RUNdown – February 2022


Welcome to the February issue of Striders’ RUNdown. This month has seen the appearance of snowdrops and croci, cold winds and some hefty downpours. We have had two cross country events, neither particularly muddy, and the Hetton Lyons Relays. All were well attended by the Elvet Striders. Striders have also continued with personal challenges and especial congratulations go to Aileen and Alan Scott who reached their 200th parkrun this month.  

Lisa Lumsden writes about her experience of completing the RED in January challenge. Thank you Lisa for sharing this with us, and huge congratulations on your achievement. This is useful reading for anyone thinking of completing RED for any month.  

Fiona Shenton talks about her running in the ‘Strider Chat’ interview. What an amazing lady. It is clear than her impressive running achievements derive from natural talent combined with determination and careful hard work. She is very humble and forgot to mention in the interview that she once made the Masters England Cross Country Team.  

Fartlek is a focus of this issue.  Although this feature is not at all compendious, I hope it gives a flavour of what fartlek is all about and how it can help improve our running. 

Also in this issue, Matt Archer, who is a very good cook, kindly shares with us his secret power-recovery curry recipe. Thank you Matt. It sounds delicious. 

Have a fantastic rest of the month in running everyone! 


Ladies’ Captain and Main Editor of Striders, RUNdown. 

Strider Shout-out!

NEMAA Cross Country Race on Sat 5th February.

Conditions were blustery and windy but with firm ground conditions for running. Excellent running from both woman and men and a few medals were won! Corrine got a V40 silver medal. Susan and Jan got bronze medals in their categories. Also, Susan, Jan and Fiona Shenton won fastest V60 team.


The men’s team also came first in their category and Lindsay picked up a bronze medal. Michael Littlewood ran exceptionally fast too. Stephen Jackson powered round to finish second place overall!

Run Newcastle Exhibition Park 10K on Sat 5th February.

Ptoli Hand came second place! In a time of 39.45! He did this run with a work friend and the placards they are holding are to raise awareness of Wetland Habitats. Ptoli works for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and the 2nd February was World Wetlands Day. Wetland Habitats are water, marshes, ponds and the edges of oceans, lakes and rivers. They are very important for wildlife. In fact Ptoli informs me that 40% of the world’s species are in some way reliant on wetlands! Additionally, coastal wetlands such as mangroves absorb carbon from the atmosphere, a lot faster than forests do. Between 300 million and 400 million people live close to and depend on wetlands. They support the cultivation of rice, a staple in the diet of half the world’s population. So they are really important to conserve.

Sherman Cup and Davison Shield Cross Country Race, Temple Park, South Shields on Sat 12th February.

What a strong cold wind there was! Too windy to fly the Striders flag on the Stridermobile on the way there. The inflatable-poled Striders tent had bent legs the whole time from the wind but did stay up! This cross country race was unusual in that there were no packs. There was the women’s race then the men’s. The course was round the large grassy Temple Park. It was bumpy, a few small hills but mostly flat. (Although this doesn’t mean easier of course, when running flat out anything is challenging!) Areas of bush and small trees provided shelter in parts, then there was a large expanse at the end of the park completely exposed to the wind, which was a challenge to run in. It was a fun community day out with good spirits, cheering and post-run cake all around. Men and Women Striders put in a strong performance. The men’s vet team came first! Stephen Jackson came third! So well done to all that attended. Thanks to Phil Ray, Sophie Dennis and Steph Greenwell and others for supporting, it was really appreciated.

Hetton Lyons Relays on Saturday 19th February.

Fantastic running by 31 Striders! Well done to you all.

The Women’s senior team were Lotti Collier, Anna McLeod, Lexi Butler and Sally Hughes. The Women’s V35 team were Anna Basu, Fiona Kinghoen-JonesJ, Karen Byng and Nina Bodjadzic. There was another female V35 team including Kim Bennett, Heather Raistrick, Theresa Rugman-Jones and Emma McCabe. The men’s V50 team comprised Mick Davis, Ian Butler, Malcolm Sygrove and Stephen Soulsby. There were two male senior teams. Runners were Liam Huntington, Bryan Potts, Riad Ketani, Allan Renwick, Ptoli Hand and James McNaney. Runners in the further team were David Oxlade, Kyle Sunley, David Forster, Stephen Lonsdale, Andrew Davies and Alex Collier. The men’s V40 team was Michael Littlewood, Mark Griffiths, Mark Kearney, Mark Warner, Lindsay McEwan and Graeme Watt. Congratulations to the men’s V40 team for coming first! I heard there were some impressive sprint finishes! Also huge thanks to Georgie for organising, and for his support on the day.

