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Reflecting on the year - The E Factor!

Posted by jcreane@btinternet.com on December 28, 2021 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

As athletes we can become masters of reflection. We analyse how we feel often on a daily basis. We awake in the morning and look for the signs. Can I move across the landing? Is there any tightness? Are there aches and pains? Has the sore throat got better? How am I feeling on the run, during an effort etc etc..?

The list is endless, but we do indeed reflect and analyse throughout each 365 days or so. It's what we do. And on reflection its not easy living with oneself or easy for those that live with us. We give a great deal of importance to our running and our running related activities. It is indeed obsessive and there are times where we tread the lines of a healthy or unhealthy relationship with an activity that gives us much, but it rarely pays the bills.

We strive for good times. We strive for better. Perspective can be lost whilst we pursue pathways to contentment and achievement. It's a never ending pursuit. For some life long. But one thing I always try and keep focused on, is enjoyment. Once this starts to wane, I think thats the road to bigger problems. It's not just your running that suffers, but other aspects of your life start to breakdown, or at least can breakdown depending on how it affects you and how you react.

Running is an amazing activity when its going well, but the 'going well' phases don't last forever and there will always be times that offer challenge. It could be family, work or something else. Balance is a big thing in life and we are faced with daily dilemmas of how to prioritise our personal demands. However, I feel that having more demands is somewhat healthier than having no demands at all. At least if there are things to engage with, it can take your mind off the fact that you can't run or compete.

Running is an individual pursuit. We can say it's social and that our experiences are shared. Indeed we do share and experience good times together. But when you are not enjoying running and you begin to distance yourself from the activity, you realise that the individual aspect of the sport takes on a sharper focus.

We all started at the same place, with that first run. We did it to make a change, We did it for positive outcomes and we ultimately achieved enjoyment from it. This is ultimately where we need to consider when the chips are down. And the chips come down for everyone at some stage. They might not last long for some, but the diffciult times will always present themselves. This is where perspective is needed. Running is a part of our lives, but it's a part. Yes, an important part, but in reality we won't reflect on our running too much at life changing moments. Its a part that needs to be appreciated and enjoyed, but it mustn't dominate your existence We are all more than running.

So if you are making running plans for 2022, I suggest prioritising the E factor!

Enjoy it. Make that your first base always. A lot can come from enjoyment. Sending all good wishes for a healthy 2022!

The Shoe Debate - Is this a good thing?

Posted by jcreane@btinternet.com on April 13, 2021 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I don't think we can question that developments in shoes in  recent times, have not affected performance. They have.

In my opinion, the change they have made is far and beyond anything I have seen in my time. That time is of course relatively short in athletics!

On a world stage we have seen big improvements particularly on the road, but my own personal experience is that they have also affected the sub elite runners to a great degree too. So suddenly 32 min 10k runners are running close to 30 mins or a HM has improved from 68.30 to 65.30 as an example. My inbox messages over the last two years in particular have highlighted similar trends to greater or lesser degrees.

Obviously Covid 19 has greatly affected many aspects of life, but it has also focused our attention on the details of life too. My inbox would be flooded with screenshots of shoes on start lines, finish areas in races. So, there is no doubt the athletes are on to something here. These things don't just happen. Athletes know! They also know that opportunities to make gains are important, if others are doing so. After all it's not illegal. It has been allowed. Innovation has been encouraged and welcomed, hasn't it? Is this a good thing?

The 'swoosh' started the trend. It has been highlighted by Kipchoge et al in many of the races we have witnessed in recent times. So, like what has happened since the beginning of time, ideas catch on. The shoes are here. They are running rampant and I don't think this is a curve that will flatten in a short time.

My own thinking, (that can work too much sometimes), is where do we go from here? Is this the beginning of a shoe arms war? Or, are we going to see things plateau and stabilise for a while? Answers on a postcard please!!!

I think athletes do have a moral code (nearly all) but there comes a point where everyone has to join in and I think this is beginning to happen. The attitudes of 'cheat shoes'...'you won't catch me wearing them!' These feelings are dampening down. The acceptance is beginning to infect all. Again, I go back to my own feelings and question...Is this a good thing? They are almost unanswerable questions.

