Friday, 30 December 2011

progressing well

After running on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday today is a scheduled rest day - well, no running.  The running has gone very well with the last two days being almost perfect.

The ankle is still a bit stiff in the mornings but I'm confident that with lots of stretching, ice, massage and specific exercises I can get that under control.  The four runs (40, 40, 45 and 45 minutes) have all been in the afternoon and I do realise that at some stage I'll have to try a morning run.

Probably next week.

All in all an encouraging four days.

Happy New Year to you all.

Monday, 26 December 2011

rehab ... next stage

Hope everyone had a good Christmas.  For the first time in a number of years I did no training whatsoever on the big day.

This afternoon I ventured outside for a run (of sorts) for the first time in six weeks.  I alternated 5 minutes running with 5 minutes walking for a total of 40 minutes.  I was prepared to only be out for 20 minutes if the pain or discomfort meant that would be wise ... but I managed the full 40 and I would rate that at about 76% where 100% is a run with no pain or discomfort whatsoever.

Pleased with that.  Same again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

injury news

Just arrived back from seeing the physio at lunchtime today ... and the good news is that I've been given the all clear to begin running (sort of) next Monday.

I've got to start with alternating 5 mins running with 5 mins walking and after a couple of weeks hopefully I can begin gentle runs of around 6 to 7 km (3.7 to 4.3 miles).  That will follow a return to the physio on 11 January.

So, on Boxing Day I'll be doing some training outdoors for the first time since 16 November.  Fresh air at last.  Not far at first, I guess I'll be out for about 40 minutes.  And then I'll gradually add more outdoor time and I should be up to 60 to 70 minutes by the time I report back to the doc.

The visit to Rome University at the weekend went well and Keir was impressed with their history department but on the flight home he quietly confessed that he would prefer to study at Queen's University in Belfast.  Was it worth going to Italy for the weekend I ask myself ...

And finally ... congratulations to Jen Salter and Sharon Gayter.

Friday, 16 December 2011

This weekend

Just time to let you know about a couple of things happening this weekend in the world of ultra running:

First of all Sharon Gayter is on a treadmill at Teeside University going well in her attempt to record the farthest distance ever in a seven day period.  The current record is 753 km by Lee Chamberlain back in 2009.  All the news is on Sharon's website.

Then, over in Spain, there's the Barcelona 24 hr race.  I know there's at least three British runners out there - Heather Foundling-Hawker, Paul Hart and Jen Salter.  I wish I could be there but, apart from my injury, I'll be flying to Rome this afternoon with Keir as he's been invited to look around the university there as it's his favoured place of undergraduate study at the moment.  He'll be reading Roman History from September 2012.

I wish the Scots, English and Welsh runners all the best.

Finally ... Athletics Weekly have just published, in their latest edition, something I wrote a week or two ago.  This is a good move as the media do tend to ignore ultra running a bit.  For instance, in the same issue, they have a month by month review of the year in athletics terms ... but for September no mention is made of the Commonwealth Championships despite all the home countries medals (and world best performance).  Not had time to check everything yet but I hope there's no typos and that any photos have been correctly attributed.  My apologies if anything is amiss.

And then there's the Otley AC Christmas handicap.  The culmination of a running competition lasting almost twelve months ...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

getting better daily

Well ... I'm no longer having any pain from my achilles and heel bone injuries which is a good thing.  Still cross training hard but the most frustrating thing has been that it isn't a running injury.  It happened when I fell down the stairs at home back in October.

Things are looking set for a gradual return to running at Christmas time but a visit to the physio in ten days will confirm that - hopefully.

The recent 24 hr race in Soochow seems to have been a hard one judging by Martin Fryer's comments on Facebook.  Glad that he's captured a couple of national age group records though and I hope he recovers well.  And a new women's world track record for Mami Kudo who ran 255.303km (158.637 miles).  It appears that those runners who were used to the heat and humidity did best in Taiwan.

That makes for potentially a fantastic battle between her and Lizzy Hawker next September in Katowice.

I was under the impression that Soochow was in the frame to host this year's World Championships but it couldn't be done because of scheduled works at the university where the track is situated ... or have I missed something ?  Obviously that all happened after the original venue, Basel, pulled out.

Also in the news this week ... a sprinter from London is seeking a sponsorship deal for the 2012 Olympics via eBay.  He intends to advertise on the site with a reserve of £30,000 ($47,000) for which he will wear a sponsor's branded kit at training in the run-up to next year's Games.  Full details can be found on the BBC website.

I like his ingenuity but I can offer any potential sponsor a similar deal at a fraction of the cost.  Please contact me for details but in brief it involves one race in mainland Europe in May followed by the World Championships in September.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

running dangerously

This morning I came across something on the BBC website which I've copied below.  My thoughts are that after suffering with three potentially fatal illnesses I know that my lifestyle is a lot healthier than most other people's way of living.  My lifestyle was in no way the cause of any of those illnesses though but exercise has been my way of coping with what life has sometimes thrown my way.  I remember having chemotherapy and training at the same time ... very strange for all the staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary to watch this as I trundled up and down the corridor of Ward 15 pushing a drip stand.  One doctor told me that I was the only cancer patient to leave the ward with blisters on his hand.

And as for marathon running being extreme - well that's just wrong.  My take on that aspect is that many runners find themselves drawn towards the marathon in the belief that 26.2 miles is the ultimate endurance challenge.  Television and press coverage of races such as the London Marathon tend to perpetuate that but, strangely, I have never subscribed to that point of view and have always believed that most people can, with training, run 26 miles.  The problems arise when trying to run that distance as quickly as possible.

Instead I believe that every runner should try a 24 hour race at least once before hanging up their trainers.  The challenge is immense and these races are very different to races over a fixed, and much shorter, distance.  The personal and emotional rewards are far greater too and the sense of achievement second to none - even if the material rewards are almost non existent.

Read the article yourself below

Marathon training 'may pose

a heart risk'

MRI scans on 40 athletes training for challenging sporting events like triathlons or alpine cycle races showed most had stretched heart muscles.
Doing extreme endurance exercise, like training for a marathon, can damage the heart, research reveals.
Although many went on to make a complete recovery after a week, five showed more permanent injuries.
The researchers told the European Heart Journal how these changes might cause heart problems like arrhythmia.
They stress that their findings should not be taken to mean that endurance exercise is unhealthy.
In most athletes, a combination of sensible training and adequate recovery should cause an improvement in heart muscle function, they say.

But they believe more investigations are now needed, since their small study in Australia did not look at any associated health risks.
Extreme training
The medical director of the London Marathon, Professor Sanjay Sharma, agreed that more research was needed and said the results provided "food for thought".
"My personal feeling is that extreme endurance exercise probably does cause damage to the heart in some athletes. I don't believe that the human body is designed to exercise for as long as 11 hours a day, so damage to the heart is not implausible."
But he said it was too early to say that taking part in endurance sports causes long-term damage.
And Doireann Maddock of the British Heart Foundation said the findings should not put people off doing exercise.
"It is important to remember that the health benefits of physical activity are well established. The highly trained athletes involved in this study were competing in long distance events and trained for more than 10 hours a week.
"Further long-term research will be necessary in order to determine if extreme endurance exercise can cause damage to the right ventricle of the heart in some athletes. Any endurance athletes who are concerned should discuss the matter with their GP.''
In the study, the scientists studied the athletes a fortnight before their races, immediately after their races and then about a week later.
Immediately after the race, the athletes' hearts had changed shape. The right ventricle - one of the four chambers in the heart involved in pumping blood around the body - appeared dilated and didn't work as well as it had been in the weeks leading up to the race.
Levels of a chemical called BNP, made by the heart in response to excessive stretching, increased.
A week later, most of the athletes' hearts had returned to the pre-race condition. But in five who had been training and competing for longer than the others, there were signs of scarring of the heart tissue and right ventricular function remained impaired compared with the pre-race readings.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

energy balance

This morning Fay turned to me and asked when I'm going to start running again.  I told her it would hopefully be round about Christmas but wondered about her interest.

