Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Bad News

Well, here we go with some sad news before Christmas ... as you all know I plan to take part in a 48 hr race in Athens and raise funds in aid of Orchid.

Unfortunately, events of the past two weeks have necessitated a change of plan. In order, these events were:

late Nov: announced plan to race in Athens
10 Dec: lost job therefore no means of paying for travel, accommodation, etc
18 Dec: major high street retailer offered to pay costs
23 Dec: said retailer pulls out of deal as they are now in administration
24 Dec: unless a business (or individual) offers to pay costs I'll have to withdraw from the race

So, there we have it. In a nutshell I cannot afford to get to Athens and back. However I would still like to raise funds this year in aid of Orchid so I'll have to think of something else ...

Apologies to all concerned but keep reading for updates as soon as I have them. If anyone out there has some spare cash (!!!!) please get in touch.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Shoe Review

OK, time for a review of the running shoes I have been using for the last few weeks. Thanks to for supplying them. Please understand that reviews do not come easily to me – in fact I find reviews the most difficult writing task to get right.
These top of the range New Balance trainers are packed with technology including ABZORB FLo midsole housing a full length perforated ABZORB strobel sock with ABZORB DTS in the heel and ABZORB SBS in the forefoot. Also features a midfoot stability web, a supportive N Lock unit, breathable Lightning Dry fabric and a seamless Phantom liner throughout.

Very good but what does it all do ? Well, ABZORB is an innovative foam which, according to the New Balance website "cushions and hugs your feet, effectively removing all excuses for you not to spend a few more minutes with running." After a few runs of different length in these I would say that the cushioning is indeed very good, ideal for neutral runners out on long runs. One Runner’s World reviewer wrote "You could run all day in these and then some without your feet feeling the effects." Perfect for me then …

Midfoot stability web … rigid arch support preventing midfoot flex. Very good but I wasn’t aware of this at all when running. N Lock unit … a novel idea integrating the lacing system into the fit around the foot – I like this idea which means that all runners will have a good around the top of the foot. Lightning Dry fabric is for moisture transfer keeping the feet dry and comfortable throughout the run – not for running through puddles.

Other useful things to know include the fact that like most New Balance shoes they are available in a range of width fittings which is good as my feet are on the wide side. The unusual laces are a fantastic innovation which really do keep them tied – no more stopping to re lace shoes.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Handicap

This morning I took part in Otley AC's annual Christmas handicap. The route is about 5 miles round Swinsty Reservoir and the village of Timble.  For more details see Otley AC's website.

Weather wasn't too good but we had 25 or so runners for a decent competition. I managed 35 mins for the undulating course.  Not fantastic but OK considering my limited training of late.

Just been invited, by Norman Wilson, to an England Athletics Ultra Squad training weekend, etc in Gloucester at the end of January.  Not sure whether I can attend yet but if I don't will it damage my chances of representing England at the Commonwealth Championships or other future championships.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Rehab going well

Apparently I was wrong about the weather at the Round Rotherham 50 last weekend ... it was just as bad as last year, if not worse. Well done to Les Hill though who finished in 9 hours (well over an hour slower than he's capable of).

Today I moved into stage two of my rehab from knee injury. This means I can run continuously for 35 mins (slowly increasing to 60 mins). I'm also cycling 3 to 4 times a week and doing strength exercises three times weekly. Still doing the straight leg quads exercises twice a day.

Congratulations to William Sichel on being guaranteed a world number 2 ranking for 2008 in six day races - well done to him and his crew.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Athletes of the Year

Following on from the post on Monday 1 December about 'Athletics Weekly' Athletes of the Year 2009.

I've identified the following performances which are worthy of consideration but I'm sure there are many others I've missed - if you know of any please let me know.

Chris Finill - 243.238k - Tooting 24 hr (London, UK)
Stephen Mason - 239.396k - Perth 24h (Scotland)
William Sichel - 857.071k - Hamm 6d (Germany)

Lucy Colquhoun - 8h 09:24 - first British woman in Euro Champs/World Cup 100k (Italy)
Sharon Gayter - 219.178k - Bislett indoor 24h (Oslo, Norway)
Vicky Skelton - 211.986k - Tooting 24 hr (London, UK)

Eoin Keith - three Irish records (100 miles, 200k, 24h) in Tooting 24 hr (London, UK)
Yiannis Kouros - three 48h races in two months - 408k, 422k, 433k
Tony Mangan - world treadmill record 48h - 405.220k
Wolfgang Schwerk - two 6d races in five weeks - 912.000k, 872.264k

Margrethe Logavlen - 135.425k - Bislett indoor 12h (Oslo, Norway)
Cornelia Bulig - 775.255k - Antibes 6d (France)
Martina Hausmann - three 6d races in four months - 743.000k, 713.492k, 756.400k

Chris Finill - 243.238k - Tooting 24 hr (London, UK)

Martina Hausmann - 756.400k - chasing Yiannis Kouros in Hallsberg 6d (Sweden)
Eoin Keith - three Irish records (100 miles, 200k, 24h) in Tooting 24 hr (London, UK)
Tony Mangan - world treadmill record 48h - 405.220k

Well, who would you vote for ?

Friday, 12 December 2008

charity fund raising

charity number 1080540

Well here we are - the big announcement. Regular visitors will know by now that I plan to raise some money for charity next year. After much deliberation I've decided to raise funds in aid of Orchid.

Orchid is the only UK registered cancer charity to focus entirely on the male-specific cancers; prostate, penile and testicular. Orchid exists to save lives and suffering caused by these diseases by funding medical research and promoting awareness about them. More information can be found here.

The race I plan to take part in is a 48 hour race which is part of the Athens International Ultramarathon Festival 2009.

I'm sure you lot will give generously. Most of you know by now that I had cancer back in the 1990s (testicular which then spread to my lungs) so this is quite dear to my heart.

Right ... moving on ... the song lyrics on the last post. Well Alastair Humphreys got the first one correct. They were Nothing Else Matters by Metallica and Ain't Gonna Cry No More by Whitesnake. The latter especially has lots of memories for me ... when originally told I had cancer I couldn't seem to stop playing that particular Whitesnake album (Ready an' Willing). Must've driven all the other patients mad but it certainly helped with my frame of mind.

Another brilliant song which puts things in perspective is When A Blind Man Cries by Deep Purple.

Now then - why would Alastair Humphreys be reading this blog. I don't have anything in common with this adventurer type bloke except that we're both Yorkshiremen. He's twelve years younger than me and I don't recall ever meeting him ... if he does though I 'd be interested to know when and where. Anyway I wish him all the best for his long journey home !!!

All the best too to Steve Battle, Les Hill and Paul Tranter who are taking part in tomorrow's Rowbotham's Round Rotherham 50. I hope the weather is better than last year for you ... it can't be worse. Commiserations to Phil Robertson who has had to withdraw through illness.

Remember - Orchid exists to save men’s lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancers through pioneering research and promoting awareness.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Remembering the bad times ...

Rehab is going very well indeed. Easily on target to resume full training on January 1st.

Things also seem to be advancing well with my plan to raise money for a cancer charity whilst taking part in a 48 hr race in Athens in April.

Looks like we've got over the current bad spell of weather. Of course, with it being winter here we can expect more snow and rain and wind and cold temperatures - not my favourite time of year. In fact, when it comes to bad weather, I'm definitely a wimp !!!

It very rarely stops me training though - probably because I know that the pleasure I get from running outweighs the negative aspect of being outside in terrible weather. I know there's lots of other health benefits too but just being able to run gives me a thrill - I remember times in my life when I was too ill ...

Sorry about that - I'd better stop now or I'll start weeping.

A couple of songs I remember, helped get me through those hard times - read the lyrics below and see if you know what they are [answers next time].

(1) So close no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

(2) Rising with the morning sun
I turn to greet the dawn
Knowing I must face another day
Sleepness night behind me
Just a memory of pain
My heart has always been a cross to bear

Lord I know the sun shines
But I feel the tears of rain
Falling down to wash my sins away
I'll try hard to remember
So I won't be fooled again
I ain't gonna cry no more today

All around me shadows fall
The day has just begun
I realise I'm on my own again
Memories of broken dreams
As distant as the sun
Are drifting like an echo on the wind

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A short update

Very bad weather this morning making it difficult to go for a run. A blanket of snow covered everywhere and just got thicker and thicker until mid morning - wonderful. Cold but wonderful. I managed 45 minutes through the soft stuff as planned. At the moment I'm also alternating on a daily basis between cycling and strength/conditioning exercises.

Also doing stretching and the eccentric achilles stretches (still every third day). The wobble board had to go back to the scouts a few days ago but I don't think I need to use it anymore - I can always borrow it again if necessary. Fay is a Beaver Leader so that'll be no problem.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Rehab proceeding well

Used new running shoes ... very good. I only had them on for 40 minutes but I was impressed by the comfort and cushioning. A fuller review will appear shortly.

