to current news
3 months of hard training the result is here for all to see, at
the Bislett 24 Hours on 6th/7th December I set a new personal best
of 219km, new stadium record, the World's Best Indoor 24 Hour Performance
for 2008 and new British Indoor Record, so can safely say at this
late stage in the year that my position as GB Number 1 at 24 hours
is safe for the 12th consecutive year. Everything went to plan,
apart from being much colder than anticipated the result was good
and is something to build on for the future. I know I can still
run further. The event was organised superbly but just a little
congested for the first 12 hour, but a real experience should you
wish to read the full report.
race report: Bislett_24_hours_report.doc
Thank you to
those of you who sent wonderful messages of support. Read
with Ralf Weis (Bislett 2008 mens race winner)
After my most
serious event of the year I followed it up with the most fun event
of the year, a jog around the Albert Park Time Trial of 5km dressed
as Santa, even Bill managed to have a run around with his hat and
beard. The pictures are great and even got on TV so if you do wish
to have a look at a few santas and link to the ITV program look
at the Middlesbrough News section of www.parkrun.com.
These are free events for anyone to run once you have registered
and take place 9am every Saturday morning - I didn't even get a
personal worst so was pretty chuffed at that performance too!!
Although all my plans are in place for 2009 there may be some changes
due to finances and work commitments,, Bill has now been made redundant
with just 4 weeks pay and little prospect of finding work. I lost
a major contract at Mulgrave Castle for 8 weeks that usually sees
me through the year so we are both actively looking for work. If
I get full time employment it will not be easy to get time off for
racing and hence the reason 2009 may not go according to plan. But
there are many people out there in the same position, we still have
each other and still have our health which are far more important.
The trophy from
Bislett Stadium 24 hours is the biggest, heaviest trophy I have
got - weighing in at 9kg (20lb) - so big that it will not fit on
the shelf in the garage!
Well I have had
an excellent month so far and all training has gone according to
plan, ran well in all my races, improved my 5km time by over a minute
and racing hard every weekend. I have notched up wins in the Burley
Bridge Hike and Wensleydale Wedge on consecutive weekends in atrocious
underfoot conditions, over my knees in some bogs on the BBH and
sticky, slippery mud on the WW. I have also moved up an age category
on the Vets races and pleased to pick up some Veteran prizes in
the much faster road races I am competing in.
Back in the gym the strength work has seen dividends and been increasing
the weight the hips can take on a regular basis and can see no point
in adding extra weight now and am just about to start my tapering
for my next race. I can now see drastic changes since before Tooting
Bec and am confident that I will now be able to run a decent 24
hour race, but where?
Having searched the internet and looking for the warmest run possible
at this time of year I came up trumps – an indoor 24 hour
race at the famous Bislett Stadium in Oslo, Norway on 6th/7th December.
I have never run an indoor race before and they are very few and
far between, probably the best known one is at Brno in the Czech
Republic which is actually a 48 hour race. But having said that
it is where the British Indoor Record of 207.5km was set by Eleanor
Robinson in 1996, so am hoping to extend the record further. The
only records showing further distances are by the Russian’s
in Podolsk Stadium, but unfortunately laps times for the World Record
by Sidorenkova have never been submitted for this to be formally
Bjoern Hytjanstorp kindly accepted me to compete in this race at
a very late stage, the race is under the stadium on a 545m track
with a “warm (18 degrees)” and “cold ” zone
(depending on outside temperature but no lower than 5 degrees),
which will probably feel strange changing between the temperatures,
there is also only one change of direction after around 12 hours
as the curves are not like a 400m track. Previous races here speak
for themselves in terms of quality as some really good performances
have been recorded and hope I can add to these. There appears to
be a rather large field of around 100 runners (entry was oversubscribed
and waiting list since September) but some are only doing the 12
hour race that is held simultaneously.
As for me, everything is booked and paid for courtesy of Darlington
Building Society and look forward to finally achieving my ranking
for the year at 24 hours – 11 years at the top, can this be
extended to 12 years? ..... time will tell. I am very excited about
the race, it feels like a new challenge in some ways, a new venue,
a different country and an indoor race, no chance of rain to get
wet feet and no rain jackets, also no sunshine, daylight or darkness
to adapt to, I am guaranteed an experience. After 3 months of no
running the hard weeks of training in the wind, mud and rain are
an absolute pleasure and will never moan about training again –
believe me, not running is far harder!!
been a really good month, some wonderful training runs, decent mileage
and three invited talks. The best was in Hanover where I was invited
by my nutritional sponsors Mannatech. Looks like I will get another
invite to Dallas again next year (was unable to take up the invite
this year due to the Marathon des Sables falling the same week).
