RUNdown – September 2022

Introduction

Welcome to the September issue. The weather has definitely turned, as told by trainers stuffed with newspaper taking longer to dry and a second layer being needed on early morning runs for some. This month marks the start of the cross country season, and what a fun time we had at the Wrekenton fixture. It was lovely to see such a good turnout, including some new and older members.

This month the Great North Run took place and our front cover photo celebrates new member Oei-Chi Basden at the finish. After months of training she ran a really good time and raised funds for Mind. She also ran her first cross country race at Wrekenton and did really well, being a counter for the team.

Striders have run a large variety of races this month including road, trail, ultra and adventure events and these are celebrated in the ‘Strider Shout-out’. There has been some really good running. This month I also talked to long-term member Steve Ellis. He truly is an inspiration and you can read about his running in the Strider Chat feature.

Following an interesting conversation with James McNaney about running and personality whilst running round the track (we were warming up I hasten to add, I would not be able to keep up with him otherwise!), conversations with some currently injured members and conversations with people I have not seen at the club for a while, I started to think about motivation and running within the club. I decided to explore this a little and had a weekend listening to some very interesting podcasts. From this I wrote a small, preliminary exploration of this subject, and include it here.

All the best to those doing final preparations for marathons in October.

Happy running,

Tamsin (Ladies’ Captain, Writer and Editor of Striders’ RUNdown)
Malcolm Sygrove (Sub-editor and web publisher of Striders’ RUNdown)

The Strider Shout-Out

Great North Run

The start of the month saw this famous event, with a participation of 60,000 runners, including lots of you. With the route back to normal, there may have been a sense of celebration of normal. The t-shirt this year was on point, featuring a design by a local artist called James Dixon. His illustration aims to reflect the experience. Looking at your finishers photos the top has drawings of local landmarks seen along the run route and depictions of the day including running bananas, bowls of sweets, the red arrows and charity signs.

There were some amazing Strider performances. This is a hard event to race in, given the large numbers, so to get a PB despite this really is something to be proud of. Oei-Chi Basden ran a brilliant time of 1:43 whilst raising money for the charity Mind, Peter Bell ran a great time of 2:13 raising money for Marie Curie, and Sam Jackson, ran a time of 1:15 despite not having done any structured training before joining our club! George Nicholson ran his 41st Great North Run. These are just a few of your many achievements. If you decided just to enjoy this event as an event rather than a race, good for you, that’s also brilliant, I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you to all who raised money for charity, it is so appreciated.

Vale of York Half-marathon

Three of you took part in this half marathon that takes place on the same day as the Great North Run. This half is a good race for a PB as it is flat and there is a big turnout of club runners meaning good competition to spur you on. A good alternative if you did not get a place in the Great North Run or if you fancy a lower-key event with fewer people. Stephen Soulsby, Simon Gardner and Emma McCabe enjoyed it this year. Congratulations Stephen for coming 8th in your category (1:28) and Simon for coming 10th in your category (1:31).

Dark Side of the Combe Fell Race

Penny Browell took part in this fell race, right at the back end of August, hence it did not squeeze into the previous issue of RUNdown, but it deserves a mention as she came first lady! This is a hilly 7.8 mile fell race that takes place near Bootle, in Southwest Lakeland, not far from the sea. Congratulations Penny!

Cheviots Challenge – Short Race

Anna Linfoot competed in this race, also right at the end of August. Although it says ‘short’ in the title, it was 14 miles and 3,000 feet of total ascent. She has done little trail or fell running before, but despite this came first lady and second place overall! She says she is discovering she really enjoys this type of terrain. Amazing, well done Anna!

Let’s Run Round – Anticlockwise

This is a circular hilly (4, 547ft ) 30 mile route starting and finishing at the Lets Run shop in Stokesley (our sponsors for the Willow Miner Trail Race this year). Graeme Watt took on this challenge earlier in the year in a clockwise direction, and went back to try it anti-clockwise! He smashed it in 4 hours and 44 minutes, putting him at the top of the leaderboard!