Today's training went well. 5 mins run, 5 mins walk, repeated for 40 mins. Iced my knee for 15 mins before and after running. Overall I would rate it at 92.8% (1 being very bad and 100 being perfect). I expect to be running properly again before 20 December and training normally by 1 January.

Going to the pantomime this evening (oh yes I am ...). In Otley by the local amateur theatre group. I'm invited every year by the local scout leader to help look after the 6 to 8 year olds. I don't mind ... I quite enjoy it really.

And as we ask the older scouts to provide two water stations at the Otley 10 in June ...

Monday, 1 December 2008

New Shoes & Athletes of the Year

Forgot to mention yesterday (or perhaps it was the day before ...) the good people at have sent me a pair of New Balance MR 1062 EU to review.  They look very good, I plan to wear them for the first time tomorrow - expect a brief report.  A full review will be posted before Christmas.

I know it's a bit late but I've just seen in Athletics Weekly a voting form for readers to vote for their 'Athletes of the Year'.

Categories are: British man, British Woman, International Man, International Woman, British Junior Man, British Junior Woman, British Performance, International Performance.

How many ultra distance runners/performances do you think will get a mention when the results are announced at the end of the year ?

Send me your nominations and I'll put the 'ultra performances/runners' on this site if there's enough replies.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Planning begins.

Began planning in earnest today.

Training schedule: the 48hr race starts on a Wednesday so I'm taking the unusual step of beginning my training weeks on a Thursday !!!

Eighteen weeks and three days to go. The first two weeks will be stage two (of three) of my rehab following the minor knee injury. This involves running mixed with walking. I'm also stepping up the cycling and strength/conditioning exercises. Also continuing the straight leg quadriceps exercises three times daily until at least Christmas.

Still to decide which charity to support and made enquiries as to the cost of flight, accommodation, etc.

Need to find out (in detail) what the weather is likely to be like to help with planning fluid intake - must remember to drink less.

Looking forward to the challenge.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Plans for 2009

First of all an apology for not posting sooner. A few days ago I badly twisted my knee descending a ladder after putting some shelves up at home. Swollen with minor ligament damage - nothing too serious but enough to stop me running for a week or two.

Now ... onto next year. So far in my ultra running career (which began in late 2005) I've competed seriously in one 40 mile track race and five 24 hour races. I've also competed [but not seriously] in two 50 mile trail races. After my last race - London about six weeks ago - I took some time out and decided that 2009 should be different.

After looking around at all the options and lots of different websites/blogs I've decided that I'd like, once again, to raise money for charity. Most of you will be aware by now that I had cancer back in the 1990s so that seems the obvious choice. However, unlike most people apparently, I don't like to raise money by doing something within my comfort zone. So ...

There's a 48 hour race in Athens, Greece beginning on Wednesday 8 April 2009 and I plan to use this race threefold:

- raise money for a cancer charity to be decided shortly
- a new challenge for me
- to show the selectors of the England team for the Commonwealth Championships that I am fit

After that I can fit in another race in June or July before the Commonwealth Championships in mid September and then the fun filled end of year mudbath which is the Round Rotherham 50.

Lots to organise then. Travel to Athens and accommodation for myself and crew (have already asked Phil Robertson of Otley AC), choosing a suitable charity, sponsorship, fundraising, press, etc.

I'd like to thank Dan Rose for turning me onto fundraising again. He's done wonders raising over $7500 this year after suffering cancer in 2004.

Of course, plans could change if UK Athletics select me for the World and European Championships in Ciserano [Italy] on 2 May 2009. Personally I think that's unlikely though as in recent years qualifying standards have been higher than my 228k.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Personal Bests

There's a rather large article about me in today's Yorkshire Evening Post.  Read it here (with the photo) or here (without the photo).

Also, just found this on Greg Crowther's blog.  I hope he doesn't mind me reproducing it here if I put a link to his blog afterwards.  I'd like to ask his permission but I can't find any contact details on his blog.  One thing though ... being American he talks about Personal Records rather than Personal Bests, good stuff though.

The five stages of PRs

1. You set PRs because, by definition, your first race at each distance is a personal record.

2. You frequently set PRs by large amounts because you're still growing and maturing, and/or because you started training relatively recently, and/or because you're in the middle of a successful weight-loss program, and/or because you're now training much more sensibly than ever before.

3. You set PRs less frequently and by smaller amounts, and you find these modest improvements disappointing because you've become accustomed to stage #2.

4. As PRs continue to become more elusive, you learn to savor each new one.

5. You are now too old, too injured, and/or too unfit to set PRs.  To compensate, you either invent new categories of achievement (such as "seasonal bests" and "age-group PRs"), try events that you've never done before (and thus return to stage #1), or stop racing altogether.

I guess I'm in stage 1 (for the second time) ... what about you ?

Originally posted on Greg Crowther's blog, 11 November 2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Medical Research

Club run last night - just over 7 miles at a fairly quick pace. Enjoyable.

Today I took part in a survey by UK Biobank. UK Biobank is a major UK medical research initiative with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis and forms of dementia. They are recruiting 500,000 people aged 40-69 from across the UK to take part in this project.

Basically I had to answer hundreds of questions about my lifestyle and have measurements taken such as height, weight, body fat %, blood pressure, etc. Then samples of blood and urine were taken for analysis.

This is an ongoing research initiative and I will be asked back at some future point for more of the same - to see how things have changed I suppose.

Of all the tests I undertook I was given the following results:

blood pressure ... 146/85 mmHg

weight ... 57.3 kg [126.3 lb] (clothed)

height ... 1.67 m [5 feet 5.75 inches]

body mass index ... 20.5

waist ... 71 cm [28 inches]

body fat ... 14.1 %

heel bone ultrasound ... 162 dB/MHz

lung function ... FEV1 value ... 2.87 litres

lung function ... FVC value ... 3.60 litres

lung function ... FEV1/FVC ratio ... 80 %

As expected, the lung fuction tests are slightly less than normal because of my medical history (in 1993 I had part of my right lung removed due to cancer).  For my age, height, gender and race FEV1 value should be 3.41 to 3.64 litres and FVC value should be 4.50 to 4.80 litres.

I'm happy with this though - I'm alive, running, have a wonderful family and I'm enjoying myself.

Monday, 17 November 2008


Forty miles last week including back to back 10 milers. Not much, I know. This week I plan to run with the club (Otley AC) tomorrow night, run again on Wednesday and two 12 milers at the weekend.

With another run on Thursday or Friday the weekly mileage will be around 45. Also planning to have two sessions of strength/conditioning exercises - the first was this afternoon.

You've probably noticed the recent changes and additions to this site. The first is that from now on I'm only going to use the metric system for results, etc. At the bottom of each relevant page will be a suitable widget enabling you to convert to miles, etc quickly and easily.

Apologies to all my American readers for this (and some British readers too no doubt).

This page has quite a few changes down the left hand side too. These other pages have had a facelift as well; some major and some minor. Please take a look around and let me know what you think:

Sponsor Me
Tooting 24 hr race report - 2008
My Ranking
Help & Advice
Future Races
My Races
Personal Bests
Contact Me

Over the next few days I have plans to add a couple more pages too - stay tuned.

Oh yes ... before I forget ... if any of the links don't work please let me know.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Next year's races

Hello again

Began the strength and conditioning exercises earlier this week - at a reduced level of course.

Ran 10 miles yesterday and 10 miles again today with no ill effects at all ... pleased with that. On course for a relaxing 40 miles this week before training steps up a bit next week.

Almost finalised my racing plans for next year, between January and September there are over 200 races in Europe and from these I've picked a short list of 17 which are:

8 Mar - Barry 40, Wales
20 Mar - indoor spring 48hr, Brno, Czech Republic
21 Mar - Rennes 24hr, France
28 Mar ? - St Catherine's Hospice 12hr, Crawley, England
5 Apr - A Coventry Way Challenge, England
7 Apr - Athens International Ultramarathon Festival (72hr), Greece
8 Apr - Athens International Ultramarathon Festival (48hr), Greece
11 Apr - St Fons 24hr, France
1 May - Sene 24hr, France
2 May - 24 ore del Delfino, Ciserano, Italy
9 May - Steenbergen 24hr, Netherlands
9 May - Torrejon de Ardoz 24hr, near Madrid, Spain
9 May - Basle 24hr, Switzerland
24 May ? - Anglo Celtic Plate 100k, UK or Ireland
11 Jun - Antibes 48hr, France
12 Jun - Antibes 24hr, France
11 Jul - East Hull Harriers 24h, England

Still plan to use shorter races (5k - 10 miles) as speedwork or incorporate them into a long run. This worked well in 2008.

After two or three of these it's the Commonwealth Championships in Keswick, UK (assuming I'm selected) then another race toward the end of 2009. No idea which as yet.

Beginning to update all the stuff on this site now.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Club handicap

This morning I took part in my first club handicap event since the Danefield race in July. These races are very enjoyable - when the weather is fine - and I was surprised by how well I ran.

