Friday, 23 December 2011

Asics DS Racer 9 review

This week I've been breaking in a pair of the new Asics DS Racer 9 with an eye on a spring marathon. For the last 12 months my racing shoes of choice have been the Nike Katana racer (for short races including track down to 3000m) and a mix of the Saucony Fastwitch 4 and Adidas Adios for longer races and long tempos.

In the past Asics shoes have been quite tight across my forefoot (which is quite broad) but these have a bit more room in the toebox and fitted well straight away. I did a 45 minute easy run in them straight out of the box before giving them a good going over on road and track.

The bit of medial support in these shoes worked well for me and after an hour long workout my feet felt fine, no sign of having been overworked to keep me stable and I really liked the flexibility as well when I was doing 200s on the track. The outsole gripped nicely on a wet road (which not all racers manage to do) though I wonder how hard wearing it will be as it looks like quite a soft rubber ? As usual I will report back on wear levels when they have a couple if hundred kilometres on them.

Overall these are going to be a terrific shoe for half marathons and marathons as well as longer training runs (I've got a 25km tempo scheduled for next week which will really them a thorough going over) though for short races I will probably be looking for something even lighter than the advertised 215g and more responsive i.e. a thinner midsole/outsole combination. Hopefully the Adios 2 will address this when it comes out.

I've worn the DS 9 quite a bit now and the outsole wear seems to be OK, certainly not something to be concerned by. However, while its very comfortable, it doesn't have the 'pop' that I want in a racing shoe. As a result I've taken to using them on shorter recovery runs as a subsitute for a minimal shoe and started doing more of my fast runinng in the Adidas Adios 2

Take a look at my Adidas Adios 2 review and Saucony Kinvara 3 review

Asics DS Racer 9 manufacturers specification

Friday, 4 November 2011

Return to winning ways at Glarner Stadtlauf

Its taken 18 months but finally I stood on top of the podium again last saturday at the Glarner Stadtlauf in Switzerland. And it was great to be there, the feeling made all the better because I had averaged sub 3min kilometres for the twisty town centre criterium course and beaten Marco Kern, a promising young swiss runner who has run 3.45 and 8.11 this summer.

For a while now I have promised myself that I could only start to prepare for a marathon once I had recaptured 30min 10km shape, so i'm now in an intellectual battle with myself as to whether 7.865km on a difficult course is equivalent or not. Or perhaps I just have to go and run a 10k in December !

The toughest part of saturday was remembering how to win. Its not as simple as just being the fittest runner (I was there or thereabouts) or having the fastest finish (I definitely didn't) but how you use the qualities you do have in the heat of battle and how you can influence your opponents to not make the best of what they have. And after 18 months without a win and more than 2 years since a really close race I was wondering whether it was still there.

After a fast start I was leading the second group on lap 1 (out of 5) and Marco was going away from us. The Glarner course is a typcial European criterium course. A loop in and out of the town centre, taking in the main street and with plenty of twists and turns and a short sharp climb. Spectators everywhere creating a great atmosphere. One of the best things about these races are the abscence of kilometre markers and no real sense of what pace you are running at. Garmins are useless with the tight turns and buildings so you can just run in your body with complete freedom rather than being stuck in your head analysing split times and thinking about stuff too much.

By the end of the first lap the gap to Marco had stabilised and some of the fast starters were dropping off my group. From there I started to close and when I eventually caught Marco his breathing was only slightly harder than mine and he was able to comfortably stay with me into lap 3 when the fight in my own mind began.
I knew I was safe for second place and sometimes the brain says "thats good enough, take it."

One of the thin
gs that has re-invigorated my running this autumn has been racing like a kenyan (or as I did when I was young). In other words, having a go with no fear of the consequences. Its easy to say and much harder to do but as an older athlete i've had enough 2nd and 4th places (my speciality) to entertain my grandchildren for years to come. So in the middle of lap 3 I decided to up the pace on the small hill and up it again coming off the top. And it hurt, like hell, but there was a small gap by the end of it.

Coming to the end of lap 3 I could still hear Marco and the brain was saying "you can't keep this up for two more laps and he has got a good sprint finish", so I decided what the hell and pushed again to increase the gap. And guess what, the gap opened. The pain increased but my legs held together. At the bell my lungs were burning and I felt like I was being hunted, and that fear just kept me focused ahead and maintaining my lead to the finish.