Blanchland Half-marathon

A fun trail half attached to the Blanchland show, organised by Greener Miles Running. Heather Raistrick, Theresa Rugman-Jones and I took part. Thanks to Stuart Scott for marshalling. We assembled in the main show ring to start, then ran up onto and across the moor to the peaceful and picturesque Slaley Forest.

After a few twists and turns in the forest we ran back up onto the moor which was covered in beautiful purple heather in flower. We were high up and the views down into the green Blanchland valley were stunning. The race ended with a super steep descent back to the finish field near Blanchland. Being a Greener Miles Event we got a ‘wild seed’ medal. You can actually plant the medal and wild flowers will grow!

Asda Foundation Middlesbrough 10K

This is a fast road race in central Middlesbrough. Andrew Davis ran this in a swift 45:11 time.

Sunderland Harriers Farringdon Cross Country Relays
© Stuart Whitman

This social cross country relay event took place right at the start of the month. It was a sunny day. The course is a short 1.8 mile through a pleasant oasis of grassy hills and bushes and sudden ditches within Farringdon. We had a fantastic turnout from Striders men and women. Great running all round. The men’s senior teams came 7th (Sam Jackson, Graeme Watt, Lindsay McEwan and Michael Littlewood), 15th and 22nd. The senior women’s teams came 11th and 13th. The veteran women’s team came 4th (myself, Nina Mason and Nina Bojadzic).

 

Inaugural Geordieman Triathlon

This triathlon is a very popular one, taking place at Druridge Bay Country Park. The swim is in Ladyburn Lake, the cycle along the coastal roads and the run within the country park. Elvet Strider Michael Mason is also in the Durham Triathlon Club. Michael competed in this race and did really well, coming first place in a time of 9:47! Huge congratulations.

Cronkley Fell Race

A very scenic fell race in Upper Teesdale organised by the Durham Fell Runners. This race was on the Striders’ Grand Prix. A fun time was had by Michael Littlewood, Lindsay McEwan, Anna Linfoot, Emma McCabe, Nina Mason, Malcolm Sygrove and I. It is an ‘out and back’ race with the uphill mainly on the way out. The route goes up Cronkley fell then down to the river Tees where you have to wade the river to get to the turnaround point. Watch out for the crocodiles! We were rewarded with hot tea and chip butties at the finish. Thanks to supporters Jan Young, Ian Butler, Heather Raistrick and Theresa Rugman-Jones. Well done to Anna Linfoot for coming second lady! I was pleased to come third lady.

September Club Run: The Downhill mile

Thanks to Wendy, Michael and Allan for organising this top club run. It’s a fun downhill route along the tarmac track leading down to Old Durham Farm. Well done everyone who gave it ago. You all got some excellent times. Mentions to Wendy who ran an awesome time of 6:50, Nina Mason in 6.:22, Steve Ellis in 6:59, Lewis Littlewood in 5:01 and Liam Huntington and Bryan Potts who flew down in 4:45 and 4:46 respectively!

Sedgefield Serpentine Race

A trail 10km, taking in Hardwick Park and surrounding countryside. Awesome running by Conrad White, Ian Butler, Heather Raistrick, Steve and Jan Ellis.

Ben Nevis Race

This is an extremely tough but popular fell race from Fort William to the summit of Ben Nevis and back again. Graeme Watt took part and came 15th and 3rd in his age category. This is an amazing achievement.

Salomon Lochaber 80 Trail Ultra

A beautiful 80km race along trails through the glens, hills and forests of the Lochaber Highlands. Elaine Bisson ran and came 3rd lady! Congratulations Elaine.

Start Fitness North East Harrier League 22/23 – Wrekenton Fixture

What a great day! An excellent turn-out from Striders, about 50 of you. Lovely to see some new members of the club giving it a go and some older returning club members. The course was gravelly and grassy, but still very tough! The long drag towards the finish was the hard bit for me, surely that alone was 4 miles long! Well done, the men’s team came 2nd and the women’s team came 4th! A great start to the season. Thanks to all supporters, especially those who came just to support such as Corrine Whaling, Joanne Patterson and Jan Young. The cakes, biscuits and chocolates afterwards were also excellent. Huge thanks to cross country captains Corrine and Georgie for all your time before and at the event. The next fixture will be at Druridge Bay, and there is a club bus provided for transport (sign up TeamApp).

