I’m not perfect – thanks for the reminder

I’m not perfect – thanks for the reminder

WHETHER I am running or studying or writing, I always try to give my best. I work as hard as I possibly can so that I can hopefully achieve my goals, or if I don’t achieve them I can at least say I’ve tried my best.

I am definitely a Trier.

I am trying to get back into shape after a few months off. I am trying to break the 40-minute 10k barrier. I am trying to finish writing my running book. I am trying to break the 90-minute half marathon barrier. I am trying to finish my MA in writing. I am trying my best at everything I do. At work, my colleagues laugh at me because whenever I’m working on a project, I always say, ‘It’s got to be right’. And it has. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

But sometimes, striving for perfection and trying to be the best you can be is hard work. There are always Continue reading

Running and racing so far in 2017

THIS week I start my next block of training. My target race is the Salford 10k on Good Friday where I am aiming to break 41 minutes and get near to my 40:31 personal best. But before I focus on my next goal I wanted to look back at what I achieved during my last block of training.

It started in December with the Percy Pud 10k. It was my first 10k in six months and I was a bit race rusty. I found the race tough. I ran 41:43, just squeezing into the medals with third vet 35. I was pleased with the time, considering I’d not raced for a while, and happy to be back racing. The other great thing about the Pud was that we were joined by Olympians Eilish McColgan and Michael Rimmer.

This is Eilish McColgan gliding into the finish.


And this is me stomping towards the finish.

Later in December I managed to run sub 21 at Pontefract parkrun, something I’d not done for a while. I clocked 20:58. Unfortunately on Christmas day I could only manage 21:23. Rather than let this ruin my Christmas I decided my slowness could have been down to a slight hamstring niggle and a bit of a cold. A few festive drinks later and I’d forgotten all about it.

My first race of 2017 was the 5,000m track race at Dorothy Hyman stadium, where it was rather windy. I finished in 21:21.

A couple of weeks later, back at Pontefract I ran Continue reading

Barnsley AC Winter Track 10,000m

Barnsley AC Winter Track 10,000m

Wednesday night was the final race in the Barnsley AC winter track series. So far, we’ve run 5,000m and 3,000m, but Wednesday was the big one, the 10,000m. I wasn’t looking forward to running 25 laps in the dark and cold, but I absolutely loved it.


With the runners and officials

It was a fantastic race. On a few laps I was even smiling, not so much from running round in circles, but from the camaraderie. It was such a lovely atmosphere.


On the start line

For the first few laps I led a group in the middle of the pack. When my pace slowed, someone else stepped in. We worked together. I was trying to keep focused, counting the number of laps we’d completed. I lost count at number six, or was it seven?

‘How many laps have we done?’ I asked the group.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ Mark said. ‘Just count the number of times we get lapped by the leader, and then deduct that from the board.’

This seemed a sensible approach, but when the leader whizzed past every couple of minutes, I soon lost count of that too.

Round and round we went, not really sure how many laps we’d done or how many were left. Round and round, until it was just me and my friend Jo. Jo got in front at around the half way point and, as always, she pushed the pace on. I tucked in behind, hoping that I’d manage to stay with her through the wilderness laps. I kept my eyes on Jo’s back, which is when I noticed two letters printed on the back of her shorts.

‘GB’ it said. And there was a little flag printed next to it. A red, white and blue flag.

‘Bloody hell! Have you run for GB?’

‘Yes,’ Jo shouted over her shoulder. ‘In duathlon. I do a lot of cycling.’

I was very impressed. ‘That’s fantastic!’

Imagine getting a GB vest, running for your country. How good would that be. And then I began to realise that I was competing against a professional, a GB professional, and that made me panic.

My internal thoughts started working in overdrive. You’re not good enough. You’re Continue reading

A plan for the 3,000m Winter Track Race

AFTER getting a PB at last week’s parkrun I was hoping I might be able to get a 3,000m PB at the Barnsley AC Winter Track Race.

It was the second race in the series and conditions were much better than the very blustery weather we had for the 5,000m two weeks ago.

There was no traffic jam this time, but I still managed to get to the track with only half an hour to spare. Then there was the faffing. With two numbers to attach to my vest, things were rather fiddly and then I got chatting, which meant I only had about ten minutes to warm up.


I was half way through the very brief warm up when Kerry, a friend and AC coach, jogged across to join me. ‘Do you have a plan?’ she asked.

‘A plan?’ I shook my head. ‘No. Do I need a plan?’

‘You need a plan.’

