All it takes is patience,
just a little patience

AdobePhotoshopExpress_5743dd8a0bea468882f085415a2fdc5eIn the quest for a 10k PB, bought 2nd pair of new road shoes in a month and took them for a quick 6km spin on Wednesday, seem much lighter so likely to go with them for Scarborough.

Didn’t want to mucky them up at Ron Hill 5k on Thursday, so back to old shoes and decided to make it a final speed session.  After a steady first km upped effort to cross line in 19:06. Felt like I could have gone faster but reluctantly didn’t push too hard. GPS


Another 5.2km shoe test on Friday, and decided to try them out at Swinton 10 on Sunday.  Despite it being a GP race I decided not to race it all out but rather use it as a training run.

Run almost went to plan, very comfortable first 5 miles but was nearly a minute up due to some dodgy revised mental arithmetic in the first km as I switched to faster plan B option (Plan B was 34min first lap & hopefully slightly quicker 2nd lap – actually managed 33:09/33:05)

Upped pace as planned for second lap but a little more than intended! I knew it was too fast but decide to have a bit of fun and then test mental attitude when tired.  A steep sting in the tail climb to the finish would definitely be a test!

It made the last 3 miles interesting but still very enjoyable run throughout apart from the last 20 seconds when I saw the clock at the finish and put in my best stomach churning push for the line to surprisingly squeeze inside previous best from Lytham by just 13 seconds.

An accidental PB of 66:14 GPS – shoes rubbed toes slightly, but overall felt good and seemed to improve foot landing position and leg flow so will go with them for Yorks Coast 10k. I can’t decide if they are half a size too small and the slightly lower heel drop meant slightly sore achilles/calves afterwards.


Für immer

Mut und Kraft
Führen mich durch jeden Tag

Usually in the week after the 3 day event I try to take it easy but a visit to Liverpool on Friday, meant the chance of trying out a Sale Sizzler 5k on the way. To tempt me further, the forecast was for nice hot temperatures and relatively low humidity.

With that in mind I tested my legs out with a gentle 5k jog on Tuesday and then targeted a 22 minute effort at the Ian Terry 5k on Wednesday. After an easy start, I tagged onto an overtaker in the 2nd km and ended going through a bit quicker than planned, so switched target to 21 mins.

Steadily moved on through the field to cross line in 20:49, a little quick, but told me enough that I’d be fit for a Sizzler.

Splits: 4:56 > 4:15 > 4:12 > 3:59 > 3:27

sale 5k  traceArrived nice and early on Thursday at Wythenshaw Park which gave time for a full recce of the route, with a decent warm up totalling over 5km, in temps around 77′. I was surprised to find for a course that attracts a lot of fast times that there were a few narrow paths and 90’ corners, plus a bit of loose gravel and even a muddy puddle. Obviously it was more the flatness and volume of competition that lead to the reputation.

It usually gets over 400 runners, so with the first 500m on the track it was important to get a good start position. Got myself in lane 2 behind a few speedy looking types, but failed to spot the much slower ones in front. Completely boxed in at down to below 6 min/km pace I felt like I’d lost a lot of time and a couple of hundred places in first 200m, adding to the few seconds it took to cross the line. Not a good start but had set myself an achievable 19:59 target so wasn’t too worried as I wriggled out to lane 6 and a bit of clear air, put in a manic burst down the back straight to gain 100+ places and then settled round bend.

Looked at watch to check how opening 400m had gone to discover I’d failed to start, started it and tried to guess how much I need to add but it was a bit crowded again heading off the track and down a gravel path and then a woodland path. Pace slowed but didn’t panic and patiently worked my way onwards.

Onto a wider road at 1km and thought congestion was done with but the exit from the park was a bit crowded and I ended up boxed in behind some slowing runners, took a few seconds to free myself again, and another manic burst along the grass to clear a crowd of runners.

Finally could settle down and concentrated on keeping pace just under 4 min/km’s. Effort got back down to fairly comfortable so went back to trying to guess missing time, finally deciding to allow 2 minutes.

