Wednesday, 30 June 2010

An Honest Man Amongst Thieves

The recently instated Chancellor of the Exchequer settled on a new measurement basis for inflation electing to use the consumer price index as opposed to the retail price index. Leaving the accuracy debate aside one surmises the primary reason for doing so was because the CPI inflation figure was lower thus increasing his fiscal options.

I suspect if the Chancellor had been aware of a 3rd index he wouldn't have touched it with a barge pole - given its rampant hyper-inflation. I refer to the WPI or Watford Performance Index, which has echoes of the floundering deutschmark of the mid 1940's.

The principle of an open graded meeting is that runners submit a seed time from which they are organised into races within ability bands. Not having run a 1500m this season in anger I submitted what I felt was a reasonable seed time of 4:05. Quite conservative considering my 800m time projection, but then I've never been a stamina laden runner. There were a number of runners in my race who had put down 4:04 as their seed time.

My race tactics were to stay within kicking distance of the leader whilst trying to hug the inside - a sensible tactic anyway and also to give me experience in a large group of elbows, knees and spikes. I went through the first lap in about 69 /70 which was much too slow, at which point a desperate runner shot to the front to increase the tempo. I must admit I felt pretty comfortable all the way round and at the bell was creeping up behind the leaders on the inside with frequent looks over my shoulder to prevent being boxed in before kicking clear 200m out.

Considering the low-key nature of the meet the back straight was actually fairly noisy. When I kicked clear of the other runners and hit the final straight I was met with an eerie silence, to which my initial reaction was - shit, I've gone a lap too early! I hadn't of course, but I still harbour some paranoia born from losing a lot of money on a steeplechaser at Fontwell Park when his jockey rode a finish a circuit too early (the fuckin' plum).

I came home clear in 4:07.24 which, although not a sensational time, was a PB and achieved with a first lap of 70 and a final lap of 62. I was very pleased with my race execution and there's a lot more to come I'm sure.

You will note I was still 2 seconds outside my seed time but the rest of the field were still miles behind making a bit of a mockery of the seeding process. The Chancellor wouldn't be pleased and I'm left looking like one of those dickheads who seeds a soft time so he can win the race easily.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Nothing to Say, Can You Tell?

It's finally racing season and I'm largely in one piece. Stiff back, sore right hamstring, sore knees, achilles tendonitis on the left and morton's neuroma on the right foot that can't quite make up its mind. I see the physio on thursday so hopefully I will get some answers there (and "you're too fuckin' old" not being one of them).

Had a good week of training last week, completing all of my workouts fairly efficiently. I'm still not entirely sure whether my attempts at improving speed has been a case of a too little, too late. At the very least a few 400m pace sessions and some block practise (where, for an instant, I thought I'd followed through) should enable me to reduce the 400m time further.

I'm competing at the Watford open meeting on Wednesday night in the 1500m and it looks like the second British Athletics League meeting on Saturday will see me doing treble duty again in the 800m, 400m and 400m relay. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Final Week....

This season was organised into 3 distinct phases. A base period of 27 weeks, a pre-competition period of 10 weeks and a competition period of up to 10 weeks. The latter begins a week tomorrow and principally consists of racing, recovery and race practice workouts where there is a long gap between races. That means this week is the final week of hard training in the pre-competition period. Overall volume is between that of the base and competition periods but intensity is – particularly as I’m an old fucker at the point where managing stairs is uncomfortable and I’ve been kicked out of the St. Neots Morris Dancing team for failing their physical.

So, what better time to share the schedule – where the workouts are a bit more interesting and the training shows me in an admirable light. Without further ado:

M: a.m. 3m easy;

p.m. 9m inc. 2 * (1200 @5k pace, 800@ 3k pace, 400 @1500m pace w / 2:00 jog rec) and 400m easy || 1m @ tempo || 400m easy between sets;

eve. Lower body weights

T: 4m recovery;

p.m. core / alignment drills

W: a.m. 3m easy

p.m. 6.5m inc. Drills, strides, 3 * 300m @ 400m pace w / 6:00 rec; block start practice

eve. Lower + upper body weights

T: a.m. 12m easy

p.m. core


S: a.m. 3m easy

p.m. 7m inc drills, strides, 2 * (4 * 200m @800m pace w / 20 seconds standing rest); 8:00 between sets followed by 4 * 30m flyins. Upper body weights.

S: a.m. 4m recovery.

p.m. xt, core.

Let's hope everything holds up as it would be a shame to finally fall apart properly without even reaching the racing phase.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Blue Stickers in Budapest

At the very real risk of sounding like a really sad bastard I was secretly quite pleased to see our club's masters record board updated with my 400 and 800m times. Not sure if it's deliberate but the new records go up on garish blue stickers against the normal white background. So many things are now "hidden" on-line these days that it means a little bit more seeing it up in print.

