Time for pastures new…

I started running “properly” in February 2012 and was very quick to join a local club – Jesmond Joggers – in July of the same year.

I was keen to start competing, particularly Cross Country.

In the 2 and a bit years I’ve been at Jesmond I’ve improved my 5k pb from around 20mins to 17.18 and I’ve also achieved my goal of getting not only into the Medium Pack in the Harrier League XC but now the Fast pack in the last race of the season this month.

I’ve greatly enjoyed the time I’ve spent at Jesmond Joggers. It’s given me the opportunity to cut my teeth in competitive running and also grow in confidence. I’d like to thank the Chairman Scott Armstrong for all the support and encouragement. I’ve also enjoyed running with some great people. A particular mention to Michael Hedley who has spurred me on and given me a high standard to aim for (I’m still not there yet!).

I now feel it’s a natural time to move on. I am very ambitious about my running and, at 34 years old, I really want a new challenge as I move towards Masters and V35 next year.

Part of that is putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Another part is competing at a higher level. Having thought about moving club’s for some time now it was looking at the Northern 12 stage relay results on Saturday that finally made my mind up.

I would like to test myself at events such as the Northern Stage relays (and hopefully the Nationals). I’ve decided that to do that I need a new club and a fresh start. A reason to train hard, to make teams.

So the Blyth 10k will be my last race for Jesmond Joggers. I hope to make it a great final race and to go out with a bang.

And I’m thinking now about what next…


Sub 17 5k – Week 21 training diary

I’ve got to the point now where I believe I have the sub 17 minute 5k fitness in me and its just a case of getting on the start line in a 5k race in good conditions. That said I don’t have a 5k race lined up. Next on the agenda is the Blyth 10k on 12th April.

This week I was looking forward to my 3rd lactate threshold test and I was excited to see what the recent breakthrough translated to in terms of what my body is doing.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

6.6 miles in just over 45mins @ an average HR of mid 150s. These runs are starting to sneak under 7mins per mile which is certainly strengthening the legs underneath.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Had the 2hrs+ drive down to Doncaster so in the end didn’t get a run in and just rested up for the Lactate Test tomorrow.

Plan – lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio

Appointment was 9.30. Was staying at a nearby B&B so drove down. Had a good chat with Dave and got into the various body checks etc. Was pleased to see my flexibility had improved as well as my lung capacity. Blood levels were ok apart from Haemoglobin so need to get back focussed on nutrition.

Onto the treadmill and I have to admit I was nervous. I think the more of these tests you do the more nervous you get. I was anxious to see my stats improve dramatically. As the treadmill got faster I was sweating up quite a lot and have to admit to not feeling great.

The last 3 minute burst saw me running at 5.18 miling or 16.30 5k pace. I coped ok but was glad of the end.

Overall my lactate threshold pace had improved from 6.49/mile in my first test to 6.10/mile in the 2nd test and now 6.01/mile in this test.

At 5.18/mile my HR increased to 189bpm. The lactate in my blood was read at 8.8mmols. Dave believes that, not only am I capable of running a 5k at this pace but also a 10k! That is music to my ears and means I have the potential to run a sub 33min 10k!

Obviously a lot needs to be done to get to that level, most importantly continuing the task of building up my strength (and belief).

It was also great to have a physio session with Jenny and I’ve seen some real improvement in my shin which is actually referred pain from issue elsewhere on my right side.

Time to get stuck in.

When I got back to Newcastle I felt like a run and got out for a strong 45min recovery covering 6.8 miles at 156bpm. I specifically took the opportunity to ask Dave about these recovery runs as I wondered whether they are getting a bit testing but the fact is, in my recovery heart rate zone I’m producing about 2mmol of lactate which is a good level for endurance building. Also, because I am not doing any speed sessions (or very high mileage) it’s not necessary or beneficial to run any slower on these outings.

Plan – 40min recovery

Another zippy recovery run. 6 miles completed in 40mins with an average HR of mid 150s.

Feeling strong.

