Monday, 31 December 2012

my year in brief

Well ... the end of another year and for me it was a year of three parts.

The first part was spent recovering from a broken bone in my foot - falling down a flight of steps at home is not a good idea.

The second (and best ...) part was training for, and taking part in, two long ultra distance races.  The first was the ULTRArace 100 mile event around the Cotswolds in England.  Really enjoyed this race in stunning scenery and good weather.  It was good to have Hugh Pearson (Otley AC clubmate) crewing for me and hopefully we'll be able to continue that relationship as his running and coaching experience is invaluable.  My report can be read here.

The second - and most important - race was the World 24 hour Championships which were held in Poland at the beginning of September.  The first 21 hours of that race were fantastic as I was on schedule for well over 240 km .. and feeling good too.  The atmosphere was terrific and the crewing was brilliant (thanks go to Eleanor Robinson, Richard Brown, Adrian Stott, Rory Coleman, Marco Consani and Andy Smith).  My brief report can be read here.

The third part of my running year began at 9:00am on Sunday 9 September.  Injury struck during that 24 hour race as it did for about 10% of the runners.  I've since learned that the IAU considered moving the race to a different part of the park because of the poor condition of the road surface and sharp corners.  This report by US runner Jonathan Savage explains ...

Although I seem to have now recovered from that badly sprained ankle I was also struck down by gout in late November and early December which delayed my return to running somewhat.  Thaings are now progressing nicely though and today's 20 minute run scored an encouraging 97.5 % although the abysmal weather made it very hard work.

That's a brief account of my running year but there has been other highlights too.  Most notably Keir successfully passing his A levels and getting into the university of his choice - Ulster - to read History.  That's been his plan for a few year's now and I'm pleased that it's come off for him.  I'm so proud of his achievements too.  He's worked hard for that and he deserves it ... I remember spending about an hour a day for three or four years helping him with speech therapy exercises.

And next year ... more races of course ... have fun and take care.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

rehab notes

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas.

I spent a very enjoyable day with Fay and Keir.  Following our family tradition of alternating cooking responsibilities on 25 December it was Fay's turn this year.

While she was in the kitchen I went for a run, the last of this stage of my rehab.  I had been alternating 5 minutes running with 5 minutes walking, beginning with a total of 10 minutes and building up to a total of 70 minutes.  As many of you will know, I score these type of runs according to how 'injury free' I feel whilst running.  100% is perfect.

So far the training has gone:  90%, 92%, 90%, 98%, 90%, 95%, 90%, 97%, 97%, 98%, 97%, 96%, 97%, 97%

That's a small but definite improvement over the two weeks so I'm pleased with that.  Especially as most of the aches I'm feeling seem to be because I had such a long enforced lay off rather than because of the injury itself.  And illness.

Today's run was the first of the next stage which involves running without the walking breaks.  Starting at 10 minutes and building up to an hour.  Non stop.

In this morning's 10 minutes I ran 1.95 k (1.21 miles) but distance isn't in the least bit important at this stage - it's time on my feet that counts.  At 96% the run was perhaps better than I expected considering I hadn't run 10 minutes non stop for more than 15 weeks.

Day off tomorrow then 10 more minutes on Friday.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

too busy recently

After work and training I seem to have had too many other things to do recently which has left no time to update this blog ... apologies for that but things should be back to normal now.

Visiting far flung relatives ... being a volunteer postman with the local scouts ... having the gas fire repaired ... meeting Keir at the airport ... a couple of Christmas parties ... and attending an awards ceremony at which Keir received a shield for best overall year 12 student from his old school.

The ankle seems to be holding up well to increasing training loads and I'm hopeful of being able to actually enter a race next month.

Still keeping up with the rehab exercises three times a day (which are not detailed in the 'training' tab above) and remembering to ice the area at least twice per day - although I suspect that is not really so important anymore.

Interesting to read about last weekend's Barcelona 24 hour race.  Fantastic result from Matthew Moroz who finished third with 234.893 km and Robbie Britton in third with 231.392 km ... both have now qualified for the UK team at next year's World Championships in Steenbergen.  WELL DONE TO THEM BOTH.

I suspect John Pares may have learned the hard way that he wasn't quite as fit as he thought he was, despite immense training in October and November.  He was sixth with 222.638 km.  I have no doubt he'll be ready for a good one next May.  Also well done to (not so) new mum Vicky Hart who ran 164.125 km which is a new pb.

I'd like to end this post by saying that typing this hasn't really been easy after injuring my index finger this afternoon.  Doing some DIY for my mother in law.  She wasn't impressed to have my blood dripping all over her new carpet.  I wasn't impressed by her worn out tools and lack of first aid knowledge.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

damn cars

Running was bad on Thursday ... and I ended up in hospital.

At about 8:20am whilst out running, about a mile (1.6 km) from my house, I had a little accident - not my fault though.  A short distance ahead, and travelling towards me, I saw a car skid on the black ice.  As the driver lost control I stopped running to watch where the car was going to end up.

Well ... it came to a halt by pinning me against a wall !!!

Luckily there was no physical damage done because, at the time of impact, the car had almost stopped anyway.  I was badly shaken though and went to the local  minor injuries hospital department just to check things over.

Ran again on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with nothing more than an aching thigh ... and that is almost non-existent now.

And the microwave oven has stopped working now.  Porridge now takes twice as long to make.  Need a new one soon.  But the fire will be repaired tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

so far so good

Training so far has been very good.  I know all the running is rehab stuff really but there's been no problems at all and that's encouraging.

It's a bit cold here at the moment though.  Sub zero temperatures when I've been outside ... and inside too !!!

The gas fire here is broken at the moment and won't be repaired until Monday afternoon.  Just in time for Keir coming home from university for a couple of weeks.

Brrrrrr ...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

ready to go ...

Right, now that that's out of the way and the pain and discomfort has subsided (and the sprained ankle is better too) I now feel able to run ... tomorrow.

Two weeks of ibuprofen seems to have done the trick although for the next year or more I'll be having regular tests to assess the level of uric acid in my system.  This is normally excreted by the kidneys but for gout sufferers it isn't.

So the long term aim is to reduce uric acid levels by dietary changes which, in my case, will mean consuming less of the following:  turkey, mackeral, sardines, herrings, marmite and beer.

That really comes down to no poultry, oily fish, yeast extract or beer.  Which means I'll also have to be careful about where I get my B vitamins.  I'm sure I'll soon learn to manage all this but if not there are drugs available to help.

But tomorrow morning I'll be out running and I feel confident that it will be a pain free experience.  That's the first time I've been able to say that since early September.  I'll only be out for ten minutes or so but it's a good start and if all goes well (which I expect it will) I'll be able to begin training properly by mid to late January.  And racing next summer.

Over the past few months I have been doing an increasing amount of cycling and strength work.  The cycling appears to have paid off in terms of my aerobic fitness. During August my average waking heart rate was 44, by mid November that had risen to 53 but over the last couple of weeks it is noticeably falling again.

One last thing ... I'm going to post all my training on this blog and you'll be able to find out what I do by clicking on the 'training' tab at the top of the page.  It won't be in great detail though [I wouldn't want to give away all my secrets  :)  ].

Saturday, 1 December 2012

result ...

Well, at least I now know why my right ankle has taken so long to recover from the trauma sustained at hour 21 of my last race.

And the answer is ...

for the last few weeks I have been suffering from gout.

That has been causing pain when running (and at other times) but, unusually, it is not the big toe joint which is affected but the ankle joint - very strange.  But that's typical for me I suppose.

I haven't been running for a week or so to get this sorted out and now I have another week to let the drugs do their work before I can resume.  Cycling and gym work continues though.

At this point I should say that I was quite worried at possible diagnoses which included cancer but ... now I know what's wrong and how to manage the situation I seem to have recovered my mojo.

Now I'm really looking forward to racing again next summer.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

still progressing slowly ... too slowly

After a week of being able to run (only when interspersed with walking though) I've found that progress is still exceptionally slow.  So much so that I've been told by the medical guys to stop for a fortnight so they can do some more tests to find out why I'm taking an unfathomably long time to recover from a badly sprained ankle. [eleven weeks and counting]

The theory is that I have some kind of illness or condition which is effecting things.  Something like calcium deficiency or not being able to fully utilise proteins.

Or maybe something more serious and sinister.  Much blood and urine has been taken away for analysis, different parts of my body have had x-rays and CT scans taken of them and all the results should be back next week.

In the meantime there is no way I'll be anywhere near fit enough for the World 24 hr Championships next May so I've reluctantly sent an email to the team management letting them know that I don't wish to be considered.

A sad but necessary decision.  I'll just have to run well in the second half of 2013 to get back into the team  :)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

the ultra runner's forest

Many thanks to all who took the time to comment on my recent post, or leave a comment on Facebook.  Reading them all lifted my mood immeasurably.

Friday's 'run' went well with an overall score of 80 % (zero is unable to run and 100 % is totally pain free).