Really pleased with how things turned out and looking forward to getting back on to the muddy stuff between now and the new year.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Toronto Waterfront Marathon Results 2011

Just back from a busy weekend in Toronto and for once I wasn't racing so I got to see a top level event from a different perspective. I was out there as Team Manager for the England Athletics marathon team, a role I had stepped into at relatively short notice.

A few people have asked me what the job entails and I suppose simply its to deal with any of the crap that might get in the way of the athletes performing at their best on race day. And that covers many things from the obvious of making sure that they have the right size kit to finding extra water during a press conference thats running way behing schedule and a million other small things.

Because I had raced Toronto in 2007 I was familiar with the set up which certainly helped and it also meant I got roped in to giving elite co-ordinator Cliff Cunningham a hand with a number of things. By the end of the week my 'bus monitor' skills were finely tuned and we spent part of saturday afternoon building the elite athletes pre-race holding area (above left) - if I have to assemble another camp bed...

The lead up to the race was all about one thing. Could Reid Coolsaet break Jerome Drayton's 36 year old Canadian record of 2.10.09 ? I have to say that Reid handled the media attention and expectations incredibly well. Around the hotel and on race morning he was incredibly calm and collected despite the pressures. Also on the line was Olympic selection with Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes chasing Canada's tough 2.11.29 standard.

Come race day the weather was very difficult for fast running. Cold and with a stiff south westerly blowing off Lake Ontario gusting at times to over 50km/h. Not what you want went chasing a National Record ! I had a couple of options for race day and decided to hitch a ride on the press bus which was going to be in the lead vehicles convoy one spot in front of the TV camera vehicle (left)

The leaders went off at a real canter passing 10k in just over 30 minutes with Coolsaet tucked in the back. We were a bit surprised at first because his plan had been a more cautious pace with his own pacemaker. In the event he decided that running faster in a big group was going to give him more protection into the wind so went for it. By the turn at 12km the pacers were really working hard. The stretch back into town saw a mix of good kilometres with the wind behind/from the side and some horrible ones when the course turned back into the wind. On the press bus there was total shock at the women's half way split of 68.35 ! Blisteringly fast in good conditions but in this wind suicidal.

As the lead group was whittled down to five athletes the pace was as slow as 3.10/km in places. My friend Tadesse Abraham finally got dropped at 30 kilometers and shortly after the group was down to three. Coolsaet had yo-yoed off the back of the group but got himself back in contention 3 times which was really impressive.

In the final 6km he was even taking his turn on the front with Mungara a
nd Dawit before the wheels finally came off at 39km. He held on for just under 2.11 while the leading pair sprinted it out to the finish. What Steve Prefontaine would have called a "pure guts race".

Back in the elite lounge after the race I was a bit dismayed to see Ed Whitlock wander in soon after midday. He had set a age 80 World Best earlier in the year and it looked like he must have had a dnf. Then he dropped the bombshell that he just clocked a 3.15 !! Incredible, and he looked pretty fresh (left with Team England's Sarah Harris and Sarah Stradling).


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Portsmouth Victory 5 2011

This morning I was back at one of my favourite races, the Victory 5 Miles in Portsmouth. Its flat and when the wind stays away its very fast as my 23.40 PB from 1998 shows !

Since my last post in August i've been able to put together a series of races including a 3000m and 5000m in the British League, a 5k road race and a 15k race in Switzerland (more on that in a future post and what happens when the chimp attacks!). None of them have been spectacular and i've consistenly struggled for leg speed but the engine has worked well and i've felt strong throughout.

Somehow Portsmouth avoided the rain which seemed to be everywhere else in the south west but not the wind. Indeed the large number of on the day entries caused the start to be delayed by 15 minutes.

Once under way a leading group of 4 quickly went clear and stayed together along the promenade. At 2 miles Belgrave's Paskar Owuor put his foot down and quickly pulled away and I found myself dropped off in 4th place and looking at a lonely 3 miles to the finish.

Still, the performance was another step forward even though I was unable to be competitive with the leaders for as long as I would have liked.

Race photographs (see example above) from Ian Burnett

The womens race was won by local athlete Cassie Thorp who has recently taken up running after playing football and she seems to be making good progress this summer so one to keep an eye out for in future.

Next stop Aldershot and the 6 stage relays on sunday.

