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Hatfield 5 Wins

Fairlands Valley Spartans came home with GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE from the Hertfordshire County Five Mile Championships for veterans which were incorporated in the Hatfield Five on Sunday morning.

GEORGIE HOOPER (35:32 – a personal best PB by 11 minutes 39 seconds!); MARIE COLUCCI (37:18 – a season’s best SB by 3:01) and YUKO GORDON (37:42) won BRONZE in the women’s team competition.

Yuko took individual SILVER in the championship for women aged 65 plus.

The GOLD medal went to JIM BROWN who won the county championship for men aged 70 plus with exactly two minutes to spare in a year’s best (YB) time of 42 minutes 39 seconds.

Good fast five-mile races are pretty rare, and 22 Spartans took the opportunity.  There were some outstanding performances in the open race as well as the county event.  Every single Spartan that ran achieved a milestone.  NICK GILL was fastest from Fairlands, 53rd out of the 655 finishers in 30 minutes 50 seconds – an outstanding personal best by 16 minutes 21 seconds.

SAM SIMMONS improved his PB by 4:13 to 33:40. PETE SMITH took 3:05 off his SB to 35:12.  SUSAN McANENY reduced her PB by five seconds to 39:27 and NICK KLEANTHOUS by 58 seconds to 42:19.  NICOLA ANDERSSON sliced 1:17 off her life-time best with 43:38 and PENNY SCHENKEL improved her SB by 1:42 to 45:14.

MATT TUTTON took 37 seconds off his PB with 46:46 and JANE WADEY ran the PB bell with her new personal best of 52 minutes 26 seconds.  An improvement of 1:48.

SHARON CROWLEY took her season’s best down by 52 seconds to 55:03 and BRIAN WHITE, JONATHAN JONES and DZENANA TOPIC ran their best five-mile times this year with 36:51; 56:55 and 57:40.

Three Spartans were running their first ever five-mile races – MIKE JEFFS in 35:32; MARCUS RIDLEY in 37:34 and HARRIET SMITH 38:59.

MARK GOODWIN equalled his five-mile time with 37:34 and DANNY SCANLON was in the top 100 with a year’s best time of 32:49.

Bests At Bass Belle Ten

Another ten Spartans were at the Bass Belle Ten, a partly off-road event based in Bassingbourn.

STEVEN DOBNER said “Rain greeted us but luckily had passed through before the start.  After setting an unofficial PB in last week’s half marathon in Gosport I had a time to aim at and felt comfortable throughout.  Starting quickly to find some space and to try to get the best of the tricky 1.5miles muddy and slippery off-road section in road shoes, we settled into our rhythm ticking off the kilometers and judging the effort.  The little hill proved less of an obstacle this year and I was very happy to come home in a time of 1:15:05, knocking 5 minutes 31 off my previous best 10-mile race.”  

DAVE PATTMAN also came home with a new personal best of 1:15:41 shaving 2 minutes off his PB.  MO WARRILOW said she enjoyed the run, finished with a smile on her face and beat 90 minutes by 22 seconds.”

PAUL and ALISON SHELLEY ran Bass Belle again and said as always it was well organised and well supported.  The 1:5 mile off road section was a bit tricky but otherwise a nice route.  It was great to see so many Spartans.

Paul was 27th 1:11:35 – 27th overall.  Alison finished in 1:27:41.

The other Spartans were MATT CLARKE 1:25:11; MICHAEL O’KEEFE 1:35:00 in his first ten-mile race; FIONA CLARKE 1:37:39; CHLOE CHAPMAN 1:37:53 and MONICA SMITHSON 1:51:24.


Runners were so lucky with the conditions again for the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5K in Hyde Park, London.  It was sunny, mild and with a light breeze for the lunch-time event.  JIM BROWN ran his best 5K of the year with 26 minutes 8 seconds and second in his age category.


TRACY PEZ (and her dog) enjoyed a Canicross event at Grafham Water which they completed in 1 hour 21 minutes 7 seconds.

Parkrun Highlights 26th November 2022 – Penny in the Cape

Numbers were back over 300 for the 266th Stevenage with 314 completing the 5K Saturday morning run in Fairlands Valley Park.  24 were Spartans.

In Stevenage PENNY SCHENKEL ran her 50th parkrun in the red celebration cape with a time of 30 minutes 49 seconds.  MATTHEW NEWTON ran new PB of 20:14. ADRIAN BUSOLINI was 3rd overall in 18:15 and GRANT RAMSAY 4th in 18:58.

Elsewhere DARRYL STEVENS continues his tour of many different parkruns.  He was a first timer at Eastville, Bristol and finished in 39:30.  MATT and FIONA CLARKE were first timers at Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire with 31:07 and 31:11.

JULIET FULLWOOD was a first timer at Alexandra, Moss Side in Manchester on her first parkrun.  She was fourth women in 21:59.