My target for the 4.44 mile course near East Keswick was 31 mins (7 mins per mile). I managed 29:09 but it was hard work. This shows how well I've recovered since the Tooting Bec 24 hour race three weeks ago.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tentative plans

Two days after the Tooting race I developed a really bad cold, the worst I've had for years. I don't often fall ill after an ultra race but this was a bad one.

Possibly a result of not showering immediately after finishing the race. So, in the future I may have to choose between Exercise Associated Collapse and developing a cold. No contest really ...

Didn't run for eight days but since then I've been out every other day and the aches and pains have slowly subsided and I'm beginning to look forward to the next challenge ... an ultra next spring probably, to confirm my fitness and injury free status before the England Athletics team is announced in June/July for the Commonwealth Championships.

I may do two races in the spring.

This morning a journalist from the Yorkshire Evening Post phoned asking for a quick interview - he's sending a photographer round on Friday.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Hello again.

At long last the race report has been written. See it here.

There are also updates to this page, and this one.

Since the race I've just been for two 7 mile runs, both this week (Tuesday and today). On both runs it's obvious I haven't fully recovered yet as my thighs and knees still ache a bit. I'm also still recovering from a bad cold I picked up two days after the race.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Press Release

Yesterday I sent out a press release to the local newspaper. I also sent a copy to the local TV stations without any expectations whatsoever.

This morning I received a phone call from Yorkshire TV who are keen to do a piece but this will depend on the availability of cameramen, etc. Apparently they are short staffed nowadays.

Monday, 27 October 2008


Full results have now been received and it appears I've got a new pb for every distance from 50k upwards. All the relevant pages on this site will be updated shortly - after I get up to date with secretarial stuff for Otley AC.

Just beginning to make tentative plans for next year's racing. This will include the Commonwealth Championships in September and hopefully a European race in spring. May also go for a shorter ultra in summer and possibly one towards the end of the year.

Obviously though my focus has to be on doing well in Keswick in September.

One other piece of good news is that Alan Young has agreed to help as "mentor, helper, or just someone you can ask". He also offered to crew occasionally too but he's very busy crewing for other top ultra runners around the world.

This man is the best I've come across at what he does and I feel privileged to have his help and advice. An ex ultra runner himself (winning the Tooting 24 hr race in 1993 with 225 km) he now specialises in helping others. An OBE for services to ultra runners is long overdue.

Friday, 24 October 2008

More London Thoughts

Haven't written much on this site recently because I've developed a bad cold. I'm sure a race report will be forthcoming when I recover.


Carry home my broken bones and lay me down to rest
Twenty four hours of cries and moans I guess I've passed the test
I've returned back home with lots to say but I've just caught a cold
This ultra distance runner has made the team to prove he's not too old

England Athletics appear to have removed the Ultra Distance Running Commonwealth Championships selection criteria from their website. I've no idea why but I've emailed them to find out why. Surely they've not decided against sending a team.

Still awaiting official results and split times from London. I guess they'll be available next week but I do understand that post race there is a lot of work to do as every lap has been timed for every runner and all these times need checking for errors.

Just starting looking for my next ultra - probably next spring, possibly in Europe.

Monday, 20 October 2008


Back home and happy ... but aching all over.

Ran 228.011 km (141 miles 1196 yards) in London finishing in third place. Well pleased with that as it is over the 225 km qualifying distance set by England Athletics for the Commonwealth Championships next year.

Full details can be found on the race website.

However ... the one thing that let me down was the too frequent visits to the gents. I feel I lost at least 3k by simply not being on the track. At this early stage I tend to feel this problem was caused by my sodium potassium ratio being wrong. The overall ratio in my food and drink was just under 7:1 but my guess is that it should be higher.

Anybody out there have any thoughts on this matter ?

One thing I was very pleased with is that whilst running the second half of the race (especially in the second half of each hour long segment) I was moving much quicker that the two guys in front of me. I passed them far more often than they passed me. I think they were walking quicker or for less time than me and didn't pee as much.

Two people ended up in hospital - including the winner (Chris Finill) - I hope they're both OK.

Thanks to everyone involved with the race: organisers, helpers, lap counters, runners, crew members, etc. It really was a good one.

Oh yes ... I didn't collapse !!! Kept moving for 10 to 20 minutes after the race then sat on the floor with my feet on a chair for a while. Didn't shower or take off my compression tights either. All this seemed to work brilliantly until I got on the tube at about 2.30pm - keeled over after about 10 minutes. Got a taxi to King's Cross instead.

Mustn't go underground after an ultra race in future :)

Thanks also to my crew, Fay and Keir and also to Julian for keeping the Otley AC website updated with my progress.

I'll update the other pages on this site in the next few days.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Very last minute stuff

Last night Bridget Barr and Sarah Tomlinson, of Otley AC gave a very interesting, but brief, talk/demonstration about the principles of ChiRunning. I certainly came away with one or two ideas that may help my racing.

And talking of racing ... hopefully there will be updates on my progress in London. These updates will appear on the Otley AC website thanks to Julian Mawson.

Just finished packing, I leave home in 40 minutes ... full of nervous energy - just managing to keep a lid on it though.

Thanks for the comment Pat, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Last minute preparations

This morning I went for my last run before the weekend's race - 7 miles fartlek. Only a cycling session tomorrow to go now [except stretching, wobble board work, ankle massage and eccentric achilles stretches].

Last minute preparations are underway - mainly regarding nutrition and making sure I have everything I need and also that Fay & Keir are familiar with the plans.

Last night I tried a palatability test: 450ml skimmed milk with 1 teaspoon table salt. Not too bad, not too nice either but definitely drinkable.

William Sichel writes on his website: "A strong field have entered and the race is likely to be the strongest 24hr race in the UK for a long time."

No pressure then ...

Oh yes, I noticed today that the nervous twitch has disappeared - a good omen perhaps.

One more thing ... I found this on the Runner's World website. I've also added it to this page.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Nothing new today

This morning I completed my last strength/conditioning training session before the weekend's big race.

I've just updated this page but it may need updating again next week.

Friday, 10 October 2008


Tapering going well - plan to do 40 miles this week and 20 next. No long runs and almost all the training is fast stuff.

Getting nervous now - but looking forward to the race. Hope the weather holds out.

John Pares - London 24 hr winner in 2006 and 2007 - isn't on the start list for this year's race. He pulled out of the Hull 24 hr race too. I hope he's OK. If you're reading this John, leave a message please.

Thanks for the comment on my previous post Simon. I don't plan to answer here [I don't want to give away my game plan !!!] ... I'll email you later. Interestingly, 6:53 per mile over the course of a marathon would bring you home in 3h 00:28. Three hours exactly divided by 26 miles 385 yards equals 6:51.92 per mile.

Sorry to spoil your fun in Amsterdam !!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Not a lot to report really ... fine tuning all the other preparations apart from running: food & drink, pacing, etc.

I'm not sure what other runners think but, for me, pacing is the key to running a good race. Studying results from my previous races it seems that during a 24hr race everyone slows down - even paced races are exceptionally rare.

With this in mind my aim last year and this has been to slow down less than the other runners. I may not be at the top of the leaderboard for the first few hours but hopefully I'll get there in the end. I've just got to stick to my pre determined plan [adjusting things as necessary as the race progresses].

Sunday, 5 October 2008


One week after the crash training week and I've almost recovered!

The niggles have all but gone and today's run - 6 miles tempo - was only marginally harder than expected.

With only two weeks to go before the next race I know it's pointless trying to make additional gains in fitness, etc.

I've got to be careful though not to lose fitness, etc.

The phrase which sums up this period is: 'tapering hard'.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Hello again. Nothing much to report at the moment. Taking it easy this week ... ran 8 miles on Wednesday and 7 miles fartlek yesterday. Cycled on Tuesday and did the strength exercises on Wednesday.

Rest day today. Saturday - cycling and 7 or 8 miles fartlek. Sunday - strength stuff and 6 miles tempo.

Slightly more miles planned for next week but basically it's all tapering from now on.

Fay seems to be almost recovered from her bout of labyrinthitis. Could have been quite bad for her crewing in London: the whole world appears to be spinning, she knows it's not, yet she's watching 40 odd runners run round and round in circles all day.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Statistics - again !!!

Before I start, there's one thing I forgot to mention yesterday. The total time I spent training last week was 33h 52:08.