It reminds me of the use of blue plasters for people in the catering trade. Through ignorance I once ate one amongst my chips. It was subsequently revealed that one of the dinner ladies suffered from chronic warts (fingers, not vagina....I hope), although I'm sure the two are unrelated.

The start lists for the European Championships have been released. Links as follows:

800m here.

1500m here.

I only ever had 2 concerns about the event - both relating to its legitimacy. The first concern would be a very weak field where the affair would be open to criticisms of being the fat old cripples championships. The second would be there being so few entrants that we'd end up with a 6 man final and no heats. As it happens there appears to be a decent field and the likelihood of semis in both. Granted it's not elite by open standards and nobody's under any illusions in that regard, but I think the entries are sufficient to ensure quality racing.

A quick glance at the seed times suggest that I may be in danger of a slight arse-kicking in the 1500m, but that I have a good chance of medalling in the 800m. The former is not altogether surprising (although by no means inevitable) but that only serves to harden my determination to do the business in the 800m.

I ordered my GB kit the other day, only 26 days before I fly out.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Limo to the BMC

Saturday's masterclass wasn't quite what I expected. My day off (in my mind involving finding out about the Kenyans training philosophy while shining a seat with my arse) turned out to be an hour's workout with plenty of striding and some extremely light track work.

Our group was lead by Benjamin Limo (2005 World 5000m champion) and Duncan Kibet (2:04.27 marathoner). Running with them reminded me of the days spent on Britain's racecourses. Like their 4 legged thoroughbred equivalents, at their slow paces they looked positively ungainly at times, but when they stretch out they suddenly become incredibly smooth. I wonder what they made of me, who looks reasonably smooth at a slow pace and then turns into an epileptic combine harvester at race pace.

There was time for a few questions afterwards, but insufficient to really appreciate Benjamin Limo's true philosophy on training. One thing he was quite insistent upon was the use of weights for middle distance runners. Pointing out that Kenyans aren't known for using weights, not through choice but simply because they don't have the facilities. Perhaps food for thought when considering that at distance events which typically require strength the Kenyans are far less dominant that they are at the longer events where the power component is more or less absent. Let's hope Gold's Gym don't invest in the Rift Valley any time soon.

In the evening I popped down to the BMC Grand Prix at Watford - also known as "the activity that keeps me out of the pub". I think the BMC races are a great idea - extremely competitive fields, seeded by time, with a pacer whose lap split is published in advance. A great idea on paper until you actually do the sums. In one 800m race the pacer was due to hit 400m in 52 seconds despite none of the field having broken 1:50 yet during the season and, in a 1500m, the pacer due to hit 800m in 2:04 despite none of the field having broken 4:00. Couldn't quite work all that out.

Anyway I'd better be nice as I've entered the next Grand Prix in Solihull although my entry is currently deferred as I'm not a member. You need a PB of 1:55 or better to join the BMC so, although my SB should be good enough in comparison to other entrants, I may lose out to actual members. Fair's fair of course, but it's the BMC races which are typically best for breaking 1:55. Not quite a catch-22 though and hopefully I can outkick such technicalities in my next race anyway.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Fuck The World Cup, Here Come The Kenyans

Our economy is in crisis so it's fortuitous timing that we have just recently exported a host of very expensive cretins which should do wonders for the country's balance of payments and whose absence also serves to raise the collective IQ domestically. Unfortunately we will have to take them back soon enough, but they'll probably be worth less by that time.

I refer of course to the World Cup. It depresses me that professional footballers, the significant majority of whom are vacuous morons (for those players reading that doesn't refer to your hoover), are perceived by the world at large as representative of England as a whole. Less depressing though than the fact it's probably true.

I loathe the World Cup and everything about it. It's a good job I don't have a television as it means I may be able to largely avoid the thing altogether. I'll have to don the ipod so I can equally be ignorant to the armchair pundits near the fruit and veg at Tesco and I'll just pretend the flags are advertising a re-enactment of St. George and the Dragon using extra long baguettes and a Ryvita as a shield.

What's worse I wonder, the true peasant hardcore followers or the middle classes who affect jingositic blokeishness for a month every four years.

In the midst of the holocaust of vapid WC promotion I am betting that very few people are aware that the following collection of World and Olympic gold medallists and record holders will be at Bedford Athletic Club all week: Paul Tergat, Wilfrid Bungei, Catherine Ndereba, Samuel Wanjiru, Duncan Kibet and Benjamin Limo. Quite amazing, and they won't just be being rude to young kids either (ala Kenny Dalglish signing lampshades in the local co-op back in 1982).