22 Spartans at the Hatfield Five:

PositionNameNet TimeOpen CategoryCat PosGenderGen PosComments
53Nick GILL30:50Senior24Male49PB (16:21)
86Danny SCANLON32:49M4030Male75YB (year best)
106Sam SIMMONS33:40Senior37Male92PB (4:13)
138Peter SMITH35:12M608Male120SB (3:05)
152Mike JEFFS35:32Senior50Male133First 5 miles
153Georgie HOOPER35:32Senior4Female19Team Bronze.  PB (11:39)
181Brian WHITE36:51M6014Male151YB
205Marie COLUCCI37:18W4010Female33Team Bronze.  SB (3:01)
210Yuko GORDON37:42W701Female35County Silver.  Team Bronze.  YB.
211Marcus RIDLEY37:34Senior61Male175First five miles
213Mark GOODWIN37:34M6017Male177SB (equal)
242Harriet SMITH38:59Senior12Female41First five miles
266Susan MCANENY39:27W4017Female54PB (0:05)
317Nick KLEANTHOUS42:19M6024Male230PB (0:58)
334Jim BROWN42:39M703Male239County Gold.  YB
354Nicola ANDERSSON43:38W5027Female105PB (1:17)
414Penny SCHENKEL45:14W5036Female137SB (1:42)
448Matt TUTTON46:46Senior80Male287PB (0:37)
551Jane WADEY52:26W5065Female227PB (1:48)
587Sharon CROWLEY55:03W6031Female257SB (0:52)
596Jonathan Clive JONES56:55M5095Male331YB
604Dzenana TOPIC57:40W5084Female271YB

PB = personal best (lifetime); SB = season’s best; YB = year’s best.  655 finishers.

10 Spartans at the Bass Belle:

27PAUL SHELLEY1:11:35“SB” (2:50)61
52STEVEN DOBNER1:15:04“PB” (5:30)19
56DAVE PATTMAN1:15:41“PB” (1:50)20
126MATT CLARKE1:25:11“YB”448
140ALISON SHELLEY1:27:41“SB”62
164MO WARRILOW1:29:38“SB” (6:15)84
206MICHAEL O’KEEFE1:35:00First 10 miles418
235FIONA CLARKE1:37:39“YB”447
236CHLOE CHAPMAN1:37:53“PB” (6:19)49
313MONICA SMITHSON1:51:24“SB”172

356 finishers

24 Spartans at the Stevenage parkruns on Saturday 26th November:

Position  Gender Position  parkrunner  Run Time   
33Adrian BUSOLINI00:18:15Top ten
44Grant RAMSAY00:18:58Top ten
1110Matthew NEWTON00:20:14 
3229Paul SHELLEY00:22:08 
5447Martin DUDLEY00:23:58 
8912Gail MACKIE00:25:43 
9075Toby ECCLESHALL00:25:44 
9578Neal MUGGLETON00:26:08 
9981Michael O’KEEFE00:26:15 
10082Steven DOBNER00:26:16 
10817Mo WARRILLOW00:26:41 
10987David PATTMAN00:26:42 
134107Thomas SAUKA00:27:47 
161121Nick KLEANTHOUS00:29:03 
16233Alison SHELLEY00:29:05 
16939Chloe CHAPMAN00:29:12 
170123Sam SIMMONS00:29:13 
17943Nicola ANDERSSON00:29:41 
194139Jim BROWN00:30:48 
19547Penny SCHENKEL00:30:4950th parkrun in the cape
20353Nikki Katherine NATION00:31:08 
23471Sheryl HANN00:33:42 
257163Stephen SMITHSON00:34:55 
26484Samantha SUTTON00:35:56 

314 finishers.


February 2018 – stretch of the month

February sees the start of a new series of stretches from the Club Head coach Kieran.


Club Sunday runs – Winter/Spring 2013 half/marathon training


Club training programme -Sunday long runs – Spring Marathon training


The following information sets out a programme of runs that the club will support during the December 2012 to May 2013 period.

This is not intended to be a personal training schedule.  However, regularly completing these runs alongside the other club’s training sessions is a positive way to prepare for a Spring based marathon.

Selecting certain races (the list below is not meant to be fully comprehensive) is a good way to benchmark your training efforts but please take care not to over race!!

Appropriate training runs will also be organised by the Group C coaches.


