Men’s February Newsletter 2019


A little later than normal but I wanted to make sure I did a good job. As February comes to a close and spring upon us we find ourselves entering more and more races with the image of sunshine running ever near. It’s great to see so many of you building up your weekly marathon mileage, smashing out bootcamp at the village hall or putting 100% into training on those dark wet evenings.

New Members:

This month it gives me great pleasure to welcome Craig Mitchell to Bentley…. Craig has decided that the St Johns green of Harriers was no more for him and that he looks better in blue plus they’re not allowed to eat cake at Harriers (who knew?!). After all he’s done for the club over the past couple of years by providing bootcamp, his energy and enthusiasm for running and exercise in general, Craig will fit right in with GBRC. I look forward to seeing someone else shouting instructions to you at a run session! I wanted to also mention that it was great to see Rob Thorpe at the GBRC HM volunteering, and I hope we see more of you at training sessions soon.


I’ve said this before but one of my utmost pleasures as being Captain is seeing, reading, listening and speaking to many of you, about the running adventures you get up to. This is whyas Captain, I’ve made the effort to try and turn up to as many Wednesday club sessions as I could and engage with as many of you as possible. I feel like this has been the most important part of my role as captain…I love meeting new members and passing on any advice or knowledge I have (albeit not a lot sometimes). It’s fills me with joy when, after speaking to various people (women included), that they have decided to give GBRC a go.

GBRC is a great club and the support and commitment of members is clearly shown when so many of you turn up to volunteer for the HM so for this I thank you. So just a quick mention about our very own HM, what an awesome day it turned out to be….cold, dry and crisp yet perfect running conditions. The day ran without any problems and I think we all did Russ proud in his last race as race director. Congratulations to Ramadan Osman (Colchester Harriers AC) who was first to cross the line in 1h 8m 53s. First lady went to Helen Davis from Ipswich Jaffa RC who with 1h 12m 49s achieved 9th place overall. The top 3 GBRC men finishers were: Dave Green, Adam Smith, Mark Stevenson…well done indeed. Another sold out HM…I look forward to 2020. Not to be forgotten this weekend our cycling polish strongman aka Tomasz…who cycled to Lisbon and enjoyed some casual running whilst on holidays with Mags….(I assume he cycled anyway as he cycles to everything else!).

Gosfield was the stage for the final XC and a fantastic club turnout of 43 members meant it was a very good event indeed (even with the course issues!). Well done to the men for scoring enough to finish 3 and then overall 5th to remain in Pool A. The boys finished join 8th which is absolutely fantastic…. It’s all about grass roots and I’m sure all parents are proud. Now…..XC is a fantastic event to be a part of …..if you’re training, trying to improve strength or speed, want to socialise or put yourself against other clubs and potentially score. For these reasons I have promoted XC as it’s one of my favourite things to do (genuinely even though I will never score)…however I must say I am deeply saddened and concerned at the increasing number of individuals (men and women) who have spoken to me (in person or messaged privately) or posted on social media that they feel obligated to attend XC due to the need for scoring points. I think over the past 2/3 years we have increased the pressure on club members to attend and this has crossed the line of encouragement and enthusiasm to pressure. There has been a very strong drive to remain in Pool A which is a very honourable goal and we all strive to be the best we can be but NOT at the detriment of members. As a captain I want to encourage us to do our best but it is not my job to shove XC down your throat and make you feel guilty if you don’t turn up. Of course we want to remain in Pool A and if we score enough points we will! At the end of the day if we get relegated to pool B then we run the same races, on the same day. It’s not the end of the world. For those members banging the XC drum to the extent where members feel they should turn up to score points irrespective of injury then shame on you. One week we had four different committee members begging for xc attendance! We are all adults and if you want to attend XC then do it, if not then don’t. There’s a lot of speak of ‘don’t worry we have people who can score so it will be ok’….bollocks to that it doesn’t matter who turns out to score or not….if you’re injured stay at home and if we score, we score. Runner welfare is something we don’t do as well as we can at GBRC(yes I’ve said it!) and we have to tackle this…we need to encourage people to rest and recover and not for our members to feel guilty about it. I have spoken to various men and women who are both ‘potential scorers’ for XC and there is an agreement that there’s an expectation and pressure for them to turn out. This is a real concern…. lets wake up and address it. We need to consider that everyone is an individual and people’s mental wellbeing is different from one person to the next….what’s continued encouragement to one may feel like a burden or pressure to another. Happy to discuss in person at the club anytime. Lets do better.

