It’ll all end in tears…

Howdie BRR, 

Some of you may have seen the news articles about parkrun numbers being down since events relaunched in the UK in July. Participation is currently 10-15% below pre-pandemic levels. HQ initially thought this was due to nervousness about Covid, but it appears that it is simply that people have got out of the habit of turning up at parkrun at 9.00am on a Saturday morning. This is not necessarily because they’ve stopped exercising; some may simply have got used to running on a different day or at a different time.

Looking at last Saturday’s parkrun stats (see below), it appears that BRR members have very quickly got back into the parkrun habit! If you are heading towards a parkrun milestone, please check out the reminder about milestone t-shirts. And also, please make sure that your parkrun profile lists Barking Road Runners as your running club. This will make it easier for Greg to pull together his newspaper report.  

BRR in Action (Greg Adams)

BRR Captain Rob Courtier travelled to Wiltshire to take part in the Hilly Helmet 4 mile off road challenge. The race, in aid of the brain tumour support charity, requires all the runners to wear a helmet and this year 185 competitors did so, raising over £4,000 for the charity. Rob said the course included a hill that made the infamous hill at Hadleigh Country Park look like a bump. Anyone who has done the Benfleet 15 or the Hadleigh  cross country races will know all about that hill.

Talking of Hadleigh, several BRR members competed in round four of the Essex summer cross country 10k series at the aforementioned Hadleigh Country Park. 

First finisher for BRR was Joyce Golder in a time of 1:01:35 followed by Martin Mason 1:12:59, Gary Harford 1:13:52, Les Jay 1:18:35, Alison Fryatt 1:19:18, Chris Anastasi 1:21:03, Mick Davison 1:23:04, Rob Courtier 1:30:59 and Dennis Spencer-Perkins 1:38:12.

There were plenty of BRR parkrunners this week, with 1st place for Paul Withyman at Valentines parkrun with 19:07. Debbie Coyle was 2nd lady at Raphaels park in 20:40. The full list of competitors was as follows:


Adrian Davison 22:01, Belinda Riches 24:11, Rabea Begum. 26:21, Sally Bridge 26:40, Stuart Burr 26:42, Andrew Hiller 27:14, Greg Adams 30:15, Barry Culling 34:08, Nikki Cranmer 34:36, Micky Ball 38:52 and Alan Murphy 50:40.

Chalkwell Beach

Ron Vialls 24:56.

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 30:42.


Rory Burr 24:38.


Joe Stacey 18:19.

Raphaels park

Debbie Coyle 20:40 and Paul Wyatt 20:47.


Antony Leckerman 23:14.

Valentines Park

Paul Withyman 19:07, Kevin Wotton 33:52, and Andrew Gwilliam 57:25.


Jason Li 29:06.

Athletics in the news

After the disappointment of our poor medal haul for track and field events at the Tokyo Olympics, it now looks like we might lose one of the medals we earned. Of course, everyone is innocent until definitely proven guilty, but the suspension of CJ Ujah – a member of our silver-medal winning 4x100m relay team – for testing positive for two banned muscle-building drugs can only be bad news for the sport. To make matters worse, if he is found guilty of the drug violation, the whole team will lose their medals, not just him. You have to feel for his team mates, who we can only assume are totally innocent parties in all this. Ujah has issued a statement saying:

“I am completely shocked and devastated by this news. To be absolutely clear, I am not a cheat and I have never and would never knowingly take a banned substance.

“I love my sport and I know my responsibilities both as an athlete and as a team-mate. I am respecting the formal processes and will not be making any further comment until it is appropriate to do so.”

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out but, if the whole relay team is stripped of their medals, he may not be on their Christmas card lists.

London Marathon Water Station

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered, or encouraged friends and family to volunteer, for the Mile 14 water station at this year’s London Marathon on 3 October. We need to provide up to 100 volunteers, so your support is much appreciated.

Anyone who has ever run a race will know the huge difference that the volunteers make. Our water station is at that tricky point before the Limehouse Link, just beyond half marathon distance when the runners realise the challenge they have taken on and really need the boost that our support, and the water, gives them. The volunteers, in return for their hard work, get to have a ringside view of al the elite athletes as they pass our station, and then as they double-back along the Highway, before the adrenaline of handing out tens of thousands of bottles of water at breakneck speed kicks when the mass start participants start to go past us. Oh, and this year we get a free packed lunch. Not sure what it will consist of, but I’m guessing it will include Buxton water…

The Marathon has extended the deadline for volunteers to 20 August so, if you or your nearest and dearest would still like to help out, please register at

parkrun Milestones

A couple of our members have just hit the ‘100’ parkrun milestone. So it’s timely to issue a reminder that, from 1 September, parkrun is introducing a charge for milestone t-shirts. At the moment in Britain, milestone t-shirts are free, with just £4.50 P&P to pay. From 1 September, they will cost £15, including P&P, to cover manufacture, storage, and global distribution. This brings Britain in line with the rest of the world, where participants already have to pay for their milestone t-shirts.

At the same time, parkrun is introducing some new milestones: for every existing walking, jogging, running milestone club there will now be a volunteering equivalent (e.g. jv10, v50, v100, v250, v500). Additionally there will be a new milestone club and t-shirt for walking, jogging, or running 25 parkruns (equivalent to the existing v25). children’s sizes are also being added to the 25, 50, 100 and 250 milestones.

Finally, parkrun is removing the limit of one of each t-shirt per person so, if you have lost, outgrown or worn out your old milestone t-shirt, you will be able to purchase a new one, via your parkrun profile (accessible via your parkrun results email). This new facility might not be in place for 1 September; watch this space for news.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 17 August – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. This week’s session will be: (75 seconds on, 25 seconds recovery) x 15. Easy! Followed by some – back by popular demand – relay races. As long as I remember to bring the batons…

6.45pm, Thursday 19 August – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub.

