Bite my lip and close my eyes
Take me away to paradise

With over 5 months until my big challenge on La Palma, it seems so far but is actually very close so I really should be thinking about doing some of that thingy stuff, err, what’s it called, oh yeah ‘training’!  Problem is I really can’t be arsed with conventional methods (which all re-invent each other) as they are too rigid and require precisely measured efforts as though everyone is a full time pro Olympic athlete trying to squeeze a microsecond out of a marathon, so I shall be following the *DuST method of preparation.

*DuST –Distance equals Speed multiplied by Time – My own relaxed method of running faster. It’s simple. It’s fun. It works – for me. (See next line!)

With new PB’s this year at 5k (official if not fastest), 7k, 5m, 6m, 10k and 10 miles, my parkrun best for the year of 20:47 has been looking a bit out of place against a PB of 19:15.

Due to Run Directing commitments, there were only 2 chances before the end of the year, and so I identified Saturday for a fast parkrun at Heaton Park. After a 10.5k packrun on Wednesday, I reduced my chances by running home from work on Thursday, 20.5k but caught watch and suspect it was longer.

I then discovered that Heaton had a course diversion that would likely add time, so switched plans to Oldham parkrun instead. A slower course but more familiar and after a good warm up I was confident of a sub20 if not an all time PB. Despite a decent start my breathing never settled in the cold damp air but managed to blast a nice chunk off previous course best, at 19:32 – joint 3rd fastest parkrun ever, with tired legs, happy. GPS.

The following week was a quiet one, with a packrun and then a planned Fell Race on Saturday, in which I just needed to jog round to up my points in the club Grand Prix to secure a first ever top ten place in the GP. Unfortunately Saturday afternoon races involve negotiating a lot more traffic than usual and the eta slipped back until stuck in another traffic jam I turned back as wouldn’t have made it.

Those that did get there scored good points which has all but ruled out a top ten place, which along with the ‘admin error’ in missing out on the Road Champ qualification is a reminder to get some safety races banked in early in future. Even a PB at the final race in Wesham will probably not be enough now.

At least my legs were fresher when we headed off to the Preston 10 arriving nice and early for a good warm up. Having already secured a 10 mile PB this year, I wasn’t too bothered about time but had a vague plan of running a nice even pace for a time close to that.

Right from the off I was pushed along at much too fast a pace, and decided to switch to running the first half fast. Legs were feeling good and the miles were flying by. Couldn’t stop smiling as it was crazy as I went through halfway about a minute and a half faster than Swinton. Towards 10k it started getting harder but still passed through in 39:45 – 4th fastest 10k ever.

The second lap was getting tough but still managed to gain a few more places until I was finally passed. Tried to go along but couldn’t and then another came through with same result. Finally a 3rd runner came by that I could stay with and we see-sawed position until the last km, when I made a push for the finish to get clear. I knew a sub 1:05 was on and crossed line in 1:04:45 smashing my Swinton time by a minute and a half, with the 2nd half just the 1 second faster. GPS.

Another run home on Tuesday, this time the more accurate 21.6km and felt a little easier. Another 10.2km packrun and then the first of the winter Todmorden 5k series on Thursday. Poor air and no warm up, so struggled with breathing on first lap but gradually eased. Increasing comfortable effort for 20:19 with each km faster than the last. GPS.

Rounded off a busy week with a gentle 15.6km on Sunday.





Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time

Saturday was my last regular Oldham parkrun, for at least for a while and the last one as my home run as my allegiance switches to a new parkrun. Although my first parkruns were at Heaton Park, it wasn’t until Oldham parkrun started that I caught the parkrun bug, and even then it was a while before I really got what parkrun was about.

So event #197 rolled around, with a typical late arrival, just time for a quick jog to the loo and an inadequate 5 minute warm up – why change bad habits now! A record turnout of 194 runners was some difference to almost 4 years ago when 18 runners gathered on a sunny July morning outside the Lion’s Den for event #2 (We missed the inaugural as were away).

On that day the brief words of the run director’s course description had barely echoed in my ears “just follow the runner in front” before I found myself in the front at the first corner. With no idea where to go, I eased back and happily followed someone round the first lap. Dreams of a ‘win’ vanished on the 2nd lap as the unknown lead runner pulled away until on the 3rd lap I was on my own, no-one in sight ahead or behind.

