25 amazing facts about running that will completely blow your mind…

…the title is just a little social experiment.  I wondered if a ludicrous Buzz-Feed style click-bait title would have any effect on my blog traffic.

Well you clicked, so I guess it worked with you…

The Trimpell 20 last week must have taken more out of me than I realised – I felt jaded all week.

It’s not surprising– running 77% of the marathon distance at sub PB race pace is a significant effort, and one would expect to take a week or two off completely after a marathon.

So I’ve had a low mileage week, not really what I had planned for. A month out from the target marathon should really be one of the biggest mileage weeks.  However, if your legs feel dead and there are pains in your knees and hips, there is no future in flogging the horse just for the sake of it.

After the clocks sprung forward on Sunday, a group of Striders met on a sharp but stunning morning up at the reservoirs, a runner’s heaven.

I hoped for a 21/22 mile run, but early into the run I knew it wasn’t feeling good.

I felt a niggling soreness in my left knee, although I could run on it with moderate discomfort, I saw no point in risking aggravating it and perhaps putting London in jeopardy.

I bimbled round for 14 miles and then jacked in after two of the planned three laps. I don’t think it is serious, but I am going to take a few days off running. I’ll try to do some cross training on the bike or rower.

As well as being a runner, I’m quite interested in the science of running and would like to progress into coaching in the future. I’m currently a volunteer coach for the first Young Tritons Running Club group in the country – a programme for boys leading up to a 5K run after 9 weeks.  It’s basically the boys version of the Mini Mermaids running club run by my friend Hannah Corne.

Our boys are boisterous and challenging, but it is great fun and I am certainly learning plenty about myself and how best to interact with children.

On Saturday, I completed the Leader in Running Fitness Course run by British Athletics, a starter/foundation course and hopefully I will build on this with more courses and more experience in the future.

Provided I recover during the week, I’ll do my last long run before London next Sunday at the reservoirs. I have two races during the taper period – the Vale of York 10 the following Sunday and the Salford 10K on Good Friday.


LM-4 weeks

44.7 miles, longest run 14.1 miles

Parkrun – none

Weight 11 St 3.2 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 1002 beats per mile


Three Hundred and counting

Last Saturday at Roundhay, I ran my 300th parkrun.

I have run most of my parkruns around the paths of Woodhouse Moor in the heart of Studentville, Leeds.  Although I still enjoy the occasional spin around Woodhouse Moor, I’ve transferred my primary allegiance to Roundhay parkrun.

The records will show that I was the first finisher at Roundhay on Saturday, a lovely way to remember my 300th parkrun.  However, although strictly true, that doesn’t convey fully what actually occurred.

My 300th run was announced by the Run Director during the pre-start announcements.  I wanted to give it a real go, so I pushed off hard up the first hill, settling into fourth place, just behind two Abbey Runners.

The leader was way off ahead – a talented young athlete whom I know well called Alex Pagdin.

Alex is just 18 years old and is already a brilliant track runner with an 800 m personal best of 1:50. Look out for him in the future; I think he might be quite good. I knew I wouldn’t see Alex again during the run.

I kept the hammer down and managed to reel in and pass both Abbey guys, so I was in second position.

I pushed all the way and crossed the finish line in 18:36, but I was somewhat surprised to be handed the “1” finisher token.

Despite finishing well over a minute ahead of me, young Alex had swerved the finish line in order to allow me to be recorded as first finisher. What a remarkably selfless and generous thing to do.

Thank you young man; you are a credit to yourself and your parents. I will gladly buy you a beer at the first opportunity!


After last Sunday’s half marathon, my legs felt tired this week and I struggled to run a respectable volume of miles. Running was an effort.

I shuffled my way half-heartedly through the Tuesday track session.  I had intended to do a medium long run on Thursday by adding on miles before and after the Thursday 8 mile group club run.

However, after an awful three mile warm-up, I realised that I just wasn’t up for it. I felt deeply fatigued and hungry and although I could have just about dragged myself around the club run, I decided the best course of action would be to sack it off and go home and put my feet up. Sometimes a man needs his rest.

On Sunday,  along with teammates Myra and Tim, I ventured across to the dark side (i.e. Lancashire) to run my 20 mile pre-marathon tune-up race – the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster.