I was pleasantly surprised with that so I decided to have another go this morning and on this occasion I scored 88.6 %.  The next big test will be tomorrow morning ... and the day after when I 'run' on consecutive days.

I realise there's still a long way to go but ...

After ten weeks I've finally entered the forest.  The journey through the forest should take about five weeks and I know it may be difficult at times.  If, at any time, the journey becomes too dangerous I'll send for a helicopter to airlift me out of this place.  Better to quit early and try again later than not quit and being stuck in the forest for an awful long time.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

a difficult one to write

OK here goes ...

this isn't going to be easy but ...

On Wednesday 23 October (seems such a long time ago now) I saw the specialists in Leeds and had lots of tests, etc and then came the results.  Basically the original sprains were much worse than previously thought and included damage to ligaments, tendons and bones.  Ouch.

Basically there is no way I should have gone to Northern Ireland with Keir and Fay one week after the injury.  I should have been in hospital (or at home) recovering from surgery apparently.

The scans and x-rays showed that healing was taking place without surgery but it was likely to be a long process.

On Friday 2 November I ventured outside.  Feeling good I alternated 5 minutes walking with 5 minutes running for about 3.5 miles (5.6 km).  Much better than when I last tried that two weeks earlier - a definite and marked improvement.  All is not lost I thought.

A couple of days ago I saw the medical men again and had more tests so they can assess how quickly healing is taking place (or not) and I've been told to repeat my last 'run' on Friday this week, using how my ankle felt on 2 November as a benchmark.  I then have to email the doc on Saturday with full details of how it went.

I have been warned though, that I may never return to competitive running.

There's something to think about.  And I have.  Lots.

Takes me back to 1994 and an clinic appointment in Bradford a year or two after having half my right lung removed.  The conversation went something like this:

new student doctor:  "I understand you were a runner before you had cancer Mr Carver, what distances and pbs ?"
me:  "lots of running for my school and road races since then.  10k pb of 34:21 with about 90 miles (145 km) per week training."
student doctor:  "hmm ... I don't think you'll be running quite that much in future."
me:  "don't be silly.  If physically can run, I will run.  I may not run 10k in 35 minutes ever again but there's no doubt at all I'll still be running."

Within three years of that conversation I was running 100 miles (161 km) per week and had new pbs for 5k, 5 miles and half marathon. I later set a new personal best at 10 miles and ran 10k in less than 35 minutes two further times.

The point is ... I will be back out there.  HAVE NO DOUBT.  Hopefully in 2013 but we'll have to wait and see.

Apologies for this post being a bit random and haphazard - that's how my running thoughts are at the moment.  See you all at my next ultra.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

not a happy bunny

Well, here's the latest news ...

Went for another run/walk on Saturday afternoon.  And on Sunday too and the right ankle was painful both times.  On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is almost no pain and 10 is unbearable - walking is almost zero and running was about 7 or 8.  The difference was incredible.

The injury obviously hasn't healed so I'm going to see a couple of specialists at Leeds General Infirmary tomorrow (including a musculo-skeletal guy who happens to a be a runner).  We will get to the bottom of this.

So ... lots of tests tomorrow.  CT scan, blood, balance, X ray, etc

I'm still doing lots of strength work, cycling and stretching for the moment.  I'm not sure if that's helping or hindering but I feel better for doing it.  Again I'll know more in a few days time.

Friday, 19 October 2012

first run since Poland

Went for a run this morning ... well, running and walking really.  I alternated 5 minutes running with 5 minutes walking for a total of 40 minutes.  In that time I covered almost 3.5 miles (5.6 km).

It was painful.  Which is strange because I have no pain at any other time no matter what I do.  And if I now press with my hand on the area where the pain was ... it's not painful at all.  No matter how hard I press.

Lots of ice when I arrived back home.

hmmmmm ...

Maybe running first thing in the morning didn't help and maybe the running thing was a shock to the system after six weeks.

Try again tomorrow ... in the afternoon.

Meanwhile strength work and stretching continues painlessly.

Monday, 15 October 2012

inspiration, maths and rehab !!!

I love it when a plan comes to fruition.  In this case though it's not my plan but that of Felix Baumgartner.  Many years of planning and training went into his achievement earlier this week which I suppose could be described as 'ultra skydiving'.

In case you haven't seen any news recently here's what happened.  Felix went up in a balloon to an altitude of 128, 100 feet (over 39 km).  He then stepped out of the capsule and fell back to earth.  Simple ... or not. Read this on the BBC news website

The videos here and here are truly remarkable and, I'm sure, inspirational to many people.  ME INCLUDED - DEFINITELY.

OK .. now a couple of questions ... how many calories do you burn for every mile (or km) you run ?  And does it matter how fast you run ?

For the mathematicians among us Graydon Snider has worked out that we burn approximately 1 kcal per kg bodyweight for every kilometre we run.  And it doesn't matter how quickly we run either.  The interesting stuff is on his blog.

Which means that in Poland, six weeks ago, my output was:

0.97 x 57.4 x 231.339 = 12880 kcal

[actually it was probably a bit less because my weight fell slightly as the race progressed]

That works out at well over 500 kcal per hour.  My input was just over 315 kcal per hour.

If we rearrange that formula we can decide how far I can run before beginning to get into 'fuel debt'

kcal burned per km  x  my weight  x  distance travelled  =  input during race
0.97 x 57.4 x distance travelled = 7625
therefore distance travelled = 7625 / (0.97 x 57.4)
distance travelled = 136.948 km

It took me about thirteen hours to run that distance.  So, for the final 11 hours my body was in a state of 'fuel debt'.  I was using more that I could take on board.

Another thing to note is that my calorific deficit for the race was

12880 - 7625 = 5255 kcal

To get that fuel my body burned some of it's stored reserves.  One gram of carbohydrates has about 4 kcal, one gram of protein also has about 4 kcal, one gram of fat has about 9 kcal.

If my body used stored carbs, that would weigh 5255 / 4 = 1.314 kg
if my body used stored protein, that would also be 1.314 kg
but if my body used stored fat, that would weigh 5255 / 9  = 0.584 kg

In truth I used a mixture of the three but the point is that, in theory at least, if I started with a weight of 57.4 kg I should have finished with a weight not less than 56.1 kg

OK that's enough of that ... but it does illustrate that when people ask me (as they often do) how much weight do I lose during a 24 hour race, the answer is 'not as much as you might imagine'.

Now, the big day is Friday this week.  On that day I take the next, important step on the road to recovery.  I begin running again.  For the first fortnight or so it will only be alternating running and walking but it's a step in the right direction.  Although the ankle is no longer painful it does ache now and again.  I'm confident though that 40 minutes running and walking on Friday morning will be OK.

Monday, 8 October 2012

more thoughts on planning for next year

Let me begin by thanking everyone who took the time to comment on my previous post - either on this blog or on Facebook or by email.  Anything which may be helpful is much appreciated ... especially if it can be backed up by experiences and/or evidence.

OK ... unfortunately I won't be taking in the club handicap race this month Richard.  If I'm allowed to run by that time it will only be alternating running with walking for a total of no more than 40 minutes.  You know what that's like from your own experience ...

Until the last few days it had never occurred to me that over the past 40 years (yes, I did begin my running career in 1972) I must have built up a massive amount of endurance/stamina.  So, when it comes to running long distances, my body knows how to do that now.  What I need to work more on are strength and maintaining my cruising speed.  In terms of running, the most recent training schedule - ending with September's race in Poland - was much better than the previous one which ended with the 2011 Commonwealth Championships.  I felt that after many years of tweaking things and trying new ideas I had finally found what works for me.

That is:  weekly back to back long runs up to 27 miles (43 km) in length three weeks out of four.  An extra long run (up to 41 miles/65 km) on the fourth week.  Hill reps, tempo runs, short races and short intervals ... the exact ratio of these depends upon how many weeks there are to my target race.  My weekly volume peaked at 100 miles per week (161 km).

Because I found this to work well the changes will be quite small:
- back to back long runs up to 25 miles (40 km)
- extra long run no longer than 38 miles (60 km)
- volume to peak at 90 miles per week (145 km)
- this will mean that recovery will be slightly better for the tempo, speed and hill work which will be very similar to what I have done recently.

I know that the weekly volume is slightly more than some other runners recommend (sorry Flyer) but I have to take account of my medical history - as a small child I was diagnosed with a recurrent papilloma on my larynx.  Dozens of operations later I was left with a narrower than usual windpipe.  Much later I had two bouts of cancer ending with the removal of half of my right lung.  One result of these illnesses is that my average resting heart-rate is probably higher than other elite runners (in Aug 2012 the average, on waking, was 44.9).  Another result - although I haven't been tested - will probably be a low VO2 max.