Good luck to anyone doing the Derwent Reservoir trail runs, and any other races that will be taking place on the last weekend in February!


Aileen and Alan Scott both reached 200 parkruns! This is an amazing achievement. The photo below shows them at Tyne Green parkrun, their 200th. The whole family have done so well with their running.

Aileen has completed the Loch Ness marathon. Their daughter Kirsten joined Striders last year (possibly our youngest member?) and has run a half marathon and also does parkrun. Their son Calum enjoys Finsbury parkrun in London.


Other parkrun achievements this month that I am aware of (there are probably lots I am not aware of) include James McNaney coming first at Riverside parkrun with a sub-17 time! Liam came first at Sedgefield parkrun in a time of 17.03!!

Shout-out to Strider Coaches and run leaders

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Fiona Kinghorn-Jones and Lindsay McEwan for the continuous work they do in planning our Wednesday night track sessions. They have a planned programmed for training blocks which at the moment is helping people prepare for spring road marathons. They put a lot of thought and planning into this. Thank you so much from me, on behalf of the club. Thanks to Ian McKenzie for standing in the cold every Wednesday evening and giving helpful coaching.

I would like to thank those that have taken on the planning and running of the Sniperley Speedway, another popular interval session. Thank you Wendy and Fiona. Thanks to Tim Mathews for assisting on the night.

Thanks to all run leaders that have been helping out by leading runs including Stef Barlow, Sophie Dennis, Steph Greenwell, Wendy and Michael, Ian Butler, Rachel Toth and David Browbank. Thank you to Alison Smith for your regular and reliable ‘back to running’ sessions. These are brilliant! Thank you for your planning work, run leading work and all your time.

I would also like to thank the Cross country coaches and everyone that has helped run cross country training sessions, and with organising Striders participation in the cross country fixtures. This is greatly appreciated. This includes Jan, Corrine, Georgie, Susan and Geoff, Lindsay and many others. Thank you all.

Thank you to everyone that has helped plan and organise Striders run sessions and activities this month. Sorry if I have missed a mention of anyone personally, it is not meant. Thank you.

Run Every Day (RED) in January Challenge, by Lisa Lumsdon.

January is always a long month after Christmas. I couldn’t do the Brass Monkey Half Marathon as I’d had Covid and I didn’t get sufficient training in, so I thought I needed a challenge. Then I read about RED January. I set myself a goal to run every day, even just a mile if I got tired, but it became so addictive. I would come home from work and get really excited about going out, it would give me a real boost. I’m not going to lie it was tough at times. I even went out one day at 6am, as we were going out in the evening and I wouldn’t have had time to get my run in. I managed to do a minimum of 3.7 miles and even did some 10ks. I did 130 miles altogether which I’m really proud of. Being an Elvet Strider really helps as everyone from all abilities supported me. It really kept me going and gave me a boost. I’d definitely do it again.

Well-done Lisa! It’s hard to keep a streak going, especially for 31 days! With a minimum of 3.7 miles you certainly didn’t skirt the challenge! Congratulations. You might have inspired some others to give it a go.

Strider Chat: Interview with Fiona Shenton. 

I was delighted to speak to Fiona and find out more about her running.  

When did you start running and why? 

This would have been when lots of people started running, about the time of the first London marathon which was 1981, and I just thought it would be great to set yourself that challenge and how wonderful it would feel to have succeeded. I didn’t think I would ever run a marathon, but I liked the idea of going out running, so I started just to keep fit, for fun. This was when I was 22 years old, but I would say I didn’t start running properly until I was older, in 1990, when I joined a running club. My sister ran with Elvet Striders at the time but I joined the Kilbarchan Amateur Athletics club, near Glasgow as I lived in Scotland then. At the time there was a lady in that club who had qualified for the Commonwealth Games. That was really inspiring. They also had lots of runners who just were very enthusiastic and wanted to be challenged.  Joining a club was a big game changer.  I moved to Durham in 1996 and joined Elvet Striders soon after.  

