Sunday, 29 November 2009

Going For Gold

After waking up this morning to the sounds of heavy rain hammering the Velux and wind whistling through the eaves, M & I were less than hopeful of a PB at the Thirsk 10m today. I'd settled on the idea of just running a good race, putting a fast time firmly to the back of my mind. This plan remained for most of the journey over, under darkened skies (we even had our headlights on for goodness sake).
Anyway, we arrived in good time to pick up our chips (for timing not the tasty fried sort) and after a frisky warm up, a visit to Tesco's loos and a Garmin casualty we were ready for off in what was rather miserable & wet conditions. Lots of local stars were there for this North of England 10m Champs race. After a bit of delay jogging about a lot in circles to stay warm, the race got off to a blistering start. I'm not sure how blistering as I had no watch to guide me but judging by the local talent there were many targeting this Champs race and gunning for PBs.
The pacey start and virtual swim through flooded sections left us all soaked from half a mile in. I somehow hung on, unsure of what the pace was and passed a few ladies who'd overcooked the start, finally passing the leading lady runner at around 4 miles. I hung on to some burly blokes to take shelter from breezy sections and felt strong right through to mile 8. Serious leg burn then set in and I had to drag myself home for the final 2 miles losing a bit of time to come in with a PB at 58.25. I was a bit disappointed to not make it under 58. M had a storming race and ran 59.19 - he's inching ever closer (eek). A big PB means he's on for a fine time at Ribble Valley. We both came home with lots of cash, (M for 3rd V40 and 2nd Men's team prize). I also got my gold medal and am proudly telling all I'm the Northern 10m Champ for another year. Results here & NoEAA report here.
Well done to all running mates who did great today, including Mark H who ran strong and should be very chuffed with his returning form. Our Bingley boys also ran well and won medals for the men's team champs and many Otley mates did good too, (well done particularly to Josie girl & Julian M). Now for some emergency Garmin surgery.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Feet Up

After trying my very best to behave all week and avoid tough VO2 sessions or long runs I was expecting to feel full of beans by this weekend. I seem to remember thinking the same during my recent rest weeks, when you'd expect to feel fresh and frisky and instead I seem to feel a weird kind of training cold turkey; the legs feel sore and stiff and energy levels don't reflect the dramatic reduction in body flogging.
Last night another trot around the local hockey pitches under dark and soggy skies meant an easy run and a chance to save the legs from the tarmac. It also meant an early start to some Friday night sofa surfing and catch up TV. Yay. This morning was another easy amble around the village in daylight. A treat after what seems like pretty uninterrupted nocturnal training since the clocks went back and winter came to visit.
Heart rate and legs are telling me I'm a very creaky old duffer. Hopefully the adrenalin and focus of tomorrow's race will be the wake up call I need. Though its the North of England 10m Champs it still feels sort of nicely low key after the rather stressful races in recent months. I'm really looking forward to catching up with all those friendly local faces, (particularly during the race) and will ponder this as I enjoy my slobbing Saturday. Now then, back to some serious fueling.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jelly Bliss

Another very long day in the office today meant another late start out for the evening run, which also means I've only just sat down to some fuel and blogging. I'm just starting on my pud. Its a bit naughty but tonight I've indulged in jelly & ice cream. Phwoar.
Having given myself permission to relax a bit and respond to how tired I felt after the hard slog of the XC on Saturday I'm kinda quite enjoying these easy runs and feeling pretty chilled about this week's training. The energy is slowly seeping back though I did have some weird spiking on my heart rate tonight; either I had three heart attacks in quick succession or there was a lack of sweatiness to get the chest strap working. Erm, that wasn't meant to sound kinky at all. Back to the jelly and ice cream, mmm, food of the gods. I hear its Paula's favourite.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

La, la, la, la, I'm Running In The Rain..