I am already planning and have found a couple of 50 mile races not
too far away and may be able to compete in at least one of these
should the trip happen.
As I had entered
Tooting Bec 24 hours I decided to have a crack, I had been running
just 8 weeks by the time I did this race. Three very easy weeks
of less that 40 miles, three very hard weeks in excess of 80 miles,
a two week taper, then bang, straight into the race. I was in confident
mode and if everything went to plan then I could run similar to
last year where I achieved 212km, plan B was just in case I wasn't
as fit as I thought and was to finish in good shape by 12 hours
and treat it as a long training run.
was kind to us and found a good window of calm, day weather. I started
off exactly on schedule and by 10 hours had easily gone through
100km and feeling good and thought this was going to happen, but
gradually my hips began to ache and came in for a quick massage.
Not feeling much better I continued on and the pace was gradually
dropping. After 12 hours came the crunch decision - do I battle
on and hope for the best or do a call it a day and save myself while
still in reasonable shape.
It was obvious
that 3 months out was just far too long in terms of fitness to catch
up in just 8 weeks and just 3 hard weeks, so cut my losses and withdrew
in good shape after around 72 miles of running. Although a bit disappointed
it was expected and just thought I was superhuman for just a short
space of time. My longest race during the 8 weeks had been just
15 miles, although I had done a couple of long slow training runs
of 28 miles and 38 miles on consecutive weeks. So it is now back
to the drawing board and another training program to build on the
8 weeks done and a good long 12 hour training run. The following
week I did the Albert Park Time Trial to see how much tiredness
was left in me from my long run and was pleasantly surprised to
get my fastest 5km time at Albert Park since the injury -so 12 hours
running obviously did me good!!
I have got races planned for every weekend now and some extra strength
training sessions specifically for the hips, which it where I was
lacking in the 24 hours. Plans are also taking shape for another
attempt at a 6 day race early next year.
Well I can finally
say I am back running again at last and so far free from pain in
my hip. It has been a long and frustrating 3 months of no running
and a very slow return to running but am making progress. I have
done a few short 5km races and a 10km race. I am building up nicely
but need a few more weeks of solid distance running before revealing
any big plans.
I have at last been able to run the new Albert Park Time Trial 5km
in Middlesbrough just a few minutes from home which started up shortly
after I got injured. I had run many of the Hyde Park Time Trials
at Leeds and was looking forward to the new time trial closer to
home. These are fantastic events to monitor fitness and free to
enter - so do take a look at www.parkrun.com
and register to take part.
I had hoped to
be running by August but for the first three weeks I have had to
use cross training yet again. There was still pain on running just
3 miles so had to keep stopping to give it another week than starting
again. Finally it was obvious taking a week off and trying again
was setting me back so it was bite the bullet and take another full
three weeks off. It is now almost the end of August and have managed
a couple of 3 miles runs pain free, but it will be a slow progress
back up to full distance and I am taking it a day at a time until
I am confident the stress fracture is fully fixed.
For the last couple of weeks I have been using a Magnetic Pulse
machine that is supposed to help heal fractures, but is difficult
to know if this is having a positive effect at present. David Beckham
used an identical one for his famous metatarsal fracture before
the World Cup, the theory bodes well. I can't quite afford the anti-gravity
treadmilll that Paula Radcliffe used in her quest to get over a
stress fracture. I will however be going for another bone density
scan in the next couple of weeks to see if my status on this has
changed since my previous scan.
I have a couple of big races that I would like to compete in before
the year is out should I manage to get running again, but its too
early to declare these yet as would like to be in a more positive
position before I reveal the races.
My book is nearing completion, but did take a couple of weeks off
to watch the Olympics, the hardest part at present is finishing
with a positive chapter - should the rest of the year go according
to plan I may put the book on hold to finish with what I hope will
be another World Record set on soil very close to home!!
The holiday instead
of Badwater ended up being an absolutely superb cycling trip. We
set off from home along the Sustrans routes which amazing, so much
was traffic free and incredibly minor roads we could cycle along,
enjoy the countryside and each others company without the roar of
traffic and fear of being run over. We picked up cycle route no
1 which took us via Wynyard and purpose built paths to South Shields,
had a short disruption as we crossed a road in Sunderland as the
police helicopter hovered over us and half a dozen police cars arrived
with haste right in front of us and jumped out dressed in full riot
gear, shields and guns in hand, just as in the movies and proceded
immediately in front of us in drill form. Shocked that no one had
noticed us and warned us back seeing the guns we took a diversion
to avoid getting involved.