With only three weeks to go before the 24 hr race at Tooting Bec in London it's time to look in depth at how my training has been progressing recently. Below are some training comparisons between now and three weeks before the Hull 24 hr race. The figures in red relate to an average week during the period 1 Sep - 28 Sep 2008 and the figures in black relate to an average week during the period 26 May - 22 Jun 2008. Both these periods include one week of crash training.

running miles per week ... 87.68 ... 73.68
running time per week ... 12h 54:34 ... 10h 52:45
running sessions per week ... 5.75 ... 5.50

cycling time per week ... 2h 05:24 ... 1h 30:26
cycling sessions per week ... 2.50 ... 2.00

stretching time per week ... 1h 25:09 ... 1h 15:38
stretching sessions per week ... 6.00 ... 5.75

strength training time per week ... 1h 41:42 ... 0h 56:47
strength training sessions per week ... 3.00 ... 1.75

eccentric achilles stretches time per week ... 0h 27:21 ... 0h 53:53
eccentric achilles stretches sessions per week ... 2.50 ... 4.50

ankle massage time per week ... 0h 35:27 ... 0h 32:49
ankle massage sessions per week ... 6.75 ... 6.25

wobble board time per week ... 1h 11:13 ... none
wobble board sessions per week ... 14.00 ... none

total training time per week ... 18h 06:49 ... 14h 35:36
total rehab time per week ... 2h 14:01 ... 1h 26:42

grand total time per week ... 20h 20:50 ... 16h 02:18
grand total sessions per week ... 26.50 ... 20.25

pulse on waking ... 45.5 ... 47.1
weight ... 57.7 kg ... 59.0 kg

running - better no matter how you look at it

cycling - again better all round

stretching - light change for the better

strength training - more sessions per week with bigger weights and for longer

eccentric achilles stretches - now down to maintenance levels after achilles tendinosis late last year and early this year

ankle massage - better because I missed some in late May when on holiday

wobble board - began using late July for an ankle problem which began in mid May

total training time - increased by almost 25%

total rehab time - increased by over 50% because of wobble board use

grand total time - increased by over 25%

grand total sessions - A large increase but a training session is often composed of more than one element, eg I often do some stretching followed immediately by ankle massage followed immediately by wobble board work.

Overall, it appears that things are improving rapidly, which I'm pleased about. Perhaps I need to look again at my targets for the London race which is now less than three weeks away.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Crash Training (summary)

Time to reflect on last week's training.

Normally I would have run 80 miles last week with two long runs [20 miles+], one fartlek session and one tempo run. I managed 160 miles with three long runs and four 'speedwork' sessions (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). Total running: over 24 hours 6 minutes.

Normally I would have been on the bike twice and done two strength/conditioning sessions. I managed four of each. Total cycling: over 3hours 20 minutes. Strength/conditioning: over 2 hours 21 minutes.

Normally I would stretch six times a week. I managed to stretch every day for a total of over 1 hour 40 minutes.

Eccentric achilles stretching, wobble board work and ankle massage remained exactly as normal.

At the beginning of the week my average waking pulse was 45.4 ... at the end it was 45.5.

At the beginning of the week my weight was 57.9kg ... at the end it was 57.7kg.

Other observations were:

1 - I'm glad the weather was decent, it wouldn't have been much fun if the weather had been bad.
2 - hydration wasn't easy to maintain towards the end of the week.
3 - I wasn't as tired or sleepy as expected ... although I do feel tired now.
4 - The pace of my steady runs seemed to drop on Thursday and Friday but picked up again on Saturday (despite perceived effort remaining constant) ... I'm not sure why.
5 - On Sunday afternoon Fay reported that of late I had been a bit more aggressive than usual. I hadn't noticed this at all and it came as a bit of a shock. She couldn't say whether it was just tiredness or increased testosterone levels because of all the training [if that's possible].
6 - Good diet and recovery definitely helps.

Someone once said that "Ultraunning is an experiment of one."

Well, this entry (and those for the last week), I hope, provides some results of that experiment.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Crash Training (7)

The final training session of the week is now over and today's tally was:

8:30am - 20 miles, including Horsforth 10k
2:55pm - wobble board
3:20pm - strength/conditioning exercises
4:10pm - eccentric achilles stretches
6:40pm - 50 minutes cycling
7:45pm - stretching, ankle massage and wobble board

Today's run was a 6.9 mile run to Woodhouse Grove School followed immediately by the Horsforth 10k then a 6.9 mile run home.

Very pleased with my race time of 40:50.

The niggles were almost non-existent today - perhaps it was the adrenalin ... a very good night's sleep probably helped though.

Tomorrow - no training at all - I need a rest - I'll post a summary of the week.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Crash Training (6)

Well ... here we are having finished the penultimate day's crash training, which was:

8:10am - wobble board
11:40am - strength/conditioning exercises
1:10pm - ran almost 17 miles
6:55pm - stretching, ankle massage and wobble board

Today's run felt good (except at the start) and the overall time was about 5 minutes quicker than I would normally expect for a run of this length. The niggles described yesterday were quite bad for the first 15 to 20 minutes but they gradually disappeared and I had no more problems at all.

I still have the nervous twitch though ... but only when running.

Just about managing to keep my hydration in check but it seems that I've always got a drink by my side.

See you all tomorrow morning at the Horsforth 10k ... I'm not expecting a brilliant time though.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Crash Training (5)

Last night's run was a bit strange ... seemed to be running at a fairly brisk pace but the overall time was quite slow.


7:00am - wobble board
8:30am - ran just over 15 miles
2:20pm - 50 minutes cycling
6:40pm - almost 8 miles fartlek
8:00pm - stretching, wobble board and ankle massage

This morning's run was quite hard work but this evening's fartlek run was excellent.

Today I found it quite hard to stay hydrated and I've developed the odd niggle - right ankle and left knee. The ankle is definitely not achilles tendinosis or tendinitis. They don't feel serious but I need to be careful for the next couple of days. Ice and anti-inflammatory pills beckon.

During the Hull 24 hr race in 2007 I developed a nervous twitch which took at least 4 months to disappear - well it reappeared again this evening.

Wonderful sunset over Ilkley Moor today.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Crash Training (4)

Today's training so far:

7:00am - wobble board
8:10am - eccentric ankle stretching
8:45am - ran almost 20 miles
2:50pm - strength/conditioning exercises
5:10pm - stretching, ankle massage and wobble board

Later I plan to go for a run with Otley AC - 8.5 miles.

This morning's run felt good except that it took about 8 minutes longer than expected ... the pace didn't feel slow though !!!

Still feeling OK, not overly tired. At bedtime tonight I'll have another one of those recovery drinks from Science in Sport.

Received a good email this lunchtime - three photos of me at the Hull 24hr race [two of them are very good too] - from Alan Young (sponsor and handler for William Sichel). I'm not sure where he got them but I don't recall seeing any photographer at the race ... Fay has just told me that there was a photographer there.

I was obviously too busy to notice !!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Crash Training (3)


7:00am - wobble board
7:40am - 50 minutes cycling
1:20pm - yesterday's strength/conditioning exercises
2:45pm - run almost 19 miles; including 8 miles tempo [10k - half marathon pace]
8:00pm - stretching, ankle massage and wobble board

This morning I repaired the burst hot water pipe - so good to have running hot water again.

Today I don't feel as tired as I expected - had a good night's sleep last night though, no doubt aided by a product from Science in Sport called Nocte.

Still paying careful attention to diet regarding recovery, fuelling the training and keeping illnesses at bay ... seems to be paying off so far.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Crash Training (2)

Today's training:

7:00am - wobble board
11:40am - 24+ miles steady
4:40pm - ankle massage
5:15pm - stretching
8:55pm - wobble board

This morning started with a crisis. The hot water pipe to the bathroom washbasin burst ... hot water everywhere until I managed to turn off the water at the stopcock - not a good start.

This evening I had to go to a scouts meeting [I'm the secretary of Otley Parish Scouts Executive Committee] and I planned to do some strength exercises on my return but ... you've guessed it ... the meeting went on until 8:30pm and I'm not doing strength exercises at this time.

Better luck tomorrow hopefully.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Crash Training (1)

Today's training has been:

7:00am - wobble board
8:30am - ran just over 21 miles
1:40pm - cycling 50 minutes
5:45pm - eccentric ankle stretching
6:25pm - ran 8+ miles, including 4 x 7 minutes at 5k to 10k pace
8:00pm - stretching, ankle massage and wobble board

Quite a full day then ... with plenty of carbs, chocolate milk, fruit and vitamins B & C.

Oh yes ... Fay has labyrinthitis too (don't worry ... I didn't know what it was either).

Feel OK after day one - a bit tired but nothing major. I don't expect tomorrow to be quite so hectic.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Just found this ...

Tooting Bec 24 hr race - London. It appears the mistake lay with the organisers ... William Sichel will indeed be there and running.

Just found this interesting article. What do you think about it in the context of ultra distance running ?

No running today - just cycling, strength stuff and stretching.

Friday, 19 September 2008

London entries

Twenty three miles yesterday. The first 20 were at 7:50 per mile and then the last three were at 7:17 per mile ... and it was easy. The whole lot took well under three hours.

Tempo run this afternoon - seven miles in 47 minutes. Not too difficult but the headwind in the last mile and a half didn't help.

In the post this morning came the start list, and other stuff, for the Tooting Bec 24 hr race in London. At first glance a couple of things are noticeable:

1) there are at least three other Englishmen in the field who are capable of running 225k, ie the qualifying distance for next year's Commonwealth Championships. The three are Ken Fancett, Jim Rogers and Chris Finill. I've just re read the selection criteria and it does specify that up to six men will be included.