I know its becoming a bit boring for everyone now but the rain has featured pretty heavily in my life since I last blogged. A very easy run in the rain on Monday was a first attempt to recover from the weekend. Unfortunately it just didn't seem to be enough down time to help this old body bounce back. Last night was a half-hearted intervals session on the grass in the rain to get the legs turning over. After rep #5 my legs felt mashed and were clearly not over the exploits of the last few days. So, an easy run in the rain during my lunch break included me noisily sploshing my way through endless canal side puddles from Leeds. Its not often I get out in the day and I always feel a bit guilty running in my lunch break, I'm not quite sure why. Anyway, the torture of a cold shower welcomed me back to work to then stare out at the rain falling on the rooftops of Leeds. I'm not sure why my legs feel quite so tired, I think they're a bit depressed by the weather. I intend to listen to the body and ease off for the next few days. More telly and sofa surfing instead. Poor me.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Recce'd Legs

A supposedly easy jaunt was planned today to explore the route for December's annual team event, the Calderdale Way Relay. Both M & I are racing leg 6 in our respective team pairs and were joined by club mate Steve B for the recce run. I say easy, it was fairly easy paced today but my legs have pretty much had it with me this week. They weren't very happy with the freezing mud and climbs around the route and were achingly glad to get back to the warmth of our little car for some hot coffee and biscuit dunking. The route was approx 10.5 miles of pretty fast terrain with the odd bit of climb through woodland trails and farmland.
My fatigue and general physical flatness was offset this morning by going to watch the Abbey Dash 10k. It was an awe inspiring sight to see so many runners in such a dizzying flow. As well as lots of club mates and loads of local running acquaintances (including Phil from Horsforth - sorry I missed shouting you on Phil!) I was keeping a special lookout for some work pals, one of whom was attempting her first ever 10k. Wendy had never run until January this year and I think secretly thought I was mad-as-a-box-of-frogs bonkers for being so keen on the sport. She never imagined she could run for 10 minutes never mind 10k and certainly never thought she'd find herself racing. Today she achieved her first 10k in a very respectable time with no stops or walking interludes and I reckon she is now completely hooked. I can't wait to see her at work tomorrow and hear the post race account. There were loads of other great performances and superb PBs today from work colleagues and club mates on this very fast course. Too many to mention except for perhaps a special note on Josie H who has been chasing a 10k time and thoroughly deserved her storming PB today (well done girl!). See full results here.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

2 Race or Not 2 Race...

Got up feeling a bit groggy this morning after a massage from Maggie the mauler last night. She's very good and found out those various bits of leg muscle that I didn't know were crying out for a bit of attention. I'm now at my peak volume for this training plan until Xmas and I'd quite fancy a weekend off competition. A tough weekend of racing and long runs last week with two tough sessions Tues and Thurs make we feel less chirpy about the slog around the XC course at Wakefield today. Last year we competed in most of the Complete Runner league races and loved it (with the exception of the mud bath at Nunroyd). Today though these legs are hiding in cosy pajamas, quivering at the thought of that gloomy, foggy dampness that awaits outside. Shall we/shan't we... could it be a nice little wake me up in time for the Thirsk 10m next weekend..?
Bedtime: Well I did it. Legs felt completely dead and lacking any zip which I suppose is to be expected. Thornes Park is a great XC course but tough when running with lots of miles in your legs. It was a great race and I felt just a tad regretful that I wasn't fresher to give the leaders a good race but happy with my run and that's another excellent speed session in the bank. The men's race was truly awesome, Jonny Brownlee & Andrew Pearson were neck and neck throughout. Amazing runners. M ran great, finishing 58th overall which is a sign of his fantastic progress since last year (he was 3 mins quicker on the same course!). Well done M! Results here.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I can hardly believe its Thursday already and time again for some quality running, in what seems to be constantly grizzly weather. In anticipation of tonight's labours I called in to my favourite Chinese supermarket at lunchtime (always a bad idea go into supermarkets when hungry I find) and stocked up on some favourite treats, M was chuffed to have a stack of ribs to gnaw through over the weekend, the freezer is overflowing with won ton dumplings and I've just polished off a rather generous bowl of udon soup; very yummy noodly fuel after a tough long run tonight. The plan to do some threshold paced efforts was set aside for the sake of the planned XC race on Saturday. So, tonight a steady 13m, battling some gruesome gusts and trying to remember this is just the stuff that'll make this Runningbear tough for London.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Simple hills it was then. 5 x 4 mins to be exact and tough it was too after the exploits of the weekend. I'm feeling much clearer and happier about what I'm doing which is a nice way to feel after what seems like months of fretting and fiddling with my training. The hard work is starting to pay off. Each hill rep brought its own special pain but I still had some strength in my legs despite the 20 miler on Sunday. That just wouldn't have been manageable for my body a few months ago. So I'm slowly remembering that quality days are where the work is, easy days are to be enjoyed.
The hard hills efforts now out of the way mean tonight's easy bimble around Ilkley should be relaxed and a chance to stretch the legs but nothing more. That leaves more time for catching up on bits of missed telly and digging out the Ben & Jerry's for a bit of a yummy treat. Some more instalments of In Treatment are on the cards tonight. Its a must see. Check it out on Sky Arts...a demain.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