From then on
we took the Coast and Castles route hitting the tides at the right
time to take a visit ot Holy Island, somewhere I had wanted to visit
for a long time, Bamburgh Castle was also the most impressive castle
I think I have ever seen.
it was across to Kelso and some stiff clims to Edinburth. Our quick
visit to friends Murdo and Jo was generously extended for another
day as the weather did its worst and plenty to sightsee in Edinburgh
anyway. Bill was also thankful of the recovery, good food, good
company and superb accommodation (and even clean clothes to go),
friends like this are invaluable. We decided not to proceed any
further North and continued to Glasgow and back down the Lochs and
Glens route to Carlisle finishing with Hadrians Wall cycle path.
It was great to be out and exercising every day and had hoped that
on my return my term had been served for the stress fracture and
would be out running again. It's been 9 weeks since Surgeres but
the injury is proving to be rather stubborn and although I can walk
pain free I can still feel minor pain on running indicating that
the bone probably needs another couple of weeks. So its back to
book writing and sitting on my backside for a little longer, but
there is plenty of planning going on for what I might do by the
end of the year.
It has taken
three weeks to finallly diagnose the stress fracture I suspected
in my left hip, a long frustrating story. The biggest disappointment
is that I will now have to withdraw from Badwater as will not be
able to run for a couple of months. My sponsors Darlington Building
Society have been very understanding and supportive as ever, it
really helps that many staff are runners themselves and know plans
do not always run smoothly. Injuries happen and when you are running
long distances and always on the border of "doing too much"
this is just another lesson to learn from. Looks like the main mistake
was running Marathon des Sables and getting back so soon. The long
hours running with extra weight on my back and poor diet on freeze-dried
food probably contributed to a negative burn turnover by the time
I got home. As I was not stiff or particularly tired as had not
run hard I had got straight back into hard training and short, sharp
stuff to regain my speed. I should be able to start running again
the week of Badwater, but as Bill has time off work we are now thinking
of going for a cycle back over the LEJOG route.
The time off is giving me plenty of time to get my book well under
way, although time consuming is very enjoyable looking back over
my slow beginnings to running and have to keep getting out old scrapbooks
to confirm dates to get the information correct. I have also been
on a course at Lancaster University for "writing your life
story", which really just confirmed that I do know what I am
doing and am happy with what I have written so far.
The big one
for this month was the Surgeres 48 hour race in France. Only the
World's best athletes get invited to this race and was not let down
by the organisation. It was probably the best organised race I had
ever been to and was a big honour to be invited. From being picked
up from the airport, the hotel in the same road as the track, a
friendly dinner together with all the athletes, many of whom were
international friends I had known for many years.
The race was
on a 300m cinder track that was newly re-surfaced the day we arrived
and again just before the start of the race. All the athletes were
given a caravan each for sleeping and storing equipment and for
the crew to look after you. Bill was my handler as usual and the
organisers provided him with food throughout the event. Each runner
had an individual lap recorder who was trackside in a tent with
all numbers labelled so was easy to find. Hourly splits were printed
out and handed to crew along with a leader board that was updated.
I was very excited
about competing in this race, I had been invited several times before
but never been in a position to compete, I have wanted to run a
48 hour race for some time so was really pleased to finally be making
my debut but was unsure exactly how far I could run and so although
I did have several schedules written it was very much "go out
and try it and see how much sleep you need".
The race set off at 4pm on Friday, shortly after a heavy shower
had fallen. This actually had the advantage of damping down the
fine grit that can get into shoes and linger in the air, although
there were a few puddles to avoid. I set off at my slowest pace
ever, just trying to run as slowly as possible without any effort
whatsoever, this was very difficult to achieve as had a target of
no more than 32 laps per hour so was quite chuffed when the first
hour results came out at exactly 32 laps and around 9.5km. The next
two hours I ran 33 laps per hour but was not concerned as this was
really only 300m further than planned in an hour. By the end of
three hours I was aware that I had a pain beginning near the top
of my adductors, particularly on the left side.
At 4 hours I
had by first planned walk and food, a bowl full of noodles. This
went down well and after continuing on my way was aware that my
adductors were beginning to invade my head and took a couple of
Ibuprofen to settle them down, I could not believe I was having
a problem so early on in the race and thought the problem would
just settle down and go away and probably due to running so slowly
on this smaller than usual track. The surface of the track was drying
out now and quite liked running on cinder, just like an old railway
By 5 hours my
adductors were really giving me pain again and so decided to come
in for a massage from Bill in order to solve the problem. He massaged
the area but the adductors didn't really feel sore and could not
find the route cause of the problem. The problem appeared to be
directly on the bone and began to worry that this was not a soft
tissue problem. I carried on but was walking and running now as
it was quite painful still. I came in again and decided to see the
race Medical Team to try to shed further light on the nature of
my problem. There was quite a language barrier and between a translator
the doctor examined me. He thought it was soft tissue and gave me
strong pain killers and continue.