BMW Berlin Marathon

Karen Byng and Eluid Kipchoge, and some other runners took part in the 48th Berlin marathon on 24th September. Karen flew round in an amazing time of 3:58, which will come with a really good age grading! She paced it brilliantly, running negative splits. Kipchoge also did quite well (he got a PB).

Darlington South Park 20

This is a lapped 20 mile race, on road near Darlington. Mark Kearney took part and came first! Brilliant Mark. His time was 1:58 with a cracking average pace of 5:57 minutes per mile!

Lakeland Four Passes

This is a commendable, 19 mile, valley and pass route (with 5,300ft ascent) starting at Rosthwaite in Borrowdale. The four passes are Sty Head, Blacksail Pass, Scarth Gap and Honister Pass. Well done Eric Green, hope you enjoyed it.

Berkeley Marathons, UK Edition

Stuart Scott decided to take on a slightly different type of running race! He entered the UK Berkeley marathons. This event started at a ‘base camp’ in the countryside near Berkeley. The base camp was located from a grid reference. From this base camp, competitors had to run five, undisclosed 26 mile loops, each with secret challenges to complete on the way! He completed the challenge! At the time of writing I see he has finished and survived.. and has put photos on Facebook of keys, pages of books and a wooden box! Congratulations Stuart!

Run Northumberland Maften 10k

Phil Ray and Mick Davis competed in this 10k race. This pleasant race meanders along country roads around Matfen village and surrounding area. They both got amazing times, Phil ran it in 36:30 and came 3rd male! Mick ran it in 43:19 and came 15th male.

Coxhoe Trail Run

The Coxhoe Trail Run is a cheerful, local 10k event along the disused railways lines and footpaths near Coxhoe. Always a popular race with local clubs, including Striders. Huge congratulations to new member Andrew Race for coming first (the day after an excellent performance at Wrekenton cross country), to Conrad for coming second in his age category and to Roz Layton for coming first in her age category. Well done to everyone else who ran.

RAF Spadeadam Half-marathon

Aileen and Alan Scott enjoyed this hilly 14 mile half-marathon around this historic RAF site in Cumbria that was used during the cold war. The course also goes through Spadeadam Forest and has good views of the Lake District. Despite being a tough race Aileen came 8th in her age category and Alan came 13th in his age category. Well done.

Weekly Club Runs

Thanks to all our run leaders and volunteers this month. It really is appreciated. The variety of options each week lends itself well to the wide range of runners in our club. Thanks to Nigel Heppell, Wendy Littlewood for her Friday night social runs, Ian McKenzie, Mark Foster, Fiona Jones and Karen Byng for track sessions. Thanks to Dave Nicholson for his hill session, Lotti for her strength and conditioning evenings, Steven Lumsdon and David Oxlade for Kenyan Hills, Phil Swinburn for riverbank runs, Michael for his ‘captain’s recovery’ runs, Alison Smith and Sophie Dennis. Thanks Georgie, Phil and Geoff for the cross country sessions. Sorry if I have missed anyone.

Striders Running and Menopause Group

The first meeting of this group took place this month. There was a good turnout and the response was that it was supportive. At their request, I have set up a Whatsapp group for those who came to keep in touch between meetings. A further meeting is planned for before Christmas. Do get in contact with me if you would like to come. As noted before, this is a women’s only group for peer support. Please see a GP if you have any medical concerns.

Strider Chat: Interview with Steve Ellis

I was really pleased to speak to Steve Ellis and hear about his running. His attitude of being open to try new things, tempered with a realistic and measured approach is inspiring. His determination to continue running for as long as he can, and his approach to how he is achieving this is informative. I also really enjoyed listening to his funny anecdotes and running tales.