No Frills

These old legs have been feeling heavy and tired after XC racing and that super long run this weekend. A nice and supposedly easy 5m on Monday was a reminder of the necessity of these recovery days being exactly that. I dragged myself around the village at dawn wearing a pair of wooden legs wondering where my bouncy & bendy ones had got to.

The last few days have included lots of reflective training chats with M, his pa and some revisiting of our dog-eared running books. I've also been looking back at what I've done since I started a structured training plan two years ago, (a great advantage of keeping a log). All these elements have combined to form a really useful process; reminding myself of the running basics that I've somehow forgotten in recent months.
In trying to capture what made all the difference to bring the big improvements over the last 2 years, one of the most striking things was the simplicity of my training. My efforts to find new and sophisticated ways of doing intervals or drills or some other fancy session is all a bit unnecessary. I've been reminded of the basics, proper recovery around high quality work. Giving the body enough space to respond to hard training is a key discipline and rather crazily, is just as tough for me as it is churning out those yucky intervals at the track. The wild distractions of hilly drills and the like all now seem to be just a bit of nonsense. Keeping it simple is the Runningbear motto. So tonight, simple hills, definitely no drills & no more frills.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Golden Weekend

Well, I have to confess to being a bit of a blog skiver these last few days, it's been a bit hectic this week though & I can't believe it was Wednesday since my last post. It was a wishy-washy training week, with a good session Tuesday & then half easing down but half not for the rest of the week. M and I journeyed to Birmingham on Friday for a stay in a very cosy hotel so we'd be ready fresh faced for the XC international on Saturday. M was overjoyed to have permission to eat a full English whilst I settled for a meagre boiled eggie on toast, (sausages and racing don't mix). We then set out to pick up 'Old Man' Teasey; M's pa travelled half way across the country to join team Runningbear this weekend. We arrived at Alexander Stadium in time for kit collection and team photos which I deftly avoided.
A truly wild, wet and windy day made for a hard core cross country outing. Complete with the rather frightening red England pants I shivered my way to the start line, along with my England team mates for a competitive 6k race in rather wild and wintry conditions. M and Old Man Teasey were a great support as I trundled around the course, second behind super Vet Debbie Walters (who was running in the W40 category) and just holding off the first W35 Ireland counter. I think I maintained the pace into lap #2, building a bit of a lead but reached the final lap feeling pretty spent with a hard training week in my legs. I was relieved to hold on to the lead for the W35 race and great runs from fellow team mates brought a convincing W35 England team victory and gold medals for us all. No pics sadly as I forgot to show M how to use the pocket camera or maybe he just got distracted by the fetching red pants...anyways, I really enjoyed a proper cross country race with real mud and rain and plenty of windy gusts to battle.
After a welcome refuel in a fine Italian joint and some good running chat with M and his pa last night we were both out again for a long one this morning, my longest ever in fact. It felt wondrous to run under expansive blue sunny skies for the full 20 miles, taking in 9 miles of trail and finishing with a tarmac loop into Ilkley and home again. The pace averaged 7.29 and reflected a conscious decision to run these long ones a bit slower to leave room for more fun at the track on Tuesdays. M ran 18m and seemed to cope better than ever with the distance. I'm keeping my eye on him for Thirsk 10m, some very good racing and PBs are definitely on the menu these next few weeks.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Damn That Spam

