Welcome to the June issue of Striders’ RUNdown!
Have you ever run a mile race? Would you like to try? Or for those of you who have, give it another shot? What is a good race strategy for running one mile as fast as you can? Hopefully this issue should help to answer some of these questions and inspire you to give it a go at Allan’s Memorial Mile races on Wednesday 20th July. In this issue we have an interview with Dave Shipman. As well as being a previous Club Captain, Men’s Captain and President, he holds the men’s club record for the mile, and has done since 1990. During the interview I asked him for some tips, which I pass on to you. As well as being a great runner, Dave is a humble and inspiring man, and I was thrilled to interview him.
As usual, we also have the Strider Shout-out to celebrate your achievements. Especial congratulations to Nina Mason for completing her Bob Graham Round on Saturday 25th June. Geoff completed his third Joss Naylor Challenge on his birthday and Karen Wilson completed The Wall, a 70 mile ultramarathon. You really are all amazing.
Thank you to all our run leaders who have offered a large selection of runs each week this month and all coaches and volunteers for their time. Thanks to Lotti for starting up her Strength and Conditioning sessions on Tuesday evenings, a well needed addition.
Hope you all have some lovely sunny runs in the coming weeks.
Writer and Editor of Striders RUNdown
Sub Editor: Malcolm Sygrove
Well done to everyone who took on a race, event or personal goal this month. There has been a spectacular range of achievements.
Wuthering Heights Wander, Yorkshire.
David Oxlade took on this beautiful trail race in Yorkshire. It started from the Bronte museum in Howarth in West Yorkshire, and involves wild moorland and green trails. David took on the 16.5 mile distance. Congratulations to David for coming third place in this race!
Blencathra Fell Race, Cumbria
Nick Latham has written a lovely race report about his experience on this fell race, which you can access from the Run Reports section of the Elvet Striders website if you have not already. What a fabulous summer evening run.
The Blaydon Race
We had a huge Striders turnout at this historic, 6 mile road race from Newcastle city to Blaydon. Brilliant! Well done everyone. Especial congratulations to Emma Thompson for coming 15th lady! And to Graeme Watt and Michael Littlewood for coming high up in their age categories (Graeme 9th in his and Michael 18th in his). This is amazing given the field which involves most of the clubs in the Northeast. It was lovely to see so many members there, including Kyle Sunley, Adam Bent, Lynne Waugh, Mark Herkes and Phil Todd (sorry if I have missed anyone).
‘Lets Run Round’ challenge from the Lets Run shop in Stokesley, North Yorkshire
The owners of the ‘Lets Run’ shop in Stokesley recently set up a running challenge. This is to run a circular route along trails of the North York Moors which starts and ends at their shop. The route is 29 miles and 4,425ft total elevation. This challenge can be completed anytime. When you have completed it, your name is added to a leaderboard in the shop window. Graeme Watt recently took on this challenge, and achieved the fastest time, going straight to the top of the leaderboard! Well done Graeme.
NEMAA second fixture of the season
Well done to all who attended this fixture. Some excellent results! These include Alison Smith coming second in her heat in the 100m sprint, and Mike Barlow doing well in his category in the long jump. Helen Wilkes came third in the Discus 2 heat, throwing it a whopping 20.20 metres! Brilliant. There were many other great performances too. Onwards and upwards to the third meet on Monday 4th July.
This month the 41st Swaledale marathon took place. This is a beautiful and hilly trail race of 24 miles starting and finishing in Reeth. It is an extremely popular club event. Congratulations to Lotti Collier, Theresa Rugman-Jones, Heather Raistrick, John Bisson, Elaine Bisson, Camilla Lauren-Maatta, Danielle Brady, Graeme Watt, Malcolm Sygrove, Christine Farnsworth and Margaret Thompson. Well done to Elaine who flew round and came second lady!