Strength work ... most of the stuff I've dropped were exercises that worked a single muscle group, and I've replaced them with compound exercises which work more than one muscle group.  As previously there will be three groups:  legs, core, arms and shoulders.  Core exercises will be little and often and I guess the others (mainly using dumbbells) will be three or four times a week on average for about 25 - 30 minutes at a time.

First of all though I need to fully recover from this ankle injury.  If it's no better by the end of next week I'll be having more tests to try and find out what's been missed.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

training thoughts

On planning my training for next year's races there are a few things which influence the choices I make:

- what are my strengths and weaknesses ?
- what do I enjoy doing ?
- what training has worked in the past and what hasn't ?
- how much available time do I have ?
- what are the key races ?
- I may have to prove my fitness prior to selection for UK and/or England teams

My training is mainly of four types ... running, strength work, cycling and stretching.

At the moment I spend about 20 minutes a day stretching and feel that, although my general flexibility isn't brilliant it is adequate.  To improve greatly would, I think, be too costly in terms of time spent. I will add a bit more specific stretching to address my recent ankle problem though.

I always feel that I'm not making the most of my time in the saddle.  I find it impossible to get my heart rate up to anywhere near what other runners report.  I do find it relaxing though and it does increase my aerobic fitness (but probably not by much) so I will keep the cycling.  Maybe I'll cycle less when other training takes up a lot of the available time.

My last training schedule included 12 different strength exercises for arms and shoulders, 17 for upper torso and core, 9 for legs.  Some of those I have found to show minimal or no strength gains at all so I will drop those and add a few others which I have found in various books recently.  I'm also going to add a few specifically to address my relative weak areas of shoulders and, now, ankle.  So I now have 9 strength exercises for arms and shoulders, 26 for upper core and torso, 19 for legs.  I do find strength work quite enjoyable and cost effective in terms of time spent.  Of course, for those exercises I'm keeping I'll be progressing by using heavier weights.

Overall this aspect of my training has gone very well over the past twelve months and I feel I have done the right amount of the right type at the right time.  The problem now is how to progress over the next twelve months.  One obvious answer is to increase the overall volume (distance run per week) but that comes with an increased risk of injury and tiredness which will impact on all my training.  I could progress by doing an extra rep or two when doing speedwork but also ... at my age if I can do the running at the same pace as last year that is an improvement in itself because I should be slowing due the effects of getting older.

I am well aware that my other weaknesses are footcare and nutrition and I will be doing my best to address both of those over the coming months.  Need to cut down on the croissants ... found some wonderful ones in  Northern Ireland recently.

So, lots to work on then.  That'll keep me busy for a while.  At the moment it looks extremely likely that I'll venture out for my first run somewhere between 12 and 21 October.  Something to look forward to.

Friday, 28 September 2012

now .. and next year

Just a short post today because, as you probably know, I haven't been running for almost three weeks now. At the start of this week the right ankle was still periodically aching but with each passing day that became less and less.  Today has been the best day since the injury.

At the start of this week I began strength and core work, being careful not to do anything to further damage my ankle or hinder the recovery.  It now seems very likely that I can begin cycling on Sunday ... that's never been my favourite form of exercise but I guess at the moment it's necessary.  More fun than swimming though.

At the moment it's unlikely that I'll be able to run for at least another seven to ten days.

That hasn't stopped me planning next year's racing and training though.  Many of you will know that I had planned to enter the Barcelona 24 hr race when I arrived home from Poland.  Well ... for the second consecutive year that has had to be abandoned.  Maybe next year ... or maybe it just isn't meant to be.

So, next year.  The World Championships will be held in Steenbergen (Netherlands) in May and UK Team Management have already informally suggested that those who ran in Poland should also run in the Netherlands.  I may have trouble proving my fitness though ... we'll see.

And then, in August 2013, I plan to be in Abingdon, Oxfordshire at the British Ultra Fest.  I know that Pam Storey has long wanted to stage a six day and 48 hr race in England and it seems that she's finally succeeded by getting together with Alan Young and Abichal Sherrington.  Should be good fun.

And then, maybe, if all goes well, I'll be off to Barcelona, at last ...

Now that I've got some time out from running I can properly review what I've done over the past year or so and ask myself some serious questions.  Did my training work ?  Could I have done anything better ? What are my weaknesses ?  etc, etc

Answers please to me at the usual address ...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

injury update

Arrived home from Northern Ireland a couple of days ago but since then we've been very busy - too busy to write something here anyway.  Mainly tidying and cleaning Keir's room - wow, that was amazing, the things we found down the back of the sofa and under the chest of drawers and ...

That took two full days !!! and last night we went to a friend's retirement party and didn't get back home until  mid morning today.

Also went to see a physiotherapist about my injured ankle.  Mainly to get as accurate a diagnosis as possible so that rehab will be as effective as possible.  So, the physio's verdict:  two grade 2 sprains to my right ankle.  That's unusual in itself but to further complicate matters both sprains are of an unusual type.  The first was a high ankle sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments which connect the bones of the leg to the top of the foot.  The second, which probably occurred after the first [whilst running on an already weakened ankle no doubt] was a medial or eversion ankle sprain.

Although I'm still taking ibuprofen the swelling has now 95% disappeared and the pain has gone but there is still minor discomfort when walking more than, say, 400m (0.25 mile) or up a long flight of stairs.  I'm also now doing calf stretches three times daily and will begin lunges in three or four days followed by bodyweight jump squats in seven to ten days (hopefully).

In the meantime I'm maintaining as much fitness as possible with upper body and core work and I've started cycling short distances and will increase the time on the bike slowly of the next few weeks as the ankle allows.  Not sure when I can start running yet but I imagine it will another week at least - and then only very short distances at first.

And on top of all that I returned from Northern Ireland with a cold.  Not happy.  Big toes still painful at times too.

Friday, 14 September 2012

injury ... university ... stats

Let me begin by getting one thing straight ... for a few days after a 24 hour race my head is all over the place (always has been) and I'm prone to making silly mistakes and doing a few stupid things [please don't mention DIY to Fay].  This time the big error was in the last post and, just to correct any errors, it is my RIGHT foot and ankle that is injured, not my left.

Yesterday was the first day since arriving home that I've been able to walk unaided - still painful and slow though.  And painfully slow !!!  I'll keep using ibuprofen for at least another week but ice and rest won't be so easy to come by after tomorrow.  Three toes are still strapped up - including both big toes.

Tomorrow is the day Keir goes to university.  So Fay and I are going (with Keir) to Coleraine in Northern Ireland for a few days to help with accommodation, shopping, etc.  We'll be back (without him) on Wednesday and I'm not going to post anything until else then at the very earliest.  I'll probably be too busy anyway.

Training for my next race begins then.  Cycling, stretching and weight training ... not sure about running, we'll see how things progress whilst I'm in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words on Facebook, this blog, by email and in person.  They're much appreciated and really have helped ease the disappointment of only 231 km.  Disappointed with 231 km - that sounds ridiculous but it is exactly how I felt.

At this moment in time I can't say whether they'll be a full race report.  They probably will be but it'll be a few weeks late as rehab and university are taking up all my spare time at the moment.

OK let me finish with a few stats of which I'm very proud.  I've now taken part in ten 24 hour races and what follows is a summary:

pb ... 238.286 km
average of best 2 performances ... 234.896 km
average of best 3 performances ... 233.711 km
average of best 4 performances ... 232.286 km
average of best 5 performances ... 230.381 km
average of best 6 performances ... 228.924 km
average of best 7 performances ... 227.752 km
average of best 8 performances ... 224.912 km
average of best 9 performances ... 222.439 km
average of all 10 performances ... 218.381 km

average of 2 most recent races ... 226.029 km
average of 3 most recent races ... 230.115 km
average of 4 most recent races ... 228.276 km
average of 5 most recent races ... 228.922 km
average of 6 most recent races ... 228.770 km
average of 7 most recent races ... 227.752 km
average of 8 most recent races ... 224.615 km
average of 9 most recent races ... 222.439 km

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

well, I made it (back home)

Just a brief race report for now ... more later, I'm sure.

The first ten hours went very well indeed and at that point I was still on my 245km schedule.  The eleventh hour was a struggle and my left shoulder began playing up so I went in for a massage which worked wonders.

The next few hours were also good and I managed to keep to my schedule well although it was inevitably getting harder by now.  Had another short shoulder massage at 15 hours before being told to get moving ... passed 100 miles a minute or two outside my pb but felt much stronger than when I set that time in 2010.

Towards the end of the 16th hour both my big toes began to feel badly bruised and within ten minutes or so I could barely put any weight on them.  So ... I asked the physio to sort me out.  And he worked a miracle here, both big toe nails had almost come off and both socks were quite badly blood stained.  At this point I was just on target for 245 km so I knew that a new pb was in the bag (my pb is 238.286 km).  I don't know what he did but within fifteen minutes of lying on his couch I went from having badly bruised feet to having feet that felt like new again.