"Because you've got too much energy" she said.

hmmm ... I didn't need to ask her to explain.

Obviously 16 hours of training per week (without the running) isn't enough ...

Monday, 28 November 2011

not much to report

Being injured at the moment I don't really have much to blog about.  I am taking a very professional attitude with the achilles and calcaneus and, although still painful at times, I am doing what I can to maintain fitness and repair the leg.  It isn't always easy though as rehab exercises for the achilles can be quite painful for the stress fracture.  Got to be very careful.

At the moment an average day goes something like this:

before breakfast - achilles rehab and massage
mid morning - cycling (50 mins to 135 mins)
afternoon - weight training
early evening - achilles rehab and massage
late evening - stretching

At the moment that lots seems to be account for more than 16 hours per week ... not bad for a runner who cannot run at the moment.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

a bit of medical stuff

Congratulations to William Sichel on his recent win in the 8 day race in Monaco.

My new exercise regime continues with much more cycling for the next few weeks.  I imagine that, on average, I'll soon be up to an hour cycling per day.  It's not all at a steady pace though, there are a few options:

- after a suitable warm up alternate 8 mins hard with 2 mins easy.  The hard work to feel like mile pace
- after a suitable warm up alternate 15 mins hard with 5 mins easy.  The hard work to feel like half marathon pace.
- once a week I'm cycling for at least 2 and a half hours.  The equivalent of a long run , I suppose.

At the moment I'm cycling every day when I should be running.  I'm also doing the normal weight training and stretching.

I don't expect to notice any improvement in achilles and heel pain (which is not severe at all, except when I run !!!) for a few weeks yet.  In the meantime though I feel that I'm doing all I can to maintain as much fitness as possible whilst treating the injury.

This morning I happened to catch a news item on BBC about cancer and how survival rates in the UK are much better than they were 10 or more years ago.  Reading around this story I also found out that that the important drug in my chemotherapy regime, cisplatin, has a number of side effects:

(1) kidney failure.  When in hospital the staff made me drink lots and lots of water, the theory being that if I urinated lots this could be collected and analysed for early signs of damage.  I remember one particular night when I passed 14 litres of urine between 11pm and 6am.  Without much sleep.

(2) hearing loss.  This explains quite a lot.  For a few years after cancer treatment I suffered with tinnitus but gradually that disappeared to be replaced with a different hearing disorder which has two symptoms:  (a) there is a narrow range of frequencies which I just cannot hear at all - car alarms, mobile phone ring tones, smoke alarms, etc; (b) I find it difficult when there is background noise to hear things which I would otherwise have no trouble with at all.  Having said that I can have a normal conversation over 90% of the time.

(3) electrolyte imbalance.  I already knew about the above side effects but this one is new to me.  It particularly effects magnesium, potassium and calcium levels apparently.  I wonder how long that lasts, is it short term during treatment or is it long term like the hearing loss ?  And does the severity vary from person to person ?  Could effect ultra distance running ...

Does anyone out there have any thoughts ?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

injury update

Yesterday morning's visit to the physio was quite revealing to say the least.  After an X-Ray, another ultrasound scan and some prodding, poking and manipulation (by three different doctors) we now know what the problem has been.

It all started when I fell down the stairs at home four weeks ago.  I mentioned it on the blog at  Apparently I definitely injured my achilles tendon as mentioned before but I also picked up a stress fracture of the calcaneal (heel bone).  Apparently X-Rays often don't show stress fractures until they start to heal - a couple of weeks (or more) after the original injury.  More details about that at the virtual Sports Injury Clinic.

So, lots of rehab then for the rest of the year.  Eccentric calf stretches and massage with Deep Heat for the achilles.  Lots of rest for the stress fracture which means walking around as little as possible and when I do walk I've got to use a sorbothane heel pad (or similar) in my left shoe.

I am allowed to cycle though.  Yippee.  Looking forward to that (not).  So, at least I'm able to maintain a modicum of fitness for the rest of the year and beyond.  I'm back at the physio on 21 December (the day after I get back from Italy) and then, hopefully, I'll have some idea about returning to training.  At this stage I guess I won't be able to resume full training until February.

Which means changing any racing plans I may have been considering for the first half of 2012.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

still not good

Since starting rehab stage 2 a few days ago I've been running four times and each time there has been quite a bit of pain in my left ankle.

It now seems obvious to me that there's more going on than simply achilles tendinopathy.  Going back to the physio tomorrow because there's something he missed when I was there a few weeks ago.  In the meantime I'll be carrying on with the weight training and cycling.

Probably even more so now.

Friday, 11 November 2011

rehab - stage 2

I've just spent the past two weeks cycling, cycling and cycling.  With a bit of strength work, stretching and cycling thrown in for good measure.  The old achilles has been fine for the past seven or eight days so now I plan to take a risk and move onto the second stage of rehab.

This basically entails adding some actual running into the mix.  At first the running must be interspersed with walking but gradually, over the next four weeks or so, the amount of time spent running increases and the amount of time spent walking decreases.  All the while the total time spent running and walking per day also increases slowly from about 30 minutes to about an hour.

So, at first I'll be alternating 5 minutes walking with 2 mins 30 running for a total of half an hour.  This will eventually change as above so that by mid December I'll be running for 60 minutes.  Without walking.  And at that point, if all is well, I'll be able to resume normal training.

Been doing lots of strength work for the achilles and I've also put lots of strength and flexibility work for my shoulders into the weekly routine.  Hope it all pays off because I wouldn't want to race ever again whilst in so much pain.

Still doing some cycling too but for the next few weeks it will be only about 80% of what I've done in the last fortnight.  Cycling is no fun at all compared to running.

Ah yes ... finally, all the best to William Sichel and his helpers as they embark on another multi day adventure - Monaco this time.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

an incredible 77 days

Congratulations to Chris Finill and Steve Pope who, at about sunset yesterday, dived into the Atlantic Ocean in New York.  Today they are taking part in the New York Marathon but I don't expect they'll be actually racing.

Chris has taken part in every London Marathon and completed them all in less than 3 hours.  He has also represented his country many times in ultra distance events around the world.  Steve is a decent runner too, having won various ultra distance races in the last few years (Barry 40, Thames Trot, Tipton 12 hrs).

Anyway the reason they won't be actually racing today is due to the fact that they've only just arrived in New York ... having run there from San Francisco, emerging from the Pacific Ocean on 17 August this year.

Their original plan was to arrive at the Atlantic Ocean on Friday 4 November but I'm sure we can forgive them for being one day late after running over 3100 miles.  Especially if they run today's marathon in under 3 hours!!!

Their incredible journey was also their way of raising much needed funds for the Help For Heroes charity - have you donated yet ?  If not you can still do so at

A big well done to them both.  And also to Julia and Ben without whom the journey would have been almost impossible.

