Howdie Road Runners!

The Club had been rather depleted over the last few weeks with people isolating due to Covid. I never thought my life would end up revolving a little strip of plastic. Luckily nobody has been very poorly, thanks to most of us having had our vaccinations, and the current strain being milder than previous versions. But it can still make you pretty ill, and you never know if you – or a loved one – is going to be the person who gets it badly, so please take care out there.

On a more positive note, the main focus of the week has been the Benfleet 15. Love it or hate it, over the years many BRR members have been foolhardy enough to participate. Have a look at Cristina’s race report and see if you might be tempted next year.

January Committee Minutes

(courtesy of Dee Spencer-Perkins)

Here are the minutes of the January Committee meeting. Please read for details of the race that have been selected so far for this year’s Grand Prix competition.

220110 – January 2022 BRR Committee meeting

parkrun in the News

Power of 10 and RunBritain statistician, Tim Grose, has compiled a list of the fastest and slowest of the 706 parkrun courses in the UK so far in 2022, and the fastest is local parkrun Victoria Dock!

Tim has based his statistics on a golf-style standard scratch score (or SSS). This is a difficulty score – from 1 to 10 – based on how easy or difficult it is to run a quick time on a given course. The calculation takes into account weather conditions, terrain (flat as a pancake or hilly), accuracy of course measurement, competitiveness of the field, etc.

Here are the rankings for some of the parkruns closest to Barking:

1Victoria Dock SSS 0.8

42Raphael SSS 1.5

52 Hackney Marshes SSS 1.6

145 Barking SSS 2.0

156 Mile End SSS 2.0

292 Valentines SSS 2.4

384 Beckton SSS 2.6

496 Wanstead Flats SSS 3.0

527 Harrow Lodge SSS 3.2

589 Walthamstow SSS 3.6

For interest, Hadleigh has an SSS of 5.0. The slowest ranked parkrun is Great Yarmouth North Beach, with the highest SSS of 10.0

Of course, what you do with this data is up to you; you could choose to visit the parkruns ranked as the easiest in order to get speedy times. Or you could choose to visit the parkruns ranked as the slowest, on the basis that they are the most challenging. Or maybe ignore all that and just go where you would have gone anyway.


I have the first discount code for, valid for January. Just PM me if you need it. I think you should get 10% off and free postage on purchases over £30, but it would be good to have a guinea pig to find out. An excuse to but some new gear.

BRR in Action

(courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

This week’s race for Several Barking Roadrunners was the Benfleet 15.

A tough 15-mile event on trails and tarmac with lots of mud, water, and hills with an especially big hill to finish. BRR competitors were Peter Jackson 1:56:25, Antony Leckerman 2:17:07, Cristina Cooper 2:32:55, Joyce Golder 2:38:52, Jon Furlong 2:42:47, Debra Jean-Baptiste 3:13:13; Isobel Pinedo Borobio 3:13 15, and Nabeel Akram 3:42:33. Jack Nixon had traction issues on the slippery surface so decided to pull out on safety grounds as he has some important races coming up.

Round 1 of BRRs winter virtual handicap (HC) series was won by Cristina Cooper who beat her handicap time by 3 minutes 55 seconds.

The format for the series is the runners are handicapped to finish after the clock has been going for 40 minutes example if you run 5k in 25 minutes your handicap would be 15 minutes. With points awarded according to position i.e. 100 pts for first, 99 for second, 98 for third etc. for the virtual series runners can run 5k on any course they like and official parkrun results can be included.

Four runners out of the 24 who entered bettered their handicap and will have new HCs for the next race.  Cristina Cooper 100 pts, Kevin Wotton 99 pts, Rabea Begum 98 pts, and John Lang 97 pts are the leaders after round 1. With best 5 of 7 runs to count there is a long way to go.

BRR parkrunners

Please double-check your parkrun profile to ensure that ‘Barking Road Runners’ is listed as your running club; it makes life a lot easier for Greg when he is pulling together the parkrun results.

Barking Park

James Lowndes 21:11, Adrian Davison 22:42, Trevor Cooper 23:46, Rosie Fforde 23:51, Ricky Singh 24:45, Tom Shorey 25:46, Olaore Fatai 26:42, Andrew Hiller 26:52, Cristina Cooper 27:07, Sally Bridge 28:01, Emma Paisley 29:31, Kirsty Warwick-McDonagh 30:22, Clodagh O’Callaghan 32:01, Les Jay 33:25, Kirsten Hiller 38:05, Dawn Blake 38:06, Nikki Cranmer 38:06 and Alan Murphy 48:58.