Sunday Standard club training – Group B (up to 10:30 min miling long run pace)

Sunday Marathon training – Group B (sub 4:30 marathon)

Race/club options to incorporate into marathon training

30th December

11 mile club   training run (Preston)

3 mile early + 11   mile club training run (Preston)

6th January

11 mile club   training run (Weston)

3 mile early + 11   mile club training run (Weston)


13th January

13 mile club   training run (Letchworth Greenway)

13 mile club   training run (Letchworth Greenway), increase with optional 3 miles over to   Manor Wood car park

Royston XC – league   fixture 4

20th January

10 mile club   training run (Hitchin)

5 mile early + 10   mile training run (Hitchin)

27th January

10 mile training run using the 5/10 mile handicap course

10 mile training run using the 5/10 mile handicap course

3rd February

10 mile club training run (Shilley Green)

7 mile early + 10 mile training run (Shilley Green)

Watford half

10th February

Club 5mile/10 mile handicap event

Club 5mile/10 mile handicap event


17th February

11 mile club training run

3 mile early + 11   mile training run

Bramley 20/10 or   Stamford 30K or Watford XC league fixture 5

24th February

10 mile club training run

5 mile early + 10 mile club training run

3rd March

10 mile club training run

7 mile early + 10 mile club training run

Silverstone half or Spitfire 20

10th March

13 mile club training run (Letchworth Greenway)

Run to and from   Manor Wood car park + 13 mile club training run (Letchworth Greenway) – up to 19 miles

Finchley 20 or MK   half

17th March

10 miles within the Club 20

Club 20

Club 20

24th March

10 mile club training run (Shilley Green)

7 mile early + 10 mile training run (Shilley Green)

Oakley 20

31st March

10 mile club training run

Cromer Windmill circuit (20 miles) or the ‘Route 12 expedition’ (TBC)

7th April

11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston)

7 miles early + 11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston) (8 mile option for those running   Brighton)

Sandy 10

14th April

10 mile club training run

10 miles for those running the VLM or 19-22 miles for those running the Edinburgh or MK marathons

Brighton Marathon   or Flitwick 10K

21st April

Early 10 mile club training run (wouldn’t want to miss the race on TV!)

Virgin London Marathon or 10-12 mile run if running the Milton Keynes marathon

Virgin London   Marathon

28th April

11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston)

11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston) (8 mile option for those running MK)


5th May

10 mile club training run

Milton Keynes Marathon (6th May)or 20-22 mile training run if running the Edinburgh marathon

Milton Keynes Marathon (6th May)

12th May

10 mile club training run

10 mile club training run (additional 3 miles for those running the Edinburgh marathon)

19th May

11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston)

11 mile club training run (Datchworth/Aston) (8 mile option for those running the Edinburgh marathon)

26th May

10 mile club training run

Edinburgh Marathon

Edinburgh Marathon



Core Stability training

Please take a look at the attached documents that provide information on what core stability training is, the benefits of this form of training and some recommended drills.  This type of training complements our running well and ensures you develop an inner/core strength that will make you a better runner and protect you from injury.  Try and incorporate the drills around your running based training – even if that is just one session of 20 mins (total) per week.

Look out for the drills coming to a running session near you soon!!!!

Core Stability for Runners


Calculators Calculators


Race time predictor

The following link takes you to the RunnersWorld calculator that predicts your race time from another recent race time at a different distance.  For example, if you are racing a 10K and have recently run a 5K race you can use the 5K time as a means of predicting your 10K time.

Training pace calculator

The following RunnersWorld calculator provides you with a range of training paces from a recent race time.

As a general guide, you can quickly calculate paces for workouts and races from your 5K race time.

Long intervals (e.g. Tuesday) — run at 5K pace

Tempo runs (e.g. Tuesday or Thursday continuous) – 5k pace + (30-45 seconds per mile)

Short intervals  (e.g.  Saturday track) — 5K pace — (10-15 seconds per mile)

Long runs (e.g. Sundays) — 5K pace+(45 seconds — 1:45 minutes per mile)

Easy runs — 5K pace + 1-2 minutes per mile

10K race — 5K pace + (15-20 seconds per mile)

Half marathon — 5K pace +(45 seconds to one minute per mile)

Marathon — Double your half marathon and add 10-20 minutes




There is a wide variation in stretches available for post run/training. The following eight-stretch routine is simple to follow and will keep you flexible in all your main running muscles. Follow it after every run or exercise/workout.

· Don’t stretch cold muscles. It’s far better to stretch after a run than before.
· Do stretch lightly before speed work, after a 10-minute warm-up jog.
· Ease into each stretch: don’t bounce or force it.
· After a run, hold each stretch for 30 seconds; repeat once or twice on each leg.

1. Lying hamstring stretch
Keep your upper body relaxed and both legs straight as you pull one leg towards you (illustrated using a band but you can do this stretch by holding behind the knee or calf of your raised leg).

2. Lying gluteal stretch against wall
Keep the ankle of your front leg just below your knee and ensure that you’re close enough to the wall for your lower back to be off the floor. As gravity gently brings your lower back towards the floor, you’ll feel a stretch in the muscles around the side of your buttocks. Adjust the angle of your hips and front knee to intensify the stretch. If you haven’t got a wall to press against then using the arm on the opposite side of the leg bent at right angles, reach through the gap and holding the leg bent at right angles pull that in towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the side of your buttocks.

3. Groin stretch
Hold your feet and gently use your leg muscles to move your knees towards the ground. Keeping a straight back and bringing your feet closer to your body intensifies the stretch.