Geoff’s Josh Naylor Challenge on his 65th Birthday
Huge congratulations to Geoff! After months of hard training he took on the Joss Naylor Challenge (run report here) on his birthday on 12th June. I heard the weather was very windy with prolonged heavy showers. Geoff says it is the hardest Joss Naylor crossing he has done. Nevertheless he completed the challenge ahead of predicted time. He is also one of the only five people to have done this challenge three times. Congratulations from Striders! Geoff has written this account of his adventure.
Hardmoors White Horse Marathon
Alex Brown ran this varied 29.3 mile route through the North York Moors. Congratulations Alex! He is a strong runner and came 9th in his age category, although I suspect Alex runs these marathons for the pure joy and adventure of running in the countryside.
Durham Three Peaks club run
A brilliant club night, if I do say so myself! It was a fun evening with people leaping up banks, crashing through trees and splashing across the river. Sorry to those of you who had your routes all planned but were scuppered by covid or other reasons and couldn’t make it. Well done to Michael L who won it again for the men. Michael Mason, Stuart Scott and Graeme Watt still await to compete with him next time! Although you can do it as a virtual challenge if you can’t wait that long.Huge congratulations to Sarah Cook who flew round and came first lady! She is a strong runner. Emma McCabe was also super swift, coming second. I hope you all enjoyed the tug of war. Thanks Michael Dale for your rope. Thanks to all volunteers and marshals. It was a really fun evening!
This is a beautiful trail marathon in the Lake District. The route circles round Coniston Water visiting beauty spots such as Tarn Hows. Zana Clay was the only Strider in this race. Well done Zana.
Durham Dales Challenge
Two races (a 30 mile loop and a 14 mile loop) taking in some of Weardale and Teesdale, Hamsterley Forest and the heather moors in between. These races were organised by the Northumbria Long Distance Walkers Association, but are open to runners as well as walkers. Quite a few Striders took part. Congratulations to Michael Dale who won the 14 mile race, and to Ian Gibson who came 2nd and Steven Airey who came 5th. Well done to Camilla Lauren-Maatta, Christine Farnsworth and Maggie Thompson who also took part. Congratulations to Graeme Watt who won the 30 mile race.
Trail Outlaws Penshaw Half Marathon
This is a popular local race. A hilly urban trail route from the monument down to the river banks and back. Congratulations to Allan Renwick for coming 4th in his age category. Great running also from John Bean, Marc Watson and Ian Butler.
This is a 70 mile ultramarathon organised by Rat Race. It starts in Carlisle and roughly follows the course of Hadrian’s Wall, finishing in Newcastle. Huge congratulations to Karen Wilson who completed this long distance in 20 hours and 50 minutes!
Run Northumberland Superfast 5k
Mick Davis took on this challenge and finished in a time of 20:07. Well done!
This is a 10k trail race around the grounds of Lambton Castle, organised by the Foundation of Light to raise funds for this charity. A group of Striders took part and did really well! The front of the park was mostly purple as Bryan Potts came 6th, Phil Ray 8th (3rd in age category), Riad Ketani 9th and Stephen Soulsby 12th (1st in age category)! Lisa and David Lumsdon also ran brilliantly.
Lairig Ghru Race
This is a 43km race through the Cairngorms from Braemar to Aviemore. Graeme Watt took part in this spectacular event. Congratulations Graeme!
Malcolm Sygrove ran his 300th parkrun this month! Yes, you read that right…300th! Wow!!
Nina Masons Bob Graham Round (a route of 66 miles and 42 summits in the Lake District within 24 hours).
Wow! I am not sure where to start. Just wow! Nina Mason has been training for this for the past two years. It got cancelled last year due to covid. It got postponed again earlier this year due to covid. This was third time lucky. Each time she quietly picked herself up from the disappointment of having to postpone and carried on training. On the day she was supported by a group of Striders, friends and family throughout. It was an exciting day and was a pleasure to be part of it. I am sure she will write her own report and I can’t wait to read it. All I will say is she set off 9pm, did not have the best weather during the first half, but got through this blip, made up time and completed well within 24 hours. Watching her run through Keswick at the end as we all cheered and as the people in the streets cheered, up to the Moot Hall to finish was very emotional. Congratulations Nina.
