As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Racing or training? You decide

What a grand day we all had yesterday at the Day in The Lakes Triathlon near Pooley Bridge. Several people I knew were doing the event, mostly, like me, as part of a team.

I didn't need to be there particularly early as the run was the third discipline but I wanted to see Plucky swim and hopefully get some photos too. The first few swimmers out of the water were spread out across a few minutes but by the time Plucky came ashore it was a mass of bodies meaning picking him out was difficult and getting a clear photo was impossible. This is the best I managed and I was actually kneeling in Ullswater to get clear of the watching crowd.

I then raced up the  'beach', across the field and around transition to get a shot of Bryan setting off on the bike. I didn't make it in time and this one through the security fence was all I managed.

With over two hours to kill before Bryan was due back from the 56 mile bike route I enjoyed whiling away the time chatting to folk and basking in  the warm sun. Penrith Stu and Penrith Steve had pedalled over from Penrith to watch their heroes in action. Unfortunately Stu got 'the call' from his missus and had to leave early.

With about a half hour before I expected Bryan back I went over to the van to get changed into my running gear. I was initially confused when Bryan arrived back in the carpark. He'd punctured descending Kirkstone Pass at over 50mph and had struggled to hold the bike upright before finally coming to a halt. Unable to repair the damaged tyre with his inflater/sealant cannister and without a spare he had to source a lift back.

So that was that. We were out of the race. I considered going straight home but was concerned I might not then go training. So I took the timing chip and went over to the officials to register our DNF and then into transition to wait for the cyclists to start arriving back. Once 15 or so had returned and set off on the run section I set off too. With well over 3hrs of activity in their bodies and me fresh  I easily caught and overtook most of those ahead. I had opted to wear road shoes for this mainly fell route as it was so dry and despite a bloody tumble on an unusually angled descent I was pleased at my choice as there was a good deal of tarmac to end the run.

I tried very hard for the whole run and recorded the second fastest time. I wonder what I might have ran if we had still been in the race? Before setting off for home I rang Plucky (who had ran all the way home - 25 miles) with the news of our unfortunate failure. Last year in very similar conditions he had ran 1hr 34 minutes to record the fastest time of the day. He had stressed beforehand that he was running very well one year ago but that I should nevertheless be aiming for a similar result.

Delivering the news that I beat his 2009 time by over two minutes DESPITE not even being in the race was possibly the best bit of the day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mr Eight Percent

I'm always thinking about what I'd like to do next and I have come up with a bit of a plan for 2011.
Despite running marathons all around the world (well, USA and Europe) I have never done any of that charity fundraising that you see people doing often. To be honest I didnt see the point in asking folk to sponsor me to run a marathon - I'd already ran 26 miles in training before running my first so it wasn't as if completing the event was ever in question. However I am always keen to support Mountain Rescue and I've also become dismayed at the weekly (sometimes daily) reports of our troops being killed and injured in action. To be prepared to fight and risk death for the rest of us deserves that they are at least properly looked after once back home - there shouldn't neeed to be a charity at all but the fact that Help for Heroes exists at all is enough for me to want to do something to raise money for them too.

So what can I do? It has to be something really big, something that might prove too tough to manage and that I might struggle with. But also it needs to be based upon something I enjoy or there would be no compulsion to get on and arrange it.

Ive always wanted to ride my bike from Lands End to John O'groats, I was vaguely planning to do that this summer but then getting married became my focus for most of 2010. I also would like to climb Scafell, Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw in one outing, including cycling the road section inbetween. And just lately 'Ive met so many people walking the Hadrians Wall path (which goes through Rickerby Park where I run most days)  that I've thought about running the 80 odd miles from Wallsend to Bowness.

So my plans for next year will involve one or more of those challenges in some way. Perhaps try to do them all within the month of May. I'm confident I will be able to raise a lot of cash for charity, mostly through people I do business with, as I would stress how I had never done the 'charity thing'  previously and would not envisage doing so again.

The reason I have made public these plans at this very early stage is to put the idea out there, get my friends interested (as possible helpers) and just to ensure I don't forget about the whole thing and let it slip to the back burner for several more years.

 What a view eh? Ok it's not the Langdale Pikes but nice to see Skiddaw standing tall and  above the nearer fells of Caldbeck. Much as I love Blencathra it's sometimes nice to see Skiddaw without it's more striking neighbour stealing the show. (you kind of had to be there - the iPhone camera is pretty basic)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Swimming? No chance!

