Going Back to My Roots

My niggly calf restricted the mileage again this week.  In my ideal World, I would be running between 60 and 70 miles five weeks out from the marathon.  However, there is no point pushing it when your body is creaking.

As it was pay-day this week, I treated myself to some more new Hoka running shoes.  I shamefully admit that I now have 6 pairs on the go.   My new ones are Tracers, light in weight and hopefully imbued with speed.  I gave them a debut run-out at Woodhouse Moor parkrun yesterday.

Back in the day, I was part of the furniture at Woodhouse Moor, I hardly ever missed a week.  Ten years ago, there weren’t any alternative parkruns to go to.  It was nice to go back and I got a lovely cheery greeting from Anne Akers, one of the great stalwarts of WHM.  I also bumped into Tom and Helen Williams, who were instrumental in establishing the event all those years ago.

In the early days, I ran around the moor each Saturday morning with fewer than a hundred fellow parkrunners, it was like belonging to a wonderful secret club.  The cat is firmly out of the bag now though.  Nearly 600 ran yesterday,  the course got very congested and it was difficult to really blast around on the final lap.  I’m certainly not complaining; parkrun is for everyone.

I caught up with an old mate Al Chapman on the start line. Al and I have had many a battle around the moor over the years, usually finishing within a few seconds of each other.  I saw that he did a great run at Thirsk last Sunday – running a 10 mile PB of just over 60 minutes, so I knew he was in good nick.

I wasn’t feeling hugely confident in either my calf or my form, so I set off  a little steadier than I normally do and hoped to build into it.  Its a three lap course, and I ran the first mile in 6:03.  Al was behind me, but as we passed the finish for the first time he stepped on it and surged past me strongly.  I clung onto him during lap 2 (6:06), but the elastic was approaching breaking point as we wove through the field on the final lap (6:05).

A sprint at the end brought me back within 4 seconds of Al and I finished in 18:31 for an 80% age grade and ninth place, which I was happy with.  Hopefully, I will run a bit quicker than that at the Even Splits 5K race this coming Wednesday evening.

Today I joined  a group of Valley Strider team mates doing a variety of long runs on the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath at various paces.  I ran with our fastest lady, Myra, who has a marathon in 3 weeks – Ian and Joel ran with us for part of the way..

I stupidly forgot to take any nutrition and I bonked spectacularly after 20 miles, Myra left me trailing in her dust as she sped up and ran some sub 7 minute miles at the end.  Still, I did what I had to do – I ran for exactly 3 hours to the second and covered 22 and a half miles.


LM -5 weeks

11 stone 4.2 lbs

40.1 miles, longest run 22.5 miles

Aerobic efficiency on long run : 1,000 beats per mile

Parkrun : Woodhouse Moor 18:31 (9th)

RunBritain Ranking 2.87 (+0.1) (MV50 rank 226)


Cow and calf strain

It’s Sunday morning as I type this.  In common with most runners, Sunday mornings should not comprise lounging round in your dressing gown drinking aeropress coffee and eating bacon and eggs.  No, you should be out running.

At this very moment, I should be warming down after running the Thirsk 10 mile race, but instead I am resting after tweaking my calf.  I don’t think it is a serious injury,  a strain rather than a tear.

A few years ago, I may have thought, “ah, she’ll be right” and just gone and run the race anyway.  However, six weeks out from my target marathon, that would be pretty stupid.

A strain can easily become a tear and then I would be out for a month with no hope of running well in London.

On the positive side,  my 5K race on Thursday went went.  It was at the York Sport Village cycle track – 5 laps of a flat 1K loop.

The race was run in two heats – the A race is for sub  21:30 runners starting at 8pm and the B race started at 7:15pm.

I drove across with Liz and our friend Hannah.  It was a cool and windy night so I presumed a fast time was unlikely.  Liz went in the first heat and ran a near perfect race.  She  dropped into about 10th place and just worked her way through the field with absolutely metronomic pacing – every km was within a couple of seconds.

She finishing second behind a guy who by rights should have been in the faster heat.

My pacing wasn’t nearly as good as Liz, but it wasn’t disastrous. Although I wore my Garmin, I purposefully did not look at it once during the race.  I tried to be ‘in the moment’ and just race my competitors instead.

As it was windy, I hoped to run in a group and take some shelter, but as the race settled I got unhitched from a group of about 5 – they were just going that little bit too quick for me, so I ran laps 2,3 and 4 mostly alone.

I was flagging a little at the start of lap 4,  but my ire was pricked when a competitor passed me on the inside by running on the grass infield  (a bit naughty in my book). “Come on mate, keep it real” I said and then surged ahead and cut in front of him in a fit of pique.

The little incident spurred me to kick on hard and I finished in a time of 18:29 for 31st place and first in my age category.  On a windy night, I was happy with that. I’d given in full beans and delivered my effort fairly evenly, which is all you can really do in  a race.

The following day, I knew my calf was feeling a bit tight as I was going about my working day.  After work, I donned running kit and headed out for a slow recovery plod around the block.  After just a few yards, I felt the insidious knot of pain halfway up my calf so I stopped immediately.

Hopefully, a few days rest will see me right.


LM -6 weeks

11 stone 2.8 lbs

10.6 miles, longest run 5 miles

Parkrun : None (injured)

RunBritain Ranking 2.7 (unchanged) (MV50 rank 217)


Flymo Farah

I’m feeling tired and slow and I am doubting my abilities.

This is the ‘nitty-gritty’ part of marathon training when you prioritise the volume of miles over speed.  Running 65 miles in a week has left me feeling knackered and sluggish.  There is little time for rest and recovery when you are 52 and grinding out 65 miles.

For various reasons, I hadn’t run any races or even a parkrun for three weeks.  My RunBritain ranking is slipping alarmingly, so on Saturday morning I wanted to arrest the decline and pep up my spirits by running well at the hilly Roundhay parkrun.  I hoped to duck under 19 minutes for the first time in ages.

Unfortunately, the weather was spiteful –  the cold temperature necessitated three layers and wind and rain whipped over the course.  I still gave it full beans, but it felt that I was running with ankle weights on and I could only manage 19:32 and eighth place.

Today’s long run was an old fashioned character building outing – a 21 mile tour of north Leeds in rain, wind, hail, sleet and even snow at the end.  Thankfully, I had teammates Joel and Myra to run with otherwise I may have jacked in and gone back to bed.

I managed to average sub 8 minute miles, even allowing for a 10 minute 21st mile when the sleet was firing directly in my face and I couldn’t be arsed any more.

That’s three 20 mile+ long runs logged.  The absolute minimum acceptable number is five…hopefully I’ll do more.

On the positive side, I’m down at racing racing weight and I have some treats to look forward to next week.  A day at Cheltenham races on Wednesday, then a blast around a fast 5K race at the York cycle track on Thursday and one of my favourite races next Sunday – the Thirsk 10 mile race.

Hopefully, my handicap may start moving other way soon.

This week’s post is all a bit negative, so to lighten it up a little try a light-hearted quiz…Can you name some famous people you might you find in the garden?…the title is my starter for ten, there’s also Sophie-Trellis Bexter and The ‘Hedge’ from U2…comment if you can be bothered!


LM -7 weeks

11 stone 0.6 lbs

65.3 miles, longest run 21 miles

Parkrun : Roundhay : 19:32 (8th)

Aerobic efficiency on long run 1,011 beats per mile

RunBritain Ranking 2.7 (unchanged) (MV50 rank 213)