Being the far side of Manchester there were not many familiar runners amongst the 438 runners that I could judge pace against but after 3km spotted a Stockport woman ahead whom I’d matched at Oldham 7km, so knew I must be round about right pace.

Found the last km tougher to maintain with a little tiredness creeping into legs, especially through the narrower section, then put final effort in with 200m to go. Quick results meant that by the time I got to Liverpool, target was confirmed as achieved with a 19:47.

At that pace, the first 400m should have been an even 1:35, I actually did 1:41 thanks to manic back straight dash recovering nearly all the lost time! Next time will make sure I get a more appropriate start position and press the button properly. Maybe wrong timing this year, but possibly a good course for a PB attempt next year.

Splits were 4:10 > 4:02 > 3:56 > 3:55 > 3:46

It occurred to me as I continued my journey that coincidently the only other time I had raced in Wythenshaw Park, was a cross country race 25 years ago ( I’m not really that old, I was probably only about two at the time!) when I was also on my way to Liverpool.

On that occasion I managed to suffer a small fracture in my foot and picked up a gorgeous blonde runnergirl, then started smoking whilst injured and didn’t run for years… happily/sadly/ happily history didn’t repeat itself this time!


Another lovely inaugural parkrun on Saturday at Oakwell Hall – although was nearly foiled by a nutter running amok with a digger at Tod tip, closing the road seconds ahead of us. It was close but a quick u-turn and we ploughed through the motorway spray to arrive just in time.

A nice trail course with a bit of up and down well worth a return visit at some point. After waking for a great thunderstorm at 4am was feeling a bit tired so took it fairly steady and upped effort a little towards end for 22:45. I even managed to do a bit of ad-hoc volunteering when I spotted the rain was playing havoc with the scanning and the queue was backing up – writing on wet paper being a challenging role!

Oakwell trace.

Ditched planned race on Sunday again for a steadier 14.7 km run.


Step by step and day by day
Every second counts I can’t break away

Been feeling a bit lost for past couple of weeks after Bluebell & Coiners. After 3 months following a gentle rehabilitation plan, I haven’t really got a firm plan of what next. In an almost unheard of continued outbreak of sensibleness I have eased off for a couple of weeks to allow myself to recover – using the 1 mile a day formula i.e. 10 easy days after a hard 10 mile effort.

Pendle parkrun #1 was only exercise in those 10 days and right heel was still bothering. Despite an overenthusiastic start trying to outrun the little kids down the hill, I went through the first km in 4:30 mainly due to the soft grassy surface and decided that this wasn’t the day, or the surface, to push my heel or my tendon so kept up a decent but comfortable effort, gaining places throughout to cross the line in 22:10.  A tough uphill end to the very enjoyable two lap course probably added a minute or so to a ‘normal’ time.


The next bit of exercise was the Ian Casey Memorial Cowm Reservoir 5k, and a mini heat wave had the temperatures well into the 60’s – crazy! A lovely warm evening but a slight breeze to be run into on the straight helped from overheating in the first bit of decent running weather this year.

I love running in heat and with heel feeling a bit better and legs fresh; I was tempted to have a go at a harder effort to see where I was at. After clocking 20:33 a month ago on this course, the hope would be to be a bit closer to 20 mins.

A sizeable turnout meant for a great atmosphere and a crowded start so I hung off the front beforehand to avoid feeling hot in the wait for the start, before slipping a few rows back for the initial rush along the narrow track.

Once onto the wider road I checked my pace and settled for a steady effort up the hill but still arrived at the reservoir feeling it was too hard. I searched for familiar markers up ahead but with the majority of runners all looking the same in Royton vests, it was took a while to find a decent pace guide and I let a few places slip before settling on chasing down a fast starting Royton woman who I expected would fade a little to come in around 20:30ish. If I could catch and keep up with her on the first lap then hopefully I’d be able to up speed a little on the second lap.