Like many of us I've listened and observed the goings on in relation to this debate. Another aspect is 'the responder'. Do people react differently to the shoes. This argument I am actually less interested in, because I think all athletes respond differently to different shoes. We know what works for us and we know what doesn't. Athletes are very conscious of how a shoe feels, so again if some athletes are gaining an advantage from the carbon shoes and some are not, then I think this debate will subside. Everyone is pushing to offer a 'super' shoe and it's only a matter of time before all do so. Is this a good thing?

Recently the shoe debate has exploded again because of Beth Potter's extraordinary run at the Podium 5k in Barrowford. A world record. Was it Beth? Was it the shoe? Is she taking something? How did that even happen? Is the course short? Have they got drug testing? Did they have timers with watches?

Yes, we were all blown out of the water by this. But, the fact of the matter is....it happened. Potter the athlete with a terrific pedigree ran a sensational time in a high quality race. Mick Hill the Master 45 also ran a best time for this age category. So what happened? Perfect course, perfect conditions, perfect quality of field. These things do happen. Don't they? I think many athletes can recall times in their running careers, where they questionned their own performance. "Where did that bloody come from?...." It's happened to me certainly and many of us.

So, yes it was a WR run, but it could also have just been that everything aligned perfectly. Potter has been fairly quiet in running terms for a few years. Her power of 10 is fairly sparce 2018 onwards. Yes, she's popped up with a few runs, but nothing like the frequency of her earlier athletic career.

I've heard people talk about the influence of triathlon training on Potter. I really haven't delved into this too much, but can only imagine that she would be doing plenty of time on the bike. I also know she has a very strong swimming background. From my own experience of triathletes, not many of the ones I know say their swimming is a strong one. No doubt, all this extra training would compliment Potter. But the fact of the matter is, she is someone who has just run the fastest time we've seen here ever! So, her running game has to be very strong indeed. Personally I don't believe cycling and swimming is the defining element of push that has made her running better. But that is up for debate. My own belief is that running makes a runner better ultimately. But, that's the Lydiard in me!

The shoes are having impact. You don't get the black hammerite paint out of the shed to do a DIY job on your next % if they don't work. Is this a good thing?

TBC..................I'm sure!

Night of the 10000m 21st May 2016

Posted by jcreane@btinternet.com on May 24, 2016 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Night of 10000m


Incorporating English & British Championships


Saturday 21st May 2016


Venue Parliament Hill Track, Hampstead Heath, London



The Night of the 10000m event at Parliament Hill track certainly lived up to my expectations. Definitely a great event and well organised. It certainly brought some excitement to racing, as my own personal opinion is that racing has gone particularly stale (for a whole host of reasons..).



The seminar was hosted by Nick Anderson and on the panel were Great Britain athletes of yesteryear Nick Rose (world cross country medalist 10k British record holder), Eamonn Martin (London winner), Charlie Spedding (LA Olympic Bronze Marathon) and Paul Evans (Chicago winner). All highly respected athletes with incredible achievements at Olympic level, cross country, road and track.


The proceedings got under way (after brief introductions) with each athlete talking about their approaches to training and what this consisted of.


CHARLIE SPEDDING (CP) considered that volume was very important for him. This included weeks of 100+ miles a week. He considered himself not to be a sprinter so he considered specific speed sessions very important to him. So much so that he kept them in most of the time. It was a Lydiard type approach but (for him) with a more concentrated effort on speed. When asked about this, he said it may only take up 5% of his week but it was critically important (for him).


EAMONN MARTIN (EM) believed that performance and ability to cope with 5000m was very important and an indicator of endurance. He said that most of his training at 5000m was adapted for 10000m and that typical sessions were 10x1k or 6 x 1600.



Same issues as CS in that he didn't have a turn of pace/finishing kick. Did a great deal of track training and because of the geography of where he was based he tended to train alone. Did also mention that quite a few of his training runs were carried out at strong paces, finishing quicker than how they started.



Had a very holistic stance on his approach. He said that he used road races as a means to an end. He stressed that he really enjoyed training and racing. It wasn't a chore. We just got on with it and did it. Again talked about repetitions and sessions.


