Howdie Road Runners

Freedom Day has arrived. Do you feel free-er? Personally, I’m hoping I am not free to catch covid-19 after managing to avoid it for about 18 months! On a positive note, it will be good to see races returning to normal. I know some people haven’t enjoyed the need for staggered starts and restrictions on the number of spectators, though it was quite good to be able to turn up and start running straight away at the 10k XC races that some of us have done, especially on the days when it was pouring with rain. Whatever you do or don’t do with your ‘freedom’, spare a thought for Boris Johnson having to self-isolate at Chequers, the country retreat for prime ministers since just after the First World War; it must be terrible being stuck in a sixteenth century manor house set in 1,500 acres of lawns with its own indoor heated swimming pool and tennis courts…

Athletics in the News

Not surprisingly, there was a large field of home at the Diamond League meeting in London/Gateshead on 13 July.

In the men’s 100m, CJ Ujah was 2nd in 10;10 with Zharnel Hughes 3rd in 10:13. Andrew Butchardt was 3rd in the 3k in 7:35.18, after surviving criticism for suggesting fiddling covid tests on social media. Andrew Pozzi was 3rd in the 110m hurdles in 13.45. Elliot Giles, he of the interestingly shaped-buttock, won the mile race in 3:52.49. Our men’s team also won the 4x100m relay, despite having only one week’s practice. For the women, Jodie Williams came 2nd in both the 200m (22.60) and the 400m (50.94). Kate Snowden won the mile race in 4:28.04. Cindy Semper was 1st in the 100m hurdles in 12.69. Holly Bradshaw was 2nd in the pole vault, jumping 4.71m. The women’s team was 2nd in the 4x100m relays. There were a few other races where the Brits fared well, but mostly because almost the whole field were British!

BRR in Action

Handicap #07, the last in the summer 5k series, was a close race with Emma Botterill, Joyce Golder and Jason Li all with a very good chance of winning overall.

1st place on the night went to Daniel Plawiak finishing in 39:43 (actual time 22:12), 17 seconds inside his handicap followed Emma Botterill in 39:54 (actual time 28:23), 6 seconds inside her handicap. With Joyce finishing 5th (25:59) and Jason 6th (26:05) this left Joyce and Emma tied for 1st place in the overall series with 492 points and Jason 3rd on 487. All the runners enjoyed the series and are already looking forward to the next one. If you missed the excitement of the last race, check out Shahzad’s videos at and

John George was BRR’s only representative in the 1st race of Orion Harriers Forest Five miles three race series. John finished an impressive 46th in a very good time of 39:37 which is even better considering John took a detour, increasing the distance he ran.

Trevor Cooper competed in the Ironbourne middle distance triathlon finishing his 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run in a total time of 5:55:01

BRR had the top three at Barking (not)parkrun yet again, with Ron Vialls finishing in 23:36, Belinda Riches in 24:18, and Jason Li in 26:03. Emma Botterill (28:22), Alison Fryatt (32:20) and Greg Adams (35:37) also ran.

It was the 70th and last Virtual Park Run on Saturday, and congratulations go to Rory Burr who was 2nd overall in 23:45, and Belinda who was 3rd overall, and 1st woman in 24:18.

BRR Diary

REMINDER: there will be no track on Tuesday 20 July due to the clash with the Havering ‘90 5-mile ELVIS race.

7.30pm, Tuesday 20 July – Havering ’90 Joggers Midweek 5 (miles) – ELVIS #03. Raphael’s Park, at the back near the tennis courts. Remember it’s 5 miles not 5k! We have 16 people taking part so far, Entry closes on the 19th, if any places are left.

6.45pm, Thursday 22 July – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House.

9.00am, Saturday 24 July – parkrun. Yes, I think it’s safe to say it now, parkrun is back in England. If you are planning on parkrun tourism, do check that the parkrun you are interested in is taking place.

7.30pm, 28 July – Ilford Athletics Club Newman Hilly 5 – ELVIS #04. A trail 5-miler through Hainault Forest. We have 20 people entered so far. Details and sign-up at

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 14 August – Essex Cross Country 10k Series, Hadleigh. Hills, hills and more hills! I expect we will find somewhere for tea/lunch and chat afterwards. Details at:

10.00am, Saturday 21 August – Orion Forest Five #02 (and ELVIS #05).