Towards the end of the straight I recovered from the start and started to move up gaining the odd place to catch my pacemaker who was at the back of a group of about ten. I was unsure whether I had the pace to keep going after clocking 4:01 for the first km though. I eased off before the bike gate guessing there would be a little congestion, closing back up as I went through and immediately put in usual acceleration burst to get speed back, surprising myself as I rocketed down to the bridge passing all of them.

New strategy required, but immediately hit the gas again on the slope up to create a gap, pass a couple more and and catch a loose group of mainly Royton vests and a speedy pink lady who I didn’t recognise. We seemed to be flying along and the exhilaration of actually proper racing again after so long out drove me on. Another new plan as the group thinned and km 2 went through in 3:52 – Woah, too fast! There was no way I could keep this intensity up but was feeling fine so eased back as the group thinned to just a couple ahead.

Thoughts of a sub20 popped up, with the fast finish I could afford to fade a little but at same time it was too early to ease off to be sure, so worked hard on staying with pink lady, who was looking strong and consistent. I knew if I could hang on to her for another km or so it was a sure thing.

3rd km was back at 4:01 but still feeling hard and as we went through the bike stile for the second time I could feel legs tiring, no real acceleration down to the bridge and coming back up a gap was growing to my pink pacemaker.

There was no need to panic as I was a few seconds up on 20 min pace and had the downhill finish in hand too. However the temptation to chase was too much and I concentrated on getting back closer to her again.

Legs were feeling heavy now and despite catching back up I sensed she was slowing a little, rather than me speeding up. That was at least in part confirmed as we went through 4 km in 4:06 – 16 minutes exactly in total.

The sub 20 was definitely in the bag so it was time to have some fun and see how quick I could manage. After running side by side for a bit I slowly eased ahead of her in readiness for a long push for the finish. Once onto dam wall with about 600m to go I tried to up it half a notch in the hope of building a gap which seemed to work but coming through the car park there were footsteps catching, possibly another set too?

A car was arsing about in front but just about kept out the way, only slightly compromising my line down the hill. I eased off too early for the hairpin and steps were now very close but didn’t panic as I gradually upped effort again coming out of the corner. Sadly no big acceleration was coming from my legs so it was more a sustained effort all the way to the line… and staggered through crowd of finishers to sit down for a couple of minutes as legs weren’t keen on standing.

19:35 was surprising to say the least; I wasn’t planning on going sub20 for at least another 3 months and certainly didn’t think I had it in my legs or lungs yet. Encouraging and pleasing though it was, it will make it irresistable to have another pop at a bit of speed, probably on Tuesday, when my priorities should lie elsewhere as I try to build a bit more endurance and strength into legs.


The 100th Burnley parkrun a couple of days later –  followed a first bike ride for over a year, just 6km on Friday, but enough to tire legs a little – so planned for a steady 22min pace, with the option of a quicker finish or easing off depending how I felt. Managed to stick to plan for first 3km but couldn’t help overtaking a little early eventually putting a comfortable effort up the finish slope to cross line in 21:10.

For the first time this week, I finally managed to resist temptation, and turned down the chance to do another race straight after and decided to relax in the sun instead.

Sunday was the start of next phase of rehab plan – which I haven’t really worked out yet – got out in the sun for a 13km trail run in the morning.

A Forest

I’m running towards nothing
Again and again and again and again

A steady trot around the Littleborough 5k route on Monday, at 30 min pace, was followed by the first in Cannonball Littleborough 5k series on Wednesday. The plan was to take it steady and come in around 22:30, so 22:42 was about the right pace, but a combination of a pollution smog made breathing very laboured and a weird wind storm that blew up just before the start meant effort was far too high.  Spent most of first km over 180 bpm when I would have expected 170 max and was forced to back off to get it back under control, the lack of warm up & a quick start may have contributed a little, but suspect mainly down to smog.


trace 050414 keswick parkrunSaturday was the inaugural Keswick parkrun, an out and back along a former railway line. Obviously it’s a long way for a 5k, so meant a weekend away with an excellent stay at Hazledene Hotel, who kindly allowed us a late breakfast post-run. This meant for the first time ever, just a short run to the start!