Mens Results
1. Paskar Owuor 24:13
2. Chris Powner 24:25
3. Finn McNally 24:56
4. Adrian Marriott 25:03

Womens Results
1. Cassie Thorp 27:48

Full Results

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Does my planned marathon have cups or bottles for drinking

A great thread on eightlane with folks posting whether specific euro marathons have cups or bottles for drinking from.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Etape Bornholm Stage 5 results

Hot off the press from tonights final 10k stage as we make our way home.

Ben saved his best until last pulling an awesome finnish to surprise everyone. Having been dropped in the woods at 6km as Martin hit the front and pushed the pace, Ben rose to the challenge with a big move late in the day. Sniffing the consolation prize he threw everything into the final minutes to catch Jussi on the line.

Martin kept up his record of 4th places with another near miss for a stage podium and i had another good race. On a night after truly awful weather the course was waterlogged in places and a stiff wind made for tricky running. While most folks were a minute down on their stage 1 runs i was just over 10 seconds and secure in 10th overall (left Top10 from left Jussi, David Nilsson, Ben & Martin).

Stage Results|1|M

Final Overall Results|1|M

With a 4am start to the long trip home the boys took the opportunity for a cheeky nap on the ferry after a big breakfast (below)

Etape Bornholm Stage 4 Results

Day 4 and the rain arrived with a vengeance to turn the course into a mudbath more suited to a cross country race at home. Starting by the harbour at Hammershus Havn against a backdrop of wind and rain lashing the harbour wall the route quickly climbed up to the cliff top overlooking northen europes biggest medieval castle.

In a bid to repeat yesterdays stage 3 victory Ben was again pushing the pace at the front with Jussi and David in tow. Martin was again isolated in 4th and i had a poor start today and found myself well down after 1km.

Things improved for me mid race and with Martin in sight i was able to work my way through to 7th place. Up front Ben slipped off the pace on the narrow muddy paths at 5k.

So with a kilometre to go we were all bracing ourselves for the uphill finish, and what a finish. 500m up the side of the cliff to the lighthouse. With an extra timing mat at the bottom to get our times for the climb the race was on. After 300m of steep, slippy grass we hit the tarmac and 3 sharp hairpins Alpe d'huez style including names painted on the road and a tightly packed crowd. Great atmosphere !!

Ben couldnt respond to the flying fin and ended up third but still in with a shout of snatching 2nd overall in the final stage. Martin was solid in 4th with a monster sprint finish and i gave up 3 places after towing the third group to the foot of the climb.

The final day is a flat 10k road stage and no doubts there will be some tired legs around so the top 10 could change around quite dramatically.

Stage Results|1|M

Overall after 4 stages|1|M

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Etape Bornholm stage 3 results

The British challenge really got going today led by Ben's stage victory in the 8k forest race. With an undulating course similar to a domestic cross country profile and good underfoot conditions we were able to crank out 5 min miles before the sting in the tail finish, a sharp climb of 300m metres.

With two races in the legs and not getting home until 10pm mornings are focused on recovery with an easy shakeout run, dip in the baltic, a big breakfast to replenish the glycogen stores and some stretching to get loosened up (left, above).

Taking the lead in the first mile Ben steadily built his lead to come home 18 seconds clear of race leader Jussi Utrainen to give himself a fighting chance of catching the race leaders in the final 2 stages.

Martin had a good day consolidating his 4th place overall with 4th on the stage and i had my best run so far finishing 8th and just a few seconds from 5th. I'm still 11th overall but now with three positions within touching distance so plenty to run for on stage 4th.

Our diet of fish and potatoes got some variety today with a trip to a local pizza restaurant where we celebrated Bens win with a glass of local beer and an ice cream on top of our mid-morning Danish pastries (left) which may have been the secret ingredient in Ben's victory.

Thursday the race moves on to our local course in Sandvig. An 8k race on a hilly course with a gut wrenching climb up the cliffs to the lighthouse to finish. Should fun and theres plenty of scope to make up time if rivals crack on the final climb !

Overall results after stage 3|1|M

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bornholm stage 2

The fightback began along the shoreline of Dueodde with my Wells clubmate Ben Tickner taking second place after a very close race with stage 1 winner Jussi Utrainen.

With 2km along the beach (left by Jens-Erik Larsen), a short loop through the village and another stretch of beach before the final climb through the dunes todays stage is almost certainly one of the hardest of the week.

The early pace was red hot with a cash prize at the sprint prime after 1.5km and i was well off the pace and struggling early on while Ben tracked Jussi a few metres behing the glory hunters. A bit further back Martin was hanging on gamely to protect his overall position on his least favourite surface.

With the sprint out of the way the sharp ended turned into. Head to head between Ben and Jussi while i picked my way through those who went out to hard and martin was limiting his losses against the other leaders. A brutal final kilometre through the dunes in deep soft sand was a real strength sapper. Martin held on for 9th and i was a few places behind in 12th place (finish left by Jens-Erik Larsen).

Roll on tomorrow and the undulating 8k forest race which should be our kind of course.

Writing this on the bus back to base there is stunning sunset over the baltic and the prospect of freshly smoked makerel for dinner courtesy of Martin and Bens foraging skills this morning.

Full results at

Bornholm stage 1

Day 1 proved pretty eventful for the british contingent of Martin Williams, Ben Tickner and myself at this 5 day stage race. After a late arrival last night (Bornholm harbour left) we are staying in a lovely little cottage in the north of the island and the other invited runners are spread out around the village.

Stage 1 was a 10k race starting on the road before following the shoreline for a few kms in the forest. It was still a pretty quick course though. First to show were Ben and Martin along with last years runner up, David Nilsson from Sweden and 62 minute man Jussi Utrainen of Finland. I was tucked nicely into the second group and trying to keep out of trouble...

By half way Jussi had a made a break and Martin was placed a handy third with Ben somewhere in the forest taking a comfort break. Meanwhile I had taken on the pace in the second group only to get tripped from behind at 4k as folks went head down to check their garmins. I did a 'Wiggins' and hit the tarmac hard. After surveying the damage (cuts and bruises but nothing out of place) I got going again and managed to reel in half the group by the finish before getting patched by the Danish para-medics.

Ben ticked along in 4th but GB honours and our in house green jersey went to Martin for a strong 3rd place in 30.39. This morning watching the tv highlights he was finishing better than anyone in the Top 10 which bodes well for the rest of the week. As for Ben and me, well weve got some hard work to do to climb back up the GC, starting in this evenings 6k beach race.

1 819 Jussi Utriainen Lahden Ahkera FIN

2 783 David Nilsson Högby IF SWE

3 1984 Martin Mccallum Williams Tipton Harriers GBR

4 1982 Ben Tickner Wells City Harriers GBR

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Taking 'down' weeks

Marathoners will know the feeling well. A week or so into the pre-race taper you feel very tired to the point of being totally exhausted. Even very easy runs seems like a struggle whereas just a few days earlier knocking out another brutual 22 miler seemed like a piece of cake. You wonder what on earth is going on.

I was remined of this feeling this week. After a good block of training including some long tempos and a fun 2hours 40mins with 6000feet of ascent at the weekend I'm taking a 'down' week and today I felt really tired, even running easily. Thats my body telling me that the last few weeks have been a good stressor and now I need to recover to take my fitness to the next level.

The body is very good at getting into a rythmn of handling hard work week after week. It learns to fool itself about its true level of fatugue. And in that fooling lies a potential elephant trap that most runners have fallen into at some point. Feeling invincible you keep pushing and pushing until you go completely over the edge and breakdown with illness or injury or worse still overtraining which requires a period of sustained rest to get over.

We all know that fitness comes from repeated cycles of stress and recovery to produce adaptation. So what can we do to give our body the best chance to adapt ? Regular 'down' weeks are a staple for many elite level runners and work just as well for club runners. Inefffect they serve as a mini-taper. The idea being to take quite a big drop in training laod for a week every 3rd or 4th week.

What does a big drop actually mean ? Well some runners will go for a 50% reduction in training load. So three weeks of 80 miles would be followed by 40 for example. Hard workouts would see a correspong drop in the volume of faster miles run (though you need to maintain the pace to keep the neural pathways ticking over). The temptation is to go for just a small reduction (usually induced by fear that less training = losing fitness) whereas if you are really taking a 'down' week then you should make it really down. The use that freshness for the next training block.

So ask yourself whether you have been running the same training for a while or reached a bit of plateau ? Then take a down week and recharge the batteries then take your training to a new level the week after.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Bornholm Stage Race 2011

With the Tour de France starting today stage racing comes to the front of many sportsmans minds. While the science of cycling (wind resistance at speed, very different physiological profiles of climbers and sprints etc) makes it ideally suited to team tactics and multiple stages there are also some running stage races around.

I've got memories of the Sunlife Great Race in 1990 which I think lasted 2 weeks and was a big breakthrough event for Paul Evans. And for a few years there was a week long race in the North East of England.

Though the format seems to have fallen out of favour here there are plenty of week long race series in Europe
and one of the most popular is the Etape Bornholm, held in the last week of July on the Baltic island of Bornholm (Denmark). With over 1000 runners and childrens races as well its a certainly an event to be taken seriously and this year I will be racing it for the first along with a handful of other Brits making the trip. I'm really looking forward to it and the format of 5 different surfaces/terrains adding up to a marathon distance should provide plenty of challenges.

Technology permitting I will be posting a daily report after each stage and hopefully some interviews with leading athletes. It should be a fun week !

Monday, 6 June 2011

Somerset Road Runners Day

Somerset Athletics Network will be holding a road runners day on Saturday 9th July at Millfield School in conjunction with the Millfield Community Games.

In the morning I will be running a workshop aimed at runners wanting to improve their 10k performance. This will include a training session on the track as well as tips on how to plan for a peak performance and the different types of training to include in your programme.

After the lunch there will be a practical workshop for injury prevention and developing better running skills. The emphasis will be on runners and coaches learning to observe imbalances and weaknesses and having a go at practicing exercises and drills to correct them.

Download full details HERE including information on how to register.

Updated 22
nd July
We had an excell
ent day at Millfield School and all the participants seemed to have a good time and learn a few things and as always I learned plenty from watching runners in action.

The morning was focused on helping folks understand the role of
different efforts in training. From very easy running through marathon pace, threshold, VO2 max and alactic sprints (left above).

We then put it straight into practice with a training session (left below) that covered all of these areas with suggested running speeds based on current 10k performance from Daniels VDOT tables

The easy running was done on grass before doing some drills and sprints on the track. The 6 minute efforts were on the track and the 90sec efforts were out and back i.e. odd numbered reps were
run the 'wrong' way round.

The big takeout for most runners was that for their easy/MP/threshold effort they need to take care to control the speed. Its very easy to run 'MP' reps at what is actually threshold and to do threshold pace at what is in practice 10k pace.

Monday, 2 May 2011

40 minute super workouts - No2

Workout No 2 - The Crescendo

This workout has the ultimate stamp of approval - its a staple of the kenyan endurance runners and I learned how to do it during a training spell in Nyahururu a few years ago. The Kenyan version lasts up to an hour but you can do it very well in 40 minutes.

Spend the first 15 minutes of your 40 easing into the run and getting yourself nicely warmed up.

Then you start the crescendo. The first time you do this run its probably helpful to think in 5 minute steps for the effort you want to run. And I say 'effort' rather than pace because as you know if you are tired or fresh the pace will vary from day to day for the same effort. This is how I would distribute the effort to start with:
1st 5mins = 30secs mile slower than marathon pace
2nd 5 mins = 15secs/mile slower than marathon pace
3rd 5 mins = marathon pace
4th 5mins = half marathon pace (approx 15sec/mile faster than MP)

Spend the last 5 minutes of your run at an easy pace to cool down before finishing.
This level of effort should leave you feeling invigorated rather than wiped out and provides a really nice aerobic stimulus - the effort builds towards your threshold (pace you can sustain for one hour).

Crucially it also has a couple of other benefits. Psychologically it prepares you for running faster as a run goes on which is what you would ideally do in a race. How can you expect to pick the pace up in a race if you haven't practiced it regularly in training ? And secondly the increasing pace challenges the muscles to work in a different way as the run evolves - you get a different stimulus than if you just run a constant pace.

The progression for this type of run would be to increase the starting speed so that you are running the 20mins from marathon pace to a little slower than 10k race pace for the last couple of minutes. And run it as a continuous crescendo rather than 5 minute blocks. Remember you are looking to learn to feel the pace here.

And a final word. The day you turn this workout into a time trial i.e trying to beat your time from last week or your 'course record' is the day you are on the road to ruin. Indeed I like to use a different route so that I avoid any temptation to compare !