Onwards to happier things…..The Hare & Tortoise anniversary run had a good turnout from Bentley and Stephen Walsh completed the 13.1 distance. Well done indeed to Stephen I know he found the event enjoyable and terrain a little challenging and he’s even looking forward to the next race and how he will pace that one. This is exactly the attitude to have, learn from your experience, enjoy it and look forward to the next exciting event. Well done mate. Cracking medal as well from the H&T team.

The last weekend in Feb brought the return of Tarpley 10/20 (a race I intended to enter but left it too late – boo!). A lovely event, great route, fantastic technical long sleeved shirt and essential winter training especially those choosing the 20 mile option for marathons. Paul ‘pb man’ Hollidge claimed a silver standard and pb in 2:31:03. John Bush (as seasoned Tarpley runner) tackled the 10 mile option and claimed another t shirt for his collection! The end of the month also saw the event number 0 of the new Colchester parkrun! Very exciting.Colchester castle park (CCPR) now becoming a very busy and congested event has meant a new parkrun is hugely welcomedand needed for the ever hungry runners of Colchester. It’s good to see the course is a challenging one, held at Highwoods Country Park (parking in Tesco)…also its dog friendly (woohoo!) so go along and try it out if you fancy it.


parkrun ethos (stolen from Kevin Pyle)



John Booty completed the Thetford Trails 10k (canicross race 3) in 42:38 which was good enough to finish as the 2nd male with 1 dog. Whilst up in the Kings Forest Ben Ficken and trusty stead Janice race the 10k K9 caper race finishing as the fastest make over the 10k course in 42:55. I’m still waiting to hear of Ragnar’s maiden race with hooman Matt Jones. With the additional of the new parkrun, this makes canicross quite accessible in the Colchester area which is a lovely thing. For those who don’t know, Mersea parkrun, Chelmsford, Harwich and Clacton can all have dogs. Also the Paras10 is coming up so for those wanting more of a challenge and to support our troops (as entry goes to the military charity), have a look at this. Meatball and I will be on the start line this year!!

Men’s Winter Meal:

28 GBRC men made it to the Gurkha restaurant, Quayside for beers, dumplings and curry. What a great turnout and I believe the grub was enjoyed by all. The restaurant were very grateful of our custom and thanked up many times….we were the largest party they have catered for so that may have contributed to the small wait but tasty food nonetheless! When I see a chicken momo dumpling on a menu…..i will now go for it! We also voted for the coveted XC runner of the season and I am happy to say that David Wright was crowned winner! There is a bottle of Gurkha beer waiting for you when I see you next!

Men’s winter meal

Medal of the month:

This month’s there’s obviously only one medal to mention…our own GBRC HM medal!!:

2019 GBRC HM Medal


Luke’s charity trail run/Quiz:

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who supported me by coming to my two events for raising money for Sense. I am happy to report that I have the £1700 pledge for the London Marathon. I couldn’t have done it without so many of you. I was overwhelmed by the support. There are various raffle prizes still to claim so I will get these to you ASAP.

Coaches Corner:

This month Caroline has written a piece on the importance of drill training and how it relates to ‘real life’ running. Thanks to Mick and Caroline for their help in all these topics, I’ve had many of you (women included) comment on how useful this info has been:


Drills is often a word that is shuddered at in the world of running. ‘Why do drills when we could be out there running?’ is a question I am sure is often rhetorically asked amongst you all. But taking a few moments to do some drills could assist with your running form and speed. Drills are used to focus on running technique and whilst some of the best runners have questionable running form (think Paula Radcliffe and bobbing head) there is no harm in working on good arm drive, tall posture and form to allow your body to form its own opinion. Running drills can help improve your form, strength, efficiency and overall power by encouraging movement in varying planes of motion.
When carrying out a running drill the movement will be over exaggerated to what it is when you are running. They may include skipping, hops, marches and bounding. Each of these drills work on important parts of running technique that are often not easy to work on individually when out for a run. They will also strengthen muscles and joints to allow for powerful running.