With a different path on lap 3 to follow through the ‘Woodland Walk’ and no signs to be seen it was with uncertain hesitance I emerged from the woods at the other end wondering where now? Somehow I found my way back to the finish with only a minor detour.

It seemed fitting in my last regular run that I finished 18th – what would have been last position 4 years ago, now being followed in by another 176 happy runners. Completely unimaginable in the early days when at times it felt the future of the event was under threat due to a lack of volunteers and 30 was considered a big turnout.

As it was a kind of farewell run, I kept it quiet and slinked off quietly with my 4th best age grading at Oldham parkrun – exactly 1 minute slower than my PB – I’ve had 4 PB’s there. It was my 15th fastest time, due to a mixup I was handed token 15. (so don’t feel bad Mr Tokenman, it was fate!)

I actually finished in 18th position in my last regular run there, at my first ever Oldham there were a total of 18 runners.

I’ve completed 195 laps of the park and today there was a record 194 runners. I’m searching for lazy runner 195 who stayed in bed and spoilt my stats! You are on my list!


The promise of heavy rain propelled me out of bed on Sunday and clocked up a 20.5km flattish road run – my longest for years. Another zero breakfast run (discounting the cup of coffee, 2 toffees and a swig of sugar water). Felt strong to 11km, kept sub 5min/km’s going to 14km before tiring a little with a pain in right foot making me ease off to 19km, pushed harder on slight uphill to get km 20 back under 5 mins. The weather switched from light rain to heavy rain plus a bonus couple of torrential downpours and the odd sunny interlude – only 1 other runner seen on a magnificent day for running – probably my favourite run this year. Overall averaged 4:55/km to 20km as I continue to follow the 5 min plan for another 3 months.  Hopefully might be able to look at speeding up in Autumn?


The previous Tuesday had been a Tod Grand Prix race at the Diane Modahl Brownhouse Wham Trail Race with a sizeable 96 runners. Arrived late, inadequate warm up, too humid, too fast a start resulted in severe breathing difficulties that I never got on top of.  I hadn’t planned on all out effort but with points on offer it was frustrating to have to back off to get pain levels down.

It wasn’t too bad a run considering how much my chest was hurting but the decision to go with trail shoes probably cost me a place and caused a sore right foot from the reduced cushioning on the steep road finish.  Legs felt fresh at end as I never really tested them but continued to ache all week from that final descent. Back to road shoes next time!

The Trooper

And as I lay there gazing at the sky
My body’s numb and my throat is dry

Since tentatively starting back running three months ago, my main focus has been getting fit enough to complete the Bluebell 10.3 Trail Race. That made it a doubly frustrating week, once again forced to rest as heel pain had not cleared despite a slight raise inserted into day shoes, leaving me doubtful for the race.

‘New me’ would be sensible however and not race to injury, so it was left it until Saturday before an attempt at running to make a very late decision on whether to attempt the race. I put bigger raises into running shoes and completed a tentative Oldham parkrun in 23:46, spending most of it easing back as felt so fresh. No pain, so Bluebell was on!

Two weeks of virtually no running wasn’t the ideal lead up to Bluebell 10, but reasonably happy with how things had gone in the weeks before so optimistically stuck to original plan to aim for a 1 hour 30 target time. This represented a step down to 5:15 km pace to take terrain into account, plus a spare 3 min extra to deal with Trooper Lane Hill – a 0.75 km slope with ~125m of climb, averaging 1 in 5, about a third of the way into the race.

This was one of two key points in the race, too fast too soon and chances of hitting target would be blown. A balanced effort on the big hill was required to reach a smaller but significant climb around 10k mark in good shape and ensure a decent run in to the finish.

On the day I arrived a little later than planned, but foreshortened warm up so as to preserve right heel / left tendon – the run to the bottom of Trooper Lane made for a good warm up and aside from an annoying queue at a narrow gate early on- forgot about that! – I cruised along comfortably gradually gaining places but in no hurry.

Found myself dragged along a little as Trooper Hill beckoned but arrived at the bottom in 32:33 – a minute off target pace but bang on really, as spent about a minute queuing at the gate.