When did you start running and why?

I started running around about the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011. I retired in 2010 and I joined the local gym and I started using the gym three, maybe four, times a week. I used all the equipment but I would always end up on the treadmill to finish off. I quite enjoyed the treadmill as I could set myself targets and that meant longer distances, but I found it really boring. It was suggested to me that I might try running outside. The whole idea of that was an anathema to me because I just thought I would look stupid. But eventually I plucked up the courage and started running outside, and I have to tell you it hurt like hell! My knees hurt, my hips hurt, my back hurt, my ankles hurt. Somebody I knew who was a runner asked what shoes I ran in?’ When I told him a pair of Adidas samba he laughed and told me to buy some proper running shoes! This was the first piece of really good advice I got, because within a few days all of those aches and pains disappeared.

So, I started running around the streets and I started to set myself little targets. I knew that people ran particular distances like 5k and 10k etc, so I planned some local routes, thinking I could walk back if it proved too far! In that way I set myself a 3 mile target and then eventually 6 miles. Whilst I was doing that I was still using the gym, but doing classes like pilates. One of our Strider members who was also doing pilates suggested I should come to the club on a Wednesday evening. He told me I’d run with other people and it will help you to improve. Now in those days, members would turn up on a Wednesday and offer runs around Durham City, and you would just choose one to go on. So I went along, enjoyed it and kept going. I continued attending for the best part of a year. The member who encouraged me, by the way, was Alan Smith. Of course he is a terrific runner and has been for a long, long time… thanks Alan! In 2012 I eventually joined the club properly.

His next suggestion was cross country which horrified me at first, but tales of cake and with further encouragement and support I plucked up courage and did my first in 2013. It was a course that we have never done since, to my knowledge and that was at East Cramlington. I remember getting there. We were a bit late because there was such a lot of traffic. We then had to park in a field about half a mile away. Having arrived, somebody pointed the way up a hill and we crested this hill and came over the other side and there below was the tented village. It was quite a sight for the uninitiated!

We could see they were just starting the ladies’ race which started at the top of a horse-shoe shaped ridge. After the start they careered down the slope to the bottom, then up the far end and off to the right near some trees. It was like the ‘charge of the light brigade’. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I thought, “I’ve gotta have a go at this!” So I went and collected my number, and prepared for the men’s race. I just thought it was great. I really enjoyed it. That spurred me on to do a bit more training and to perhaps take it a little more seriously than I had been.

Tell me about a good race experience you have had.

I’d done a few parkruns in Durham and it had scared the hell out of me! It used to start on the track, everyone really going for it. You ran round the track one and a bit times before heading off on the main course. When you got to the first corner of the track there was always a coming together of people, and it did scare me I have to admit, but eventually I learned how to avoid bumping into people. After doing a few parkruns, I decided to try a 10k race now I had upped my training to 10k. This was Aycliffe 10k. I set myself a target to run it in under an hour which I could do anyway in my own training but naively wondered if it would be different in a race. I did run it in under the hour. When I assembled at the start I noticed another runner who had beaten me at parkrun. I was determined it would not happen today! Nearing the end of the race I started to feel dizzy, I was seeing stars, but I got past him and determined he would not get past me. I went through the line in about 56 minutes, delighted that I had done it in the time I had set myself, and I had beaten this other guy! Having gone through the finish, there was a group of people there ushering me out of the way. I wondered what was happening so I asked them. They said they were all from the Quakers club in Darlington and that one of their members was coming through the line soon. Soon after, a lady comes into the finish and they all start cheering loudly. She came through the line in just under the hour and collapsed into one of them. I asked them who she was and they said, “she’s our oldest member, she is 91!” So there was I, 59 years old, thinking how well I’d done and here was this 91 year old running it under an hour! I thought, okay, I’ve got a long way to go in this game really! I have never forgotten that, it has stayed with me all this time. Another illustration of how competitive sport can be a great leveller.