Plan – rest

Rest as planned, fell asleep after work for an hour which was nice.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Was toying between Riverside parkrun and Newcastle parkrun but then the wind and rain forecast came in.

Actually not too bad when I woke up but made a late switch to Gateshead parkrun as I’d only done it once and wanted to put a decent time in as had been snow on my first attempt in Jan 2013.

Despite now knowing that I’m better off not wearing the Garmin for some reason I put it on and then proceeded to let it distract me too much.

At the start two lads went off pretty fast so just tucked in behind maybe half a mile and then felt like they were already slowing up a little incline so took a chance to get in front. Then the distractions began…

First I wasn’t confident I was going the right way. Thanks to the guy in second for kindly shouting instructions!

Second, the Garmin buzzed the one mile completed and I looked down to see a 5 minute mile! Fair enough it was net downhill but the fastest mile I’ve done that I’m aware of prior is probably 5.25-5.30.

Now if I hadn’t been wearing the Garmin I would have been unaware and cracked on. I was feeling fine. Unfortunately I let it freak me out a bit. Plus the mind started drifting to thinking this was the sub 17!

It didn’t take me long to realise the rest of the Gateshead parkrun is net uphill and a bit of a tester. Also, I now remember it’s overlong at 3.2 miles!

To be fair I stuck in and got on with it but was only able to put in a few 5.40-5.50 miles.

As I approached the final straight I was unable to really muster anything and coasted in a bit.

Still 17.43 and first over the line. They say parkrun isn’t a race but even so there is a finish line and I was first to cross it. It’s the first time I’ve finished 1st so pleased with it.


First 1st at Gateshead parkrun

Even better was the Strava review which estimates my 5k time as 17.06 (5.30 miling) and also various pbs including most notably 2 miles at 10.46.

Plenty to be positive about.

Plan – 80min recovery

Got out about 5.30pm. It was bright so I thought that meant decent weather. Settled into the run nicely and I went the same route as last week. Felt much stronger and was ticking the miles off easily. Then turning back for the second half for home there was a testing icy cold wind which made things tricky. It got tough last 20 minutes but finished it off. I think these long runs will really give me some benefit over the coming months.

Weekly Totals

Running ~38 miles

Another good week and confidence has been boosted by another trip to see Dave. Very keen to start delivering on the potential I have.

Sub 17 5k – Week 20 training diary

Following a very successful week for me personally in the Cross Country – finishing in my highest position ever (28th from Medium pack and 43rd fastest on the day) – and my club Jesmond Joggers (winning Division 3), I was back on the road with work. This time a trip to Genoa.


In action in the last XC fixture of the season at Wrekenton

I can re-trace my steps back about 3 years ago to April 2012 and North West Italy. Again I had a work trip to Genoa. I had been running only a few months following my first parkrun in February. And I recall doing a few treadmill runs in the Novotel.

Here I am back again 3 years later and for sure I am a different runner now…

The plan this week is to get a solid week in and deliver myself back down to Doncaster to visit Blizard Physio and Dave Tune for my third lactate threshold test. I’m excited to see what the test results reveal after what I regard as a big breakthrough in March following a rather drab February.

Training Diary

Plan – 45mins recovery

Got to Genoa about 5pm local time. Checked into the hotel. I’d already got the impression that Genoa isn’t a great city for running and reception lady confirmed. So got back in gym which had not changed from last time I was here. That said the treadmill is canny.

I got the planned 45mins in and sweated it out somewhat. Completed 6.4 miles averaging mid 150s heart rate.

Plan – 45mins threshold

Woke up 6.45am local time and wanted to get run in. Felt tired so scaled the run back to 5 min warm up, 20min threshold and 5 min warm down.

The threshold section felt tough but I got it done. Was hovering around 6min miling and pushed heart rate up to 175bpm. Bizarelly the Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio was on the gym TV which provided a bizarre visual to the mornings proceeding, i.e. copious amounts of drug taking and sex scenes! LOL.

Plan – 50mins recovery

Again up around 7ish. Wasn’t going to get all 50mins done in the morning so split it up into 30mins am and 20mins pm.