The official Run Across America website -
Chris & Steve's blog about their journey -
Details about the few people who have run every London Marathon can be found at
Help For Heroes -

Monday, 31 October 2011

TV ... carbs ... injury

Hope you all watched the program on Channel 4 (UK) on Saturday morning at 7.00am.  It was almost an hours worth of coverage from the second Commonwealth Mountain & Ultra Running Championships which took place in Llandudno a few weeks ago (as if you didn't know).

A very good program showing about 20 minutes from each of the three races.  If you haven't seen it yet you can find it here.  I believe it's available for another four weeks or so and it's well worth watching.

A few days ago there was a brilliant piece on the Sweat Science website about carbohydrate intake during exercise.  In a nutshell we used to believe that humans could metabolise a maximum of 60g carbs per hour when running but recent studies have founds that 90g per hour can be achieved if we use 60g glucose and 30g fructose.

I know this isn't such a new idea (it was mentioned in Lore Of Running by Tim Noakes) but this piece reinforces, with me at least, the need to try a mixture of glucose and fructose in my future training and racing.

This afternoon I was at the physio again and the good news is that my ankle injury is much less serious than originally thought.  It turns out to be Achilles Tendinopathy and the course of action is a further weeks rest followed by four or five weeks gradually returning to full training.  All the while I'll be cycling lots and building up strength and flexibility in both ankles with weights, stretching and eccentric contractions.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The old ankle is feeling much better now that I haven't run for a few days.  On Monday I get the results of various tests and scans and after that I'll know what I can do ... and more importantly what I can't do.

Because the pain seems to have settled down very quickly I am confident of a return to full training well before Christmas and in the meantime I'm keeping as fit as possible with cycling, strength work and stretching.

Finally, congratulations to Scottish ultra runner Richie Cunningham on his marriage this morning in Dundee.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

oh no ...

This morning's run was not good.

Yesterday afternoon's was perfect.  I ran 13.4 miles (21.5 km) in 1h 45 ... easily.  This morning though I woke up with a pain in my left ankle (as well as both elbows).  The ankle felt stiff all morning and was quite painful for the first half of my 8.6 mile run (13.9 km).

This afternoon it's been fine but I'm a bit worried about the possibility of having picked up an injury.  I would like to think that it was caused by falling down the stairs on Saturday night (without the aid of alcohol I may add ...) and that a few days rest with ice and ibuprofen will help enormously.

But I won't know for sure until I've seen the physio tomorrow.

Thanks Anth for recommending Basel as a possible 24 hr race next May.  That's definitely one to consider - even if in recent years UK runners have not done well there.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Welcome back ...

Recently had a week or two break from training and that's been really enjoyable.  Still been running but not training ... I feel that there is a difference.  Sometimes a big one.

For the past two or three days I've started looking at possible races for next year.  Ideally I'd like a 24 hr race in May followed by the World & Euro 24 hr race in September (to be held in Poland) and finally a long ultra toward the end of the year.  Possibly Barcelona to make up for having to miss it this year.

Also I'd like, if possible to run the Round Rotherham 50 in October.  I've done that one a couple of times now and really enjoyed it.  I know I can't be competitive in that type of race but I still found it enjoyable.  And it's not far from home either.

A few days ago our energy supplier told us that our monthly payments should be raised from £83 to £130.  Needless to say we were not impressed.  I know prices are rising at the moment but 56% is not on.  We put in an official complaint and we're waiting to hear back ...

Last night was a strange night.  At about 10.00pm I was coming down the stairs at home when I slipped.  Badly.  From about two thirds of the way up.  By the time I reached the bottom I had a bruised left heel and left ankle, bruised right thigh and cuts to both of my elbow.  At the time it was a bit scary and I suppose I was lucky to escape with only a few cuts and bruises.  Iced my ankle for a while and cleaned my cuts before taking some ibuprofen and going to bed in a sorry state.

This morning, after not a good night's sleep [painful elbows!!!] I took part in the monthly Otley AC handicap.  This month it was from a local village named Esholt.  The weather was wonderful - warm and sunny - but I was unsure how I would manage.  mainly because of last night's incident but also because I hadn't done anything other than steady running since before the Commonwealth Championships.

The sticking plasters on both elbows didn't hinder me too much although the left ankle was a bit painful for running ... but I was well pleased with my 32:45 on an undulating multi-terrain 5 mile route.  Especially as I had to stop at least three times to allow other people past on some of the narrow footpaths [walkers coming in the opposite direction].

To help pay some of the extra energy bills ...

Over a number of years now I have found that writing an account of a race or other challenge or explaining some aspect of training and/or racing has been an increasingly enjoyable part of my running.  Hopefully other people enjoy what I write and get something from it.  Be it training knowledge, inspiration or something else.  I know at least one person has taken to ultra running as a direct result of reading my words.

My work has appeared in various magazines, websites, club newsletters so:  if you are a magazine/newspaper editor or journalist interested in commissioning me to write for your publication about any aspect of ultra distance running please feel free to get in touch by leaving a comment on a blog post or using the contact details here.  You can also contact me via facebook.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

the first steps to stronger shoulders and upper back

Woke up this morning ... and there was no electricity supply to the house.  Nothing worked.  No lights, no switches, nothing.

Phoned the generating company and they said they'd send an engineer out.  Meanwhile I went for a run.  It was still only 7.00am but it was a wonderful morning.  Sunny, cold and foggy.  A great and peaceful time for running.

Shortly after I returned home the engineer arrived and went to the sub-station which I can see from the kitchen window.  Fifteen minutes later the electricity came on and he departed - shortly afterwards I received a text letting me know the problem had been repaired.

A blown fuse in the sub-station (again !!)

For the past week or so I've been looking around (books, websites, etc) for strength and flexibility exercises for my shoulder and upper back.

One source has been the Virtual Sports Injury Clinic website.  Particularly this page for flexibility and this one for strength.

Also found some good stuff on Ultra Fitness Training, the site set up by William Sichel and Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe.

Brian MacKenzie ahas some useful stuff on his site too. has some good things too.  On this page.

Now all I've got to do is integrate it into my normal stretching and strength training routines.

I haven't started looking at races for next year yet but I will start doing that in the next day or too.  Meanwhile if you haven't read about my last race yet - here is the report from Llandudno.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Race Report

OK ... I know it's late but here it is.

My race report for last months Commonwealth Championships ... read it on

Friday, 7 October 2011

I'm still here ... a bit busy though

I know I'm supposed to be writing a race report following the Commonwealth Championships but I've been a bit busy the past week or so.

The main thing has been Keir.  He's wanted help with university applications and with research for his A level History coursework - 'The Causes of the General Strike of 1926'.  He's doing the work of course but my role has been to look for (and buy, of course) relevant books and other source material.

There's also been a couple of meetings to attend, at school and for the local scouts.

I have been working on my report between this and my paid work and training and I'm pleased to see that it's very close to completion so you won't have to wait too long now.

In the meantime Matt Bixley from New Zealand has written a good report.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Yesterday morning while out running I fell over in Menston.  Apart from a badly dented ego I finished with two bruised hands and a bruised left hip.

Also grazed both elbows and, strangely, the outside of both knees.  How did that happen ?

That's twice in six months now ...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

one week after

Went for an 11 mile run this morning in glorious sunshine.  Left home at 7.30am and the temperature was already 13.25 Celsius (55.85 Fahrenheit).  Amazing for October.  The run itself went very well with no major problems ... recovering well it seems.