9.30am, 22 August – Clacton 10k/Half. Information and entry at

10.30am, 30 August – Phipps (BRR August Bank Holiday) 5K – ELVIS #06. We’ll need some runners to make up our male and female teams. Entry for BRR members is half price (£5) to cover the cost of the chip timing – please talk to Alison or Rob if you want to run – DON’T ENTER VIA ENTRYCENTRAL!! We’ll also need lots of volunteers (from 9.15am) to make the race a success – again, please let Rob or Alison know if you can help out.

10.00am, Saturday 4 September – Orion Forest Five #03.

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 11 September – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. Weald Country Park. Details at:

8.30am onwards, Sunday 12 September – Havering Mind Half Marathon & 10K. Details at

11.00am, Sunday, 19 September – Stansted 10k. £12 in advance/£15 on the day. Details and sign-up at

11.00am, Sunday 12 September – Ingatestone 5. Some of you may have had entries carried over from last year. If not, this is a lovely race to do, usually with quite a small field so chances of trophies if you are speedy. Details and sign-up at

Club Kit

A reminder that you can order club kit from The link is also available on the Barking Road Runners website, under the ‘resources’ tab.

Summer Salads

Last week I wrote about the importance of good nutrition for runners, so how about some simple but healthy summer salads?

Green beans, fennel, feta and almond salad

Green beans are a rich source of fibre and vitamin C, but also provide high levels of vitamin K and silicone, which keep your bones, skin and hair healthy – for those of you who have hair…

Finely slice a fennel bulb, steam a similar weight of green beans, and toast a generous handful of sliced almonds. Combine these in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Crumble a little – well, I’d say a lot! – feta cheese over the top and garnish with some finely chopped mint for a zinging crunchy salad. Nice stuffed in a pitta bread.

Herbed couscous with courgette and halloumi

Courgettes contain all sorts of goodness, including vitamin C and potassium, which is good for blood pressure.

Cut the courgettes into discs and grill them in a griddle pan with a light brushing of olive oil. Toss them into the couscous with big handfuls of basil, mint or coriander or a combination of all three. Add a generous slug of olive oil, salt and pepper and, just before serving, grill the sliced halloumi – it’s much better eaten warm – and toss this in.

Summer panzanella

If you have forgiven them by now, follow the Italian way and transform old bread into a delicious ‘panzanella’ – a rustic bread and tomato salad. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. Old baguettes, sourdough and ciabattas are best for this, but you can use any bread.

Cut it into bite-sized chunks and thoroughly soak them in olive oil before frying them to a deep golden brown. Meanwhile roughly chop at least twice as many tomatoes as there is bread, finely slice a red onion and a clove of garlic and mix them in with the bread. Add two tablespoons of vinegar, twice as much virgin olive oil, season, garnish with basil and serve.

Running Hero – Florence Griffith-Joyner

A controversial hero this week. The achievements of US athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner – Flo-Jo – remain mired in controversy years after her untimely death. But what was her story?

Griffith-Joyner was born and raised in California. She was athletic from a young age and began running track meets as a child. Moving on to university, she continued to compete in track and field, qualifying for the 100m in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, although she did not actually compete due to the US boycott. She made her actual Olympic debut four years later, winning a silver medal in the 200m at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Flo-Jo faded from the track scene shortly afterward, working in a bank and designing clothes, but she returned for the 1987 World Championships and earned another silver medal in the 200m while also helping the US 400 relay to the gold. In the same year Griffith married 1984 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner, whom Griffith had first met at the 1980 Olympic Trials. The marriage led to her popular nickname, Flo-Jo.

At the 1988 Olympic trials, Griffith set a new world record time of 10.49 in the 100m. There was already unsupported speculation that Griffith-Joyner was using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Despite passing her substance tests, many critics believed she had been taking performance enhancers due to the huge improvement in her run times and how much muscle she had grown in a short amount of time.