4. Gastrocnemius (upper calf) stretch
Keep the back leg straight and push the back heel into the ground. Keeping a straight upper body and gently lifting up your hips helps. There shouldn’t be much pressure on the front foot. If there is not a wall available then push against an imaginary wall or do the stretch with a partner, face on, pushing against each others shoulders.

5. Soleus (lower calf) stretch
Stand closer to the wall and bend one leg, keeping the foot flat on the floor. You should feel a stretch in your lower calf. Leaning towards the wall intensifies the stretch; there should be little pressure on the other foot. Again, if there is not a wall available then push against an imaginary wall once you have bent into the stretch or do the stretch with a partner, face on, pushing against each others shoulders once you have each bent into the stretch.

6. Iliotibial band stretch
Place one foot around the other, with both feet flat on the ground. Keeping both legs straight, lean your hips towards the side of your rearmost foot (so, if your right foot is rearmost, lean your hips to the right). You should feel the stretch down the outside of your leg and around your hip — if you are very stiff, it may take a few times before you feel anything. If a wall is not available then practice doing this stretch with a partner.

7. Hip flexor stretch
Keep your hips squared forwards and your upper body vertical; slumping forwards reduces the stretch.


8. Standing quadriceps stretch

Flex your foot and keep your body straight to maximise the stretch through the front of your leg. You can put one hand on a wall if you need balance.



Mobility exercises – why do we do them?

A few years ago the chairman of Fairlands Valley Spartans and the Head Coach were having a chat and being mischievous the Head Coach bet the chairman he could get the members to do anything he asked. The Chairman accepted the bet and instructed the Head Coach to get members doing ‘ballet exercises’ in public, to this day it was the easiest pint he ever earned…..

But seriously why do we do mobility before all of our sessions?

When running most of the major joints used are synovial joints (or articulating joints) which have a cavity between the bones which make up the joint. The bones are separated by a synovial membrane which secretes fluid when activated.

This fluid acts as a shock absorber and lubricator to the joints, which in turn can help to protect the bones, cartilages and ligaments from damage in the long term.

The fluid isn’t released immediately, which is why in a normal session we warm up for approximately 10-15 minutes and then complete the mobility exercises to further stimulate the release of fluid and joint movement, before going into the main session where the hard work is completed.

By completing the exercises you are protecting your joints, helping you to avoid long term damage and remain as injury free as possible.

All the exercises we use are approved by the UKA and when combined with the mobility drills practiced on a Saturday morning at the track, will really help to not only keep you moving for longer but also improve your running form and efficiency.

So contrary to common belief Chris Leigh is not a ballet dancer, he does care about our joints and avoiding injuries, might own a tutu although will always deny it in public!

Andy Prior, Personal Trainer

Tempo Training

Tempo training

What are they?

Tempo runs are the simplest of all speed workouts. Just warm up, run at a challenging, steady pace you can hold for the set distance and then cool down. They are also known as lactate, anaerobic or fatigue threshold runs. When you go above your threshold, lactic acid builds up, breathing becomes laboured, running form gets ragged, muscles tense and tighten as fatigue sets in. With tempo runs, you train close to your threshold without exceeding it. As a result, you’ll raise it, enabling you to run faster and farther before fatigue sets in. Holding a tough enough pace is the key to performance.

Tempo runs offer many advantages. Although your lactate threshold can be improved with shorter, faster intervals, tempo runs allow for a higher quantity of threshold training per workout, and at safer speeds. Since the pace of tempo runs is not as hard as other types of speed training, recovery is quicker and injury less likely. Its less stressful than intervals. Tempo running by its nature is controlled so it guards against the tendency to train as hard as you can. Tempo training will help you develop a feel for even pace (hence the term ‘tempo’) so you’ll run more evenly in races.

Tempo pacing

The key to tempo training is to strike the correct balance between speed and mileage. You should be aiming to complete runs (after warm up) between 3 to 5 miles at a challenging pace that you can hold for that distance. You can judge the required pace by ‘perceived exertion’. You should be running hard enough for breathing to become faster but you should not be gasping for air. Tempo pace will put you in a two strides-in, one stride-out rhythm for your breathing.  If you are breathing in and out with each stride then you are going at interval pace, so slow down! You should be able to think clearly and talk, but not in full sentences. You should be running in some discomfort but not so much so that it causes you to bring your run to an abrupt end. Tempo pace is usually approximately 15 to 30 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace or 30 to 45 seconds slower than your 5K pace. If using a heart rate monitor the training should be at approximately 85% of maximum heart rate. A quick and easy rule to use is that of the ’20:20’. Most runners will get a great deal of benefit from a 20 minute tempo run ran at 20 seconds per miles slower than their 10K pace.

You won’t get it right first time! Practice is the key until you find the pace that you can maintain throughout the tempo run that is hard enough for you to get the benefits in respect to your lactate threshold.