My shoulders are still painful though, especially the left one.  I guess I now know my weak spot ... and now I've got to learn what to do about it.

I found earlier today (thanks to John Pares) that footage from the recent Commonwealth Championships will be shown on British TV as follows:

Channel S4C on Sunday 9 October at 5.00pm
Channel 4 on Saturday 29 October at 7.00am

Should be good viewing.  The cameramen must have had far more footage than they could possibly hope to use.  I hope it's been edited and put together well.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

recent race

Over the past few days there has been lots written about the Commonwealth Championships in various places and here I attempt to bring them all together.

- lots of stuff on the IAU website
- this appeared on the IAAF website
- UK Athletics put something on their website after being prompted by me
- England Athletics has some stuff too
- Welsh Athletics has something here
- the news from Scottish Athletics is here
- has a piece that also includes a short video clip
- blogs which have some good stuff include William Sichel and John Kynaston (with two excellent videos)
- finally there's some stuff on the two official Commonwealth Championships websites ... here and here

As for me ... well I'm recovering nicely at the moment despite my left shoulder being still painful at times.  Today I've started looking around for a race or two in the first half of next year before the World Championships in Poland (if I'm selected of course).

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Yes, I had a bad run.

Actually everyone except the debutants had bad runs.  The people who came closest to their pre race targets were those who revised their targets downwards because of the gale force winds - unfortunately I didn't (and paid the price).

The weather was exceptionally windy for about 20 hours and the 1026.7m loop was such that it was a headwind for about 500m and a tailwind for about 500m.

I ran exceptionally well for about seven and a half hours but then I suddenly began to overheat.  After a few cold drinks and a bottle of cold water over the head I continued but about an hour later I began to have hot flushes !!!

Talking to other runners, doctors, etc after the race I slowly put together the pieces of the jigsaw - and it appears that this is what happens when the body cannot maintain core temperature effectively any longer.  The temperature in the headwind was about three or four degrees cooler than when running with the tailwind and after 50 odd miles my body was struggling to cope with the constant changing.

My internal thermostat doesn't work properly anyway - a side effect of chemotherapy back in the 1990s.

Running into the gale force wind was also badly effecting my running form and my shoulders were becoming very tense and painful (my right shoulder is still painful - 74 hours after the end of the race).  At about ten hours I decided a shoulder/neck massage would help so when I approached the English handlers I slowed down - and almost collapsed.  The rules are such that handlers are allowed to help the athletes ONLY in their allotted segment ... well I still had about 5m to go.  I remember someone shouting "four more steps Chris, four more steps ..."  and then I was caught and led to a chair.

Again, talking to people later I learned that the tension in my shoulders and neck had most likely caused the arteries to constrict meaning that my brain was slowly being starved of oxygen and nutrition ... I was close to passing out completely.

About twenty or so minutes later, after lots of massage and other treatment, I was pushed onto the circuit again where I continued for five or six hours before having the confidence to gradually pick up the pace again.  Had to stop twice more for massage on my painful shoulders (16 hrs and 22 hrs) before eventually finishing in 7th position (6th man) with 220.719 km.

Although I had a bad run for medical reasons (?) I am particularly pleased that I was able to dig deep and get out there to help the team to a Gold medal.  Also pleased that I was running strongly at the end, even passing John Pares just before the end.  Should have been a 30 hour race !!!

220km isn't too bad in the circumstances either.
A proper report will appear later ... after I've recovered properly.

A big thanks you to everyone who showed their support - particularly John Kynaston who cheered me on relentlessly from the Scottish zone.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

training finished

A couple of hours ago I did my very last training session before the weekend's race.  Just a short steady run in the morning sunshine ... a bit breezy but not too bad.  I hope it's not too windy during the race on Friday and Saturday.

The remainder of today will be spent packing, eating, relaxing, snacking, sleeping and nibbling.  Must remember the beetroot juice.

England Athletics have now officially announced the teams for the weekend's races - see their website for details.

Just seen the official start list for the 24 hr race and as well as old acquaintances from Australia, Canada, India, Scotland, Wales there are also three runners from Sierra Leone and one from Gambia.

The question is ... will they actually be on the start line ?  A Kenyan runner was entered for the 24 hr race in Keswick two years ago but I believe he pulled out just before the start when it finally dawned on him what the race entails.  I guess that when his name was entered it had not been explained to him properly - lost in translation perhaps.

I cannot find any information about the African runners so I presume they are fairly new to the sport of ultra running.  I hope they do start and I hope they enjoy themselves and want to do more.

Travelling tomorrow morning and due to arrive in Llandudno just after 1.00pm.  Hope to see a few of you there ... please come along to support the runners if you can - the 24 hour race starts at noon on Friday.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

almost there ...

This afternoon I completed my last training session with the weights.  Just three more runs now before the race ... fartlek on Monday and Tuesday with a final steady run on Wednesday.

Started drinking the beetroot juice yesterday.  Half a litre per day every day until the race.  I'm sure I've mentioned it before but it was Jim Rogers in May 2010 who introduced me to the delights of the red stuff.  I used it with good results in early September of that year.

Heat training continues tomorrow for the last time and I've been asked, by Martin Fryer, to wear the Australian jacket he kindly gave me after winning the inaugural Commonwealth Championships in 2009.  Of course I'll wear it ... and hope a bit of the magic will rub off.

ps ... I'll also be wearing 2 T shirts, a long sleeved top and 2 sweatshirts.

Friday, 16 September 2011

One week to go

With only a week to go before the Commonwealth Championships my official England kit finally arrived.  Still got to run in it to make sure it's up to scratch and then wash it before the race next Friday.

Today's training was a four mile tempo run ... with an excessive amount of clothing.  I did this first thing in the morning to avoid the heavy rain that was forecast between 10am and 4pm.  I need not have bothered as the rain didn't arrive until 6pm.

Good training though as fast running is more difficult at breakfast time.

I'm glad the wind seems to have eased towards the end of this week ... I hope it doesn't return next weekend.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Continuing my preparation for the Commonwealth Championships I've just begun the second week of tapering (out of three).  Last week the mileage was 30 miles, this week it will be 40 and for the final week 20 [not including the race].

If that seems a little strange it's because the final week before tapering was my crash training period and to help recovery after that intense seven day period I half my normal weekly mileage.

Also in the final three weeks I try to include some heat training sessions, ie training with lots of clothes.

Yesterday afternoon I took part in another relay for Otley AC.  This time it was the Yorkshire Road Relay Championships at Headingley, Leeds.  I completed the windy 4 miles (6.4 km) in 24:20 which I'm very pleased about as that's the equivalent of about 18:50 for 5k.

Fifteen teams started.  The A team finished third and the B team (for which I ran the first stage) finished ninth.

Also, for the first time ever, Otley AC had a women's team taking part.  In my time as secretary (1999 to 2009) I tried incessantly to get a women's team together for various road relays.  Always without success for one reason or another.  It didn't help that some senior women seemed to have the attitude that in general the club's women were not up to the required standard.

I always thought that was irrelevant and that it was the taking part that was most important.  If the team came last then at the very least they would have learned from the experience.  So, well done to Tamara Weatherhead, Liz Ashton, Liz Fawcett and Caron Ralph.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

hard work today

Today's run was hard ... not because of the run itself but because of the exceptionally windy weather we've been having recently.

The plan was for a 5.1 miles (8.2 km) out an back tempo run on a flattish route.