Boosted by the knowledge I was running a good pace I quickly got myself into a small fast step slow speed rhythm at the bottom, initially dropping a couple of places but soon gaining a few round a couple of steep corners.

A glance at watch showed HR still comfortably in 160’s so continued on weaving my way through what were now predominantly walkers. On and on it went, and after a couple of exhausted encouragements began wondering if I could make it to the top without walking.

HR was rising but still manageable so I kept on going, until I spotted was I thought was the final corner. I was now well into the mid 170’s and ready to ease back, but was driven on by the closeness, only to turn the corner and find there was still more to go.

There had been a few spectators on the way up, but after reaching the true final corner there was a mini Tour de France style mountain crowd cheering, so there was no way I was giving up now. They dragged me up the last few metres and as it flattened off I felt a wave of power at having run all the way. Tough but comfortable, I took the opportunity to drink half a cup of water and splash the rest on the back on my neck at the water station. Refreshed, it was on briefly down, then up to Beacon Hill with its spectacular view of Halifax and Calderdale beyond.

The descent was good initially but became increasingly rough and slippy and I reluctantly eased off to protect tendon, but still kept advancing places.

The 6 mile climb was the first really tough bit where I felt my legs beginning to tire, but it was onward and more places gained. A nice bit on downhill was allowed a bit of a see saw before a climb through trees saw me advance away and onward towards the next couple of runners. The sloping fields were now getting tough and my legs started to go.

I dropped a couple of places but after a small bad spell got one back and picked up a few others before the woods, which were carpeted in fantastic blue. I pushed hard to pick up another place, more to hold off any catchers from behind, as now I was definitely working.

Out of the woods I suddenly got my bearings as we joined the canal for the last km or so, I knew I would be close to target so pushed on. After dropping one place to a fast finisher, I had a couple of runners ahead catchable, maybe more. After getting the gap down to 20m, a near miss with a dog upset my rhythm and the gap eased out again.

There was just the final river crossing to go, but a glance at my watch showed I would be over target. As I jumped in the water the coldness seemed to freeze my legs and I struggled across and made a duck’s arse of clambering up the bank.

The sound of splashing behind kept me steady to the finish but didn’t bother with a sprint finish, as I stopped the clock at 1:30:31. So close. Average HR of 159.

After a few minutes recovery, was happy with that considering problems of last week and jogged back to the car feeling good with no pains.


As that went well the next target will be Radcliffe 3 day challenge in July and so I decided on Monday morning to do the 7.5 mile Coiners Fell Race as a tired legs practise, and partly as I hadn’t done it before. There was no real target, I thought 155 HR average was about right but had no real time/ pace goal other than keeping under that.

I wasn’t sure why but the first part of the race went badly, an unexplained late start, overrunning junior (EC to be fair) prize presentations, race briefing completely drowned out by a noisy generator next to the start, the fact that most runners seemed to be carrying no kit despite the strong full compulsory kit warning on the website, a rush to a too early stile – over 2 minutes queuing after less than 3 minutes running was ridiculous with so few runners – plus a couple of scumbag queue jumpers, all really annoyed me for no real reason.

A couple of miles in and I chilled out and started enjoying my run, even picking up the pace a bit until a nasty pathless descent before Stoodley Pike. An early wobble and my tendon had enough so I picked my way carefully down the hill, glancing across at others going uphill faster to my left. Better to lose a few minutes than a few months out injured.

Wasn’t too despondent as had been on the high side of HR target and knew a bit of a rest would mean I would have plenty of energy for the return up, unfortunately no-one told my legs, and I just couldn’t get going again after walking.

Bit confusing at the Pike, took a while to work out we had to run around- with no visible marshals or flags. The guy in front went round – although on the approach I was sure at least one runner had turned before – so I followed overtaking as we headed out down the path to Sunderland pasture, partway realising there were no flags and that I was on the wrong path.

Decided to cut over the rough stuff to regain the path and once again struggled with tendon. The early path through the trees was good but became increasingly bobbly and painful for tendon. The boggy smelly field was the driest I’ve ever known but struggled across the next couple of fields down to a hard track.

