Friday, 28 August 2009

crash training - day 7

7.25am steady (approx 6.5 miles)

noon stretching

2.25pm tempo run (approx 10.5 miles)

5.45pm stretching

6.50pm strength and conditioning

7.35pm 50 minutes on the bike

Heavy rain and strong winds this morning.  The plan for this afternoon's run was to do 8 miles at 6:37 to 6:42 per mile.  It was far too windy and in the end I was pleased with 6:53 per mile.

Well, it's all over ... at last.

Overall I spent over 32 hours 20 minutes training during the past seven days.  This included over 162 miles of running in over 23 h 41 m.  Cycling took over 3h 20 m, stretching took over 3 h 5 m and strength/conditioning exercises took almost 2 h 14 m.

Got to go now ... very tired ... zzzzz

Thursday, 27 August 2009

crash training - day 6

7.40am steady (13 miles +)

11.35am stretching

1.50pm eccentric achilles stretches

3.20pm strength and conditioning

6.35pm stretching

7.15pm social run with club (6 miles +)

I had noticed that my morning runs were becoming slower as the week progressed: 8:20 per mile last Saturday, 8:51 on Sunday, 8:36 on Monday, 8:41 on Tuesday and 9:10 yesterday.  I decided to try and run a bit quicker this morning - despite my tired legs - and managed a very pleasing 8:16 per mile.  Ankle is good.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

crash training - day 5

7.35am steady (15 miles +)

12.45pm stretching

3.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

7.05pm fartlek (6 miles +)

8.15pm stretching

Not as tired as expected. Ankle still not perfect. This morning's run was on the slow side but the weather was terrible. Finding it quite hard now to generally eat and drink enough throughout the day.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

crash training - day 4

7.25am steady run (17 miles +)

1.10pm stretching

3.30pm strength and conditioning exercises

6.20pm stretching

7.20pm social run with my club (Otley AC) (6 miles +)

Ankle is not getting any worse despite all this training. It seems to be an old injury flaring up - and I know exactly how to manage it. It's nowhere near serious enough to stop me training.

a lift anyone ?

Another appeal for help ...

If anyone reading this is travelling to Keswick by car (or van) and passing anywhere near Otley, Leeds or Bradford on Wednesday 16 September I would appreciate a lift. Obviously I would make a suitable contribution towards fuel costs, etc.

If you can help please email

I have to be at the youth hostel in Keswick at the very latest by 3.00pm on Wednesday 16 September and I'm expected to stay until Monday 21 September.

Even if you can only offer a lift one way it would be much appreciated ... and there's so much happening in Keswick between 17 and 20 September - see here for details.

Monday, 24 August 2009

crash training - day 3

7.25am long run (20 miles +)

1.00pm stretching

2.15pm eccentric achilles stretches

3.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

5.20pm stretching

7.20pm fartlek (5 miles +)

Ankle felt a bit sore during first and last ten minutes of this morning's run. Nothing to worry about though, plenty of ice through the day and everything seems fine.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

crash training - day 2

8.45am steady 19 miles +

1.40pm stretching

2.55pm strength and conditioning

6.30pm fartlek (8 miles +)

8.25pm stretching

Felt a bit tired this morning but this evening's fartlek was very good.   My ankle/achilles is much better today - not perfect but obviously on the mend.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

crash training - day 1

8.10am 20 miles +

1.35pm stretching

3.00pm hill reps (18 x 250m steep hill) (almost 9 miles in total)

6.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

8.20pm stretching

Pleased with the hill reps, I felt strong and ran well - keeping my form throughout.  Now though, my right achilles feels a bit sore.  I'm sitting here with an ice pack on it and I'll monitor it for the next few days.

I am prepared, if necessary, to have a few days rest from training.  I'm confident that won't be needed though.

Friday, 21 August 2009

testing the new kit

My England kit for the forthcoming Commonwealth Championships arrived yesterday.  Two vests, a pair of shorts, a long sleeved top, a windproof jacket and windproof trousers.

Now I've got to wear everything, and have it washed and worn again.  And washed a second time.  Nothing is to be worn for the first time during an ultra - everything must be thoroughly tried and tested to make sure all the seams are comfortable and nothing rubs anywhere.

During a race that lasts for 24 hours I'm sure chafed nipples would be extremely painful.