If, on Saturday I ran 10 miles (including 18 minutes of merely jogging recovery between efforts) in 62 minutes, then how come tonight I could only just slip inside 36 minutes for 6 miles continuous hard effort running? I suppose the main thing is that I DID manage sub 36.

The course I was forced to use (due to being on my own and not having a Garmin) was two miles out - U turn  - two miles back - U turn - one mile out again - U turn - final mile back. It was quite windy tonight but not so strong as to make a big difference. I probably set off too fast with 5:45 being my first mile split. I then ran between 5:58 and 6:10 for the next 5 mile splits. Tuesdays efforts are probably still in my legs too so overall not a bad run tonight I suppose.

 No run planned tomorrow but a race coming up on Sunday. Not a serious race, I'm part of a team  competing in Day In The Lakes Triathlon (I'm doing the running bit).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I have come to the decision that I (and many others) are trapped in a cycle of training that goes on and on forever.

Not that I dislike training. Often it is preferable to racing. But I just can't see it ever ending unless forced by injury. I did once try training less - much less in fact. During most of 2008 I only trained about once per midweek and then ran a long way every Saturday or Sunday. This was OK up to April when I still ran a decent time in London but by the Autumn my (lack of) miles caught up with me when I had a shocker in NYC Marathon. I realised then that I didn't want to be that slow and buckled down again the next winter to regain my place in the sub 3hour marathon group.

I got to thinking about this following a comment last night from someone who was training with Border Harriers group. Seeing that I had completed several efforts prior to joining them for their 2400metres, as I began another effort they said 'you must have too much energy'. Because I was running away from them quite fast, I didn't respond vocally, but what I thought was something along the lines of....

well no, I don't have too much energy, but as I ran very easy yesterday and will be merely jogging tomorrow, and with no upcoming race to taper for,  I want to train to the best of my ability today. Four and a half miles is not a ridiculous distance to run hard so why not?

I think that I get more or less as much out of myself as is physically possible. If I didn't go to work I could run more often and might improve some more but not a great deal. I am well aware that my commitment to training puts me among a tiny minority of the UK population. I am also aware that some (sedentary) people I know think I am obsessed- but come on, 6 runs averaging about 45miles per week and topping out at 65 miles twice per year is far from obsessive. Getting routinely hammered every weekend and losing a day of your life getting over being hammered is surely a much less desirable way to live your life? Yet this seems to be regarded as the norm in society today?!?!?! Each to his own though - it takes all kinds.

One thing I do know is that whether I die next week falling off a mountain or running in front of a bus, or in 80 years time as the oldest man in  Britain -  at 41 I have already had a fantastic time on this planet - been to some wonderful places, been lucky enough to meet and share most of my life with someone I love, shared great times with great friends, and achieved in my chosen fields as much as my skinny body was ever capable of.

Good times indeed

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Track running

800m - 2:41
800m - 2:35        90 seconds rest between these
800m - 2:39

Long rest

1200m - 3:56
800m - 2:36         90 seconds rest between these
1200m - 3:50

Reasonable rest

800m - 2:37      90 seconds rest
800m - 238

And if you add all of that up it comes to Four and a half miles at an average pace of 5:14 per mile, which is 6 seconds per mile faster than I set out to do.

I was at the running track for this session. I'd heard from Milly that the Harriers coached group were doing 400s last week and I thought a few fast 400s would be good to do for a change as long as I was thoroughly warmed up first from doing some 800s. They were doing 1200s though so it didnt really work out. I did my 3x 800 first on my own while they were warming up then I joined them for their first 1200. Unbelievably they then had a TWELVE MINUTE rest which gave me time to do another 800 before joining in with the 1200 again. Then after a brief pause I completed my final two 800s.

Excellent training as far as I am concerned. 7200 metres of hard effort running. Ideal for a long distance runner/racer such as myself. Although I didn't express my opinion at the track, I fail to see how doing just two 1200 metre efforts can be worthwhile training for anything other than 800-1500metres racing. Fair enough if it was the second run of the day or if it was youngsters but for adults one of the two main sessions of the week?

And finally a mention for Iain Kelly. My good pal from Askham who WON the Shap ultra last weekend. In a new record time he ran up and down the main street of this cowboy town 50 odd times back and forward back and forward to cover the 100km.
Good old Iain - out of the boozer - win the 100km race - back in the boozer for last orders

Monday, June 21, 2010

its late and I cant think of a good title

So. Where was I? Did I do Tuesday? Yes I think so....