What is your favourite place to run?

Durham, because I like the fact I can just run from my door. For ease and the fact I don’t have to get into the car. There is a big choice of places to run. It is great being in Striders as often I discover new routes by going on lead runs, when I thought I knew all the paths in Durham! 

Best race experience? 

Running sub-3 hours (2.58.34)  the London Marathon in 2003. I had a half marathon PB of 1.25 and they reckon if you double your marathon time and add 10mins that is what I could target, so a sub-3 was a real goal for me. This was also the year that Paula Radcliffe set her world record of 2.15. I stood with her and the elites at the start line as I had got a championship place based on my previous marathon time. It was perfect weather conditions. Actually, my foot broke 1-2km from the finish. I felt it go, and  was pretty sure it was broken, but I didn’t fall over and it didn’t hurt at the time, I just thought as long as I can keep the rhythm and get to the end it will be alright. I am so grateful my foot held up, as to get that far and being on target for what I was after, it would have been soul-destroying. My foot got more sore over the next few days. I did the typical runners thing of thinking and trying to kid myself it was fine, it was just a sprain but it wasn’t, it was broken, but I didn’t care by then as I had run my race.  

Was marathon running your thing? 

Yes I am a long distance runner and a road runner. I have done quite a few marathons.  

Worst race experience? 

I have really enjoyed racing, I have never regretted a race. There’s a couple of times where I feel I lost the race rather than being beaten. I feel I lost the Sunderland marathon in 2012. I entered as it was local. I was surprised as I had not run a marathon for a while, yet very early on I was in the lead. I got excited as I was in lead and knew I was going a bit too fast to maintain it but I didn’t have the discipline to back off. So at the classic 18 mile mark everything slowed down and it was like running through treacle and I dropped from first place to 8th place, and that was where I finished. I felt frustrated with myself. Maybe I would have been beaten at the end and that would have been fine but I felt I lost it because I wasn’t strategic. I was an experienced marathon runner by then so it wasn’t like I didn’t know that I shouldn’t have been doing that, so I was frustrated by myself as I would have liked to win a local marathon. 

Favourite running food? 

I do use gels for convenience, but I always think what a waste of calories when you could be eating something really nice! If I can eat real food I will. I like McVities Club bars. However, I tend to fuel well before marathons and refuel well after them, then just top up during the race. I find that apart from water, isotonic drinks and a few gels I don’t need to fuel a lot during a marathon if I have prepared well.  

How do you celebrate after a marathon?

Gin! Although I find I don’t enjoy food or alcohol straight after a race and don’t sleep well the night after due to the excitement. 

What running advice would you give to mature runners?

I don’t really have advice for mature runners as most people by that stage are experienced and have worked out what works best for them, but I think I have got advice for anyone that wants to start running. 

The first bit of advice which I would give to any new runner, which everyone, including myself, ignores, is to build up gradually. The problem is you get bitten by the bug and off you go and you feel invincible and increase your mileage, train for your first marathon and then can get injured or over-trained. 

If you can, build up a routine where you run at the same times every week, so this makes it easier to keep up continuity. Better to run regularly to improve your running and build up gradually. 

If getting faster is your goal you definitely need some harder faster work. I used to have a mile stretch along the A167 and used to run it each week as fast as I could. It gave me confidence and made me realize what I could do. It made me work hard and made me see the different paces I could do. parkrun is relatively new to me, but that is a great way to challenge yourself and you can do it.  I think parkrun is a great thing. I like the fact you can also contribute to it as it is run by volunteers.

What are your running goals?

To keep on running as long as I can. I accept that all mature runners have to accept your days of PBs are over, but I still enjoy competition and I appreciate there are some age-graded races so on these races you can feel you are on more of a level playing field. I have taken up triathlon more recently, as I wanted to take on something new, and as I feel I can’t improve in running, as I feel I was at my running best when I was younger, but as triathlon is new to me it is something I can learn and improve in.  When I got into triathlon I became inspired by the idea of an ironman. Long distance has always been my thing.  I did my first ironman in 2017 in Austria. The swim is the challenging part for me, and something I want to improve on. 