Anita Nott 5k
Coach in Running Fitness Qualification
Congratulations to Mark Foster and Karen Byng who completed their coaching qualifications this month!
Good luck to Bryan, Sam and anyone else running the Bottoms up cup 5k in Washington next weekend, and also to Barrie K, Emma T and Stuart S, heading for the Lake District for the next fixture in our Grand Prix, the Skiddaw Fell Race.
Striders Chat: Interview with Dave Shipman
When did you start running and why?
I started running in the early 1970s, and that was really for fitness for rugby. At the young age of 15 I was a paperboy and my boss was a former professional soccer player and he used to advise me how to improve, primarily for rugby. He said I need to improve my stamina. So the reason I started running was for fitness to improve my rugby. I used to go out and run around the hills of Halifax. (Halifax is where I come from and grew up). I ran and played rugby all the way through until the late 1980s. I was very much into rugby, I was captain of the school team, then later on captain of the York University First team and then played in a lot of clubs around the country depending on where I was working. For example, I played in the Cotswolds, in Sussex and in Yorkshire and the Northeast.
I stopped playing rugby because I was sick of getting injured. I wasn’t heavy enough so I kept getting clattered. I was fed up of getting injured and not being able to play, so running became more of a thing. I could just do it anywhere and also as I could fit it around my work. I started to work shifts at children’s homes so it got harder to play rugby, as obviously you have to turn up to training and for matches on Saturdays. It was also the running boom in the late 1970s and early 80s. The London Marathon started, and all of a sudden running was something more people were doing. My brother and I did the London Marathon in 1982 and that inspired me to run more competitively. I moved to Durham in 1984 and I joined the Striders when it started in about 1985 or 1986 and that was it really. We all did the Great North Run and other races around the Northeast.
What are your best running achievements and memories?
The obvious one, which was the most structured and the most targeted, was breaking 2 minutes for the 800m. That was the first time I had a coach (Allan Seheult). It was a summer spent trying to run 800m faster. It started as a bet; somebody bet me I couldn’t break 2 minutes. Together with Allan Seheult at a party one night we worked out that if I trained hard and did nothing else, I probably could break 2 minutes. So I bet a man £50 that I could do it. And I did it, in 1.58 minutes, and we had a big party afterwards and got very drunk, and it was a fantastic feeling to actually do structured training with a series of track races where my time came down from 2.12 minutes right down to 1.58 minutes in one season. It was fantastic. (Ed; this time has stood as a club record since Dave achieved this in 1990).
In terms of running achievements, I did 57 minutes for 10 miles at the Brampton to Carlisle road race. That is probably my best long distance time. I struggled on anything more than 10 miles.
Running on the hills around Halifax when younger began my love of running on hills, which has perpetuated since I began running the Calderdale relays. When I discovered the Calderdale relays my brother and I got a team together from Striders, and we have done it every year until covid hit. We ran it for 25 years.
But I have lots of other fantastic running memories, particularly with Striders; too many memories to pick out individual things to say that was the best or the most successful. I remember charity relays, we did several over a number of years. They were fantastic experiences, getting everyone out running a leg and enjoying the countryside and raising money for charity. The other side of it would be the endless runs with Striders, you know every time you run round Houghall woods it’s just a fantastic feeling, so all the runs we did, all the club handicaps. Running the Christmas Handicap as the back end of a pantomime cow is probably a big achievement. It was very hot. Other running memories include helping other people. I remember helping Andy Scaife do the Bob Graham Round, you know, that was just fantastic, he was the first person in the club to try it. That was something that was totally different to cross country races or fell races. I always really enjoyed cross country. I did the Nationals for the first time, with a team, it was just great. So I have lots of really good memories, of lots of different events and disciplines.
We all run for different reasons. The reasons we run can change over time. I had several years working in Child Protection in Social Services where running was my sanity. It was an escape from the horrible scenarios I came across. I used to run every night just to switch off from work. I don’t know what I would have done without that. So, I think running brings so much to us all, not just for physical health but also mental health and well being. Then when you add the things you get through Striders like friendship, camaraderie, going to great places and doing great events, I just think it is amazing therapy and good for us all.