Climbing over a stile I was hopeful of picking the pace back up but was still struggling to get legs moving well so just enjoyed the ride. Lost a couple of rounds of Russian roulette in the bog crossings, mushy looking stuff turned out firm, firm looking stuff turned out knee deep!

The descent around Spring Wood finally got my legs going but eventually gave up trying to hold off the footsteps behind and eased down the last couple of fields with the priority on not spraining anything.

Almost a good day out, average HR 152 in the acceptable range but another local race chalked off the to-do list with a ‘not suitable’ rating for tendon.

Life in One Day

Don’t try to live your life in one day
Don’t go speed your time away

Last Monday’s Hollingworth 5k was to be my last ‘faster but comfortable’ efforts for a while as I dip down speed in readiness for Bluebell 10.3 and then allow a bit of recovery time as I reach the 3 month point of my rehab plan.  In the event it was neither faster nor comfortable so I opted for a low run week with just an adventurous moderate group Wednesday packrun, that looks a lot better on the Garmin trace.


The chance of a double run on Saturday of Oldham parkrun and the race4rugby 10k trail was ideal for ensuring I didn’t go too fast and to get some distance in, but then the day before I discovered SELOC were doing an orienteering event at 10am in Alexandra Park. There were 3 beginner friendly classes and the longest was just 2.9k, so would be manageable. I’d always wanted to try orienteering but never got around to it.

Could also be a chance to do 3 races in 1 day? I decided to do the first two and then see how I felt, and if there was time to get to the third race in time. It would be a good opportunity to practice race pace across around 20k of running.

The parkrun plan was 4k in 20 mins, then go for a fast last km with the aim of coming in around 24mins. I came close at 23:42 but no cigar.

SELOC alexandra park O mapA quick rest and I wandered down to the other end of the park for the orienteering. I was a bit surprised no other parkrunners had decided to double up with a bit of fun but there were a few others there for the early staggered starts.

The chosen light green course had 21 controls. I received a brief introduction to the sport, including how to dib, found out that you had to visit them in a specified order, and that the maps featured lots of weird symbols but in the main were easily understandable.

I set off easy and quickly found the first two controls before an over playful dog hampered my path to a couple of controls but that meant I was going a bit steadier/ walking trying to dodge it and using a bit more time to plan my strategy. Once clear I got into a good rhythm – look at map to see next control location, identify quickest route and key features, get there fast, check control number, dib and repeat.

It was all going well until a seemingly placid dog decided to attack in a frightening frenzy as I passed. I never understand why owners let their dog off the lead in public when they know their dog is highly aggressive and they have no voice control over them. Had I been a small child the injuries could have been horrific, if not fatal. Fortunately I was able to make good use of a nearby downhill to accelerate and escape without serious injury.

Once clear I glanced at my watch to see how high my HR had reached and noticed watch had failed to start, so tried again unsuccessfully to start it, not realising until after halfway through.SELOC my result printout

I was pretty pleased with how things were going, a couple of route choices could have been better but was finding the controls well until number 11 which I ran past after mixing a couple of paths, after a wasted minute or so, I was back on track and flew round the rest, with only 1 bad route option and 1 control overshoot until a slight failure to spot the last control even though I was staring straight at it, camouflaged on a bright yellow barrier!

Once back I got an instant printout breaking down results, totaling 28:42, which seemed a long time for 3k? After belated stopping watch I realised that the ‘short half’ added up to 2.4k, so must have covered about 5k. Either I picked a very bad route, or the distance was impossible straight lines ? No time to consider as it was straight off to the next race.

After a bit of difficulty tracking down my ‘chauffeur’ and an extra 2k of running! We were away. Legs were tired and I wasn’t sure we would get there in time, but the lure of a new race route, and a first ever 3 race day proved too much and I registered with about 15 mins to go, having got changed on the way.

littleborough rugby trail 10k mapI then checked out the route map to discover it went down a lot of paths I had no knowledge of and with a small number of runners knew I may be on my own for a big chunk of it. Re-assured it was well marked, I opted for trail shoes – a good decision as it turned out as there were a lot of rocky tracks.

I’d had a 50 minute target planned, but looking at the map doubted whether I’d hit it as it looked a tough course. It was actually tougher, much tougher. The winning time was 42 mins, by a fell runner, suggesting it was maybe worth an extra 5 mins or so on a ‘normal’ 10k? Most of the first 4k were uphill and into a strong headwind. The downs were brief but still windy.

