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A Strange Nemesis


(clever little logo that looks like a person riding a bike)


A recent addition to Sheffield’s streets.  And a mighty fine concept.

Yellow Bikes, thousands of ’em – for people to borrow, having downloaded a free app and paying 50p per 30mins.

Check the location of your nearest bike and take it for a spin.  Leave it in an appropriate place for the next person, or in a designated parking area, in order to gain a free borrow next time.


Healthy.  Affordable.  Convenient.

You want this, don’t you Christopher….?

And the beginning of a psychological battle.  Constantly passing bikes that would make my journey easier…  Quicker…

Take Monday evening, close of business and my run home from work.  It’s dark, raining and I’m pressed for time.  My girlfriend has an appointment and I’ve already left my colleague (also running home in the same direction) behind, in order to get back ASAP.

But I’m currently trying to regain fitness and stability while increasing the frequency and intensity of my runs.  All thrown out of the window with barely enough time to get home.

Then appears the first of many bikes.  Taunting me.  Internal dialogue –

“If I were to stop here and quickly download the ofo app via 4G, I could hop on and ride home in a fraction of the time”.

But no, that would be weak.  So I continue, only to pass another bike, not 100meters down the road.  Then another.  Another.

So many, so frequently in fact, that I suspected that the fates were trying to tempt me into submission.

Then another.

They were virtually lined up end to end every step of the way, I’ve never seen so many.

But I completed the run, on time and have, as yet, not been seduced into taking the easy option.

Not yet….


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Life gets in the way.


I’ve recently spent time off my feet, having been injured.  I also then spent time at home looking after poorly girlfriend and two young sons.  More time away from running.

Add to this, car trouble, overtime, social calendar, anniversaries and so on….

Life just gets in the way at times.

Which leads me to thinking about the elite runners of this world and the chances that to properly maintain a successful training regime, they have to be supremely selfish in order to reach their potential.

And before you take that wrong, think about it….

There’s the individual, who perhaps feels motivated enough to dedicate him/herself to the task of conditioning their body until truly world class.

There’s the people in the background, without whom training would be scuppered in an instant.  For example:

Coach & clinicians – assessing and tailoring the workload to suit the talent on offer, developing the skills (proper application of said talent) and experience to gain maximum benefit out of the training, while minimising injury.

Family & friends, dedicated to driving (literally) and supporting, but almost more importantly, freeing the athlete from obligation at key events, anniversaries, get togethers, parties and celebrations.

The discipline with which an athlete focusses on the priorities, resisting all ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities or occasions that stand in the way of their objective.

It’s a tightrope.

So not selfish in a mean spirited, mailcious sense, but realistically, one which sees them pausing to consider each and every move that the rest of us might take for granted.

It can mean the difference.  Refusing and resisting, expecting others to compromise and sacrifice in order for your progress to continue.  It’s heavy toll for all involved at limes.

So while I’ve certainly lost form and fitness for all the time spent babysitting and nursing those around me, I’ve satisfaction in providing the ones I love with the help they need.  And a relatively minimal loss when all is said and done.  I’ve been there/done that with each of my children being born, but have bounced back with PBs in all of my events, making better progress into my 40s than I did in my younger days.  It’s a minor set back  for somebody who expects to finish outside the top ten and enjoys the activity for its own sake.

For the Elite Athlete, or Olympian – there can be no compromise.

It makes so much sense that they would burst into tears, win or lose, after say – 4 years (at least) of abstinence from frivolity and ‘fun’ and having negotiated their way through a minefield of social/political agenda, with an entire network of people affected either way.  The sum total of all that hard work and sweat, now redundant as an interviewer thrusts a microphone in their face and yells “how does it feel?”.

I’m surprised there haven’t been more murders.

I just get back to my running as soon as I can, happy to be back.  For the elite, that small delay might well be what cost them the prize.