* I asked the first question. I asked 'you've all talked about the importance of sessions. How important we're they in real terms of the total % of your training?


Answers were very similar. All talked of 2-3 sessions a week and that if there was any particular differentiation there would be 2 in winter and 3 in the summer. I don't feel that the question was necessarily answered comprehensively, but in terms of the volume of training they did it was a small portion of their training week. As CS said maybe 5% but CRITICAL. it would have been better to have an example from a plan or training period.


EM - when I raced it was about positions, NOT TIMES. Times will come. Ran to win the race. I'm an advocate of that.


CS - recalled an interaction he had when he was introduced to a new member at his club. He was introduced as Charlie Spedding Olympic Bronze medalist and the man turned round and said 'what time did you do?' again this was highlighting EMs comment on obsession with times, not positions.


PE - I sat down with my coach and planned the whole year and focused on the championships and spring/autumn marathons


NR - believed cross country to be extremely important in attaining endurance for a base for summer running ie track.


EM - the 'less is more' approach is absolute rubbish. Training to win the 9 mile national cross country involves a phenomenal amount of training


CS - my best races in cross country were on firm ground. I just wasn't suited to it. I was best on road. I used the Lydiard method. Everyone at Gateshead was doing it. However I needed to do more speed and I would work on speed all year round as it was my weakness. I believe three questions to be important.


Q1 what do you want? GOAL / TARGET


Q2 why do you want it?


Q3 how much do you want it? (how much are you prepared to do?)


EM - talked about his approach to marathon. Gradually built training. I wasn't focusing on time for London. I was focusing on winning. Running to win!


PE - talked about 'desire' as being key. We trained smart, got the best out of ourselves and worked really hard.


NR (of running) It can't become a chore. We all loved it. That's why we did it. Yes, we were very driven but we loved it.


****OF SESSIONS (*responses to my initial question*)****


EM - I did 3 sessions a week but in the winter it was all about getting the miles in.


CS - I did 2 a week. A small % of week but very important. It gave me a gauge of how I was feeling and where I was at in terms of performance.


PE - did lots of running and many runs would end up finishing fast. Did 2 in winter and 3 in summer


NR - talked of how it prepared him mentally. Could feed/thrive off sessions. Talked about how life was simple and that training was just fun! Emphasised SIMPLICITY, running to how he felt etc...


CS - mentioned that runners will definitely benefit from a strong core particularly in the last throws of a race when form can deteriorate.


****LONG RUN****


CS - did one every week. It was part of the culture of Gateshead. We enjoyed them. They weren't slow but we chatted. They were a social event. Vital for stamina and strength.


EM - I did 20 miles every Sunday in the winter. Dropped it a bit in the summer. The only difference for building up to the marathon is that I did more! 20+


PE - long run was a key session. In the summer I would run 15-16 miles every Sunday. In the winter 20-22 miles every Sunday. Sometimes I would use it as an out and back. So would run 10 miles out and turn around and run 10 miles back slightly quicker.


NR - did 13-16 miles . Always did it in groups. I really think running them in a group helps. Also after a hard race, I would always run a long run the next day, either with team mates or fellow competitors. It's just what we did.




EM- picked out key races (championships). I believe in racing against the best. Today the competitive pyramid is very narrow.


NR - I liked racing often both winter and summer. Had races that I focused on. Used club races for development like 1500m/3000m. I thrived on competition.


CS - I looked forward to big races but occasionally would run low key races for testing my form. Charlie then went on to talk about the basic physical condition of youngsters, saying that it was lower than in any previous age. He believed that we need to get youngsters more active.


***The approach for a YOUNG ATHLETE***


EM - I started athletics at 13 but had been active with football and rugby before. Initially I only trained twice a week whilst maintaining interests in other sports. I had very good results as a junior, but when I started training twice a day (age 21) the impact of results was almost immediate.


CS - I was always physically active as a youngster. Always doing something!


PE/NR talked of the importance of youngsters having a multi sport approach before specialisation.



The question was posed on the influence of food/diet.


CS - believed that dietary supplements and sports products were a lot of hype. He clearly stated 'EAT REAL FOOD!'