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 33:25.

Harrow Lodge

Rory Burr 27:18.

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford 27:41.


Joe Stacey 21:09.

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 22:22.

Race Report – Benfleet 15

(courtesy of Cristina Cooper)

Benfleet 15. It’s a bit like Marmite: love it, or hate it. I’m in the lovers’ camp. I know, I’m weird.

It’s been a hard life for a while (pandemic life is certainly something that we all had to learn to adapt to), so doing something like this reminded me I’m alive and I simply have to be grateful.

The adrenaline shot up straight from the start. Sliding and gliding down the slippery downhills got my attention. No time to sleep, Cristina!

Then, the hills (up) started. Ran some, walked some. No shame in walking steep bits over this sort of run profile. Most of the run thereafter blends in a blur: cold wind by the sea wall, sticky boggy mud, helpful marshals, the out & back where you get to cheer one another. For some reason, my brain was convinced this was 14 miles. Shockingly I realised at 12 that I had an extra unaccounted mile to do. Oops!

Losing my gel at the beginning of the run did not help one bit. By the time I got to 12 miles I was flagging badly. Then a running friend (I’ll forever call her “Alex the lifesaver”) offered me a pack of gummy bears. That was lush! Another fellow runner (no 96, need to look up name in results and say thank you), split half of his remaining glucose tablets stash with me. So, so nice of him!

The last 1.5 miles of the course are not for the faint hearted. Hills. Then, you take a left and you are back into “bog world”. And once that’s over, you’ve got to somehow make it up THE hill again. The supporters at the top are amazing, but despite my best efforts, I had to accept a little walk over the steepest part at the end. It’s probably the longest I’ve ran on this last hill, but I’m yet to conquer it as a 100% run. I’ll be back!!

I have not mentioned the supporters till just now. Basically a bit like keeping the best for the last. From sharing a lift to the race and the pre-race nerves and stories, to seeing club mates tracking you on course, to walkers cheering and encouraging… love love love running!

Best bit was when our Club Captain cheered us all over the line one by one, with a mini Prosecco bottle and a stash of chocolate. That’s knowing your team! Thank you, Captain Rob!

Will I do this again? Hell yeah!! Will I ever find it easy? Hell No!!

Thank you, running for everything you bring into my life: smiles, good energy, great friends!

Bleep Test

This Tuesday at track we will be holding the long-awaited/dreaded bleep test.

The beep test is an aerobic fitness test, which involves running between markers 20 metres apart, following audio cues (the bleep) which dictate the running speed required. At regular intervals, the required running speed increases. The test continues until the participants are no longer able to keep up with the required pace. Resulting aerobic fitness results are based on gender, age, and the number of reps repeated.

Starting the Test: You line up along the starting line. You start with a foot behind the line, and begin running when instructed by the audio recording. You turn when signaled by the recorded audio bleep at the line 20 metres away, and return to the starting point, where you turn again at the next bleep. You continue running in time with the bleeps with no rest period.

During the test: You continue shuttling back and forth between the two lines, in time to the bleeps. You must not start running early, must run the complete distance, and must reach each line before or in time with the recording. At regular intervals the time between the audio signals will reduce and, consequently, the required running speed will increase. The starting speed is 8.5km/hr, and increases by 0.5km/hr approximately every minute.

Finishing the test: You must continue for as long as you can. You may choose to stop when you have reached your physical limit, or you may be given a warning as you drop behind the required pace or make one of the errors listed below. On the second infraction you will be pulled out of the test.

You will be given a warning when:

  • You do not reach either line before the audio signal.
  • You turn without touching or going over the line (therefore running short).
  • You start the run before the audio signal.

Scoring: Your score is the level achieved plus the number of the last complete successful shuttle.

BRR Diary

Install the TeamUp app onto your phone, then enter the calendar key for Barking Road Runners when asked: ks67p21gt8p5gzdo66, for more info about Club events.

7.00pm, Tuesday 18 January – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. It’s the bleep test – details above. Afterwards we will be ‘pushing the straightaways’: running the straights and recovering on the bends. Need more recovery? Use the outside lanes. 