And there’s an even greater question springs to mind…

What if, the most gifted athlete of all time was out there, but never had the support, opportunity or inclination to even begin training?  Maybe unaware of their natural genetic advantage or potential, simply because their life was in the way from day one.  For every hopeful who fell to corruption, ill health or tragedy, there might be somebody who at a young age, discovers a nack or passion for sport.  Then crosses paths with the right people at the right time, free from constraint and willing to go the distance.

We might yet still see records being smashed and human achievements surpassed, so long as life affords people a window of opportunity and the world around them doesn’t slam it shut.

In the meantime, I’m back to it and raring to go.

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Fundamentally Speaking


In just about every sport I can think of, coaching is part of the improvement process for the participant, yet not so often in running.

I suspect because it is so much more of an individual sport and everyone can run, can’t they?

Well, therein lies the question, there is running… And there is running.  And I am not talking about who is the faster.
There does appear to be one very common thread throughout what people talk about, with regard to Running Objectives. This occurs across the spectrum of running participation, regardless of time spent running on a daily or weekly basis:

“I don’t want to be injured”.
Yet, inevitably, injuries do happen. It’s associated with movement and with being human.  I’d be a rich man for every time I heard something along the lines off, “I have an injury so it must be time to get some new shoes”.  There so often appears to be an anticipation that the new shoes will somehow fix things…yep, they can sometimes help, especially if the old ones are badly worn out, yet for the most part they must, I reckon, also come with a sachet of fairy dust.
This whole process of looking for items which can help once injury strikes is all to common. There is a ‘Rule of 1%’ whereby external items can aid in the process of injury prevention.  An item of Compression clothing would be one such example.  Tweaking an already healthy diet would be another.

The fundamental thing is this, there comes a time when we should stop looking for external answers and look at ourselves. Turn the search for solutions toward fewer injuries (prevention), upon yourself.  Look inwards if you will.

Be more Anna – Strong with good stability and running technique.

We’re right back to the fundamental requirements that make you a ‘better you’ and a runner less likely to suffer an injury.  For example, if you are looking to reduce the risk of landing flat on your back whilst out running, take a look at your own off road technique and have that checked.  Agreed, a grippy pair of fell shoes will help, but they are not the whole of the answer.

Core stability, running technique and general strength for running are all key things that each and everyone one of us should be doing something about on a regular/ongoing basis. They form part of the fundamentals and indeed, the foundation for all types of running.  So too does planning your training effectively, taking time to think about what you need to do in order to make you a more resilient runner. In doing so, you may just find it easier to run further or faster.

We will at some point injure (ourselves) and we are always keen to ‘get back out there’ so we go see a physio. Some would argue money well spent – others would argue our time could have been spent more wisely in getting the fundamentals of our running sorted, ahead of time.  Prevention being better than cure.

It often does come back to taking the time to speak with a good running coach. Not just someone newly qualified, someone with experience and know-how to join the dots. The fundamentals of running are so important and can prevent so much, enhancing our own running even more.

Good planning, strength, stability and good technique. These are things you can do something about.

Accelerate Performance CenterThe Accelerate Performance Center offers 1 to 1 coaching for running plus strength and stability coupled with running technique. Alternatively we can help with your run technique at Thursday morning’ Continue reading

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Running off into the Unknown #Hello2018


Reflections on 2017, the ups, the downs and the near-death experiences:

2017 has been a very exciting year for me in terms of running. Here are a few of my best (and worst moments) as I look forward to what 2018 might have in store!

My 2017 fell season started off with one of the local fell races, Wolf’s Pit. I dragged my housemate along for her first fell race and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it!

Lesson learned: although it is not ideal preparation, sometimes being covered in glitter from the night before can help motivation during a race!






Then came the Trunce, a local trail/fell series. I had a cracking race and managed a massive PB, also getting at time which I think puts me in the fastest few women ever in a race that’s been going for years and years!

Lesson Learned: it’s always best to splash straight through the puddles/rivers (it may or may not be quicker but it’s infinitely more enjoyable)








After that I had an embarrassing race where I was beaten by a 14 year old and also smashed open my knees after falling off a gate (Wirksworth Incline)

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t accidentally die your hair ginger
  2. It was not a fell race





Inter Counties time! Here I am racing for Norfolk (flattest county ever) in the British Mountain Running Inter Counties. I was 3rd U23 which is an improvement from 2016!