Tomorrow I begin a week of crash training.  This is basically an extreme training week in which I double everything.  Double the mileage ... double the cycling sessions ... double the strength sessions ... double the fartlek, tempo and other speed stuff.  Before last year's Tooting 24 hr race I did this and four weeks before the competition is ideal because I know that the following week can be an extremely easy training week because I begin tapering.  I first came across the idea of crash training when reading this article by renowned coach Frank Horwill.

Yesterday's training went much better than expected.  The plan was to do a 7.6 mile tempo run (using the mile markers for the Otley 10) at 6:37 to 6:42 per mile.  As it was very windy I didn't hold out much hope so I just set off at what I guessed would be the correct pace and as I passed each mile point I refused to look at the stopwatch.  I expected my speed to be up and down so I figured it was useless looking at the watch as it would just let self doubt creep in.

Anyway, at the end I stopped the watch at 51:08 which represents about 6:43.7 per mile.  Very happy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

world challenge

The United States of America have announced their qualifying standards for next year's World Championships 24 hr race which will be held in Brive (France) in mid May.

They have decided that American men need to record 135 miles (217.262k) and women need 120 miles (193.122k).

By contrast it is likely that here in the United Kingdom the standards will be 146.022 miles (235k) for men and 132.353 miles (213k) for women.

The population of the UK is about 60 million and the population of the USA is well over 200 million. Also, overall the United States is much better at athletics than the UK - just look at the medal tables from recent Olympic Games and World Championships for proof of this - so why is our qualification standard so much harder?

On a slightly different note, I'm sure Dan Rose will be able to make the grade at the American Championships later this year. So long as his recent calf injury worries are behind him and he can get some decent training under his belt.

Otley AC handicap

Left home at about 5.15pm yesterday to run to The New Inn, Eccup for the start of a four mile club handicap. My 1 hour 45 minute warm up took in Pool, Bramhope, Cookridge and Adel and was about 12.5 miles in length.

The actual event - which includes two miles of trail and a large hill near the end - took me just less than 26 minutes.  I was well pleased with this as it was my fastest time since the year 2000.

I set off with Chris Stacey, Huw Illingworth, Laura Martin and a new member whose name I don't know. Huw set off faster than expected and within 400m I knew I wouldn't catch him unless he faded badly.  At about half a mile Chris edged ahead of Laura and myself with the new kid just behind.  About half way along the road by Eccup Reservoir I pulled away from Laura slightly and about a mile later unexpectedly caught Chris on the rough trail leading into Harewood Estate.  At this point I glanced behind and knew that Laura wasn't going to catch me again, out in front I could see lots of the earlier starters and began picking them off one by one - Tom Hannah, Phil Robinson, Elizabeth Ashton, Carol Armitstead, Carl Walsh, Dominic Egan, Racheal Bamford and Graham Stead.  I was feeling good and even managed a good sprint finish to hold off Graham when he tried to pass me again.

The 8.7 mile run home was completed in just over 70 minutes.  Again, it wasn't exactly flat, but the last two miles were downhill.  The pace was good and I wasn't trying too hard.

A very good run which will be my longest now before the Commonwealth Championships in mid September.

Monday, 17 August 2009

early morning run

This morning I left home at about 7.25am - and went for a long run, probably about 27 miles.

The route was, from my house in Otley, over the Chevin via West Chevin Road and then into Guiseley from where I took the main road through Rawdon and Horsforth to Kirkstall.  In Kirkstall I joined the Leeds Liverpool Canal and ran to Shipley before taking the main road through Baildon and up Hollins Hill then through Menston back to Otley.

The early morning peacefulness (when not on the main road) was amazing.  Hardly a soul about, I practically had the road/towpath to myself over the Chevin and along the canal - which accounted for about half the distance.

There was a bit of a headwind along the canal, and the occasional shower too, but nothing major.  Other highlights included a bloke taking his pet ferret for a walk and a group of cyclists who obviously had no intention of showing any respect for other towpath users.

I didn't move, one of them almost went in the water, hopefully they changed their minds.

At about 22 miles I arrived at the bottom of Hollins Hill which is a long drag of at least a mile climbing about 90m or so.  No problem ... up and over then down into Otley.

A very enjoyable run, not quick but as I skipped breakfast I burnt a lot of fat - a very good thing in ultra running.  Back home I had a large coffee as usual - Whittard's Breakfast Coffee today.

