Howdie Road Runners,

What a fantastic weekend! Bright blue skies, and a strange round yellow thing in the sky (someone told me it was called the Sun), all adding up to the perfect setting for parkrun on Saturday, followed by the first South Essex Cross Country League race at South Weald on Sunday. And didn’t we do well? Great to see both long-time members and brand-new members pulling together to do their best for the Club and putting us firmly at the top of the Second Division. Sad for Joseph Grange, who was too young to be counted in the scores, after finishing in second place overall, but what a run!

Let’s hope we can field just as good a team for the next race in the season at One Tree Hill on 27 March. Don’t worry that it clashes with Mothers’ Day. I’m sure any Mum would love to spend their day watching their children smash it at cross-country.

Running in the News

On Sunday 27 February Ethiopia’s Yalamzef Yehualaw broke the women’s 10km road world record. Running in Castellon, Spain, she ran the distance in 29:14 minutes, breaking the previous women’s record by 24 seconds. Her average pace was an amazing 2:55 minutes per kilometre. After her victory Yehualaw, who last year became the second fastest women’s half-marathon runner in history, said

“Today a dream came true. I felt really great in the race, the first 5km was very fast, I was struggling a little bit in the second 5km but I was still able to maintain a high pace”.

Personally, I think it’s a bit rude to run a 10k faster than I can manage 5k at the moment…

Hainault Forest Update – March 2022

Work on the restoration of Hainault Forest is halfway through and changes are beginning to be seen:

  • An extensive drainage system is being installed to prevent the forest being quite so muddy (hey, where’s the fun in that? – Alison)
  • The main footpath from Romford Road will be open soon, along with a remodelled entrance and new planting.
  • The barns are transforming into new visitor facilities including new workshops in the courtyard and the Forge Barn extension.

There is a video update on the work, with some fantastic shots of the Forest, here:

I wonder what our friend Dottie Dear thinks of it all…

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

Barking Road Runners fielded a strong team for the first round of the South Essex Cross Country league at Weald Country Park. The event also doubled up as the Last race in BRR’s in-house cross-country competition.

The 7k race was a typical cross-country course with plenty of mud and hills and with BRR fielding a large contingent it meant a busy morning for Ron’s mobile cafe supplying teas for the BRR runners and supporters.

Joseph Grange was first over the line for BRR unfortunately he was underage so his result didn’t count but it was a great run anyway. The format for the league is the first 7 men and 4 women score towards the result of which 2 men and 1 woman must be a veteran (over 40 on the day).

BRR finished first in their division with their points scorers being Debbie Coyle 4th, Sarah Friel 22nd, Joyce Golder 56th, and Cristina Cooper 64th for the ladies and Paul Grange 5th, Jack Nixon 6th, Stephen Philcox 18th, Simon Abeledo 24th, James Lowndes 36th, Stuart Mackay 61st, and Jagbir Bassi 85th for the men for a combined total of 381 points.

Non-scoring runners are important too as they help prevent other teams from scoring as many points as they otherwise would by pushing them down the field.

Jess Collett with 399 points and Joe Stacey with a maximum 400 points were the respective champions of the BRR in-house men’s and women’s winter cross country series after the final race. Runners up for each event were Joyce Golder and Adrian Davison.

This week’s winner of round 4 of the virtual handicap series was Isobel Pinedo-Borobio who took 2 minutes and 11 seconds of her handicap. Also bettering their handicap were Antony Leckerman, Joyce Golder and Rob Courtier.

BRR park runners


Greg Adams 35:57

Barking Park

Jagbir Bassi 20:00, Owen Wainhouse 20:48, Ron Vialls 24:11, Joyce Golder 24:40, Adrian Davison 24:41, Martin Brooks 26:14, Andrew Hiller 26:23, John Lang 26:26, Barry Culling 27:14, Emma Paisley 28:14, Rob Courtier 29:24, Les Jay 31:40, Nikki Cranmer 35:06, Dawn Blake 35:07, Clodagh O’Callaghan 35:15, Micky Ball 39:08, Jenni Birch  40:54, and Alan Murphy 51:22

Chalkwell Beach 

Antony Leckerman 20:38 and Rory Burr 23:00

Cyclopark Gravesend 

Darren Graham 44:57 and Belinda Riches 44:58.

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford 26:40 and Faye Spooner 32:10

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 21:59 and Kresh Veerasamy 50:17.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 1 March – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. It’s the timed mile this week, followed by 300s with 100 recovery (as many as you can fit in before 7.50pm). We’ve been doing some nice, long, reps recently, so the mile should feel easy-peasy.