Building drills into training will work on the body’s muscle memory. Muscle memory is when you perform a repeated action over and over until your body starts to remember how it feels and it becomes automatic. When you become tired, you will be able to call upon your muscle memory when you reset your running form to be as energy efficient as possible.

Running drills also help improve coordination, balance and proprioception (sensing where one body part is in relation to another body part) to help you become a better athlete. 

Next time you are looking at the training overview and you see drills and skills written down, don’t be shy; come along and see how you could improve your speed and form. Hurdles and ladders turn into tree roots and ditches during Cross Country season. Being able to run forwards and dart in and out of hurdles could help you speed through bike railings or over take that runner in your way!


Lastly I wanted to provide you will some structured hill training for those who cannot attend the sessions or miss some and want to do them on their own or with a small group (for safety I would recommend staying in a group at all times). I appreciate that we have busy lives and can’t always get to the sessions we would like to.  So here are some hill sessions that you can do…find a hill be it, the incline running up to St Johns School on Abbey Fields or Balkerne Hill or park at the uni on another night to Monday (its free after 6pm for anyone) …choose your poison. These sessions are from the England Athletic website or equivalent, with some small amendments to customise for our sessions. All certified and safe:

VO2 max hills:

You should be working VERY hard for this session. Wear a HR strap and watch if you want to track your VO2. You need to run over 70% of MHR.

Long warm up: zone 2/slow job for 15 mins (speaking speed)

@5k pace: 90sec effort, 30 second rest (repeat 5 times)

@5k pace: 60sec effort, 30 second rest (repeat 5 times)

@5k pace: 30sec effort, 30 second rest (repeat 5 times)

Big rest – 3 minutes (water)

5 x 10 second sprints with 20s rest

Slow recovery back to starting point or car


Chocolate hills aka the 12 efforts of Christmas:

Buy chocolate in advance to reward yourself at the end.

Short warm up – loops, toe touchers, touch the ground, heel flicks, strides, high knees, side to side etc.

70% effort for:
5.5 minutes– 30s rest, 5 minutes – 30s rest, 4.5 minutes– 30s rest, 4 minutes– 30s rest, 3.5 minutes– 30s rest, 3 minutes– 30s rest, 2.5 minutes– 30s rest, 2 minutes– 30s rest, 1.5 minutes– 30s rest, 1 minute– 30s rest, 45 second– 30s rest, 30 seconds– 30s rest
Slow return to car/stretch/eat chocolate.

Kenyan Hills:

Good for marathon training

Short warm up – loops, toe touchers, touch the ground, heel flicks, strides, high knees, side to side etc

9 minute effort: Pick a pace that you can maintain up and down the hill (no recover until the end of the effort). Don’t go too hard otherwise your pace will drop – try and keep the same.

Rest for 2 minutes and repeat twice.

Specific for your training: pick a pace you’re training at for a race (you could be training for a 10 miles race at 9 min miles). Now run at that pace for 2 minutes. You will be fatigued from the main set effort and now running at ‘race pace’ for your event. Rest for 1 minute and repeat twice.

Cool down and STRETCH.

Short Hills:

Small run plus dynamic warm up – loops, toe touchers, touch the ground, heel flicks, strides, high knees, side to side etc

Pick a steep hill if possible that’s 80m/100m and try to run at 80% effort

Run for 2 minutes (effort up the hill and recovery down and repeat) – 30 sec rest

Repeat 10 times

Go to the top of the hill and do 3 downhill efforts at 100% effort to the bottom. Walk back to the top before starting next effort.

Slow run to cool down and STRETCH.

Long hills:

Rodger warm up – out and back at an easy pace

Steep or shallow hill doesn’t matter focus more on length of the repeat – 200m efforts 60% effort

Run for 4 minutes (effort up the hill and recovery down and repeat) – 1 min rest

Repeat 6 times

Slow run to cool down and stretch.