The plan was to run 12:30 (5min/km) out and then faster on the way back. I hadn’t quite decided but was thinking of 11 min on the way back but was feeling good and upped it to a 10min target. Pleased to record 12:34/10:07 for 22:41 but possibly should have saved the fast bit for just the last km?  Added a 9 mile walk up Bleaberry Fell in the afternoon as the big hills were shrouded in rain clouds.  A big meal out and a couple of pints at the fantastic Pheasant Inn to re-stock energy topped off a fine day.


Sunday was the big test – The Great Grizedale Forest Trail Race – my first 10 mile race for over a year. The route through Grizedale Forest was on the opposite side to where I know, so whilst expecting rocky track and hills it was a bit unknown as the exact nature of the course.

trace 060414 grizedale10The plan was to run 5min/km for 1:20, which on the one hand seemed realistic after recent shorter runs. However with only one run at that distance in the past year and the hilly course meant I had major doubts about my endurance. Last year’s 10 mile pancake flat race saw me fade a little at 6 and die at 8 miles, with more miles in my legs. And I hadn’t run a 5k and hill walked 9 miles the day before that one!

The weather didn’t help either, windy and wet with the course map revealing that we would spend roughly 5 miles straight into the wind, including the last three.

The start was very steep and I positioned myself in the back third of the 150ish field, but still slipped backwards as we climbed the first few hundred metres to a cattle grid. I concentrated on my own efforts and didn’t worry that I was almost last. Over the cattle grid it levelled off and I got up to speed, regularly checking watch pace which because of the hills was all over the place. Generally seemed to be below 5:30 but after a high start HR was around 160 which I reckoned was about right, so switched to HR view and decide to run on that.

Every time I glanced down and saw 157/158 I upped effort, every time it was 162/163 I eased back. This allowed me to steadily move on settling into a nice catch-recover-move on pattern.   Whilst it felt sustainable, after 4km each split was way behind target. Whilst it had mainly been up, there had been downs and I wondered whether too much time had been lost already to make the 1:20 target, when finally km 5 popped up at 4:30.

By now the field had thinned considerably and there were only a handful in site in front. With less climb but still plenty of ups and downs I rattled off a few quicker kms to reach halfway just a few seconds over 40 mins. Target back on as surely it was nearly all down from here?

That gave me a boost and combined with feeling in good shape I now pushed on to catch first woman and another guy. Just as I made a move to get past on the right side of the path, I suddenly wondered if we were supposed to turn off left. Slightly confused as there was a runner up ahead, who we shouted out to. A bit of tape off to the side and some orange paint on the ground were not really obvious.

The path then descended steeper on rockier ground and I eased off to protect foot. As it flattened off there was an unexpected water stop, and I dithered over whether to get a drink, which I did but then after walking a few steps found it hard to get going. The combination of these three events in succession interrupted my relaxed rhythm and took nearly a km of chasing down first woman to get past her again, having dropped the guy at the water stop.

Once past her there was no-one in sight ahead and after nearly missing a turn I kept a sharper eye out. The route was fairly twisty and I upped effort to try and create a gap behind to get out of sight. Whilst I hadn’t looked behind since the start, I knew there probably 10 runners within a minute or two.

At 12 km, every km was still blasting past sub 5 mins, so I knew even if I slowed a little then primary target of sub 1:20 was assured. The hills were non-stop though and every time it went down, I knew another up would follow, but overall it was feeling slightly more down than up until the 12th which was a tough one.

With just 4km to go, I decided to push on and put in my fastest km split so far of 4:17 in the hope of building a bigger gap to those behind. For the first time since I had overtaken first woman, I caught a glimpse of a couple of runners through the trees but they were well over a minute ahead, so I ignored any hope of catching and concentrated on keeping cadence going, playing alternate games of lifting heels/ lifting knees as I had throughout.