Looking at the hourly splits now, it was obviously not quite as simple as that because I was slowly falling behind that schedule.  Then ... at 19 hours I suddenly had a feeling of pins and needles in the sole of my right foot - not a good sign I thought.  So, once again, physio Guy sorted me out (pointing out that the toe on my left foot was still bleeding).  For the next couple of hours I ran much as before but I was aware that it starting to become seriously hard work now.  I still expected to finish with more than 240k though.

But then, at 21 hours, tragedy struck.  My left ankle began to feel very weak and over the next lap or two got very bad indeed.  I knew this was serious so I had Guy sort me out again - lots of strapping and bruising.  And my toe was still bleeding.  When I mentioned that "I hope it isn't a stress fracture" he said:  "we'll worry about that after the race ... just get out there for three more hours."

And so I did.  The ankle was still weak but there wasn't much anyone could do about that but I decided to run for one minute then walk for one minutes, then two minutes of each, then three and so on until I reached the point which was most comfortable.  Within a couple of kilometres I had decided to go with four minutes running and two minutes walking.

Over the next hour or so I began to realise that 240k was now out or reach - I was walking two much.  I had no idea how far I had run but I didn't want to know either.  I was just trying to focus on blocking out those regular four minutes of pain.

After the race had finished Guy helped me hobble back to the crewing area where slowly everything was packed away.  For a few hours afterwards I simply didn't care about my final distance.  I knew I didn't have a pb and that was all I wanted to know.

Sleeping on Sunday night was not easy and when I finally got out of bed at 6.30am my ankle had swelled considerably and walking was difficult.  It only got worse as the day progressed.  During breakfast, the day after the race, Guy suggested I have an x-ray when I arrived home just in case ...

Getting home from Stansted was very difficult and painful and I'm deeply grateful to Eleanor Robinson for carrying my bag and physically helping me onto the Leeds train at Peterborough.

As I write this post I now know that my left ankle is just badly sprained and is probably a repetitive strain injury caused by the uneven surface on a 300m section of the circuit.  A tight left hand corner leading into that section didn't help either.  I'm not exactly happy though having to sit here with a crutch, an ice pack and some ibuprofen.

On a positive note ... I now know without doubt that I can run 150 miles (241.4 km) in 24 hours and I would have do so but for a sprained ankle.

The results for the UK runners were:

Pat Robbins ... 246.071 km
Steve Holyoak ... 240.377 km
Emily Gelder ... 238.875 km (3rd woman)
me ... 231.339 km
Debbie Martin-Consani ... 217.180 km
Sharon Law ... 210.404 km
John Pares ... 180.838 km
Karen Hathaway ... 179.956 km
Jen Salter ... 145.217 km

To finish I'd just like to thank EVERYONE who was there for Team UK (athletes and helpers) - they all made the weekend a memorable experience and I hope to get another chance next year at 150 miles.

Lots of photos here from Rory Coleman and from the IAU here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

last post

Well, that's it for now.  A short while ago I completed my last training session before leaving for Poland tomorrow.  It was 7 x 200m in 42.7s each with a 200m jog recovery.  Except that my time was about 40s each.

This morning was my last session of strength work - core mainly but also a bit of work on the legs.  Right now I feel better prepared than for any of my previous 24 hr races.  I'm also very aware that in long ultra races fitness is not necessarily a good indicator of performance ... there are so many other factors to consider such as nutrition, hydration, weather, crew, blisters, electrolytes, etc.  I believe I've got them all covered but if I've missed anything I'm sure some other member of team GB will be able to help out.

Between the strength work early this morning and the running this afternoon I spent the time making sure everything had been packed ... especially kit and food.  And then I did some more baking.  Fay and Keir's favourite desserts for the weekend.  Elderflower cheesecake and rose flavoured ice cream.  Shame it'll be all gone by the time I return.

This will be my last post before the race but you will be able to follow the action at and at

Thanks to everyone for wishing me well.  I'll write again next week.

Monday, 3 September 2012

making preparations

Spent much of today getting things organised for the trip to Poland at the end of the week.  We fly out on Thursday afternoon, race on Saturday and Sunday before flying home on Monday afternoon.  I'll be leaving home at 9.30am on Thursday and arrive back at about 7.30pm on Monday.

As well as getting all the kit, food and gear ready to pack tomorrow I also made a 1kg batch of flapjack.  I think homemade flapjack is ideal for ultras ... oats, golden syrup, sugar and whatever else you care to add.  I've added extra vitamins and minerals to this batch ... iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D

It doesn't taste too bad, it's definitely better than you would expect.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

what's going on here ...

This morning I took part in another 5k parkrun.  Hyde Park, Leeds again ... mainly because, if I'm not running to and/or from, it's the easiest one for me to get to.  The others in the locality are at Bradford Lister Park, Leeds Roundhay Park and Harrogate.

I was looking forward to this race as, unlike last week, I was racing without the effects of the previous day's hard training still in my legs.  As last week I was aiming for 18:20 for the 5k (3:40 per km).  After a few miles warm up jog I was ready to go and, although the first 400m or so are uphill, the first kilometre overall is downhill and so it is easy to get carried away and run too quickly.  My 1k split was 3:30 and I was a bit worried that it was too fast.

The second kilometre is slightly uphill and my time at this point was 7:13 (3:43 for that kilometre).  Pleased with that split as it showed I wasn't slowing too much after a quick start.  The third kilometre took me 3:40 (10:53 at 3k) and I was happily still 7 seconds ahead of schedule.  The third and fourth kilometres have a couple of very small hills to climb but overall are slightly downhill.

The fourth kilometre took me 3:44 but at this point I was more interested in my overall time which was 14:37 - 3 seconds ahead of schedule.  I knew now that I would have a very good chance of achieving my target as I had enough in reserve to run a marginally quicker final kilometre (even if it was slightly uphill).

That final kilometre took 3:37 which meant that my final time was 18:14


My second fastest ever 5k.  My pb is 17:53 on a hilly course in Bradford way back in 1998.
So that makes it an age category pb beating the 18:17 I ran just before the Perth 24 hr race in 2010.
The age graded time of 16:08 is also a pb.

At my age you're not supposed to be only 21 seconds adrift of your 5k pb ... especially when it was set 15 years ago.

You'll have to wait until next weekend for the conclusion to this story ... I feel sure it'll be a happy ending though.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

one week and counting

As race day approaches I've found a few interesting snippets of information ...

American ultra runner (and fellow ex-cancer patient) has written a fantastic preview of the race on his blog.  Unfortunately he won't be in Katowice this year but I had the pleasure of spending some time with him at the last World Championships in Brive.

The start list has now been confirmed and is available on the IAU website.  The most interesting name on the list is one Yiannis Kouros.  I don't think he's in the kind of form to win the race but one thought stuck me ... will it be the first time he's not finished first in a 24 hr race ?

Also missing this year will be Amy Palmiero-Winters.  An amazing woman who runs with a prosthetic leg after being involved in a motorcycle accident back in the mid 1990s.  Very close to 200 km (124 miles) in Brive but still about 15 km (9 miles) below her best ... truly inspirational.  If she can run 24 hrs there's nothing to stop you ...

The official race website is,news.html and it looks as if there may be live coverage.  The IAU website will also have regular updates, interviews and other information.

I'm sure many press releases have gone out over the past few days from runners, associations, sponsors and others.  One source of internet news local to Yorkshire which I've recently found is The Yorkshire Times.  An excellent site for anyone born and bred in God's own county.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


As the big race gets ever nearer the training has now changed focus.  The last week (and the next two) will see an ever increasing amount of speedwork.  Got to be careful though whilst tapering ... so, more and more speedwork whilst also decreasing the total volume of training (and no long runs).

This means, in theory, that I should have recovered from all the hard training over the past few months.  So, yesterday I travelled to Leeds to run one of the weekly parkrun 5k events.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect but in the end I decided to go out at 18:20 pace (3:40 per km) and see what would happen.

My kilometre times were 3:41 ... 3:50 ... 3:50 ... 3:50 ... 3:31

I finished 10th out of 259 with a time of 18:42.

Slightly disappointed with that but training the day before may have left me slightly tired.  I did 5 x 1200m in 4:35 each with 600m jog recovery between the efforts.  A very busy week helping Keir organise himself for starting university on the 15th September probably left me slightly tired too ... all that's finished now though.

Anyway 18:42 represents an age graded time of 16:33 which is only a few seconds slower than my best ever age graded 5k time.  Something positive there then.

Hopefully we'll see an improvement next week when I don't have any speedwork the day before ...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

happy and proud ...

Busy few days ahead ...

Last Thursday Keir received his A level results.  They were good and what his university of choice wanted but ...

That university was unwilling to formally offer him a place immediately !!!  We have no idea why, and when he phoned to ask about it he was told they would phone him back on the Friday with a decision about whether to offer him a place or not.

So, after a few sleepless nights worrying about his results he had to wait another day.  Not good.  By 5.00pm on Friday they still hadn't phoned so he called them ... again.  This time they told him he had to wait until Monday.

