Running the BostonUK Marathon 31 May 2021 – the flattest marathon in the UK.

It would come up 0.05 short on Strava!

I had got into a good routine over lockdown and had decided to do a Run Streak for a month I got hooked and carried on my Run Streak which eventually lasted 261 days. I had a cake when I’d done 200 days. It stopped because I picked up an injury 5 weeks before this marathon. Doing a Run Streak made running easier for me as it was not a question of “shall I go for a run, or shall I leave it for today?” It was “I’m a run streaker, of course I run today,” I only need to do 2-3km slowly”. It became like having a shower, something I just did everyday.


I was finding things tough in the last couple of years and running is the one thing that improves my mood, so its my coping mechanism for when times are hard.

Before Lockdown I always struggled to go running outside, I didn’t go if it was wet, windy, too cold, too hot unless it was a race or a parkrun. Previously, I did most of my running on the treadmill at my gym.I never did strength training and for years always would say “I should start doing sit ups, press ups etc.”, but never ended up doing them. I couldn’t even do one full press up! But, under lockdown when the gyms closed I started doing YouTube workouts and Indoor Rowing everyday. I finally had a stronger core and should have done it years ago. I also lost a lot of weight so that made running easier.

All alone!!!😂😂😂

Anyway, I was so excited coming to Boston, I had been very stressed at home and didn’t have very high self-esteem so I needed something to make me feel good about myself and feel accomplished. This was also one of the few times I had come to a running event on my own. Over the years I had come to rely on my husband but this time I would do the marathon by myself.

I was a little bit anxious at the start only because I hadn’t really run properly for the past 5 weeks but I was fit and I had done all my long runs. I was just hoping my injury wouldn’t stop me. In the end, my leg hurt more and more the further I when but I was able to finish it although I was running very slowly for the last 6-8 miles but really those miles signs seem to just fly by. I’m a little bit injured again because I ran it but I’m taking care to rest a bit from running.

View while running….very flat!

Book Review: Run Through Barriers by Clint Adam Lovell

This is a book that will inspire you to run and it’s such easy reading. Any runner or even someone who is thinking of giving running a try would enjoy reading it. I know I need all the inspiration on offer because running isn’t alway easy for me. I’ve been running for years, BUT even though running makes me feel good, gives me a sense of achievement, keeps my body strong and lean enough to eat cake and ice cream without any guilt I still really, really have a battle with myself to get out the door for EVERY RUN, not just some runs. I don’t ever really feel like going for a run, but based on thousands of previous experiences I know it will be fine, I just have to get through the initial 5 minutes of discomfort. That is how it is for me and it probably will always be like that, but after every run I feel I have achieve something no matter how far or fast I’ve run. I loved reading about inspiring people in this book, they are people who have obstacles like all of us and have overcome them.

The first part of book will fill you with inspiration to get started and continue running. It is full of inspirational stories from people who overcome their own barriers to run and who are achieving some amazing challenges. Among them are Ais North who despite being in her 70’s hasn’t let Heart Attack’s or Cancer get in the way of doing Ultra marathons; Eileen Noble one of Britain’s oldest marathon runners, who took up running at the age of 50; Roger Wright who has battled obesity and run over 66 marathons in 11 years. The book shows that most barriers can be overcome, by exploring simple methods to challenge, remove and replace common barriers with positive actions and make running a sustainable part of everyone’s everyday lives.

The second part of the book gives you the knowledge to continue running and achieve your goals. It focuses on training the body, ad includes running plans that will take you from a beginner to achieving your goals to a 5, 10, half and further. The book sets out 7 rules or guidelines which help create a lasting running training program so you place into a routine which will fit into your lifestyle with a flexible structure that can move and adapt. I’ve integrated all these rules/guidelines into my training and they have helped me maintain a run streak. I’ve run 240+days plus at the moment and I’m still going. I have never found it easier to enjoy running than at the moment.

I brought the Kindle version of the book which cost less than a coffee and cake. Well worth it.

Clint Adam Lovell: Author of Run Through Barriers

Hayley Carruthers Amazed at her Success at the British Athletic Championships

Hayley said “Watching yesterday’s race back, it doesn’t seem real to be given the opportunity to run with the best British 5,000 metre runners on home turf but THEN to come in the top 10 (and laughing with you, see above).”

