Howdie Road Runners,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have all been out buying over-priced greetings cards, meals and flowers for your nearest and dearest. Oops, does that sound a bit cynical? Sorry! The BRR Committee knows how to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style: by holding the February Committee meeting. I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until next week for the minutes, but in the meantime, enjoy the romance of the BRR blog.

Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!

Running in the News

David Papineau, a marathon and ultra runner in Vancouver, Canada, is aiming to collect 30,000 discarded face masks while ‘plogging’. Plogging is derived from the Swedish phrase ‘plocka upp’, which combines the words for ‘jog’ and ‘pick up’ and refers to collecting litter while you run.

Papineau started picking up masks during his runs in April 2021. Since then, he has collected more than 25,000 masks. He uses salad tongs to grab the masks and stashes them all in used bread bags as he runs then disposes of them in rubbish bins. He usually collects around 50-60 masks on a 10K but once collected 428 on a single long run one afternoon. He admits that plogging became a bit of an obsession during lock-down when there were no races to motivate him to run.

Papineau’s advice to anyone thinking of having a go at plogging is to focus on one type of litter, such as masks or takeaway packaging, rather than attempting to pick up everything you see, otherwise you’ll quickly be overwhelmed and not run very far.

I hope Papineau reaches his target but, at the same time, what a terrible reflection on civilised society, that people can’t take their – possibly contaminated – masks home and discard them properly.

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

Ten BRR members took part in the Ilford AC 10-mile Cross Country race at Hainault Country Park. The course consisted of three hilly and gloriously muddy laps.

BRR’s Debbie Coyle finished as 3rd female overall and 1st in the W40 category. Ron Vialls finished 1st in the M60 category.

The full BRR contingent on the day were: Debbie Coyle 1:19:27, Colin Jones 1:19:35, Paul Wyatt 1:19:58, Ron Vialls  1:35:51, Martin O,Toole 1:51:09, Jason Li 1:53:07, Rob Courtier 2:0:07, Martin Mason 2:02:55, Veronica Barikor 2:07:26 and Les Jay 2:09:04.

Cancer Research London winter 10k run

BRR members Daniel Plawiak 46:39 and Louise Chappell 56:15 competed in the London Winter 10k. Just as important to the event as the runners are the Volunteers; BRR member Alain Cooper volunteered on the day.

Jack Nixon 33:35 and his dad Gerard Nixon 47:26 competed in the 26.2 Running Club Valentine’s 10k in Surrey. According to Jack it was the strongest field he had raced in. His father Gerard attained 1st place in the over 75 male category which may well earn him an England Masters athletics vest.

Also this week was Round 3 of BRR’s winter virtual 5k handicap series, with Kresh Veerasamy taking the 100 points on offer  for finishing 1st.  As well as Kresh, four other runners bettered their handicaps: Kevin Wotton 99 points, Rob Courtier 98 points, Cristina Cooper 97 points, and Jess Collett 96 points.

After 3 rounds Kevin Wotton leads with 295 points, Jess Collett is second with 287 points and Joyce Golder third with 279 points.

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park

Jagbir Bassi 20:00, Shuhel Khan 21:31, David Kail 24:45, Olaore Fatai 24:59, Ricky Singh 25:09, Stuart Burr 25:46, Andrew Hiller 26:40, John Lang 26:55, Emma Paisley 28:36, Nikki Cranmer 34:20, Dawn Blake 34:21, Cristina Cooper 38:45, Trevor Cooper 38:45, Micky Ball 40:57, Jenni Birch 42:04 and Alan Murphy 52:29.


Kresh Veerasamy 41:23.

Chalkwell Beach

Antony Leckerman 22:07 and Ron Vialls 24:40.

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 32:39.

Clacton Sea Front 

Barry Culling 28:11.

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford 27:58.

Valentines Park 

Kevin Wotton 22:04 and Andrew Gwilliam 48:07.