I started very steady and gradually moved through the first km, by 2k others were few and far between in front and I concentrated on managing effort and time. A steep descent after 4km was frustrating as the uneven rockiness made it hard to go fast, with the added need to protect foot. The run varied from lonely wilderness to crowded marshal points and walkers offering encouragement.

The return half was slightly easier being flatter but again the key descents were impossible to let go on, a glance on one showed less than 5 minute pace and I scolded myself. I immediately upped cadence and arm swing which had the desired effect on speed. I knew after the first half 50 mins would be impossible without pushing which I wasn’t prepared to do but needed to ensure I kept effort going at planned level.

As we crossed the motorway I knew we were near and there was a runner well ahead. I doubted I would catch him but a smoother final grassy descent allowed me to let go – legs were by now approaching 24km for the day and so letting go wasn’t actually that fast! Concentrated on leg pick up and gap was closing until finally the last stile before the finish field I just about caught him.

I messed up the gap stile and he pulled away and with half a lap around a rugby pitch I decided to go early in the hope of getting a gap to avoid a battle to the line, as I had neither the legs nor inclination. I thought I had it but in the last 50m a couple of kids shouted a warning that he was behind me and I tried to kick again, not much there but enough to hold him off. 51:34 was more than good enough for the course, one of the toughest 10k’s I’ve ever done. Loved it. They are hoping to do it again, and would highly recommend it. A pint and bacon butty in the sun made for a nice recovery after a brilliant morning of diverse racing. Three races completed in less than 4 hours – insane!


I was tempted to switch from Sunday’s planned Radcliffe multi terrain 10k to the PFO orienteering at Brun Valley, Burnley but decided I needed to build some positive mental images in readiness for the 3 day event later in the year. The final day follows a similar course and is always tough but last year injury turned it into a shocker so I needed to overwrite that memory in readiness for this year.

Forgot that it is very popular and arrived an hour before to find a record turnout crowding into the hall and only just about managed entering, the loo and a warm up. After yesterday my tendon was a bit stiff and I considered opting for a 50 min effort, but was wanting to hit around 47:30 if I could.

After a bit of an inconsistent start, I got effort down whilst clinging onto a pacemaker who I expected to be around 48 mins. Reached halfway in decent shape and as we turned onto a pot holed track that was my main memory section. I concentrated at various times on light feet, high foot lifts, upright back and arm swings whilst keeping effort as comfortable as I could without dropping pace – positive memory stored, we will see if it helps when I’m back at the Radcliffe Three Day Challenge in July!

I’d been troubled by a slipping HR band and finally ditched it into my pockets as it was too distracting. When switching between canals there was a tough uphill and my main focus was comfort so I slipped back a few places. From there it was generally harder work but made gradual progress to gain a few more places, the final loop was another steady uphill and then my second memory section, the last km or so of the canal. More technique tweaks to ease comfort, all the while reeling a couple more runners in.

As we turned off the canal I took it steady and then upped effort on the final 800m to gain another couple of places. I could hear strong feet behind so kept it going, marvelling at how it always seemed to be hot and sunny on this section. Entering the track we had ¾ of a circuit and I eased slightly but stayed just ahead around the bend.

I had no idea if I had any sprint left but patiently waited until the final 50m and accelerated. Surprisingly got a decent pace going and cruised over line with a good gap. 46:27 was very pleasing after a heavy weekend, excellent preparation for Bluebell. It’s all about recovery now.


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.

Ten Miles

A quiet, tired, week but somehow managed 5 runs including a ten miler – wooh!

Mon – took it easy for 8k, but foot not good and a bit tired after Sunday’s run.

Weds – packrun moderate group, drove down for 9.55k. A more even effort than last week but legs suffering after a bit of allotment digging and breathing a bit wheezy.  Left foot/ lower leg feeling very tight so resisted any hard efforts.

Thurs – still feeling tight during steady 6.16k, still wheezy and hamstrings aching, so rested Friday.