After coming 9th modest Hayley joked by saying “not bad for a marathon runner.”

She is a local athlete who runs for Birchfield Harriers and is coached by Dan Robinson and takes Sports Psychology advice from Prof. Andy Lane at Wolverhampton University where she works full-time.

Hayley was supported yesterday by family (below is her sister) and friends

Hayley has a very balanced approach to running. She runs and has volunteered at parkruns and said “I’ve even roped my Dad into volunteering. Hayley has also inspired her sister to start running.

Hayley has been very active in supporting several charities including a Children’s Hospice and PROUD.

Hayley has been running for only around 3 years. You may remember Hayley from the Virgin London Marathon in April. Good Luck Hayley for your future races.

Runs are more enjoyable with Aeropex Headphones.

I can only say these headphones are amazing. They are easy to charge, download must so easy, fantastic sound quality. This is the second pair of wireless headphones I’ve owned but these ones are such an improve from my last ones. They have a 8 hour playing time which is great. I also found it funny in the gym when I left my phone on the treadmill and went to do my sit ups about 20 metres away and the sound was still perfect.

All the colours look great but I like black, so mine is black.

I was excited when these came through the post and couldn’t wait to use them. I’m not good with anything technical so I was also thinking this is going to take a while to learn to charge the headphones, download music, sync headphones etc., but it couldn’t of been easier to set up, charging the battery was quick, turning it on off was easy and working the Bluetooth was fine. They are 100% waterproof but are designed for the outdoors. I’ve found it does make running and exercise more enjoyable with these.

The Prudential Ride 100 & Ride 46

Saturday after Chasewater parkrun we quickly showered and rode our cycles to Lichfield Trent Valley Railway Station. We managed to get seats the whole way to London and in under 2 hours we were at Euston Railway Station. The next section of the journey was to cycle 800 metres to Kings Cross and one change to get to the Excel Centre to pick up our numbers. It would of been easier without a cycle but it actually went quite well.

It was nice to get our numbers and a free water bottle. There were lots of stalls selling cycle equipment for the serious cyclists. I had entered for the 100 mile but due to my poor fitness I did the 46 mile.

We then got on the train again and finally got to our accommodation in Bow. We had booked it with Air BnB. I was tired at that point and got a bit worried that there was every number in the crescent except our number…..number 1 and the host of the property wasn’t there. Anyway to our relieve he came and was friendly, the accommodation wasn’t the Ritz, it was an ex-local authority flat, but we didn’t pay much so we were happy. After a small rest we were off for Food & Pub.

The next day we both had fairly late starts so it was an easy cycle to the Start. Everything seem to go fine other than in the short 2 miles there my husband got a puncture.

I saw lots of people on side of the road and apparently there were quite a few crashes but I got to end o.k., where my husband had finish earlier, even though he started later. There was only one hill in the 46 which was at Wimbledon so a perfect event for a beginner.

We had a great day. It was such a good choice to do the 46 miler as we weren’t too tired to cycle back to Euston and then catch our train back to the Midlands.

Grand Union Canal Race: a 145 mile Ultra Run by Akgun Ozsoy

Grand Union Canal Race

Two years ago, I was standing near to Catherine-de-Barnes bridge, watching GUCR runners who are passing through the 1st checkpoint along the way to London. It looked impossible for me at that time but when I looked for 100+ miles to run after completing a few 100 miles races, I’ve put this epic event into the top of my list. A couple of my ultra-friends including Rodrigo Freeman, Özgür Güleç, Iain Stewart and Stephen Braithwaite finished this race and their effort impressed me as well.

GUCR is the oldest ultra in this country and the event still keeps its traditions despite the modern era races. The race starts in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and you should follow the canal path up to Little Venice in London. There are only 10 Checkpoints and the distance between them may vary from 10 to 20 miles!

My goal was to complete this around 40 hours but of course, it was my first attempt and any result within cut-off (45 hours) was OK. One of the points that I have learnt from my ultra-running experience was not to think about the remaining distance. Just focus on next CP and try to increase the buffer as much as you can.

You should not kill yourself in any case and preserve energy for the rest of this long journey. The first day was too warm and I could not keep running after 22 miles.