Wednesday was hot and with only an easy run planned I couldn't find the motivation to get out and do it. So, a missed day.

Thursday was hotter, but knowing I had proper training to do was motivation enough to get me out the door and complete 8 miles at a decent pace. Darren joined me for the planned 6:15 pace run. Into the wind we ran 6:09 pace but then Darren began to fall away from the pace considerably as we ran home. Initially I waited for him by running really wide on corners but after a mile of that I decided I would be better to simply run to the end then note how long it took him to arrive. two minutes after finishing Darren came in. He had dropped to 6:40 pace but hadn't stuck to the exact route so it was therefore difficult to work out what pace I had achieved (as I hadn't timed it myself). It seems reasonable to say I ran between 6:15s and 6:20s , which, as it had felt fairly steady and certainly never hard, I was pleased with.

Friday was a day off as usual - I did consider doing something to make up for missing Wednesday but it would only have been a jog and as it was lovely weather I opted for a spot of sunbathing.

Saturday I ran 10miles of intervals. My classic session of 4 mins easy 11mins hard times Four. With a discrepancy over the distance (from recent Garmin measurement compared to my original measurement of 10 years ago) I now always run the longer route. At half way I was just inside 31 minutes but knew it was a mild headwind back. I knew I was on for a good result when I was still running my final 11minute rep' as I ran up out of the park and crossed the main road. Usually I'm crossing this road after my efforts have finished and I have no issues stopping the watch until I can cross safely. But still going for it, I didnt want to stop unless forced to and I lost a couple of seconds slowing to dart between moving the cars. The end came one second inside 62 minutes. My fastest time in many years. On the old course I ran well inside 61 minutes. I only ever beat the hour once or twice on the old course!

Sunday was as poor for training as Saturday was good. I got up too late to go to the Lakes as planned and couldnt find the motivation to go running until 8 oclock at night. I'd left over 3 hours from eating a big roast dinner to going out but still found it impossible to run properly. I did about 4 miles but the last couple were walking back home with Scamp.

Tonight (Monday) I was determined to do a long run to make up for missing Sunday. I went to Gelt and ran three full laps. Pretty slowly - didn't even time them.

And finally the picture round - sorry the picture round will have to wait until another day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Old and New

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You're only meant to blow the bloody doors off

Three miles of intervals - 5 times 3 minutes with 90 secs recovery - 16:03 (5:21 pace)

I really couldnt be bothered with this tonight - my legs felt oddly heavy all day and I was also suffering from extreme tiredness after staying up too late last night. If an easy run had been due I would have binned it off for sure, but as it was an important training day I forced myself to go.

It's several weeks since I did this exact session on this route - last time I took 15m 50s.

Possibly kidding myself that I would easily beat my previous time, I was shocked into action as I reached the end of the first 3 minute effort some 20-30 metres short of where I usually reach. A quick grass test revealed I'd had the wind behind me, light though it was. Running much harder, I gained back some time over the remaining distance, and overall I'm happy with the result given how bad I felt before I started out.

If my legs still feel bad tomorrow I may opt to do an hour jogging with Scamp in preference to my planned 8 miles easy run.

Over zealous use of dynamite had taken out the walls and roof too

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Two new dogs

Today I was called out to work at a house where they had two adorable Border Collie Pups.

This one is called Brocky

and this one I forgotten her name but I think it started with a J.

How much I miss Daisy, who looked very similar to the young lady above, although Daisy had ears much less like a wolf. On Saturday I took delivery of this canvas of Daisy - it's a photo I took a few weeks ago at Bass' Lake. Must find a proper place to hang it up.

Anyhowser, to business. 

Saturday - Two Laps of Gelt with Darren, Scamp and Pepper.
Lap one very easy pace - stopping for dogs to pee etc
Lap two - moderate pace to begin with, then hard effort for the second half of the lap. 31mins 45s.
A good workout. the ground is so dry in Gelt that road shoes are the order of the day - they dont even get dirty.

Today, Sunday - Two laps of Talkin Circuit. On my own.
Lap one - Reasonably easy effort - 44mins 41 seconds
Lap two - hard effort throughout yielding 42mins 30 seconds

Very wet for todays run but not cold, even at the decent height of Foresthead. Niggly wind as ever on top but overall  great conditions for running. My ever heavier vest was the most annoying thing about the run, but just not quite warm enough for removal.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Race Report -no photos, no funnies

Carlisle Tri Club 10 kilometre road race - 35 minutes 18 seconds

Not a bad result  really.  I wanted and expected to run  faster than I did at the Moorclose event a couple of weeks ago - and I did. 28 seconds faster actually, which, divided by 6.2 gives an improvement of four and a half seconds per mile to 5:41 pace.

