Friday, 24 February 2012

speed work, races and the BBC

Speed work today.  Lots of short reps ... well, ten anyway.  Not easy with a gale force wind blowing so that some reps were 20 seconds per mile (12.5s/km) faster than others but with less effort !!!

A good training session though and I hit my targets for AVERAGE pace which I'm pleased about in the conditions.  Also working hard on form as mentioned in the previous post.

I'm pleased that Pam Storey appears to have finally got her ultra races off the ground with the news that she's planning to stage a 48 hr and a 24 hr race in Horsham, near London in August.  I really would love to take part in the longer of the two but it is a bit close to this year's World 24 hr Championships - early September in Poland.

That's if I'm selected of course.  And therein lies the problem ... UK Athletics have not yet announced any selection criteria or guidelines.  Plenty of stuff for other international events but nothing for this when common sense dictates that the longer the race the more notice the athletes should have so they can plan the rest of their season.  Long races means long recovery.

Perhaps the powers that be have decided not to send a team to Katowiche.  Stranger things have happened ... but I just wish they would tell the athletes.

There's been a good article on the BBC website recently about sleep and how humans evolved to take sleep in four hour blocks and not eight hours at a time which most people believe.  Of course ultra runners - especially multi day runners - have always known that short periods of sleep are best.

Continuing with the BBC, an episode of Horizon next Tuesday may prove interesting.  It's entitled The Truth About Exercise.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

a couple of short long runs

Yesterday afternoon and this morning.  Two long runs.  Fartlek then steady.

OK so they weren't very long by our standards but I returned home totally unscathed but a bit tired.  That may have been because much of those two runs were into a strong headwind.  Many of you will know that my shoulders are a weak spot and that was where I came unstuck in the high winds of Llandudno.  Well, I've been doing lots of strength work on that area (and will continue to do so) and recently I've been concentrating hard on maintaining good form when faced with strong winds ... basically trying very hard to relax and to not tense my shoulders and neck.

So far so good but as I only travelled 10.7 and 11.7 miles (17.1 and 18.8 km) there's still much work to be done.  Feeling good though after this afternoon's session with the weights.

Pancakes to look forward to later this evening ...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Nothing to do with me this time

Nothing much to report about me and my training at the moment - everything is going well - so I'll post a few bits and pieces about other ultra related stuff.

First up is a piece I found in the Northern Running Guide recently which mentions that at the up coming Sheffield Adventure Film Festival there will be a screening of the recent 16 minute film about Scottish international Fiona Rennie made by her husband Pete and Helen Brogan.  Congratulations to everyone involved in that.  You can also read about the short film at the Diversity Films website.  Do watch if you get the chance ... it is rather inspiring.

Next weekend there are a couple of races of interest.  Firstly there's a rather unusual race taking place in northern France from 22 February - a 48 hr treadmill race to which six top ultra runners have been invited including William Sichel.  As usual all the details are/will be on his website.

And then there's the Espoo indoor 24hr in Finland which is hosting the Swedish Championships (but not the Finnish - don't ask [I don't know the answer]).  All the best to Anth Courtney and Torill Fonn who are both taking part.  I hope Anth gets to see the northern lights while he's in Finland.

Finally, it appears that at the start of this month the Australian Ultra Runners Association announced selection details for the World 24 hr Championships later this year.  Basically the qualifying standards are 210 km for men and 190 km for women.  One thing I noticed, which I think is a good idea, is that they are also offering performance bonuses, ie

50 Aus dollars for men who achieve 200 km and women 180 km
100 Aus dollars for men who achieve 220 km and women 200 km
200 Aus dollars for men who achieve 240 km and women who 220 km
300 Aus dollars for men who achieve 260 km and women who 240 km

and also:

50 Aus dollars for finishing third
100 Aus dollars for finishing second
200 Aus dollars for finishing first

I think that's a really good motivational idea, especially as the AURA funds are limited and travelling expenses are less generous than for UK teams - all the details are here.

Overall, if I had a choice, I think I'd prefer my country to pay travelling expenses though.

Monday, 13 February 2012

only because I was asked ...

Recently I was asked about the UK team for this year's World 24 hr Championships.  I must admit that I hadn't given any thought as to who might be included in that team other than I hope I am ...

So, here are my thoughts:

UK Athletics usually have selection criteria along the lines of -

men ... A standard 236 km ... team standard ... 225 km
women ... A standard 215 km ... team standard ... 205 km

and, in theory, what happens is that anybody who has the A standard is automatically selected but if there aren't  enough to complete a team then those with the team standard are also considered - but only if there are enough to make a full team.

For example if one man has 240 km and two more men have 227 km each then only one man will be selected.

Of course there is a time frame in which runners are expected to reach the standards and this is usually in the 18 months before selection date.  For this year's World Championships I would expect that to be something like:

1 Jan 2011 to 30 June 2012

Between those dates the qualifying performances so far are:

John Pares ... 244 km
Pat Robbins ... 231 km
Steve Holyoak ... 226 km

Liz Hawker ... 247 km
Emily Gelder ... 220 km
Debbie Martin-Consani ... 208 km
Jen Salter ... 206 km
Marie Doke ... 206 km

Because there wasn't a World or European Championships last year it is possible that the qualifying period will be extended back to include the Perth race (Sep 2010) or even the last World Championships (May 2010), in which case the following should be added to the list:

Richard Quennell ... 246 km (May 2010)
Jim Rogers ... 244 km (May 2010)
Chris Carver ... 238 km (Sep 2010)
Paul Hart ... 228 km (Sep 2010)

Angie Sadler ... 205 km (Sep 2010)

As there has been no announcement yet about selection there is a possibility of a few more qualifying performances in the first half of this year.