For the first half I ran 17:08 (target was 17:10 to 17:57)
For the return section I ran 19:40
For the whole I ran 36:48 (target was 34:21 to 35:55)

During the second half I was running at about a minute per mile (37s per km) slower and that was just because of the strong winds.  I know I have easily been hitting my targets during tempo runs over the last couple of months so this should have been no problem at all.  I seem to have recovered well from last week's madness too.

I dare say that wearing two pairs of tracksuit bottoms as well as a T shirt, a sweatshirt and 2 cotton long sleeved tops didn't make things easier though.  Lost 5.6 pounds in weight though (2.5 kg).

I hope it's not so windy in Llandudno later this month.

Very well done too to Fiona Rennie who ran exceptionally well at the weekend in the Glenmore 24 hr trail race with very little training.  Second with 108 miles.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Crash Training (summary)

A bit of background to begin with.  I first came across the idea of crash training when reading various articles written by the successful coach Frank Horwill - the one about crash training can be found at

Of course I realised that, like all training, it shouldn't be just copied blindly without adapting it to my specific needs/strengths/weaknesses/goals/etc.  I have used it successfully though at least three times in the past and have no reason to doubt it's continued usefulness as a part of my overall training schedule.

This is how I use it:  first of all I plan the training, write the schedule, etc without thinking once about crash training - at that early stage it's totally irrelevant.

Then, when I'm happy with the schedule and everything has been included (speedwork, long runs, hillwork, tempo running, cycling, strength and flexibility work) I look at the week immediately before my taper.  That's the one I use for crash training.

Whatever I have planned for that week - I do twice.  Everything, doubled.  But for ONE WEEK ONLY and I'm confident my body can cope because the following week is the beginning of my tapering phase ... and to make sure I fully recover from the extra hard week I make this extra easy by halving everything.  That means, for example, only 30 miles (48 km) instead of the planned 60 (97 km).

One final point - I am very careful about injuries as it is only a few weeks to the competition.  I am fully prepared to cut short the crash training period if necessary.

My crash training week this year comprised:
- two races
- three long runs (25 miles or more)
- three speedwork sessions
- one tempo run
- 14 sessions of stretching
- four cycling sessions
- lots of strength work with weights

This was broken down as:
day 1 ... over 5h 28 minutes
day 2 ... over 5h 29 minutes
day 3 ... over 4h 48 minutes
day 4 ... over 5h 4 minutes
day 5 ... over 5h 12 minutes
day 6 ... over 5h 10 minutes
day 7 ... over 5h 10 minutes

Those times obviously do not include things such as showering, changing, moving equipment, etc

Written another way the week's training was:
running ... over 23h 33 minutes
cycling ... over 3h 27 minutes
stretching ... over 5h 1 minute
strength work ... over 4h 23 minutes

total training ... over 36h 25 minutes

I do realise that I have to change my normal daily routine for a week to accommodate all this training.  I'm lucky in that I'm a freelance writer who can quite easily take time out for this.

Fay has also mentioned this week that there is far more laundry than usual.  I pointed out that as I do 90% of the household chores anyway it won't affect her at all ...

Friday, 2 September 2011

crash training (day 7)

7.10am ... stretching

8.25am ... just over 7 miles steady at my usual pace

11.45am ... strength work (legs)

12.55pm ... cycling

1.55pm ... strength work (upper body & core)

6.05pm ... stretching

6.35pm ... just over 10 miles incorporating 25 x 30s with 60s recovery.  Excellent run this evening - the fast bursts were quite a bit quicker than last nights 3k race.

No training at all tomorrow.  After seven days of hard training it's time for a well earned day's rest and recovery.

Tomorrow's post will be a summary of all that I've done over the past seven days.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

crash training (day 6)

7.30am ... stretching

8.20am ... just over 15 miles steady (at my usual pace - no problem)

1.05pm ... cycling

2.05pm ... strength work (upper body, core and legs)

5.50pm ... stretching

7.45pm ... Otley AC 3000m track race.  I ran unofficially 11:16 which I'm very pleased with considering it came near the end of a very big training week.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

crash training (day 5)

7.05am ... stretching

8.30am ... about 12.5 miles steady

1.40pm ... cycling

2.40pm ... strength work (upper body & legs)

6.25pm ... stretching

7.10pm ... 6 miles tempo.  Glad to say I completed that on schedule in 41:30

Also glad to report that my overall running pace doesn't appear to have dropped at all during the course of the week.  This morning's steady run was no slower than expected (actually it was a minute quicker).

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

crash training (day 4)

7.05am ... stretching

8.25am ... just over 17 miles (incorporating 10 x 30s fast with 60s recovery)

2.50pm ... strength work (core and legs)

6.05pm ... stretching

7.25pm ... about 10k mainly off road with Otley AC.  Hilly, and a bit quick at times, but it was good to run with a group for a change.

Monday, 29 August 2011

crash training (day 3)

8.05am ... stretching

8.45am ... long run - 25 miles - last one before the Commonwealth Championships.  Felt good even though the weather was still windy (and cold this morning).

3.45pm ... strength work (upper body)

8.05pm ... stretching

Having For Goodness Shakes drinks to aid recovery between sessions is definitely helping (and so is the compression clothing I seem to be wearing almost continually at the moment !!!)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

crash training (day 2)

8.30am ... stretching

10.05am ... just over 27 miles - fartlek.  Another good run but it was very hard work with strong winds, hills and showers.

3.35pm ... strength work (core)

6.35pm ... stretching

7.05pm ... cycling

Feeling good and not unduly tired yet.  Looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully better weather [it is August !!!]

Saturday, 27 August 2011

crash training (day 1)

7.35am ... just over 25 miles including a 5k race in Lister Park, Bradford.  I completed the race in 19:48 and finished 5th out of 82.  Pleased with that as it was an improvement of over a minute in three months.

2.05pm ... stretching

6.00pm ... just over four miles at a reasonable pace (7:30 per mile)

7.20pm ... stretching

A good day which included a very good 25 miles.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

another good week

On Monday I went for another long run in the afternoon.  Fartlek style again but this time the fast sections were 7:40 in length with 3:55 recovery.  In total I ran 26 miles in about 3h 25

No running (or any other training) on Tuesday but I spent the day relaxing and buying kit, food, drink, etc needed for next month's Commonwealth Championships.

Wednesday morning was a straight forward long run of 28.6 miles using a section of the Leeds Liverpool Canal between Shipley and Kirkstall.  Completed in about 4 hours.

This morning was a 7 mile tempo run along the route of the Otley 10.  Completed in 48:54 - a bit slower per mile than recent tempo runs but I'm happy with that because morning runs do tend to be slightly slower than afternoon runs and I did run 28.6 miles less than 24 hours earlier.

Also cycled yesterday and today and did some strength work and stretching every day.  No running tomorrow - resting before a week of crash training.  In general I won't be able to post much but I will try to provide daily details of exactly what I've been doing.  It all begins with a 5k race on Saturday morning - and does now include a 3k race on Thursday because the scouts meeting has been postponed.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

possible changes

Just a brief post to explain that there are a couple of POSSIBLE changes to my racing plans for the remainder of the year.

On Thursday 1 September I was hoping to take part in my club's annual 3000m track race which, this year, is on the new track in Keighley.  However ... yesterday an important meeting was called by the local Group Scout Leader to take place on the same evening.  Perhaps I can get out of it but being the chairman maybe not ...