You can run tempo runs anywhere. They can be, for example, completed off road or even on a treadmill. Just ensure you follow the pattern of (i) adequate warm up (ii) timed tempo run with a focus on pace and form and (iii) adequate cool down.


Hill training

Hill training


Hill Training has a strengthening effect as well as boosting your power. In hill running, you are using your body weight as a resistance to push against, so the driving muscles from which your leg power is derived have to work harder. The technique to aim for is a “bouncy” style where you have a good knee lift and maximum range of movement in the ankle. You should aim to drive hard, pushing upwards with your toes, flexing your ankle as much as possible, landing on the front part of the foot and then letting the heel come down below the level of the toes as the weight is taken. This stretches the calf muscles upwards and downwards as much as possible and applies resistance which over time will improve your power and elasticity. You should look straight ahead, as you run (not at your feet) and ensure your neck, shoulders and arms are free of tension. Many experts believe that the “bouncy” action is more important than the speed at which you run up the hills. Hill work results in the calf muscles learning to contract more quickly and thereby generating work at a higher rate, they become more powerful. The calf muscle achieves this by recruiting more muscle fibres, around two or three times as many when compared to running on the flat. The “bouncy” action also improves the power of the quads in the front of the thigh as they provide the high knee lift that is required. It can also mean higher running speeds and shorter foot strike times. Hill training offers the following benefits:

– helps develop power and muscle elasticity
– improves stride frequency and length
– develops co-ordination, encouraging the proper use of arm action during the driving phase and feet in the support phase
– develops control and stabilisation as well as improved speed (downhill running)
– promotes strength endurance
– develops maximum speed and strength (short hills)
– improves lactate tolerance (mixed hills)

Don’t blast up hills in the early part of your workout as this can stop you working through subsequent miles. The idea is to run constantly at a hard but not super fast speed. You should not feel like you are racing but as though you are running just slightly slower than your lactate threshold. Alternatively, if you are using a heart rate monitor this should be at around 85% of maximum during at least the last two-thirds of your run. The benefits of short, medium and long hills are quite different, and can be used at different times of the year.

Short hills

A short hill is one which takes no more that 30 seconds to run up and has an inclination between 5 and 15 degrees gradient. Your energy source on short hills is entirely anaerobic. You should focus on a running technique which has vigorous arm drive and high knee lift, with the hips kept high, so that they are ‘running tall’, not leaning forwards. The session is anaerobic so the recovery time can be long, a walk back down the hill, or a slow jog of 60 to 90 seconds. The total volume (number of repetitions) will depend on your overall fitness and the reason for doing it. A sprinter looking for strength might do 10 repetitions of 15 second duration up a steep slope with a long recovery where as a distance runner who is trying to improve sprinting speed might do 30 repetitions of 15 seconds duration. Example of short hill sessions:

– 8 to 10 repetitions over 50 metres (sprinters)
– 8 to 10 repetitions over 150 metres (middle distance athletes)
– 8 to 10 repetitions over 200 metres (long distance athletes)

Medium hills

A medium hill is one that takes between 30 to 90 seconds to run up. This is the length of hill that is a good distance for the middle-distance runner, because it combines the benefits of the short hills with the stresses on muscular endurance and tolerance of lactic acid. Use a hill as steep as one in six to one in ten, so that you can run at something near race pace. The energy source is both aerobic and anaerobic and you will experience the build up in blood lactate as you go further up the hill. A run up a hill combination along Martins Way in Stevenage, for example. Scuttling up the hill with a short stride and forward lean may be the best way to get up in a race, but in training, we are trying to develop particular qualities. It is better, therefore, to go for a longer stride and higher knee lift: running tall with the hips pushed forwards, keeping the back upright. Generally volume will depend on overall objectives again but a session of between 8 to 12 reps of 60 seconds is suitable with a slow jog back to the bottom for recovery.

Long hills

A long hill is one which takes from 90 seconds to three minutes plus. Here most of the energy comes from aerobic sources, but if parts of the hill are steep and you are running them hard, there will still be an accumulation of blood lactate. There will be muscular fatigue in the leg muscles, and possibly in the abdominal muscles too, but the main limiting factor will be your cardiovascular system. As these hill sessions are aerobic, you will not use as much power per stride as the shorter hills. They are particularly good for the cross country or road runner who is running distances of 10,000m and upwards. A session of, say eight times three minutes, with a run back of four or five minutes will make a good hard workout.

Mixed hill running

The attraction of mixed hill training is that it can be fitted in with the terrain you are running on and can, therefore, be interesting and full of variety. Two advantages can come from this type of hill training:

– Race simulation. It is a good principle to rehearse in training the situations you are likely to meet in a race, such as trying to break open a gap by running hard over the top of a hill and keeping the pace going instead of easing up, as many runners do.
– Downhill running. This is something that often causes jarring and strains. Repeated fast downhill runs are not advised but you should practice them within a mixed hills session to find the most relaxed way of running downhill without strain (see the section below on downhill running for further details on the appropriate running style).