By the evening, I have increased my pace and arrived 70 miles CP (Navigation Inn) at 22:15. Night section was very good for me and managed to leave 99 miles CP around 08:00 (4 hours before the cut-off) I was at 45th position at that point. Luckily, the second day was not warm as the first one and despite the tiredness; I kept run-walk strategy until the end.

My last goal was arriving Little Venice before dark and I guess I managed this by finishing the race at 21:25. (39:24 race time) Finished 31st where there were 97 starters and 52 finishers.

Although I prefer hilly races, this relatively flat race has its own challenges. Using the same muscles kills your knees and ankles. However, this is another beauty of ultra-running. Variety of difficulties make them impossible to compare with any other race.

Even the same course offers different challenges at a different time of the day or year.

Thanks all for your support. Special thanks to Sean Lynch for his support at the 10th mile and my lovely wife Reside Ozsoy for her invaluable support at (and after) the finish.



#gucr2019 #gucr145 #uknetrunner #grandunioncanalrace #birmingham #littlevenice #gucr @ Little Venice, London

Good parkrun blogs.

Good parkrun reviewers. I’ve taken this list of really good blogs off ‘The parkrun journey’ Facebook site.

Robert Skedgell the moderator wrote:

“There are quite a few excellent blogs by parkrun tourists. As there are so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, I’ll keep a list in this post. Where the author is a member of this group, I’ll tag them next to the entry.”

I’ll try to update this site as well.

parkruns by Steve Stockwell

Get Down, Shep! by Ali Sheppard

Monday running by Gail Seal by Paul Jeffrey

parkrun reviews by Chis Jeanes

Running to stand still by Toria Richards

Running Scared by Lucy Marris.

The buggy runners diary by Jessica Sanderson

allscottishparkruns (allba) by Scott MacMichael

Parkrun Poet by Tim Gardiner


Using Sport Psychology Self-Help Interventions

Athletes crave interventions that improve performance. Finding an intervention that works could involve working with a professional sports scientist or following a self-help package. Recent years has seen a rapid growth in the popularity in self-help interventions. Andy Lane offers guidance on how to use self-help interventions to improve performance. (Photo above: Andy Lane finishing Virgin Money London Marathon).

The nature of sport is that individuals strive to find methods to improve performance. Commercial activity to meet this demand has led to increased availability of products such as sports drinks, supplements, equipment modification and numerous self-help books.

In this article, Andy Lane focuses upon the use of self-help materials designed to give an athlete a psychological edge. However, it’s worth noting that physiological, biomechanical, technical and nutritional factors tend to work in tandem with psychological ones. Thus, anyone considering using a self-help intervention should remember that changing one aspect of performance could influence another. For example, in my experience with endurance athletes, interventions that bring about improvements in physiological indices that athletes see as important (lactic threshold, Vo2) are coupled with improvements in psychological ones. (below a runner taking a VO2 max test).

What is a self-help intervention?

An intervention occurs in a number of different ways. In other contexts, e.g., if you are feeling ill you could book an appointment at your GP.  Alternatively, if you have had the illness before, and believe you have correctly identified it, you could take an over-the-counter medication. The following stages lead to improved performance in sport:

1. Identify the problem

2. Implement the intervention and establish the criteria for judging effectiveness

3. Assessment its effectiveness

In sport psychology, the problem can be difficult to identify; an athlete might want to perform better but knowing which parts to work on is complex also assessing the effectiveness can be difficult, especially as psychological data tend to be subjective, an issue exacerbated by the fact that following a self-help intervention, you are both the client and consultant.

Self-help interventions and sport psychology: do they work?

There is an extensive literature that describes how to use self-help sport psychology interventions (1). I have contributed to this literature including authoring 17 Peak Performance articles (see, each one offering self-help advice.

How do I know if this is good advice? How do I know if the interventions I propose work?

The intervention should be supported by theory and tested scientifically.

The evidence supporting the use of self-help psychological interventions is strong and not restricted to sport (2).

In clinical psychology, patients that followed an online self-help intervention for the treatment of anxiety and depression recovered as effectively (3). 

In health psychology, self-help interventions have helped people manage cravings when following diets (4).

In sport psychology, self-help interventions successfully led to runners not only experiencing more pleasant emotions but also performing better (5).

