Howdie Road Runners,

On month of the year already gone – 2022 is flying by! It was a relatively quiet week for BRR, with just the virtual handicap, parkrun, and our usual training to keep us occupied. But, looking ahead, 2022 is shaping up to be a very busy year; races that have been postponed for one, maybe two, years will be back in the calendar and are likely to be compressed into a shorter than usual space of time. We’re all going to need to take care to ensure that we don’t break our ourselves. That will mean warming up and cooling down properly, doing strength work to make our bodies more resilient to stresses and strains, and building in recovery time to allow our bodies to repair. Fingers crossed for happy and healthy spring and summer seasons!

Athletics in the News

Edinburgh AC athlete Josh Kerr just missed out on breaking the GB indoor mile record at the Millrose Games in the USA on Saturday. Josh’s time of 3.35.48 in the Wanamaker Mile was just outside Peter Elliott’s British indoor record time of 3:52.02, set in 1990. However, it set a new Scottish record, and was a Personal Best for Kerr, so I guess he wasn’t he shouldn’t be too disappointed.

Something to aim for at the February timed mile!

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

Round 2 of Barking Road Runners’ Virtual 5k handicap this week was won by Clodagh O’Callaghan who beat her handicap by 2 minutes and 37 seconds, in second place was Bobbi Shaughnessy who finished 1:59 inside her time and third was Rabea Begum who was 1:56 better than her handicap. Also beating their handicap times were Kevin Wotton, Jess Collett, John Lang and Rob Courtier.

After two rounds Rabea Begum and Kevin Wotton are joint leaders with 196 points each.

Rabea Begum and Kevin Wotton joint virtual HC leaders after two rounds

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park 

Adrian Davison 22:13, Rosie Fforde 23:26, Trevor Cooper 24:55, Joyce Golder 25:29, Belinda Riches 26:04, Jason Li 26:28, John Lang 26:44, Sally Bridge 27:08, Martin Brooks 27:22, Emma Paisley 29:18, Martin Mason 29:59, Cristina Cooper 31:16, Greg Adams 31:45, Les Jay 32:30, Dawn Blake 36:09, Nikki Cranmer 36:09, Micky Ball 38:49, Jenni Birch 45:04, Alan Murphy 47:26 and Trevor Parkin 50:56.

Chelmsford Central 

Vicki Groves 33:42.

Gloucester City

Rob Courtier 32:08.

Harrow Lodge

Rory Burr 24:44.

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford   28:14.


Owen Wainhouse 21:10.

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 22:23 and Kresh Veerasamy 39:02.

The Timed Mile

Well done to everyone who completed the monthly timed mile at track last week. Here are the times – hope you can read them; if you didn’t get a chance to add your time to the results list, let me know.

I was asked during the week why we do a mile time trial, when most of us race over much longer distances. The flippant answer (not given by me, I hasten to add), is that mile time trial is easier than doing a marathon time trial! But there are good reasons for doing a regular timed mile. Most simply, our monthly miles on the track allow you to monitor your performance, over an identical course, over time. It can help you gauge whether your training is paying off, or if you are plateauing. If your time is not improving, you can analyse why that might be. Of course, there will always be variables to content with, even on the track: whether it’s hot or cold, windy or calm; what you’ve eaten or drank during the day; the kit you’re wearing; or how you’re feeling physically or mentally that day. But understanding how these variables can affect your running in a training environment can help you to prepare for a race. And if you have a bad timed mile one month, you know there is always another one the following month. You can also use the timed mile to practice what you’ve learnt in running drills e.g. upright posture, good arm-swing, and to improve your pacing.

We’re planning to see how the timed mile works as a handicap; hopefully it will encourage those who start first to push on and avoid being caught, and those who start later to push on and try and catch them!

Grand Prix 2022 Update

Another couple of races have been added to the Grand Prix competition timetable – see below in red. We just have two more races to choose to make up the ten-race series, probably at 5 mile or 10k distance. Not all the races chosen so far are open for registration yet, but at least you can put them in your diary to keep the dates free. We appreciate that the calendar is a bit congested, but our hands are tied by which races are available that meet the criteria for the competition. We also look at which races are reasonably easy for people to get to from East London/South Essex where our members tend to live. Remember, the competition is based on your best six BRR placings out of the ten races, so you don’t have to run them all.

  • 20 March – Brentwood Half Marathon
  • 10 April – St. Clare 10k
  • 8 May – Rayleigh 10k
  • 22 May – Great Baddow 10
  • 5 June – Thames Chase 10k
  • 11 September – Pleshey Half Marathon
  • 18 September – Ingatestone 5
  • 9 October – Tiptree 10

 I’ll include a reminder of the dates for the South Essex Cross Country League next week.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 1 February – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. Back by unpopular demand, it’s the session I call five and five: 5 x (3min @5k race pace, 90 secs recovery), 5 x (90 secs @ 3k race pace, 1 min recovery). The idea is to practice pushing hard when you have already been pushing hard, like you may need to do in a race.

7.00pm, Thursday 3 February – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

Saturday 5 February to 11 February – Virtual Handicap #03. Remember to submit your time on the results WhatsApp Group by Midnight on Friday or your result won’t count.