Mixed hill running can also be used to improve running economy and boost your VO2 max level. A typical mixed hills session would be over a six or seven mile undulating hilly course, starting the session jogging at a modest pace and gradually picking up the intensity as you move through the hills.

Downhill running

For most races you spend as much time going down hills as you spend going up them so it makes sense to practice running down hills, even just a little. Used with caution, downhill training can be very beneficial, strengthening the quads and preparing them for the uphill training and racing you will be doing. A runner going down a hill can experience as much as 40 per cent more leg shock than on the flats so it pays to take care in your downhill training. The trick is to develop a feel for good downhill running form by practising it until it becomes subconscious to relax and almost throw yourself downhill at quick paces. That is not to say throw yourself recklessly down hills! For optimum downhill running your body should be perpendicular to the ground and relaxed. That is leaning forward by exactly the slope of the hill. This not only helps gravity give you forward momentum but it ensures that each stride carries you parallel to the running surface rather than bouncing you jarringly up and down. Avoid leaning backwards because this will result in a braking action, increasing impact through your legs and will lead to greater impact through your joints, particularly the knees. It also wastes a great deal of energy and speed.

Kenyan Hills

This is a method of running a series of up and down hill efforts using a constant effort. Unlike their European and American counterparts who tended to blast up hills and use the downhill sections to recover, the Kenyans would train using a constant effort through the ups and downs. This meant that they were not necessarily climbing hills at such a quick rate but were in better form during the downhill sections and achieved better pace overall. Kenyan hills training consists of finding a series of hills and running these as a series of repetitions, usually over a total timed effort e.g. 20 or 30 minutes. The training takes a degree of discipline in order to ensure that the whole session is run at a constant effort, holding back slightly in the uphill sections and using good downhill form (see above) to keep up the pace. These can be tough sessions because there is no perception of a recovery period throughout it if they are completed correctly but they have huge benefits in training the muscles for the hill repeats as well as the mind and body into maintaining a good, consistent running form and pace.

Mental Training

Mental training

Mental Training       

Tips for fighting off fatigue and pain

Fatigue and pain limit performance.  The following are some mental tricks that you can play on yourself to keep your mind occupied just at a time when it is searching for reasons to concede to distress!  You can’t outrun fatigue but the idea is that you can bluff your way through it.

1. Recognise any discomfort and talk your way through it (not out aloud otherwise you may get locked up!).

2. At the first sign of any discomfort or fatigue heighten your awareness in that area.  If you feel tightness, for example, in your quads late in a race tighten those muscles momentarily and then let go.  This reduces anxiety, helping fight off fatigue with relaxation.

3. Try repeating a relaxation slogan such as ‘calm, calm, calm’ if you feel fatigue or discomfort setting in.  Find a slogan or set of words that work for you and be ready to use them at key points in your runs.

4. Control discomfort by use of controlled breathing.  If you are struggling focus on deep, steady breathing.  This relaxes you so that you are able to concentrate on effort, not pain.

5. Practice talking to yourself!!  Remind yourself how well you have trained for this race, how much you have been through, the milestones you have achieved on the way etc.  Experiment and find what works for you.

6. Segmenting a race into chunks.  Try counting down distances rather than clocking them up.  In a 10K work down the remaining distance so that you are coming closer and closer to the end of the race rather than thinking you have completed 2,3,4 and then 5 miles etc.  Setting time targets for each mile and then banking those before moving on the next one is another technique you can adopt.

Go on and give it a go.  What have you got to lose????


This is a fancy word for daydreaming.  The difference is that rather than letting your mind wander, you take conscious control and entertain only thoughts that will help your running.  Memorise what it feels like to run correctly then replay that memory over and over again, concentrating on rhythm and flow of good form.  If nothing else, this should make it easier to distinguish good form from bad in actual workouts.  Visualisation is a great technique to use in race preparation runs and then races themselves.  It aids your focus and optimises your ability to perform at your best.  However, just like running itself you need to train your mind to make the most of visualisation.  Try it in lower key training sessions and perfect it before key races.

Crushing those negative thoughts

As runners we will come across a wide range of situations where negative thoughts and self doubts creep into our heads.  The result is impact on our performance and disappointments.  Here are some common scenarios with tips on how to deal with them:

Scenario – Pre-race nerves tend to get the best of you

Solution  – Laugh it off. The butterflies can stike on the night before a race or on the way there.  What we call nerves is actually heightened adrenaline. If you are really nervous before a race you will spend an excessive amount of mental energy thinking about it. If you suffer from race day nerves turn your attention to something that will elicit a completely different emotion.  For example, download your favourite comedy moment to your phone and play it before you race.  Laughing helps restore emotional balance and reduces stress.

