Thursday, 30 December 2010

change of plan

Hope everyone had a good Christmas ...

I did except that over the holiday period the pain in my left knee returned.  I stopped running immediately and yesterday afternoon saw a doctor who diagnosed Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

Saw a physiotherapist this morning and the outcome was ... no running for 10 to 14 days followed by a gradual return to full training over the following 4 to 5 weeks.  During that period I have to do a set of quadriceps strengthening exercises three times daily.  I am also allowed to cycle almost every day and continue with my normal strength and flexibility work.

After every bout of exercise I have to apply an ice pack to my knee and continue taking 1200mg ibuprofen daily for at least the next 10 days.

Now ... what went wrong and why am I injured ?

Well, I'm not too sure.  It's an overuse injury and after looking back over my training (and other factors) with the physio my thoughts are:

(1)  The change of date and venue for next year's World 24 hr Championships has meant that over the past few weeks I've been training without a specific goal.  This has probably led to me taking my eye of the ball at times and overdoing things in the snowy conditions.  Obviously I don't blame the IAU for any injury I have - it's my fault entirely.

(2)  Since October I've been experimenting with a five week training cycle instead of the more usual four weeks which I've used successfully in the past.  Instead of reducing the mileage every fourth week for 'recovery and consolidation' purposes I was reducing the mileage on weeks two and four.

My weekly mileages were:

12-18 Sep ... 25
19-26 Sep ... 40
27 Sep-2 Oct ... 44
3-9 Oct ... 51
10-16 Oct ... 35
17-23 Oct ... 51
24-30 Oct ... 50
31 Oct-6 Nov ... 37
7-13 Nov ... 55
14-20 Nov ... 40
21-27 Nov ... 59
28 Nov-4 Dec ... 62
5-11 Dec ... 45

As you can see it's a bit up and down and that probably didn't help even though it was part of the plan.  The new system definitely didn't work for me.

(3)  My primary goal for 2011 is now definitely the Commonwealth Championships in September but I still plan to take part in three long ultras during the year ... and I firmly believe that's still realistic.

More info soon but in the next couple of weeks I hope to be in a position to be able to enter an ultra race ... which will be part of my build up for the 24 hr race at the end of September in Llandudno.

Friday, 24 December 2010

back to normal ... again

My minor knee injury worries appear to be over.  Ran last night with the club and had no problems at all although I only ran about 4 miles at a fairly slow pace.

This morning I did some hill reps - less than usual though - with no problems at all.

So now I can resume normal training, but at a reduced quantity for the time being.  The plan is to slowly build up the quantity over the next few weeks.  The quality will remain the same as before though as I believe quality should always take precedence over quantity.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

home safely

Thankfully Keir arrived home safe and well last night at about midnight having not been caught up in the chaos at Heathrow airport (and elsewhere in Europe).

Apparently his teachers were looking forward to spending an extra day or two in St Petersburg though ...

Good to have him home for Christmas.

Monday, 20 December 2010

trip to Russia

Last Friday Keir flew to Moscow with about 50 other students and teachers as part of his A level History course.

Since then Heathrow airport has closed and they are due to arrive back there from St Petersburg late on Wednesday afternoon.

At the moment we're not sure if he'll be home for Christmas or what, if any, contingency plans have been put in place by his school or the organisers.

British Airways' website is experiences very heavy traffic and I cannot get onto the arrivals/departures page.

I'm sure they're all enjoying themselves though.  In Moscow recently it's been warmer that it is here ...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

injury update

This morning I ran for the first time since last Sunday.  It was the club handicap in the beautiful Washburn Valley area to the north of Otley.  It looked wonderful in white - a bit cold though.

It was a five mile route mostly on roads through the small villages of Timble and Fewston.  The second mile was the worst and the snow on the ground made the times much slower than usual.  It didn't help that Menwith Hill police were patrolling the exceptionally narrow roads making passing difficult.

I didn't push things too hard as I didn't want to make my knee worse but afterwards I had no pain or swelling whatsoever.  Iced the joint soon after finishing and I'm continuing with the ibuprofen for at least a few days yet.  Right now, 4.5 hours after the run my knee feels fine ... well, over 95% ... which I'm pleased about.

Still continuing with cycling, stretching and strength work as usual and it's very likely that I'll resume running again before Christmas.

I've just started work on a plan B for next year just in case the IAU decide not to stage a World Championships next year.  Reading between the lines of various websites and emails this seems quite likely and I'll need at least one to 'prove my fitness' before the Commonwealth Championships in September.  Ideally I'd like to race twice before September and once after so I've just started looking at the options available.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

club night

Haven't run since Sunday and already my knee feels much better.  I feel able to take part in the weekend's handicap and then possibly return to training - at a reduced level initially of course.

Last night Otley AC held a social event after training at the local cricket club and in the quiz Andrew Robertshaw, Julian Mawson, Colin Best and myself won.  Our score was a measly 14.5 out of 30 but that's not the point - we won.  The prize was a bottle of beer each ... I don't like beer but I'm sure Fay or Keir will enjoy it.

Thanks to Dominic Egan for organising that and to Carol and John for the food too which was wonderful.

Monday, 13 December 2010

pear shaped ???

Well, after a couple of months really good training I appear to have picked up a minor injury to my left knee.  It's  very similar to the injury I picked up in November 2008 although I think this time it was caused by running on the ice and snow.

The knee isn't painful although it feels bruised and it seems obvious to stop running for a week or so to let it settle down ... with help from ice and ibuprofen of course.

I expect to be running again next week but in the meantime I feel as if I'm in limbo really regarding next year's races.  Obviously I'm looking forward to the Commonwealth Championships in September but apart from that I don't want to enter anything until I know the date of the rearranged World Championships now that Brugg have had to pull out.

I'm just itching to race again - or I was until yesterday.  Maybe it's a sign that things were going too well.  Anyway I hope a date will be decided and announced before the end of this year then I can make some definite racing plans.

I'll let you know as soon as I can but in the meantime I have a few shorter races in the pipeline starting with a club event next Sunday.  See this page for more details.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I can't think of a suitable title for this one

I've recently been reading a fascinating article about nutrition for ultra distance training on John Kynaston's blog [see link in the right hand column].  The correspondents Andy DuBois and Marc Laithwaite both have some very good ideas but after reading it all the best I can suggest is ...

... be sensible and use a few long runs and ultra races (not important ones) to experiment and see what works for you.

This morning I ran 7.2 miles fartlek on a route that took me past Stephen Smith's Garden Centre on Pool Road, Otley.  As I approached the garden centre I saw a woman running in a red top about 200m ahead of me, I wondered who she was but thought no more of it when she turned into the car park.  When I ran past the car park I realised there was only one car in it and the red topped runner was nowhere to be seen.

The car park is completely open with no place to hide.  She wasn't in the solitary car nor had she time to run into the shop (it was closed anyway, at 8.15am).  Very strange.

Apart from that ghostly beginning I had a good run.  Especially as all the snow has gone and this made it much easier - and safer - to run quickly.