Tell me about getting your mile PB of 4.36 minutes, which has been the club record for 32 years since you achieved it in 1990.
I got my mile PB on the back of training for the 800m. I ran two or three mile distances as part of training for the 800m. When I broke 2 minutes for the 800, Seheultie said, “well you know you should have a go at a mile now and see what you can really do”. So that’s what we did. It was off the back of some very structured training, but it wasn’t a particular target. It was within a period of several months where everything felt so easy and I was just running like the wind. It was effortless. I don’t want to sound big headed, but I had done so much training, that if Allan had said go run 400m in 56 seconds, I could just go down to Maiden Castle and run 400m in 56 seconds. I was really fit, I wasn’t injured, I didn’t have any hassles. But I paid for it later. I spent months afterwards with calf and Achilles problems and ended up having cortisone injections in the Achilles, which I think was a result of lots of time training on the track. But at the time it was great. So I think the mile was a one off, off the back of the 800m. I never repeated anything like it, but I was never that fit or that focused again. One of the things it taught me was, I don’t want to be like that. I wanted to do lots of different things, I wanted to run on different terrains and do different distances. I got more and more into off-road running and social running. I lost interest in running fast, because I figured I would never run as fast again.
Allan’s Memorial Mile races are in a few weeks’ time, on 20th July. What tips would you give people?
The third lap is the hardest lap, and it is the crucial lap. Keep your form on the third lap!. Allan said, “keep your head up, keep your shoulders back and keep relaxed to keep good form”. The tendency when you are trying to run fast is to tense up and hunch forward.
Also, common sense, don’t set off too fast! If you do that in the mile, you are absolutely scuppered. Finish strong! That was Allan’s approach to all his racing, he said “finish strong!”.
Where is your favourite place to run?
I think if I am honest, the nicest run I have ever done is the Swaledale Marathon. For a long time I have said, “if I die, sprinkle my ashes in Gunnerside Gill”. Having stopped doing races and being competitive, then my local answer would be Waldridge Fell. I run on Waldridge Fell every Saturday, if I am around, and I have done that for 30 years. You can run for an hour and not bump into traffic, and we always see wildlife.
Describe your best race experience.
That was right back at the beginning, the first London Marathon that I did with my brother. I got drawn into it late as my brother was running with a team to raise money for his school and one of them broke their leg, so he asked if I would take their place. My brother worked in a special unit for kids with disabilities and was raising money for the unit. On the day it was just fantastic. It was probably the second year the London marathon had happened, so it was a relatively new event. If I am honest, we didn’t really know what we were doing. My legs ran out at 20 miles, we stopped for ice cream, jogged the rest of the way with some firemen who were very lively, we kept them going and they kept us going, and we just got round (4.15). So probably because I did it with my brother and probably because it was just a great day, that is my most vivid race memory I have.
In terms of running and time, then the Brampton to Carlisle when I did 57 minutes was my best race experience and achievement, as it all fell into place. I ran with my friend Andy and we stayed together until the last mile, when he ran off and left me, but we pushed each other, we were both running as fast as we could, you know, a really good pace. It felt hard all the way but we felt in control and we were both really pleased with the whole thing. We judged it well, we were fit, we had done the race before so we knew the course. Everything fell into place. It all went right. I have a lot of affection for this race because of that. It is one of the classic historical road races and long may it continue.
Describe a bad race experience?
I have had dozens and dozens of bad races. When I had the Achilles and calf problems I did what most runners do and tried to ignore it. So I had a whole series of races where I was injured, but at the same time I thought I was really fit, so I didn’t want to miss them. I can remember a Northeastern cross country race, I can remember several Harrier Leagues when I thought “I’m fit and I really want to do well”, and I didn’t finish any of them. I would get 3 miles in and then my leg would pack in. So, a lot of bad races in one go!