So how do I develop an effective self-help package?

The question an individual following a self-help intervention should ask her or himself is; “how do I identify where gains can be made”? With self-help interventions, the individual is also a consultant, and therefore, it is important to establish monitoring systems to enable identification of factors that appear to influence performance.  

Your training diary as a way of assessing whether an intervention is needed?

A training diary can be a very effective way of identifying which variables to target for intervention work. However, at least three factors influence the relative success of using a training diary to help guide interventions. First, the diary needs to capture important variables that influence performance and be open to the possibility that you are not assessing the right information. An individual following a self-help intervention needs to be open to new ideas and continue reading widely. The individual is both the client and the consultant, and we expect consultants to be professionals who keep up with the latest research.

With the data sitting in front of you, the key question is “how do I make sense of it so that I know how my performance can be improved”? When deciding what data to record, you should also consider what you will do with it. If you record time spent training then presumably you will use this information to gauge whether it was useful in helping you achieve your goal? If you believe that running long periods of time, or completing certain distances, will help you achieve your marathon goal, then seeing that you are running for longer is likely to improve your confidence. However, if confidence is also influenced by the relative intensity of each run, and you realise that you are running for longer but at a lower intensity your confidence to be able to run at the high intensity on race day may not necessarily be increased. In the example above, the athlete should reflect on whether distance covered is truly a marker of progress with a suggestion that speed needs to be considered and recorded. The key point here is to have a strategy on how you will analyse data and how this will relate to the relative achievement of your goals.

 A third factor to consider is that the act of keeping a training diary could be an intervention itself, particularly for helping manage unwanted emotions. Keeping a diary where you detail intense emotional experiences has been found to be an effective self-help strategy. Expressive writing is proposed to help process information better, and help restructure information from these experiences in a way that if such a situation arises next time, then they are better coped to deal with it (7).

Putting into practice

Training diaries for endurance athletes are aided by the use of modern technology. You can get satellite navigation technology on your mobile phone with numerous free apps available to help record and collate training. In this regard technology has provided a huge advantage in that it takes away potential biases deriving from inaccurate measurement. Further, all you need to do is put on the device, and press start and stop to record training. You do not need to write down what was done which brings in issues to do with the accuracy of recall especially if you do not record what was done shortly after the session.

In addition to this type of data, It’s suggested to record daily mood. Mood is a useful way of recording how well you are coping with training demands. Mood can be used to help balance your training so that you are recovered sufficiently so to maintain quality.

As indicated previously, expressive writing has been found to be an effective intervention strategy. By exploring the likely cause of unwanted emotions, you also begin to develop a blueprint that helps you recognisesituations which bring these and therefore provide opportunities through which to choose a different path to act in the future. For example, if speaking to competitors on the start line gets you particularly nervous, or their banter evokes anger which in turn affects your race strategy, then recognising this to be the case might help change your decision on where to warm-up. You could warm-up alone or rather than warming up near your competitors, and if situational factors prevent this, then listening to music via headphone can serve to block out their conversations. 


1. Inside sport psychology, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010

2. Clinical Psychological Review 2006; 13, 169-186

3. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2011; 79: 123-128

4. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2008; 34: 381-393

5. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2011; 10: 400-407.

6. Psychological Science 1997; 8: 162-166

Sport Psychology Consultant: Dr Andy Lane


Consultancy either by Skype £50 per 30 minutes or in person at CHHP (Harley Street, London, call for costs).

Vitality Big Half: Hayley Carruthers 4th Female 1.11 minutes! Hayley explains she is still in shock. Next race……London Marathon.

Hayley Carruthers must surely be one of England’s most promising athlete’s. She has only been running seriously for less than 3 years, yet she has achieved some amazing success. She was the first English Female finisher in the 2018 Great North Run and competed for her first time as an International English athlete in the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. With her new coach Dan Robinson her running has continued to improve and the Vitality Big Half was Hayley next challenge. She explained her experience;

“The big half in London was one of the best learning experiences of my running career so far. My goal for the Big Half was to beat some of the fastest women’s half marathon runners in the UK. To even attempt this was a huge honour. I would have never even considered this 1 year ago. Even though I ran a 3 minute PB (that I am extremely happy with), the euphoria of completing this race is deeper than that.”