Thank you so much Fiona for sharing some of your running journey with us, you are truly inspiring! An extremely humble and impressive person. 

Focus on Fartlek

The word Fartlek means ‘speed play.’ It is the use of a variety of intensity, pace and terrain to vary effort during a continuous run. Therefore, the recovery is always active. Here are some notes on Fartlek which I made from a recent England Athletics Webinar by Jo Wilkinson (SE Regional CoachLead for Endurance, England Athletics). I hope they will be of interest.

Training benefits of fartlek

  1. Combines use of both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems in one training session.
  2. Develops the lactate threshold. This is because muscle cells get to practise and improve ability to clear lactate during periods of lower intensity activity (recovery periods). Therefore the active recovery parts of the session are just as important as the high intensity parts.
  3. Develops speed endurance.
  4. Improves ability to respond to mid-race surges.
  5. Can be a bridge to interval training e.g. post-injury, post-illness, post-pregnancy.
  6. May reduce the mental pressure of set intervals sessions.
  7. Can be a flexible session depending on how you feel on the day.

Types of fartlek session

1). Traditional Swedish fartlek

This is unstructured, using terrain, hills, landmarks features to provide natural variation in effort.

You could also make your own unstructured fartlek using landmarks such as lamp posts.

2). Structured fartlek sessions

Two famous structured fartlek sessions are the Mona session which we have been doing occasionally at Striders’ track sessions, and the Gerschler session. The Mona is brilliant. Perhaps we should all try the Gerschler sometime?

The Mona session is named after Australian distance runner Steve Moneghetti and devised by his coach Chris Wardlaw.

This is only 20 minutes long, but is intense. It is a session of efforts of decreasing length. The hard efforts are 2x90sec, 4x60sec, 4x30sec, 4x15sec. Recoveries are of the same length and are to be to be run at a comfortably hard pace.

The Gerschler fartlek is named and devised by German coach Dr. Woldemar Gerschler.

This involves 11 hard efforts all of 30 sec in length. The lower intensity recoveries begin at 90sec and get 15sec shorter each time then increase again when the recovery is 1 5sec long. She says this session is therefore hardest in the middle. I suspect its hard throughout 😀.

Hard EffortRecovery (to be run at comfortably hard pace)
30 sec90 sec
30 sec75 sec
30 sec60 sec
30 sec45 sec
30 sec30 sec
30 sec15 sec
30 sec30 sec
30 sec45 sec
30 sec60 sec
30 sec75 sec
30 sec90 sec

Recommended group fartlek sessions for mixed abilities

Run back fartleks work well in a group of mixed abilities. This can be either on a loop course (e.g. around a field) or a ‘there and back’ (e.g. a wide path or field). Everyone starts together then runs out for a set amount of time, then jogs back to the start point. For example, the hard run-outs could be 2min, 1.30min, 1min, 30sec.  As an alternative, all start running hard then when one person blows a whistle, all run back to the start point. Jo Wilkinson states that the fartlek recoveries should be steady running at a comfortably hard pace, not easy pace, for maximum benefit. These sessions would be easy to conduct on the fields over the noisy bridge at Maiden Castle.

Matt Archer’s Power Recovery Curry 

Here is Matt’s recipe for a delicious curry which he uses to aid his recovery.  


1 red onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic

1 bird’s eye chilli

1 pepper (any colour)

1 tsp cacao powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

400g tin kidney beans

400g tin black beans

400g tin tomatoes

400g tin green lentils

1 cup vegetable stock

Splash of tamari or soy sauce

200g tin sweet corn


Heat oil in a pan. Add the red onion, garlic, chilli and pepper and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the spices and cook for another minute.

Add the beans and lentils and stir through.

Add the tomatoes, veg stock and the splash of tamari or soy sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the sweetcorn and cook for a further 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Serve with brown rice.

Add jalapeños for an extra kick!

Map of Disused Railway Lines in County Durham 

Disused railway lines are popular to run along and we are fortunate to have many near us. Here is a  map of disused railway lines in County Durham.  It’s fantastic that we can run all the way to the Pennines in one direction, and all the way to the sea in another.

(Visited 325 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.