Lesson Learned: I’m still asthmatic and need to take my inhaler with me on longer races!

Next up I started on the English Champs races – first up: Barnoldswick Weets

2nd Under 23 and just outside of the top 10 senior ladies on a scorching hot day. Pictured below with Ellie Crownshaw who was 3rd U23.

P.S. I’m brunette again wahoo!















Lesson Learned: smiling makes you feel less like you’re burning up in the million-degree heat:




Next up was another local race, part of the Gritstone Series – Castleton Fell Race. Here I took 3rd, just not quite able to outsprint Zoe Procter (pennine) after letting her get away too quickly up the hill! Lesson Learned: Castleton Fell Race gives really good prizes

Another championship race (this time and English and British counter): Tebay Fell Race. Again, temperatures reaching boiling but an incredibly beautiful day with amazing views. 3rd U23 and 16th lady.

Lesson Learned: making friends with your competition makes racing so much more enjoyable. (Pictured here with Hannah Russel, English U23 Champ)


Team Accelerate outing to Hope Wakes Fell Race (Gritstone Series). Total chaos ensues as everyone takes different routes. Read my blog post about the race to hear more about this! 1st Lady despite taking an extra detour up the hill!

Lesson Learned: It’s amazing how much time you can gain even if you get sent the wrong way and end up right at the back of the race. I kept pushing and fought my way back through the field to take the win!

This is the part where I run the Hodgson Brother’s Relay with team mate and bestie Megan Ellen and fall over and break my coccyx. Oops. In true fell runner style we battle it out to the end and come in first female team having set off on our leg in 3rd place.

Lesson Learned: Broken coccyx is very very very painful and everyone gets very panicky when you get funny pins and needles in your legs, but it’s okay because I’m fineeeee.













Another Gritstone Series – Curbar Commotion. Featuring a broken coccyx but some fab new, extra grippy, shoes from Inov8 to stop me falling over and making it worse! 1st Lady.

Lesson Learned: You might want to give up but it’s amazing how much time you can gain on someone on a downhill finish – Sorry Caroline!

Time for a photo shoot with Accelerate Run Store and Inov8.

Lesson Learned: There are some really cool parts of Sheffield if you want to run on the roads (which mostly I don’t!)


Nearing the end of the end of the season and time for another relay with Megan. British Fell Relay Champs. Another fall and another trip to an ambulance.

Lesson Learned: maybe it’s not the best idea to continue to race with a broken coccyx but if you’re going to do it, make sure you race with someone who will sit in the ambulance with you afterwards!














Then came our infamous adventure at the OMM. (read OMMbelievably we survived if you want to hear about us nearly dying but generally enjoying ourselves anyway)

Lesson Learned: The most beautiful of days come after the hardest (and in this case coldest and also soggiest) of nights















Final fell race of 2017: Dark Peak Fell Championships. 1st U23 and 2nd Lady

Lesson Learned: Dark Peak Dinners are fun

















Last ‘race’ of the year – Christmas Day Parkrun with Daddy, complete with tinsel.

Lesson Learned: it’s worth getting up on Christmas Day to spend the morning running around a park with 798 other mad people.















So that’s it for 2017, thanks for all the support from Accelerate, Stuart Hale (what a brill coach), Issy (for the best massages ever), and Inov8 and SilvaGlobal for their support with kit.

Here’s to 2018! Happy New Year and Happy Running!

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What is Gait Analysis and what will it do for me? By Colin Papworth (APC)


Colin Papworth is Accelerate Performance Centre‘s resident Podiatrist and Running Form Expert.  His knowledge and understanding of the Running Gait is second to none.  The Accelerate staff team place a great deal of stock in the information and advice he shares, on matters relating to form, feet and footwear.