2) William Sichel isn't listed even though his website is still showing that he's taking part. Obviously there's a mistake somewhere.

3) Sharon Gayter is on the list although she writes on her website that she only starting running again in mid August following a stress fracture.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Yesterday's Tiredness

Yesterday morning I felt unusually tired so, on looking at my training schedule and diary, I discovered that my previous six days training had been:

Wed: 22 miles and 35 mins of strength exercises
Thu: 22+ miles [quite a bit quicker]
Fri: 11+ miles steady and 50 mins cycling
Sat: 50 mins cycling and 35 mins of strength exercises
Sun: Wetherby 10k
Mon: 23 miles

That's over 85 miles of running ... no wonder I felt a bit tired.

So, instead of my planned quickish 23 miler, I only did 10 miles but included strength exercises and some cycling.

Today is complete rest and tomorrow will be the long run.

Time to start looking for some decent decaffeinated coffee ... has anyone out there got any ideas ? While tapering for the Hull race earlier this year I used mainly Starbucks Decaf House Blend which is now my favourite, but there must be something better. I might try Whittards of Chelsea.

I have heard that decaf Sumatra is really good ... but I've not seen any for sale though.

PS. many thanks to Paul Clifford [and family] for the lift to and from Wetherby on Sunday. He was justifiably pleased with his 40:55 from very little training.

PPS. I've rearranged the stuff down the left hand side and at the bottom - and added a few things too - please take a look.

Monday, 15 September 2008


Yesterday I took part in the Wetherby 10k. I finished in 35th position with a time of 38:38 which I'm very pleased with this as it represents an age graded performance of 35:16.

This age graded time is my best age graded 10k time since the Harrogate 10k on 26 July 1998 where I ran 34:52 (34:14 age graded). Obviously my training is going well at the moment - especially as I'm keeping up the two long runs per week and ran a total of 75 miles for the week ending Sunday 14 September.

This morning I went for a 23 mile run which took in a stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal between Dowley Gap and Apperley Bridge. I then ran up the BIG hill to Rawdon before continuing home via Guiseley and Menston.

I ran up the big hill to Rawdon because for my next race - Horsforth 10k - I plan to run the 6.5 miles to the start before the race and then run the 6.5 miles home again which will involve this hill.

On the canal towpath I came across Ian Fisher out running (winner of many local races over the last 10 years or so - won the Leeds half marathon 8 days ago). Stopped for a brief chat ... which I was pleased about as I was beginning to flag a bit at that point.

Also yesterday was the Perth 24 hr race which, contrary to what I wrote earlier, did not count Sam Black among the list of competitors. He did tell me himself that he was taking part though.

The winner was Stephen Mason who completed a brilliant 239.396 km (148.755 miles) which is the best British performance for at least four years. William Sichel ran 201.671 km (125.312 miles) for fourth place [2nd man] in the race which saw the first woman break the Scottish record. Well done to them all - especially as it been wet for a good proportion of the race.

Stephen's distance has meant an update to the rankings page.

Also updated this page.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

10k race tomorrow

Yesterday I ran 11+ miles but unfortunately, after about 10 miles, I stepped on the kerb quite badly and twisted my ankle. Managed to get home OK but then I immediately began ice therapy and ibuprofen.

Seems much better today but I'm going to take each day as it comes.

Looking forward to tomorrow's 10k race in Wetherby. The last time I seriously raced 10k was at the Abbey Dash in November 2004 when I managed 38:15.

If my ankle feels up to it tomorrow afternoon I'll aim for under 40 minutes. Last year I ran the 17 miles to Wetherby ... recorded 40:50 in the race ... then ran home again. I'm definitely fitter this year, and not running 17 miles beforehand - 40 mins should be achievable then.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Training and planning

Yesterday's 22 miler incorporated Burley, Menston, Guiseley, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Headingley, Bramhope and back to Otley. Overall the pace was about 8:20 per mile.

In the evening I spent 35 mins doing strength exercises.

This afternoon's 22 miler was on the Otley 10 route and was well under 8 min miling. The last four miles were 30 mins 10 seconds.

Not sure where I'll run tomorrow - I'll decide while I'm on the bike in the morning.

Now I'm beginning to seriously plan my nutrition for London and, as always, I'm looking to improve things slightly. Research is ongoing into electrolyte replacement amongst other things.

All the best to William Sichel and Sam Black who are taking part in the Perth 24 hr race this weekend. This sounds like it will be a really good event and I hope it'll continue in future years. I know the organisers are hoping the course will prove suitable for the IAU World 24 hr Challenge sometime soon.

I'm off to Wetherby for a 10k race.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

friends & family results

I was going to write a post last night but forgot - so here it is ...

Keir ran well in the 1 mile fun run. He finished in approx 25th place with 7 mins 06. Not bad considering he does absolutely no training at all. Oh yes ... while I remember ... at his school sports day last July he came first in the high jump (again, no training at all) with 1.35m.

At the accompanying half marathon in Leeds on Sunday morning, Ian Fisher won easily proving that he is over his major injury concerns earlier in the year. His time was just over 69 mins.

Meanwhile Simon Anderson had a poor run and came home in just over 1h 30. He's running the Amsterdam marathon the same weekend as my next 24 hr race. I'll be thinking of him ... his race will last about 3 hours. Hope he remembers that my race will last eight times as long.

Ah yes ... Phil Robertson completed A Coventry Way in 8h 08 at the weekend in apparently difficult circumstances. Read more here.

At the moment I'm planning my week of 'crash training' which will begin on Monday 22 September and will conclude with the Horsforth 10k on Sunday 28 September. Daily updates will be posted as they were in June this year. Need to take on board extra vitamins B and C before and during crash training so I've spent some time recently planning my diet for the two weeks beginning 15 September.

Today is a training free day - I have an average of one per week - where all I do is rehab stuff. At the moment I'm running a bath and using some toiletries from Lush which I find very good for relaxing and muscular aches, etc. (wiccy magic muscle [massage bar], ma bar [bubble bar], elixir [bath ballistic]) ... brilliant stuff.

22 miles tomorrow, 22 miles on Thursday and 11 on Friday to look forward to !!!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Shorter runs recently

After my very long run I had a day off and then, on Friday I ran 6 miles fartlek - basically 7 mins hard and 5:15 easy, repeated, on a hilly route.

This morning was 5 miles tempo (6:30 per mile) on a flatish route but through a very large puddle (sorry ... flood) about 2 miles from home.

Tomorrow Keir is taking part in the 1 mile fun run held in conjunction with the Leeds half marathon. He's raising money for Bradford Royal Infirmary - the hospital which has treated his father (me ...) on numerous occasions over the years: testicular cancer, lung cancer, broken bones, and a rare and serious illness as a child - a recurrent papilloma on my larynx.

Also updated this page.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Very Long Run

This morning I caught an early train to York and once there called at Starbucks for a large breakfast and coffee ... caffeine is good for these very long runs !!

I then ran back to Otley along the Ebor Way. The route basically is south along the bank of the River Ouse to Copmanthorpe, then east along the line of a Roman Road to Tadcaster.

From there it's along the River Wharfe to Wetherby and Harewood where the path heads uphill to Harewood House. Then the route is along a ridge which was apparently used by Iron Age merchants on their journeys between Ireland and Germany.

At Bramhope I took the direct route into Otley which meant I probably covered about 34 - 35 miles in total in a running time of approx. 4h 47

All in all this was an enjoyable run, quicker and easier than expected.

I also made my own isotonic drinks for the journey. This is the first time I've done this and it was surprisingly easy. I've put the recipe on this page.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Not much happening

After yesterday free of training - all I did was rehab stuff - today I'm back with the cycling and strength training before tomorrow's long run.

The plan is to cover 31 - 32 miles and this will be my longest run before my next ultra race next month.

All the best to Phil Robertson and Paul Tranter for their 40 miler around Coventry at the weekend. I know their training hasn't gone well recently but I'm sure they'll enjoy themselves in the midlands.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


This morning was a strength training session followed by 6+ miles fartlek. Next week I'll only run two thirds of my usual miles [a recovery week] but this will include a long run of 31 - 32 miles on Wednesday.

Not sure of the route yet but utilising the Leeds Liverpool Canal is a distinct possibility.

Only seven weeks to go until my next 24 hour race [in case you've forgotten, it's at Tooting Bec in London - training ground of Olympic gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu].