Saturday was the apparently slick cash extracting juggernaught that is parkrun, with a plan of hitting as close to 24 mins as I could.  Arrived a bit late so must have missed the big sponsor’s caravan parading round Alexandra Park.

The geese were sporting the latest expensive barefoot flippers

The geese were sporting the latest expensive barefoot flippers

No real warm up other than jog to toilet and foot still a bit tight.  Set off steady at 4:15km pace for first 400m but pegged it back a bit and went through splits relatively evenly but much harder work than last week – splits of 4:37 > 4:45 > 4:36 > 4:45 with the variance roughly explained by the hill profile, although km3 was a little quick and km4 reflected starting to struggle with pace.  Needing to average 4:48 meant I was well ahead of schedule even allowing for tougher final km and was able to ease off for 23:59.  A very pleasing 1 second ahead of target reflected much better pacing than last week.  I was unsure why my HR so much higher and effort so much harder for small time gain on last week. Unfit.

A longer than expected 10 mile (16.3km) run on Sunday meant I surprisingly hit 43.63km (27.1miles) over this week’s five runs despite feeling tired and out of sorts most of the week.  It was longer than expected for two reasons; firstly we set off on a 5.5 mile route and it was only in the last couple of minutes I decided to extend it as was feeling ok; and secondly I failed to remember that this week was supposed to be a maximum 9 mile run!  Strangely, foot felt great afterwards.


The 3 month ‘taking it easy’ plan is proving a lot harder to stick to than I thought, partly because of a complete lack of fitness and partly as my heart rate is much higher than I anticipated at slower speeds making it difficult to keep below 150. On the plus side, I’m finding the mid 150’s relatively comfortable effortwise.  At least I‘m almost sticking to the +1 mile a week plan, ‘almost’ because last week was supposed to be 7 miles (11.3k) but due to pains in tendon, I carried it forward to Monday. Dropping the car off at the garage allowed for an 11.95km linear run back home for the longest run this year.  I have 2 spare week’s in the 3 month plan, but want to hang on to them for now.

My tendon continued severely bothering me all week, not helped by having to wear ‘proper shoes’ – which my feet never enjoy – on Wednesday and particularly Thursday’s trip into Manchester. Things were further not helped by the stop-start nature of the club packrun on Wednesday night. However, it was good to back out for the first time in a year, and with the run there and back totalling 12.4k for my biggest daily mileage for 18 months. No wonder I’m not fit!

trace 050314 packrun
An easy 5.27k on Friday felt a little better – after the initial km or so when I nearly turned back. After a quick stop and stretch things seemed to improve but not promising.

Saturday was an Oldham parkrun where I had a vague intention of running around 25 or 26 minutes as the speedier effort last week certainly didn’t help things. I set off still a bit hazy about effort and decided to go for a steady first km and then decide, despite that failing last week. Spotted a couple of regulars who usually were over 26 mins and tried to stay behind them but lost sight of them in the crowd at the first chicane. Another good turnout meant it was busy up to the first corner and I patiently held back until it opened out and I started slowly working my way forward, going through the first km in 4:59.
The slightly more up on the second km saw me 10 secs down on target, but a decent effort in the 3rd km got me to the end of the two short laps just a couple of sec behind. A misread of my watch at 4km when I thought I was 4 secs up, but was actually 14 up, meant I pushed more than necessary through the woods on the tough last km and even with easing off on the final straight still came over the line in 24:46.

trace 080314 Oldham parkrun
A little quicker start, a steadier mid section and a more observant finish may have brought HR average of 155 down slightly but overall roughly happy with time splits. Think I learnt that having a definite target at the start would have helped with pacing as didn’t commit fully until 2nd km. I will see if I can be a little more precise with next week’s parkrun.

Tendon felt the best it had for a couple of week’s so +1 meant at least an 8 mile (13km) run on Sunday. Sunny and warmer meant shorts and t-shirt were more than comfortable for a 9.5km loop with two 800m & one 400m hill reps thrown in near the end for a total of 13.7km (8.5m) topping Monday’s and Wednesday’s distances.

Weekly mileage of 37.93km (23.5 miles) and at least my foot feels better at end than during the week, but still too early to say how much of the tendon damage is reversible.  The realistic view is this is not a comeback yet and I can’t shake the feeling that my foot is permanently a bit loose.