The morning session dragged big style and was an absolute sweat fest.

For some reason heart rate was staying lower and therefore needed to crank it up a few notches to get into recovery. A general observation I’ve made over the last few months has been a lower HR at rest and before runs etc. I take this as a sign of improved fitness and backing up my good recent form.

No problems in the evening and an uneventful 5k.

4.5 miles in 30mins AM.

5k in just over 20mins PM.

Plan – 40mins recovery

Woke up feeling a bit blah. Had been out for mussels and seafood the night before with work colleagues and stomach felt a bit upset. Decided to lie in half an hour and drink plenty of water. The run can be completed on Friday.

Plan – rest

Got out for the 40mins after work on the usual loop round Town Moor. Had what felt like a big breakthrough and was ticking off 6m 30-40s miles with little effort in my recovery heart rate zone. Ended up completing just over 6 miles in 40mins with an average HR of 155-157. Will be interesting to see how these runs go over the coming weeks.

There is always debate about what is recovery, what is easy, what is steady etc. Again, that is the great thing about heart rate training. Pace is forgotten, you get in the zone and let the body do the rest. But ultimately over time I want to see the pace getting faster and thats what’s happening. I remember in 2013 when I first started training with heart rate I’d be doing over 8min miles at the same intensity as I’m doing 6.40-7.15 now.

Plan – 45mins threshold

Fancied getting down to parkrun again and felt in shape to revise my Newcastle PB of 17.44.

The weather forecast was for a decent wind which could have put a spanner in the works but I resolved to leave the Garmin at home and just have a good, honest, hard run.

Leaving the house I was surprised how cold it still felt. Where is the spring warmth?

Getting on the start line it was nice to see Freya Ross. Was wondering how quick she would be running today. Looked her up when I got home and it’s obvious she’s been out injured for some time.

Confirmed during warm up that the wind would be hard in the face first 1.5k but was hoping most of the rest of the course would be sheltered.

Met my mate Glen on the start line and within no time we were away.

About 200m in I found myself just behind two and the wind was causing problems. That said I felt we could push on harder and gave it a go but the other two lads got going properly at 1k and moved away quite rapidly. Had a quick glance round and realised nobody had come with us and I geared up for a lonely run.

As it turned out one of the lads up front was Ross Floyd of Morpeth, coming back from injury. I’d been well and truly dropped and it looked like Ross was in second and the other lad had gotten away a little.

I was relieved to get onto the Moor to complete carm. Felt great after battling the wind. It also gave a chance to glance at the chasing pack but it looked like I had at least 50m on them so just got head down and tried to make up some time.

Coming to around 2.5k I noticed the lad in front had pulled off to the side. Looked like he’d pulled a calf. It took what felt like an age to get past him and Ross was miles ahead.

The turn past the military museum at 2 miles is always tough at the best of times but today the wind was stinging. Tried to relax whilst still gritting the teeth and getting through it. I had a small worry about letting runners behind close but then remembered that they still had to get through it and turning back onto the paths it felt calm again and I pushed on again.

This was my first real taste of running free in second at Newcastle and I enjoyed it. I felt like I ran the last km pretty fast. That’s the only unfortunate thing about not wearing the watch (not knowing your splits etc.) but I’m really loving just running hard and listening to the body.

Coming into the final straight I pushed on again. I finished 2nd in 17.31.

From my experience Newcastle parkrun is usually a bit longer than 5k and the strong winds certainly weren’t ideal so I really think this was a stronger run than the 17.18 at Riverside a few weeks ago and really sets me up well for the trip to Doncaster for my next Lactate Threshold test.

Plan – 80mins recovery

Lovely day when I woke up but had some bits and pieces to do so didn’t get out until about 3pm. Was planning on doing the whole 80mins easy and seeing how the legs felt. Fancied a different route so had a look down Gosforth and Jesmond Dene, round and back up.

Effectively did a 40 out and 40 back. Felt pretty sluggish if the truth be told and just got it done. Heart rate felt a bit higher than normal and a little dehydrated.