Time to look in depth at how my training has been progressing recently. Below are some training comparisons between now and seven weeks before the Hull 24 hr race. The figures in red relate to an average week during the period 4 Aug - 31 Aug 2008 and the figures in black relate to an average week during the period 28 Apr - 25 May 2008.

running miles per week ... 52.36 ... 53.17
running time per week ... 7h 38:16 ... 7h 23:40
running sessions per week ... 4.25 ... 4.50

cycling time per week ... 1h 30:36 ... 1h 31:38
cycling sessions per week ... 2.00 ... 2.00

stretching time per week ... 1h 14:15 ... 1h 16:16
stretching sessions per week ... 5.50 ... 5.75

strength training time per week ... 1h 26:10 ... 1h 48:53
strength training sessions per week ... 2.75 ... 3.50

eccentric ankle stretches time per week ... 1h 52:50 ... 24:45
eccentric ankle stretches sessions per week ... 8.50 ... 2.25

ankle massage time per week ... 40:41 ... 36:24
ankle massage sessions per week ... 7.75 ... 7.00

wobble board time per week ... none ... 1h 11:36
wobble board sessions per week ... none ... 14.00

total training time per week ... 11h 49:17 ... 12h 00:27
total rehab time per week ... 2h 33:31 ... 2h 12:46

grand total time per week ... 14h 22:48 ... 14h 13:13
grand total sessions per week ... 25.25 ... 25.00

pulse on waking ... 47.9 ... 46.0
weight ... 60.0 kg ... 58.3 kg

  • running - more miles per week in less time means faster training
  • cycling - increased average speed not shown above
  • stretching - very slight change for the better
  • strength training - more sessions per week with bigger weights and for longer
  • eccentric ankle stretches - now down to maintenance levels after achilles tendinosis late last year and early this year
  • ankle massage - very similar
  • wobble board - began using late July for an ankle problem which began in mid May
  • total training time - increased by 1.5%
  • total rehab time - decreased by 13.5% as my injuries heal
  • grand total time - decreased but training time/rehab time gives a better picture
  • grand total sessions - very similar. A training session is often composed of more than one element, eg I often do some stretching followed immediately by ankle massage followed immediately by wobble board work.
Overall, it appears that things are improving, which I'm pleased about. Perhaps this movement could be a bit faster though.

I'll repeat this statistics exercise in four weeks time.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Wetherby & Horsforth

50 mins on the bike this morning and 6+ miles fartlek this afternoon. Stretching, massage and wobble board to do later (also used wobble board first thing this morning.)

Decided against running to and from Wetherby for their 10k on 14 September, instead I'll run to and from Woodhouse Grove School (Apperley Bridge, Bradford) on 28 September for the Horsforth 10k. It's nowhere near as far but at the end of my crash training week it'll probably be better preparation for the London 24hr race.

Now ... could anyone possible give me a lift to/from Wetherby in two weeks time ... please.

Going to a house warming party this evening - by coincidence it's at the exact same house where Fay lived from 1967 until 1978 when she moved to Burley in Wharfedale. She's often wondered what the house is like now ... and here's her chance to find out (hope she's not disappointed).

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Secretarial Stuff

Apologies for not being at Otley AC's one mile track race last night - last minute transport problems caused me to miss the race.

This afternoon I spent 90 minutes running around Otley and Menston delivering AGM notices - a useful fartlek session.

Monday, 25 August 2008

London sorted

Booked hotel in London and return travel taking advantage of the recently released cheap fares.

Thanks to Carl at The Divan Centre for that.

Today's run was another 20 miler accelerating all the while. Although it was windy I made all my targets and ran the last mile in 7:14 - uphill. Well pleased with this.

At the moment I'm going through next year's European Ultra Race calendar hoping to pick out a suitable race next spring, preferably in a school holiday.

Oh yes ... one more thing ... I agree entirely with Simon Anderson's recent post (24 Aug 2008) on his blog about the amount of litter in our countryside.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Another Week

Well ... just finished my last run for this week - 7+ miles fartlek. Later today there's some strength training and tomorrow there will be some cycling and more strength training.

Pleased with my training over the past few weeks except that it seems almost too easy!!!! I am increasing my mileage by 5-10% per week and the long runs by 1 mile per week and the cycling has increased in intensity ... and the strength training has progressed to bigger weights or more reps.

Overall I'm feeling very good but I don't want to increase my workload by too much and break down ... but then again I know I've got to push myself.

Anyway ... there's an update to this page and this one.

Still looking for help with any of my costs - either in cash or in kind - if you can help please get in touch.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

First Major Newspaper Article

This morning I found this in The Wharfedale & Airedale Observer. The first major newspaper article about me as an ultra runner ... well, I hope it leads to better things.

This morning I did a four mile tempo run. Completed the four miles in 26:24 which is OK considering I was aiming for somewhere between 26:08 and 27:18, ie 10k to half marathon pace.
Over the coming weeks I will gradually increase the distance of these tempo runs up to eight miles.

Strength training later this afternoon.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Long Run(s)

Yesterday I went for the first of this week's two long runs. Nineteen miles in the rain - character building.

Afterwards I considered postponing the second long run until Wednesday - if the weather was bad.

The weather was dry so this afternoon I ventured out for another nineteen miles. Using the route of the Otley 10 again so I could accurately run each mile quicker than the preceding mile. Hard work at the end when running the last two miles into a strong headwind.

This evening I picked up an entry form for the Harrogate Charities 10k. This appears to fit in nicely with my training as it would entail me running to the start and home again afterwards - a total of approx 26 or 27 miles.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Long run went well

Thursday's training went well. Covered the first mile in less than 8:30 and the 18th mile in less than 7:05. Although I didn't make the target at every mile, I did progressively get faster ... not easy on a course with two very large hills.

Yesterday I ran 9+ miles at an easy pace in the morning and in the afternoon I spent 45 mins on the bike before doing a strength training session. Today there's more cycling and strength training.

Apologies for not updating this for a few days ... I've been busy working on a new Microsoft Access Database for Otley AC. We need a new one because from May 2007 the membership scheme is being administered by England Athletics instead of the North of England AA and only recently have they decided what information they would like ... and, of course, it's different stuff. Also, we now have a junior section and we need different information for children such as parent's contact details.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A new idea for a competition

Training is progressing well. This morning I ran over 18 miles in under 2 hours 30 and it felt easy. Tomorrow will be 18 miles where each mile will be 5 to 10 seconds quicker than the previous mile. For this I'll use the mile points on the [notoriously hilly] Otley 10.

Found an interesting item this morning on the Planet Ultramarathon website. It is a competition that someone in America has organised and the idea is that, on 1 Nov 2008 the competitors run a minimum of one mile. On 2 Nov 2008 they run a minimum of 2 miles, 3 miles on 3 Nov, 4 miles on 4 Nov, etc, etc. All proceeds will be going to charity.

Full details can be found here. One interesting thing to note is that in the first week runners will cover at least 28 miles, with 77 being covered in the second week, 126 in the third and 175 in the fourth week. Each week increasing by 49 miles.

Are you up for the challenge ?

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Two New Pages

The first of the two new pages is possibly the most important of all except this particular page.

If you would like your company's logo and/or a link to your company's website on this site please read the new page here. Individuals, of course, are also invited to read this new page too.

The second new page shows how my World, UK and English ranking has changed from year to year, beginning in 2006 which was when I first ran an ultra race. That page can be viewed here.

I've also found an interesting ultra running article written by fellow ultra runner Adrian Stott. He writes briefly about the various training techniques used by the top Scottish runners of the past 30 years.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

New Screen Saver and Wallpaper

Fay has just changed the screen saver and wallpaper on this computer. I didn't ask her to do it but I'm happy that she did. She's changed the desktop to show various photos from Tooting Bec 2007. The screen saver is now a banner which reads ' 225km in London '.

Both of these are good sources of mental imagery and I used this technique for a few months before the Hull 24 hr race. I believe it was successful.

I love her.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday's run was very enjoyable. A good family day out followed by a long run back to Otley from Fountain's Abbey via Winksley, Kirkby Malzeard, Low Bishopside, Wilsill, Glasshouses, Heyshaw, Thornthwaite, Blubberhouses, Timble and Askwith.

Apart from the 24 hr race this was my longest run since the end of May. Approx 24 miles in a little under 3 hours 30 ... without trying. Not the flattest run, but certainly very enjoyable.

This morning was 5 to 6 miles fartlek followed by 45 mins on the bike. A session of strength exercises will follow later.

I've entered the Wetherby 10k (14 September) but I'm not sure whether to run there and back this year. In 2006 and 2007 I ran to Wetherby, took part in the 10k and then ran home again - about 40 miles in total.

The problem I have this year is that I'm not convinced it'll help my performance in London five weeks later. Any thoughts anyone ?

Monday, 4 August 2008

World Challenge & European Championship 2009

The International Association of Ultrarunners have just announced that the 24 hr championships for next year will be held at Ciserano (in Bergamo, Lombardy), Italy on the 2nd and 3rd of May.

I believe there is a very good chance that UK Athletics will be sending a team to this event so I will be keeping an eye out for any selection criteria which may (or may not) appear on the UKA website.

In some ways having these championships in early May is good for me because in theory I could use the Tooting Bec race in October to gain the necessary qualifying standard to this race and also, as planned, to the Commonwealth Championships (Keswick - September 2009).

One downside though ... and I think it's a big one ... my wedding anniversary is on the 4th May (and so is Fay's birthday).