The next 10k I did was the hardest one I have ever done. I had heard a few Striders talking about a 10k race in Richmond. I went online and entered the race, but I didn’t read the small print. This is another piece of advice, always read the small print! I entered the race with no knowledge of the route, and quickly found out it was one of the hilliest 10k races around. I knew this by the end of it! I did it in just under an hour, and was completely exhausted afterwards. My reward was a pair of socks! I was proud of myself though.

From then on I did a lot of 10ks and eventually decided I would up my training and try a half-marathon. I have avoided the temptation of marathons, instead preferring half-marathons. I think it’s a nicer distance as it is easy to train for. If I can get my training up to 10 miles then I know it is just a parkrun after that! I have done lots of half-marathons now. This year I did the Gateshead half-marathon, which I enjoyed. It was a very friendly and well supported race and it was the first one I had done for over two years due to Covid. I was glad to find I could still do it.

What is your favourite place to run?

I am blessed where I live as I live near the disused railway lines. There is probably a rut in those railway lines because of me, on account of the number of times I’ve run along them! I enjoy them because I know every inch of them. My wife, Jan, will tell you I can run along them and say, “that’s 5k bench, that’s 6k tree, that’s 7k bench..” I know them so well I don’t need to take a watch for distance!

I like discovering new places to run too. It’s good to try new things. I did a Hardmoors race once. It was somewhere I’d never been before and it was brilliant.

I do like races at Druridge Bay. You have all that parkland and the lake, and the beach. The half-marathon there is a favourite. The first time I did it I won my age group prize. There were two Striders on the finish line who cheered me on. Anna Seeley was one. She came over to me as I finished and told me I had won my age group! A guy who was with her led me to a huge box and said take what you want out of there! I thought, this is great, I put my hand in a pulled out a hat. The next year I ran the race and I won it again. My hat trick of wins was curtailed because of covid!

I like trail runs in general. Another race I liked was the Haltwhistle half-marathon which is an ‘out and back’ and goes across a huge viaduct. I also enjoyed the Hadrian’s Wall half-marathon, which is right out in the sticks. You run across fields and through woods, over stiles and gates etc. The route takes you behind the wall on the Scottish side. It was a fantastic race and a hot day (the day England played Columbia in the World Cup, and I didn’t want to know the score!) I won my age group in that race too and I got a really nice congratulations letter from the race organisers. Trail races are harder, as they are difficult to pace but I enjoy the challenges, climbing over gates and stiles, running across gullies, jumping streams and bogs, through heather. These races are real challenges but if you prepare well they are great fun, especially when you win a prize.

I am less keen on road running these days although I do try to support local club races like the Aycliffe 10k. I like to think it’s money in their coffers!

I disliked the Great North Run, but I can see why people enjoy it. I entered it as a race, and I was falling over strewn bottles and people were getting in my way. I got a bit of a ‘nark on’ (Scousism for ‘cross’) with myself and I got a slow time. There was no water at the end and it was a red hot day. If I ever had to do it again, I would not race it. I would just jog around, enjoy all the people cheering, taking lollipops from kids, enjoy the water fountain things, stop for a beer with the Hash House Harriers and just enjoy it as an occasion. So it’s probably not the Great North Run at fault, it’s how I approached it that was wrong.

What is it you like about cross country?

I would say to anyone worried about trail running or any of the opportunities that being in Striders gives you, to just give it a go. It’s worth having a go. I know cross country is not everybody’s cup of tea, but just come along and see what it’s about. If you like the atmosphere you may enjoy it. I like the whole day. All the preparations. Arriving at the tented village. The whole build up of tension, nerves and excitement. Then of course the races themselves, shouting out for team members. Support comes from all participants and other club runners. There is a real sense of togetherness across all clubs. I know the running can be difficult. There is no easy cross country course. You are going to have to run up a hill or two and push yourself. Normally I try to prioritise the cross country races above other races and put them in my calendar. Perhaps it’s just me, but I prefer to run for the club than for myself.

