Our age-grade champs

Howdie BRR,

It might have been a bit wet and windy, but it’s great that the mornings and evenings are getting lighter which, for a runner, means more hours of daylight for running! The floodlights at the track are being fixed, just in time for us not to need them. And more and more of us are having our Covid vaccinations – it was my turn on Saturday – so hopefully we are well on the way to returning to normal.

It’s good to talk…

I enjoyed last week’s lively discussion on WhatsApp, about what people should discuss on WhatsApp! It was good to see people expressing a range of opinions, and rather moving to see that the BRR WhatsApp group had provided a welcome distraction for some of you during the difficult times we’ve experienced over the past year. I suppose we all find it a bit annoying sometimes when the phone is pinging, or when you can’t find a message you are looking for. Thank you to Jason Li for his tip about using a key word to search for a particular message, and you can turn off the notification sounds if you don’t want to be disturbed. It’s also worth remembering that you can find old copies of the BRR Blog on the BRR website: http://www.barkingroadrunners.org.uk/. Just select ‘BRR news’, then ‘Latest Club News’ from the menu. And I’ve started updating the Club’s TeamUp site with details of upcoming runs/races too. You can access it at https://teamup.com/ks67p21gt8p5gzdo66

If you are having a long personal conversation – e.g. ‘Hi Rob, when shall I pick you up for your haemorrhoid clinic appointment? etc etc’ – you might prefer to send a personal message. And, of course, whatever you’re talking about, please have a thought to who else might be reading the messages and avoid anything offensive. Talking of which, my example about Rob was just that; an example: Rob hasn’t got haemorrhoids. Well, not that I know of, anyway.

BRR in Action

The Age Grade 5 seems have really caught your imaginations. Age grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your gender and age to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people’s performances even though they might be a different age. I used the age grading calculator on the Runbundle website but lots of different free age-grade calculators are available.

For those of you who have been following the Barking (not) parkrun results, it won’t be any surprise that Martin Page achieved the best age-graded result. Actual fastest five-mile runner, Jack Nixon, was second when his time was adjusted for age, followed by Ron Vialls and Joe Stacey. Debbie Coyle was the fastest woman, both based on her actual time and her age-graded time. Age-grading led to some interesting results further down the table, with everyone securing a better time when their performance was adjusted for age. Don’t worry, Martin and Debbie didn’t get trophies for the Age Grade 5 – the photos above are from newshound Greg’s image library.

Martin Page took first place at Virtual Park Run, finishing in 20:10, and Belinda Riches was first female in 23:42. Rory finished in 29:07 and Kresh Veerasamy ran for the dark side i.e. Dagenham 88, finishing in 40:29.

Martin’s VPR time earned him first place at Barking (not)parkrun, followed by Ron Vialls in 23:05, and Belinda Riches. Rob Courtier, Greg Adams and Alison Fryatt made up the BRR contingent. Well done to Belinda for getting so many members of her family involved in NPR: Lizzie, Robert, Darren, Denise, Evelyn and Peter.

BRR Diary

It looks like we could have some ‘real’ races in April. Pitsea Running Club has issued tentative dates for their Crown to Crown 5k series. And Adrian Frost, one of the Chingford League organisers, emailed today with tentative plans for two races: a 5k at Hog Hill on Easter Bank Holiday Monday, following the format of the race on 6 December e.g. different race slots for groups of clubs, pre-entry, wave starts, portaloos etc; and cross country relays in Eastbrookend Country Park on Saturday 17 April. We’ll let you know as soon as we get further details. In the meantime:

Every Tuesday @ 5.00pm until track reopens – last few chances to join in Debbie’s fitness session on Instagram (search ComradesinCoaching).

15 March to Midnight 20 March – Winter Handicap #04. The competition is hotting up, but it’s still all to play for. The handicap results take a while to calculate, so note that the deadline is strictly applied.

22 March to Midnight 27 March – The Fabulous Thirty. How far can you run in 30 minutes? Half the time of the Hour Challenge, so you should be able to really put your foot – or feet, preferably – down.

29 March to Midnight 3 April – Winter Handicap #05.

Tuesday 30 March – Track night. Oh yes, we’re back at track and it’s the mile time trial. For those of you who haven’t had a track to run on over the last few months, it will be interesting to see how your times compare. If you can’t make track, post your time on the 5k handicap/race results thread and I’ll include it in the blog.