Balkerne Hill:

Small run plus dynamic warm up – loops, toe touchers, touch the ground, heel flicks, strides, high knees, side to side etc

Try to complete 10 repetitions of the hill with recovery going down. Try to keep at uphill effort the same for as long as you can.

Slow run to cool down and stretch.


Upcoming events/races:

As always I’ve made the effort to see what events are around (mostly local)…many are not sold out:

March 10 – Vitality half marathon, London

March 16 – Essex Road Relays

March 17 – Colchester 15 / Oundle 20 / Brentwood HM / H&T Brightlingsea Challenge

March 24 – Colchester HM (SOLD OUT) / London Landmarks HM (SOLD OUT) / Norwich 5k/10k

March 30 – Mersea parkrun GBRC takeover

March 31 – GBRC Trail Run number 1 (venue and distance TBC) / H&T Blackwater Trail Event HM/mara/ultra


Tips for the Trail Runs :

The trail runs are awesome and enoucrage anyone who hasnt done one to have a go. Its no pressue self navigated running and if you want you can compete for points. With the first GBRC trail run upon us end of March here are some tips from the GBRC website:

1. Do not follow runners in front of you– if they get lost you get lost!
2. Bring trail shoes (on the day it may seem dry but bring them just incase to decide on the day.
3. If you do not like running on your own then try run in pairs–you can have one person reading the directions and the other looking for the landmarks. Any larger numbers and you can end up carrying passengers.
4. Even if you know the area do not presume you know where to go–focus on the direction.
5. Learn all the abbreviations before your run– this makes it a lot easier to read the directions and saves time.
6. Fold the direction paperwork so you read one paragraph at a time–this is so you can see on you sheet exactly were you are. Each paragraph is approximately 1 mile.
7. Have fun! These runs are some of the best events that GBRC organise.


GBRC Mersea parkrun Take over:

Message from Scott: We have done a few takeovers in the past and they have been highly successful and enable us as a club to take on the volunteer roles at a parkrun event. Parkrun ask for volunteers each week to help put on the free timed runs so this is a good thing to do so that the run can be enjoyed by others. Anyway, the 30th March is the date and Merseaparkrun is the place – they are looking for us to fill pacing roles from 18 to 40 minutes as well as marshalling, timekeeping etc. so plenty for everyone to get involved with, if you would like to volunteer then contact Scott by email and look out for the Facebook event which will be posted shortly.

Other News:

Our AGM is on April 4th at 8pm in the Village Hall. I encourage as many people to go as possible. Remember this is your club and the elected committee are there to serve you as members and do right for the club. Paul Carlisle has emailed out the specifics of what positions are coming up and I urge you all to think about stepping up and having a go. The positions can seem daunting but remember many past committee holders are in the club still who can offer help as well the current committee. It’s really good to have fresh faces and ideas for the committee going forward so if you fancy a role then go for it (the current person holding that place shouldn’t feel ousted in anyway but welcome a new body ready to help the club flourish). There’s a few more days for proposals for positions and then voting will take place to the end of the month (look out for Paul’s email). I want to take this opportunity to thank Russ for all he has done as chairman and race director and wish him all the best in his cycling endeavours and family time! Russ we hope you #stayinvolved.


This has been another tough month for Scott and I to decide on ROM. Fortunately Scott and I don’t ever really disagree and with the breadth and depth of talent and efforts across the men….it’s easy to pick several who have been exceptional. Abig shout out must go to Paul Hollidge who continues to improve month on month. Also Tomasz has done particularly well over the last few months, getting stronger and faster whilst cycling to the majority of events before he runs! Legs of steel for sure! I know Tomasz was particularly proud of his XC performance and placing the highest he has ever done before. Awesome stuff and I’m sure in the coming months Tomasz, you will be ROM. Your continued efforts and commitment to the club are second to none and you’re a great bloke (except when you lose your keys!). This month however we have focussed on someone who has performed exceptional well and consistency not only this month but over the last year. He has represented the club well with his performance at XC and was of course then voted as our Men’s XC runner of the season.

David Wright – ROM Feb 2019

Well done to David Wright, you are runner of the month!