“From mile 1 I felt I was running a pace that was far too fast for me to hold for 13.1 miles. Mile 2 I considered my first DNF. This was going to be really tough. When we hit the first headwind the pack of lead women/men separated quickly and I found myself running alone a few meters behind them unable to inject some pace to catch them back up. This was when my coach decided to sacrifice his race in order to run with me. He could see the panic stricken look in my face as I signalled to him I was in trouble.”

“I then reached into mental toughness toolkit. I began to use other’s legs to power my legs and switch off the focus of how much mine were hurting because I was not going to stop. When this stopped working I focused on lampposts/signs. Just get to the next one. Also, by concentrating on the fierce headwind that would come at regular intervals during the race allowed a longer term focus to split the race up quite well by distracting myself from what was to come and running in the moment. By switching through these mental strategies I allowed myself to run strong and relax regardless of how much I was hurting by separating the physical and mental cues. I was so focused within the last mile I ran straight into the back of Dan (my coach)! I felt so mentally strong I knew I could do it. This race taught me that I am a lot mentally tougher that I though I was.”

Above: Hayley and Dan (her coach and friend) finishing.

Above: Hayley and Dan (Coach And friend).

It is clear from everyone who has met Hayley she is modest and supportive of all runners no matter what speed they are. She is a regular park runner especially at her local Walsall parkrun.

Below: Hayley at Walsall parkrun (white top & black shorts).

Below: Hayley and her coach Dan Robinson at Walsall parkrun

You can follow Hayley on Twitter at @mileswithhayley and her coach Dan at @rungrylikeawolf Hayley also had Psychological Support with Dr. Andy Lane , of Winning Lane (website You can follow him on Twitter at @AndyLane27 & partner Helen at @RunHelenLane

Marathon Talk Run Camp: 22nd-24th February 2019

A new venue for the Marathon Talk Run Camp was at Mt Cook, in the Peaks District. Not at our fittest we were a little hesitant at attending this year but we needed have worried as there were runners of all abilities.

We arrived at 3pm on Friday and got shown to our Pod. I was slightly worried that we would be cold sleeping in it, but we were as warm as toast.

After unpacking we had drinks at the Centre and chatted to other campers. We then went out for a Pub meal. By about 10pm the Bullock Smithy Ultra Runners finally turned up. They certainly didn’t look like they were ready for clubbing. They had run over 20 miles with over 2,000 feet of climbing. It looked dark and cold and they seemed happy to be inside.

On Saturday morning we woke early to have a great breakfast at the Centre then jumped in the car for a 15 minute journey to Bakewell parkrun. Bakewell parkrun is a very pretty parkrun on a disused Railway. It’s called the Monsal Trail.

After Bakewell parkrun we had too much food in the cafe and then went back for a shower followed by an enormous lunch. In the afternoon Liz Yelling and Holly Rush talked and answered questions by Tom Williams & Martin Yelling and the rest of us about about their training and their experiences of being athletes.

Liz Yelling

Holly Rush

This was followed by a hill reps, where runners were divided up into different abilities so everyone enjoyed it. As I’m not super fit at the moment I sat that session out.

After showering, everyone was ready for dinner. Great Food. Lots of healthy food, lots of fruit and choices for Vegans and Vegetarians. After eating the evening had only just begun. The after dinner Speaker was David Moorcroft.

David talk was so insightful, he was so, so down to earth and witty. He also showed the caring side of his personality when he talked about his competitors e.g., John Walker, Dick Quacks & Rod Dixon.

……and that wasn’t the end. We had a Raffle with amazing prizes and a quiz which Tony Audenshaw organised. The Raffle raised over £1,000 for Pancreatic Research. Everyone enjoyed the evening and the evening went on with a Disco for those with enough energy.

The next morning we got up to a full English Breakfast to eat before The Carsington Half Marathon and 10km.

It was perfect weather for the event. No wind, not hot just a beautiful day. Quite a few runners from the Run Camp won their age group or were overall first place. Including:

Dan Robinson: First finisher in the Carsington Water Half Marathon and breaking the existing record.

Holly Rush: First Female finisher in the Carsington Water Half Marathon

Patricia Keene and Brian Williams, both first in their age group.