Waiting over the weekend wasn't much fun because we began to realise that if they couldn't offer him a place then most of the courses available through Clearing would have been taken.  By late Monday afternoon he still hadn't heard so he phoned for a third time.  This time the tale was:  "sorry for the delay, you'll definitely have a decision one way or the other within the next seven days."  He began to feel like he was being fobbed off.

What's going on here.  Don't they realise that the longer it takes the less options are available at the end.  Although Keir was panicking a bit on Thursday and Friday by now he was almost complacent.  As if he knew that the longer they left it the more likely he was to be offered a place.

This morning, at about 11.30am, he received that dreaded call.  At last.  So ... he'll be reading History and Politics at Ulster University from Monday 17 September 2012.

Now there's all the other stuff to organise ...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

almost there now

Well ... it's tapering now.  Last week was my last week of 'proper' training and it went very well indeed.  It included a club 3000m track race on Thursday which I completed in 10:54 ... my fastest time since the year 2000.

On Saturday morning was my last session of hill reps.  Up and down Newall Carr Bank, to the north of Otley, twenty times at about 8.00am.  Ouch ... Felt very good though, especially when I passed a group of cyclists from Otley Cycle Club on my last rep.

For some reason cyclists don't enjoy me passing them up the hills.

I've also spent the last week or two preparing pacing and nutrition plans for the big race early next month.  That's now out of the way and UK team management seem very happy with those which is a bonus as that means I can now concentrate on tapering and relaxing properly.

You may have noticed that this blog has undergone a few changes recently.  Hope everything works OK but if you find a link that doesn't work please let me know and I'll correct it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

last long run

This morning I set out on my last long run before Poland.  A few days ago I decided to make it a bit more enjoyable by catching a bus somewhere and running back home through some of the fantastic Yorkshire countryside that we have around here.

Limited only by where buses from the small town of Otley actually go to, I decided on Leeds.  And from there I chose a 30.3 mile route (48.8 km) which would take me through Seacroft, Thorner, Collingham, Wetherby, Sicklinghall, Kirkby Overblow, Weeton, Castley and Pool.

Obviously I had a decent cup of coffee in Leeds before running but the only places I found open at 9.00am were Costa, Nero and Starbucks.  I chose Costa.

The weather was lovely when I started running at 9.45am and it remained good all day.  Mainly cloudy but dry with temperatures peaking at 19.8 C (67.6 F).

The running went well although the first 50 minutes or so were spent leaving Leeds to the east, after that though the route was almost entirely on country lanes and it was a joy to be out and enjoying the day.  Passed through Thorner in 1h 10 mins and Collingham in 1h 45 before reaching Wetherby in 2 hours exactly.  That's 13.8 miles (22.2 km) at, what I felt was a fairly slow pace ... so I ran a bit faster for the remaining 16.5 miles (26.6 km).

Between Sickinghall and Kirkby Overblow the 360 degree views were awe inspiring and in the distance I could see Otley even though I still had over 10 miles to run (16 km).  The time from Wetherby to Otley was just under 2h 20 and the very last mile took just 7:54.  Overall that was very pleasing because it seemed so easy.  The times weren't spectacular but I did stop for a bit of food every hour which meant that the 'official' time of 4h 19:56 should probably be reduced by about 6 minutes.  So that's quite easily under 8:30 per mile (5:17 per km) which is always a benchmark for me on long runs.

Feel very good at the moment - long may it continue.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

training and Olympic news

Training this week has been very enjoyable indeed - mainly because of the sunshine (at last) but also because I decided that the three final long runs would be done plain and not fartlek.  Perhaps running 25 to 27 miles (40 to 43 km) with 12 x 7 to 8 minutes at 10k pace is a bit too much for my old body.

Especially as there are a couple of bits missing.

For those reasons I am seriously considering not doing the week of crash training which has characterised my build up to major races over the past few years.

So, yesterday I rose early and was out of the house at about 6.30am for a long run of about 26.5 miles (42.6 km).  I only ran up the valley to Addingham and then over the hill and down into Airedale before turning for home via Menston.  A wonderful early morning run which was made all the more pleasurable by being able to run on the roads BEFORE the early morning rush hour.

Today - another long run.  This time it was 29.3 miles (47.1 km) which used a long section of the Leeds Liverpool Canal between Kirkstall and Hirst Lock.  The trek up Hollins Hill after 3.5 hours of running wasn't much fun ... but was greatly rewarding.

As an aside, the Royal Mail are painting some of their pillar boxes gold in honour of the UK Olympic gold medallists.  They will be in the winners' home towns.  By coincidence I happened to run past one in Horsforth (near Leeds) this morning.  The paint was still wet and the workman had just finished the job and was putting his tools away.  I know Yorkshire has a few gold medallists but I wasn't aware of any that came from Horsforth ... and then I remembered, I know Alistair Brownlee lives in Bramhope but he was born in Horsforth.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Olympics and World Championships

Fantastic few hours for UK last night at the London Olympics.  Gold for Jess Ennis in the heptathlon.  Gold for Greg Rutherford in the long jump.  Gold for Mo Farah in the 10000m.  Great Stuff ... especially when added to more gold medals in cycling and rowing.

Shame about the men's football though.

As I type this the women's marathon has just started in a rain soaked London.  I don't think we'll get a medal in this event though.  Especially now that Paula Radcliffe has withdrawn because of injury.

Planning for the World 24 hour Championships goes ahead unabated.  Flights have been booked for the runners, team managers, physio and helpers.  Accommodation will be booked shortly.  Then there's kit to sort out.  Fay reckons we'll be wearing the same kit as the Olympic runners (minus the 5 rings logo) but I'm not so sure ... we'll have to wait and see.  I guess UK Athletics are a bit busy at the moment.

It would be good to get the stuff as soon as possible though so that it can worn, washed and worn again in training to make sure it fits perfectly and won't chaff or rub anywhere.  Twenty four hours is a long time to wear running gear ... it NEEDS to fit properly.

Training today is 6 x 1 mile (1.6km) and tomorrow is just cycling and strength work.  Long runs on Tuesday and Wednesday but on the former I need to leave home early so that I'm back in time for the men's triathlon in which the Brownlee brothers are competing for Wharfedale.  Start time 11.00am

Must go now ... the flapjack needs to come out of the oven and then I'll start on the bread.  The smell of fresh bread ...

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

the week so far

After last weeks good training I was brought down to earth with a bump yesterday afternoon.  As usual on a Monday afternoon I had a long run planned - fartlek.  In this case it was just over 26 miles (42 km) [coincidence] and after a 30 minute warm up the plan was to alternate 7.5 minutes at 10k pace with 4 minutes recovery.

The route was quite hilly and the wind a little strong but I ran well to the end, finishing in under 3 hours 20.  But then the problem started.  It just seemed to take ages to recover and no amount of rest, milk, ice baths or bananas could make me feel like completing the scheduled 28.8 mile (46.4 km) run this morning.

So I went for a slow run this afternoon - 10 miles (16 km) in about 1h 20.

Complete rest tomorrow.

Good Olympic news for my home town though.  At one point Otley (population about 15000) was number twelve in the medal table.  Lizzie Armitstead rode magnificently in a very exciting cycle race on Sunday afternoon to finish with a silver medal.

Watching it on TV was most inspiring and I dare say I ran a bit too hard yesterday.  Surprising to come across Ian Fisher shopping in Shipley though.  I had run about 20 miles (32 km) at that point and was looking forward to a long haul up Hollings Hill about 2 miles (3 km) further along.  Stopped to chat about Lizzie's achievement for a couple of minutes ...

Friday, 27 July 2012

very short race

Each year Otley AC organise two track races for members only.  The first is a one mile race and the second is 3000m.  The first one of 2012 took place last night and I was quite looking forward to it as I hadn't taken part in a mile race for almost five years.  It being a whole lot different from my usual race meant that I had absolutely no idea about pacing this one so I began by looking back at my previous times:

5:19 ... 15 Sep 1998  (age graded 5:13)
5:37 ... 24 Aug 2004  (age graded 5:18)
5:41 ... 23 Aug 2005  (age graded 5:19)
5:40 ... 30 Aug 2007  (age graded 5:13)

I then looked at my current times in training and decided that I should be able to manage somewhere between 5:45 and 5:50

At the track I was surprised that only seven people had turned out.  I'm sure we used to have enough runners for two or more races.  One of those looking for a short race was president Mick Jeffrey who, I felt sure, was after the M60 club record of 6:08

After half an hour warming up and waiting in vain for other runners to arrive we decided to race.  The only problem was ... we didn't have a timekeeper.  So, the ever resourceful Richard Hamer persuaded a member of staff to help out for a few minutes.

And then we were off.  Graham Lake shot to the front and after about 100m I knew I wouldn't be able to compete with that pace.  My only hope of winning was if he blew up.  I went through 400m in about 85s with Mick hot on my heels.  I was working hard but expected to be able to keep that pace going.  Mick was still tailing me at the half mile and, more significantly, Graham was not increasing his lead - it was remaining constant at about 25m.

