Monday, 30 April 2012

World Championships qualification

UK Athletics have finally published their qualification criteria for this year's World 24 hr Championships.  It's near the bottom of this page on their website.

Basically athletes should achieve the required standard between 1 May 2010 and 31 May 2012 and those all important standards are:

Men - A standard ... 238 km (147.9 miles)
Men - team standard ... 230 km (142.9 miles)

Women - A standard ... 214 km (133.0 miles)
Women - team standard ... 204 km (126.8 miles)

Right, that's one less thing for me to worry about.  I ran further than 238 km when winning the race in Perth back in September 2010.

So, apart from relief, what are my initial thoughts ?

1 - the men's standards have risen quite a lot since last time.  They were 236 km and 225 km (146.6 and 139.8 miles).

2 - I don't have the figures to hand but I think the women's standards have fallen by a single kilometre.

3 - Runners without the necessary standard have only 34 days to make the grade.  I'm guessing that there will be about 8 or 9 European races in May in which to do that ... but how many have an IAU label ? [two I think].  And how many still have places available ?

4 - By way of contrast, the UK qualifying standard for the Olympic marathon was announced back in summer 2011 with the final date to achieve the standard being 22 April 2012.  That's about 8 or 9 months and probably quite a few marathons to choose from in which to do the business.

5 - Oh well ... I guess that until we have 24 hr races in the Olympic and/or Commonwealth Games they'll always be seen as not quite as important even though we train just as hard (if not harder) ... grumble, grumble, grumble.

6 - Four men and two women have the A standard.  In date order they are:  Lizzy Hawker, John Pares, myself, Emily Gelder, Richard Quennell and Jim Rogers.  Also, Jen Salter, Pat Robbins, Sharon Law, Marie Doke, Debbie Martin-Consani and Angie Sadler have the team standard.

There are seven women in that list and as there'll be a maximum of six men and six women going to Katowiche at least one of them will be staying at home unfortunately.

So, there it is.  A bit late I think but at least I have the necessary standard and now it's down to the selectors who meet at the beginning of June and announce the team on Tuesday the 19th.

As a final point it would appear that in order to get the A standard for the 2013 World Championships I would have to break my pb sometime this year.  I know I can do that.

Friday, 27 April 2012

headaches ... and other race news

After my last long run (Wednesday) recovery was progressing nicely when, about 7 hours after I got back home, I developed a headache.  Didn't think much about it but it gradually got worse and despite some ibuprofen before going to bed my head still throbbed when I woke the next morning.

I couldn't face a 16 mile (26 km) run in the rain with a pounding head so I cancelled that idea and went straight for the coffee.  Magic ... within half an hour my headache disappeared.  That got me thinking about the cause ...

I have had similar headaches in the past after a long run and my theory is that as the long run was in the morning I didn't have my usual caffeine shot (or three, in my case).  I guess my body was telling me what was wrong and now that I've heard the message I'm going to try taking some caffeine tablets during my next long run.

That is planned for next Wednesday when Hugh and I will be trekking around the Yorkshire Dales for 44 miles (70 km) so we can learn about how best to develop the runner/crew relationship and put into practise what we learn in my next race ... ULTRArace 100.  Only 8 weeks to go.

Which reminds me ... the organisers of that race (Rory Coleman and Jen Salter) have another race on the go at the moment.  A 16 day stage race from John O'Groats to Land's End which saw 11 runners leave northern Scotland last Friday ... there are only two remaining now as the other 9 have succumbed to injury and/or severe wear and tear, etc.  I've not been much interested in stage races before but I must say that I'm enjoying reading the race blog and I'm seriously thinking about giving it a go in the next few years - if I can find the £2000 entry fee.

William Sichel is still running well in New York's bad weather but it looks like he'll have to settle for second place this time although there's still a long time to go in that 6 day race.  He's now into the final 20% of the race though and I wouldn't be too surprised if he does end up winning.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

running news ...

The weather seems to have improved a bit of late although the forecast is for more rain (lots) tomorrow morning when I plan to run 23.5 miles (37.8 km).

The weather in New York seems to be as bad as it is here in Yorkshire.  William Sichel seems to running a 6 day race in the rain.  Less fun than usual but I'm sure the camaraderie between he runners, helpers, officials and volunteers is helping enormously.

This afternoon I did my weekly long fartlek run which was 21.5 miles (34.6 km) this time.  As usual I chose a route with a few hills and recorded a time of 2h 41.  I know the time isn't at all important but it does give an indication of my progress.

After a recovery meal I then set to work on half an hour of core exercises.

Recently checked the results of the IAU 100 km World Championships and was surprised to see that Lizzy Hawker wasn't listed in the results.  I guess illness or injury was to blame but of the remaining two UK runners Emily Gelder finished in 13th position with 8h 08 and Karen Rushton was 16th in 8h 22.  I should think Karen is very pleased with that ... well done to her.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

various bits and pieces

Alright that's enough rain ... it's getting a bit boring now.  Every time I venture outside I get sodden and if I'm running for a couple of hours or more ...

