Saturday, 11 December 2010

Glutes and Quads - exercises and stretches

Here are a few exercises and stretches that I demonstrated to the folks at Yeovil Town Road Running Club at a recent track training evening they did.

Weak/tight glutes are the cause of countless problems
for runners and some simple exercises and stretches can make a big difference in a short space of time.

A good place to start is with a simple diagnostic test. Stand on one leg and check that the knee is over the middle toe of the foot. Then do some knee bends and have a partner observe. If the knee is moving in when you bend this is sign of weak glutes and probably and over active TFL (the small muscle in the hip which has the IT Band as its tendon.

The 'clam' is a simple exercises to work the glutes and you can progress to exercises like 'wall press'.

Lie on you side with feet, knees and hips on top of each other. Put a hand on your backside to feel the muscle then squeeze gently o lift the top leg (keeping the feet together). Hold at the top and lower back down while keeping the muscle squeezed (often the most difficult part)

A great all round exercise is the lunge. Keep the upper body vertical, the front shin parallel to the ground and the rear thigh parallel to the ground. From standing lower yourself slowly and notice the glutes and quad muscles working hard to lower you. Only go as far as you can with control. Then push yourself back up using the samee muscles. Difficult !

Once the basic lunge is mastered you can move to a more dynamic lunge in a forward direction. Variations including a backward lunge and lunge with twist and explained and demonstrated very well by Jay Johnson on You tube.

Stretching tight quads can help take some of the stress of the front of the legs which can frequently contribute to patellar tendinitis and problems in the pelvis. Doing this stretch lying down is a big improvement on the standing up quad stretch that we often see performed. Why ? When standing your stability is not great (see weak glutes above !) and there is a tendency to tilt the pelvis which creates an illusion of stretching the quad.

Lie on the side with the bottom leg at 90 degrees to lock the pelvis. Grasp the top leg at the ankle and bring the foot towards the buttock until you feel the stretch.

To stretch the glutes lie on you ba
ck with the ankle of the leg to be stretched resting across the opposite knee. A gentle push against the knee will produce a stretch in the glute (right glute in the picture here). To deepen the stretch you can lift the left foot of the ground.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday Track Training in Yeovil

I've been quiet on the blog front for a couple of months now. Training this year has been pretty disjointed and there hasn't been a huge amount to write about on that front recently unless you like reading about psoas stretches and glute activation exercises !

That said i've managed to get the running back up to six days a week of running singles. The resulting 60-70miles feels ridiculously easy after years of higher mileage marathon training. My body is moving well enough to do some faster training again and I'm looking forward to some good cross country races in the New Year.

One thing I have been experimenting with is weight training. Its completely new for me so like anything new I had to start cautiously and quickly notice big improvements. I've got some things to write about now so this will be the topic for a future article...

Back to now and this evening (friday) I will be at the track in Yeovil helping out with Yeovil Town Road Running Club. When they started their friday night workouts there were but a handful of hardy souls and now you can see 40 plus runners stretching their legs in a couple of groups under the watchful eyes of Tim and the two Pete's. I'm looking forward to tonight and it comes hot on the heels of leading a couple of workshops on Road Running at the England Athletics conference at Lee Valley last weekend which was good fun.

Photos of the exercises and stretches last night to follow soon...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Gwent League Bridgend

A fantastic day for the teams from Wells City Harriers at sunday's Gwent League in Bridgend. On a glorious day in south wales the senior celebrated their Div 1 debut by tying for spot. Led home by the clubs most recent international, supervet Jon James in 7th place, the team scored consistently. Eliot Haimes returned from pneumonia to take 13th and I got round one place behind in 14th. While my run was hardly setting the turf alight at least I was able to move fairly freely and enjoyed being in a race again. Behind us captain Gilling produced a storming last hundred meters to hold off several runners in a bunch sprint.

Earlier in the day the U15 girls had packed 3 scorers in the first 10 to dominate their age group. And with English Schools Cross Country Champ to come back into the team they should put up a good showing at this weekends road relays.