I was not confident
now, had been here before in Monaco, it was just too early on in
the race to take anything stronger than Ibuprofen. Bill suggested
taking an hour's break and seeing if rest made any differece. It
was dark now anyway. I rested in the caravan for an hour and then
tried again. Bill said to just walk a few laps to warm it up and
let it settle, but one lap was enough to tell me the answer, this
was painful and was hobbling just to walk on this and ended my race.
It was very disappointing, I was so curious to see how I would have
performed for 24 hours with having a slower than normal start and
what my debut performance would have been, I have been left to ponder
and still not know how well I can run this event. It was disappointing
as I have wanted to run a 48 hour race for so long and this is the
best 48 hour race in the World, I suppose I will just have to wait
and see if the organisers will be kind enough to invite me again
next year as I would really like to have a real crack at this.
It feels as
though I have barely been home, I finished the Marathon des Sables
but my feet had not really recovered from Libya and my back gave
me a few problems carrying the extra weight. The good news though
is that I only had 8 blisters on returning instead of 20+ and didn’t
lose any extra toe nails as I only had two remaining at the start
of the Marathon des Sables. It was a wonderful experience and nice
to tick off one of the “classics” in the calendar, but
doubt I will ever run it again. It was so desolate and monotonous
compared to Libya and can’t say I really enjoy living in the
camp conditions with absolutely everything being covered in sand
and unable to shower for a whole week. Although the freeze-dried
food had improved dramatically since I last had this it was not
suitable for 7 days of hard running and needed to eat much more
to have the energy to run at a competitive pace. Also I can’t
say running with 800 competitors was great, I am so used to smaller
events of around 100 people that it was hard to get used to having
people constantly with me and never out of sight. I must say I really
do enjoy the “loneliness of the long distance runner”
and drifting off in my own thoughts. The hot temperatures of up
to 46 degrees was good though as this showed how well I could cope
with the heat with Badwater not too far off. The other bit of news
was that I managed to sort out the “piles” translation
from Libya – they had to be put into different disposal bags,
piles being batteries and hence the problems with GPS.
As I did not run the hardest of races (and do not believe for one
minute this is the “toughest race on earth” as billed)
I have recovered well and after a couple of visits to the Osteopath
the back is in order again and back to running lots of short races
to get my running legs back. For most of the year I have been training
with a back pack and really alters the running style and slows the
pace considerably. Five short races (half marathon and below) in
seven days has helped inject a little speed back and gain back a
more normal style, but there is not a great deal of time for recover
as my debut to the 48 hour race in Surgeres, France is only a couple
of weeks into May. I am not targeting anything special as I really
don’t know what to expect and how long I should sleep for,
the best advice given is that I should not need any more than 2
hours and given that I ran 36 hours non-stop in Libya sounds like
this should be adequate.
report: marathon des sables
Well the Libyan
Challenge report is written and is available for download:
What an absolutely wonderful event, I enjoyed every minute of it
and can't wait to be out in the desert again after the cold, snowy
spell since I have been home. My feet took a real bashing and took
time (and anibiotics) to recover. But my legs are in fine shape
and hoping that the Marathon des Sables will be another great experience
to remember, two desert runs in one month. I have had little time
in between to race with catching up with jobs at home and preparing
my kit, food and more importantly shoes and gaiters for the next
trip. First lady again, faster time on a tougher,longer course and
4th person overall, no complaints here and a race I think will definitely
be on the cards again one year, but not next year. Certainly extreme
in terms of underfoot conditions, running by GPS, no getting out
of the sun and just the big distances betweeen checkpoints where
so much fluid has to be carried, all part of the experience and
fun of running on this planet.
ITV's report on Sharon's preparation
for the Libya run (wmv video clip 7.4Mb)
Conditions for this month
have been bitterly cold so far and although my underlying fitness
has improved dramatically along with my speed, my performances in
a couple of the longer runs have not shown my real fitness due to
my asthma. The regular 5km time trials at Hyde Park have improved
by 2 minutes and have a new pb for 3km on the track. I did long
runs of 25 miles in the Rombalds Stride which was severly hampered
by snow and ice and in the flat 54 miles of the Thames Meander the
bittlerly cold weather hit my breathing by the first checkpoint
and was taking my asthma pumps and walking quite a bit to keep the
breathing under control, but was pleased to report that I managed
to finish and do over 8 1/2 hours of running as this was my last
chance for a long run before Libya, just two weeks later, where
I should have no problems with cold weather!!!