In December I was looking to take part in the Barcelona 24 hour race but this is looking increasingly unlikely.  Keir is due to start university in 2012 and at the moment is in the process of applying for courses, visiting universities, going for interviews, etc.  One such visit, to Rome, coincides with the Barcelona race and requires him and me to be there for a couple of days.  I am trying to get it rearranged but I don't hold out much hope.

I'll keep you all informed though.

Friday, 19 August 2011

good news all round

After a day free from running yesterday (lots of strength work and cycling though) I got back outside this afternoon for a tempo run of eight miles.  A fraction shorter than my last tempo run but with the Commonwealth Championships only five weeks away now I've got to start being a bit careful.  Most of the hard work has already been done.

Anyway today's run was again on the route of the Otley 10 because of the useful mile markers around the course and, despite the breezy conditions, I finished in a pleasing 56:10

As per my training earlier this week I feel doubly pleased about this because it felt quite easy really ... I had plenty in reserve.

Finally, congratulations to US ultra distance runner Dan Rose and his wife Lizzy on the announcement of an addition to their family next winter.  I know he's sensibly decided to take a sabbatical from racing for the next couple of years (?) but I guess he'll be back when he feels he can spare the time from parental duties.  All the best Dan, I hope our paths cross again.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I feel good this evening

On Monday afternoon I went for a long run - fartlek style.  A hilly 25 mile route with the usual fast bursts at 10k pace.  Total time 3h 06.  Excellent.

This morning, ie with less than 14 hours recovery, I went for another long run.  Hilly again but without the fartlek [come on ... there are limits ...] the 27.5 miles took 3h 53 and it seemed easy.  Even running up Hollins Hill after 22 miles was not difficult at all.  Overall I'm surprised how strong I felt during the final third of the run ... right to the finish too.

A simple 12.5 miler tomorrow.

Feeling very confident at the moment.

I hope Chris Finill and Stephen Pope are too because tomorrow they begin their epic journey running across America.  I wish them all the best.  You can keep up to date with their progress on their website and blog at

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Not Much To Report

OK I know I haven't posted for a while but training and family stuff has been a bit of a priority this week.

After a relatively easy week (see previous post) I went straight back to normal training with 9 miles steady on Saturday, 12 x 100m on Sunday, 24 miles fartlek on Tuesday, 26+ miles on Wednesday, 9 miles on Thursday and 18 hill reps on Friday.  Not forgetting the strength work, cycling and stretching of course.

Tuesday afternoon's fartlek was basically from Otley to Silsden and back via Ilkley and Addingham.  Far from flat and after a suitable warm up it was basically 12 x 7:10 at 10k pace with 3:50 recovery.  The total time was a very pleasing 3h 15.

Wednesday morning's long run was a two lapped route taking in Ilkley and Askwith - again not flat .  A good 26 miles though.  The heavy rain made it somewhat less than enjoyable and I somehow managed to arrive home with a badly scratched right arm.

The hill reps up and down Newall Carr Bank seemed very easy, no doubt due to my increasing fitness.  Pleased with that.

Training for the next two weeks will be very similar but with a couple of tempo runs included (8 miles and 7 miles).  And also an increase in the number of hill reps and 100m reps (20 of each).

After that it's the crash training week mentioned previously.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

the end of an easy week

Yesterday was the final day in an easy week's training.  Every four weeks I do about a third less training than usual.  This provides a welcome break for me both physically and mentally.

This week's training was:

day 1:  16 hill reps using Newall Carr Bank to the north of Otley.  Plus cycling, stretching and strength work
day 2:  nothing
day 3:  33 miles plus cycling and stretching
day 4:  cycling, stretching and strength work
day 5:  nothing
day 6:  speedwork (8 x 100m) plus stretching and strength work
day 7:  9 miles tempo run plus stretching and strength work

The speedwork on day 6 was my first such session in the lead up to next month's race.  Over the next few weeks I'll increase the number of repetitions from 8 to 20 or more.

The tempo run was particularly pleasing for me as the 9 mile route was basically the course of the Otley 10 (which is notably hilly - and breezy yesterday too).  Over the past few months I've gradually increased the distance of this training session and in the last three weeks I've been able to complete 9 hilly miles well under 7 minutes per mile ...

22 July ... 1h 02:34
28 July ... 1h 01:57
5 August ... 1h 00:34

This has been the final easy week, after three more weeks of normal training there'll be a week of crash training.  Basically this involves doubling everything for one week only.  That's hard but it's strategically placed  immediately before a three week taper leading up to the big race.

More news about crash training later but you can read about my previous periods of crash training by using the labels.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Nutrition planning

Spent the last few days planning my nutrition for the race in Llandudno.  I'm sure I've explained before how I go about doing this but for newer followers I'll go through it again ...

First of all I consider the hydration aspect.  I've been weighing myself before and after every training run for a number of years now and combined with my training speed and the temperature/humidity I now have a very good idea of how much I will sweat at any given speed, temperature, humidity.  That liquid needs replacing but in a long ultra it's impossible to replace all of it ... the digestive system couldn't cope with that volume over a long time period whilst running.  Trial and error have shown that I can cope with 40%.

With a bit of research it's easy nowadays to find out what the mean temperature and humidity is for almost any location in the world (the data for my next race can be found here).  So, with that knowledge, I know how much liquid to take on board.

Secondly, that liquid, if not water, will contain calories, carbohydrates, etc.  I know that I can take on board about 250 calories per hour during a race but most of that needs to be carbohydrates and the rest mainly proteins.  I know that running uses a lot more than 250 calories per hour but the human body finds it difficult to digest food and run at the same time so, for me, about 250 calories per hour is the limit.  I know that other runners struggle with that amount and can only manage less than 200 whereas a lucky few can get away with 300.  Trial and error again.

Thirdly, the food has to be palatable because the most nutritionally perfect food in the world is useless if it tastes rubbish.  We all like different stuff and it's just a case of trying things out in less important races and long training runs.  Be aware though that eating near the end of a 4 or 5 hour training run is not the same as eating after 20 hours of racing.  Somehow things taste different and may be less easy to chew or swallow.  It's down to trial and error again.

Lastly, but possibly more important, are the electrolytes.  Particularly sodium and potassium but also calcium and magnesium.  These are lost through sweat and urine and need to be replaced but, again, too much all at once can cause the body distress.  As with the liquids I aim for 40%.

I learned quite a bit from my last race - ULTRArace 100 - about what works for me (and when) and now I aim to use all the knowledge gained over the past five years or so to put together a sound nutrition plan for 24 hours.

I like to have a plan so that I know in advance what food and drink I'm having and when.  I also know in advance that I'm getting all the correct amounts of liquid, carbohydrates, proteins, electrolytes, etc.  All the crew has to do is hand me the stuff at the correct time ... although sometimes a bit of preparation is needed.  I feel that this means that I don't have to think about what to eat and /or drink so I can just concentrate on running.  I don't carry a copy of the plan with me - I just let the crew follow the written instructions.

My drinks will be an isotonic sports drink and For Goodness Shakes sports recovery drinks.  The food will include jaffa cakes, protein bars, energy gels, Turkish Delight, grapes, dried apricots, breadsticks and baby food.

Of course sometimes things come unstuck, for example in Brive last year the temperature was about 10 C (18 F) lower than usual for the time of year.  That wasn't the main reason for my bad race that day but it did require some quick thinking and this is another area where a good crew can help.