11 miles in 1hr 20mins with an average HR of 161bpm.

Weekly Totals

Running ~38 miles

Decent week ticking over and a nice strong 5k course PB at Newcastle parkrun.

Onto next week and another lactate threshold test and hope to get some fine tuning to my training for final preparations for a sub 17 5k and a debut 10k in April.

Sub 17 5k – Week 19 training diary

After the confidence boosting parkrun last week I was fired up for some good final training runs before turning my attention to the last cross country fixture of the season at Wrekenton.

I’ve had my best season yet, this being my 3rd full season. One last good performance would secure my first completed target of 2015 which was a Top 50 finish in the Individual Grand Prix. Going into the last race I was well within the top 30 although it’s always hard to tell how many runners could overtake. Also, Jesmond had a great chance of securing the Division 3 title. Plenty to look forward to.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

Problems with the heart rate monitor early on which is always a bit distracting but ended with 6.4 miles in 45 mins averaging 7.10/mile. Not much to report. Maybe a little tired from yesterdays long run but nothing major.

Plan – 45min Threshold

I decided to get back into the gym for a controlled effort on the treadmill. I was keen to make it a little bit more interesting and had the idea to do a 1 mile “on”, 1 mile “off” type session. The idea was to have the mile on at the top end of my threshold HR zone and the mile off at the bottom end.

I think it was a great session. The 1 mile on was averaging around 5.42/mile and the mile off just over 6 min miles. The great thing about the session was the top end miles were tough and therefore 6 min miling subsequently felt like a jog recovery comparatively which of course they weren’t (for me)

But for a confidence boost this session nailed it and there was a sense of achievement afterwards certainly.

7.7 miles were completed in the time at an average HR of 171bpm.

Plan – 50min recovery

This is always a tough run after 4 days of running but I did feel like I handled it better than usual and with much less fatigue towards the end of the run. A good sign then that my stamina is improving and I’m handling the mileage.

Problems with the HRM again but 7.1 miles averaging 7.05/mile.

Plan – 40min recovery

Coach switched the usual threshold to recovery to taper for the race on Saturday. Felt strong with 6.2 miles averaging 6.50/mile.

Was looking forward to a rest day and move focus to a good run on Saturday.

Plan – rest

Did as planned and just got mentally prepared for the race tomorrow.

Plan – North East Harrier League race #6

I was really looking forward to this race. I’d never really ran well at Wrekenton but deep down I knew the course suited me.

On the morning I had my usual meal at 10am which is now 100g of white rice and a tin of tomatoes! A tad strange some might say but works well. I was sick of porridge! I also decided to pack a flask with an espresso for 1hr before the race. I’d tried it last week at parkrun and I’d felt it had helped.

I got to the course early. It was still very cold but the course was in great condition with not much mud to speak of. I wanted to run hard and fast so I was pleased.

Walking the course I familiarised myself with the layout. It’s a good course. There are a few hills but plenty of chances to attack as well. I don’t know why but I felt excited and raring to go.

Coming to the start time I was focused. I’d decided to leave the Garmin and HRM at home. I just wanted to run, no distractions. No pre conceived ideas of what was too fast or too slow. Just run and race.

I had a loose plan to try to track the new Spaniard runner from Derwentside who had won the last race at Alnwick from slow pack but actually hadn’t finished with a time much faster than me from medium and I knew I was a little off in my performance. Chasing him would hopefully provide a challenge to perform. This was a plan formed on the line as I was stood next to him and seemed like a decent idea.

The gun went and the Spaniard flew off. He had about 10 yards on me coming to the first hill but I just kept eyes glued to his back. I would say this was my focus for the first 1.5 laps. It wasn’t until about lap 3 that I’d probably let him go. That didn’t concern me. I’d gotten into a decent battle with a Sunderland Harrier and there was a bit of ebb and flow there which was good.

I was conscious that I was making very good progress, working my way through the field. I felt like I never really let up until about half way through the last lap. I wanted to finish strongly and I probably just slowed a little to keep something in the tank for the last incline and then go full throttle to home.

I was really grateful to Dave Appleby of Tyne Bridge Harriers who gave me some great encouragement. I knew it was a good sign getting past Dave and he shouted “cracking run, fast pack run” or something along those lines. It galvanised a strong push for home.

Getting to the last two straight sections before the finish I was in a small group of 3 or 4. I felt like I was in a quality group. The Sunderland Harrier, a Gateshead Harrier and a Morpeth Harrier. They were all running strongly and I was getting pulled along. This is what its all about for me. Feeling like a proper runner. I had no idea what position I was fighting for…

Coming into the home straight I pushed past two of them and went full belt to the line. Weirdly crossing the line I didn’t have my usual struggle, heaving and gasping for air. I felt pretty good!

There was a great atmosphere post race. As a team we felt like we’d done enough to win Division 3. I’d finished first team counter which was nice and the 3rd time of the season I had done so.

I was a bit gutted not to have a beer but I was driving and we went over to the school for the team trophy celebration. It was confirmed that Jesmond had won Division 3. This was great news.


Getting my hands on the NEHL Division 3 trophy with Scott Armstrong

I also found out that I’d finished 28th in the race and qualified for fast pack for next season. I’m delighted. I have to make another step improvement to compete from fast pack but I’m ready for the challenge and feel like I have more to give. Really excited to get in even better shape to give it a shot.

I also finished the season in 29th place in the Individual Grand Prix which smashed my target of Top 50. Really pleased with that.

And, finally, to top it all off I was given male XC runner of the season for the club!

Plan – 45min recovery

Got out in the afternoon and felt really strong. Just enjoyed the run and thought a lot about what I’ve achieved this cross country season. Starting to dream about how much more I could improve and excited to see what I can do on the roads in the next few months.

6.5 miles in 45 minutes with an average HR of 155bpm.

Weekly Totals

Running ~40 miles

Delighted with another great week of training and racing. Off on another work trip next week so will look to tick over and look forward to a trip to see my coach the week after to see where I’m at and plan the road races over the coming months.

Sub 17 5k – Week 18 training diary

Starting to build back up after the last few lower weeks and was glad to have a week in the office at work so I could get back to a normal routine in training.

On reflection the run at Alnwick in the XC was ok but definitely not quite as strong as Bedewell Park so I was keen to get back to it.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

6.4 miles in 45mins with an average HR of 157bpm. Not much to report.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Decided to get back in the gym to see where I was at. These are always tough runs but definitely character building.

Ended up knocking out 7.45miles in 45mins with an average HR of 173bpm. I was happy to be able to crank up the pace and HR over the first 6 miles, eased off a little the 7th mile and then really went for it last half mile at 5.17/mile. HR crept a little into Tempo (>183bpm) but overall felt strong in the quicker zone. Feel in good shape.

Plan – 50min recovery

This is always a tough run but didn’t feel as tired as I have done in the past.

Ended up completing 6.9 miles in 50mins in a nice low end recovery HR of 153bpm.

Plan – 40min threshold

Was considering going back to the gym but then had the idea of parking next to the Town Moor and doing a session on the gravel track part of the parkrun course.

Got changed into my gear in the car and after a 5 minute warm up got into it. Almost immediately it was feeling testing, just a result of the loose gravel footing and the headwind – both of which you don’t experience in the gym! But mixing it up is good. That said I was quickly pleased it was only 40mins rather than 45!

Often just getting these runs done is enough for mental strength more than anything else. If you can tough out hard runs in training it translates into racing where you are trying for best ever performances. You don’t need best ever performances in training but you do need to complete them.

That I did and in the end completed 6.5 miles in 40mins at an average HR of 173bpm. Was really pleased to get that done.

Plan – rest

Plan – 45min Threshold

Decided on a trip to Riverside parkrun with Michael Hedley. I was a little concerned about the wind but knew it would be better at the Riverside than on the Town Moor at Newcastle parkrun.