No, not the rubbery, pink and pretend meaty kind but that pesky electronic kind from a very irritating source, They have somehow penetrated my email, deleted all my messages sent and received for the last month and then infiltrated all my contacts sending a bogus message from me about recommended electrical products on their website. The cheek! Its VERY annoying. I keep getting puzzled emails from long lost mates wondering what's going on. If anyone has any top tips of how to sort this I'd be grateful. So far I've Googled for help threads and nothing seems to have sorted the problem. Apologies to anyone out there that might been on the receiving end... back to running.
Legs are tired and a bit sore from the mammoth efforts of last night. We ran in Ilkley for a change tonight, a moderate paced 7 miles around town. It felt a bit chilly and a bit of procrastination featured before I finally got out of the door. The pace averaged 7.13 so not so fresh but not so bad after the week I've had. Another moderate one tomorrow then easy Friday before a trip to Birmingham Friday night, a hotel stay and a fry up for M then race day Sat, a new England kit and lots of mud I expect. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lonely Hearts

Today was the first day since my drilling on hills that I've felt remotely normal. The legs have been howling at me for days, especially after my attempt at the long run Sunday so thankfully I had permission to skive yesterday, what with college and all. We learnt the last bit of the massage routine last night. The back. Its a lot to remember but M will be in heaven with all the practising over the coming weeks.
Anyway, I was back to the tough stuff with a visit to the track tonight. Another quality session on my lonesome which will no doubt toughen me up for the marathon distance but it doesn't half make for slow times on these intervals. The odd sprinter was on the track tonight running with a tyre attached to their waist. We occasionally coincided to give me something to chase, which made up to 5 seconds difference to my rep times; a stark reminder of the value of a well matched training partner on these sessions. Anyway, 8 x 1k it was with 2 mins of jog recovery. A total of 11 miles all in. I had a nice chat with a local Clayton runner who was expounding the benefits of drill work for leg speed. I'm gonna have to Google this stuff and add it to my arsenal when I'm gunnin' for those PBs in the New Year. Another good sesh in the bank before the XC race in Birmingham on Saturday. No more hard stuff for the rest of the week.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Okay, so now I'm very bored of the rain. Since last Sunday, every time I have stepped out of the house in my trainers it has literally p****d it down. What's going on? Yesterday I woke up to blue skies, a fine clear day, not even a sign of a cloud. Not even a wisp. I jumped in the car and 10 minutes outside Nelson, guess what... the start of a downpour and plenty of rain to keep me company on the run.
This morning, I was up early, ready with a porridge filled tummy, settled enough to contemplate getting started. I hobbled out to the car to start the drive over to Bingley for a long one on the canal. Nice and sunny it was. Then wham! Its chuckin' buckets right in time for my first mile. I think I'm being punished for all the nice clear, cool weather we had last winter. I remember I kept thinking how lucky we'd been to have so few wet and windy nights to run through. I seem to be paying for it all in one week. Some freaky kind of weather karma. What did I do? Needless to say today's run was no treat. My legs were mashed and the adjustment to a 16 miler to give myself a bit of a break was still no easy task. I was daft enough to try some tempo efforts along the way and I felt about 150 years old today. The legs are still very annoyed with me for Thursday. I will definitely not do that again. Long run done, the Runningbear is dried off ready for her Sunday tea, telly and lots of sleep. Hopefully a better week to come.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Buns Of Steel

Well readers. I think I'm in danger of having to eat my words. After Thursday night's session I was feeling pretty complacent about this drills thing. The session wasn't remotely lung bursting and though I knew my legs were working, I was feeling pretty happy with myself. Little old self satisfied me. Ha. Then on Friday I noticed a bit of fatigue in the quads climbing the stairs and as the day wore on a slight achiness in the derriere. Well OMG. I can now hardly move. I feel like I've been put through a mincer, reformed into a person shape and then pounded with a granite rolling pin from my glutes down. I can barely sit without extreme a**e ache. I haven't suffered so much since the proper mashing of my quads during my last mountain marathon 2 years ago (and that was following several miles of bone rattling descents where I had to walk downstairs backwards for a week). I'm well and truly experiencing the effects of a tough workout, however much I thought I was taking it easy.
The extreme DOMS made for a difficult session at the track today. I'd planned some 400m intervals but I just couldn't do it. I was beaten. Instead I stuck with M and ran 8 easy laps with some 100m strides on the straights. I've sort of loosened up some patches but I can still hardly sit and I'm running long tomorrow. This drills business is not to be underestimated. Do not try this at home kids.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hilly Drills

I'm embarrassed to confess that I've been a bit of a narcissist, and revisited my recent TV appearance from the Great South Run. Apart from the initial horror of my thigh girth for all to see (though they do say telly adds the lbs) and the general unpleasantness of seeing yourself on TV, I was reminded again of my rather inefficient running style. I have a rather long and bouncy stride for someone so vertically challenged. In fact my cadence and stride often mirror M's (who is a foot taller than me with legs that look double the length of mine). I'm really not likely to make huge progress in race times without some attention to my cadence. A point also put to me recently by one or two other polite observers of my recent races.

Anyway, the time has come for action. Apart from trying to build in a return to intervals work in the last few weeks I thought I'd try something a bit different tonight. After some inspiring chat with Bingley superstar Vic W on Saturday I thought I'd give some short hill work a go tonight. The different bit was a focus on form and cadence rather than propulsion. My usual hill efforts involve shifting as quick as I can and covering as much ground as possible within a set time. Tonight was a very different experience, 12 x 90 seconds on a very steep hill, working to pump my arms and increase leg turn-over to the point that it was more of a drill exercise than a hill effort. I covered much less ground that usual and felt a different kind of tiredness; one of working specific muscles rather than the lung burning, oxygen gasping, near coronary experience I usually have during hill work.

However, since uploading my Garmin data my heart rate barely rises above zone 4 leaving me wondering whether the session was effective at all. I've never tried the drills thing before and understand its the done thing for improving leg turn over and holding form. Most of all I need to find an effective way of shifting quicker. Are drills the answer? Or should I just focus on shorter track intervals? Any training experts out there? Answers on a postcard please...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Room With A View

A return to office working has been a shock, most of all because of the sudden shift to darkness well before home time. After gazing longingly out of my office window at the clear blue, dusky Leeds view this afternoon I was rather peeved to have to run to the train through a downpour that then had the nerve to follow me to the track tonight.

Fearing the whopper Sunday run would have taken the best out of these old pins I started out tentatively, with 5x1m reps planned though I was unsure if I’d get that far. The track was one large icy puddle and splashing my way around against the inevitable Lancashire gusts led to a pair of very cold and trembly legs. Despite the splish-sploshing I managed to trot out an even pace and shortened the recoveries to shift the emphasis to endurance; the lack of speed & zip was evidence of my tiredness from the long run at the weekend. By #4 I was feeling okay and so I pressed on (with a very determined scowl hidden under my rather fetching rain bonnet) to complete rep #5. The torrential downpours punctuating the laps left me pretty soaked but I was glad to have stuck it out and it felt good to have seen the plan through.

A final highlight to the day was a new arrival to the blogging community. Mr Complete Runner is now a fellow blogger. A veteran of the running world and mentor to many a talented local runner over the years, this site should make for some interesting reading. Check it out

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Haunting

When I got up this morning we'd stupidly thought Halloween was behind us. I downed my porridge & was ready and feelin' all perky for that long run despite the 3k painfully evident in the calves and hammies. By 11am the wind was whistling down the attic stairs and the rain was still giving our leaking back porch a relentless battering. We could put it off no longer and so I ventured out, with M sat waiting in the car a mile into my planned 19m route today; a hilly road loop from home to Otley and back.

The first mile didn't seem all that bad but then I hit the first flood waters and M sat waiting at the road block, my loyal ferryman. We edged across the water in our little car and parked to restart the run together, pushing on to Askwith, dodging the growing puddles and car spray along the way. The weather was very wet and pretty breezy but the going was good until 9m. Another flood forced us to turn back; a bit annoying but it was that or swim and I'm not training for Tri. Even the cars didn't fancy their chances. A return to Ilkley and a swift recalculation led to a local run. At 13 miles we turned into what could only be described as hellish head winds, I'm convinced this wind, 'the Tormentor' followed me from Portsmouth last week. The haunting continued with increasing strength as each mile bleeped on my Garmin. It was some strange kind of windy hell. Not sure how but we got home with 19.25m clocked at an average of 7.20/mile pace, with plenty of hills, wind and everything. This is my longest run ever. M did great too, managing his sniffles to clock 18m in the end. We got home and cosy in time for Paula running in the Big Apple. It was sad she couldn't make today victory #4 but sort of reassuring that even the likes of she has off days. A recovery run before work tomorrow and then back to massage school. We've got our first exam. All digits crossed.
P.s. I'm very pleased with my recent music purchases, The XX album is highly recommended.