Further Ahead

11:00am, 2 April – Crown to Crown 5K. Westley Heights Country Park, Basildon, SS16 5LT. Fingers crossed this ‘real’ event can go ahead, depending on the Covid restrictions in place at the time. Entry is a couple of quid.

5 April – Hog Hill 5k. Chingford League. Details TBC. The Club pays the entrance fee for Chingford League races, so there is no charge for members on the day.

5 April to Noon 11 April – Age-Graded 10k.  You’ve done the age-graded 5, now let’s see how you get on over 6.2 miles. I’m allowing half a day extra as some of you do your long run on a Sunday morning.

12 April to Midnight 17 April – Winter Handicap #06.

17 April – XC relays. Chingford League. TBC

26 April to Midnight 1 May – Winter Handicap #07.

7.30pm, Wednesday 12 May – Crown to Crown.

22/23 May Great Baddow Virtual 10. There is a charge to enter this race, but the proceeds go to charity. This might be part of the Grand Prix season…

31 May (real) OR 29 May to 6 June (virtual) – The Vitality 10k. There is also a charge to enter this race, slightly less if you go for the virtual option.

Running Shoe Trivia

This is an early advert for which running shoe brand? If you look carefully, there’s a bit of a clue.

Answer at the bottom of the blog.

Cracker Corner

Where do fish keep their money? In riverbanks.

Les went to the doctors in the week and told the doctor that he’d been feeling like a dog. The doctor said ‘jump up on the couch’. “I can’t” Les replied “I’m not allowed on the sofa”.

Les ran past a white horse at Hainaut yesterday and asked to him “do you know there’s a pub named after you?” The horse replied “What, Neddy?”.

Boom! Boom!

Running Form – Arm Swing

Proper arm swing is incredibly important when it comes to running. Arm swing helps to stabilise and balance your body, dictate your pace and overall rhythm when running. Don’t believe your arm swing impacts on your running? Try running with your arms straight down by your sides. Or try sprinting on the spot but keep your arms swinging at a slow pace. Then try running slow while pumping your arms really fast – your leg turnover will automatically speed up.

Here are some tips for improving your arm swing technique:

  • Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle – this means they have less distance to travel every time you swing your arm. This saves valuable energy.
  • Don’t let your arms swing across your body – this just dissipates your energy sideways. Try not to swing your arms past your tummy button.
  • Swing your arms backwards, not outwards – think of your arms as pistons on an old steam engine. The backward stroke drives your body forwards.
  • Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed. This will reduce tension and make your running more fluid. The tip to avoid clenching your fists is to loosely cup your hands and imagine you are holding a butterfly (or a potato crisp, if you are food-motivated) between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Avoid over-swinging – if you swing your arm too far forwards you increase the risk of over-striding.

10 Reasons your Neck and Shoulders Hurt While Running

No. 2 – You jut your head forward

Weak posture in your seat at work or at home will often translate to weak posture on your runs. One of the most common weak posture positions, especially if you’re sitting in front of a PC, is head forward, chin down, and back arched. If you go from a 7- to 12-hour day at work in that position immediately into a run, it’s not uncommon to continue to move with that same weak posture. Instead, try running with a “neutral neck,” which is a neck with natural flexion (head tilted slightly down), eyes looking ahead of you rather than at the ground,  and shoulders pressed down, not up around your ears.

And finally…

The Runbundle website is well worth a look, if you have a spare minute. There are lots of different run-related calculators for you to play with. The weight versus pace calculator is interesting: if you enter your current weight and time for a particular distance it tells you how much slower or faster you could run that distance if you weighed more or less. Apparently, if I weighed 5 kilos less, I could run 5k about 2 minutes faster. On that basis, if I lost three stone, I could almost get a decent 5k time. If only I didn’t enjoy food so much…

Happy Running


BRR Chair

Trivia answer: Bruxshu became…Brooks!

Brooks started in 1914 with a small factory in Philadelphia making ballet slippers and bathing shoes. They spent the next few decades making any type of footwear that would keep the factory busy, from football boots to roller skates. It wasn’t until 1972, when Frank Shorter wore a pair of Brooks shoes to win the marathon at the Munich Olympics, that Brooks decided to focus on running shoes. With that new focus came many different shoes and design innovations including the kinetic wedge, diagonal rollbar and hydraulic shock absorbers, culminating in 1999 with the launch of one of Brooks’ all-time best sellers: the Adrenaline GTS. And what does ‘GTS’ stand for? Go To Shoe!


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