With many more people taking up running and access to increasing amounts of information via the internet, gait analysis has become a bit of hot topic. There has been much discussion and information concerning what is the best running style, with lots of information on how you should run and why.  There is no standard, fool proof way to run for injury prevention or just running better, everyone seems to have an opinion and most sound plausible.  A comprehensive Gait Analysis should provide you with information regarding to you personally and not just a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Each of the assessments that I carry out will firstly look at your anatomical make-up before you start running and then combine this with video analysis of you running.  Understanding how you move as you do can provide very useful information to help with your running. The gait analysis we offer in clinic is very different to a shop gait analysis in many ways. The entire process will take around an hour although we do offer different services, and these may take up to 2 hours.  We look at all of you from the back and from the side so we can see all of your body and how each segment is working together.

We should use all of our body when we run, it’s not just about feet and legs, so we have to look at you as a whole.

For many sports, learning correct technique is considered a vital aspect when starting up, running technique is sometimes not considered at all.  I often find it is right at the bottom of the list of things that people investigate when either looking at an injury, or trying to improve performance.  Most sports or activities usually involve some sort of coaching or advice on how to go about it, with running pretty much all of us just sort out some shoes and go and get on with it. This is one of the good things about running.  But sometimes we come unstuck.

Things that might signal that your technique may be an issue, are often recurrent injuries relating to the same issue, different injuries moving around our bodies.

Not being able to go faster or longer without putting in a disproportionate amount of extra effort, or sometimes we just lose the love of running along easily.  These things may indicate that you are not using your body as efficiently as you could be.  Sometimes we get stuck in a certain movement pattern and this puts strain on a part of our body, our body then compensates to relieve the pressure which puts a strain somewhere else, which the body then compensates for and so on and so on…

We can then find ourselves running out of options, but we have developed poor posture and running technique through no fault of our own, just letting the body do what it is good at – sorting out the problems we throw at it.

So, my job is to try and sort out why you are running as you are and see what can be done about it.

This will involve having a chat about all those little niggles that seemed to be no trouble, along with the bigger issues.  Often where you are getting most pain is not the main issue – we need to find where it all started from.  The most painful point is where the body has not been able to compensate from and usually not the cause of the problem.  So, we look at all the painful bits, see how all your foot and leg joints are working, have a look at muscle flexibility and strength in both lying and standing.  I’ll have a look at you barefoot walking and then running with your usual running shoes on.

Your running is captured on video and then we have a look at this together.  I then try and work out what is going on and discuss this all with you.  Remember – running injuries are most often repetitive strain injuries (unless you have just sprained an ankle or fallen over), caused by repetitively loading tissues that are not able to take the loads you are placing on them.  Therefore, we need to reduce the damaging load and make the tissues stronger, so they can take it.  We can do this in a number of ways, both in the short term and to make longer term changes.



So once we have identified what we need to change we can then discuss how to do this.  There are often a number of factors that need to be addressed, so the ‘how and when’ to address these will be discussed. The main issues we address are; posture / technique, strength and flexibility, footwear, training sessions and such things as orthoses or taping.  After discussion of the changes I feel need to be made, you will then go back onto the treadmill and try to make said changes.  This is then videoed, so you can see the changes.  Using your body in a different way will feel strange at first, so having the video confirmation will help you make changes.

Changes need to be small to start with and you will likely be given some complimentary exercises and running drills to help you make the changes. There will also be a review session set up, so we can check on progress.  We can also discuss things like footwear changes, changes to your training, further strength and conditioning and orthoses.

If you are interested in finding out more about the gait analysis service, then please get in touch.


Accelerate Performance Centre take bookings via the Accelerate Store, on Tel: 01142422569.

Colin attends the Clinic every Thursday and can perform an in-house Gait Analysis for upto 60 minutes.  He also offers a complete Running Form/Gait Analysis Service for approx 120 minutes, which involves indoor and outdoor assessments, Run Drills, Video Anaysis (for you to keep for future reference) and more…

Feel free to call or email if you have any questions.

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