7.00pm, Thursday 3 March – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles. Now, where can we get lost this week…

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. Let Rob know via WhatsApp if you want to run.

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. I think I can impersonate Isabel if she’s not available; my Spanish accent is impeccable (ahem).

5 March – 11 March – Winter Virtual Handicap #05. 

10.00am, Sunday 20 March – Brentwood Half Marathon. Sawyers Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex CM15 9DA. The first race in this year’s Grand Prix competition. To sign up, go to

10.00am, Sunday 27 March – SECCL #02, One Tree Hill. Let’s get another great team out and maintain our position at the top of Division 2. Just be aware, as I mentioned to some people on Sunday, there is more than one tree and definitely more than one hill. But that’s part of the fun of XC, isn’t it?

The Training Plan – Pacing it right

The good thing about the first occasion you race a particular distance is that you’ll get a Personal Best whatever your time. After that, however, you’ll probably want to show some improvement, and we all like to break those barriers, like coming in under 20 minutes for a 5k (in my dreams) or 2 hours for a Half.

Whatever your goal time, to have a chance of making it you will have to pace your run. And practising as part of your training plan is a great idea. You can find lots of running pace calculators online. This one from Strava covers most of the popular race distances:

A pace calculator provides the average pace you need meet to achieve your goal. Of course, you don’t need to maintain an even pace throughout a run; it’s natural to slow down while going uphill (while maintaining the same effort), or at a water station, and you might go a bit faster on a downhill section, provided it’s not too steep.

There are also plenty of calculators that tell you what pace you need to run at to meet a goal time. This one is quite simple to use:

It’s important to be realistic when setting your goal time/pace. If you have never run a distance before it is best to be conservative with your target e.g. if your usual five-mile time is 50 minutes you are unlikely to be able to finish in 30 minutes without a significant change in your ability (even performance-enhancing drugs probably won’t do the trick). It’s great to aspire to a speedy time, but if you are completely unrealistic is will only demotivate you. However, if you get a fair way through a race and feel like you have something left in the tank, you can always speed up.

If you are following your training plan, a lot of your training might be slower (recovery/easy runs or long runs) or faster (tempo/threshold runs or speedwork) than your target pace, though you may want to include some miles at race pace to get a feel for it. And, hopefully, your training plan will include some races at shorter distances where you can really practice race pace.

Once you’ve decided on your goal pace, here are some things to watch out for on race day:

  • Run your own race – it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a race and go off way too fast at the start, only to crash and burn later on when you realise you’ve overdone it. Always run your own race and don’t be tempted to try and keep up with others. With this in mind…
  • Aim for a negative split often recommended to start your race slightly slower and finish slightly faster (a negative split). Notwithstanding the advice to run your own race, if you’re into the last miles and feeling strong, or are behind someone who is slightly faster than you that you can latch onto, why not go for it?
  • Consider the conditions – race calculators don’t account for things like crowding, heat, wind, rain, difficult terrain on race day. So in difficult conditions it would be a good idea to add 5% or so on to your target time.
  • Do the best that you can on the day – likewise, race calculators can’t take account or how you might feel physically or mentally. Sometimes we feel like superheroes, sometimes we have niggles or just aren’t in the right headspace on race day. If you are well enough to go ahead, adjust your expectations and treat the race as a learning experience. If you don’t finish, there will always be another race and you can plan how you will do better next time. If you finish, enjoy the sense of achievement of pushing through in the face of adversity: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Cracker Corner

Fashion tip – don’t dress up in a suit of armour. It will make you look middle aged.

How do you get a squirrel to like you? Act like a nut.

Why did the burglar have a shower? Because he wanted to make a clean getaway.

Boom! Boom! (groan…)

And finally…

Ahhh, how I missed the smell of Deep Heat wafting on the breeze when races were cancelled during lockdown… Deep Heat is intended to relieve pain by providing a ‘neurological distraction i.e. the burning sensation takes your mind off your aches and pains). But I know lots of seasoned runners swear by rubbing liniments into their legs before a race, to warm up their muscles. Unfortunately, Ruddy Farquharson (careful with the pronunciation), senior strength and conditioning coach at the English Institute of Sport says this doesn’t actually work; the burning sensation is only felt in the top layers of skin, and doesn’t penetrate to the muscles. To get the muscles firing, you really need to do a proper warm up. But does that mean you should consign the Deep Heat to the dustbin? Not if you like using it as part of your pre-race ritual and, of course, there is the added benefit that the burning sensation might distract you from the discomfort of running. Just be careful which parts of your body you rub it onto…

Happy Running



BRR Chair



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