I like to run a 20 mile race about 5 weeks out from a marathon, hoping to run it more or less at target marathon pace.

The weather forecast was dismal – torrential rain and 40mph winds.  Although there was a very strong gusty breeze and persistent light rain, we were certainly fortunate to miss the worst of the weather on the day.

The course was basically flat and consisted of three out and backs along cycleways – a short one, then a slightly longer one around the Trimpell triangle and then a longer one of several miles alongside the swollen River Lune.  The finish was back at the castle and the last half mile included a thigh burning spiteful climb up a partly cobbled street.

Tim got the better of the traffic in a slightly chaotic start on the narrow cycletracks and surged off in front.  As the race settled down, I caught back up and we ran together in a nice comfortable rhythm, knocking out consistent miles a second or three either side of 6:30.

Partway into the medium out and back section, a little peloton of about seven runners formed. I think we all realised that it was in our interests to stick together given the wind and knock out a few miles as a group.  We chatted and passed drinks around.



I could tell Tim was strong and I felt good also. We went through the half marathon point, 13.1 miles in just over 1:25.  At this point we were heading eastwards along the River Lune path with the wind on our backs, it felt great.

I got a little annoyed with one of the other runners in our group who threw me a dummy at a drinks station, meaning that I completely missed getting a drink. In a bit of a pique,  I went to the front and pushed the pace. This fractured the group. I was joined by Tim and a lad from Chester Tri in a mini pack of three.

We made the final 180 degree turn; we had 6 miles back into the wind with the nasty climb up to the castle at the end.  I knew it was going to be tough.

Tim was the strong one, always pushing it at the front. The Chester lad and I were merely hanging on. However, despite running back into the wind, we were somehow maintaining the 6:30 pace. Rather than feeling easy, it was now really hard work.

With about three miles to go, the Chester lad fell away, leaving me running a couple of steps behind Tim like a faithful but tired old Spaniel.

We hadn’t said anything but I know that we were going to race out the finish; there was a chance that we would be racing for the first MV50 spot.

I didn’t fancy my chances, my only hope would be to cling on and try to win in a sprint, though how I would manage to sprint up a steep cobbled street with jelly legs, I had no idea.

With under a mile to go, there was a twisty section which included a few swerves around barriers and a run through a pedestrian subway. Tim took a racing line and put in a spurt on the slope out of the subway and took a crucial few metres out of me.

Repeating the familiar pattern from recent races, Tim pushed on up the hill to the Castle – finishing in 2:10:30, with me eventually limping in 17 seconds later. We were second and third in our age category as it turned out.

Myra ran really well and finished fourth lady in a very good time of 2:21.26.

As a marathon tune-up, the race was ideal.  I ran 20 miles at 2:50 marathon pace on a windy day without any nutrition during the race and without the benefit of a taper.  I’m hoping for a 2:52 something time at London as my A goal in five weeks time.


LM-5 weeks

44.7 miles, longest run 20 miles

Weight 11 St 0.6 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 942 beats per mile





It’s Bath Time

I don’t know why, but undertaking a long road trip to a race makes it feel more special.  Maybe subconsciously we run a bit harder so as not to waste all the miles travelled.

I’ve just enjoyed a great weekend away in Bath, primarily to race the half marathon, but I also had a great laugh with two lovely Valley Strider pals – Lou and Liz.  For once, I didn’t mind being the ugliest Valley Strider in the group:

Bath Road Trip.jpg

I shouldn’t say this, but I won’t be inviting Lou to help me choose a new coffee table any time soon…

We amused ourselves on the long car journey down from Leeds by sharing our desert island discs playlists and we must have drawn a few incredulous looks from fellow motorists as we belted out “Sweet Child o’ Mine” in true Wayne’s World fashion on the M5.  It passed the miles.

The Bath half is a big race – 15,000 entrants and nearly 13,000 of them toed the start line (causing a few problems…). I was somewhat perturbed to note I was designated Start pen D when I got my race pack. Fortunately, the first three pens were small and I wheedled my way near to the front of my pen. I was across the start mat in a handful of seconds.

My target for the race was very clear – to run a PB and to go quicker than 80 minutes. My PB was 1 hour 20 minutes and 27 seconds, set at the Brass Monkey a few years ago. To achieve that I needed to average 6 minutes 4 seconds per mile or better.