The third lap saw Mick lose touch and I reached the bell in about 4:17 gaining slightly on Graham.  With about 350m remaining I lapped Antonio and down the back straight I began to think the leader was beginning to tire too much and that I might just catch him if I could muster a sprint finish.

That wasn't to be though.  My final lap was my fastest (about 1:22) and I suspect that Graham just started his finishing spurt a bit later than me.  I was well pleased with my time of 5:39 which is an M45 pb and also an age graded pb (see this page for details).

The race was won with 5:28 and the president equalled the club's M60 record with his 6:08 although he probably could have gone a bit quicker with better pacing.

Finally ... to all those running in the Lake District this coming weekend (100 miles & 50 miles) I hope the weather stays kind and that you all have good and enjoyable races.  Especially John Kynaston and Sarah Fuller.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The last few days

Yesterday's long run went without hitch.  I decided to run two separate 18 mile (29 km) routes with no rest between them - mainly to avoid carrying lots of refreshments.  It could have been a bit boring but by choosing the routes wisely that was avoided.

So, overall I ran 36.4 miles (58.6 km) in five hours exactly.  Very pleased with that as the weather has decided to give us something resembling summer ... at last.  Very warm and sunny towards the end (23.8 C/74.8 F).

Only strength work today but tomorrow it's an 8 mile (13 km) tempo run and on Thursday it's the club's annual 1 mile track race over in Keighley.  Looking forward to that.

And congratulations to Simon Anderson on joining the Bob Graham club at the weekend.  His time of 22 hours 33 was fantastic and well deserved.

Also well done to all the runners at the Anglo Celtic Plate who successfully proved their fitness to the selectors for the World 24 hr Championships.  Especially the English women who retained the team title.

Friday, 20 July 2012

stuff ...

Yesterday evening Otley AC had one of their monthly handicap races.  This one was 2.9 miles (4.7 km) around woodland to the south of Otley.  With one large hill at about half way.

Having ran 28 miles (45 km) the day before and 6 miles (10km) eleven hours before the handicap I wasn't expecting anything fantastic in terms of time.  In fact, I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd finished last.  Especially with all that mud.

I started with three other runners [Lloyd Best, Simon Toyne and Richard Smith] and they immediately sped off into the distance, as expected.  After about a mile (1.6 km) I realised that I was actually closing quite rapidly on one of them.  Passed Lloyd going up the hill and then closed the gap significantly on Simon and Richard.  Unfortunately they took a slight wrong turn just after 2 miles (3.2 km) and I passed them both at that point and stayed in front.  Shortly afterwards I began overtaking many of the runners who had started before me although I was never overtaken by any faster runner who started behind me.

So, a very good run be me ... and an excellent time too.  19:18 is just one second slower than my best on that course which dates back to June 2007.

This event was followed by a much enjoyed barbecue at Otley Cricket Club where it was good to see and catch up with long standing member Phil Robinson who's still recovering slowly after a horrific cycling accident about 12 months ago.

Also in news ... best wishes to Simon Anderson on this weekend's attempt at a Bob Graham Round.  And then there's the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in south Wales on Sunday - all the best to those runners (especially the England team, of course).

And finally some sad news for music fans.  Jon Lord - keyboard player with The Artwoods, Deep Purple and Whitesnake - died earlier this week after suffering a pulmonary embolism.  His work with those bands was outstanding (especially with his Hammond organ) but he has also been quite prolific in recent years as a writer of classical music.  BBC Radio 4 aired an obituary this afternoon during which someone mentioned that  Jon Lord was the only person ever to have been #1 in the classical music chart and #1 in the pop music chart.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The next few weeks

Since my last post my training has been:

FRIDAY 13 JULY ... 8.5 miles (13.7 km) tempo.  The plan was to run at about 6:52 per mile (4:16 per km) but I can't say I was looking forward to it because of the strong winds.  Half way through I felt very good - and the wind was proving to be no problem at all - so I just continued at the same pace and finished in 57:23 (6:45 per mile/4:12 per km).  Really pleased with that.

SATURDAY 14 JULY ... just an 8 mile (13 km) recovery run.

SUNDAY 15 JULY ... hill reps up (and down) Newall Carr Bank just to the north of Otley.  Fourteen times, not excessive but that will increase to twenty by the middle of August.

Today also marks the beginning of proper training again after three weeks recovery from the ULTRArace 100.  If you haven't read it yet, my report is here.  Only eight weeks now to the World Championships which will be five weeks training and three weeks tapering.  The next five weeks (running) training will be:

MONDAY 16 JULY ... long run fartlek (25 miles/41 km)
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY ... long run (28 miles/45 km)
THURSDAY 19 JULY ... steady (9 miles/15 km)
FRIDAY 20 JULY ... tempo (9 miles/14 km)
SATURDAY 21 JULY ... steady (9 miles/15 km)
MONDAY 23 JULY ... long run (39 miles/63 km)
THURSDAY 26 JULY ... tempo (8 miles/13 km)
SATURDAY 28 JULY ... 200m reps
SUNDAY 29 JULY ... steady (6 miles/10 km)
MONDAY 30 JULY ... long run fartlek (26 miles/42 km)
TUESDAY 31 JULY ... long run (29 miles/46 km)
THURSDAY 2 AUGUST ... hill reps
FRIDAY 3 AUGUST ... tempo (7 miles/11 km)
SATURDAY 4 AUGUST ... steady (6 miles/10 km)
SUNDAY 5 AUGUST ... 1 mile/1.6 km reps
TUESDAY 7 AUGUST ... long run fartlek (27 miles/43 km)
WEDNESDAY 8 AUGUST ... long run (29 miles/47 km)
THURSDAY 9 AUGUST ... steady (6 miles/9 km)
FRIDAY 10 AUGUST ... hill reps
SUNDAY 12 AUGUST ... steady (5 miles/9 km)
MONDAY 13 AUGUST ... long run fartlek (27 miles/43 km)
TUESDAY 14 AUGUST ... long run (30 miles/48 km)
THURSDAY 16 AUGUST ... hill reps
FRIDAY 17 AUGUST ... tempo (6 miles/10 km)

I'll also try to fit in a few of the upcoming club events:

2.9 mile (4.7 km) handicap on Thursday 19 July
Golden Acre Relay on Wednesday 25 July
1 mile (1.6 km) track race on Thursday 26 July
3000m track race on Thursday 16 August

On to other stuff now.

There's a great new e mag put together by Paul Ali called Ultra Tales and the second edition has just been released.  See here for all the details and a great read.  And then there's the new book from Tim Noakes (Waterlogged) who argues that the human body is quite capable or regulating it's own hydration and electrolyte status - so long as we don't interfere by doing things such as drinking to excess or ignoring thirst.  That book is a fascinating read - see what the fuss is all about here.

Finally let me tell about something which happened on today's training run when four cyclists passed by ...

the first cyclist turned to me and said "100 miles today, Chris ?"
"Not today" I replied.
The second cyclist looked at us both in surprise then said "we are"
the third cyclist then piped up "but we're on bikes, you fool"
the fourth cyclist just laughed as they sped off into the distance.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

a very good week (updated) ...

Training has gone exceptionally well so far this week.  My training week starts on Sunday (yes, I know that's a bit unusual but it just fits better with everything else in my life) and apart from strength work it was just a steady 6 miles (10 km).

Monday afternoon was a long fartlek of just over 19 miles (31 km) which basically comprised alternating 6:50 at 10k pace with 4:00 easy.  That went very well indeed on an undulating route and the following morning I did another long run - more than 22 miles (36 km) this time.  Again I couldn't believe how easy it all seemed [8:11 per mile/5:05 per km].  I seem to be flying at the moment and I'm not sure why.  Feels good though.

Wednesday afternoon was to be the most difficult session of the week ... 5 x 1 mile (1.6 km) in 6:16.2 each.  Made even more difficult by the strong westerly winds in Wharfedale.  As I hadn't done any similar training for about 12 months, and I'm still in recovery mode (just about), I wasn't sure how I would fare.  I used the Otley 10 mile markers along Pool Road which meant reps 1, 3 and 5 were with a tail wind while reps 2 and 4 had a head wind.  The times were 5:58.2, 6:29.2, 6:16.2, 6:23.2 and 6:16.5.  The mean was 6:16.7 and considering the strong winds I very pleased with that.

Rest day today.

Yesterday I also received an email from UK Athletics confirming my selection for the World 24 hr Championships in September.  Very relieved after everything that happened in June.  I know that a few other runners have still to prove their fitness so I don't really understand why this confirmation email has been sent.  To everyone I presume.

Planning can now go ahead - pacing and nutrition mainly but also training for the next eight weeks can now be finalised.  For the nutrition plan I will use the ULTRArace 100 as the starting point as, in general, that worked very well indeed.  Just needs tweaking.  For pacing I'll probably use ... well, I know what my targets are.  And what I'm capable of.