People ask me why I do it, and why I run in the men’s race (three laps). I am well over the age where I could be running in the ladies’ race (2 laps) but I’m a stubborn bugger. As long as I can still get round those 6 miles, I will. I have my own little strategy. For the first lap, I just get round it. The second lap, I start looking around me to see who is there, as by then most of the fast people have gone past me. I am therefore not really involved in the main race anymore. So what I do is have my own race beginning on lap 2. If anyone goes past me that is minus 1. If I go past somebody, that’s a plus 1. In this way I accrue points and I try to always finish in the plus. I have only once ever been in the negative, and my best is plus 20! Daft it may be, but it keeps me going! So I am picking off people as I run along. Sometimes I get up plus 10 or plus 12, then I get a bit tired and they start coming past me! But this is my way of making each race something for me. There are people I have raced against in cross country now for 10 years and we have got to know each other. I have noticed now that most of these men run in the women’s race, which means that now I am very much one of the last to finish in the men’s race. It’s getting dark and everyone’s eaten the cake and ready to go home, but it still won’t stop me. The only thing that will stop me is if I physically can’t anymore, and so long as I am encouraged to do so.

So why not just give it a go. You may find that something you thought that was beyond your capabilities is not.

Tell me about your experience in the NEMAA Track and Field League.

People seem to have a similar viewpoint to NEMAAs (track and field athletics) as they do with cross country. But, NEMAAs is different because you are competitive. You are only competing against people in the same age group as you. So in cross country I am not very competitive but in NEMAAs, I am. My score in NEMAAs is determined against participants in my age group, and I can score points for myself and for the club. Although you may participate in a sprint race for example, your points will be determined by your time in your age range at the end of the meeting even though in your race you were up against younger or older runners. This applies to the throws and jumps competition too. Again the sense of team spirit is fantastic. They are always great nights, 6 per season, Mondays from 6pm, May to August. Give it a go and once more surprise yourself!

What is a bad race experience you have had?

I did a race in Reeth, it was 20k (roughly half-marathon). I met with other Striders before the start which was in a field. We were right by the river and there was a footbridge to the right going over the river. The race started and it was a bit of a bottle neck, and as it narrowed it became very congested. I was wearing my cap with a peak and looking at the ground to see where to put my feet. Next to the bridge was a waymarker/sign-post on a little mound. Well, I ran straight into it, head on collision, and it knocked me off my feet! I fell backwards and I thought I had knocked myself out as everything was black. But what had happened is that my cap had come forward over my face and I couldn’t see! I got up, pulled my hat from my face and there was blood on my head. A marshal came running over and told me it ‘looked bad.’ Jan appeared with a paper tissue and said, “here put that on your head you’ll be fine”. (Anybody who knows Jan will recognize this!) So I dabbed it on my head and it seemed okay. However the marshal insisted I saw the race director. I went over and he asked if I wanted to continue. I told him I felt fine. He informed me of a shorter 10k route if I wished to do that! I said ‘Look I have paid for 20k not 10k’ and he just laughed. I reassured him I was fine and I set off.

© Andrew Thrippleton

It was a lovely run. Incidentally, later on in the same race I slipped on some rocks and fell again and dinted my watch. I did a sort of judo roll, looked around to check if anyone had witnessed it and carried on as if nothing had happened! Man! The daft things you do! An eventful race! In other races I’ve been cold, wet, very tired but you just push through it and get to the finish somehow. Like I said before, sometimes you can’t set race targets as the conditions will often put an end to them!

It’s quite impressive to take up running in retirement. Were you active before retirement in other sports?