As soon as we set off the three Keswick runners who all beat me at Moorclose formed a lead group. I saw no point in going with them as even the slowest of the three - Ian Davies - had beaten me by over a minute last time out. I was in the next group on the road and had Milly and Gareth for company as well as one or two others who I didn't know.

From the outset I was enjoying myself running this race. It was the fastest I had ran for many years and I knew it from early on. I knew most of the marshals and had time to shout a bit of banter as we ran past. I was also giving some grief to Milly for obviously being very fit despite saying he had packed in training.

Halfway or so into the race, one lad pulled away slightly from our group - he ran well and deserved the Fourth place he hung onto until the end. Me, Milly and Gareth stayed together until a mile to go - casting aside one by one the others who had been with us  (although I never really looked round so I don't know how many there were with us earlier). Once we were into that final mile the gloves were off apparently as first Gareth then Milly eased past me. It would be a bad job if these two lads, (both more than 10 years younger than me) WERENT able to outrun this old timer over a mile, both coming from a track background as they do (and Milly now saying he wants to improve his short distance times).

We all ran 35 minutes something. That elusive 34 which was on the cards for a lot of the race, just being eased out of reach in the final headwind mile or two.

I won fastest Vet 40 and receieved a rather excellent running top which I wore tonight for a few miles jogging with Scamp. Last night I did nowt and spent a while longer at work to get some stuff done.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shopping trolley weather

Most days I take the dog to the River Eden. this means I note how low or high the water level is and for a long while it has been very low indeed. So much so that the well buried shopping trolley has emerged from  the icy depths and once again stands proud of the murky water that for much of the year hide it's mystery.

It doesn't appear every year but when it does there is much interest from the press and tourists alike as the usual hotspots such as the Castle and Cathedral are shunned in favour of the renowned "Eden Trolley.'

Little is known about the trolleys origins. Some say it's a Tesco modern, others are staunchly in the Kwik-Save circa 1972 camp. Having had the privileged opportunity to examine the trolley on many occasions when the hordes have gone home on their bus trips from Wales, Yorkshire, even the South Coast, I can report with authority that it is a post 1983 design (as there is a pound coin sill in the slot).

I believe there is a trolley appeal with donations taken in many local pubs and cafes as well as an online option, so one day the trolley will no doubt be raised from the river bed and find a new home in Tullie House.

For now though it remains in its resting place which I personally believe it should  remain forever as testament to this great City and it's pissed up students.

5 easy miles last night. Untimed. I don't like to do so little for two days in a row but it's the 10k race tonight so I had no choice really if I am to race well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A good Marathon result (if it was 4 miles further)

Set off on Sunday without any real plan of what I wanted to do. Start out with Plucky and his missus Gill, certainly, but then possibly cut short and run home faster. It was quite a nice day for running - cloudy, warm(ish) and with little breeze. The early miles were all uphill and apparently we were doing about 7:30 pace at the four mile marker. It seemed very easy (as it should) and at the nine mile point when Gill turned for home I decided to run on with Plucky, as I still felt very fresh indeed.  I expected to become tired and possibly even to struggle after 15 miles or so but the pace was so gentle that I felt absolutely fine all the way through to the end. Maybe five miles or so from home Plucky upped the effort somewhat and indeed I could tell that I too was running harder. This only lasted for ten minutes or so. I think he soon tired, and the final couple of miles were as easy as any part of the previous 20 had been. To be fair to Plucky he had done 103 miles cycling and 30 mins running the previous day, whereas I had only done about 9 miles easy in Gelt, so there was little to crow about managing this so easily compared to him.  Presuming 7:30/mile was our average (and it certainly would not have been any  slower) we ran 22 miles in the 2hrs 45 mins. Good to know that 6 weeks or so after the marathon I am still quite able to complete such long runs as this without difficulty.

Monday was a very easy 4 miles of the riverside pathways with Scamp.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wintry scenes , Summer temps

Couldn't manage to lie in bed beyond 0730 this morning. I was too hot under the covers and too cold outside of them. So I got up and headed out to Gelt (pictured, earlier in the year). Darren, Gill and George were all there too for a 0900 start.