Stuart Mackay 21:17.

We’re off to the theatre, dahling!

This May BRR member Faye Spooner and Barking and Dagenham Drama are at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford town centre, starring in new musical ‘All Shook Up’. As the name suggests, the show features the music of Elvis Presley, so it promises to be a good ol’ sing-a-long evening. We’ve already filled most of the first three rows on Friday 6 May, so why not come along and join us? Tickets available at

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 15 February – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. This week we will be doing a session devised by Paul Wyatt called Goldilocks:

  • 3 x 400m/200m recovery “Baby Bears”
  • 2 x 600m/300m recovery “Mummy Bears”
  • 1 x 1k/400m recovery “Daddy Bear” (see how you time compares with last week’s straight 1ks session)
  • 2 x 600m/300m recovery “Mummy Bears”
  • 3 x 400m/200m recovery “Baby Bears”

For a slightly shorter set, you can reduce to 2×400, 1×600, 1x1k, 1×600, 2×400, which is still plenty challenging.

7.00pm, Thursday 17 February – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

Saturday 19 February to 25 February – Virtual Handicap #04.

10.00am, Sunday 20 February – Club XC05. Hainault Forest. The last race in the BRR internal XC competition. Starting by the café in Fox Burrow Road, the 5 mile-ish course will be the same as the last Hainault XC race. Who will win the trophies? There’s only one way to find out…

10.00am, Sunday 27 February – South Essex Cross-Country League #01. South Weald Country Park. One lap of approximately 7K. It is recommended that you run in spikes or studs, as there will certainly be some muddy areas on the course! Enter on the day. Entry fee is £5 but the Club will pay £2 for each member, so you will only need to pay £3 (paid to us, and we reimburse the organisers). Use the Visitors’ Centre or Belvedere Car Parks if possible. You must wear a Club top and a letter ‘B’. Please bring your B from previous seasons, if you still have it; there will be a few spares on the day. Also bring your own cup if you can, for refreshments afterwards.

11.30am, Saturday 5 March – Chingford League 4x3000m xc relays. Wanstead Flats, near the parkrun start. Followed by presentations for 2021/22. Last race in the competition, results count towards team scores. Male and female teams of four needed. We want to put out our strongest possible teams, so we will need to rank people in terms of speed.

Training Plans – The Taper

Most marathon training plans will include a taper: a period of 2-3 weeks immediately before race day where the distance and/or intensity of runs) gradually reduces. But did you know that England Athletics recommends tapering before endurance races of all? Perhaps when you don’t do as well as you’d like at a race, despite training hard for it, it’s because you haven’t got the taper right.

Not tapering, or not tapering sufficiently, is a mistake that even experienced runners make. Maybe it’s fear that cutting back will mean suddenly losing fitness, or the misguided hope that a few extra runs will massively improve performance and make up for any missing sessions earlier in the training plan.

So, what’s the point of tapering?

  • To help you re-energise before race day

Hard training can take a big toll on your body, sapping your energy reserves. By cutting down the amount of running you do in the final few week(s) before the race, you’ll feel re-energised and ready to do your best on race day.

  • To consolidate your training efforts so far

Training for endurance races is all about getting yourself fitter and boosting your stamina. You’ll also produce more red blood cells thanks to all that extra training you’re doing. However, once you’ve built up your fitness to a certain level, there’s not a huge amount more you can do, practically, to enhance your fitness levels in the final weeks of training. At the same time, your fitness levels aren’t going to immediately decline if you ease off the training, so don’t worry about easing off a bit.

  • to re-fill your glycogen stores

Your muscles store significant amounts energy in the form of glycogen, which they get from the carbohydrates you eat. In a tough endurance race your body can call on these glycogen stores for extra fuel. However, if you have been doing lots of long runs during training, these stores will begin to deplete. Tapering allows you to build those carbohydrate levels back up to capacity, meaning you’ll have more energy to draw on during the race itself. Sam Murphy says’ “If you don’t taper for the race, it’s like starting with half a tank of petrol.”