Four mile club handicap tomorrow evening. I plan to incorporate this into tomorrow's long run.  I'll run about 13.5 miles to the start at The New Inn, Eccup then run the four mile handicap then run almost nine miles back home.

Friday, 14 August 2009

official confirmation

A letter arrived this morning from England Athletics:

"I am pleased to inform you of your selection to represent England in the Commonwealth Championship 24 Hour race at Keswick Cumbria on Thursday 17th September 2009, Start time 12 Noon."

etc, etc

The letter was dated 31 July.

As a non driver I find that the journey from Otley to Keswick on public transport isn't going to be the easiest journey (especially as I have to take clothes for five days and everything required for a 24hr race).

If anyone reading this is travelling to Keswick by car (or van) and passing anywhere near Otley, Leeds or Bradford on Wednesday 16 September I would appreciate a lift. Obviously I would make a suitable contribution towards fuel costs, etc.  If you can help please email

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

crew needed

Just had some bad news.  It has now been confirmed that Fay will not be allowed time away from work to crew for me in Keswick at the Commonwealth Championships.

I hope England Athletics are able to provide someone to pass me food and drinks at the appropriate time ... and look after me post race.

It has also been confirmed that the England squad will be staying at Keswick Youth Hostel and the 24 hour runners have been given rooms with bunks which are not on the ground floor.  I can imagine climbing onto the top bunk after a 24 hr race !!!

I'll have the bottom bunk.

Monday, 10 August 2009

training going well

Been training hard recently.  Long runs around Wharfedale interspersed with lots of fartlek, hill reps and faster running.

Tomorrow I'm planning to run around the Washburn Valley and the area of Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs. Only got 18 days training before I begin my usual three week taper in preparation for my most important race of the year - the Commonwealth Championship 24 hr event.

I've tailored my training in a slightly unusual way this time.  As the race begins on a Thursday (ends on a Friday) I've changed my training week to begin on a Saturday.   It is usual for training weeks to begin on Monday ... but most races are on a Sunday.

It took a while to get used to this minor change but everything is falling into place much better and it did make planning the training schedule much easier.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Guinness World Records (TM)

Late last week I received an email from Guinness World Records (TM) about the Run To London which read:

"Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for 'run from Leeds to London'. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record."

"We receive over 60,000 enquiries a year from which only a small proportion are approved by our experienced researchers to establish new categories. These are not 'made up' to suit an individual proposal, but rather 'evolve' as a result of international competition in a field, which naturally accommodates superlatives of the sort that we are interested in. We think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those that reflect the greatest interest."

"Guinness World Records has absolute discretion as to which Guinness World Record applications are accepted and our decision is final. Guinness World Records may at its discretion and for whatever reason identify some records as either no longer monitored by Guinness World Records or no longer viable."

Of course I'm disappointed and I thank everyone who has offered words of congratulations even though the event will not be recognised officially as a record.

All this was brutally put into perspective though by the news I received yesterday afternoon.  As you will know if you were a regular reader of the Run To London blog, one of the helpers, Helen Barber (Sly), has a brother in law (Mick) who has penile cancer.  Well, his cancer has spread and it isn't deemed curable ...

I really don't know what to say at this point.  I've never met Mick but Helen and I have exchanged a couple of emails recently and obviously she's a bit numb with shock at the moment.  I know from experience that the shock will pass and then the job becomes one of living life to the full - as much as is possible in light of things such as pain, swelling, morphine, etc.

I believe Helen knows this and, although my cancer obviously wasn't terminal, it does seem strange offering support because one of the few ways I know how to do that is to relate some of the things I saw and did whilst I had cancer.  I also know that talking about one's own medical history can be incredibly boring and off putting to most people.

If ever Helen needs someone to talk to though, to 'get things off her chest' perhaps ... I am more than willing to be there for her.  Just to listen, read her emails, whatever she wants.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Sorry about not posting for a while ... not had a lot to say recently.

I've decided though that I could informally and unofficially include my Run To London in the yearly 48 hr rankings produced by the DUV website.

I ran approximately 218 miles/350.836k in 45 hours on the roads between Otley and London.  According to the DUV website 350.836k would rank me at number 7 in the world if it had been a 48 hr race.

Please note that this is unofficial.  The Run To London was not a race and shouldn't be included although I was aiming for a decent time.

The actual figures can be seen on the Rankings page.