I had played football and a bit of cricket as a child and as a young adult. I played football until I was in my thirties. After that I did a bit of walking and bothying with friends in the Scottish Borders. But nearing retirement I was not active or fit at all. I was quite overweight and knew I needed to do something. That’s why I started going to the gym, but then running took over from that. As it turns out just in time too…

Not long after using the Gym, the people on the desk got to know me, and one of them asked if I’d be willing to talk to a student who was looking to chat to over-60s who used the local gyms. He was wanting to test some volunteers over a few weeks for general fitness. This included giving blood samples and blood pressure readings. Now, I had been to the doctors’ before I started at the gym to get a wellness check, but the doctor informed me that they didn’t do those tests anymore. He asked if I felt okay and encouraged me to carry on. I agreed to meet the student. He took the measurements and found my blood pressure was high. He took it again the next week and found it was high again. Also he had the blood sugar results back and said they were also high. He advised me to consult my GP. After further tests it was confirmed that I was nearing the point of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Wishing to avoid medication, I decided to look at my diet and increase my exercise. My attention was drawn to a book by Michael Mosley (the TV Doctor) who also had discovered he had type 2 diabetes whilst doing one of his programs! He worked with an expert in diabetes to write a diet and exercise plan to try and help people reverse their diabetes. It’s called ‘The Blood Sugar Diet.’ You have to reduce your calorie intake to 800 calories a day for eight weeks. He also says you have to keep exercising. He says this diet will not work otherwise. I talked it over with my doctor first and he was very encouraging. The day I started I was leading a run for the Striders, and I was worried I might keel over! I started running and within about 5 minutes I had forgotten all about it. So I stayed with it. My doctor had asked me to keep a daily record of blood sugar (using the pin prick test), blood pressure and weight. I kept meticulous charts and saw my doctor every two weeks. The aim is to shed up to fifteen percent of your body weight. After eight weeks I had lost this weight. Having lost this weight I was starting to feel the effects! The doctor then advised me to stop the diet. Unfortunately it hadn’t reversed the diabetes, but had brought blood sugar levels right to acceptable levels. Now I just needed to maintain this. Over the next year I continued to have regular blood sugar checks. Yes my weight did go up a bit after I stopped the diet, as you’d expect, but I didn’t put all that weight back on and my blood sugar levels are no longer sky high. I did completely change my lifestyle. Now although I am still diabetic, I have controlled it, and now only need an annual blood sugar check.

(Tamsin: “That is really inspiring. You are really strong to have done that.”)

Yes, well I think it shows my bloody-mindedness. I tell you those first few weeks of that diet I felt terrible and I would have eaten anything, even cardboard, I was that hungry! I was getting up feeling so hungry and having to go out for a run! I just made myself focus on trying to get rid of the weight.

Nowadays I am very worried about getting injured as I need my running for my health, to help control my diabetes and I don’t want a period where I can’t run. This is the main reason I don’t run marathons. I just stick to what I know, as that works for me, 10ks and half-marathons. I also tend to avoid running on slippery pavements in Winter for this reason, as I don’t want to fall and get injured. Of course I do suffer injuries like everyone else but so far I’ve managed to get over them!

What three pieces of advice would you have for other runners?

My first piece of advice is give new things a go.

Second piece of advice is you can’t avoid injuries but common sense and good advice will normally get you through. Oh, and Google!

Finally, running is a wonderful release for us all. It brings us together in all sorts of ways and keeps us fit and healthy. However I strongly believe it should only be a part of who we are. Many of you have full-time jobs and families, some of you have lots of other interests outside of running. Keeping a perspective is a good thing.

True to say that running can bring us many highs and lows and we have to roll with the punches. As I said earlier, sport is a great leveller. All a part of life’s rich pageant! So remember….. give things a go and GOOOOO Striders!!!

A Few Thoughts on Motivation and Behaviour in Running Clubs

What stops people from joining a running club? What stops people from trying cross country? What motivates people to stop coming to a running club when their fitness has declined? These thoughts lead me to investigate further.

