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.