The gang at CX03

Howdie Road Runners!

This week’s blog has a bit of a track focus, looking at the future of running tracks, and also the benefit of doing speedwork/interval training on the track. Those of you who have been BRR members for a few years will be aware of how disappointed we were when the main part of the Jim Peters building was given over to the boxing club a couple of years ago, especially as Everyone Active, who manage the track facilities on behalf of Barking and Dagenham Council, have continued to increase the hire fees despite the reduced access. However, we are still lucky compared to a lot of running clubs across the country, which don’t have any local tracks to use. So let’s be ‘glass half full’ and make the best use of the resources that we have. Talking of track…


Due to the easily transmissible nature of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, we have decided to pause the provision of teas and coffees at track for the time being. This is to discourage people from gathering inside. If you do go inside, please try and wear a mask; this is to protect both you and your clubmates. Hopefully this will only be a temporary measure.

Athletics in the News

Last week’s Athletics Weekly looked at the future of running tracks in the UK.

There are around 360 outdoor running tracks in the country, almost three-quarters of which have all-weather surfaces. However, the future of conventional running tracks seems uncertain, with many tracks falling into disrepair for lack of funds. With new tracks costing up to a million pounds, and resurfacing needed every seven years or so, the UK Athletics priority is to preserve existing tracks rather than build new ones.

Instead, there is a focus on lower cost, unconventional, training facilities for example one- or two-lane synthetic running trails, or what England Athletics (EA calls) the “new generation of affordable and sustainable satellite athletics facilities”, that can be squeezed into small spaces.

Ed Hunt, the EA facilities and planning manager, argues that a 400m track can be scary for young athletes and believes that ‘Smaller tracks are much more conducive to young athletes’ development’. It is hoped providing more of the unconventional running facilities will help UKA meet its goal of nine million people regularly participating in athletics or running by 2032 (there are around seven and a half people who participate in running at least twice a month at the moment).

But should encouraging this participation be at the expense of maintaining traditional tracks that can be used for both recreational running and competition? Will we be able to grow our next generation of elite athletes without the proper? Does it matter if more people are enjoying running?

I’d be interested in whether you found the track intimidating when you first came along. Personally, I am nowhere near being a speedy track athlete but I have never found the track scary. For me it’s a safe environment to improve my speed alongside my running mates and somehow makes me feel like a ‘proper’ runner! I think lots of other members have found it a natural progression from parkrun to track sessions to participating in races. See the section on interval training later in the blog for some of the benefits of track work. have been in touch to say that they would love us to become members of their Running Club, which offers discounts and free postage on running gear to members of affiliated running clubs. They will send us a unique discount code, which will be changed every month. The only requirement they have is that we keep the code offline, off social media and off any public websites and keep it between club members only – if the code is leaked more widely we will be thrown out of the Club and lose the discount. I have just accepted the terms and conditions and will let you know when I have the first code. Then, if you PM me, I can share it with you.

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

21 members competed in the third round of the five-race series on a 5-mile, two lap, course at Hainault Country Park. After the first lap a group of four runners were in contention for the win. Joe Stacey with a time of 33:07 triumphed at the finish for his third straight win, narrowly edging out Steve Philcox 33:1 into second place. Third was Paul Withyman 34:51 and fourth James Lowndes 35:07. Fifth place went to Stuart MacKay 37:23 with Jess Collett 37:48 in sixth. Jess was also first female.

 Winner of XC round 03 Joe Stacey

Other runners to compete were Adrian Davison 40:55, Kevin Wotton 41:57, Jon George 42:43, Ron Vialls 44:11, Jon Furlong 42:43, Joyce Golder 47:40, Martin O’Toole 47:57, Gary Harford 51:19, Jason Li 51:20, Martin Mason 58:36, Veronica Barikor 1:02:25 and Nabeel Akram 1:03:38.  Also running were Nikki Cranmer 1:14:33, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 1:14:34 who acted as tail runners and picked up the course markers on the way and the unfortunate Charlotte Owen who injured her ankle and was unable to finish.

Debbie Coyle ran the Victoria Park Half Marathon in a time of 1:36:42 and finished 8th female and first in her category. Debbie said she found it tough going after recovering from COVID a few weeks ago.

Debbie Coyle at Victoria Park Half Marathon

Jack Nixon finished in sixth place in the Suffolk Cross Country Championships in a time of 36:27 for the 10k course and has qualified for the Suffolk County team.

Jack Nixon 6th place at Suffolk XC Championships 

BRR Diary

You can find further information about all Club events on the BRR TeamUp app. Just install the TeamUp app onto your phone, then enter the calendar key for Barking Road Runners when asked: ks67p21gt8p5gzdo66.