We ran a very easy first lap, after which I put Scamp in the van ready for a faster lap 2. It never got fast though. Nobody seemed interested in pushing the pace and I wasn't fussed either - my legs felt quite tired to be honest. I did put one massive effort in - on the short but brutally steep hillclimb, so at least I got 30 seconds of good training.

Back home I tried to enjoy a day of lazing in the hammock, enjoying the weather. This did not go exactly to plan really due to annoyances of various types from all around. Why do retired people (who have all day everyday free) choose a Saturday afternoon to use power tools in their garden? And why do they insist on putting food out for birds when it results in noisy wood pigeons more or less living onsite, and scarily large seagulls often visiting?

Later in the evening I took Scamp for a walk and also took the camera - hoping for some photo opportunities. Leaving the memory card slotted in the iMac rather than in the Canon meant I had a completely unnecessary encumbrance around my neck for the (shortened) walk. Poor Scamp!

Tomorrow I am meeting up with Plucky ang Gill for a long run. I don't usually go with them as they don't really run fast enough for my liking, but as it doesn't matter that much at present I will make do with 'only' running 7:15 pace. Rain forecast.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hot stuff

Very warm day yesterday. Following my post run shower I didn't even bother putting a top on until I got to bed when of course I donned my jim-jams, so that gives you some idea of the kind of day I'm talking about. Not good weather for hard training, but it had to be done.

Met Darren again and after a steady warm up including one 800m timed effort we ran 2 by 2miles. Slightly poor result for the outbound two, - 11:34, so not as fast as my 10k pace t'other week. Coming back was faster though, the light wind behind yielding a time of 11:02.
So, 22mins 36 secs for 4 miles is 5:39 per mile, which I am happy with considering the last mile I struggled to maintain the effort as I was so hot and knackered by then. Should have taken a drink for these reps - remember for next time.

I had said we should also run 2x 1mile but we were both so wasted that we knocked that plan on the head with little discussion or argument.

(only joking about the jimjams)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mist Trains

A bit late home from work and with Milly still saying he has 'retired' I simply couldn't find the motivation to go for my planned easy 7 miles tonight. That's the first day missed (apart from Fridays but they are on purpose) in three weeks or more. Must not do this again.

Instead I spent a bit of time with the camera trying to capture a scene which, from where I often sit on some wooden steps on the river bank, I imagined would make a good photo. The best result is featured here.

Now I know what you are thinking - the train is blurry, and the trees are too dark. I should first point out that I am very much a novice in the DSLR (no that's not the train company) world. Yes the train IS blurry but that's because I wanted to re-create the movement of the hard edged loco' through the otherwise soft, natural, tranquil scene. This was achieved by using a slow shutter speed of 1/8 of a second, with exposure adjusted by 2 stops under to avoid a whiteout. The trouble is the river and sky are still rather over exposed and the near trees and branches under. Ideally I would get the train driver to go much faster so I could achieve my aim with a faster shutter. I would probably also zoom in a little more to lessen the dark areas. Hey it's not too bad for a first try though. Despite the warmth of the day in general I got a bit cold waiting for trains to come along. Of course, as soon as I left, six came along at once and crashed into the icy water below. I suppose I should have taken a photo of that actually - only joking of course - nothing newsworthy ever happens in Cumbria

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tarmac or Guinness - it's the black stuff for me please

After poncing around up fells at the weekend today was back to some 'proper' running

3 miles of 2 mins hard, 1min rest, completed in 15:24, (5:08 pace)

I met Darren in the park and we ran out a mile at conversational pace. Then the mile back at a fair lick (5:47) to ensure we were properly warmed up, followed by a good little rest so we were ready for the carnage that followed.

After the first two minute rep we were together but Darren struggled a little thereafter to stay with me. My legs didn't feel great after the weekends long slow stuff but I was determined to give everything to these 3 quick miles. This was by far the hardest session I have done in the last 6 months. I found it devastatingly tough. I was letting out a kind of roar/scream/yell as I finished the last few reps, well it was either that or collapse and wait for an ambulance.

Managing sub-5 pace for a wind assisted 2 miles of these same intervals last week was pleasing- so to make 5:08 for a circuitous route 50% further is doubly pleasing. Tripoli pleasing even (as colonel Gaddafi might say.)

Stu's BGR performance was too great an acheivement to allow it to slip into memory after just a few days so here's another photo of the man himself as he was waited upon hand and foot (quite literally ) at Wasdale