In terms of a spectacular blow up, I can remember doing the Phoenix, which is now called the Northumberland Coastal Run. I thought I was fitter than I was and I went off too fast. I can remember I got to Craster, which is about 5 or 6 miles in, and I just fell apart. I then jog-walked all the way from Craster to Alnmouth because I couldn’t keep running. My stomach was cramping and my legs were stiff and I just could not run. I had set off with three other Striders, who I thought in my head I should comfortably beat, but they beat me by about 35 minutes!
The other really spectacular one, was the last time I did the National cross country. I finished in the last group of runners. It was at Nottingham that year. Part of the course was really muddy, almost knee deep for a few hundred yards, and every lap I just found it harder and harder, and on the last lap I was walking through this mud thinking this is bloody horrible, and a guy was jogging behind me. I heard him coming and he went past me and then he fell over in the mud. I helped him up and then we just walked together to the end of the mud and we just looked at each other and said “why are we doing this?” And when I finished Geoff Davis was already taking the tent down. I was spectacularly slow that day, I mean it was a great day, a great day out, but in terms of my running, it was not. That was a few years ago, Geoff Davis will remember when exactly, if you ask him.
What food or fuel do you take when running?
If it’s a long run, Jaffa cakes. They are easily digested and give you plenty of sugar. I find some of the energy bars and gels clag your mouth up and make you thirsty. So things like Jaffa cakes and jelly babies.
What three pieces of advice would you have for runners?
Yes, I have thought about this quite a bit. The first, which really fits with my philosophy of running, is, yes, it’s good to run as fast as you can and take on challenges but I think there comes a time when you should throw away the watch and just run for enjoyment, and you know if you are out in the countryside, stop now and again and take in the view. So yes, racing around Houghall Woods is great, but so is running round looking at the Bluebells! I’ve done the Captain Cook’s Monument race from Great Ayton for years and it always used to amaze me how hardly anyone stopped at the top to look at the view before they hurtled down the other side. I’m as competitive as anybody, but sometimes we should throw away the watch and just run for running’s sake. Enjoy that feeling of being fit, being able to run and keep going, and think, wow, this is fantastic!
My second piece of advice would be listen to your body and stop when you are injured. We all tend to come back too quickly or think, oh if I run slowly it will be okay, or I will just have a jog and see how it feels, it never works.
The third piece of advice, which I used to be notoriously bad at, is stretching before and afterwards. I went into competitive sport before any type of warm ups or stretching were done, but now I am paying the price for it. My posture and flexibility are greatly reduced. This year I signed up for pilates classes led by a physio. I had to sign a sheet to say why I wanted to do pilates. I said “50 years of competitive sport and no stretching”. At the end of the first session the physio came up to me and said, “I see what you mean”. I think the more often that runners do stretching, or pilates or yoga or something like that, the better. I never did it, and I think if I had, I would have avoided a lot of the Achilles and calf injuries I had. I have learnt the hard way.
Strategies for Running a Mile
Allan’s Memorial Mile Races
I have always enjoyed the Striders summer mile races set up by Allan Seheult. These races take place next month on Wednesday 20th July. If you have not taken part before or come to watch and cheer people on, I recommend it. It is a fantastic club night. People are split into groups of similar ability which means people can support each other to run their best, during the race.
I have had a little look online to find some tips. Of course, you may have your own resources and knowledge. I hope the following will be useful for those who are new to the mile.
What is the Mile Race on a Track?
On a track, a mile distance is just over 4 laps. To be exact, a mile is 1609.344m, so you will start 9m back from the start/finish line, spread out across the track on a curved line. You’ll run 4 laps of the track (plus your initial 9m).
The mile is a fast-paced race. This makes it exciting. It is considered to be a middle distance running event because it requires a combination of speed and endurance. You need to pace yourself so you have enough energy for the home stretch towards the finish line!
As you will be running hard, a really good warm up is important to prepare your body and to prevent injury. At Allan’s Memorial Mile races, just as last year, a warm up will be offered by your group leader. Make sure you cool down afterwards too with some jogging, walking and stretching.