Right, got to go, no more time.  More later.

OK I'm back now, sorry about that.  Worries regarding Fay, work, health sometimes take priority over this blog.  I'm sure you understand.

After editing some of the above I'm not sure I should be blogging about selection just yet as it doesn't seem to have been officially announced just yet.  Anyway congratulations to JP, PR, SH, DMC, EG, KH, MD and JS.

A couple of things I've just noticed:  (1) I'm the oldest person in the team and (2) the youngest man is a couple of years older than the oldest woman.  Hmmmm

Friday, 6 July 2012

recovery and race report

Recovery has been going very well at the moment.  I planned to take three weeks to get back into full training and everything is on schedule ... so far.

The last couple of weeks have included the usual stuff - tempo runs, hill reps, steady runs, a race, etc - just less of them.  Like a taper in reverse.

Today's training was a 5.5 mile (8.9 km) tempo run.  The target was just over 38 minutes and, with the heavy rain and strong winds to contend with, I was pleased to achieve that almost exactly.

Apologies for the ULTRArace 100 report taking so long but I've had a couple of gremlins in the system here and for some reason I don't seem able to include any photos to go with the text.  If I can get that sorted I'll put them in later and let you know.

Anyway - you can now read about my last ultra on this page.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Harrogate League 2012

Let's begin by saying a big 'well done' to everyone from Otley AC who turned out for the final Harrogate League race yesterday evening.

The off-road 8k course was exceptionally muddy and, in places, it was like trying to run on an ice skating rink.  I slipped, of course, at about halfway but got up (covered in mud, grazes and bruises) and managed to run strongly and pull back lots of places helping the club to their first overall League win since 2009.

The women also won their competition, for only the second time ever.  And we also won the elite competition ... that's three wins out of six team competitions.  Fantastic.

Thanks too to Nidd Valley Road Runners and Vocalink RC for organising the race, and to Paul Wood for all his hard work compiling results.

Last night I finished in 57th position (out of 232) with a time of 35:49.  I know it's not too fast but I'm happy with that for three reasons:

1 - it was only six days after a 100 miler and I just ran how I felt ... faster if I felt good, slower if I didn't
2 - the mud was terrible, I never feel comfortable when slipping and sliding everywhere
3 - I beat at least five runners that I expected to finish behind

Also ... I won a prize in the raffle.  Some electrolyte tablets which will be very useful indeed.

Well, that's all for now.  I've got a race report to write.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

ULTRArace 100

This will be just a short, preliminary report - no doubt I'll gather my thoughts for a proper report in a week or two.

You know it takes me a while to get those things together.

A month or so before the race I set myself a target of 16h 30 and I was about 5 minutes ahead of this until about 59 miles when I needed an emergency toilet stop.  At about 69 miles I was sick three or four times.  When approaching the 80 mile checkpoint I tripped/fell and whilst dusting myself down, locating the pain, limping, etc I ran past the turn and continued for about three quarters of a mile before realising - this means I ran about 1.5 miles EXTRA this year.

Makes up for last year I suppose !!!

At 80 miles I was scheduled to finish in about 17h 20.

So I dug in deep and finished in 16h 41:16

Pleased with that for three reasons:

(1)  an hour quicker than last year
(2)  to run a very fast last 20 miles after those mishaps was very satisfying
(3)  UK Athletics wanted me to run sub 18 hours to prove my fitness ahead of September's World 24 hr Championships - just a bit of added pressure

Disappointed with only finishing second though.

Many thanks to Hugh Pearson for being a great crew person ... and to Rory and Jen for organising a fantastic race.  I only wish there were more events of this type in the UK.

And not forgetting those people who anonymously donated via PayPal using the link on the right.  I welcome your faith in me and hope that faith is beginning to be rewarded.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

63 hours and counting

Almost there now ... one more training run, two more sessions of strength work, two of stretching and no more cycling.

And plenty of rest.

Glad to be able to report that last weeks selection stresses have been resolved and it's fair to say that good old fashioned common prevailed.  I would like to think that all sides have learned a few lessons for the future though which can only be a good thing.

The weather has been excellent in Yorkshire for the past few days ... warm and dry with sunny spells.  I'm not sure it's going to last until Friday though but I don't expect it to rain as much as it did last year ... PLEASE.

Apparently there are a few other races this weekend, so ... all the best to all the runners but especially:  Richie Cunningham, Adrian Stott and Paul Tranter in the West Highland Way Race; Jez Bragg in the Western States Endurance Run (Western states 100); and Racheal Bamford in the UKA Olympic Trials (1500m).

Hope we all have a good one.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Not much to report today

After a week of high stress (needlessly so in my opinion) I now feel back on track for a good run next Friday.

Hope the weather holds out though.  At the moment it seems to depend on which forecast one uses.

The stress levels are falling and I'm putting the finishing touches to my pacing strategy - plotting planned split times and their locations.

Not much else to report today ... I'm sure they will be in a few days.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Otley 10

Spent much of yesterday helping out at the annual 10 mile road race organised by my club (Otley AC).  OK, OK the club doesn't belong to me but you know what I mean.

This year was the 28th staging of the popular evening race which, strangely enough, seemed to enjoy much better weather when it was held in mid May.  The course itself winds it's way through beautiful countryside to the north of Otley and is well known across northern England for the two rather large hills - see the course profile here.  I don't believe this course was particularly designed to be difficult, it's just that it wasn't easy for the club at that time to find a suitable route locally for a road race without incorporating some hills.  I now think it's quite rare for such a long standing race to have a course record which is over 50 minutes.

The course records are:  50:56 (Colin Moore - 1989) and 57:40 (Veronique Marot - 1989)

This year's winner was Matt John (Otley AC) who finished in just over 56 minutes.

Colin Best deserves much credit for organising the race this year (and last year too).  Hopefully he can continue for many years to come and also hopefully I can be of more help than I was this year as the race has always been a bit special for me.  I was race director from 2000 to 2008/9 but had to resign when the pressures of Running to London and trying to secure selection for the 2009 Commonwealth Championships began to take their toll.

I'm sure Colin would want to join me in saying 'thank you' to all the marshals and other helpers who make this race possible.  I think that many people not involved in organising a race fail to appreciate the manpower needed to stage an event like this.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Crisis ... what crisis

Bad news (I think) at the weekend.

I've been told that the 100 mile race I'm due to run in less than two weeks is not a suitable race in which to prove my fitness for the World 24 hr Champs in September.

I've also been told that I was required to prove my fitness before the selectors met a couple of days ago.  Despite the fact that I entered this race BEFORE the selection criteria was announced.


The good news is that I'm injury free again but working with lighter weights than normal for the next few days 'just in case'.  That was a strange injury though - painful at the time but quick to heal.  Prompt action I suppose.

Still tapering hard.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ouch ... maybe ... or maybe not

On Sunday, when training with some weights, I felt a pain in my lower back ... ouch.  I immediately applied ice, took some ibuprofen and stopped exercising.

On Monday I went to the physio and was relieved to discover that it isn't at all serious and that I can continue running ... so long as I continue with the 2Is *  No weight training for a while though and I've booked a couple of light massages.  The first was this morning and I fell much better.

After that scare I'm fully confident of being completely pain free and back to normal next week.

Must congratulate Debbie Martin-Consani on her fantastic run in the Grand Union Canal Race at the weekend.  She finished first in appalling weather and set a new women's course record.  And, I would suggest, secure her place in the UK team for the World 24 hr Championships - although that is for the selectors to decide when they meet at the weekend.  Well done Debbie.

* 2Is ... ice and ibuprofen

Saturday, 2 June 2012

this week

It's been quite a busy few days since my last post ...

Tuesday 29 May - Keir's 18th birthday.  He had already told us that he didn't want to spend too long celebrating as he wanted to not be distracted from his exams (which have already started).  We still managed to ensure he had a memorable day though.

Wednesday 30 May - long run.  Over thirty miles in the morning and strength work in the evening.  My last long run before the ULTRArace 100.

Thursday 31 May - 5.5 mile race (8.9 km) race in Yeadon which forms part of the Harrogate League series.  I ran 38:11 on the muddy (and slippery) trails and finished in 45th position (out of 262).  Quite surprised by this for two reasons:  (1) only one day after a very long run and only 6 seconds behind my best on that course, (2) I, along with about half a dozen other runners, lost about 30 seconds after taking a wrong turn in Esholt just before the long climb through the woods.

My club, Otley AC, seems to be doing very well indeed so 'well done everyone'.

Friday 1 June - 7.6 mile tempo run (12.2 km) in the afternoon.  The target was 6:51 per mile (4:15 per km) and I thought I might struggle with that less than 24 hrs after quite a hard race.  However, without pushing too hard, I managed 6:43 per mile (4:10 per km).  The idea was to run quite fast but also to 'run to feel' - always being in control of any residual niggles from the race or long run.  Pleased with that.  More strength and core work in the evening.