With all this wet weather we're getting this month I expect the ULTRArace 100 to be dry this year.  As it takes place in June it should be dry anyway but you never can tell in this country.  Last year it rained solidly for ten hours or more.

It's good to come home to a decent cup of coffee though.  At the moment that's Starbuck's French Roast, and recently there's been either cheese on toast or porridge to go with that.  Recovery for body and mind.

Fay had some good news yesterday, she been nominated for 'customer services employee of the year' by Bradford City Council.  The awards ceremony takes place on 21 May but she thinks that, if previous years are anything to go by, the prizes will be shared and there won't be an overall winner.

It's still possible that, because of the stupid UK government, she may not have a job after September 2013.

Keir's just learned that he's been selected to go on a school visit to Auschwitz in Poland early next month.  Ties in nicely with his massive interest in history - fourteen days is a bit short notice though.

All the best to those racing soon ... the JOGLE race starts tomorrow I believe and on the April 22 William Sichel is in New York for the 6 day race.  And then there's a marathon in London on Sunday which seems to attract ever increasing numbers of people who aren't well enough trained to run 20 miles let alone 26.2.

And finally ... I hope the hunters in The Magic Forest manage to recapture the lion soon.

Monday, 16 April 2012

past, present and future

Since my last post ...

Friday - the ultimate rest day.  No training at all.  Nothing ... no running, cycling, stretching or strength work.  Rest and recovery is vitally important ... and strangely enough it's something I look forward to.

Saturday - early morning speed work.  Left home at about 7:30am and ran 14 x 200m at a decent pace, concentrating on form, despite the early morning frost.  No wind or rain though.  Love training at this time of day ... so peaceful.  Lots of strength work in the afternoon.

Sunday - another relatively easy day.  Just over 7 miles (11.6 km) in the morning with a bag and then an hour on the bike in the evening.

This afternoon - left home shortly after noon for a 22 miler ( 32 km) fartlek style.  A few decent hills made it a good run, especially as it averaged out at 7:28 per mile (4:38 per km).  Pleased with that.  Later this evening there will be lots more strength and core work, and stretching.

Tomorrow - another long run, 23 miles, but a bit more sedate this time.  The weather seems to be taking a turn for the worse too but hopefully the overnight rain will ease off quite early and I won't get too wet.  Then it's a run with the club in the evening.

In the midst of all this the planning continues for the ULTRArace 100 in June.  It will be my first long race since last autumn's injury and since that time I've learned a great deal about nutrition during races.  Also planning a long run in the Yorkshire Dales at the beginning of next month with Hugh Pearson.  Mainly so he can learn about crewing in ultras but it's also the first proper chance I've had to put into practise what I've learnt.  Again that's something I'm looking forward to and after the 44 hilly miles (70 km) we should both have a very good idea about how things are going to work in the 100 mile race.

Richard (and other readers) - any questions about training, preparation, nutrition, etc please feel free to ask. Leave a comment on a post or use my contact details which are here.  Please be aware though that I'm still learning and whatever I've found to work for me may not work for you - so be prepared to adapt things for your own particular needs.  Everyone is different.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

bad weather and no UK men in Seregno

Apart from today, training this week has been hard work.  Not because of the training itself but because of the weather ...

Monday afternoon was a scheduled 21 mile (33 km) fartlek session.  I chose quite a hilly route up the valley and back.  A few decent hills but the heavy rain and strong winds made it harder then usual.

Tuesday morning was another long run.  Twenty three miles this time (37 km) ... this time I ran up the valley almost to Bolton Bridge on narrow country lanes.  At times it was so narrow that cars had trouble passing me. Very enjoyable though, even if the rain was heavier and the winds stronger than the previous afternoon.

Two good character building runs.

This morning it was just a steady 7 miler (11 km) carrying a weighted bag.  Much better weather too but still a little chilly though.

Just seen the entry list for this year's 100 km World Championships and disappointed to find that there are no UK men taking part.  We have some good women though runners - Lizzy Hawker, Emily Gelder and Karen Rushton - who should do well.  But no men.  I seem to remember that it was a similar situation at last year's Anglo Celtic Plate when the selectors even phoned me to ask if I would run.

Why no UK 100km male runners ?  It could be because of the massive increase in popularity of ultra trail races.  But 24 hour races don't seem to have affected by that.  Hmmm.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

some ultra races

OK ... I know I haven't actually entered any races at the moment, and that will be corrected in the next week or so, but I have been making sure the heel and achilles injuries will stand up to running 100 miles or more non-stop.

Following some good training recently I'm now confident that the old legs can withstand the demands I'll be placing on them for the rest of this year.

Apart from the usual array of shorter races - mainly for speedwork, etc - the first important race will be the ULTRArace 100 mile in June.  I know I ran this last year but for a number of reasons I decided to go to Stratford-upon-Avon again (2011 race report here):

  • I really enjoyed my time in the Cotswold's last year and hopefully the weather will be better
  • last year's race worked very well as preparation for a 24 hr race in September
  • after quite a serious injury last October, a 24 hr race this Spring may be a step too far
  • Rory Coleman (race director) invited me back to "smash the course record" - that's a challenge worth pursuing
  • after last year's mistake I feel I have a point to prove to myself

I'm also lucky to have Hugh Pearson crewing for me.  He's an experienced competitor in IronMan Triathlons and also the club's senior coach and junior co-ordinator, we've already been planning a long practise run and talking about nutrition, medical stuff and the logistics of crewing.  I'm very happy to be working with him.

Following that I hope to be running in the World & European 24 hr Championships in Katowiche, Poland.  This takes place on 8/9 September and I know I haven't been selected yet ... but I believe I will be in the team primarily because of my win in Perth (Sep 2010) but also because of my relative consistency.  The average of my best six 24 hour distances will probably be above the required 'team qualification standard' ... that's something I'm quite proud of actually.

After that - well I haven't decided yet but maybe Barcelona to make up for last year's disappointment of not being able to make it because of a clash of dates with Keir's visit to Rome University.  And then being injured anyway.

See here for the full list of planned races.

All in all ... I feel good right now.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

coming along nicely thank you ...

After Saturday's good 4.9 mile race I had a recovery day on Sunday before embarking on my 50k training run.  The route from Otley was up the valley to Burley then over the hill into the next valley (Airedale).  I then ran up that valley to Saltaire where I joined the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Ran eastwards along the towpath for a eleven miles or so (17.3 km) to Kirkstall before climbing the hill to Headingley.  From there I ran over the hill and back into Wharfedale and Otley.  A few hills to climb but a nice downhill finish.

Overall I didn't push the pace at all, I treated it as just another long run but with ample opportunity to test new foods.  Very pleased to arrive back home in 4h 25 feeling as if I could have continued all day !!!

Later I looked at last years training and came across an entry in my diary for 9 May 2011.  On that day I ran the same route in 4h 33 but had a bad patch about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from home.  A definite improvement this year I think.

A few congratulations to end this post:

1)  Sharon Gayter recently broke the north south end to end record in Ireland ...
2)  Elizabeth Grayson [another ultra runner from Otley] ran in the Glasgow Edinburgh Double Marathon recently and bettered her time from last year by 43 minutes
3)  Otley AC have qualified to run in the National 12 Stage Road Relay which will be held on 14 April in Birmingham.  The A team earned that by finishing in the top 25 last Saturday.

Well done to all involved.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

very short race

A good day yesterday at Sefton Park in Liverpool.  As mentioned previously I was running for Otley AC in the North of England 12 stage road relay - I was running stage 7 for the B team [we've never managed two teams before so that was excellent news for the club].

My relay leg was 4.9 miles (7.9 km) and, based on current training, I expected a time of about 32:30.  I know that isn't very quick I've only resumed proper training in the last couple of months and I didn't really expect to have regained my old speed as yet.  When the team captain, Mick Jeffrey, reported that he had run 31:41 on a very good course [no big hills, no wind, etc] I started to think that maybe I should aim for a quicker time.

With no mile (or km) markers on the course it's always a case of running to feel in these type of events and so I set off at a pace I felt comfortable with but at the same time knowing that I could respond if pushed at the end of my run.  By coincidence Huw Illingworth was beginning his run about 20 seconds or so after me - he was in the A team though - so I expected him to pass me after not too long.  Sure enough he stormed past after about a mile and by the time he got to the flock of pigeons on the course he was about 30 - 40m ahead of me.  As he ran through them they all scattered but to my surprise they all landed again in the same place before I arrived.  This unexpected obstacle wasn't so easy to deal with and at times I almost trod on a couple of birds and had to deal with panicking pigeons flying into me and another runner just behind.  Luckily that wasn't a problem on the second lap.

At the end I did manage a sprint finish with another guy from a different club and to my surprise my time was 29:09.  Very happy with that.  In terms of speed I was the fastest runner in the B team and quicker than two from the A team.

In fact, on checking my previous races, I haven't run so quickly since late August 2010 when I completed a 5k parkrun in 18:17.  So, the speed seems to have returned.

Otley A finished a good 28th and Otley B finished 46th.  Overall there 46 complete teams finished along with 11 incomplete ones.  Full results are here and there are lots of photos here.

Thanks to Mick Jeffrey for organising teams and Huw Illingworth for driving.

And tomorrow there's a 50k training run.