PE - stated that when he was running a 100 miles a week he could eat what he liked.


NR - I don't think we thought about what we ate! I had a foundation of eating from what my parents produced and prepared. We grew vegetables. Simply...I ran...I was hungry...I ate.


***INTENSITY OF 100miles (+) a week***

PE - did 2 runs a day. One would be a recovery run. For him this would be the second run. The first run would start easy and would become faster as it went on.


EM - stressed the importance of listening to your body.


CS - you need to know when to back off. Be aware.


NR - there were purple patches when I knew I was fit. Run as you feel. Sleep is very important.


EM - I worked full time. I trained very early in the morning and in the evening. I was in bed by 9.30pm. To achieve what I wanted, I did what I had to do.




CS - working in a group is very helpful.


EM - In our day, there were many consistent performers. Not now. There was a knock on effect from this. The 'good athlete' today doesn't endure. They hang around for a year or two and then disappear. We need to keep them so we can get others. We had Ovett, then Coe, Cram, Elliott....suddenly we had a crop of athletes who could win major championships.


PE - too many people are running in comfort zones. So many races but people are not going head to head to improve


NR - join a club/team. Set goals...realistic ones..structure a plan....keep to it....improve...love it!


All notes taken from J. Creane (Lydiard Foundation Coach)









Halberg/Scott - A comparison

Posted by jcreane@btinternet.com on August 24, 2015 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

BOOK 'A Clean Pair of Heels' (Murray Halberg)

Co written with Garth Gilmour, this book is a fascinating memoir of one of the great Lydiard athletes, Murray Halberg.

BOOK 'Scottie' written by Norman Harris

The era of the 1950s and 1960s is often looked at as a romantic time when viewing distance running. So many stars and heroes that captured the imagination of future generations. Indeed, what have we been captured by in the most recent decades? The purity of sport, the innocence, the striving to be the best in the world appeared to be just what athletes did on top of their day job. They became local heroes in their community, heroes around the world, but not the same as the modern era. How different it is.

The advancement of professionalism has steadily progressed to the point of being out of control. Money, sponsorship, funding, drugs...are now ever present, leaving us all wondering what is real and what is not. The age of questioning what we see is a pastime of the many. Exposure and news is instantaneous. Response and reaction can be given by anyone and can be delivered directly to source. Simplicity, if there ever has been such a phenomena in the 20th and 21st century is quickly turning extremely complex. 

So was it different for athletes in the 1950s and 1960s. In my humble opinion after reading numerous accounts of this age and talking with various people (athletes and non athletes), I believe it was. The age of distraction was long into the future. The post war world was full of optimism and new achievements. There was a life out there to be enjoyed. New things to be explored, conquered and overcome. Let's face it the world had been strangled for many years in an age of extreme uncertainty.

The world of athletics had taken a dip in the war years and the years before and after it. Advancement and achievement was there to be taken on and so around the world, athletes went about their business to make headlines and create the extraordinary. The chase for the 4 minute mile began. A chase that inspired athletes from all continents, which finally came to a point went a young Roger Bannister created the extraordinary. The age of advancement in further athletic achievements was finally a gate that was open.

Naturally New Zealand was at the forefront of this chase led by Arthur Lydiard and his band of young men. Australia was also in the mix with Landy, Elliott and Clarke to name a few. But Lydiard was to inspire a revolution and his theories were to spread throughout a nation and eventually the world. Lydiards notable success came with the big 3, Elliott, Halberg and Magee, but in the background there were many more and of course the future generations were to bare further fruit from this era of discovery.

So to HALBERG first. Murray Halberg was a keen young sportsperson who quite simply enjoyed sport. However, he was to have a unexpected accident whilst playing rugby which led to a damaging injury to his shoulder. It was to take quite some time to return some strength to it, but long term damage could not be avoided. Halberg, a straight talking, no excuses type of person drove on with life and found that he had a flair for running. He first made the Olympics at Melbourne, but it was here that the flames were fanned. Disappointment in his performance drove his mind to decide that this was never going to be the case in Rome in 1960. In the years before he worked hard and linked up with Lydiard. He adopted the system that Lydiard advocated and he drove his body to the most tremendous athletic feats, showing a great range from the mile to the 10000m. Halberg had also completed a Marathon at a decent standard, but this was only done for enjoyment and to further enhance his physical state for the shorter distances. In 1960, his hard training came to its peak and he delivered a Gold Medal in the 5000m, making a long run for home by putting in a fast lap with few laps to run. Overwhelmed with joy for his victory, he no longer had the motivation to complete the double and so he ran, but with little gusto. He had what he wanted and he just wanted to go home!

