Thursday, 24 May 2018

Did you know?

It seems as though everyone and particularly those with an interest in sport,  know that Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four minute mile.  Which is not surprising for such a mementos feat.  But, how many people are aware that just 23 days later, on 29th May 1954, Diane Leather of Birchfield Harriers became the first woman to run a mile in less than 5 minutes?

Her time of 4 minutes 59 seconds was not recognised as a world record (unlike Roger Bannisters sub 4) and is still not, but only as a world best. 

The reason being that the IAAF ratifies all world records in athletics and in 1954 did not recognise the mile as a distance for women (and did not do so until 1967).  In 1954 the longest internationally recognised distances for women were 800m and 880 yards.

This race at the Midlands Women's AAA Championships had not been Diane Leather's first attempt to break the 5 minute barrier.  In fact she had also attempted it 3 days earlier, on 26th May at Birmingham, where she narrowly missed out, with a time of 5.00.02.  There is a Pathe News film of this attempt which can be viewed here

I don't know about the race when Diane Leather ran the first sub 5 minute mile. But, it is interesting to note when watching the 'Pathe' footage that unlike Roger Bannisters sub 4, there were no pace-makers used and that she pulls away from the rest of the field midway through the race.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A Wolds record?




I'm heading back down to the Yorkshire Wolds again.  This year is the 34th running of this half marathon, which is held in conjunction with the Bishop Wilton Show. I first ran this race in 1987 and then every since 1990, making this my 29th (race was cancelled one year due to foot and mouth epidemic).  I am not sure if this a record number of times someone has ran this race as I believe there is one other person who may have ran it a similar number of times.

Either way this has definitely got to be one of my favourite races

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mirror Mirror - and Fangs for the memory

Lets face it there is just no fitness trend, superfood, supplement or single technical innovation that will halt age-related deterioration.  A fact that is hammered home each time I pull on my running shoes or look into the mirror.  Some would say that these are two activities that I perform too often.  Of course I dispute this, the latter, if I do over indulge is only because I don't recognise that old bloke looking back at me.

At one time turning 40 would be perceived as having one foot in the grave.  I remember receiving a birthday card that said 'Don't grow up - It's a trap'. A trap it maybe, but a trap that can be skirted, as most of these age related declines can be delayed and possibly reversed through regular intense exercise.

Although a study from the Office for National Statistics concluded that people aged 40 - 59 are the least happy and most anxious in society (they also concluded that this trend started to reverse as you entered your 60's - so I'm now obviously running that road to happiness). Countless studies have found that exercise can help to improve wellbeing.

And, according to Sport England the biggest increase in sports participation in the past decade has been among the 45 - 54 age group and running is up 97% among over 55's.

Whether these people are all new to sport or returning to sport following a lay off, as they have a little more leisure time perhaps (family grown up) or may have had a health scare, for example, is unclear. But the ranks of those of us that have tried to maintain our participation are definitely being added to by these 'new comers'

In his book 'Play On' Jeff Bercovici explores how aging athletes stay at the top of their sport, defying the perceived limits of age and points out that some professional athletes actually live longer than the general public.  Such as Tour de France cyclists having an average life span that is eight years longer than the norm.  The book claims that looking into the world of elite athletes is like looking into the future for the rest of us.  As the world of elite sports use tools and technology most of us have not even heard of yet.

Of course, getting older does mean that you have to adapt your training to suit and train as they say 'smarter' and Bruce Tulloh's book 'Running at 40, is worth a look at.  Although I haven't read it, I notice he also has a book 'How to avoid Dying - For as long as possible'.

Mind you in 'Play On'  Jeff Bercovici also looks at some of the more extreme things some  do to maintain longevity.  Such as soaking in hot red wine or drinking young blood!

So if you should see me attached to the neck of a young lady ..............

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


As a runner I would never consider myself to be 'a miler' (PB 4.44).  But the mile is an iconic distance and one I believe should be preserved and promoted  within athletics.

I have posted in the past regarding re-popularising the Mile.

 In America there is a national movement called Bring Back The Mile, whose aims are to inspire Americans to run the Mile as the premier event in the sport, increasing interest in and media coverage of the mile.

But, the Mile shouldn't just be for Americans and should be promoted throughout our sport.  I am not advocating that the Mile should replace the 1500m but compliment it.

And, now Sebastian Coe has suggested re-introducing the Mile back into the Commonwealth Games...... "to create and celebrate our own heritage, because often we have events that are the bedrock of our history".

Currently just a suggestion, you can give your views via Twitter using the hashtag #bringbackthemile and hopefully we will see the Mile being raced in Birmingham and even possibly a number of other high profile events along the way.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Stop - Let me off!

I just cannot seem to get off this round-about of injury and illness. 

Good Friday's Elswick Relays saw me race for the first time since last July.  I ran last leg for the Blaydon Veteran team and although my time of 15.20 for the 2.2 mile leg is not fantastic, I did thoroughly enjoy actually getting out there and doing it.

However, since then, an interval session on Tuesday evening has seen a reoccurrence of my hamstring problems and to make matters worse yet another heavy cold have both combined to curtail my mileage over the last week.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Still going - slowly but surely

It has been some time since I posted anything here mainly due to there being very little of interest to say.   I have not raced, due to a series of illness and injuries since July.  As a result, progress towards my target of reaching 100,000 miles before my 65th birthday have also taken a bit of a battering.  Although it is still achievable.

I am definitely running slower but at least I have managed this year to get in a reasonable 6 weeks of training and had planned to turn out at the last Harrier League Cross Country meeting of the season at Alnwick, last Saturday.  However the so called 'Beast from the East' had other ideas as it dumped tons of snow over the region, causing the race to be cancelled.

Although mileage was down last week I still managed to get out for a few runs in the snow

Future plans for the year include some of the usual races eg Blaydon Race and Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon.  But by way of a change I have entered, as part of a mixed pair team with my sister, the Endure 24 in Leeds at the end of June.  Which should be interesting!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Running behind bars

Last weeks Athletics Weekly reported prisoners participating in the first of the weekly parkrun events being held within HMP Haverigg a Category C prison in Cumberland.  The idea that sport (and voluntary roles involved in parkrun) positively impact upon inmates' physical and mental health, leading to self confidence, improved mood and stress reduction.  If Haverigg parkrun is a success then the initiative could be rolled out across the country.

Although this may be new to UK prisons, Oregon State Penitentiary in the US have ran (no pun intended) a monthly race series from March to October since the 1970's.  when American running legend Steve Prefontaine started coaching a group of inmates.  The series consists of seven 5K's and 10k's (run concurrently) and one half marathon.

These are both examples of organised events held with the specific purpose of aiding prisoner rehabilitation.  Delve a little deeper though and there are examples of individuals taking it upon themselves to run whilst being detained.

There is the case, for example, of Charlie Eagle who ran a solo ultra marathon of 217km (135 miles) within the prison walls of Berkley Federal Prison in West Virginia.

Even way back in the 19th Century, George Wilson (The Blackheath Pedestrian) whilst in Debtors Prison at Newgate Prison, Newcastle upon Tyne, successfully walked 50 miles in 12 hours over a tiny circuit within the gaol.
George Wilson
The Blackheath Pedestrian