Kerry asked for my current PB and trotted off to consult her book of plans. She came back. ‘Your plan is to run 1.34 a lap.’

That sounded easy enough! And I felt Continue reading

A Windy Wednesday for the Winter Track League

A Windy Wednesday for the Winter Track League

I SPENT most of the day on Wednesday hoping that the 5,000m winter track race would be cancelled.

We were experiencing a spot of windy weather – 60 mile per hour gusts at least. ‘They’ll cancel,’ I told Chris confidently. ‘It’s madness running in this.’

I sat at my desk, with the wind rattling the windows, checking my phone for news that it had been aborted. The news never came. It was on!

The wind was causing chaos. Leeds had been brought to a standstill, so I was stuck in traffic. A lorry had blown over on the motorway, so Chris was stuck in traffic too. After a two-hour car journey, we arrived at the track with only a few minutes to spare.

The race was 5,000m, twelve and a half laps of the Dorothy Hyman athletics track. Normally, 5k doesn’t seem so bad, but on Wednesday it was cold. It was dark. It was January. And it was blowing a gale. I just wanted to get it over with.


Chris’ race went first. He stepped off the track looking like he’d just returned from an expedition in the Arctic. ‘Up there,’ he pointed to the far side of the track. ‘It’s like hitting a wall.’

As I made my way to the start, I formed a plan. I would Continue reading

Saying goodbye to Kingstone

Saying goodbye to Kingstone

THE first rule of my running club, Kingstone Runners, is to boo other members who leave for other local clubs.

‘Boo! Boo!’ we shout whenever we see the former club mate wearing the blue colours of Barnsley Athletic Club, or the orange of Barnsley Harriers, or the white of Penistone.

Under normal circumstances I would never ever boo anyone. It’s just not very sporting, or actually very nice. But this! Leaving our lovely Kingstone Runners for another club, well, I was all too happy to join in. In fact, I joined in with passion.

‘Boo! Boo! How could you?’

When one friend left I was still chanting ‘boo’ six months after he’d left.

It was all in good fun. I’m not sure the friends I was booing enjoyed it half as much as me, but they deserved it. I’m mean, leaving Kingstone. How could they?

But what goes around comes around.

This month, Chris and I decided that we would leave too. It has not been an easy decision, but Continue reading

Review of my running year

Review of my running year

As 2016 draws to an end I thought I would look back at my running year. There have been highs and there have been lows. I’ve got personal bests for 3000m, 5000m, parkrun, 5 miles, 10k, 9 miles, 10 miles and half marathon, but then I completely lost my confidence, followed shortly after by my fitness.

I started writing a running book, and was granted some arts funding to help. My blog was ranked in the top 200 running blogs and then nominated in the Running Awards. Despite wanting to run the Florence Marathon to raise money for cancer research, I failed before I’d even got started on the training.

Here’s my 2016 running year with links to a Continue reading

Standing on the sidelines

Standing on the sidelines

THE miracle recovery I’d hoped to make in time to race last weekend didn’t happen. I had to withdraw from the 10k and seek medical assistance instead.

Having spent weeks training for this particular 10k, I was really disappointed not to be on the start line. I did everything I could to be there, and didn’t want to admit defeat, but in the end I had no choice. I could barely walk, let alone run.

I went to the race to support Chris.

I stood on the sidelines and watched, but even that was too much. Later that night, I couldn’t Continue reading

Come on the antibodies

Come on the antibodies

EVERY October I have a flu jab. Every year, it’s the same process. I call the doctor’s receptionist. She asks me why I qualify. I tell her I have asthma. She books me an appointment. I go, have the jab and survive the winter without getting flu.

But not this year. No. This year, the flu is causing chaos.

First of all, I missed my appointment. It was in the diary, but I was that busy I forgot to look at the diary. The NHS is already stretched to capacity and there I was costing it money for missed appointments. I called the doctor’s receptionist the next day with the intention of confessing my general incompetence and grovelling an apology.

The phone rang seven times before the receptionist picked up. ‘Can you HOLD?’ She said.

‘Er…yes.’ I said, feeling a bit startled by her tone.

The line went quiet for a long time. ‘Hello,’ I said. ‘Anyone there?’ I was just about Continue reading

The Running Week (17-23 October)

THERE wasn’t much running at all last week. By Friday, I’d only done two and a half miles. I had, however, written an essay on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, completed a two-day coaching and mentoring course at work, and survived a very long day of team building.

I staggered home on Friday evening with only one thing on my mind. Not wine. Not chocolate. Running!

Here’s how the week looked.

Monday: I started writing Continue reading