks etc all help us to train our bodies to do more. He raised chuckles from the group as he mimicked the body speaking - 'I'm not going any faster, bugger that' - he reminds me of a tamer Billy Connolly with his Scottish accent - minus the obscenities so often heard from the comedian! It makes you consider your own training, plodding along doing the same things week in week out for years until presented with opportunities such as taking part in topic specific courses, gives you a 'wake up call'.

I'm still hopeful of being able to join in the course before it ends but if I'm not able then I shall just try and store the valuable information in the hope of using it in the future and of course, passing it on ***frantically making notes from last night's training session***