Many of you will have noticed one or two changes on my blog in the last week or two.  Well there are also minor changes to the FUTURE RACES page and to the HELP AND ADVICE page.  If you know of any interesting websites or articles that would be of interest to the wider community please let me know and I'll consider adding them to the latter page.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Selection Criteria

Here it is ... the selection criteria has been announced for England in the following ultra races next year:

- Commonwealth Championships - 24 hr race and c.50k trail race
- Anglo Celtic Plate 100k

Personally I'm only interested in the Commonwealth Championships 24 hr race and I read that selection will be in two waves:

(1a) for those men who have run over 230k between 1 May 2010 and 3 April 2011
(1b) for those women who have run over 205k between 1 May 2010 and 3 April 2011

(2a) for those men who have run over 225k between 1 September 2009 and 5 June 2011
(2b) for those women who have run over 200k between 1 September 2009 and 5 June 2011

I would imagine that only performances in race with an IAU label will be taken into consideration therefore I believe the following men from England have met the criteria:

Richard Quennell ... 246.121k ... World C'ships (14 May 2010) and
 ... 234.813k ... London (18 Oct 2009)
Jim Rogers ... 244.108k ... World C'ships (14 May 2010) and
 ... 228.214k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)
me ... 238.286k ... Perth (5 Sep 2010) and
 ... 231.506k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)
 and also ... 222.760k ... World C'ships (14 May 2010)
Pat Robbins ... 231.086k ... Perth (5 Sep 2010)
 and also ... 215.818k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)

The following men would also be in with a chance of selection as they have run over 215k:

Keith Straw ... 221.882k ... Cleveland (USA) (4 Oct 2009)
Chris Finill ... 219.032k ... World C'ships (14 May 2010)
Neil Bryant ... 218.425k ... London (18 Oct 2009)

The women who have met the criteria so far are:

Sharon Gayter ... 226.489k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)
Vicky Skelton  ... 212.683k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)
 and also ... 198.098k ... Perth (5 Sep 2010)
Angela Sadler ... 205.984k ... Perth (5 Sep 2010)
Marie Doke ... 203.985k ... World C'ships (14 May 2010) and
 ... 201.631k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)

The following woman should also be in with a chance of selection as they have managed  a performance of over 185k:

Sandra Brown ... 187.119k ... Commonwealth C'ships (18 Sep 2009)

Of course there is still quite a few months in which other runners can register a qualifying performance ... but I'm confident of my selection.

As only five men and five women can be selected it appears that for the women it's quite straightforward but not so for the men at all.  And then there's 'current fitness' to take into account when the selectors meet next April and June.

I would suggest we have a couple of good teams though.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

successful long run (or maybe not ...)

Yesterday I left home at about 11.30am for a long run.  The plan was to run from Otley via Menston to Guiseley and then down Hollins Hill to join the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Buck Lane near Baildon/Esholt.  From there I decided to run eight miles along the towpath next to the frozen canal to Kirkstall before returning home via Headingley and Bramhope.

About 24 miles.  Ice and snow underfoot ... no problem with decent footwear.  Temperature below zero Celsius ... wrap up warm.

The furthest I've run since early September has been 15.7 miles ... I knew I could manage an extra 50% though if I kept the pace reasonable.

Arrived home at about 3.00pm barely tired.  It all seemed so easy but I'm not sure why.  Had a decent (large) cup of coffee about an hour before leaving home and an energy bar after about 17 miles but apart from that I seemed to be flying along in the brilliant - but cold - sunshine.

The canalside section was eerily quiet but provided the easiest running surface as the snow hadn't been churned up by other traffic (runners, walkers and cyclists) and thus hadn't re frozen into dangerous shapes which could easily cause a twisted ankle.  This was in stark contrast to the main road from Headingley, and particularly from Bramhope, which caused untold minor problems with all the snow frozen into injury inducing ruts.

Anyway 24 miles at about 8:35 per mile across snow and ice - very pleasing.

Oh ... one last thing.  About an hour after arriving home I realised I had a tooth missing !!!  No idea why, something obviously happened whilst I was out running, minding my own business.

Friday, 3 December 2010

snow, snow and more snow

Since my very enjoyable run on Monday we've had lots more snow here in Wharfedale.  Tuesday was a planned rest day so I visited my dad in Castleford and took him some grocery supplies.  Travelling wasn't easy as roads were covered in snow and trains were not running to time ... took over three hours to travel 20 miles !!!  And then three hours home again - not fun.

On Wednesday I was planning to go for a long run but as we had heavy snow and strong winds all day I decided to have an endurance session on the bike instead - almost three hours in front of a DVD.

Yesterday morning I went for another run and managed eight miles fartlek.  Fartlek is fun when maintaining a steady pace across snow and ice is difficult ... the temperature was about -1 C but again it was enjoyable because I was well wrapped up and insulated.

This morning I just went for a steady eight miler through the snow and the even colder temperature of -7 C.  Those eight miles seemed like ten though as I was trudging through the snow - 20 cm deep in places - and trying to avoid other pedestrians and cars travelling at 10 mph (and those travelling at 40 mph on frozen roads).

William Sichel seems to be doing well (again) in his latest race in Normandy.  Full details here.  Heather Foundling-Hawker appears to be doing exceptionally well too at the half way stage.

Monday, 29 November 2010

good winter running

This morning's 16 mile run took about 7 or 8 minutes longer than usual.  I'm not complaining though as running through snow gave me some extra resistance training.  It wasn't actually snowing but there was plenty of the white stuff around and the frozen Leeds Liverpool Canal looked splendid.

Hollins Hill, between Baildon and Guiseley wasn't easy to run up but apart from that I just plodded away and enjoyed myself.

The temperature this morning was probably about 0.8 C when I left home just before 8.00am, In Guiseley at about 8.35am the temperature fell to about -1.0 C.  Until about 9.30am it stayed constant but when I ran back into Wharfedale the temperature rose slightly to 1.3 C.

I know that isn't cold compared to some parts of the world but for the UK in November we've had record lows ... and it's likely to last at least another week.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tony Mangan and the weather

Congratulations to Tony Mangan on completing the first 1000 km on his World Jog.  It took 31 days and included a flight across the Atlantic from Ireland to Newfoundland.  Obviously he has a long way to go in his quest to run around the world in 1000 days.  His blog does make a fascinating read though.

I know it's been cold where Tony is at the moment and it's very cold where I am too ... unseasonably so in fact.  More details here.  Running has been perfectly OK except for the extreme cold which has seen me wearing three pairs of gloves, a hat and two tops (along with the usual other stuff ...).

The forecast for where I live is:

Of course the runners in Monaco are having better weather during the No Finish Line 8 day race which started last weekend.  Pam Storey is taking part and looking to complete 400 km.  After 148 hours she's managed almost 276 km so unfortunately it's unlikely she'll manage her target.  She's raised a fair amount for charity though and I'm sure Alan Young will be looking after her.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

good service

Last week I decided it was time to use the £50 voucher I won at Perth at the beginning of September.  The voucher is from the Run and Become chain of shops.  They have three shops - London, Cardiff and Edinburgh - and I live about 200 miles from each of them ... so it isn't very practical to go and visit.

As the voucher came from Edinburgh I sent an email to Scotland asking how they would like me to use the voucher for a mail order or online sale.  A few hours later I received a reply and I posted the voucher and sent an email order for some Amios mpFree Headphones.

I posted the voucher last Wednesday and parcel I received on Saturday came from Cardiff.  Very good.  I decided to get these because the MP3 player I used for a couple of hours in Perth has mysteriously stopped working.  Not sure why but I've tried everything I can think of to get it revive it ... without success.

I don't normally listen to music while training outdoors but I thought I'd give these a try on yesterday's long run.  I was very impressed by the comfort, fit and sound quality ... I'll definitely be using them again but I'm still a bit unsure about the fact that traffic (and other dangerous) noise is less easy to hear whilst listening to music.

Fantastic service though from Run and Become.  Thank you and well done.

Friday, 19 November 2010

changes ...

A few hours ago I came across an important piece of news on the IAU website.  It's about Brugg now being unable to stage  the World Championships next year.

This could mean a complete change to my training plans.  Of course I won't know until the new date has been chosen, and according to the IAU website that won't be until a new venue has been decided upon.

Whatever the outcome, for the moment I'm going to continue training as though nothing has changed.  I'm still at the stage where things can be altered but obviously that will only be possible for a few months.

And then there's the Commonwealth Championships next September.  Hopefully the new date will not clash with that event.

It may be that the new date enables me to more easily fit it one or two other long ultras in 2011.  We'll just have to wait and see.

... and then there's the Iron Maiden tour.  Fay is insisting we go to the gig in Newcastle.  Forty pounds each for tickets.  Then there's the hotel, travel, food, merchandise ... all in all not cheap.

I hope the new World Championships date isn't 23 July.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

things are going well

Recovery has gone exceptionally well after the race in Perth.  Much better than anticipated and I feel ready for all the winter training in the lead up to next year's World Championships in Brugg.  Apart from the usual form of training - running - I'm now beginning to introduce quite a few new strength exercises to my repertoire.

Hope it's not as cold as the last winter though.

As mentioned in an earlier post I'm looking to do an ultra (or two) in the spring.  Well, plans are well underway for that to happen and full details will be on this site when everything's confirmed.  Other, shorter, races in the pipeline include the traditional Otley AC Christmas handicap on 19 Dec and then other possibles include the Huddersfield 10k (27 Feb), Northern Athletics 12 stage relay in Catterick (20 Mar), Guiseley Gallop (24 Apr), Rothwell 10k (2 May), Ripon 10 (8 May) ... and a few Park Run 5k races in Bradford and Leeds.  Again I'll post details as soon as things are confirmed.

After the World Championships there's the second Commonwealth Championships at the end of September.  Slightly more details as to the venues have recently been posted on the England Athletics website.  Having briefly looked at a map I can't immediately find a suitable venue for a 24hr race in Llandudno (or even Lllandudno).  I'm sure everything is there though and it's probable that I've just looked in the wrong area.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


I've recently been reading a great post on Stuart Mills' blog which is about self expectations and fatigue.

I've been a runner since 1972 and in that time I reckon I've learned quite a lot about myself - most of it since 2005 when I decided to try ultra marathons.

For me, self expectation is derived from training.  Over the years I've found that generally my mental strength is very good and that I'm usually good at sticking to any race plan I may have.  Of course, having a race plan in the first place entails estimating my fitness at the time of the race.  This estimation is largely built upon knowledge of previous races and comparing the training for them with recent training.  If I get this estimate wrong one of two things will happen:

(1)  I'll finish the race knowing I could have done better, or
(2)  fatigue will develop which will result in the inevitable reduction in speed.

In the above paragraph 'fitness' is not the same as the dictionary definition:  "capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort."

I have found that there is definitely a mental aspect and in ultra running terms I would suggest that a better definition of 'fitness' would be:  "preparedness to compete to the best of one's ability."  Therefore 'fully fit' would mean 'fully prepared'.

Being prepared naturally involves training the body to meet the physical demands of the race but it also means being aware of, and planning/training for, the other issues that arise in very long races.  This is the mental aspect of fitness.  If I'm confident that my training has gone well AND my race plan is sound then I know I'll do well.  In my last ultra I found that the icing on the cake was having someone unexpectedly tell me before the race that I was capable of winning.

For a long ultra my race plan will involve a knowledge of nutrition, hydration, local weather conditions, course layout (and surface, etc).

The mental aspect also comes into play when one or more aspect of my preparation has been at fault ... of course, I usually don't realise that my preparation was wrong until the last third of the race.

Tim Noakes also provides an insight into fatigue and his definition focuses almost exclusively on the mental aspect (which he calls the Central Governor Theory):

"... the increasing feeling of fatigue and the progressive reduction in the capacity of the exercising muscles to maintain a constant work output during prolonged exercise results from currently unrecognized processes in the brain, which presumably act to prevent bodily harm during such exercise. This model theorizes that performance during exercise is determined by two separate phenomena:

(a)  A pacing strategy that is preprogrammed into the athlete's subconscious brain as a result of previous training and racing experiences.
(b)  Acute alterations to that preprogrammed strategy resulting from sensory input from a variety of organs - heart, muscle, brain, blood and lungs, among others - to the exercise controller or governor in the brain. Output from the controller to the motor cortex then determines the mass of skeletal muscle that can be activated and for how long, thereby determining the pacing strategy that the subconscious brain adopts during exercise.

At the same time, information is sent from the controller to the emotional and other centers in the brain. These influence the level of discomfort that is felt, the emotional response, and the self-talk and self-doubt that are additional but poorly understood features of the fatigue that develops during exercise."

Understanding fatigue and how to avoid it and/or cope with it is one of the keys to successful ultra distance racing.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

weather and running

Training going well so far and I'm pleased to report that I'm still here after two long runs (yesterday and today) in atrocious weather.  Especially yesterday when we had heavy rain, strong winds and cold temperatures all day.  After running around Wharfedale and Airedale it seemed to me that the former was much colder than the latter.  I arrived home (I live in Wharfedale) with numb fingers which painfully thawed out over about two hours or so.  Not much fun but runs like this make one stronger mentally.  It doesn't seem so at the time but ...

Today was the same except it wasn't raining.  I found a few large puddles and soggy trails though.  Again not much fun but with a thermal hat and two pairs of thermal gloves it wasn't too bad.

In terms of the weather in this part of the world, the best day this week is forecast to be Wednesday ... the one day I'm not running.  Typical bad planning.  Not by me !!!

Congratulations too to Ellie Greenwood and Lizzy Hawker on their excellent performances in last weekend's World & European 100k Championships which were held in Gibralter.  For GB to have the gold and bronze medals is truly remarkable - especially as those two runners could be said to be trail running specialists.  

Reading the reports carefully it appears that the course measurement or route marking wasn't up to the usual standard and for much of the race the km marking were about 1.3 km beyond where they should have been.  At the pace Ellie was running that's almost 6 minutes.

That's one problem we don't have in 24 hour races.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Commonwealth Championships

Today I received confirmation that there will be another Commonwealth Championships for ultra running and mountain running.  It will be the second staging - the first was at Keswick, England in September 2009.

That was where I received my first international vest (read my report here).  The atmosphere was exceptional and that was the week I learned just why the Commonwealth Games are often dubbed 'The Friendly Games'.

The second Commonwealth Championships will be held in north Wales between 23 and 25 September 2011.  The three races confirmed are:

- 24 hour race
- fell race (up and down ... not 'up only')
- ultra distance trail race (50 to 60 km)

There will be men's and women's competitions in all those disciplines making a total of six sets of medals up for grabs.  I'm not sure why there isn't a 100k race ... I guess it will be too close to the 100k World and European Championships which will be in Winschoten (Netherlands) next year on 10 September.

Needless to say, I expect to be there and running for England for the third time.  Last time I finished fifth with 231k ... can I do better in Wales ?  Well it won't be through lack of trying that's for sure.

Anyway, now that the date has been finalised my training can begin in earnest.  But first there's the small matter of next year's World Championships in Brugg, and before that a shorter race or two in this country.

More details about those later.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

running ... and running ... and running

Although I've never met him, Tony Mangan is without doubt one of the best ultra runners in the world.  His forte would appear to be 48 hr races and he is the current holder of two out of the four possible world records.

The four are:  track, road, indoors and treadmill.

He holds the records for indoor and treadmill.  The indoor record (426.178 km) was set at Brno, in the Czech Republic, in March 2007 where he became the first person ever to run 200k on each of two consecutive days.

In August 2008 he ran 405 km on a treadmill to recapture that record 'for the running community'. [More about that on the website address below].

A few days ago he ran the Dublin marathon ... and didn't stop at the finish line.  In fact he plans to continue running right around the world.  Unusually he's running westwards but he has good reason - he wanted to begin with the Dublin marathon but not run through Russia during the winter !!!

Sensible.  He plans to arrive back in Dublin in about 1000 days time.

All his past achievements and his progress around the world can be found on  Read and enjoy.

All the best Tony ... I truly hope everything goes well

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Yorkshire Veterans Road Relay

This morning I took part in this annual event which was being held in Ilkley for the second time - just six miles up the valley from where I live.

The 2.9 mile circuit comprised a flat first mile, an uphill second mile and then downhill almost all the way back to the finish/start of next stage.

Last year I took part just ten days after the Commonwealth Championships 24 hr race and my time was 19:48.  This year, about 7 weeks after my last 24 hr race, but not having done much speedwork in that time, I managed about 19:09 and felt very good indeed.  I passed one person on the opening flat stretch, another one up the hill and a third going down the other side.

On the whole, a good run.  And my team were the first team from Otley (the other one was disqualified apparently ...).

How can Ilkley Harriers manage to get ten teams together, or more, yet Otley AC can only manage two ?  I know they have more members; but not five times as many.

Monday, 18 October 2010


I've just spent the weekend mapping out my training for next year's World 24 hr Championships in Brugg, Switzerland - assuming I'll be selected.

There's about 33 weeks to go before the event and lots of hard training to do.

Basically my training is one of four types - cycling, strength, flexibility, running.

The cycling is very straight forward indeed.  Hop on the bike and cycle for 45 to 60 minutes speeding up and slowing down (fartlek style) whilst listening to music or the radio or watching TV or a DVD.  Easy (sometimes !!!)

Strength work can be broken down into three sub-types:  core, upper body and legs.

Upper body work is mainly push ups and exercises for my shoulders which are a particular weakness of mine.  I do three sessions of this per week.  Core stability exercises take many forms but can include sit ups, crunchies, the plank, etc.  Recently I've come across a post on Andy DuBois blog which has changed my understanding of these exercises.

Leg strengthening exercises include lunges, squats, step ups, etc.  The composition and frequency of each session varies according to how many weeks there are before the major race.

Flexibility - just a few stretching exercises done almost daily.

Of course, the majority of my training will be running as 'running is the best form of training for running'.  My running can be split into one of five types:  long run, hill reps, tempo running, speedwork, steady running.

I plan to do two long runs per week, on consecutive days where possible.  This week they will be 14 miles in length but will increase to somewhere between 25 and 27 miles in the middle of May.  I also make the second of my two weekly long runs considerably harder than the first ... usually fartlek but sometimes much hillier or much faster (or hillier and faster occasionally).

Hill reps - there's a steep hill near where I live and I run up and down it a few times concentrating on form, not speed.  I only use a 250m section and this week I'll do 8 reps but progress to 20 by mid to late February.

Tempo - continuous runs of 3 to 9 miles in length at a speed somewhere between 10k and half marathon pace.

Speedwork - intervals, fartlek and shorter races.

The above types of running account for four sessions per week.  I run four consecutive days then have a day rest which means I'm running on 5 or 6 days per week and apart from that detailed above the rest is just steady running at about 8 minutes per mile (often with my clubmates from Otley AC).

One vital ingredient in my training plan is rest days.  I mentioned earlier that every fifth day is free from running, well every tenth day is free from all forms of training.  I feel that my body needs this time to recover from the hard work of the previous few days.

Most of what I've written about has been come about through a mixture of trial and error, listening to other runners, reading books and magazines ... and learning (not copying) from all these sources.

It's probably appropriate here to include a quote I found on (I think) Dean Karnazes website:  "listen to everyone; follow no-one.  We are each unique, what works for me may not work for you.  Seek advice, listen, analyse, experiment and test new things.  Then go with what works best for you."

The running book I'm currently reading is Running Anatomy by Joe Puleo and Dr. Patrick Milroy.  It is helping enormously, particularly with strength exercises.  It's published by Human Kinetics who have a list of fantastically useful books for athletes.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

more thoughts for 2011


Still unsure about next year.  One problem is that I don't really want to travel too far if I can't be competitive.  In practice I feel that I couldn't compete satisfactorily on the trails or where the distance is less than 100k.  However, I could easily use a race as a long training run but I wouldn't want to travel abroad to do that.
The most important race next year is the World Championships so if I can't find another ultra race before that then so be it.  At the moment I'm inclined to go down to Crawley at the beginning of April but I would prefer something longer and a few weeks earlier.


I have recently been coming around to thinking that it would perhaps be a good idea to do one or two shorter ultras in the lead up to the World Championships.
This morning I learned that there is the possibility of a 100k race in Scotland next March.  Taking that into account I've narrowed down my choices to the following:

(1) Country to Capital 45 and Barry 40
(2) Country to Capital 45
(3) Ultra Race 45 and/or 90
(4) Thames Trot 50
(a) Hardmoors 55, or
(b) 100k in Scotland, or
(c) Calella 100k, or
(d) Kienbaum 100k
At the moment my preference is for 3b

There's no hurry at all to decide on what races to run in the latter part of the year so I'll leave that a few months and begin planning the training necessary to take me a very long distance in Brugg.

And then to the Commonwealth Championships in September and/or October.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

choices for 2011

Time to choose my races for 2011.

The most important race of the year, for me, will be the World 24 hr Championships in Brugg, Switzerland.  This race will take place in June and after my performance in Perth a few weeks ago I expect to be selected again for the GB team.

Also in 2011 will be the second Commonwealth Championships [probably].  This is expected to be at the end of September or the beginning of October.

So I have to fit my other races(s) around those two championships and, after looking at various race calendars, it appears that I have the following options:


1a)  Country to Capital (15 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Wendover, UK)

1b)  Country to Capital (15 Jan)
AND Barry 40 (13 Mar ?) - track race (UK)

1c)  Country to Capital (15 Jan)
AND Barry 40 (13 Mar ?)
AND Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

1d)  Country to Capital (15 Jan)
AND Hardmoors 55 (19 Mar) - 55 miles trail race (Helmsley, UK)
OR Frottstadt 12 hr (26 Mar or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Germany)
OR Celtic 100k (26 Mar ?) - road race (Ireland)
OR Kienbaum 100k (26 Mar) (Germany)
OR Crawley 12 hr (2 Apr) - track race (UK)
OR Athens International Ultra Festival 24 hr (9 Apr) - road race (Greece)
OR Bergen 100k (9 or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Norway)
OR Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon (9 Apr) - towpath (Scotland)
OR Taby 100 miles (9 Apr) - multi terrain (Sweden)
OR 100km du Perigord Noir (16 Apr) - road race (Belves, France)
OR Copenhagen 100k (16 Apr) - road race (Denmark)
OR Woldsman 50 mile challenge (16 Apr) - trail race (Driffield, UK)
OR Iserlohner Stadtwerke 100k or 12 hr (16 Apr) - road race (Germany)
OR Saxonian Mt Everest Marathon (16 Apr) - 84.39k (Germany)
OR Coventry Way Challenge (17 Apr) - 40 miles trail race (UK)
OR Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

2a)  ULTRArace 45 (22 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Northampton, UK)

2b)  ULTRArace 45 (22 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Northampton, UK)
AND/OR ULTRArace 45 (23 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Tring, UK)

2c)  ULTRArace 45 (22 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Northampton, UK)
AND/OR ULTRArace 45 (23 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Tring, UK)
AND Barry 40 (13 Mar ?) - track race (UK)

2d)  ULTRArace 45 (22 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Northampton, UK)
AND/OR ULTRArace 45 (23 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Tring, UK)
AND Barry 40 (13 Mar ?) - track race (UK)
AND Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

2e)  ULTRArace 45 (22 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Northampton, UK)
AND/OR ULTRArace 45 (23 Jan) - 45 miles trail race (Tring, UK)
AND Hardmoors 55 (19 Mar) - 55 miles trail race (Helmsley, UK)
OR Frottstadt 12 hr (26 Mar or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Germany)
OR Celtic 100k (26 Mar ?) - road race (Ireland)
OR Kienbaum 100k (26 Mar) (Germany)
OR Crawley 12 hr (2 Apr) - track race (UK)
OR Athens International Ultra Festival 24 hr (9 Apr) - road race (Greece)
OR Bergen 100k (9 or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Norway)
OR Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon (9 Apr) - towpath (Scotland)
OR Taby 100 miles (9 Apr) - multi terrain (Sweden)
OR 100km du Perigord Noir (16 Apr) - road race (Belves, France)
OR Copenhagen 100k (16 Apr) - road race (Denmark)
OR Woldsman 50 mile challenge (16 Apr) - trail race (Driffield, UK)
OR Iserlohner Stadtwerke 100k or 12 hr (16 Apr) - road race (Germany)
OR Saxonian Mt Everest Marathon (16 Apr) - 84.39k (Germany)
OR Coventry Way Challenge (17 Apr) - 40 miles trail race (UK)
OR Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

3a)  Thames Trot (5 Feb) - 50 miles trail race (Oxford, UK)

3b)  Thames Trot (5 Feb) - 50 miles trail race (Oxford, UK)
AND Hardmoors 55 (19 Mar) - 55 miles trail race (Helmsley, UK)
OR Frottstadt 12 hr (26 Mar or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Germany)
OR Celtic 100k (26 Mar ?) - road race (Ireland)
OR Kienbaum 100k (26 Mar) (Germany)
OR Crawley 12 hr (2 Apr) - track race (UK)
OR Athens International Ultra Festival 24 hr (9 Apr) - road race (Greece)
OR Bergen 100k (9 or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Norway)
OR Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon (9 Apr) - towpath (Scotland)
OR Taby 100 miles (9 Apr) - multi terrain (Sweden)
OR 100km du Perigord Noir (16 Apr) - road race (Belves, France)
OR Copenhagen 100k (16 Apr) - road race (Denmark)
OR Woldsman 50 mile challenge (16 Apr) - trail race (Driffield, UK)
OR Iserlohner Stadtwerke 100k or 12 hr (16 Apr) - road race (Germany)
OR Saxonian Mt Everest Marathon (16 Apr) - 84.39k (Germany)
OR Coventry Way Challenge (17 Apr) - 40 miles trail race (UK)
OR Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

4a)  Barry 40 (13 Mar ?) - track race (UK)

4b)  Barry 40 (13 Mar ?) - track race (UK) 
AND Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

5)  Hardmoors 55 (19 Mar) - 55 miles trail race (Helmsley, UK)
OR Frottstadt 12 hr (26 Mar or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Germany)
OR Celtic 100k (26 Mar ?) - road race (Ireland)
OR Kienbaum 100k (26 Mar) (Germany)
OR Crawley 12 hr (2 Apr) - track race (UK)
OR Athens International Ultra Festival 24 hr (9 Apr) - road race (Greece)
OR Bergen 100k (9 or 16 Apr ?) - road race (Norway)
OR Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon (9 Apr) - towpath (Scotland)
OR Taby 100 miles (9 Apr) - multi terrain (Sweden)
OR 100km du Perigord Noir (16 Apr) - road race (Belves, France)
OR Copenhagen 100k (16 Apr) - road race (Denmark)
OR Woldsman 50 mile challenge (16 Apr) - trail race (Driffield, UK)
OR Iserlohner Stadtwerke 100k or 12 hr (16 Apr) - road race (Germany)
OR Saxonian Mt Everest Marathon (16 Apr) - 84.39k (Germany)
OR Coventry Way Challenge (17 Apr) - 40 miles trail race (UK)
OR Nitra 100k (23 Apr ?) (Czech Republic)

NOTES ... (a) there is also an indoor 24 hr race at Espoo, Finland at the end of January but I've recently learned that all the places in that race have been taken.  (b) the Athens 24 h race is only about 8 weeks before the World Championships and I'm not sure this gives enough time for recovery, training and tapering. (c) if anyone out there knows of another European 24 hr race, in January, February or early March, please let me know.


indoor 48 hr race (25 Nov ?) (Brno, Czech Republic)
OR Bislett indoor 24 hr challenge (26 Nov ?) (Norway)
OR Marseille 24 hr race (26 Nov ?) - road race (France)
OR No Finish Line 24 hr race (26 Nov ?) - road race (Monaco)
OR 24 ore del sole (26 Nov ?) - 24 hr track race (Palermo, Italy)
OR 12 ore del sole (26 Nov ?) - 12 hr track race (Palermo, Italy)
OR Marseille 12 hr race (27 Nov ?) - road race (France)
OR Normandy indoor 48 hr race (1 Dec ?) (Evreux, France)

NOTES ... I really would like to have a go at a 48 hr race in 2011 but the only one I can find that fits in with the two championship races is in Evreux and it is by no means certain that it will be held next year.  Also, it is only about 9 weeks after the Commonwealth Championships - is that enough recovery time.

If anyone reading this knows of another 48 hr race which may fit better please let me know.  Ideally it should be in January, February or later in December.

If you happen to know the confirmed dates of some of the races above with a question mark please let me know.

Could I fit a race between the two Championships ?  Or would it be a bad idea to run an ultra in August 2011 ?

I'll let you know shortly what I decide to do.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Ultrarunning World #2

I've just come across this on the ultra running website  It's issue 2 of the magazine Ultrarunning World and contained within is a large article about my Run To London eighteen months ago.

Reading this brought back lots of good memories of a sunny weekend in May during which my helpers and I raised well over £2000 for Orchid.  Everything about the amazing Run To London experience can be found here.

The magazine also has lots of other stuff and is well worth a read.  One good thing I noticed about it is that photos are all properly credited, well done to Abichal for that.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

yesterday's relay

Yesterday afternoon was my first race since the Perth Ultra Fest four weeks ago.  It was the North of England 6 stage road relays held at Wythenshaw Park in Manchester.

Mick Jeffrey did a sterling job organising two Otley AC teams featuring a good number of newer members of the club.  I ran for the B team and covered my 5.6k stage in 20:55.  I'm very pleased with that as it represents about 18:40 for 5k ... not bad considering I've only done two speedwork sessions in the last month.

Also pleased because it was surprisingly muddy out on the roads.  And then I remembered ... I was in Manchester - it rains a lot there.

Good to see Julian there too after his health scare earlier this year.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Recovery has gone very well and now I have my first test on Saturday afternoon - running for Otley AC in the North of England 6 stage relay in Manchester.

Although I'm running well I feel as though I'm lacking a bit of sharpness.  I suppose that's to be expected as I haven't done a lot of speedwork since Perth.

I'm looking forward to it though, we have two teams and I think it's important for clubs to support these type of relays.  We don't expect to come anywhere near the front but that's not the point.  I don't expect to run the 5.6k in less than 21 minutes but, again, that's not the point.  For me it's a good workout and it's about helping the club get a team together (or two this year).

Bought a fantastic new CD earlier this week.  It's the debut album by a new band called Black Country Communion.  Full of good songs but one in particular, in my own strange way, I can relate to my running - Perth in particular.

At times the singer, Glenn Hughes, tends to sound a little like Carl Anderson ... but that's not a bad thing as I always thought he was the best singer in the film Jesus Christ Superstar.  Glenn's bass playing is reminiscent of   Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) but he's been playing that way since the late 1960s.  Joe Bonamassa plays his guitar like the maestro that he is ... it's hard to believe that he wasn't born when Glenn was in one of the world's biggest rock groups - Deep Purple.  Jason Bonham is excellent on the drums and Derek Sherinian is ... well you can't really pick him out on most of the album but I'm sure the overall sound would be lacking something if he wasn't there.

You were born in a Jet Stream
Down in South Caroline
Got a Role in the big scheme
Now you're ready to shine

chorus -
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul
If you try
You're the one last soul
If you live it
You're the one last soul
Tell you why
And if you feel
What you got
You can give it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul
If you try

Now you burn
Like a freight train
You're a bird on a wire
See you drivin' me insane
And I couldn't get higher


And when you get
What you want
Don't regret it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul

And if you feel
What you got
You can give it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul

music:  Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa
lyric:  Glenn Hughes
published by:  Smokin' Joe Analog Co (ASCAP), Stamford Bridge (BMI)

Amazing stuff, I'm really looking forward to seeing them live.  Hopefully sometime over the winter.

Monday, 27 September 2010

split times from Perth

Over the weekend I had a really in depth look at my lap times from the Perth Ultra Fest.  Below is a list of my 10k splits:

10k ... 48:17
20k ... 1h 42:58 ..... (54:41)
30k ... 2h 36:23 ..... (53:25)
40k ... 3h 31:30 ..... (55:07)
50k ... 4h 25:35 ..... (54:05)
60k ... 5h 19:54 ..... (54:19)
70k ... 6h 11:56 ..... (52:02)
80k ... 7h 09:21 ..... (57:25)
90k ... 8h 03:05 ..... (53:44)
100k ... 9h 00:10 ..... (57:05)
110k ... 10h 00:58 ..... (60:48)
120k ... 10h 59:07 ..... (58:09)
130k ... 11h 58:58 ..... (59:51)
140k ... 13h 03:18 ..... (64:20)
150k ... 14h 07:30 ..... (64:12)
160k ... 15h 12:29 ..... (64:59)
170k ... 16h 22:20 ..... (69:51)
180k ... 17h 23:38 ..... (61:18)
190k ... 18h 40:29 ..... (76:51)
200k ... 19h 48:28 ..... (67:59)
210k ... 20h 48:44 ..... (60:16)
220k ... 21h 51:23 ..... (62:39)
230k ... 23h 04:07 ..... (72:44)

From 70k to 230k these times are all personal bests except for the 200k.  Which is rather weird really.  In Perth I beat all my split times from the Commonwealth Championships [Keswick 2009] except for the 200k where I ran 19h 47:42 twelve months ago.  Overall I ran 7k further in Perth than I did in Keswick.

Looking at the times above it's obvious that I did slow down dramatically between 180k and 190k but then I managed to pick it up again which I'm very pleased about.

Which probably means that I managed to keep it going in Perth and didn't reduce to an almost constant walk like I did in Keswick last year.

My 10 mile splits from Perth were:

10 miles ... 1h 21:57
20 miles ... 2h 47:15 ..... (1h 26:18)
30 miles ... 4h 13:22 ..... (1h 26:07)
40 miles ... 5h 41:42 ..... (1h 28:20)
50 miles ... 7h 12:49 ..... (1h 31:07)
60 miles ... 8h 42:37 ..... (1h 29:48)
70 miles ... 10h 19:39 ..... (1h 37:02)
80 miles ... 11h 52:27 ..... (1h 32:48)
90 miles ... 13h 35:35 ..... (1h 43:08)
100 miles ... 15h 21:13 ..... (1h 45:38)
110 miles ... 17h 02:57 ..... (1h 41:44)
120 miles ... 18h 59:30 ..... (1h 56:33)
130 miles ... 20h 44:23 ..... (1h 44:53)
140 miles ... 22h 31:24 ..... (1h 47:01)

All the above times from 40 miles onwards represent personal bests.

Looking at the above times shows that between 17 and 19 hours I slowed quite a bit (the 10k splits above also show this) but I managed to pick up the pace again.

This period of slower running happened just before dawn and reading my report again confirms that I did realise I was slowing down and I took steps to rectify things ... starting using the MP3 player, which obviously worked.

Looking at how far I actually ran in each hour:

1st hour ..... approx 12.4 km
2nd hour ..... 11.2 km
3rd hour ..... 11.2 km
4th hour ..... 11.1 km
5th hour ..... 11.2 km
6th hour ..... 11.0 km
7th hour ..... 10.7 km
8th hour ..... 10.7 km
9th hour ..... 10.6 km
10th hour ..... 9.9 km
11th hour ..... 10.3 km
12th hour ..... 10.0 km
13th hour ..... 9.2 km
14th hour ..... 9.3 km
15th hour ..... 9.2 km
16th hour ..... 9.4 km
17th hour ..... 9.2 km
18th hour ..... 7.5 km
19th hour ..... 9.2 km
20th hour ..... 8.8 km
21st hour ..... 10.0 km
22nd hour ..... 9.5 km
23rd hour ..... 7.9 km
24th hour ..... 8.9 km

This confirms that the 18th hour was indeed a bad one but I did manage to pull myself together and put in a very good 21st hour.  Surprisingly these figures show that I also had a bad 10th hour, which does show up slightly with the splits from 100k to 110k at the top of this post.

All in all I'm pleased with most of this data but it appears that I still have to work hard at keeping things together in the last four hours or so and not fluctuating so much.

Lots to work on then.

If anyone out there has any more observations from all this data please leave a comment or drop me an email.

Friday, 24 September 2010

the future

It's now almost three weeks since the Perth Ultra Fest and I seem to have made a good recovery and I'm now well on the way to finalising next year's racing plans.

For this I have been using various calendars on websites such as, 100 Marathon Club, IAU, Beyond Marathon, and others.

I have also lined up my first couple of shorter races in October ... see this page for details.  I've also noticed that one of the ultras on my 'to do' list is sadly no more - Worschach 24 hr race in Austria.

To end this post I've recently come across this piece by fellow ultra runner Greg Crowther in which he speculates about the reasons people run such long distances.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

strange days indeed ...

I'd like to begin this post by thanking everyone for their kind words about my report of the Perth Ultra Fest.  Some people left comments and others sent me an email and I was happy to read your remarks however they got to me.

If you haven't yet read the race report detailing my first win in an England Vest ... you can see it here.

Training has been going well ... took a week off after Perth but last week I ran 30 miles.  I know it's not much but as soon as I choose my next race I can begin training properly.  Next week will be 40 miles and include some weight training.

The World Championships in Brugg, Switzerland (June 2011) is a distinct possibility - if I'm selected.  After that there's the strong possibility of a Commonwealth Championships at the end of September.  I'd also like to do a third long race, probably before Brugg.  Which one though ... any ideas ?

On Tuesday, last week, I was contacted by a reporter from Associated Press who was doing a story about beetroot juice ... yes you did read that correctly ... beetroot juice (stop laughing !!!).  On Wednesday she phoned me and we had a 10 - 15 minute chat about how the purple stuff had helped my performance in Perth.  About an hour or so later a different reporter phoned and we had a similar conversation before he mentioned that he's doing a piece for TV and was wondering if he could send a crew to film me.

Than, a couple of hours later still, a photographer phoned from Associated Press Images to arrange a time when he could come and take some photos of me and the dreaded liquor.

On Friday morning the photographer chap came over from Liverpool and spent about 45 to 50 minutes taking hundreds of photos.  Indoors, outdoors, drinking the stuff, not drinking the stuff, sitting this way, standing that way ...

Before he left he told me that a small selection of the photos would appear on the Associated Press Images website.  I haven't found them yet but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.  If you want to try and find them I'm wearing the GB kit I was given for the World Championships earlier this year.

(photo by Jim Rogers)

The latest news about this beetroot juice saga is that the TV people are taking longer than anticipated to get everything they need so the original reporter has decided to hold back for a week or two so that it can all be released together.  Further details when I get it.

The day after the Perth Ultra Fest, before I caught the train back to Yorkshire, I went to The Bean Shop.  I came across this little piece of heaven on the afternoon before the race and I was determined to buy something whilst in the town.  The staff were amazingly friendly and knowledgeable ... and tolerant of my with a very large bag and bruised feet, sore legs, etc.  I came away with 250g of a Cuban coffee named Turquino.

That really is a grade rather than a district or area of the country.  Many experts reckon though that the best Cuban coffees are graded Turquino or Extra Turquino - so I knew I was in for a treat.  Especially when the assistant explained that it had been roasted on the premises.  The coffee, of which I had the last cup only a few days ago, was full bodied with a slight smoky flavour and mild acidity.

Although I'd never tasted Cuban coffee, I found the spiciness and long aftertaste very enjoyable and put me in mind of Cuban bars and cafes with the mixed aroma of coffee and cigars.

I'd definitely like some more of their wonderful coffee.  Especially as there isn't anywhere similar within 30 miles of where I live.  Or do you know different ?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Here at last ...

Apologies for the Perth race report being a day or so later than planned.  It was all written and ready to post yesterday afternoon but then the computer crashed ... and I could get the thing working again until this morning.

Anyway, read all about it over on this page.  I hope you enjoy it.

Over the next few days (or maybe a week) I plan to look very carefully at which races are available for next year.  There's the World Championships in June and it looks likely they'll be another Commonwealth Championships next September.  I'd like to do three long ultras in 2011 so I've got to find one which fits in with those championships taking into account recovery times between races.

Also need to update my personal bests - the overall distance has been included but I haven't managed to put on the times for distances such as 50 miles, 200k, etc.  Will do that soonish.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

my brain is fine thanks ...

You may remember that about three or four days after my Run To London I was doing some DIY at home and it all went horribly wrong.  At the time Fay vowed that she would never let me do anything around the house for at least a fortnight after a long ultra.

Apparently these long ultras not only wear out my legs, feet, digestive system and endocrine system but they also severely impair my brain function and coordination.

Some people say I'm mad to run 24 hr races ... now I know that it's the races making me mad !!!

Anyway, Fay has obviously relented because I've just spent about four or five hours putting up new bathroom cabinets, shelves, mirrors, etc ... and everything went perfectly well.  Much like last weekend's race really.

Which reminds me ... my report should be available in a week or so (hopefully less) but in the meantime there's a great one on Fiona Rennie's blog.

I haven't run a step since that race - I couldn't even wear socks until Friday because of my painful toes - but now is the time to take up my running shoes again.  Carefully for the first week though.

I've also been looking long and hard at race diaries for the next 12 to 15 months and the one thing that is as certain as can be is the World Championships in Brugg, Switzerland next June.  UKA permitting.  I'm still looking for other races though and have one or two ideas in mind.  I'd like to race three long ultras in 2011 - which other two though?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

more from Perth

Whilst gathering all the data and information needed to write my race report about the Perth Ultra Fest I came across the following pages on the England Athletics website and on the Scottish Athletics website.

Also, there are also over 250 photos of the event at  Note that they are spread over two pages though - see the link at the top of each page on the left hand side.

I've also updated the following pages on this site:
 - my races
 - my ranking
 - my personal bests

Many thanks too for the comments on my previous post and for all the kind messages I've received by email over the past few days.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Perth - in brief

Well ... some good news.  After a disappointing performance at the World Championships back in May I redeemed myself somewhat in Scotland.

My pre-race target was two-fold really:

1 - to finish with an overall distance of somewhere between 236.0k and 239.4k (146.7 to 148.7 miles)
2 - to not fade badly during the final few hours but to keep pushing right to the end

This initial report is largely based on memory and without looking at the actual figures (that will come in the 'proper report' later) it would appear that almost every lap was at the pace I needed for 239k or more.  Obviously pee breaks and other unplanned stops make the average speed slower but I think I hit every single one of my hourly targets.

The last few hours were painful indeed and I REALLY DID NEED to change my shoes at 22 hours.  Crew members Eleanor Robinson and Andy Smith explained that I'd lose a kilometre if I changed my shoes ... I tried to explain to them that I'd probably lose two or three if I didn't because I'd be reduced to walking shortly.  The soles of my feet were very painful and I felt I needed the extra cushioning provided by fresh shoes and socks.

In the final hour Eleanor was absolutely fantastic (for most of the race really ...) and the way she motivated me worked superbly well.  I'm pleased to say that I remained strong right to the end and my last two or three laps were probably quicker than planned.

Final result ... I won with a distance of 238.286 km (148.064 miles).  A new pb.  England won the team prize too, so a good performance all round.

Full report later.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

last minute changes

Earlier this week I learnt that my nutrition plan had a hitch.  As well as the usual sports drink I planned to eat a mixture of grapes, Turkish Delight, rice pudding, baby food, sultanas, energy bars, protein bars, apple puree, custard, jaffa cakes and energy gels.

There's quite a wide range of stuff there but I think that problems can easily occur if, for example, I existed on sports drink and energy gels for the entire 24 hours.

Anyway, when I put it all together in a schedule I noticed that the ratio of sodium to potassium was a measly 1.95:1 whereas it should be between 3 and 5:1  The problem seems to be too much potassium rather than not enough sodium which makes it more difficult to correct.

Some of the science behind this can be read here.

Looking into this in more detail I realised that simple things can make a big difference so what I've done is:
- cut down on the number of Carbo Shotz energy gels as they have a high potassium content
- exchanged some of the high potassium sultanas for lower potassium apple puree
- changed my brand of energy bar and protein bars
- added some salt when making the apple puree

The calcium content is still a bit high but I'm willing to leave that be as it's less important than the potassium and sodium content.

Small changes can make a big difference.

Tomorrow will be spent packing and resting before travelling north on Friday and racing on Saturday and Sunday.  The weather here is getting better daily and these two forecasts for Perth indicate good weather for the race.

weather forecast from the BBC
weather forecast from Metcheck

Overall I've been very lucky with weather during my ultra races.  I have heard horrendous tales of 23 hours of rain during a 24 hour race a few years ago.  That must have been so demoralising.  It was the same for all the runners though and I guess in those conditions it comes down to who copes best.

I could do without that though ... running 140+ miles is difficult enough without bad weather.

Monday, 30 August 2010

a little extra help

When the UK team met at Heathrow Airport on the way to the World Championships earlier this year Jim Rogers mentioned that he had read about a study promoting the benefits of beetroot juice for improving stamina in endurance running.  I remember a few of us not taking him particularly seriously as he began drinking from a large bottle of the red stuff.

However, a couple of days later he ran a very good personal best and I began to take notice and find out for myself about this mysterious elixir.

The best report of the benefits of beetroot juice is on the NHS website and I'm now into my third day of my own trial.  Obviously I won't know whether it worked until next week but it'll be in my report.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

things are going well

Just a couple of days ago I managed to find a replacement LIVESTRONG wristband in Leeds and since then I've taken part in a club handicap and a local 5k race - both of which produced very good times.

On Thursday I took part in a 3000m handicap at Carnegie track in Headingley, Leeds.  Didn't run there this time and I had no plans to run home either.  Expected a decent time therefore and as I'm not doing much training at the moment - tapering - I was rewarded with 10:57.

That's my fastest 3000m time in ten years.  Happy with that.

My next event (and final race before Perth) was the Park Run in Leeds.  Based on Thursday's performance my target was an ambitious 19:00.  I was a bit apprehensive for a few reasons:

- my M45 personal best was 19:15
- 19:00 equates to an age graded 17:05 and my age graded personal best was 17:28
- although the weather was warm and sunny, it was also a bit windy in places.

Anyway, I arrived in plenty of time and walked around the course and noted where the undulations were and where the wind would be at it's strongest.  After my usual warm up I was ready to go ... and the first kilometre passed in 3:30.  I knew that was 18 seconds ahead of schedule but I also knew that it was downhill.

I felt good though and kept the effort as equal as I could into the wind and up the slight hill to 2k which I passed in 7:16.  Still feeling good I was now beginning to pass those who had set off too quickly and this gave me an extra impetus as I ran into the wind for much of the third kilometre (11:10).  The fourth kilometre was mostly flat and I reached that point in 14:57 ... then pushed on up the hill into the wind for a finishing time of 18:17.

My kilometre splits were:  3:30, 3:46, 3:54, 3:47 and 3:20

I now have a new M45 pb and a new age graded pb.  See my 'personal bests' page for full details.

Very happy, only a week to go before the Perth 24 hr race and everything seems to be coming together brilliantly.  The only thing out of my control seems to be the weather and that too looks good according to this forecast.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

a good day

This morning I ventured out for an hour or so for a fartlek session in the rain.  Well, more like monsoon really.  Character building training I call it ... I only hope the weather will be better in Perth.

Back at home, after a good hot shower I made myself a large amount of porridge.  Amazing recovery food, lots of oats and milk with the addition of salt, sugar, fruit, etc as required.  I wasn't happy though to discover that my favourite addition, cinnamon, had disappeared !!!  Later found out that someone had used it and neither replaced it nor told me that we needed more.  Added apple and ginger instead.  Nice but not the same.

I do know someone who makes a very good porridge, trackside too if asked nicely.

Must remember to take some cinnamon to Perth.

Keir received his GCSE results this morning.  One A*, nine B's and a D.  Overall better than his teachers had predicted and we're very happy for him but at the moment he feels a bit low.  I think it may be because he tried really hard in the months leading up to the exams and felt he deserved a few more A's.  The most important thing, though, is that he is now able to study his chosen subjects at A level:  history, geography, politics, psychology, religious studies.

We're proud of him anyway.  Well done Keir.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Less than two weeks to go now and almost all the planning has been done.  Transport has been arranged and so has the hotel (or so England Athletics tell me ...).

Nutrition and hydration has been planned according to my expected speed and the average temperature in Perth at that time of year.

When finding historical weather data for Perth, must be careful to choose Scotland not Australia.

Just a few items of food to buy:  rice pudding, baby food, sultanas, custard, grapes and crystallised ginger.

All the training/hard work has been done now and I've recovered well from the crash training week.  Now I've just got to keep myself fit and healthy for almost a fortnight.  Mustn't do so much that I'm starting the race a bit tired ... but I've got to do enough so that I don't lose fitness.  Like all training there's a very fine line between getting it right and overdoing things.

The race website has begun to add news items now, hopefully things will be added on a regular basis over the following days and weeks.

My target ??  Ah yes, well I plan to go out at the same pace as I did at the Commonwealth Championships but have a much better final four hours.  Hopefully I've learned why my speed dropped so dramatically after 20 hours in Fitz Park, Keswick.  Whatever, the main points are that I know I can run further than I did last September but after the World Championships my confidence took a bit of a knock (I don't want to repeat that experience, thank you very much).

For next year it is beginning to look more and more likely that I'll be attempting a different race distance which  will be a challenge I'm really looking forward to.  That will be in the second half of 2011 ... more news as it happens.

One more thing ... there's a very good piece about Martin Fryer on the Commonwealth Championships website.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

statistics - part 2

Well, here goes.  This is how I interpret the previous post.

Except for the crash training week my mileage appears to be slightly less than last year, so does the actual time spent running.  I'm not too bothered by this because I believe I'm now training smarter by including far more appropriate strength and conditioning exercises.  I'm doing far more of this type of training and lots more cycling too, both of which I believe will have a positive effect on my race performance.

Stretching, on the whole, takes about the same amount of time per week this year as last.  During the actual crash training week things were different though.  In 2009 I included two daily sessions of stretching whereas this year I stuck with my usual one.

Frequency of running is slightly reduced this year but the average distance of a training run has risen from 13.0 miles (21.0k) in 2009 to 13.6 miles (21.9k) this year.  This partly accounts for an apparent slowing in my running speed, other factors include age and that it included warm ups, cool downs and recovery time during speedwork.

It has been impossible to compare races this year with last as there is nothing similar between the two 4 week periods analysed.  I also appear to have been less tired at the end of the crash training week than when I did this in 2009 ... fitter perhaps (although my resting heart rate is slightly higher than last year).

I believe this year's training to have been better overall in terms of preparing me for the demands of a 24 hour race.  I've learnt from past performances and other runners.  This has meant cutting back on some of the 'junk' mileage and replacing it with cycling for endurance and weights for strength.

As a last thought.  Does crash training work ?

I'll let you know after Perth but it has worked for me in the past.