Saturday 8 January to Friday 14 January – Virtual Handicap #01. Well done and thank you to everyone who has already submitted their 5k virtual handicap time. We’re only a few days in, so there is still plenty of time to run your 5k. But you must remember to submit your time by Midnight on Friday or your result won’t count.

7.00pm, Tuesday 11 January – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. Apologies that we won’t be holding the bleep test this week as previously announced, as neither Captain Rob nor I can be at track. Instead there will be a session of 400s, with 200m recovery.

7.00pm, Thursday 13 January – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

10.00am, Sunday 16 January – Benfleet 15. Hadleigh Country Park, Chapel Lane, Hadleigh, Essex, SS7 2PP. For those of us lucky enough to have entered (ahem). My advice, wear layers so you can take them off/put them on as required, make sure your shoes are secured so you don’t lose them, and definitely bring a change of shoes and socks and warm clothes for afterwards.

11.00am, Saturday 22 January – Chingford League 05/BRR XC 04. Epping Forest. Approx 8k (5 miles). Race HQ: Orion’s Clubhouse, Bury Road, E4 7QJ (toilets, changing facilities, bag drop, refreshments). Recommended footwear: spikes, robust studs, or trail shoes. More details next week. Let me know if you want to take part and haven’t already got a Chingford League number, have lost your number, or have had it eaten by a laminator like Gary H!

The interval run

If you are pulling together your training plan for 2022, interval runs should be a key component. They are essential for developing speed, whether you’re training for a mile or a marathon. Even if you are not interested in racing, speed-work is worth doing as it will make all your runs feel more comfortable. Surely we all want that?

We usually do our intervals, or repetitions (reps), on the track on Tuesday night. They can also be done on the road or trails but the track provides you with a nice smooth surface where you can run fast without stopping for traffic or fear of tripping on a tree root or pothole. Reps can be longer e.g. one mile or five minutes, but mostly they are for a short distance or time duration and performed at a high level of exertion e.g. 90% of maximum heart rate or 5k race pace or faster. You want to run hard enough to improve your speed but not so hard that you are unable to finish the full workout or cause yourself an injury. You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation when running reps; save that for your recovery periods!

It’s important to always warm-up well before any interval workout and do a proper cool-down afterwards, to make sure your muscles are ready for the exercise and reduce the risk of injury.

As you’ll know from our track sessions, there are loads of ways of mixing up interval training. You can make the rep or the recovery longer or shorter, or include different length reps in the same session. Each variation gives your body a different challenge which helps it to adapt and grow stronger.

Those who run shorter distances/sprints tend to have complete rest between reps, and they may even put their track tops/bottoms back on between reps to keep their muscles warm. In our track sessions, I favour active recovery, which is what England Athletics advocates for endurance runners like most of us. Active recovery is when you jog or walk between the hard reps. The goal of active recovery intervals is to keep moving during the interval while allowing your muscles to flush out any lactate and your breathing to return to normal. This helps your muscles recover before the next hard rep while keeping them warm, reducing the risk of injury.

Running (or brisk walking) at a low intensity during the rest intervals also increases the overall aerobic demands of the workout, which means it helps build your specific endurance, whether you are racing a 5K or marathon. You can also add in extra mileage with recovery intervals; those short jogs can add up over the course of a track session.

Cracker Corner – the cat edition

Why don’t cats play poker in the jungle? There are too many cheetahs.

How does a cat keep law and order? Claw Enforcement.

Who was the most powerful cat in Communist China? Chairman Miaow.

A policeman stopped a man in a car with a tiger in the front seat. “What are you doing with that tiger?” he exclaimed, “You should take it to the zoo.” The following week, the same policeman sees the man with the tiger in the front seat again, with both of them wearing sunglasses. The policeman pulls him over. “I thought I told you to take that tiger to the zoo?” The man replied, “I did. We had such a good time we are going to the beach this weekend!”

I hope these jokes have cheered you up if you were feline sad (groan…).

And finally…

Having solved the problem of disappearing running socks with the purchase of ‘Lok-a-Sok’ sock holders, I now have a new problem: disappearing gloves! These days my hands seem to get really cold when I run (all the blood rushing to my rapidly pumping heart and away from my extremities) so I need the gloves to keep warm. But, despite buying new gloves whenever I see them – thanks Lidl and Aldi – I can still never seem to find them when I go for a run. My latest ones, a lovely warm pair with reflective speckles that I thought would be great for night-time running or cycling, went missing after only a couple of days. Strangely enough, Chris started wearing a pair that looked remarkably similar at around the same time. Still, at least they weren’t these gloves by Sealskins.

Happy running



BRR Chair





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