Halberg never used his disability as an excuse and he believed that excuses were not part of the competitive equation. If you towed the line, you did the job and reaped what you sowed. A great attitude indeed. The things that become apparent in Gilmours book are the recollections that showed the adventure of this age. There is detail of Halbergs tour of Europe where he travels with Pirie and Elliott to various countries for different races. These boys slept on the floor, in the open air, got up the next day and either trained or raced to an exceptional level. They were having fun. Their love of the freedom of the outdoors is refreshing. There is talk of wonderful tourist tours, but also of the bad things they saw on their adventure. It was innocent, exciting and they were loving life and athletics. There's an overwhelming joy that comes over and Halberg often displays an appreciation of his position and opportunity.

There are many nuggets of wisdom and direction for life that come from Halberg, but two that stick out for me is in a period where he is struggling for form, Pirie tells him that he is going to run some 200m repeats. Halberg turns round and says he is going to go back to some long running. Piries form dips. Halberg finds form again. Also Halberg talks of 35 mile runs! Runs he enjoyed even though he was out in the sweltering heat. Halberg went on to run further fine races and set up an organisation for disability sport. He comes across a fine example from an age when they just did it (properly).

And to SCOTT. Neville Scott. 'Scottie'. An extremely talented athlete who didn't reach the dizzy heights of Olympic Gold. Anxiety, depression, alcoholism and 5 marriages were to impinge on this talent. A man who drank all night, to be woken up early in the morning and still run 4 minute mile pace. A man who was to drink through an Olympic Games. A man who was to beat Halberg. A man who was to come back from the brink to make another Olympic Games, but be thwarted by injury.

Neville Scott or 'Scottie' was to suffer early on. A difficult childhood where mother left the home and father pushed the children out to extended family. Scottie couldn't get to grips with real life. He didn't feel part of it at all. The only time he felt that he had some attachment to normal was when he could have a drink. And yes, he could drink. He could run better than anyone else and he could drink more. This led to further isolation. A man who just didn't fit...couldn't be explained, categorised, unpicked...Scottie was to suffer and reach the lowest depths. He eventually became institutionalised, but was to be saved by a doctor who gave him hope with a diagnosis. Eventually accepting his problem with alcohol, he turned his running into a medicine.It was to help him get back on track to use the raw talent to make another Olympics. Linking up with coach Arch Jelley another disciple of Lydiard, Scott gradually got his form back and paced Halberg to a near world record. He then found the belief to make the Olympic team by winning the NZ championships.

A truly wonderful story showing the vulnerability of man, how many identifies with himself and his place in the world. For some it is a journey that is ongoing. No clear answers. Scott had his vices but he showed how pursuing a dream to self believe can bring about startling results. Maybe not to be repeated, but how many will ever know Neville Scott. Good on yer Scottie. A great story! A fine example that people can turn their lives around and bring themselves out of the troughs of despair.

Lydiard UK a Great Success

Posted by jcreane@btinternet.com on August 20, 2015 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Lydiard Foundation conducted their first training clinic in the UK back in March.

It was led by Lorraine Moller (4 time Olympian). It was a wonderful collection of people learning about the Lydiard principles of training. A great weekend was had by all. We now have more affiliated Lydiard Coaches out there taking their new and improved knowledge to the various training arenas of Ireland and the UK.

Another clinic is being scheduled for later in the year. Current thinking is October/November 2015.

On behalf of the Ireland/UK Lydiard coaches, I personally thank Lorraine for a splendid course. All enjoyed a unique learning experience and we hope to see her return with Nobby Hashizume in the very near future.

Look out for updates at  www.lydiardfoundation.org