What I wanted was a good hard run, at least trying to get to the top end of my threshold zone. I wasn’t really sure what time I had in me but I was hoping to put the first mile in at around 5.30 and see how I felt / where my heart rate was.

There seemed to be a bit of a buzz at the parkrun and there looked to be a few runners out for a hard run.

Got started and 2 lads flew off and I settled in around 4th. About quarter of a mile in I looked at the watch, I was averaging 5.20/mile and feeling good. Settled in and got the first mile under my belt in around 5.30.

Had a couple of runners on my shoulder so put in a decent effort for 1 to 2 minutes and dropped them. Felt great and moved into 3rd with the first two in sight, one of which was a strong looking Hedley. I didn’t really have much in mind, wasn’t thinking pbs or anything. I knew I was just operating at the top end of my threshold, nothing over the top.

Ticked off the 2nd mile pretty much identical to the first. This is where I typically fade but I noticed a quarter into the 3rd mile that I was maintaining pace. Around the same time I noticed the 2nd placed lad coming back to me so I had it in mind to aim for second.


A great workout at Riverside parkrun, 17.18 PB

Coming up to the last 400m I got on his shoulder and put in an effort past him. I heard him respond and he was blowing hard so I tried to kick on again whilst navigating around lapped runners. He was trying hard but staying on me. Unfortunately I didn’t have the fight and I eased off.

Coming into the finishing straight I’d lost concentration and that was disappointing. Anyway I picked up a little and finished in 17.18. That’s a huge parkrun pb, knocking 26s from my Newcastle parkrun pb.

Really chuffed and know I have a lot more to give.

Plan – 80min recovery

Didn’t sleep great but met Mr Hedley at 8.50am and planned on a 70 min run, maybe around 10 miles.

It ended up eventful. I struggled a little up some inclines and as the legs got heavier I managed to take would could have been a nasty trip and fall. As it happened I employed the action man roll and ended up with only cuts on my right arm and hand. I was straight back up and off again.

Got back round and up to home and completed 10.5 miles in 75 mins at an average HR of 155bpm.

Job done.

Weekly Totals

Running – 44.5 miles

Really pleased with how this week has gone and looking forward to taking it all into a big performance at the last XC fixture at Wrekenton. Beyond that I feel like I have the sub 17 5k in me with a proper race effort and it’ll be a case of dialling into that in April.

Sub 17 5k – Week 17 training diary

Again I write this sat on another flight for another business trip. I’d be lying if I said it isn’t impacting on my goal to run a sub 17 5k. My training has lost consistency over the last 3 weeks as I try to overcome a slight shin injury, travelling abroad 3 weeks in a row and generally not getting the training done.

That said I don’t feel out of shape and the goal posts don’t move, I still plan to run a sub 17 5k before the end of April.

With that in mind it’s planned that I will enter the Terry O’Gara 5k in Wallsend on 28th April. I ran the race a couple of years ago and I hope to put in a good performance if all goes to plan over the next few weeks and months.

Training Diary

Plan – 45mins recovery

Got back from a weekend in the Lakes late afternoon and wanted to get a good hour of exercise in.

Did my now usual 20min Bike warm up and then straight out for a 40 minute run. Didn’t plan to do anything daft and so it proved. I was surprised by the strength of the wind and also how cold it was.

About half way through, coming onto the Town Moor I put in a little Fartlek-esque effort for maybe 20-30 seconds, just to blow away some cobwebs more than anything.

Completed 5.8 miles in 40mins with an average HR of 158bpm.

Plan – 45mins recovery

Got up 6.30 to do some work and I then got to 45mins of exercise. I would have preferred an hour but time wasn’t on my side with work. So did a quick 10min warm up and then out for 35mins. Felt like the wind was even stronger (and colder) than yesterday. It certainly had an adverse impact on my pace and also pushed the heart rate higher than normal.

Completed 5.1 miles in 35mins with an average HR of 161bpm.