At the same time, though, she was being lauded for her fashion on and off the track right down to her long and perfectly maintained fingernails – the sort of glamour we take for granted with female athletes now – and Flo-Jo was equally polished in the interview room, making her a popular media figure.

When the track competition at the Seoul Olympics began in late September, she found yet another gear. Her 10.54 in the final of the 100m was wind-aided, making the time plausible. She went on to win gold in the 200m and a gold and silver in relays (4x100m and 4x400m respectively).

The suspicions resurfaced about the possible use of PEDs, but Florence Griffith-Joyner had two important plusses on her side in Seoul: all of her testing samples came back clean, but men’s 100m winner Ben Johnson’s urine tested positive for stanozolol, a steroid. The disgraced Canadian sprinter became the story of the Games, deflecting potential criticism away from Flo-Jo.

That’s said, she was unable to cash in on endorsements the way a triple gold medalist could normally have expected. Suspicions that Ben Johnson might not have been the only cheater in a sport that already had a reputation for PEDs limited endorsements at home for a number of stars, including Carl Lewis.

Joyner retired in her prime in February 1989 amid the speculation, citing lucrative promotional opportunities in Japan and a desire to start a family. She made a few comebacks in subsequent years but mostly stayed out of the spotlight other than a few small acting roles and gave birth to a daughter in November 1990.

An allegation by former teammate Darrell Robinson in 1989 that Flo-Jo had used Human Growth Hormone was widely reported but never collaborated. Robinson made claims about steroids use by other high-profile athletes, none of whom were known to have tested positive.

Griffith-Joyner died in her sleep in Mission Viejo, California in 1998, at the age of 38. The Orange County Coroner’s Office ruled the cause of death to be suffocation during an epileptic seizure. The autopsy uncovered a congenital vascular brain abnormality that was believed to be connected to seizures she began experiencing in 1990.

After her death, President Bill Clinton said “We were dazzled by her speed, humbled by her talent and captivated by her style”. He could also have said that the world was divided by her accomplishments, and whether they were legitimately won.

Florence Griffith-Joyner

21 December 1959 – 21 September 1998

Principles of Sports Conditioning – Specificity

The principle of specificity states that training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which the individual is training in order to produce the desired effect. Essentially, specificity training means that you must perform the skill in order to get better at it or, as the old saying goes “practice makes perfect.”

But most sports training needs to start from a good base level of fitness. So, your training should begin with general condition. For a runner, this would mean developing aerobic fitness and strength. Then, if you want to excel in your sport, you can then progress with the specific training to help you reach your goal.

The primary goal of specificity of training is to condition the muscles that will be used in the target activity. Over time, you develop muscle memory for specific actions so you can perform them without having to concentrate on them.

So, to be a good cyclist, you must cycle. A runner should train by running, and a swimmer should train by swimming. And within your specific sport, your training would concentrate on the skills needed for your specific goal: if you are training for a marathon, your training will focus on long runs, while if you are training for sprint distances, you will focus on explosive power out of the blocks. you also want to train under conditions that will mimic the race itself. This includes training in the same sort of terrain with hills, pavement, and weather conditions to build up to the distance and pace required.

While you could simply run on a treadmill, that would not prepare you mentally and physically for the varied conditions you will find in a road race.

But that doesn’t mean that you should stop doing the general conditioning training. A well-designed training programme does not neglect aspects of fitness that aren’t specific to a sport. You still need to maintain overall fitness and balance the development of opposing muscle groups.

If you focus only on drills and skills specific to running, you may end up unbalanced. This may inhibit your athletic ability and performance in the long run, and leave you open to injury.

Cracker Corner – the Gym Edition

  • I called my local gym and asked if they could teach me gymnastics.
    They asked, “How flexible are you?”
    I said, “Well, I can’t make Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
  • A peephole was found in the gym changing rooms. The police are looking into it.
  • I once knocked a man off his bike…I’ve since been banned from that gym.

And finally…

Typical men: Dennis and Jason were boasting about their teeny-weeny sunflower. Now, my sunflower is worth boasting about. However, it has been taking performance enhancing drugs…

Happy Running



BRR Chair



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