And of course the selectors usually reserve the right to use other long ultras to help with their choices.  Overall then I would suggest that only John Pares and Liz Hawker have earned their place in Poland and as for other runners ... your guess is as good as mine at the moment.

I do know that the team management were hopeful of getting selection sorted by the end of last year but obviously the people at UK Athletics didn't like that idea - probably down to funding.

I also believe that we have some very good ultra runners in this country but very few road and/or track 24 hour races.  Only one at the last count.  In recent years we have lost races in Hull and Doncaster for example.  I know that Pam Storey is looking to stage some races but if we had a few more then the performances would only improve.

So ... who wants to organise a road or track 24 hr race in Britain ???  Count me in if you do.

Friday, 10 February 2012

training ... and other strange goings on

Still very cold over here.  Not much snow but very cold ... and sunny most of the time.

Not doing much training this week as it's a designated 'easy week' in which I only do two thirds of my normal training and only one long run - which is 50% longer than usual.  On Monday that was 14.5 miles (23.4 km) which was my longest training run since 1 September last year.

Felt good though on the moderate hills over towards Leeds.  A few patches of ice here and there but nothing which made me worry about slipping.

Twenty four hours later I tried my first tempo run of the year.  The plan was to run 3 miles (4.8 km) in about 20:50.  Not done a paced run for quite a while so I was a bit unsure how it would feel ... the patches of ice didn't help either.  As it happens I had nothing to worry about and I managed 20:42.  It did feel quite hard but that will definitely get better and that's a good first time effort considering the mid afternoon temperature was only 4.3 C (39.7 F).

Today was 200m repeats.  Not timed, just running hard but trying to maintain my form the whole time.  Hard work but, like the vast majority of my training, it was enjoyable ... and rewarding.

And now for something completely different.  A strange thing happened last night at about half past nine.  Fay and I were watching a TV program called Eternal Law when all of a sudden we both felt somebody kick the back of the sofa.  The room was empty apart from the two of us and we were both quite shocked.  This isn't the first time strange things have happened in this 170 year old house though.  A couple of years ago someone or something pushed past me in the bedroom as I was putting some clothes away (the house was empty apart from me), last year somebody called my name whilst I was passing Keir's bedroom door - he was at school, Fay has reported kicks to the back of the sofa a few times this year already.

Very strange ... last night's TV program was about Angels.   Hmmmm

Found some very good coffee in Leeds yesterday.  A peaberry from the Yergacheffe area of Ethiopia.  Excellent.  All the details are here.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

cold weather and planning

Originally meant to post this yesterday but problems with the computer meant I had to wait 36 hours.  So much for modern technology.  Perhaps the computer has a cold like the rest of my family ...

It certainly has been cold in this part of the world for the past week or so.  Below -3 C (27 F) this morning when I was out running.  No snow at that time though (it is snowing quite heavily at the moment - as I type this).  Still, the porridge was wonderful after my shower:

one cup of oats
two cups of milk
one banana

And some wonderful Yemeni coffee to drink too.

On Thursday I ran with the club for the first time in at least three months. An enjoyably easy 7 mile fartlek led by president Mick Jeffrey.  Thanks to him for organising that.

At the moment my morning pulse is the lowest it's been since September last year showing that I've lost none of my general fitness despite spending thirteen weeks on the sidelines.  I know that my running speed is a bit slower than I would like but that will come back over the next few weeks.  Things are going in the right direction though and that's good.

I've also started to not use the heel pads in my running shoes as often now that the injury is better.  It would be unwise to go directly from using then all the time to using them not at all so I'll gradually phase them out over the next couple of months.

I'm now starting to add a few shorter races to my diary and the first of these is likely to be the North of England 12 stage road relay in Liverpool on Saturday 31 March.  There are quite a few others pencilled in, nothing definite yet, along with lots of possible dates for a quick 5k in Bradford, Leeds or Harrogate (ie parkrun).  All of these are listed on this page.

Need to get an ultra sorted out soon though - I have a few ideas and I'll post stuff here as usual when plans have been made.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Training going really well now, obviously at a low level but hopefully I've maintained lots of fitness through cross training so it shouldn't be too difficult to get back into full training with everything that that involves:

long runs, hill reps, tempo runs, fartlek, speedwork, cycling, weights, flexibility ...

Almost back to normal.

Yesterday I completed my longest run since 25 October last year.  Only 8.8 miles (14.2 km) but it's a good start.  Absolutely no aches, pains, strains or sprains.  A bit cold though.  An interesting thing happened at about 2.5 miles (4 km) ... I was running past St Mary's School in Menston when, with no warning at all, 30 children suddenly ran out of the gate and ran with me for at least ten minutes.  Year 8 PE lesson according to the teachers.

Running with a class of 12 year olds was a bit different though and some of the conversations were interesting to say the least ...

One or two races have now been tentatively added to my schedule and over the coming weeks they, along with others, will be confirmed.  More about all that later.

As a footnote to this post, can anyone explain why when Keir studies in Northern Ireland he will receive less Maintenance Grant and less Maintenance Loan than if he was to study in England ?  Very strange ... and unfair.