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

http://www.blog7t.com/

Get Down, Shep! by Ali Sheppard

https://getdownshep.com/

Monday running by Gail Seal

https://mondayrunning.com/

Paul-Jeffrey.com by Paul Jeffrey

http://paul-jeffrey.com/

parkrun reviews by Chis Jeanes

https://crajeanes.wixsite.com/parkrun/home

Running to stand still by Toria Richards

https://mrsbridgewater.blogspot.com/

Running Scared by Lucy Marris.

https://runningscaredsite.wordpress.com/

The buggy runners diary by Jessica Sanderson

https://www.facebook.com/thebuggyrunnersdiary/

allscottishparkruns (allba) by Scott MacMichael

https://allscottishparkruns.wordpress.com/

Parkrun Poet by Tim Gardiner https://twitter.com/parkrunpoetry

@parkrunpoetry

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 www.pponline.com), 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. 

References

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. www.jssm.org/vol10/n2/22/v10n2-22pdf.pdf

6. Psychological Science 1997; 8: 162-166

Sport Psychology Consultant: Dr Andy Lane

Website @winninglane.com

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

Interesting Person of the Week: Mike Edwards

We all meet so many interesting people through our running and other activities and sometimes don’t share their stories, so in this section there will be stories and an an “Interesting Person of the Week”. Mike Edwards is the first, with many more to come.

Mike is now in the 70-74 age group. Mike has been a good club runner for over 30 years. He has a fast P.B., for a marathon of 3.01 which also must be frustrating as it’s so close to sub 3 hours. It did make me laugh as I read this because he is another runner with dodgy knee’s who took up cycling. It seems that most cyclists are ex runners with running injuries. Anyway here’s his story,

“I gave up running for a while about twelve years ago because of a dodgy knee and after an arthroscopy got into mountain biking which strengthened my leg muscles supporting the knee thus enabled me to start running again. I actually suffered a heart attack in 2011 whilst mountain biking, but had a procedure called angioplasty(stents fitted) at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital. The consultant who carried out the angioplasty, Nick Palmer cleared me to return to whatever I was doing previously. I got fit again at Lion Quays Leisure Club under the guidance of Michelle Bowen who was cardio rehab trained which involved gym work and swimming. In 2012 I went to watch my eldest son complete a Sprint Triathlon in Nantwich, became inspired and the following year took part myself.

I found triathlon very satisfying doing the three disciplines, although I am not the best of swimmers(self taught front crawl or freestyle as they now call it). I have completed about a dozen Sprints since then, the last on the 24th September 2017 at Ludlow. I swim at Chirk Leisure Centre two or three times a week and also ride road, cycle-cross and mountain bike and have recently introduced a gym programme to strengthen my upper body and core which has improved my running, although I am a great deal slower than I used to be. What I find is that entering a Triathlon gives me incentive to train and I am already entered for Chirk Sprint Tri next April.

Over the last eighteen months or so I have been going to the Park Run at Erddig Hall, Wrexham(NT) and am enjoying running one week and volunteering the alternate week. I also run on a Thursday morning with my long time running buddy, Les Leech and have been to Park Runs at Delamere, Congeleton and Braunstone Leicester as a PR tourist.

I completed my second Braunstone, Leicester Park Run on Saturday and recorded a PB of 29:41 and was third in my age group 70-74. I run, cycle(road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike) and swim. Entered Chirk Sprint Triathlon 2018 last night to motivate myself to train across the winter.”

Tribute to parkrunner who died on Saturday 21 October 2017

Tributes have been paid to a runner who collapsed and died while taking part in a 5km (3 mile) race in Edinburgh.

Ron Connelly collapsed after becoming ill at the Edinburgh Parkrun on Saturday. He later died.

His brother Mike Connolly said he would be “sadly missed”.

An Edinburgh Parkrun spokesman said: “On behalf of the parkrun community, we have expressed our sincere condolences to Ron’s family.” A minute’s silence will be held at Saturday’s event.

Mr Connolly said: “It’s with deep sadness and regret to report that my brother Ron Connelly who fell ill at yesterday’s parkrun unfortunately passed away later that day.

“On behalf of the family I’d like to thank everyone who cared for him including the medics, parkrun volunteers, cafe personnel and fellow runners who acted immediately and provided great care for him in what must have been incredibly difficult circumstances for all concerned.

“The family would like to pass on their sincere gratitude to everyone. Ron was a seasoned runner and loved parkrun, he will be sadly missed.”

Race Report: Hardmoors 26.2 Series – Osmotherley Half Marathon Sunday 22 October 2017.

By Sam Blease.

I originally signed up for this race during the spring – the weather was warming up, I had started to develop a passion for trail running, and someone had told me that the Yorkshire Moors was a beautiful place to run. Fast-forward to a wet, windy, wild and chilly October weekend and suddenly an off road run in a rather exposed and hilly environment didn’t seem quite so appealing!

After an incredibly early start to get to the event, and having passed the kit inspection (waterproofs, hat, gloves, route description, 500ml minimum fluid, emergency food – check…) and picked up our race numbers, we saw the hardy marathoners set off & awaited our starting time of 10am with a little trepidation. At least storm Brian had mostly disappeared overnight and the winds and rain had abated a little bit. The half marathon race briefing gleefully announced to us that it was a little bit breezy at the trig point just before half way, the stones on parts of the course were wet and slippery, there was quite a bit of mud on the course due to the recent rainfall, and oh… we did mention that the half marathon route is about 16.5 miles long, right?

Just before our starting time we trekked up the hill from Osmotherley village hall and assembled in the start area. At exactly 10am on the dot, the race commenced! It was everything I thought it would be – challenging terrain, difficult weather – being blown sideways at the top of a mountain is certainly interesting – but absolutely stunning views (“I can see the sea from here!”), wonderful friendly marshals, the checkpoints were well stocked with jaffa cakes, sweets, salted nuts, water & pepsi, and the other runners were chatty, supportive and thoroughly enjoying themselves – this was an adventure, not a race!

At just after 11 miles, I started suffering quite badly with a foot injury that had been niggling away for a couple of weeks beforehand and had somewhat hampered my training. I struggled on for a couple more miles (I had actually run a half marathon by this point) but the pain was just getting worse. I thought I would get to the next checkpoint and maybe that would be race over for me. However, a group of ladies caught up with me and stopped to check I was ok. After offering me painkillers, to get a marshal for me, or to walk with me the last mile or two with me – less than a parkrun to go now!! – I managed to pull myself together, grit my teeth and plough on. Fortunately the last part of the race was not too technical or overly hilly so I did manage to hobble my way to the end where my hard earned t-shirt, medal and a veritable banquet of food awaited.

So in summary, this is an excellently organised race in a stunning location & I would recommend anyone who enjoys trail running to give it a go, but… don’t try this with an injury – it’s tough, that’s why it’s called “Hardmoors”, don’t expect the weather to be perfect, enjoy the scenery on the way round and, most importantly, relish the bonus free mileage that a Hardmoors race invariably gives you. Oh, and don’t worry about how long it takes you, the cut off for the half marathon was 5 hours & I managed to do it in 3 hours and 50 minutes – which apparently is perfectly acceptable and I was a long way from being last. A really memorable experience and I’m sure I’ll be back next year!