Mile Race Strategy
Olympian Andy Baddeley offers some tips on race strategy for the mile race in an article published in Runners World online, June 2017. His main points are as follows.
Baddeley states that it is important to familiarise yourself with the track conditions on the day. “Pay attention to the wind during your warm-up so you can mentally prepare for the toughest sections of each lap (or plan when to tuck in and shelter!). Note where the 200m marks are, to help with your pacing during the race.”
He suggests deciding on a goal pace beforehand. He says, “Choose an ambitious target and don’t talk yourself out of it as it gets closer to the event. Whatever mile pace you can run for 10k, simply taking off 20-30s for a one-off mile won’t stretch you. As an example, if you can run 7 minute miling for 10k, aim for sub 6 minutes for your single effort”.
He notes that you can work out your 400m splits by dividing your target time by 4. “Aim to hit them as closely (and evenly) as possible. Checking your splits each 200m can stop you from going too hard too early. (For example, for a 6 minute mile pace your 200m splits would be 0:45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00, 3:45, 4:30, 5:15, 6:00.)”
Baddeley says the third lap will feel the hardest, so focus on it. He states, “Get to halfway (2 laps) on your target pace, and be prepared to have to push harder on the third lap just to maintain the same pace. The temptation is to slow down on this lap, and it’s mentally tough to keep pushing, but if you drop off your pace you will find it very difficult to pull it back in the last lap”.
He concludes that “for most people, a single mile effort will be much shorter than they’re used to – so embrace the discomfort and know that it will be short lived. By relaxing your shoulders, your breathing, arm movement and stride will be more efficient, hopefully helping you to run a PB”.
Samantha Bower, elite runner, also gives some good advice. I summarise her main points as follows but here is the article in full.
She says you need a strategy because a fast mile is difficult to pace. She says, “you have to start out hard enough to show the mile who’s boss, but you have to save a little something extra for the second half so you can bring home the bacon”.
Bower suggests the 4 P’s: PUSH, PACE, POSITION, and POSITIVITY. She says, ”This is a quick race so you want to get out of the gates with a little speed. You’re going to think PUSH for the first quarter-mile, which is different from a sprint. You want to get yourself in the right mindset of running fast, and this PUSH is meant to make you feel like a competitor. Physiologically, you also need to kick-start your body into race mode, so that it knows what to expect for the rest of the race and is warmed up to perform. For races where you have competitors around you, this PUSH where you prove that you are a contender in the race, not a pretender”.
She follows with “so the second quarter mile is all about finding your PACE. If you are using a GPS watch, this might be the time to give a quick glance and see if you are ahead or behind your goal race PACE”.
Following this, she advises “find your POSITION with your opponents. You want to POSITION yourself so you are able to make a move on your opponent when you want. You want to make sure that you are close enough to them that you’ll be able to out-kick them to the finish line, but you don’t need to pass them just yet. You are positioned just off of their shoulder, waiting for that final lap”.
She also advises that POSITION can refer also to your running form. ”When you get tired during a race, you tend to lose aspects of proper form. Do a quick scan of your body. Make sure to relax your shoulders and shake out your hands. POSITION your head so it is neutral, looking directly in front of you, and not bobbing up or down or turning side to side. Finally, make sure you are aggressively driving your knees in front of you with your foot landing directly under your knee. Focusing on these good POSITIONs will help keep your body working efficiently rather than using bad form that wastes energy. That will conserve power for your final quarter-mile section.”
The final ‘P’ is POSITIVITY: Bower says, “This section is the most simple to explain, but the hardest to complete. Whether your plan has gone perfectly or perfectly horrible for the first three laps, your legs are tired and you are breathing hard. You have the final quarter of the race ahead of you and you lay it all on the line. This is where you channel POSITIVITY. You are POSITIVE that you can hold your pace for another 400M; you are POSITIVE that you can beat any opponents that try to pass you; and you are POSITIVE that the clock will show the number you are chasing”.
I hope this reading will help those (including myself!) that are inexperienced with racing short distances. Hope to see you at Allan’s Memorial Mile Races. Good luck everyone!