Hope there's something here that you can use in your own racing.  Whenever I'm doing this planning I'm always reminded of a quote from ChristopherMcDougall's book (Born to Run) in which Sunny Blende describes an ultramarathon as  “an eating and drinking contest, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in.”

PS thanks to Matt for posting details of the New Zealand runners at the upcoming Commonwealth Championships - see the comments after my last post.  See you all there.  Of course it'll be fun.

Monday, 1 August 2011

good long run

First thing this morning I left home for a 33 mile run.  The idea was not to push the pace too much but to generally run how I felt.

The route from Otley took in Burley in Wharfedale, Menston, Guiseley, Shipley, Saltaire, Leeds Liverpool Canal, Kirkstall, Headingley and Bramhope.

So basically the first and last thirds were hilly but the middle section was flat.

I felt very good throughout, finishing at lunchtime in 4h 40 with plenty in reserve.  The weather today was excellent but a little warm.  Overall I lost over 3.3 kg in weight (7.4 lbs) ... over 5.7% of my bodywight.  An excellent run showing that I'm in good shape at the moment with eight weeks to go.

A couple of interesting sights en route:  when running between Headingley and Bramhope two or three large lorries passed me carrying a 'wall of death'.  Never having seen one of those motorcycle acts I did wonder where it was going but I haven't been able to find out.

Also, a part of the canal towpath near Kirkstall was closed and there was a heavy police presence which included a diversion using a nearby farmer's field.  Fay later told me that she'd heard that a cyclist had been found unconscious in the water.

A few hours after arriving home I got the bike out for an hour or so and later tonight I have some stretching planned to keep me busy.

A good day's training.

ps ... thanks to all those who got in touch following my previous post.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

aching quads

In the last couple of weeks I've added a new dimension to my training - plyometrics.  About seven or eight months ago when planning my training for 2011 I read a book entitled Running Anatomy and got a few ideas and suggestions which I incorporated into my training.

These included four plyometric exercises and the suggestion was to do one to five repetitions of each, one or two times a week, in the final 10 to 12 weeks before an important race.

After just two sessions my quads have become very sore indeed ... in fact it's had me searching around trying to identify the problem.  I've now identified the problem as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and the main causes apparently are too much plyometrics or too many hill reps.  I've been doing hill reps all year with no problems at all so I can rule that one out.

My sore quads has barely interrupted my training but it is something to be aware of.  Further research, eg the book Run Further edited by Kevin Beck, has suggested that plyometrics be used during base training not speed training.

Very contradictory but in the meantime I'm not doing any more until further research provides the answers to exactly what to do, how many to do and when [in the training cycle] to do them.

Can anyone out there help ?

ps ... short reviews of both of the above mentioned books can be found on this page.

Monday, 25 July 2011

a few days rest

Just arrived home from a few days in Newcastle upon Tyne.  A while ago Iron Maiden (Fay's favourite rock band) announced a tour but as every UK date inexplicable clashed with one thing or another we couldn't get tickets.

About a week ago the sad death of a friend meant that we had nothing to do on 24 July and, by a strange twist of fate, three of Keir's friends wanted to sell their tickets for the Iron Maiden gig on that night [Metro Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne].  I snapped them up and quickly organised travel and a hotel room before telling Fay on Friday evening.

Because of that and also horse racing in Newcastle on the same day the only hotel rooms I could find were out near the Metro Centre in Gateshead.

Iron Maiden aren't really my thing, they're OK but ...  We had a good time though and Fay really enjoyed the show.

Back training tomorrow fully refreshed and rejuvenated with less than nine weeks to go before my next ultra race.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

scary stuff

Yesterday I decided to get my bike out.  This was the first time in a week or so but it wasn't where I always leave it.

And the odometer was showing 67 km more than after I last used it.

Fay and Keir swear they haven't used it, so ...

I don't know what's been going on but it isn't the first time I've had a supernatural encounter in this house.  The first, and most vivid, was when something rushed past me as I was putting some clothes in a wardrobe.  I felt a presence brush past me which caused me to almost fall backwards onto the bed.

Then there's the missing map and calculator.  OK that was Keir but the stuff above is still unexplained.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Selection news

Just noticed on the very good Australian Ultra Runners Association website that they have selected nine runners for the Commonwealth Championships 24 hr race.

Congratulations to Jo Blake, John Pearson, Anth Courtney, Dave Kennedy, Rick Cooke, Sharon Scholz, Susannah Harvey-Jamieson, Meredith Quinlan and Allison Lilley.  I immediately noticed that the men's defending champion, Martin Fryer, is not on that list ... but that's probably because he seems to be moving up to longer distances in recent times.

I believe, though, that Anth has injured himself in Koln recently ... I hope it's not too bad.

Strangely, the England team has not been officially announced yet but I do know that Jim Rogers, Pat Robbins, Vicky Skelton and myself have been selected.  But Vicky has recently injured her knee ...

Get well soon Vicky.

Chris Finill won't be there because he'll be half way across America with Stephen Pope ... running.

From the other English athletes I expect Sharon Gayter and Richard Quennell have also been selected.  And John Pares for Wales.  Stephen Mason and William Sichel for Scotland too although there's no news from their respective websites yet.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Recent training

Recent training has been going well and I've now started including more speedwork as it's only 10 weeks before the Commonwealth Championships.  The organising committee have set up a new website at  Well worth a look.

A couple of long runs last Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning showed that I've recovered from the 100 miler.  The Monday run especially as that was my first long fartlek since 31 May.

Yesterday evening I took part, again, in the Otley AC organised Washburn Valley Relay for the club's B team.  Sadly I'm not quick enough any more for the A team although someone mentioned that for a club to have an international runner in their B team ...

I ran the first leg (of three) and covered the 3.02 undulating miles in about 20:30.  Pleased with that as it improves my course best by about 50 seconds.  An excellent event at which there appeared to be a record number of teams taking part - the large car park was overflowing.  Official results are not available yet but check the club's website in a few days and I'm sure they'll be there.  Thanks to Nick Hodgkinson, John Dade, Andrew Robertshaw and Julian Mawson for their work in organising this relay in, what regular readers will know, is my favourite local running location.

This morning, bright and early [well it was when I left home !!!] I ventured out for a session of hill reps up and down Newall Carr Bank on the northern outskirts of Otley.  After about 20 minutes it began raining and progressively got worse over then next hour or so.  I just smiled to myself as I remembered the ULTRArace.100 in the Cotswolds when it rained continually for 12 hours or so.

After that deluge I'm sure I'll never be put off by rain ever again.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Race report

The report from my recent 100 mile race in the Cotswold is now available.

You can read it at

I'll keep a link to it near the top of this page for at least a week but after that there will be a permanent link to the report from the page which lists all my races - here.

Friday, 8 July 2011

planning and training

This week I have just started planning my race in Llandudno.  This mainly involves pacing and nutrition.  I now have quite a lot of data from previous races so I am beginning to learn what works for me and what doesn't.

Although I'm always keen to try new things which may work better there is a dilemma.  Because my next race is the Commonwealth Championships (which means it's important) do I stick with what works and aim for what I know I can achieve or do I take a risk and try something a bit radical which, if it comes off, could add quite a big distance to my pb.

I know my pb is 238 km and I know I can run further than that.  The nutrition aspect seems OK although I am still learning what my body can cope with and what it rejects.  This also changes with the length of time I've been running.  I have tried something new in every race.