The full schedule is here:

I'm not the type to salivate over (and no doubt irritate) famous people as pride disallows it but I will certainly be taking advantage of Saturday's endurance running masterclass. Let's hope we're not really British about it and that people actually turn up rather than watching football highlights.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Smug Shit Incorporated

There are PBs and there are PBs....and there are PBs. More precisely.....

The Wanks - most runners have a collection of awful PBs whose pathetic existence is attributable to the fact a distance is rarely raced, e.g. my half marathon time. The goal being to eliminate them to avoid the sheepish admittance of mediocrity when asked.

The Nostalgias - all but the youngest will also have a couple of untouchable PBs which, due to age or changing focus (or perhaps increased drug testing), will never be broken again such as my long jump or 100m time. The goal of these is to reflect on "how amazing I was", often knocking a chunk off your actual time in the telling. (Ah, the glory of a non-internet age).

The Fair Games - there are the PBs that you are neither ashamed of, nor incapable of and which form the basis of your existence. Blog rules state that when you knock one of those on your head you are allowed to gloat and also slip them into conversations as I did yesterday (although only when they naturally crop up):

Tescos Assistant: "Hello, do you have a club card?"
Me: "Did you say PB?"
Tescos Assistant: "What? I said clubcard"
Me: "Ah, yes. Sorry, I thought you were asking about the PB I broke today, knocking off over half a second my previous best."
Tescos Assistant: "That will be £3.50 please".

Bedford had the season's first BAL (British Athletics League) meet on Saturday down in Ashford, Kent. Conditions weren't ideal for me as I don't breathe very well in hot and humid weather - but on the flipside I was fairly well rested, nothing hurt and there was little wind. The trip down was far from ideal taking 3 and a half hours due to the Dartford Crossing travesty. A larger, more unjust toll booth operation I can't think of since the Japanese charged allied prisoners half their packed lunch to cross the River Kwai.

I'll also admit to considerable nerves heightened by the fact the A race was won in 1:53.00. The race itself went well, we proceeded spread out and in single file and I hung off the leaders for the first 300m before moving into third in the home straight. Once again I gave the leaders too much rope, but had got into a reasonable second down the far straight. Although a fair bit back I was pretty confident from 200m out as my legs felt great. As I closed up round the bend I knew my kick would be enough and I came home a second clear to knock over half a second off my 2001 PB to win in 1:56.03. Considering I could have gone for home earlier, the conditions and the fact I negative split (59.6 / 56.4) rather than the advised positive split I was delighted.

Beating one of your better PBs from years ago always feels as though you're regaining a bit of your youth. If I carry on like this I will be getting my star wars figures out of the loft.

Once again I got the 400m wrong - this time going out far too slowly. On the bright side I got the best position I was capable of (3rd, B string) and ran a better time of 51.47. It's still unacceptably slow but I have reasons to believe there is a lot more to come. I was feeling a bit sick by the relay where we did all we could but came 5th.

Considering 95% of the words that leave my mouth are aimed at complaining at something I'll hope you forgive my indulgence in this post for what many would regard as a very average time. No doubt the bitter old man will return shortly and normal business will be resumed.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Dead Start To Walk in Their Masquerade

During a couple of fairly intense track sessions recently I've noticed that my arms seem to be failing well before my legs. The nature of the workouts means considerable lactic acid - but it seems to flood my upper body before my legs. I start to look and feel like a confused extra in a Michael Jackson video. It's a most uncomfortable sensation and I now know how frustrating it must have been to be Tyrannosaurus Rex, although at least he had a tail as a stabilising influence and impressive teeth. More seriously, the issue has impaired my performance in these workouts considerably, so it's time to add to my gym routine.

I'll be hoping old rigor mortis arms doesn't make an appearance on Saturday in our first British Athletics League meet where I'm running the 800m, 400m and 400m relay.

It's with great concern that I report that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be operating an ice-cream van locally. I always make a point of checking my witch's hat for the smell of almonds but he appears to be out of cyanide. Surprisingly, he seems like a genuinely nice bloke and always laughs at my terrorist jokes - a top class spy operative if ever there was one.

Finally, I originally missed the news regarding the death of Ronnie James Dio. Every now and again someone famous but actually worthwhile dies. I still retain a vivid memories of the first notes of Night People as I left Woolworths as a 15 year old. Very few artists release 3 classic albums, even rarer to do so with different bands. Check out 'Rainbow - Rising', 'Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell' & 'Dio - Holy Diver'.