Speaking of which, Sutton Park will come a bit too soon for me. While I survived Sunday I have been pretty stiff the last couple of days and I just need to be sensible. On Sunday I was able to run a solid tempo though I still can't fully stride out but that is coming and hopefully I will be ready for the XC relays in a months time.

Full Results

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Marathon season kicks off in Berlin

This weekend the autumn marathon season gets properly underway with Berlin and Toronto Waterfront grabbing the early headlines before the focus shifts to a couple of potentially epic races in Chicago and New York.

After a summer of hobbling around in pain and not enjoying the little running I have been able to do at least I am starting to move well enough to run 3 or 4 times a week now. Commitment has been in short supply so this weekend I'm off to Berlin and who knows, the juices may be flowing again come sunday afternoon ! For once Haile won't be lining up as he is having a crack at New York and what should be more of a championship type race. I really hope this means that he is going to prepare seriously for London 2012. A marathon medal 16 years after his first 10,000m gold would be a fitting finale for the maestro - I will always remember the day I sneaked into the stadium in Addis during the pre-worlds training camp in 2001 and he came up to the stands to say hello and introduce himself. Class.

Anyway, one of the benefits of being away from proper training is more time to reflect on what has worrked or not worked in training and also time for things that I wouldn't normally do. Last saturday the Somerset Runing Network organised a runners fayre over at Taunton. Top of the bill was Dave Moorcroft and he gave a thoroughly engaging talk which its fair to say had the audience captivated. The two big takeouts for me were 1. be the best you can be (at whatever level yor talent allows) and 2. enjoy the journey because very few will get to win an Olympic medal or set a WR. Wise words indeed !

After lunch we had a cosy little group for my Faster Marathon workshop, lots of good questions and sharing of experiences between the participants and plenty of fun for me and the tub of marathon lard...

Monday, 26 July 2010

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara

The minimalist footwear revolution has been in full swing for several years now ever since the Nike Free appeared and made minimal mainstream. While some manufactures like Vibram have taken things to the extreme conclusion i.e. almost non-existent the first Saucony offering in this space is somewhere in between traditional and minimal.

The thinking here makes lots of sense. While its without doubt that our feet evolved to cover long distances unshod the reality is that most of us in the western world have been wearing footwear for most of our lives. The muscles in our feet and legs have become accustomed to this and simply throwing off our footwear and going minimal tends to result in many compensatory injuries.

The smart strategy is to move from full blown trainers to barefoot in a number of steps - if you pardon the pun. So some barefoot walking and exercises can be combined with a more minimal running shoe design. And this is where the Kinvara comes into its own.

The heel is lower than a conventional trainer without been super close to the ground, the forefoot too. The weight is reduced to a mere 218g, a number that many racers would be pleased to hit. And the shoe is softer and more flexible than a conventional trainer.

My first run was a bit strange, especially getting used to the softer ride but I quickly adapted and it started to feel more natural. I really noticed what was going on with my feet when I run, in a similar way that I do when wearing spikes for a grass session. I've now used them regularly for runs up to about an hour in length to give myself time to adjust to them. I reckon that to get the most out these type of shoes you should also do some specific foot and leg strengthening exercises to accelerate the rate at which your stability develops.

Time will tell how well these shoes wear so I will report back when they have several hundred miles on them.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

British Athletics League debut

17 years ago I was on standby as cover for Simon Rayner over 5000m in the Hercules Wimbledon AC team and today I finally got to run a BAL race in anger (guesting in a premiership race a few back doesn't really count) for my home town team, Yeovil Olympiads AC.

We won promotion to the BAL in 2008 and won another promotion last year from National 4 to 3. There are some parallels here with the football team which won promotion from the conference after years as a non-league side before quickly getting a promotion into League 1. While the footie team enjoyed a day out at Wembley for the 2007 playoff final the most glamorous day we can look forward to is a windy day at Swansea. So while my BAL ambitions with HW went down with their 1993 relegation its been up and up with Yeovil.

Today was a bit of a leap into the dark. I haven't raced on the track since 2008, the last 18 months have been woeful with a succession of setbacks and this year I have only really raced a couple of times in long races. My rustiness really showed and the few couple of laps I was off the pace before working my way to the front of the bunch but by then Bournemouth's Steve Way had got away from us. Until 3k things felt good and I was getting into a good rythmn but then I made the mistake of inviting one of the pursuers to take the pace and we slowed dramatically.

Going back to the front of the group I found it impossible to pick up the pace and my legs started to feel heavy. The last 3 laps was a survival job, it was how I felt when I started running 5000m races years ago. There is definitely a knack to be able to hammer that last mile with your body screaming and at the moment I've forgotten what it is ! And then horror of horrors the group of guys who sat off the pace and took it easy capitalise on me doing all the work and came flying past in the last 2oom. Not much fun for sure. With 4 weeks until the next race i've got some time to put in some lactic work and get myself better prepared. I'm actually looking forward to it !

Monday, 14 June 2010

Go Yeovil !

Its been a while since I posted which its fair to say has been a reflection of my motivation for running. Breaking down before London was a huge disappointment. 2010 was probably the best chance I have had to run at an international championship and I was unable to put myself in contention in the trial race. I've always been one of those runners who is motivated to race and make teams rather than run fast times so the last few weeks has involved a lot of 'what now ?' type questions.

Any hope of a quick recovery from the injury and a shot at a May marathon went out of the window as well as the back muscle trouble I was having was incredibly persistent. I've never know anything quite like it but at least I'm now an expert on erector spinae and latisimus dorsus. It really has been a question of two steps forward, one step back but yesterday I finally laced up my racing shoes again and went for it in the Ninesprings 9k race, part of the Go Yeovil ! week, a local initiative designed to get people moving more and being aware of how much they are exercising (or not !).

I was hoping for a nice congtrolled tempo run on the hilly two lap off road course and instead it turned into a real hard race which just goes to show that you can take nothing for granted when you pin a number on your vest. Taunton's Luke Scott put the pressure on after a mad sprint off the startline and by the top of the first hill I was thinking 'crikey, another 8k of this is going to hurt'.

Although I was able to get a small gap on the first lap the nature of the course made it impossible to see the 2nd runner so I had to keep pushing hard. Only at the top of the hill at Aldon House was I able to sneak a look over the hedge top to see I had a winning margin. That last mile or so was a great feeling, running fast and free out in front and then getting the winning feeling as I crossed the line. The poor lady handing out the T-shirts thought I was dying I was so out of breath, a good sign :-)

The whole event was another triumph for the organisers from YTRRC. A 2k race for the kids was well attended and after the main event a one lap 'corporate' race attracted a number of teams including a group of anaesthetists from Yeovil Hospital.

And best of all my back feels fine this morning, no stiffness or soreness so hopefully my lunchtime shakeout will go well and I can start to focus on a return to track racing in the next British League fixture.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Virgin London Marathon 2010 Results

The London Marathon searchable results are here in case you are having trouble finding them.

I can't say that I was a very good spectator yesterday though I did get a different perspective on the whole event by working at the Expo on Saturday (left) and got to do some celeb spotting in between selling shoes. The bearded one was out and about in usual manic style and Natalie Imbruglia is so tiny I nearly trampled her.
If nothing else the whole thing reminded me that I would much rather be out there racing which has given me renewed impetus to crack on with the rehab !

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

London Marathon: another one bites the dust...

Today I finally gave in to the inevitable and threw in the towel on my London preparations after a couple of weeks of really struggling with a bad back. The trouble started brewing just before the 12 stage relays and the day after I could hardly run. A few days rest and some treatment and it seemed to settle down but then 10 days ago I just seized up on an easy run and had to walk home. And sod's law said that it had to happen the day before I was flying to Albuquerque for some altitude training.

After throwing my toys out of the pram I decided to travel anyway and either get the problem fixed out here or at least have a holiday in a part of the world I've never visited. One of the good things about there being a big sports community here is that there are some top medical professionals and between them Dr Michael Maggio and masseur Liz Farr have got me running again. To the point where this morning I could do a very easy hour along Tramway Bld. But the hard truth is that a stiff and sore hour at 7 min miling is a long way from two and quarter hours at sub 5.20 pace. And having done no training for over two weeks the writing was well and truly on the wall. While it might have been possible to recover enough to get on the start line it would have to have been with a reduced goal and this year's London was all about running under 2.18 not just being solid. So rather than struggling on I decided to pull the plug.

I suppose that one of the good things to come out of this is actually the reason I broke down, bizarre though that may sound. With quite a few Brits raising their game this winter I felt that 2.16 was going to be needed to make one of the teams this year and correspondingly I had to take some risks in my training to try and get to that level. A safety first strategy and just sneaking under 2.18 probably won't be enough. So looking at the training I posted for the first 4 weeks and the deadness of my legs at Bath it easy to see that the hard workouts were densely packed together. In the end this was probably too much and with my pelvis not working properly and lots of tight muscles attaching to it eventually the bit that was taking the biggest load gave out.

So for now its just a question of rehabing the problem areas and taking advantage of the altitude to just get in some easy running and recharge the batteries ready for a summer track season.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Marathon Build Up Week 4 of 9

This is the week when I started to feel tired at last as the cumulative effect of the marathon training took hold. This is the position you are looking to get into and its a fine line to tread between staying tired and ensuring you are fresh enough to nail the key workouts. I was probably just the wrong side the line by mid week and Friday's Marathon Pace workout was tough as the legs felt knackered. But at least I was able to pck up the pace on each effort and in the context of a block of hard training the pace was OK on what was a cold, wet day.

On sunday there was still enough in the tank to knock out a solid 5 miles in the South of England 12 stage relays where I was running for my Wells City Harriers club (finish photo left by Ken Hoye). The legs were still a bit battered but I was able to push harder than at Bath a couple of weeks back and although I was on the limit in the last mile the first 20mins felt controlled.
The team put in a solid effort to finish 10th but unfortunately the number of teams in this event continues to decline. I've posted on the 12 stage before so suffice to say its time to change the format before it dies a slow lingering death.
It was a good weekend for other runners from the Harriers as Emily Smith won the Junior Girls race at the English Schools Cross Country in what was by all accounts a mad sprint for the line as she came from way back in the last couple of minutes of racing. For American readers the English Schools is the biggest race for school age kids over here. You have to get through several qualifying races, district, county and regionals to get to race. For many runners it will be their first big race away from home and you get to stay the night before with a host family. On the two occasions I qualified this was the scariest part of the weekend ! I think my best was about 166th at Preston in 1987.

Anyway back to 2010 and the weeks training went

Mon 69 mins and 44mins
Tue 35 mins and a track session of 30x200m with just 100m jog
Wed 1hr 40 picking up the pace after halfway
Thr 42 mins very easy
Fri 75mins of Marathon pace going 3.24/km, 3.22, 3.20, 3.18, 3.14
Sat 35mins and 40 mins
Sun w/u 5mile relay stage w/d

This worked out at about 95miles for the week and looking at the last 15 days its been pretty densely packed with hard runs. This week I will have a few easy days towards the backend before racing the Wilmslow Half Marathon then I will be off to altitude to finish my London preparation.
Really looking forward to getting away and hopefully some sunshine !

Sunday, 14 March 2010

London Marathon Build Up - Week 3 of 9

This week the work started to get serious ! Last Sunday's race in Bath was a bit of a kick up the arse and after 2 days feeling pretty miserable and wondering how the hell I was was going to be ready in 7 weeks time I got my act together on Tuesday afternoon with the help a Swiss Chiropracter and a damn fine spa !

Doing drills and sprints on monday I realised my right leg was barely functioning - I couldn't bound off that leg or get it through when trying to run fast, the glute max was just flapping around and the psoas was as tight as a nun's habit. So tuesday afternoon I went to see a guy who does a lot of work with one of the pro Ice Hockey teams. And it was a huge step forward. He did some work on my upper back and I could walk out a different athlete. A relaxing hour in the spa followed and on wednesday morning I was running with so much more freedom and power. On such small things can a season turn. Anyway the training for last week:

Mon 72 mins very easy + 30 mins easy and 1 hour of drills/sprints/plyos
Tue 96 mins with last 35 a bit slower than marathon pace
Wed 66 mins incl 3x8mins threshold + 50 mins incl hill sprints
Thr 43 mins regeneration
Fri 2hr 15min fartlek - first 70 mins steady and working the hills then 10x1min fast/1min easy then 15mins moderate then 30 min progressive finishing at MP
Sat 45 mins easy + 40 mins easy
Sun 38 mins easy + 80 min incl 12k of reps on grass (2k, 2k, 2k, 2k, 1k, 1k, 2k) Long reps just slower than 10k pace and short reps at 3k pace to put some lactic in my legs

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Marathon build up - week 2

Last weeks prediction of a rollercoaster turned out to be true earlier than I expected as I turned in a horrid result at the Bath Half Marathon on sunday even after a couple of easy days to try and freshen up. The strange thing is that the day before my legs felt pretty good but come race day it was like running with two bags of sand where legs should have been. The modern trend with sportsmen and coaches is 'to look for the postives' in a crap performance and all too frequently this has the ring of banal platitudes. So I wont even bother !

A couple of outstanding runs in Bath worth mentioning came from recently turned V40 Martin Cox who clocked 66.01 and my Wells team mate Jon James who led home the V45 category with a 70.37 effort.

Anyway, the week's training started out quite well with a solid long run and went downhill from there.

Mon 2hr 36 mins hilly course
Tue 54 mins and 61 mins including 12 x 30-45 seconds fast
Wed 70 mins including 6km progressive and 5x250m fast stride. Breathing easily but legs struggling to keep up
Thr Rest day (planned)
Fri 35 and 42 mins quite easy feeling tired and not moving well
Sat 50mins incl. 2km at race pace and 5x200m strides
Sun Bath Half Marathon , 16th in 68.47

Encouragingly I felt pretty good on monday morning after the 'race' and not tired from my exertions on sunday. It would be more worrying if a 68 had taken a lot out of me. So on to the next three weeks block and hopefully a better run in my next tune up race at the England Athletics Championships in Wilmslow at the end of the month.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Marathon build up - week 1

So here we go, 9 weeks until London. Strap yourself in and prepare for another rollercoaster ride of a marathon preparation. This is what makes this sport such fun, the ups and downs, the aches and pains, the great workouts and the miserable slogs when your legs feel like falling off. And at the end of it the reward of being in shape to push yourself to your absolute limit by racing 26 and a bit miles as fast as possible. Insane.

Coming in to this race my shape is OK but not great, certainly not the shape I was in at the start of my build ups to Toronto and Geneva. But then again for both those races I probably peaked a few weeks early so this could be a blessing in disguise. For those of you who follow my blog you will know that 2009 was a bad year with the first part written off by injury and then my plans to run the World Triophy 50k scuppered by ill health which also threatened to end my competitve running. The good news is that magnesium has restored my electrolyte balance and since december i've been able to train without any problems and really enjoyed racing again.

The name of the game is going to be to take some risks in the next couple of months. I've got a huge aerobic base from 10s of thousands of miles over the last 20 years so now is the time to tap into that and let rip. Who knows what will happen !?

Week 1 was all about getting those first couple of marathon specific workouts done and getting the feel for it again. Over the coming weeks these workouts will get progressively more challenging in a number of ways, watch this space.

AM 2hr 11mins starting easy and building the pace on a hilly course, last hour at a good clip (3.40/km)

AM 35mins regeneration
PM 45mins including 5x30secs fast stride

AM 45mins progressive finishing at threshold
PM w/u 18x400m with 200m recovery in about 50 secs. Just running relaxed rather than forcing the pace

AM 55mins easy
PM physio then 35mins easy. Good to get my pelvis straightened out before cranking out the big tempo sessions

AM 45 mins easy - I used to have a complete rest day but find I stiffen up quite a bit so experimenting with just a single easy run

AM w/u then 6x3km Marathon Pace on an undulating course. Horrid weather but got faster as the session progressed. Strarted in trainers and full winter kit and finished in shorts and racers. Could have kept going all day which was encouraging.

AM 67mins felt surprising good after yesterday
PM 43mins

Just over 100miles and 3 key workouts in the bag. A good start to the build up and my appetite is thoroughkly whetted now !

Friday, 26 February 2010

Saucony ShoeLab in Somerset on 20th March

Good news for runners in the south west if you are after a new pair of shoes for London or your other spring races.

The Saucony ShoeLab will be in Yeovil at the Tri UK store on the afternoon of Saturday 20th March. Video gait analysis and special offers in store.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A lap of Olympic Park

A few days ago I was working out in the East End and on a glorious morning took the opportunity to go for a run around the Olympic Park in Stratford. Its nothing short of awesome, both in the sheer scale of the site and in the details of the venues under construction. With just over a couple of years to go there is still a lot of work to be done but the major venues are coming together and with a bit of imagination you can picture how its going to be during those 2 weeks in July. Its already got the feel of Britishness from the army of construction workers supping Tetley tea to that Temple of the High Priestess of retail, a Westfield shopping centre. Now here's a thought: tea drinking and shopping to be Olympic sports ? more guaranteed golds for Team GB...

The venues are simply mindblowing - heading round the southern perimeter from Stratford the first venue is Zahara Hadid's controversial aquatic venue (left). To me it looks worth every penny and The Wave is set to be just as iconic as Beijing's Water Cube and hopefully will bring even more British success for Becky and co. I hope we have a got a plan that gives our team plenty of opportunity to train in the new pool and perhaps we should get the aquatic version of British Cycling's Secret Squirrel Club to optimise the water temperature for our guys and gals.

Heading round the perimeter along the Greenway the next stop is the main stadium itself. Much has been made of the temporary nature of the main stadium with 30,000 seats housed in a 'hole in the ground' design with another 50,000 or so in a temporary grandstand. We are good at temporary structures in this country - remember the Millenium Dome ? I've got a feeeling that this one could go the same way, especially if a deal is done to get West Ham United in as an anchor tenant post Olympiad. This is going to be a classic British fudge.

We knew at the outset that the optimal legacy solution was a football/rugby club tenant with a running track for major athletics events just like the Stade de France has in Paris. The sticking point was the cost and consequences of designing retractable seating for the lower tiers. So we decided to go with an unviable pure-play athletics stadium. and now the numbers don't add up we are going to end up retro-fitting a football/athletics solution at probably even greater cost. Still, we should have a stadium fit for athletics and a fantastic home (hopefully) for West Ham. Why can't we get this right at the outset (note to decision makers on High Speed Rail ....).

Onwards from the stadium and along the network of canals and rivers that cut through the whole area. Its down here that you can see the area's industrial heritage and marvel at what a hive of activity this place must have been in a different age. You can only hope that regeneration extends to tempting new business to set up shop along this natural highway to bring a new age of prosperity to the Stratford. Just building appartments along these waterways would surely be a missed opportunity. Onto the northern side of the site and the 'goldmine' aka the velodrome is also taking shape. You can safely bet that Dave Brailsford and his guys have been all over the design like a Chris Hoy skinsuit to make sure that we have the best track for our pedalers.

And the 50 odd minutes later I'm back at Stratford where I started. That gives you a feel for how big the site is and I just hope that come 2012 we do what we are best at and put on a party. To have a sterile, remote controlled park would be a real mistake. Britain is festival country and we need to recapture the atmosphere of Henman Hill, Stowe corner at Silverstone and Glastonbury. And before we throw too many stones at Vancouver lets have a contingency plan for too much rain, as long as it doesn't involve Sir Cliff serenading Usain Bolt.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Saucony South of England Cross Country Top 20

It was great to be back running the 'Southern' at Parliament Hill yesterday for the first time since about 1997 for me. My big memory of that race was a battle with a certain Huw Lobb for a place inside the top 10 and 12 years later we were at it again though a few places lower than last time.

For afficianodos the southern is special because it is the only big XC race in britain that retains the old 9 miles distance. Add in the mud and hills of Hampstead Heath and it becomes a war of attrition to say the least. Yesterday was no exception though the mud has decreased in recent years since the council put in some drainage on the heath. (Photo left from

My race was a mixed bag. after struggling to keep up at the start I was back in the forties but quickly worked my up in to the twenties on the opening lap and tracking Dave Wardle but I was struggling badly on the hills. Every time we hit an up slope there was no power in my legs and I went backwards a few places - and hills are normally a strength.

By the end of lap 1 I was in the early 20's and not really enjoying the race. With concentration wavering and more uphills I had slipped to about 25th midway through the lap when Huw caught up with me and my race changed. Most of the guys around me were breathing hard, much harder than me so clearly my fitness was pretty good.

As Huw came past I tucked in and we start on a charge that would last most of the second half of the race (photo left by Alex Robinson and courtesy of Adam Prezedrzymirski). It worked out well. On the hills he was pulling away again but on the flatter parts I was charging past him so we pulled each other into the top 20 and were catching runners all the way to the finish.

Another lap would have been helpful at this point :-) I was even able to raise a good sprint to hold off a fast finishing James Connor. So I managed to salvage something from the wreckage of the first half of my race and will only get better with more races in coming weeks. Bring on the next one.

Left: Wells team tent with Enfield's Jon Pepper getting some love from Big Frank before taking 2nd in the senior mens race (and to keep the internet message board posters happy - checking out a move to the west country before transfer deadline day ?)

Full Results here from Milton Keynes AC (click tabs at bottom of page for other age groups).

Senior Mens Top 20

1. N Hall
2. J. Pepper
3. K Heywood
4. Deed
5. Neuschwander
6. Lacy
7. Mashford
8. Toher
9. Smith
10. Tickner
11. Clarke
12. Dalmedo
13. Wardle
14. Coleman
15. Warren
16. Edwards
17. Marriott
18. Connor
19. Lobb
20. Jones

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Why snow running is good for you

With half of the country at a standstill from last weeks heavy snowfall there has never been a better time to lace up your trainers and go and run. For a start, with many of us working from home there is an opportunity to get out in day light hours which is certainly good for the soul at this time of year.

But what about the training itself ? Its slippy underfoot, the ground is frozen. Isn't this bad news ?

Well not really. Running with these underfoot conditions gives you a core stability workout to die for. All those small accessory muscles which do nothing when you are running on smooth tarmac suddenly have to earn their keep. In the hips, stomach, glutes and lower legs the stabilisers are working overtime. Whats more you quickly learn to feel what is under your feet and respond stride by stride. It brings you much closer to the barefoot running our bodies have evolved to do. I was pretty sore after the first couple of days.

So what about speed ? Again its a question of working with the situation. Sure you have to run slower on snow so run longer instead. A short block of training with more miles at an easier pace is only going to stand you in good stead for when the weather improve and you can hits those reps again.

For running fast there are some good options. At 6pm last night the roads were empty and with snow free tramlines after a day of cars on them it was perfect for running fast. I was quickly able to find a nice section on the ring road with lights and do fast strides on the road. If you dont have that option then a multi-story carpark has been a favourite for our american and european cousins for years. And you can always find some smow covered grass and do longer reps in spikes. Just resist the temptation to try and hammer the speed and let the workout come to you.

And if you are going off the beaten track take some energy gels and a mobile phone with you just in case.

Friday, 8 January 2010

South West XC Champs Cancelled

Not surprised that the South West Champs at Bicton on Sunday have been cancelled. The ground is frozen solid and anyone who has raced at Bicton knows how rutted the course can be in parts.

Personally its a big disappointment. Training has been coming together nicely over the last few weeks and despite a nasty chest infection over xmas I've felt my fitness improving week by week with a combination of miles and some good aerobic workouts. Tuesday I was running hills in spikes on the frozen ground and the power is starting to come back into the legs. So I was looking forward to racing again. Looks like another week or two to hold on !