For me it's the pacing where the real choices are - and where the risks are - and the rewards if it comes off.

Recent training has been good and, although I'm quite out of the woods yet, I appear to not have any lingering injuries or pains after the recent 100 miler.  Last week included hill reps, a long run, cycling and a fair amount of strength work.

Next week will include two long runs, fartlek, cycling, strength work, plyometrics and, hopefully, a race in the wonderful Washburn Valley.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Eight days later

Over a week after the 100 miler and I'm back to normal training ... well, almost.  I've got all the ingredients back but not in the same quantity as before.  That will come in another week or two.

My last couple of runs have shown that I've recovered well and that I'm all set for the final 12 weeks before this year's big race.

Recently I've been reading 'Mental Training For Runners' by Jeff Galloway which goes some to explaining the workings of Tim Noakes' Central Governor Theory (of which I am a big fan).  This book has definitely been helping me over the past few days.

I've also added a couple of things to this page.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

first run

Last night I ran for the first time since ... well, you know ... THAT race.

Anyway it was a local 5 mile race as part of the Harrogate & District Summer Road Race League.  I got all the usual jokes which I sort of expected.  None of them made me feel any better but I guess the other runners had to get it out of their system.

Fay said:  "Let them try run 99.5 miles in 17h 45 ... or even 24 hours."  The big hug that accompanied that made me feel better.

I know they'll be something in this week's Wharfedale & Aireborough Observer as my club (Otley AC) always have something in about recent races, etc.  Haven't seen it yet - I will tomorrow - and then PLEASE let that be an end  to it.

Training continues in preparation for the Commonwealth Championships which is by far the most important race for me this year.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

the future

Alright it's time to move on.  I took a tiny short cut and paid the penalty for my mistake.  On the plus side - very nearly 100 miles in about 17 hours 43 when it's raining for over 60% of that time - I do realise that was a good run in the conditions but a bit slower than I would have liked.

Yesterday was the day when all the emotions finally caught up with me ... anger at myself, exhaustion, pain, feelings of a wasted 18 hours, letting down my crew (who was brilliant), etc.  If anyone was caught in the crossfire please accept my apologies.

As I said before I really enjoyed it despite the rain and I'm sure these experiences will only make me stronger mentally in the long run (excuse the pun).

I've started work on the report which follows all my ultra races and that will appear only on this site in due course.

Right, let's draw a line under the Cotswold 100 ... please.

Last night Norman Wilson phoned to confirm my selection for the Commonwealth Championships 24 hr race in Llandudno in late September.  Hope to do better than last time when I finished fifth with 231 km and came away with a team silver medal.  My report of the first Commonwealth Championships - Keswick, 2009 - can be read here.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

error details

Just looked at the map and found that I didn't actually miss out the big hill.  Which I'm pleased about !!!  Here are the details for those that are interested.

Using the 1:25 000 OS map number 151 (Stratford-upon-Avon) I can now see that I ran up Ebrington Hill from Chipping Campden (GR 165 396 to GR 188 427).  However I took the right hand fork instead of the left about 450m from the summit (GR 187 422) - after running uphill for almost 4 km.

I rejoined the proper route immediately after the village of Ilmington (GR 214 440) and did indeed run only about half a mile short.

initial (brief) report

It's now 28 hours since I stopped running and in that time my thoughts about it all haven't changed much, for the record here they are:
I finished first by 55 minutes but was disqualified for accidentally taking a wrong turn and only running 99.5 miles (and missing out one of the many hills).  This happened at about 82 miles.

The course record was 18 hours 38 minutes and my time was 17 hours 43 minutes.

The race started at noon and it rained solidly from 5pm to 4am and in those conditions, at night, on unlit country lanes, navigating with photocopied maps and a headtorch, it is easy to miss a direction sticker the size of a mobile stuck to a lamppost or road sign.

It is far easier to see these direction markers when running at 14 minutes a mile compared to when running at 9 mins per mile.  Only me to blame though.

I found it a really good race in spectacular countryside - although I couldn't see much of it after about 6pm.

Full race details and results here.

Thanks to Rory and Jen for organising it ... I know I'll be back because I enjoyed it so much (but then I always enjoy these long races).  It is a good one though.

Congratulations to Robert Treadwell for winning fair and square ... and beating the course record by a few seconds.

A fuller report later.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Last minute preparations

Yesterday morning I ran a  6 mile fartlek session - with lots of extra layers - heat training.  Following the tried and tested advice of Ron Daws and others I wore 3 T shirts, a long sleeved top, a sweatshirt and a rain proof jacket.  It wasn't raining but ... every bit helps !!

In case you were wondering ... I also had three layers on my legs.  Tracksters, track suit and shower proof trousers.

As expected my sweat rate was well over 2000ml per hour.  Over three times what I would normally expect for such a run.

That's the heat training finished.  Nine times in the last three weeks is about right.  I know it works if the race is in hot weather but it is very difficult to quantify if the race is in the same conditions as the training.  I know the science is sound but how can I test whether it has worked or not ?

With the race just over three days away now I've started applying vaseline to my feet morning, noon and night (and wearing old socks) in an attempt to prevent blisters which are the bane of many ultra runners.  Luckily I very rarely have blister problems - maybe it's because of all the vaseline I use.

Yesterday my crew and I went through some stuff and checked details, etc.  It's always good to have input from another person, especially crew, because it's essential to strike a balance between what works for the runner and what is practical from a crewing perspective.  We'll go through everything for a final time on Thursday afternoon/evening.

Feel good now and ready to go.  The first big test of the year and soon I'll know whether my training is on course for a good performance at the Commonwealth Championships.  Hopefully I'll also have lots more info about nutrition (particularly protein and potassium) and also whether I can run a bit slower at the start and quicker at the end (ie slow down less during the race).

All this info is vital for good ultra performances.

More than that though ... I'm just looking to enjoy the race and I hope the weather isn't too bad.  The current forecast is for the temperature to be 17 C during Friday afternoon, dropping to 11 C at night.  Dry during the day but perhaps a little rain overnight into Saturday morning.  Winds of 11 mph from the west dropping to 6 mph later.  Overall that sounds OK to me.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Aaarrrgh ... Keir has a bad cold.  I hope he stays away from me, I definitely don't want a cold so close to a 100 mile race.  Luckily for me he's a teenager which means he spends most of his time either in his bedroom or outside.

Heat training has been going well generally but causing lots of extra laundry.  Running with lots of extra clothes is quite a bit harder sometimes and about a week ago I found a 6 mile tempo run to be extremely difficult when wearing 2 T shirts, a long sleeved top, a sweatshirt and also tracksters and tract suit bottoms.

Tomorrow, with only a week to go, I start on the beetroot juice.  You may remember that I drank 500ml per day in the week before the Perth 24 hr race last September - with excellent results.  It does taste better than expected and 500ml isn't too much really ...

All the best to those who are running the West Highland Way Race - I hope the weather holds out for you all, or at least that it doesn't rain solidly for the entire race.

And watch out for Richard Hamer - Otley AC member - who set off yesterday to walk the route.  I hope he doesn't get in the way too much !!!

This morning I noticed the route changes for next week's race.  Especially the major one involving the first 8 miles or so.  Looking at the map (and being a former Race Director) I can understand the reasoning behind it but personally I would have preferred the original route as footpaths on the course of old railways tend not to be too inspiring - those I have used anyway.

So long as the overall distance is the same.  That's the main thing I suppose, along with runner's safety.