I have had a little bit of trouble with my left knee due to training
with a heavy pack that will be needed for both the Libyan Challlenge
and Marathon des Sables, but the problem has been found and well
on its way to recovery. It was caused by altering my running style
and was landing on my heels far more putting the impact through
my knees instead of being absorbed more by my feet. Darren Cooper
at the Univesity of Teesside was extremely helpful as usual and
as he is now used to seeing my style could instantly see the difference,
a fat pad in my knee was swollen and pushing the tracking line of
my knee cap out causing the problem - running faster and without
the pack stopped the pain and ice and compression on the area is
reducing the swelling so should get through the big events ok.
I started running
again just before Christmas and am now well into my program preparing
for the Libyan Challenge at the end of February. My distance work
has been easy but the speed has suffered a lot by having time out.
I am slowly progressing on this aspect but some way to go yet.
Winter is never
my favourite time and can’t wait to get the warmer weather
again. I have raced most weeks and most impressed at the new Hyde
Park Time Trials that are held every Saturday morning in Leeds,
just 5km runs but a good workout and easy to monitor progress. My
10 mile time at Ferriby was 75 minutes, around 5 minutes slower
than expected on an average fitness level and this was done off
the back of a 90 mile week and shows how much more I still have
to claw back.
The World 24
Hours were finally announced for Korea in October and there is to
be no European 24 Hours, the bad news at present is that it is unlikely
that UKA are going to send any athletes to these championships.
Will have to see how that progresses and whether I want to compete
there as an individual. The statistics for the year have now been
reported, GB number 1 at 24 hours again, this makes 11 consecutive
years now and in the World Statistics for 24 hours I dropped from
8th last year to 11th this year, however I have done a 12 hour performance
that would rank me 5th in the World.
My plans for
the year are now finalised and have changed yet again. Although
I desperately want to have another crack at running a 6 day race
this may have to wait until 2009 now. I am back to my original plan
for a very “HOT” year. The Libyan Challenge is first
on the list, followed by the Marathon des Sables, in May is the
Surgeres 48 hour race, with all these being hot races it just seemed
appropriate to go back to my original plan for running in the World’s
Hottest Race across Death Valley – the Badwater 135 miles
in July. As my races prior to this event are all hot races I don’t
think any other year would prepare me so well for the heat.
you for the wonderful comments after the Bislett race:
I have just read your report with disbelief and wonderment.
You definitely are a 'legend' and you deserve the highest congratulations
for your epic achievements.
Now I know you're mad. Absolutely and completely mad! Totally bonkers.
How anybody could run round and round an indoor track of cold zones
and warm zones etc. etc. for 24 hrs., survive the ordeal and then
write about it at such length that it's taken me about three hours
to read, beats me!! Quite extraordinary. I'm lost for words. Admiration,
congratulations, ..... astonishment... sympathy. All are emotions
that fill my mind after reading your mind boggling account of your
latest truly remarkable mind boggling achievement.
You are absolutely amazing!
I am so proud of you and so happy for you.
What a race and what an achievement
This is absolutely amazing, fantastic, unbelievable!!! Congratulations!What
a comeback after this years turmoil. I am very proud of you! And
another great chapter for your book! A fantastic well written report.
WOW! Well done! And that was the best read I've had for ages! Since
I didn't know the result it was really exciting - you should consider
a change of career to writing!
Seriously, that was an awesome performance that just blows my mind
thinking about it - I love expressions like 'the next 4 hours passed
quickly'! Its a different running world to the one I inhabit. (at
least my pulse is as low as yours:-)
Congratulations on being back on top.
Should be speaking to you on the phone now, but I a am crying! Have
read the account of your 24 hour race. I did not cheat and look
to the end first and became more choked up as you neared and passed
your 24 hour race goals.
There are a few people who know how much you wanted this and the
fewer who know how you struggled to get back to fitnessmafter your
You are an example to us all Sharon and you deserve this so much.
I shall be there to shake your hand and give you a hug tomorrow.
I shall be in my full Santa suit, so no PB's. Just hope the rain
stays off, or my santa bottoms could desintegrate and give the spectators
more than they bargained for!
This is absolutely, incredibly, breathtakingly brilliant. Well done!
They tell journalists to stick the most important fact in the first
paragraph and I'm scrolling down the email, trying to find out what
happened and you;re even building up the suspense. If you ever hang
up your running shoes, we'll make a journalist of you.
You really have excelled this time