Day off today but thing about those running the Grand Union Canal Race, especially Debs, Jerry, Pat R, Mike B and Richard Q.

Back to training tomorrow but I'm now in tapering mode for three weeks.  I just hope the recent summer weather holds out and we don't have 12 hours of rain on 22/23 June.

Monday, 28 May 2012

just a quick update

Good to find my normal self again hiding in the sunshine.  With less than four weeks to go before my next ultra all my usual enthusiasm for training seems to have returned.  Looking forward now to a good race.

Yesterday's training run was hill reps in the afternoon.  Ten times up a short steep hill (250m) to the north of Otley.  All in all I was out of the house less than 45 minutes and lost over 2 kg in weight (3.5 lb).

Fay says:  "If you find it can you give it back please ?"

The temperature in the shade was apparently 25.8 C (78.4 F).  There wasn't much shade where I was running though ...

I've just recently come across a blog written by A Big Horse and the entry for 24 May describes what a 24 hour race is all about.  I'd say that is one of the best descriptions I've ever read, especially the following ...

"The time after 100 miles is all about making peace with pain and finding your most efficient stride at effort level you can continue to the end of the race.  Will there be pain - Yes.  What kind of pain - Unknown.  Nausea, knee, hip, ankle, shoulders, feet, blisters, chaffing, fatigue, dizziness, hamstrings, quads, calves, headache ... Who know which combination you will face - Only that there will be pain.  This is where you find out how serious you are about the race.  There will be multiple, reasonable reasons to stop or at least back down and only 1 reason to continue at max effort ... because you will it.

All plans of 24 hour racers are limited by 4 things:  1)  Actual fitness level for race, 2)  What your body decides to give you that day (Much more variable than marathon or even 50 mile races), 3)  Weather and 4)  You ability to problem solve the issue that yo will face - There will be things that go wrong, how well do you problem solve to minimize those issues."

Great stuff by a member of the US team.  They will be very difficult to beat in Poland come September.

Off to do lift some weights now.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

felling better ...

After a few days of 'no pressure running' I'm beginning to feel better already.  Of course the recent change in the weather has helped ... and so too has my decision to also do a bit less strength work and cycling for a week or so.

Monday afternoon was a gentle 23 miles (37 km) up the valley and back, and Tuesday morning was another gentle run, 25 miles this time (40 km) in the heat.  I believe the temperature was 15 C (59 F) on Monday afternoon and 16 C (60 F) on Tuesday morning.  Sunny on both days too - and that is due to continue until next week (and beyond, hopefully).

So, there's been a definite improvement in my general mood and I'm beginning to look forward to training again and in particular a long run next week.  Maybe from York to Otley via Tadcaster, Scarcroft and Bramhope on Wednesday.  Any takers ...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

mentally tired

Just had a few very heavy training weeks and I'm feeling a little tired:

since Easter an average week has been ... about twelve hours of running and two hours on the bike and over five hours strength work finishing off with almost two hours of stretching.  And there's been a couple of races too.

And now, although the body has coped remarkably well, the mind needs a break.  So this week I've decided not to do quite so much and the plan is ... no cycling and no steady running.  In essence I'm just keeping the essential stuff for seven to ten days.

That's the long runs, hill reps, tempo runs, speedwork, strength work and stretching ONLY which will free up a good few hours for mental recovery.

The strange thing is that I'll begin tapering anyway in less than two weeks from now.  But sometimes, recently, when it's been time to go for a run I've been in two minds about whether to actually get my kit on or not.  Perhaps it's the very early stages of overtraining syndrome, or maybe a virus, or maybe the worst Yorkshire springtime on record is just getting me down ... but whatever it is I need to get it sorted.  Now.

So, a relatively easy week or so and hopefully I'll come bouncing back in time for a hard three weeks tapering.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

flapjack and racing

That flapjack ... well, it wasn't unpleasant and it was very slightly salty.  No problems at all on a 24.5 mile run (39.5 km) through Airedale and Wharfedale.  In fact I don't envisage any problems for a long ultra too and it seems to me to be a convenient way of taking on board the necessary electrolytes.

I found the basic recipe on the BBC website to which I suppose you could add almost anything you would want.

Anyway that trial happened on Tuesday morning and later that same day I took part in race two of the Harrogate District Summer Race League -  a fantastic series of six races between early May and late July.  This race was in Thirsk over a course described as 'a little under 10k'.  Last year I ran that in 37:28 but wasn't expecting to get too close to that time this year because of the morning's long run.

So my 37:01 came as a complete shock.  I started conservatively and seemed to get progressively faster with each passing mile.  Although in reality I guess that everyone else was slowing down at a far greater rate than me.  Still, I've got to be happy with Tuesday's training:  over 24 miles in the morning, 9.5 km (?) in 37 mins in the evening.

This morning I went for a run in the rain again and felt myself perversely enjoying it.  Perhaps I'm getting used to it ... or perhaps it's a different type of rain.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

from 5k to 24 hours

Apologies for not posting for a while but I've been a bit busy recently ... and Fay was ill at the start of last week which didn't help (but she seems OK now though).

Yesterday I ran in my first open race of the year.  It was only a local 5k but it was good for speedwork and after running to and from the venue provided another 20 miles or so (32 km) to my weekly total of over 90 (145 km).  I was very pleased to complete the three lap 5k in 9th position with a time of  19:58, especially as the 373 other runners caused a bit of blockage on the second and third laps.

Also pleased with that run because on 28 May last year I did the same race (and also ran to the start) with a time of 20:59 ... so that's an improvement of over a minute in twelve months which bodes well for the ULTRArace 100 which is less than 6 weeks away now.

I've also been experimenting with flapjack.  I've been using homemade flapjack to fuel my long runs for a few months now.  Recently I had a thought that perhaps I could fortify it with added electrolytes and/or extra vitamins and minerals, especially for long ultra races where electrolytes are very important.

Well, I made a batch yesterday afternoon and to the 1000g flapjack mixture I added 16g salt and also some extra B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium.  I added the quantities needed for my next ultra race after taking into account all the other stuff I plan to eat and drink.  I've had a small piece of the finished product to see if it is palatable ... and it's not too bad (very slightly salty) but I'll have more of an idea about whether it may be suitable after Tuesday's long run when it gets it's first road test.  More details later.

I'll have to get myself a digital camera.

On Friday Fay managed to find some coffee from Thailand.  I've never actually come across any Thailand coffee for sale so that was a big surprise - it's quite good too if a little mild for my taste.

And it's Keir's 18th birthday at the end of this month so that's something he's looking forward too.  Today we booked his accommodation in Belfast for when he starts university there in September.  Yes, I know he hasn't even taken his A levels yet but apparently they want accommodation to be booked first - and a £300 bond paid too !!!

This weekend has also seen the annual Basel 24 hr race in Switzerland in which several UK athletes were attempting to get World Championship qualifying distances before the end of May.  I'm not sure of any distances or results other than John Pares finished first.  Congratulations to him ... it's practically a home town race for John though   :)

Monday, 7 May 2012

long run today

Today I expected to get wet.  The weather forecast was for rain beginning at about lunchtime and getting progressively heavier throughout the afternoon.  Regular readers will know that I do my long fartlek runs in the afternoon so ...

Anyway, I woke up this morning and, on the spur of the moment, decided to run the 22 hilly miles (35 km) immediately after breakfast.  Just to make it a bit more difficult.

Two and a half to three hours interspersing 5 mins at 10k pace with 3.5 mins recovery is never going to be easy but after lunch, when the blood sugar has risen a bit, it isn't usually quite so daunting.

So ... long fartlek completed before lunch and home before the rain.  Which happened to be almost non existent.  Typical of the British weather to be so unpredictable.

My knee doesn't ache now either.  Very good.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

bits and pieces

Well, today is the first day of my next 4 week training block.  As usual my last block ended with an 'easy week' in which I reduced everything by one third.  My three runs last week were a 6 mile (9.6 km) tempo run, a long run of almost 44 miles (71 km) and some hill reps (10 x Farnley Lane in Otley).

Some of the strength work I had planned wasn't completed but that was due mainly to wedding anniversary celebrations (24 years) and not injury.  Having said that, my left knee does seem to be aching a bit today.

I've also been home alone all weekend as Fay and Keir have been camping in Harrogate with hundreds of scouts from all over Yorkshire.  I'm sure they're having lots of fun but it's been very cold at night ... too cold for me to be under canvas.

Like lots of others I've been following the trials and tribulations of the eleven runners who left John O'Groats 16 days ago heading for Land's End.  It's been a fascinating journey and one which I have found immensely inspiring.  I know I'll be thinking about what they achieved as I complete another long run in the rain tomorrow  :(

Many congratulations to Rainer Koch on winning the event.  It has been a privilege to follow his progress day after day through the rain.

Much like my training last month really.