It was good to pass the SportSunday photographers, as I’d been feeling very lonely for 20 minutes or so. With a couple of km to go I finally saw another runner ahead walking on a hill, just maybe? My legs were tiring but I pushed a little harder to try to close the gap which was down to under a minute but he started running again and extended it out. The same thing happened on the next hill and a muddy section (due to some forest works) took the last out of my legs as I crested a rise and I settled for concentrating on my time again.

After clearing the last bit of mud I got cadence back up and after a near miss with an out of control dog on the steep rocky descent to the finish – I was tempted to ‘comment’ to the stupid moron that passed as its owner but couldn’t think of a polite response or one that wouldn’t involve violence, so resisted – and concentrated making it to the finish grateful that I had no broken bones.

A very pleasing 1:16:11, still feeling good despite the just out of the lake look and even had the energy to jog back to the car!   Feet felt a bit battered, tendon a little sore but no major issues.


A couple of rest days off was followed up with the Joe Salt Cowm 5k on Wednesday. I’d been a little unsure about entering beforehand, and didn’t have a clear plan, all of which lead to a well paced 4:30 first km, and then stupidly upped pace for remaining 4km to set a season best 20:34 but with a pain in my left calf when I stopped. That then developed into a very tight plantar fascia the next day and wrecked weekend plans. Will I never learn?

I generally use the 1 mile a day recovery rule i.e. after a hard 10 mile race, no hard efforts for the next ten days. I broke it. I broke me!


After a couple of rest days I decided on a tentative Oldham parkrun on Saturday to work out how much damage had been done. There was no specific pain, so ran at a decent pace for 21:46 but always within myself. Probably too fast as both calves sore and tight afterwards, which was good as it meant injury to left is minor. Will rest for a few days and make a decision on Wednesday about when/where I run next.

Ronning up that Hill

Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me?

Another quiet start to the week, with my first run coming at the Vera Hirst 5k race, which had moved over to the Cowm Reservoir course at Whitworth.  The short drive over included a mini snowstorm that gradually turned to rain by Bacup, with the race itself pretty much dry.

So far my fastest comeback 5k had been 22:35 at Fountains, with Bramhall last week almost matching. I was sure I could go sub 22 but settled for trying to get under 22:30 with as little effort as possible.  Whilst I’m not specifically trying to run fast, as my fitness improves my times for a given effort will improve, so I’m using them as an indicator of my fitness.   It’s also a good opportunity to practice race tactics and pacing.

After going through km1 in 4:36 I upped effort to close a big gap ahead and ended up going through 2nd km in 4:04, too fast as I knew I couldn’t sustain and eased back. Managed to gain a couple more places but didn’t seem much prospect of getting any further.  Worked harder all the way back with splits of 4:15 and 4:14 with footsteps breathing down my neck, opened it up a couple of times but they came back.

Tactically eased off a little across the dam in readiness for finish effort. Relaxed on downhill before the corner, taking a slow wide line and then turned up the power. Legs felt good so after a few seconds, really hit it and surprised myself at acceleration. Eased back after a few seconds, happy I’d created a big enough gap to cross the line in 20:39 (think I should actually be 20:53).

Happy with time, but unhappy at lack of pacing discipline on a course I know well.  Plenty of other opportunities at Cowm this year.


Friday –set off on a longer run at lunchtime with a casual idea of at least 10k, but in the event did 14.25km. Having had no carbs the previous evening and no breakfast, it was not surprising I felt a little light headed after 9k and started feeling tired after 11k, but happy with run overall.

Saturday was another inaugural parkrun, this time at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. It wasn’t as flat as expected, as part of the building works they seem to have created a bit of a bump. It was one small loop and 2 big loops, at times running on pristine new paths, sometimes loose gravel, sometimes an earthy wilderness and sometimes through the middle of a building site!  Plenty of parking for early arrivers and loos in the cafe.

I really enjoyed the course with km’s 1,2 & 4 having a gravel climb including a sharp hairpin and 3 and 5 being mainly down. A cool breeze and week sunshine made for good conditions but the curving open paths made it near impossible to hide from the breeze especially on the two big loops.