11.00am, Saturday 5 February – Chingford League #06, 5-miler. VPTHAC Club House, Victoria Park, Cadogan Terrace, Hackney, E9 5EG. The penultimate race in the Chingford League season, and there is still a chance that BRR could get promoted – your club needs you! If you haven’t run before but want to take part, please let me know asap.

10.00am, Sunday 6 February – Sikhs in the City Jubilee 10k. Woodford Avenue. A special leisurely 10km event to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. Limited to 70 participants. As it is a low-key event, I don’t expect it to be chip-timed. The course is five laps of the 2km Woodford Bridge Road, Woodford Avenue, Roding Lane South route (i.e. 50% uphill). Water and squash will be provided during the event. Finishers will be rewarded with TWO vegetable samosas and a medal/Certificate. To enter, email Entry fee is £15.00 payable online at the following link  or you can pay Harmander on the day.

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

Saturday 19 February to 25 February – Virtual Handicap #04

10.00am, Sunday 20 February – Club XC05. Around 5 miles. Hainault Forest. The last race in the BRR internal XC competition.

10.00am, Sunday 27 February – South Essex Cross-Country League #01. South Weald Country Park. Due to higher fees being charged by the Essex Country Parks, this year organisers are charging £5 per entry. The Club will pay £2 each of the entry fee, so you will only need to pay £3. More details to follow soon.

Training Plans – the Tempo Run

The tempo run is probably the most neglected in our training arsenal, but it should feature in every training plan, whether you are trying to improve your 5k time or preparing for a marathon or longer. If you want to get faster, stronger and fitter, a tempo run should be part of your training schedule.

What is a tempo run? A tempo run is commonly described as a comfortably uncomfortable pace i.e. a pace that you could maintain for around 20-30 minutes. It should be difficult to hold a conversation. Put more technically, it would be somewhere between your 10k and half marathon pace or your 5k race pace plus 15-20 seconds per kilometre. Put even more technically, you should be below your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your body can clear lactate at the rate it is producing it; you’ll know if you are above your lactate threshold as your muscles will be burning. This is the reason that tempo runs are often called threshold runs; because you are running just below your lactate threshold.

What are the benefits of including tempo runs in your training plan? Well, running at your lactate threshold will help to increase it, meaning you can maintain a higher speed for longer before your muscles hurt. Running at an uncomfortable pace for an extended period of time will help to increase your resilience, which is very helpful practice for when you hit those tough spells in races; when the going gets tough, the tough get tempo running!

How do you add tempo training to your running schedule? The usual way is to add one or more blocks at tempo pace into a slightly longer run. Here are some possible sessions, always making sure you are warmed up properly first and cool down afterwards:

  • 20-30 minutes at tempo pace in the middle of your run – do more or less than this depending on your current ability but no more than 60 minutes (see below);
  • (1k at tempo pace with, 1 minute recovery jog), up to five times;
  • progression run: start at an easy pace then speed up by 10-15 secs per mile every six minutes until you’re running at tempo pace by the last six minutes.

Of course, you can vary the lengths of the tempo blocs and of the recovery runs but make sure you resist the temptation to run at faster than tempo pace; the aim isn’t to exhaust yourself. If you are new to tempo running, start with shorter tempo blocks and build up – your body needs time to adapt. Don’t be tempted to try and run at tempo pace for more than an hour – if you can, you are probably not running fast as you should; save your highest intensity efforts for your interval sessions and races!

Cracker Corner – in honour of Barry Cryer

Sorry if you’ve already seen these.

A man was driving down a country lane and ran over a cockerel. He knocked on the farmhouse door and a woman answered. ‘I appear to have run over your cockerel and I want to replace it’ the man said. ‘Please yourself’, the women replied ‘the hens are round the back’.

A man was sitting in his living room and his wife called out from the kitchen ‘smoked salmon or roast chicken darling?’. The man called back ‘roast chicken please, dear’. His wife replied ‘I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to the cat’.

Picasso was burgled and did a drawing of the robbers. The police arrested a horse and two sardines.

A man and his wife are out walking one day when they spot a lone fellow on the other side of the road. ‘That looks like the Archbishop of Canterbury over there,’ says the woman ‘Go and see if it is.’

The husband crosses the road and asks the man if he is indeed the Archbishop of Canterbury.

‘F**k off,’ says the man.

The husband crosses back to his wife who asks ‘What did he say? Is he the Archbishop of Canterbury?’

‘He told me to f**k off,’ says the husband.

‘Oh no,’ replies the wife, ‘Now we’ll never know…’.

And finally…

I tend to use the terms ‘warm-down’ and ‘cool down’ interchangeably but, as I was writing the article about tempo runs, I thought I should check which was correct. I did a search on Google and found a discussion group on this very topic, although some of the contributions seemed a bit strange. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the name of the website I had stumbled upon: ThundersPlace: The big penis and mens’ sexual health source; increasing penis size around the world’. Luckily, I wasn’t looking this up on my work PC, or I might have had some explaining to do…

Happy Running



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