Scenario – You always struggle with hills

Solution – picture yourself. get a running partner to take a picture of you running up a hill.  Smile broadly as if you are loving it! (even if you are not!)  Save the picture as a screensaver or home page and every time you use your phone/mobile device you will see yourself running the hill and loving it!

Scenario – you’ve hit a racing or training plateau

Solution – get your head in the books. Take comfort in the fact that the very best athletes go through periods where they struggle to reach their performance potential.  Read up on famous athletes who have coped with challenges over the course of their career.  Learn from the best and get inspiration!

Scenario – you want to give up during a race

Solution – stick it on!  Think of a time when you have wnated to give up but have stuck at it and seen it through.  Write down those thoughts on a post it pad with comments as to what you did to overcome the challenge.  Stick the note inside your running shoes. The note will be there every time you go training.


Be safe, be seen and be a Spartan!

Be safe!

Never assume that because you have heard/seen a danger/obstacle that your fellow runners have. Make the call to advise them. If leading a run, set a positive example by practicing the advice set out in these guidelines.

Where possible run in pairs or groups. If you haven’t got anyone to run with, ask another member of the club if they will run with you. There will always be other runners in the club that are training for similar races/events. Networking will help forge opportunities to buddy up with other runners, one of the many benefits in being in a running club.

Whenever you venture out, even if it is for only 20 minutes, you should always let someone know where you’re going, your exact route and approximately how long you expect to be. If you’re heading out from an empty home or office, call a friend, partner or relative to advise them of your plans, and call them again to check in when you return.

Plan your routes carefully. That doesn’t mean you should avoid your favourite routes because they go across remote areas or miss out on some spectacular scenery, but that you should take care with your choice. Try to limit danger points on your runs. For example, areas where you would be difficult to spot if you had a fall or injury, dark alleyways, or known local black spots.

Carry Identification. ICE Tags are available from the kit team.

Route planning

  • Circular routes are safer because you don’t have to retrace your steps.
  • Vary your route to minimise chances of being targeted.
  • Try and avoid deserted areas or places where people could easily conceal themselves. For example: paths surrounded by bushes.
  • Choose well lit, populated routes, especially if you are running after dark.
  • Be aware of running on cycle paths — the cyclists may not be expecting to see you. Stick to the left when in a group. Where a path has dual use, make sure you run on the pedestrian side.
  • Look for places on or near your route where you could be sure of finding people and where you could call for help. For example: shops, garages etc.
  • If possible, check out your route first on foot or by car. Look to see if there are other people using your route — this is a good sign.
  • See if you can run with a friend or in a group. Is there anyone that could perhaps cycle with you instead?
  • Before agreeing to exercise with someone, take time to get to know and trust them.
  • Carry some form of identification with you.
  • When running on your own, always face oncoming traffic (unless running round a blind bend). This way you can see oncoming vehicles and take avoiding action if necessary. On blind corners take extra care and run where you can get best visibility. If you need to cross the road to do that be decisive and then cross back to face oncoming traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Cross roads at crossings and always be aware of traffic lights. If using a crossing, regroup before the entire group crosses as one (i.e. do not press any buttons until all the group are there!). Make sure you make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a car. When approaching an intersection/T-junction, make eye contact with the driver who is waiting to proceed onto the main road. If the driver does not see you, pass behind the car.
  • Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions – if you stop to answer, keep at least at arm’s length from the vehicle.
  • MP3/iPods may prevent you from hearing trouble approaching and distract you from your surroundings. Expensive equipment could also make you a target for thieves.
  • Do not wear earphones to group sessions. You will not be able to hear the coach’s/group leader’s instructions or be able to communicate effectively with your fellow runners.
  • When running with a group, ensure that all members of the group return safely. Start and finish together. If you need to finish early, let the group leader/coach know you are leaving. Do not leave the group without letting someone know what you are doing.
  • Listen to the coach/group leader at all times. This ensures that the group hear and can follow consistent instructions.
  • On steady/slow runs (e.g. Sunday training runs), faster runners must regularly return to the back of the slower runners. You should not leave the group before first speaking to the group leader/coach about what you are doing.

Be seen!

Precautions to take while running at night/low light levels

We always need to think about safety and being seen at night. The most important thing is to make sure you can be seen. Dark clothes and shoes can make you virtually invisible to motorists, particularly if you’re trying to cross a busy road or if you’re running along the edge of a narrow road without a footpath. You may also not be visible to other runners and/or pedestrians and cause an accident as a result.

  • Wear bright clothing and light colours; at the very least wear a white t-shirt as a top layer. You are also best to look for wind jackets, tops and tights with reflective strips that are highly visible even on the darkest road. The club kit team have a great range of hi-viz tops and jackets. See Club Kit for further details.
  • Invest in a lightweight reflective running bib in a luminous colour with reflective strips around the middle. These are cheap and readily available at all good running shops. You cannot be missed in these even if you are padded up in many layers on the coldest of days, they will still fit.
  • Obtain a flashing LED armband. These are cheap and effective. Please see a member of the kit team.
  • Avoid using the roads unless you have to. When you are on a road watch the surface – wet or icy patches are considerably harder to see in the dark.