Sunday, 3 April 2011

40 minute super workouts - No1

With the warmer weather and lighter evenings its a great time to turbo charge your running after months of surviving the cold and dark wrapped up like a Michelin Man. This short series of articles was inspired by a client a couple of weeks ago who wanted to improve his half marathon time. Like many club runners he runs several times a week, does long runs and enjoys racing all within a packed week of other commitments. For many runners this is a familiar situation so how can you really change things up in during the course of a 40 minute run ? I've got three workouts for you in the coming weeks, all of which have been proven so dip in and give them a go.

Workout No 1 - Fast and Moderate
Spend the first 15 minutes of your 40 easing into the run and getting yourself nicely warmed up.

Then you start the faster segments. The idea here is to run for 30 seconds at a speed a bit faster than your 5km racing speed. So if you are a 20min 5k runner (4mins/km) aim to run these segements at say 3.50/km speed. The precise speed is not too important as long as it is faster than you are used to and controlled without being a sprint. As with anything new its better to be cautious and ease into it rather than go hell for leather.

After the effort settle back into normal running speed rather than a slow jog (if you are blowing so hard that you need to jog then you probably went too fast !). Then after 2 minutes do another one. The first time you do this workout aim for 3-4 efforts and then add one per week up to 8. Spend the last 5 minutes of your run at a steady pace before finishing. Mission accomplished !

Why does this workout work ? Well it challenges the body at a number of levels:
1. The big increase in speed also increases the heart rate. By raising and lowering the heart rate multiple times you will get a stimulus to the body to increase left ventricle size. Ultimately that means pumping more blood and running faster.
2. The speed of the 30seconds efforts will produce a raised level of blood lactate without flooding your body. During the recovery segments your muscles will start to clear this lactate and use it as fuel. By the time you do 8x30sec fast / 2mins steady you have a 20min segment with your body working to shift lactate. Over time you will get better at clearing lactate and therefore be able to sustain a faster speed for longer. [As you get better at this workout you can increase the fast segment to 45 seconds or even 1 minute which will raise the lastate levels higher. You need to be careful though - too fast for too long and the muscles tire, the quality of the movement decreases and the risk of injury or overtraining goes up].
3. Running at a faster speed than usual will challenge the muscles and nervous system to work in a different way - you will need a greater range of movement to run faster, you will need to activate more muscle fibres to produce the force required and you will need faster contractions. All good stuff which not only makes you faster but has been shown to improve your running economy at slower speeds as well, and that means faster racing from 10k to the marathon.

So lace them up, give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Gwent League triumph for Wells

After two successive promotions we managed to hold on to top spot in the Gwent League yesterday at Swansea despite a fierce challenge from Les Croupiers.

Singleton Park hosted the final race in the 2010/11 Gwent League on a glorious spring day. For once the senior men got to run earlier in the day (to allow more time to sort out the results), not that the course was going to cut up after the recent dry spell.

Going into the final race we had a 70 point lead which was substantial but by no means unbeatable. And in the first mile Les Croupiers threw down the gaunlet with all six scorers in front of me and my Wells team mates. As the race unfolded we were able to move through the field and eventually I came home 7th with Jon James right behind me in 8th. Some good packing left us in a good position but Les Croupiers closed their 6 before we did so it was a quick dash back down the final hill to look for our final scorer and offer some encouragement. After a nail biting 30 seconds or so Nick, Rob and Alex were sprinting it out to close out team and seal the Division 1 title.

I can't say I particularly enjoyed my race. The engine is strong but lack of leg speed and race rustiness is holding me back big time. Hopefully with warmer days I can get some speed back in the system and start to race a bit more. At least my body was moving well and this morning there are no aches or pains - and its a long time since I've been able to say that !!

Results to follow

Saturday, 29 January 2011

2011 South of England Cross Country Championship Results

Another fun day at Parliament Hill and my first race for 3 months (left: photos Ken Hoye). All in all it was pretty hard work but an enjoyable one in the Saucony South of England Championships.

Up front Neilson Hall defended his title from last year in a much quicker time if my memory serves me correctly. The course seemed to be the driest I can remember, not that I was any good in the little mud there was ! Runner up was my Wells City Harriers club mate Ben Tickner and third was Jon Pepper with Parliament Hill specialist Chris Smith a close 4th.

A couple of minutes back I finished 29th which constitutes a personal worst for the southern but not unexpected given the lack of consistent training recently. You can only run on former glories (and mileage) for so long ! The lack of miles really told in the mud and up the hills though encouragingly I was able to work up a good head of steam on the flat, dry sections so the engine is in pretty good order. Just need to get some strength back in the leg muscles.

Today was pretty cold and I can't imagine it was much fun for the marshalls who had a long day battling dog walkers and their stray hounds. As has become the norm here the finish system works brilliantly with chip timing
allowing results to be available on course a few minutes after the race is over. And this year I was far enough behind the leaders to hear the presentation starting to take place as I crossed the line !

No doubt much discussion will take place about the race starting with what seemed like several hundred people still trying to get through the chip inspection tent. The race started on time but there was a big bottle neck again to get to the start. It would be good to hear the SEAA perspective before passing judgement. On the one hand people knew what the start time was and on the other it did take a long time to get through the tent.

Whatever the rights and wrong of why it happened having a championship race get underway without many competitors on the start line has got to set alarm bells ringing and its something that needs to be fixed for 2012.

Senior Men
1 48:23 Neilson Hall Bedford & County AC
2 48:40 Ben Tickner Wells City Harriers
3 49:00 Jon Pepper Enfield & Haringey AC
4 49:06 Chris Smith Thames Valley Harriers
5 49:06 Gary Thornton Kent AC
6 49:21 Glen Watts Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers
7 49:24 Dean Lacy Cambridge Harriers
8 49:27 Kevin Heywood Bideford AAC
9 49:34 Darren Deed Bedford & County AC
10 49:47 John Gilbert Kent AC

29 51.55 Adrian Marriott Wells City Harriers

Full results here

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

UK Marathon selection policy for London 2012

UKA (the governing body for athletics in UK) has published its initial approach to selecting the marathon team for the 2012 Olympics.

What jumps out is the absence of a trial race and an intention to select athletes before the end of 2011 if they are considered a top 8 shot and in possession of an A standard. Top up selections will take place after the 2012 London Marathon.

The 'A' and 'B' standards for men are 2:12:00 and 2:16:00 and for women are 2:31:00 and 2:35:00.

Yet again UKA has gone for tougher standards than the IAAF use and while it would be great to half a dozen lads running 2.10 we don't so I would think that there is a strong possibility of having less than a full mens team on the start line which is disappointing.

Interestingly a top 20 finish in Daegu counts as an 'A' standard so could be the best hope of getting an A standard (especially for the men). So a viable strategy may be sub 2.17 in London 2011, Top 20 in Daegu and then hope that only 2 others do the time. A bit perverse but there you go.

And for all the A and/or B standard questioners if athletes with an A standard are selected (up to 3 of them) then the B standard becomes redundant.

All the details are at

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dry needling for sports injuries

In recent months i've increasingly become a big fan of dry needling to release some of the chronically tight spots in my legs and back. I've had occassional needling for years as part of physiotherapy treatment from both Mark Buckingham and Claire Wheller. Last year after months of trouble with psoas, adductor magnus and the erector spinae I had a long session with Jona based, Swiss physiotherapist Philip Rist (left). Bizarrely we first met in 2003 in Eldoret when he was training there with Christian Belz and Viktor Rothlin and then reconnected several years later at the Zurich Silvesterlauf. Running really is a small world.

Anyway, Philip did some work with dry needles and spent some time manipulating them once they in the trigger point which was different from more traditional accupuncture. The adductor treatment was particularly uncomfortable but the impact was huge and within 48 hours I was noticeably looser and able to fully stride out for the first time in ages.

Physiotherapie Philip Rist (Rapperswil-Jona)
Neuhuesli-Park 22
8645 Jona

Claire Wheller website
Running Bath, 18 High Street
01225 446450

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Pre-london half marathon comes to Yeovil in March

The first Yeovil Half Marathon will take place on Sunday 27th March 2011. Starting and finishing at the Yeovil Town Football Club the course will take in the town centre, ninesprings country park and the village of Odcombe (below).

With the Bath Half Marathon sold out and other pre-London or Brighton options thin on the ground unless you want to travel to Wilmslow, Hastings or Fleet this should prove a popular fixture on the calendar and entries are already flooding in.

Placed 3 weeks before London this is the perfect weekend for a final hard workout before starting to taper. And if the marathon is a step to far for you in 2011 then a half could be a great target to aim for.

From a personal point of view I've run these roads thousands of times over the years and know them well. The layout will be sure to keep runners interested and there are some good spectating spots so bring some supporters along !

Online Entries HERE