On a different note, Keir will begin studying for his GCSE's in September and his favourite subject is History. One of the topics he'll be studying is medieval Christianity in Britain (the rise and fall of the monasteries). We thought this a good opportunity to visit Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, tomorrow. And I thought it a good opportunity for a long run in the countryside, ie run home (I'm sure I can devise a route of approx 24 miles).

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Proper training to start

My last run of the week was a simply 6.5 miles around Otley and Burley. This is now the end of my recovery phase after the Hull 24 hr race and I appear to have come through unscathed.

Except for pain in my left shoulder which is definitely getting better by the day.

On Monday begins training proper for the Tooting Bec (London) 24 hr race in October ... still being very careful with my right ankle though and doing the eccentric stretches every three days, massage daily and two lots of five minutes per day on the wobble board.

Just finished the page entitled Personal Bests.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Yesterday's 3000m race

Yesterday evening was the annual Otley AC 3000m track handicap ... with a difference this year. Due to new rules drawn up by Leeds Metropolitan University we were only allowed to have five people on the track at any one time.

This meant that we had to scrap our usual handicap format where runners set off at different times with the intention of all finishing together. Instead, the 14 runners were seeded by the handicapper into three separate races of the normal type (ie everyone sets off together).

Ian Fisher won the first race in 9:24 which is actually quite slow but we'll forgive him as he's still recovering from quite a serious thigh injury.

I was second in the second race (won by Lloyd Best in 11:06) with a time of 11:13 - a new pb. I then proceeded to run the 9.3 miles home [I ran to the track too for a total of over 20 miles].

Finished writing a training schedule leading up to the 24 hr race in London (18 October). It includes all the usual suspects: long runs, very long runs, fartlek, tempo runs, cycling, stretching and strength exercises. I'm keeping the eccentric achilles stretches every three days and the achilles massage daily and I've added some wobble board work twice a day. Not forgetting at least one rest day per week.

Cycling and strength exercises are ever increasing in quality and this time my two long runs (on consecutive days) will be followed immediately by a run 60% of the length of the long runs. Leading up to the Hull race it was 50%.

I've also decided to keep the 'crash training' week immediately before tapering as I thought it worked very well.

Oh yes, forgot to mention earlier, yesterdays race was my first ever 300om race.

Saturday, 26 July 2008


After the Hull race had a week with no running at all - I deserved the rest - and then, this week, I have eased back into training with a steady 5 miler on Monday, hill reps on Tuesday, 8 miles on Friday and another 8 today.

For today's run the mile splits were 7:35, 7:35, 7:37, 7:38, 7:47, 7:50, 6:38, 6:40. Very pleased with this, the last mile was uphill too. Recovery appears to have been good and all is set for twelve weeks solid and consistent training before the London race ... a few short races would be nice though.

The last few days have seen lots of changes to the layout of this blog ... mainly to the stuff on the left hand side (web links, etc) and there will be more changes to come, including the use of labels which will start with this post.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Selection Criteria

Yesterday I found, on the England Athletics website, details of the selection policy for next year's Commonwealth Championships at 24hr.

Selection Criteria 24 Hour Commonwealth Championship

Keswick Cumbria between 17 th Sept to 20 th Sept 2009.

Up to six athletes Female and six athletes Male will be considered for selection.

A Standard (Individual) Men 225kms Women 200kms
B Standard (Team) Men 215kms Women 185kms

Selection date and considerations

The selection date will be on Saturday 20th June 2009, or shortly afterwards
Important – England Athletics will only consider performances in IAU Label Races
Athletes who wish names and relevant performances to go forward for consideration for selection should forward details by email to or write to Norman Wilson,61,Darell Close,Quedgeley,Gloucester.GL2 4YR by no later than 1st June 2009

Qualifying Period

1st May 2008 to 31st May 2009 it will be necessary for current fitness to be evident prior to selection and to be injury free.

After reading this, very carefully, one or two things spring to mind:

1) 225km seems to be very harsh. I've just checked and last year only five runners from the Commonwealth achieved that distance (three Brits and two Aussies).

2) It seems William Sichel was correct in that the selectors will only consider performances in races with an IAU Label.

3) Between now and the end of May 2009 I am able to compete at least three times over 24hr if necessary. My next race - Tooting Bec (London) definitely has an IAU Label.

4) How exactly would 'current fitness be evident' to the selectors.

5) I know I can run 225k. It's only 8.4 laps more than I achieved in Hull when I was easing down for the last 4 hours. See the race report from Hull for details (

I also found out more details of a couple of new ultra races to be held in Perth, Scotland on 13 September. Apparently Scottish Athletics are looking to stage an IAU World Championship in the next few years and these races are basically a feasibility study.

I definitely hope everything goes well for them as a World Championship in Scotland would be fantastic. For more details see

Meanwhile ... my training schedule leading up to October's race is coming along nicely apart from one question if I may: which would be more beneficial the day after a long slow run:

a) a long run of 24 - 28 miles at one minute per mile quicker, or
b) a long run of 24 - 28 miles where each mile is about 5s quicker than the previous mile
c) does it depend on what stage I'm at regarding my preparation

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Race Report

Finished writing the race report at last. There's a link to it here - and also one on the left where I'll keep a list of links to all future race reports.

Over the next few days I plan to begin adding photos and other stuff to this blog - hope you all approve.

Monday, 21 July 2008

First Run

My first run since the race has gone very well. It was only 5 miles at a slowish pace but, importantly, there was no aches and pains from the race which was only 8 days ago.

I've spent the last couple of days writing a detailed race report which I'll post on this blog as soon as possible.

Will spend the next few days planning a detailed training schedule for my next ultra which will be the Sri Schinmoy 24 hr event at Tooting Bec track in London in October.

In the next few days I also hope to have details of the English qualifying criteria for next year's Commonwealth Ultra Running Championships.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Tonight's Relay

Went to the physio yesterday for a check up ... just to make sure I was OK to resume training next week. The only problem he could find was of a proprioceptive nature in my right ankle.

This morning I acquired a wobble board from the local scout troop and will use it for five minutes twice a day.

This morning I had a 45 minute session on the bike (at a reduced intensity) with no ill effects and this afternoon I did a strength training session, again at a reduced intensity. Feel good about my recovery which seems much quicker than in the past. I attribute this to the compression tights I wore during the race.

The race report is coming along nicely but tonight is the second of two races I organise - The Washburn Relay - for local clubs around the Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs a few miles north of where I live. A good social event in a wonderfully scenic part of Yorkshire. So far we have 50 teams of three.

Obviously things will be on hold for a couple of days now while the relay takes precedence - correlating results is quite a time consuming task.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

More thoughts

Recovering well.  Compression tights definitely work for post race muscle soreness ... but not for my Exercise Associated Collapse [I've got the bump on my head to prove it !!!].

Looking at all the amazing stats kept by my crew. Let's see what we have here:

1) position and distance travelled at the end of each hour
2) a note of what I ate and drank - EXACTLY how much and when
3) how far I walked during my breaks (to nearest tenth of a lap) and how long it took
4) exact times of all toilet stops (and their duration)
5) time and duration of vaseline stops and changes of clothing
6) notes regarding how my digestive system reacted to the various foodstuffs I asked it to deal with whilst running

This stuff is amazing and there are no words to describe how essential a good crew is - without a doubt they deserve the prizes just as much as me. During the race all I do is run and report how I'm feeling, everything else is the crew's job.

Right now I'm starting to piece together a race report which will appear on this blog when complete. I'm also starting to plan my next campaign (already - yes I know - not too long though before London in mid October). I feel 225k will be a realistic target for that one.

Next week will be very important though - training resumes and I'll soon discover any lingering injuries.

Thanks to all who've offered their congratulations, from Otley AC members to members of other clubs to non runners including the Otley Police Officer whose name I have mysteriously forgotten (sorry about that but you know who you are).

Finally, spare a thought for Samuel Black. He took part in Hull at the weekend and just before he left home for the race his club (Abbey Runners) persuaded him to run in the Washburn Relay on Friday 18 July. A 24hr race on Saturday and a 3.5 mile race six days later !!!

And you lot thought I was mad.

Monday, 14 July 2008

First thoughts

Back home after a good weekend in Hull.

I finished first with over 221k/137 miles.

A fantastic race, from my point of view as an competitor, the best I've been involved with.

More details later ... still recovering.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Almost There ...

First of all an apology (again ... )

On June 25 I included a link to Phil Robertson's blog that was incorrect. The actual address is [I guess I must've been thinking of Iron Maiden !!!].

With only a few days left I've started applying a thick coating of vaseline to my feet at least twice a day. It feels strange when walking but it definitely helps reduce blister formation during these long races. [Another tip from William Sichel although everyone is different and you must adjust it to your own needs/requirements].

For the last few days it's taken me longer than usual to get to sleep at night. I guess this is a consequence of being less active recently because of tapering.