  • To repair muscle damage

If you’ve been putting in the miles during training, your muscles will have suffered wear and tear. If you cut back on the amount of running you do before your ‘A’ race your body has more time to repair any damage, making you stronger for race day. You also avoid the risk pushing too hard at the last minute and picking up an injury.

How should you do it?

The most popular way to taper is to reduce the duration of runs but maintain the intensity. That way you know you are maintaining speed and power but you will be putting less strain on your body, and allowing it to build up its glycogen stores.

If you are running a marathon, Murphy suggests that you start tapering three weeks out from race date, after your longest run. In the first taper week, you halve the length of your longest run, second taper week halve it again (so you are doing a quarter of your longest run),

You should also look to cut back the duration of your other quality sessions like speed work and tempo/threshold runs.”Then the week after that I’d cut in half again, so you’d only be doing a quarter of your longest run. The third week will then finish with the race.

If your A race is over a shorter distance – for example, you really want to get a new 5k PB – the same principles apply but your taper period should be proportionately shorter. So, if you are training for a half marathon you might want to taper for 10-14 days, for a 10k you may taper for 5-7 days, and for a 5k it might just be 3-4 days.

Every runner is an individual and the length of taper needed will vary. Just remember, there is absolutely nothing that you can do in the few days immediately prior to a race to make your run better. The main thing is to conserve your energy and not get injured and ruin all your hard work.

You can do it! – The Best Way to Motivate Runners

If you have ever marshalled at a race or parkrun, or even just supported, you’ll know that it’s always a bit of a challenge to know what best to shout to encourage runners as they go past.

New research by Plymouth Marjan University, as reported in the study ‘Keep the Pace! You’ve Got This!’: The Content and Meaning of Impactful Crowd Encouragement at Mass Running Events’, has found that the right type of encouragement can benefit athletes.

The research surveyed 861 runners who take part in mass-participation events. While the runners appreciated positive encouragement, they most valued ‘instructional’ information personalised to them.

For those who’ve run the London Marathon, you’ll know the value of having your name on your shirt. The moment a stranger personally encourages you to keep going when you’re struggling can lift your head and seemingly re-energise your fatigued body.

The study found that these type of positive comments made runners experience a sense of skill and pride at what they’re doing while also bonding with the crowd, making them feel like they want to pay it back by running well.

This led the researchers to come up with a handy acronym for next time you’re cheering at a race: ‘IMPACT’ –

Instructional & practical advice and encouragement (e.g. ‘Keep your pace’);

Motivational (‘Great effort’);

Personalised (with their name, running club or charity; making eye contact);

Authentic and non-judgemental (‘That’s a great charity you’re running for’);

Confidence-building (‘You can do this!’); and

Tailored to the distance (‘You’ve only got half a kilometre to go’).

False information about the distance or level of challenge remaining (e.g. ‘last hill!’ when in reality there were three hills left) was seen as unhelpful. I’ve experienced this, although I have to say the little girl who told me I was almost finished when I was a few hundred metres into a 10-mile race at least made me smile. Comments on the runner’s appearance or advising runners to dig deep when they’d already dug to rock bottom were also unwelcome.

The researchers recommend that, if you’re cheering at an event, try to remain empathetic to how runners are feeling and be genuine in your encouragement while refraining from encouraging injured runners to push harder.

Cracker Corner

I went for a job interview in a sandwich shop the other day. I asked the manager exactly what my duties would be, but all he could say was that I would be filling a number of rolls…

I failed my trial period working at a glove factory. I was all fingers and thumbs…

And Finally…

What a shame there is a South Essex Cross Country League race at Hadleigh on 24 April, otherwise we could take part in this race to celebrate the year of the tiger. I can’t think of anything more likely to help you get a new Personal Best than being chased across an enclosure by a hungry feline. Grrrr…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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