7.00pm, Thursday 20 January – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

11.00am, Saturday 22 January – Chingford League 05/BRR XC 04. Approx 8k. Race HQ: Orion Clubhouse, Jubilee Retreat, Bury Road, E4 7QJ (Toilets, changing facilities, bag drop, refreshments). Park at the Corporation of London car parks near the golf course (NOTE: there is now a parking charge). This is a completely new course, starting 200m north of the Clubhouse. Trail shoes, spikes or studs essential. Use your bib number from previous CL races: first time runners or lost numbers, please let me know by Midnight on Wednesday 19th January. If you are unable to run, the organisers would welcome marshals.

TBC, Saturday 5 February – Chingford League 06. Five-mile road race in Victoria Park. Details TBC.

10.30am, Sunday 13 February – Ilford 10-mile XC. Only £7/9 and good preparation for the Brentwood Half. More details on Team-Up. Entry via:

Training Plans – The Easy Run

Easy runs – slow, extra miles done in between other running sessions – should make up the majority of a training plan, but it’s the run that many runners don’t do. Most of us are guilty of doing the majority of our runs at the same pace. This might be because we’re afraid of seeming lazy, and think we should be always be pushing harder. Indeed, easy runs have often in the past been referred to as ‘junk miles’, as opposed to ‘quality runs’ like the long run, tempo runs, speed-work or hill-work.

However, easy runs are certainly not junk runs. They help to build up your aerobic system without the intensity of the other workouts, and also give your body a chance to recover from those workouts while still allowing you to build your mileage.

You should do it at a conversational pace, or 1:30 to 2:00 minutes per mile slower than your 10K PB pace, or around 70% of your maximum heart rate. These miles still help to build up your aerobic system without the intensity of the other workouts. Easy runs can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your typical mileage. They should leave you feeling fresh, relaxed and ready for more intense training ahead. At the end of an easy run, you should feel like you could run a lot more.

Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t run easy is that it isn’t easy to run slower than you think you can! It takes a lot of control and effort.

Use your easy runs to practice good running form. Think “Are my shoulders relaxed?”, “Am I looking ahead or down at my feet?”, “Am I swinging my arms back at right angles?” “Am I running smoothly with light steps or pounding on the ground?” Doing this in your easy runs when you are not busy focusing on going fast can help to make good form become a habit.

Easy runs have lots of other benefits:

Improved cardiovascular and muscular system – Easy runs train the cardio, respiratory, and muscular systems to work more efficiently, meaning you will be able to run with less effort on your faster days. Slower runs also train your slow twitch (type I) muscle fibres, which will allow you to work aerobically to sustain your pace on long distances.

Injury prevention – slower running strengthens your tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones, and helps them adapt to the stress of running, reducing the risk of injury.

Increased use of fat for energy – When you run, you mainly use carbohydrates and fats for energy. Our body stores carbohydrates as glycogen. Unlike the huge fat stores, these glycogen stores are limited. When you run at a slower speed, you use more of the fats. And as you start running faster you start using more of the limited glycogen. Easy running teaches your body to use more fat which is a great advantage for distance runners.

Higher weekly mileage – Easy running helps you to increase your weekly mileage while minimising the extra stress on your body. Vital when you are training for longer distances.

Recovering from the hard workouts – Hard workouts put extra stress on your body. Easy runs allow your body to recover from your tough workouts.

Enjoyable running – sometimes it’s nice to just slow down and enjoy the scenery, or have a chat with your running mates. And, if you can still gain all the benefits listed above, why not?

Cracker Corner

A man went to see his doctor and said ‘I’m having problems with my hearing’. The doctor asked ‘can you describe the symptoms?’ The man replied ‘well, Marge has blue hair and Homer is fat and yellow, but I can’t see what that has to do with my hearing’.

And finally…

A few of us who couldn’t make it to the Benfleet at the weekend went for our usual Sunday morning run at Hainault Forest instead. As we gathered in the car park a vehicle went past full of recording equipment: video camera, a sound boom, the works. I jogged across to the toilets and the vehicle followed me down the road. I put on my best smile and adopted perfect running form. Then another Forest user told me that the cameras were there to film Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was running in the next field. Oh well…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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