Be a Spartan!

We pride ourselves on being a friendly and considerate club. Look out for your fellow runners as well as yourself on training runs. Follow the advice in the Be Safe and Be Seen sections above and always lead by example.
During ‘speed’ sessions run at your own pace. Faster runners when finished should encourage slower runners until they have finished or continue with the speed session set until the last runner has finished. Then warm down together.
Remember that our training runs are just that (even ‘speed’ sessions). Don’t run so hard that you are putting your health, other runner’s health or members of the public at risk. Don’t leave your race on the training ground/route!!
Be aware of members of the public and other road/cycleway/path users when you are running. Don’t expect them to move out of your way, make room for them at the earliest opportunity so that there is no chance of any accidents. This means that when you are out in a group that you will need to be prepared to run no more than two abreast and be ready to get into single file to accommodate other cycleway users at appropriate times. This applies to runners of all capabilities. Above all be polite and remember that you are representing the club. 
Listen to your coach’s/group leader’s instructions during the session.
Above all enjoy your running and support those runners around you so that our reputation gets passed on!


Build up your long run

Long runs are the definitive way to build endurance; strengthening the heart, the legs and the ligaments in the process. They also burn fat and boost confidence. If the longest you are used to running for is 30 minutes, gradually build up to an hour by adding five minutes to your run each week. Just minutes of extra running make a difference — but too much and you’re setting yourself up for injury or illness.


Learn the hard-easy routine (see top tip HE-HE method)

Always follow vigorous exercise on one day with a rest day or a recovery run.
Even if you do feel fantastic the day after a hard run, temper yourself. If you don’t do that, you will struggle the following day, or worse, become injured. Stress on top of rest equals improvement, but stress on top of stress equals breakdown.


Build a base

Once you’ve built a platform of steady work, and only then, should you start thinking about speed work, hill work and interval training. This base of running can last from six months to as long as a year, and should consist of steady running and jogging. Enjoy this period; if you’re an ambitious new runner this may be a useful stress-free period of running when you can gauge which distances may be right for you to race over in the future.


Run by time not by miles

This advice is especially valuable for beginners and those hoping to build endurance. When you find that you can gradually spend more and more time on your feet, all that hard work seems to be paying off. If you’re a more experienced runner, you’ll find that thinking of time can prevent you tearing round your training routes at breakneck speed trying to set a PB. This can ensure that your ‘recovery’ runs actually provide the rest and recuperation all runners need.


Set goals

Staying fit and healthy is great reward in itself, but setting a goal can make you more motivated and help you enjoy your running more. When you sit down and set yourself a goal consider four elements, incorporated in the acronym RACE. Firstly, choose a goal with a noticeable Reward. It could be a medal, a time, or a new set of clothes if your goal is weight loss. Secondly, make that goal Attainable — within your reach. Thirdly, make it Challenging. If your goal is going to be easy, you won’t work to achieve it. Finally, be Explicit: set out specific races, precise target times, and the crucial points along the path to achieving your ambition.


Choose your running surface carefully

Most runners clock their miles on the open roads. Roads aren’t the worst places to run, but try to run on the Tarmac no more than three times a week. Certainly steer clear of concrete pavements whenever you can, which will pound your body. Running tracks are good for
speed work.
Grassy areas are the softest surface to run on, but they can be uneven.
Varying the surfaces you are using can generate variety in your runs and improve your overall running strength.


Warm Up / Cool Down

Warm-ups let your body gradually adjust to the exercise, preparing you for the harder work to come and actually making the session easier. Five to 10 minutes of running or walking before you start putting your body through its paces will also lessen the strain on your heart and reduce the chances of injury.
An abrupt finish to exercise can cause cramps, dizziness, abnormal strain on the heart, and hamper the removal of the body’s waste products such as lactic acid. Just spend five minutes longer on your feet at a gentle pace to cool your body.


Build Steady

If your running is to progress you will need to work harder over time, but if you punish your body too hard too soon you won’t improve and you’ll increase the risk of injury.
Make a clear plan of their intended weekly training and then increase mileage or intensity only every third or fourth week.
For example, if your current mileage is 10 miles a week and you’re aiming to build that up to 20 miles, add two to four miles every three to four weeks. Apply this same principle to increases in speed.


Walk before you run

Few people are able to run a mile on their first day of running, so don’t try it. You’ll soon feel discouraged and give in. Instead, begin by mixing running with walking.
For example, run for 30 seconds then walk for 90 seconds, repeating this for a total of 20 minutes. When you can comfortably manage this four times a week, adjust your walk/run ratio to 45/75 seconds four times a week. Then try 60/60, 75/45, and 90/30. In time you’ll be running for several minutes without breaks, and then you will be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping!