Howdie Road Runners, 

Who would have thought, after missing parkrun for over a year due to the pandemic, that another cancellation for one week, due to Storm Eunice, would have been so disappointing. Perhaps, after losing parkrun for so long in 2020-2021, we appreciate it all the more, and miss it all the more when it’s not there.

At Barking parkrun, we delayed the decision as long as possible, hoping against hope that we would arrive early on Saturday and find the park open as usual. Of course, that isn’t what happened and we were forced to cancel and 7.40am. By 8.30am, the main gate had been opened but there was far too much debris on the paths for parkrun to have gone ahead safely, and there wouldn’t have been enough time to sweep it all away. Plus, someone was bound to fall down the hole left by the toppled lakeside tree if we’d gone ahead!

We also decided to postpone the last race in our internal cross-country competition. With Hainault Forest still officially closed until safety checks are carried out, we didn’t want to risk anyone getting injured by falling branches etc. Plus, Committee members would potentially have been personally liable!

Talking of which, the February Committee meeting took place last week – here are the minutes:

220214 – February 2022 BRR Committee minutes 

Running in the News

It’s been a bad week in athletics for doping bans.

The British men’s 4x100m relay squad have been stripped of their Olympic silver medal from last summer’s Tokyo Games after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found CJ Ujah guilty of a doping violation.

The 27-year-old, who ran with Richard Kilty, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake to come a narrow second to Italy in Tokyo, has been provisionally suspended from the sport since mid-August after an in-competition sample tested positive for two banned substances.

CAS had been reviewing his case and delivered the verdict on Friday 18 February. CAS’s findings said “The Great Britain men’s sprint relay team results in the 4 x 100m sprint relay Final on 6 August 2021 is disqualified together with the forfeiture of any medals.” CAS has yet to decide on what punishment Ujah will face.

Ujah claims that he unknowingly consumed a contaminated supplement, although, of course, athletes are usually extremely careful about everything they consume to avoid that very risk. 

Ujah said “I sincerely regret that this has inadvertently led to the forfeiture of the men’s 4 x 100m relay team’s Olympic silver medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I would like to apologise to my team-mates, their families and support teams for the impact which this has had on them. I’m sorry that this situation has cost my teammates the medals they worked so hard and so long for, and which they richly deserved. That is something I will regret for the rest of my life.

“I would also like to apologise to both British Athletics and Team GB. British Athletics has supported the relay athletes for years and this has been difficult for everyone involved in the programme. Representing my country at a second Olympic Games surpassed my childhood sporting ambitions and I will forever be devastated that this situation has marred the success achieved by the men’s 4 x 100 relay team in Tokyo.

At the same time, Blessing Okagbare, the 33-year-old Nigerian sprinter, has been banned for ten years by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU); five for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances, and a further five for her refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

Olympic and world silver medallist and double Commonwealth champion Okagbare tested positive for human growth hormone and Erythropoietin (EPO) ‘out-of-competition’ on 19 July last year. The result was reported to the AIU on 30 July, the day upon which Okagbare won her 100m heat at the Tokyo Olympics. She was then provisionally suspended one day after that race and forced to fly home.

In addition, EPO was found in another of the Nigerian’s out-of-competition samples, on 20 June. Two days earlier, Okagbare had run a wind-assisted 10.63 for 100m in Lagos.

Last October, Okagbare was charged with the above two doping violations and also failure to co-operate with an investigation into her positive samples.

Brett Clothier, head of the AIU, said a 10-year ban was “a strong message against attempts to cheat”.

In an interview with Athletics Weekly magazine Brett Clothier, head of the AIU, said: “I hope that people can see athletics is standing out from the crowd and actually takes the issue of doping seriously.”

Okagbare has 30 days to appeal against the ban at CAS.

In more positive news, Eilish McColgan put in a record-breaking performance at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday 19 February. McColgan beat her Mum Liz’s HM best of 67.11 and also broke Paula Radcliffe’s long-standing British record of 66.47, set back in 2001, to finish in 66.26. Her performance, which secured her sixth place overall in the women’s race, bodes well for the 2022 season.

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

With the weather playing havoc around the country this weekend, courtesy of Storm Eunice, Barking Road Runners postponed the final round of their Cross-Country series and rescheduled for next week. It will be run during the 1st South Essex Cross-Country League race at South Weald Country Park on 27 February. 

Most local parkruns were cancelled too and BRR members had travel further afield for their weekly 5k parkrun fix. 

Jess Collett and Stuart Mackay travelled to Ferry Meadows parkrun in Peterborough where Jess managed a 5k Personal Best of 21:16. Rory Burr travelled to Wickford Memorial parkrun finishing in 23:51. Rory is a regular parkrun tourist and this was his 64th different parkrun course.

BRR parkrunners 

Chalkwell Beach – Antony Leckerman 20:48.

Ferry Meadows – Stuart Mackay 20:37 and Jess Collett 21:16.

Ifield Mill Pond – Trevor Robinson 28:12.

Roding Valley – Kevin Wotton 28:25.

Sandwell Park – James Lowndes 22:00.

Wickford Memorial – Rory Burr 23:51.

BRR Diary

Saturday 19 February to 25 February – Virtual Handicap #04. Remember to post your time before the end of Friday.

7.00pm, Tuesday 22 February – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. By popular demand (except from the footballers) the whistle is making a return this week, and we have a nice pyramid session for you:

  • Run 2 mins, recover 1 min
  • Run 3 mins, recover 1 min
  • Run 4 mins, recover 2 mins
  • Run 5 mins, recover 2 mins
  • Run 5 mins, recover 2 mins
  • Run 4 mins, recover 2 mins
  • Run 3 mins, recover 1 min
  • Run 2 mins, recover 1 min

That’s 28 minutes of effort and 12 minutes of recovery. The effort should be at 5k race pace, the recovery either walked or jogged. The aim is to maintain a consistent pace throughout, but you can try and go for it for the last 2 minutes of effort if you wish!

7.00pm, Thursday 24 February – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

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! £3 entry on the day (full cost is £5 but the Club pays the other £2). 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. As per Greg’s news story, this race will also be the last race in the internal BRR XC competition. We’ll hand out the trophies at track, to avoid other clubs becoming jealous!

11.30am, Saturday 5 March – Chingford League 4×2 mile (approx) xc relays. Wanstead Flats, Harrow Road Pavilion (postcode E11 3QA). Last race in the competition, results count towards team scores. We must submit our teams by 3 March. Male and female teams of four needed: fastest four male runners in the men’s A team, next fastest four in the B team etc, with the same for the women’s teams. We can enter as many teams as we like, but nobody can run twice and we can’t have mixed (e.g. male and female) teams. If we don’t have enough people to make up a full team, the ‘spares’ can still run for fun.

Followed by presentations for 2021/22. Adrian is in line for a trophy, and Isabel and Joe will get mementoes for running all the races in the season if they attend!

Running economy maintains with age and training

As we get older we notice that our times aren’t as quick as they once were, we don’t spring up the hills as easily as we previously did and we need longer to recover from hard training and racing.

Good news for those of us who are getting on a bit (and that’s all of us, when you think about it): a study from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) suggests that running can remain fast as you age.

The study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that the running economy – how efficiently the body uses oxygen at a certain pace – of older runners was no different than that of younger runners. The bad news is that maintaining running economy comes at a higher “cost” to senior runners.

Older runners have a lower VO2 max (the body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise) and maximum heart rates than younger runners. This means it takes more effort to run at the same speed as their younger peers. This is why there are separate age categories for older runners in races.

Working with competitive male and female distance runners who had all finished first, second or third place in their age categories in large road races, the researchers grouped their subjects as young (18-39 years), master (40-59 years) and older (60 years and over). The researchers looked at factors – strength, power, and flexibility – that might explain how running performance declines with age:

Strength, in particular upper-body strength, is necessary to propel runners uphill and to hasten leg turnover.

Muscle power – how fast that strength is generated – governs the speed at which runners can change speed or direction or run up hills.

Flexibility, measured in the study with a sit-and-reach test (see: to assess hamstring and lower back flexibility, correlates with stride length and step frequency.

The older runners fared significantly worse than younger ones on all three measures. But the researchers noted that you can counter the effects of ageing by adding exercises to your training to improve strength, muscle power and flexibility. And, if it benefits older runners, it has to benefit younger runners too, so it’s never too soon to start.

Training Plans – Cross Training

We’ve looked at all of the quality sessions that you might include in a training plan (the long run, the tempo/threshold run, the easy run, and the interval session). It’s tempting to think that, if you want to run further or faster, you need to add more of those runs into your plan. To a certain extent, it’s true; if you want to get better at running fast, you might place more emphasis on speed-work sessions. If you want to run further, you’ll want to do more long runs. That’s specificity – to get better at a sport, or a particular element of that sport, your training should mainly focus on that sport or element.

But focusing too much on knocking out mile after mile (or sprint after sprint) can result in over-use injuries. It also means that your body doesn’t get the benefit of other types of exercise that can have a positive impact on your running performance, as the article about running economy and age, above, sets out. And – say it quietly – doing nothing but running can get quite tedious too.

This is where cross training comes in. No, cross training is not training when you’re angry. It’s incorporating other types of activity into your plan which will benefit your running but gives your body a break from the pavement pounding. Most top athletes do some cross-training, so you should too.

When it comes to which cross-training to choose, there are loads of options. It really depends what fits into your lifestyle and what you enjoy and will therefore keep doing e.g. cross-country skiing may be great for fitness but the opportunities for doing it regularly in East London are limited.

The most common examples of cross-training for runners are swimming (or pool running) and cycling, which are good for your cardiovascular system without increasing the load-bearing on your legs. Yoga and pilates can improve flexibility. Weight training (with actual weights or body weight) will improve your strength.

Remember that the cross-training should complement your running, not compete with it if your main focus is on achieving a running goal (our triathlete friends will obviously want to balance all three elements of the triathlon). And also remember that you still need to build some recovery; if you end up exhausted from your cross-training you are not going to be able to perform at your best in your running sessions.

Cracker Corner

People with photographic memories; are they born with it or does it develop?

I bought a book on how to use a ladder; it’s a step-by-step guide.

Travel news: a lorry carrying fruit has collided with a lorry carrying sugar on the A13. Expect jams.

And finally…

Once again the People’s Republic of China has let Chris down on the shopping front. He ordered some of those dusting slippers (the ones you can put on your feet so you polish the floor while you walk) on eBay, so he could glide around the house quietly. After several months’ wait, they eventually arrived. Well, when I say ‘they’, there was only one! Perhaps it was meant for a one-legged person. Still, it will come in handy if we ever want to make a toy hedgehog…

Happy Running



BRR Chair








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