Flight to Athens – a while spent thinking about what I need to do to run sub 17, sub 5.30 miling. It’s mainly a matter of getting mentally prepared now. I know I have it in me. No excuses.

Plan – 40min recovery

Arrived in Athens 23.00 local time and set alarm for 06.00 (4am UK) to get 40mins run in. Couldn’t get up and pressed snooze a few times. Often it’s hard to persuade yourself that you WILL feel better after the run!

I was happy that I got down to the gym and again I was lucky to have a good quality bike and treadmill to use. The room was free so I felt happy to strip off down to my shorts as it was too hot. I sweated it out big style for 35mins with an average HR of 158.

Plan – 30min recovery

This time got up at 7am and no issues getting up and straight down to gym.

Had another 35mins recovery planned, just ticking over. As I approached 30mins I fancied putting 5 minutes effort in starting at 3.43/km and increasing the speed each minute. As I got into the final minute I was around 3.20/km and progressively increased to 3.04/km in the last 15-20 seconds.

Felt good and heart rate got up to 184bpm. Feel in decent shape to keep the good form going in the Cross country on Saturday despite falling off somewhat in the last few weeks. Shin is ok so its a case of recovering from this trip back home and staying well hydrated, rested and fed.

Plan – rest

Sticked to plan.

Plan – North East Harrier League XC – Alnwick

Despite falling off training for the last 3 weeks I still felt good and positive going into this fixture. I wanted to give it my all, both personally to keep pushing on in the Individual Grand Prix but also for my club as we have a great chance of winning Division 3 with two good performances.

Getting to the course it was apparent the ground was firm which is unusual for cross country in the North East of England. Actually, in hindsight, a little bit of mud probably would have suited me better as hard ground suits most runners but I’m probably more of a mud lark in comparison.

I felt fired up on the start line. For the first time I felt confident enough to get in the front row on the start line and push hard from the off. I decided to wear my heart rate monitor to gauge the effort and not fall off and get lazy. I wanted to push to 185bpm and keep it there. Push to 185bpm I did, getting up there around 3/4 through the first lap. Problem was I felt a little bit “blowy” as a result. I kept on a little bit coming into the second lap, steadied myself with some positive self talk but ultimately a bit of doubt crept in given the low mileage of late.

Having said that, I felt like I had made some good progress and had plenty to play for with two laps to go.

In these conditions Alnwick is by no means the toughest course but there are a few drags and there was some wind against at times.

Also, the sharp downhill at the end of each lap clearly suited others more than me and how I haven’t fallen over once in the 3 outings I’ve had here is beyond me.

Coming into the last lap I was trying to banish any negativity and focus on the task in hand. I thought about the Individual Grand Prix. My aim is a Top 50 place. I was currently in 15th. I knew this was a false position and I’ll be battling for my target and relying on others perhaps to not push me lower… It was enough to push on.

Coming through the forest I had club mate Michael Hedley coming past with some encouragement to pick off a Blyth runner about 50m ahead. Blyth are our main rivals for Division 3 and as it turned out the guy in question was there first counter. This was a great moment as I was just a little one paced at that point and I found a little. I was also pushed on by Stewy Bell driving past in his usual no holds barred style and I got in his slip stream and tried to go along for the ride.

Coming into the last downhill you are literally throwing yourself down, heaving but trying to keep some momentum into the finishing straight. I certainly felt like I finished strongly, taking one or two places.


Finishing straight at Alnwick

The result was 81st place (61st on Po10). I was 3rd counter for the club. Overall happy and Jesmond won the fixture and went top of Division 3. We are guaranteed promotion and have a strong claim on the title. On to Wrekenton for the last fixture in a few weeks time!

Plan – ???

Had a late night out so postponed anything until later in the day and got out for 40 minutes after 10 minutes spin on the Turbo Trainer. Felt fine overall and hope I can go into next week for some proper training leading into the next XC fixture. 5.8 miles in 40mins averaging 155bpm.

Weekly Totals

Running – ~32 miles
Turbo Trainer – ~40mins

Got to get back on it and push on now. Got to push myself hard.