Robson (2022) states that, ‘our expectations accompany us everywhere.’ And that ‘they influence our thoughts even though we don’t realise this.’ As a result, our ‘subjective experiences’ become our ‘objective realities.’ He suggests that if we reset our expectations, our reality will change. A blatant example of this, outlined by Robson (2022) is a Dutch research study where subjects were asked to listen to random white noise. They were first informed that they might hear a particular song within the noise. Afterwards, a third of participants reported that they had heard this song. This implanted belief had led their brains to process the sound differently, therefore demonstrating the ‘expectation effect’. Neuroscientists have proven by imaging of electrical activity in the brain that signals pass from the frontal cortex (where predictions are made) to the visual cortex long before an image appears in our consciousness, thereby showing the influence of the brain’s expectations (Robson, 2022). How does this link to running? Our expectations may influence the decisions we make in terms of trying new things. Taking part in cross country is a big step for many. Motivation may be based on previous experiences of school cross country, previous experiences in bad weather, among other things which will generate an expectation of the type of experience one may have, which may or may not be the reality.

Maslow (King and Coomber, 2001) suggests our motivation depends on our needs being met, through his hierarchy of needs. During lock-down when running clubs were prevented from operation, needs such as ‘sense of belonging’ that a running club provides, were not met and this may have negatively impacted some runners’ motivation. This social need was not met and some runners found alternative means of meeting this need such as zoom fitness classes, running in small social groups and greater use of social media to connect with other runners. Other times at which this ‘sense of belonging’ and ‘social need’ may be at threat are when runners get injured or ill, as they are no longer able to participate as they could before. This is where opportunities of volunteering and supporting are helpful to maintain contact with the group. In addition, forming sub-groups of people in the same situation such as with other injured runners can greatly help.

In my experience, the personal fitness of club runners will naturally fluctuate over time given life events. Also, it may be impossible to stay at peak fitness all the time (as suggested by the periodisation of training by elite runners). Loss of fitness and a change in ‘PB’ may impact on decisions to attend a running club. This club acknowledges this and wants to support individuals to enjoy running, whatever their current ‘PB.’ Also, runners wanting to chase ‘PB’s, runners running for the joy of competing or purely for the joy of running are all equally welcomed by this club.

Robson (2022) also writes about willpower. He says that the best way to increase willpower is to change your environment to reduce mental effort where it is not needed. For example, having a bag of running kit ready, takes out the mental effort of getting ready to run. Willpower is also affected by self-belief. For example, Richard Virenque, an athlete in the Tour de France asked for an illegal drug to enhance his performance (Robson, 2022). His coach said yes, but administered a placebo, yet his performance was incredible and he won the stage. Therefore his performance was down to self-belief.

Many runners will be goal-oriented, and this is great to enhance motivation, as is creating a series of smaller goals on route to the bigger goal (Hammond, 2019). Inserting something enjoyable into tasks that may be important such as strength and conditioning but not enjoyed by some runners, such as having music on at the same time or doing it with others at a class, can increase motivation.

Identity is very important in motivation (Smith et al. 2022). Taylor (Sports Psychologist at Loughborough University), within Smith et al., 2022) says that identifying as a ‘runner’ you may be more motivated to run than if you identify as an ‘exerciser.’ Making a new behaviour a habit can also help achieve goals, says Robins (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Cambridge). Self-compassion and kindness is important if goals are not met, in order to remain motivated (Taylor, 2022, within Smith et al., 2022). For example, in the event of having a ‘bad race’ for whatever reason, self-compassion is more motivational to cause the individual to try again rather than self-criticism.

Milman (2022, within Smith et al., 2022) states that ultimately, ‘the best motivator is enjoyment.’ Elvet Striders definitely aims to provide bags of fun, through a whole variety of different running opportunities every week. We hope you agree!

References:

BBC Radio 4 (2022) David Robson. “The Expectation Effect. The Prediction Machine. How do our beliefs shape our reality?” (19th July),  and “The Expectation Effect. Limitless Willpower. How to build self-control and mental focus.” (18th July). Both available from The Expectation Effect (BBC Radio 4)

BBC Radio 4 (2019) Claudia Hammond. “All in the Mind. The Psychology of Motivation and Procrastination”. Available from All in the Mind (BBC Radio 4)

BBC Radio 5 Live (2022) Smith et al. (2022). “Bad Habits”. Available from 5 Live Science Podcast

King, H and Coomber, M. (2021) Motivation in Sport. England Athletics webinar.

(Visited 213 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.