The course was a two lapper with a mile or so of a start/finish shoot. It was generally flat, with a few undulations, but all in all it was a fast course. The support was fantastic, with supporters standing roadside for most of the route.

I felt good at the start and tried to get myself into a groove of 6 minute miling for the first lap. It felt ‘comfortably hard’, which is ideal for half marathon pacing in my book and I went through 10K bang on target in 37:48.

The start of the second lap was back into the breeze and included a couple of short rises. For the first time I was struggling a bit, my pace dropped and I lost a few places. Mile 8 was covered in 6:15 – not a disaster but I knew I had to pick it up.

I recomposed on a long gradual downslope and had a serious word with myself. I had driven a long way for this race and had recently lost my Uncle, a great man and huge lover of sport. As soon as I muttered to myself “This one’s for you Norman”, I felt my cadence and pace rise and I started passing other runners.

It felt good, so I kept surging like this, trying to dig deeper whenever the pain rose in me. We crossed the Avon at the far end of the loop. The 10-mile point was reached in 60:30 – my second best 10-mile time ever.

I tried to kick it up another gear for the final ‘parkrun’ to the finish.  I knew that if I could cover the final three miles in 18 minutes, with a bit for the 0.1 at the end then I would easily smash 80 minutes. I felt a little euphoric. I passed more runners – Mile 11 was run in 5:56 and mile 12 even quicker in 5:54. I felt certain I was going to do it.

With 1 mile to go, we left the circuit and ran back onto the start/finish shoot. I started paying for my exuberance. My legs felt heavy and suddenly it was a massive effort to keep the speed up.

My watch ticked over to 13 miles in 1 hour 18:35 – I had 85 seconds to run 0.1 of a mile. In my head, I thought ‘I’ll p**s this’…

However, I looked up expecting to see the finish banners. To my dismay, they were nowhere in sight – just a long straight road ahead and a distant left turn…what the hell?

By the time I made the turn and saw the finish line I had about 20 seconds left to beat my target. It still looked a long way. I sprinted as hard as I could for the line – Strava recorded my best pace at 4:03 mins per mile just before the line…

I stopped my watch and then looked down in horror at my Garmin:

Bath time


80:00!…I hoped that my official time might be rounded down by a second, alas it wasn’t.

Having checked a lot of other runners Strava records, most had the course length between 13.25 and 13.3 miles. I know Garmins aren’t deadly accurate but I feel that the course was a bit long, which undoubtedly cost me a sub 80 time.

Lou had a great run finishing in 1:38.34 and Liz wasn’t far behind her.

Apparently, the race even made the BBC news as the high number of finishers caught out the organisers who hadn’t ordered enough medals or T-Shirts leaving a few hundred of the later finishers extremely disappointed.

My 80 minute flat time was good enough for only 9th place in my age category – the fastest 50-year old ran an amazing 1:14.17!

On reflection I was pleased with my effort, I gave it everything and it augurs well for London, now just over 5 weeks away.


LM -6 weeks

43.1 miles, longest run 13.27 miles

Weight 11 St 3.2 lbs

Aerobic-efficiency on Sunday run 924 beats per mile



Yes (Cross) Country for Old Men

I missed my 60 mile weekly target because sometimes things happen which are more important than running. It’s been a tough week to say the least.

Along with four Valley Strider teammates, I ran at the Yorkshire Veterans cross country championships on Saturday afternoon.

Cross Country isn’t my best racing variant performance-wise, however this course suited me better than most.  It was reasonably flat and not that muddy given the deluge of recent rain.

I made a bad shoe choice – I wore my spikes because the course looked suitable for them. However, it was quite stony and I kept hearing annoying crunching noises as my spikes impacted the little rocks in the ground.

I ran OK – coming 6th overall in the 50+ race and 4th in my age category, just behind Tim who made the podium in third place.  He set off quickly and had opened up a good gap on me by the middle of the race.  For much of the third and final lap I was slowly catching him, but I never got close enough to really threaten him and he finished strongly.

Valley Striders came away with the victory spoils in the team event:


I’m really looking forward to next weekend, a road trip to the beautiful city of Bath and hopefully a crack at my half marathon PB.

LM -7 weeks

52.8 miles, longest run 11.2 miles

Weight 11 St 0.8 lbs

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 938 beats per mile