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

10.00am, 22 August – Clacton 10k/Half. Information and entry at The 10k course record time is 32:59, held by Paul Whittaker since 2016. Something for Jack Nixon to aim for!

10.30am, 30 August – Phipps (BRR August Bank Holiday) 5K. Runners and volunteers needed. If you want to run for the Club, it’s £5 – let Alison or Rob know before 27 August. DO NOT ENTER YOURSELF VIA ENTRY CENTRAL!!!

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

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 11 September – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. The last race in the series at Weald Country Park. Details at:

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

11.00am, Sunday 12 September – Ingatestone 5. A BRR favourite. Details and sign-up at

11.00am, Sunday, 19 September – Stansted 10k. A carry-over from the 2020 Grand Prix season that was not to be. The race starts in Stansted Mountfitchet and is described as having a ‘beautiful, challenging route, across normally inaccessible private land’. Sounds fun. £12 in advance/£15 on the day. Details and sign-up at

10.30am, Sunday 26 September – ELR Valentines 5k (and ELVIS). The last race in the ELVIS series, and the last chance to earn points for the internal Club competition too. Enter at

7.15pm, Thursday 28 October – BRR Annual General Meeting, Jo Richardson School. More details to follow. 

Running Hero – Michael Johnson

Better known nowadays for his athletics commentary on the BBC, four times Olympic gold medal-winner Michael Johnson certainly knows what he is talking about. Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Nicknamed ‘The Man with the Golden Shoes’, Michael Johnson was also given the title of ‘the world’s fastest man’, in the days before Usain Bolt.

Born in Dallas, USA, in 1967, Johnson began running at the age of 10 at the Skyline High School in Pleasant Grove, Dallas. Despite sometimes being ridiculed for “running funny”, he showed early promise by breaking the school records for the 200m run and the 4X400m relay. He went on to win several titles for indoor and outdoor sprints and relays at Baylor University.

In 1988, Johnson applied to enter the Olympics in Seoul but was unable to participate due to a stress fracture. He eventually made his Olympic debut in Barcelona in 1992, winning the 4x400m relay along with his teammates. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he became the first man in history to win the 200m and the 400m gold medals at a single Olympics, setting world record times in both events (19.32 in the 200m and 43.49 in the 400m). In Sidney 2000 he defended his 400m Olympic title, becoming the first athlete to capture two consecutive 400m gold medals, and also the oldest gold medallist at any track event which was shorter than 5000m in Olympic history. He was also part of the gold-medal winning 4x400m relay team but voluntarily returned his medal as he felt it was not a fair win as his team mates who ran the race with him took performance enhancing drugs.

He retired shortly after Sydney and successfully established himself as a performance coach and trainer, working with young Olympic athletes. In 2004, he was inducted into the ‘United States Track and Field Hall of Fame’. In 2012 he was a torch bearer in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics. He now commentates on athletics meets, and writes articles on athletics e.g. for the Daily Telegraph.

Principles of Sports Conditioning – Use and Disuse

The Principle of Use/Disuse could also be referred to as ‘use it or lose it’ – if you don’t maintain your fitness, you will eventually lose it. Muscles hypertrophy (e.g. muscle cells grow) with use and atrophy (waste away) with disuse. This explains why we decondition or lose fitness​ when we stop exercise.

When we stop exercising (also known as ‘detraining’), we generally begin to decondition and lose both strength and aerobic fitness. How quickly we lose it depends on several factors, including how old we are, how fit we are, how long we have been exercising, and how long we stop for.

Most of us need to stop exercising on occasion for example through illness, injury, holidays, work, travel, or social commitments. When this happens, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning.

Deconditioning in fit athletes generally does not appear to happen as quickly or drastically as in beginning exercisers. One study looked at well-conditioned adolescent athletes who had been training regularly for a year. After three weeks of detraining, researchers found that the athletes’ muscle strength and sport performance was not affected.

The outcome tends to be different for new exercisers. A 2001 study had sedentary individuals start a bicycle fitness programme for two months. During those eight weeks the exercisers made dramatic cardiovascular improvements and boosted their aerobic capacity substantially. At eight weeks, they quit exercising for the next two months. They were tested again and were found to have lost all of their aerobic gains and returned to their original fitness levels.

Evidence is more encouraging for athletes who need to reduce training due to time constraints, illness, or injury. A 2005 study followed sedentary men through three months of strength training, three times a week. They then cut back to one session per week. They found that these men maintained nearly all the strength gains they developed in the first three months.

There are many individual differences in detraining rates so it’s impossible to apply all of these study results to all athletes and those who are new to exercise. But it appears that if you maintain some higher intensity exercise (e.g. about 70% of your VO2 Max) at least once per week, you can maintain your fitness levels fairly well for the long-term.

Tips for Maintaining Fitness During Time Off

  • Don’t quit completely. Try to exercise at least once per week.
  • Cross train through injuries (cycling, swimming) – under the guidance of a physio if needs be.
  • Use circuit training for fast, high-intensity exercise two or three times a week.
  • When travelling, do bodyweight workouts (no equipment needed)
  • Remember that rest and recovery can be as important as training. Make the most of it as use the time to recover.
  • Add 30-second sprints to your routine for fast fitness.
  • Maintain endurance with shuttle runs (more on this next week).

Cracker Corner

Thanks to – or blame – Rob.

And finally…

It’s just not good enough. You spend £8.09p of hard-earned Club cash on 1,000 safety pins for our Bank Holiday race and you get a load of duds and dinky ones. If I spend 0.8p each on safety pins, I expect them to be of good quality. I’ve got a good mind to send them back to China and demand a refund…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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