Had my last run of any worth today - 7 miles fartlek. The final run will be a 4 miler tomorrow evening showing runners around the route of the Washburn Relay which I've organised for 18 July.

The weather forecast isn't exactly brilliant for the weekend - heavy showers. Nothing I can do about that though except hope it's wrong.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Good news for ultra running

Just found this on the Planet Ultra Marathon website:

100km and 24hr Commonwealth Championship - 2009

The inaugural Commonwealth championships for 100km and 24 hour will take place in Cumbria, England in September 2009. Upon successful completion, the events should become fixtures within the Commonwealth games structure and eventually the Olympics. Congratulations to the IAU and to Norman Wilson in particular for this major development.

For more details (and more news about other ultras) see

Also good news (and not so good) for William Sichel. He has won the Hamm 6 day race in Germany with a new pb of 857.07km. [The second placed runner completed 580.18km].

Unfortunately he just missed his longed for Scottish record which is 878.7km by George Cameron - set in 1882 !!!!

Well done to William ...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Just Ticking Over

All the hard work is done and now it's simply a case of fine tuning everything:

a)before the race - travel plans, lots of rest, still running but at a much reduced volume, eating plan to write up for crew

b) during the race - target times, kit, first aid, food and drink, spares

c) after the race - practice not passing out, back to hotel.

Still running fartlek, tempo runs, etc but no long runs, indeed, I have a 4.8 mile race tonight at Hudswell near Richmond. Part of the Harrogate League series.

Friday, 27 June 2008


Beginning to feel a bit nervous already - the race is 15 days away still ...

All the best to William Sichel who's attempting a Scottish record in Germany - he's running the Hamm 6 day race and aiming for well over 850 miles.

Been off the caffeine all week and feeling OK, no problems at all although I have a slight worry that when I take caffeine during the race I'll end up with intestinal problems. My crew and I don't think so as I only plan to take 4 x 80mg which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee over the entire 24 hours.

Training this week has been light after last week's crash training. Club handicap on Tuesday (6 miles in total) and 7 miles fartlek yesterday. Also done 45 mins cycling and one session of strength exercises.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Otley - home of the ultra distance runner

First of all a big well done to Phil Robertson of Otley AC who has completed the West Highland Way Race (95 miles) in just under 28 hours - an amazing achievement. He was with Paul Tranter [another Otley resident] who has now completed the Marathon des Sables and the West Highland Way Race in less than five months.

For more details about Phil Robertson see his blog at

Just noticed, on the UK Athletics website the selection criteria for the IAU European Championships and World Cup 100k to be held in Etruschi, Italy on 8 November. Basically they are only considering individuals if they are confident of a top 15 placing. This means they have set standards of 7h 05 for men and 8h 15 for women. In the last 18 months only one man and two women have achieved this (Jez Bragg, Adele Salt and Emma Gooderham).

They have also set lower, team standards, of 7h 20 and 8h 30 but, again, I think that perhaps they are setting their targets a bit high as no other British runners have achieved this lower mark in the qualifying period which began on 1 January 2007.

I wonder what the criteria will be for the 24 hr World Challenge in Korea on October 18/19.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Crash Training (summary)

Decided to stop crash training one day earlier than planned. My right ankle is beginning to show signs of breakdown and if I look back, the day before crash training was a 10 mile cross country race.

So, I had seven days of intense training which included two races, one long tempo run, three long runs (20 miles +), one interval session and one fartlek (!) session.

I also managed one session on the bike, stretching every day, one strength training session, four sessions of eccentric achilles stretching, and daily ankle massage.

Felt extremely tired on Thursday afternoon and had a nap but apart from that I didn't feel much more tired than usual. Also used a product from Science In Sport called Nocte. This is designed to aid recovery whilst asleep - used this three times (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). I definitely found it beneficial.

Also used ice after every run from Wednesday onwards and increased my intake of carbohydrates and vitamins C and B. Began using ibuprofen on Friday to control possible inflammation.

During the seven days (15 - 21 June inclusive) I ran 130 miles. The four weeks before that had an average of 59 miles.

Stats then:
during that week I ran for 18h 50
cycled for 45 mins
stretched for 1h 27
did strength training for 35 mins
performed eccentric ankle stretches for 59 mins
and massaged for 37 mins

This means that, taking the last 28 days (25 May - 21 June), an average week was:
running: 11h 04
cycling: 1h 19
stretching: 1h 12
strength training: 57 mins
eccentric achilles stretches: 1h 10
massage: 33 mins

At last, I've now reached the stage where eccentric achilles stretches (for achilles tendinosis at the start of the year) need only be done once every three days.

Next week will be an extremely easy week but as this is my first tapering week it isn't a problem at all. My four runs will include a club handicap, a tempo run and two fartlek sessions.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Crash Training (4)

This morning ... just over 10 miles (including 4 x 1 mile at approx 5 mile pace)
This afternoon ... almost 8 miles steady

Friday, 20 June 2008

Crash Training (3)

Yesterday morning ... 20+ miles which included a large hill at about 15 miles
Yesterday evening ... sprint drills, etc with the club coach

This afternoon ... just over 13 miles at sub 8 min/mile pace

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Crash Training (2)

Yesterday morning ... 20+ miles
Yesterday evening ... 5.9 mile Harrogate League race (36:46)

This afternoon ... just over 21 miles

Monday, 16 June 2008

Crash Training

After cutting short Friday's training and feeling very fresh after yesterday's 10 mile relay leg over Haworth Moor I've decided to change my last week of 'proper' training before tapering begins next Monday.

I've decided to have a week of crash training. This basically involves all the components of a normal training week ... but twice as much of it. This will be followed by a week of reduced training - which is part of my tapering anyway.

Having read about crash training in articles by Frank Horwill I understand that very careful attention has to be paid to recovery, healthy eating, injuries and listening to my body.

Today I began with almost 12 miles of which 8 were at sub 6:40 per mile.

After extensive testing it appears that sorbothane insoles work better when used instead of the insoles which are supplied with shoes.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Yesterday - ouch, today - much better

Yesterday I had planned a 24 mile run where each mile was to be quicker than the previous one. After about a mile I put my foot down awkwardly on the kerb and went over on my ankle - the right one. The immediate pain wasn't too bad but the next four or five miles found me running with a limp - not good. The following couple of miles were much better but I decided it would be wiser to stop at eight miles instead of treble that distance.

Back home I applied ice immediately and took some ibuprofen. Will continue with this course of treatment for at least a few days even though my ankle feels almost normal again now.

In a slightly unrelated development it seems that Les Hill of Dumfries RC has signed up for the Hull 24hr race. Les is obviously a decent runner having taken part in the last six editions of the Round Rotherham 50 mile trail race and finished 14th, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th. He also competed in this year's Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in Cardiff, finishing ninth in 8h 37.

Although he's much better than me over the trails, 8 hours in the mud hardly compares to 24 hours on the track. I also believe I'd have finished one place ahead of him over the 100k had I been fit. Still, he's a definite threat though.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Tired today

Yesterday's race went brilliantly apart from a lack of manpower at the finish. We were saved though by Roy Hollingworth of Dragons RC who stepped in at the last minute to help out - many thanks to him.

I must admit that today I feel a bit of a fool. Derek Martin (Abbey Runners) turned up to hand out race entry forms for his club's 10 mile race - The Eccup 10 [a very good race, which I would run if it were not on the same day as the Hull 24hr race]. At first I didn't recognise him and when it dawned on me who I was talking to I forgot his first name. I know he's running in Hull too and I hope he does well - he was 4th last year (and second in the Crawley 12 hr race this year I believe). Apologies to him then for my disrespectful attitude at times.

This morning I ventured out on a slow 23 miler - including a very hilly 10 mile section - to make sure all the signs, etc have been collected. Last year I had to carry a sign (36 inches by 24 inches - on a wooden stake) back home from the 4 mile point ... not much fun.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Otley 10 this evening

Luckily the organisation of this year's Otley 10 has hardly disrupted my training at all. The only change I've had to make is to move this week's two long runs from Monday & Tuesday to Thursday & Friday.

On Monday I ran around the course checking everything over and painting on the road exactly where the mile markers should be placed. Although it is known as a hilly course I was surprised how easy the run was, I wasn't running fast but I expected at least to be very tired at the top of the two (big) hills.

This morning I spent a couple of hours with a team mate putting up signs, etc around the race HQ and taking delivery of the mementoes. A specially commissioned bottle of beer from Hambleton Ales.

Later this afternoon I'll be off around the course again (with another team mate) putting up the 'caution runners' signs and mile markers as well as making a final check that everything is OK.

And then, tonight, the race. As in almost every other year that I've organised this race I'm a bit worried that we don't have enough marshals, funnel officials, etc. I'm sure everything will be fine though ...

Still not found any decent decaff coffee. I'll probably end up buying some decaf house blend from Starbucks (help ...)

Pleased about my weight. Since the beginning of the year I've lost over 2kg (4.4lb) and I'm consistently under 59kg, I feel much better for it too.