I didn’t want to overexert myself ahead of Sunday’s 10k, so didn’t really have a definite pace in mind.

Set off steady up the first climb, picked up effort along top of small loop and then worked to keep pace going. Made good progress and ended up working a lot harder than planned but 4:19 – 4:19 – 4:03 – 4:19 – 4:02 for the first 5km was near perfect pacing, just a shame there was an extra 40 odd seconds to add on to my watch distance! 21:42 left me a bit tired, especially after a big early Mother’s Day lunch and an hour sat in the sun.


The first Ron Hill Accrington 10k on Sunday had the added challenge of the clocks going forward, but a welcome surge of warm air made for great conditions. Slight nip to air, hazy sunshine and a great atmosphere with over 400 runners, including Ron.

I’d made a late decision to enter, primarily to just get a feel for a bit more race distance as I prepare for surviving a 10 mile race. A good day would be sub 46 – although Vera would suggest sub 44 was a prospect if I could muster the same energy and motivation, and without the tired legs. I decided to split the difference and head off for a 45min target and see where it got me.

After a steady undulating loop around the town centre, we headed upwards and I wasn’t feeling brilliant, legs tired, tendon twinging and breathing felt a bit shallow and quick despite HR reading ok.

I tried to keep HR in the low 160’s on a seemingly never ending slope upwards but increasingly found myself creeping higher as it was too comfortable. Finally a bit of down and I made the mistake of pushing a bit, before another stiff climb popped up.

Got effort back in control, but HR now consistently nudging 170+ towards half way and a bit of a twisty section took us on a nice slope down. I decided to up effort a tick and started concentrating on gaining places, no-one had made an overtake stick since around 2k, and whilst my primary aim was HR based, I also didn’t want to lose any places now I was in race mode.

After another wiggle around, we joined the greenway, primarily sloping gently down – my favourite angle! – after briefly dropping a couple of pIaces, I soon had them back and moved onwards one runner at a time.

I had a brief tussle on a steeper down and up, rocketing up the climb to regain the place and easily cruising past another to catch a yellow girl. I hung on as HR had hit high 170’s and needed to get it back down. Thoughts of finishing tactics came into play with about 2k to go and I feared we may have a climb back up but HR was now back down to 170, so it was onwards again, making the most of the down before it ended.

As we hit the flat there were a couple of guys just catching a slightly slowing blue guy about 100m ahead that seemed a bit far off and with the uncertainty about the finish I just eased slightly.

Footsteps behind began closing in and a couple of supporter shouts alerted me to fact it was a woman. As Accrington yellow was the only one I had passed in about the last 20 overtakes. I assumed she was fighting back but was surprised to see a new blue woman come through strongly – who I hadn’t overtaken. This was bad news, this wasn’t someone fighting back with a temporary surge that I could play with, it was someone who had paced their run better than me. This was no good, 7.5km and no lost places, and now I was going to lose one at the death. Mugged!

Worse still, even uppintrace 310314 ronhill10kg my effort I couldn’t quite hang on to her as she caught blue guy who had now been dropped by the other two. Just as I was admiring her, err, pacing and about to give up Tesco popped in sight and I suddenly knew we were close to the finish, and more importantly there was no surprise big climb. This stopped the negative mental spiral I was teetering on – every little helps – and with renewed belief I set about chasing them both down. Unfortunately they were now battling each other on the last surprise downhill which meant even with increased effort it took right to the last corner to catch them up.

I hopped off the kerb and then back on to get the space for a faster line around the corner – 100m to go – and hit the power at the apex to pull away slightly and close in on the next fading runner, but halfway there started fading myself. Quick rethink on strategy and settled for trying to cling on – just did it, with a crowd following in behind.

45:08 – only a few seconds off target but for the second consecutive day got my pacing bang on which was just as pleasing as narrowly managing to save my no places lost for the last 8km. Love a good battle, whatever level I am currently at. Happy with improving endurance, didn’t really expect to last the full distance, just need to add another 4 miles on now!