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A boost for beginners

Posted on June 23rd, 2020 by

Beginners 5K Booster Programme
Just before lockdown a number of new Chasers successfully completed our Beginners 5K programme. Some had even started the 10K progression sessions, but  Coronavirus scuppered all plans for us to continue running together.  We know that our Beginners graduates would welcome programmes to build back your running confidence. This blog focusses on getting back to 5K or building on your current 5K confidence.   An additional 10K programme will also be available shortly.
There are two adaptable programmes in this 5K blog 
  • Programme 1 is for those who want to start back at the beginning
  • Programme 2 is for those who have kept up some running, but want to rebuild 5K confidence

Please contact Laurie (Lo Bo) if you have any questions or need further advice!

Programme 1: 0K to 5K
This 8-week programme is similar to our beginners course, but progresses more quickly, building on your recent experience, and gives you an option to include speed sessions. I encourage you to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays as this will get you used to Chaser’s patterns for when things return to normal.  Of course you don’t have to run on these days.
  • Repeat each session 3 times per week
  • Option to switch-up 1 of your 3 sessions with a speed session (see Programme 2 for options)
  • Remember to warm up and stretch down, especially following any longer, faster runs.
  1. Week 1: run 2 min/walk 2 min (x5) = 20 min moving time
  2. Week 2: run 4 mins/walk 2 (x 4) = 24 min moving time
  3. Week 3: run 6 mins/ walk 2 (x3) = 24 min moving time
  4. Week 4: run 8 mins/ walk 2 (x 3) = 30 min moving time
  5. Week 5: run 10 mins/ walk 2 (x 3) = 36 min moving time
  6. Week 6: run 20 mins without stopping
  7. Week 7: run 25 mins without stopping
  8. Week 8: run 30 mins without stopping + 1 x 5K run as your final run this week.

Programme 2: Building 5K confidence

Aim to run 3 times per week with the following pattern:
  1. 1 x run at a moderate pace. Moderate should feel challenging, but you should not feel like you are consistently completely out breath
  2. 1 x interval or speed training session – you should pushing harder than your moderate run pace
  3. 1 x easy pace –  run at pace where you could easily chat to another runner (theoretically or at a social distance)
Week 1
  1. 3K run – moderate pace.
  2. Kenyan Hills (10 mins).  Go to Primrose Hill and run up and down hill repeatedly for 10 minutes keeping exactly the same pace down hill as up hill.  Take a standing break for 3 minutes.  Repeat again. Total running time 20 mins.  Rest time 3 mins 
  3. 35 minute run – easy pace.
Week 2
  1. 4K run – moderate pace
  2. 400m intervals.  Go to Regent’s Park dust track (or any other track or area where you can roughly run in loops or stretches of 400m). Run in intervals of 400m hard followed by 400m slow jog. Do this continuously for between 4 and 6 repeats depending on your running confidence. Total distance between 3200m to 4800m. 1 lap of the track is c400m. Regent’s Park track is actually just under 400m, but we can look over this…
  3. 40 minute run – easy pace
Week 3
  1. 5K run – moderate pace
  2. 800m intervalsRun in intervals of 800m hard into a 400m very slow jog. Repeat 4 times.  This is equivalent to running two-laps of the track hard followed by one lap very easy. Total distance: 4800m
  3. 45 minute run – easy pace
Week 4
  1. 5K run
  2. Kenyan hills (15mins) Go to Primrose Hill and run up and down hill repeatedly for 15 minutes keeping exactly the same pace down hill as up hill.  Take a standing break for 3 minutes.  Repeat again. Total running time 30 mins.  Rest time 3 mins
  3. 50 minute run – easy pace
Week 5
  1. 5k run
  2. 1K intervals: Run 1K at your 5K target pace.  Standing rest for 2 minutes.  Repeat 1K intervals 3 times in total. Total distance 3K. Rest time 4 mins.  1K is equivalent to running 2.5 laps of the track 
  3. 55 minute run at an easy pace
Week 6
  1. 5K run
  2. Pyramid session: Run each intervals at your target 5K pace. 400m/ rest for 1 min. 800m/ rest for 2 minutes. 1200m/ rest for 3min.   1200m/rest for 3 mins. 800m/ rest for 2 min.  400m/finish.  Total distance = 4000m.  One of the 1200m can be dropped.  
  3. 60 minute run at an easy pace


Coronavirus Survey Results

Posted on May 23rd, 2020 by

Thank you everyone who completed our survey on the club’s response to coronavirus. We received 44 responses.

Overall Satisfaction


Overall most people are very satisfied with the club’s response and our communications. Two people were “very dissatisfied” but one of them didn’t make any comments and the other made very positive comments, so I think this tells us more about the importance of naming your categories in a survey than it does about the club’s response to coronavirus.

Online Sessions

There was lots of positive feedback on the online classes. I asked about the difficulty level, and it looks as though all the sessions are pitched about right. Some people commented to say how helpful they found the different options that Danielle and Nicola offer so that everyone is catered for.


Many people commented to say how grateful they are for the efforts that Danielle and Nicola have made and suggested they should be rewarded in some way.

We (the committee) agreed before organizing these sessions that we should let those leading the sessions choose whether they wish to do so on a voluntary basis or whether they would like to be paid. Nicola decided that she would lead the first four sessions on a voluntary basis and has been paid for subsequent sessions. Danielle has so far decided that she wants to run her sessions on a voluntary basis. Alicia is not a club member and is working on a professional basis. All our usual running coaching done on a voluntary basis, but that situation is very different as the club pays for people to qualify as coaches and we see providing opportunities for people to train and work as volunteer running coaches as one of the core roles of our club,  It goes without saying that we greatly appreciate the superb sessions all our online trainers are putting on and we fully respect their different situations.

Some people said that they would be interested in having more classes. The committee feels that three classes a week is the most the club should provide. However, if you are interested in having more sessions with Danielle, Nicola or Alicia I suggest you get in touch with them and see what they can do. For example, I believe that Danielle is offering other paid-for Zoom Pilates classes.

Some people have also suggested that we should keep the classes going once lockdown is eased. This is definitely something we will look into in the future, but it doesn’t seem the right moment to make any decisions on this.

Running Training

42% of respondents plan to use Parliament Hill track if it re-opens. The heath authorities have indicated that it will reopen shortly.

22% of respondents have followed one of Donal’s fartlek sessions.

There is a general appetite for us to put together some training plans for (hypothetical) autumn races. We need to have a think about how best to do this, but we will put something together and will include some track options when we do this.


One person said: “The club should have been at the forefront of lobbying parliament hill track to stay open rather then the opposite, it’s a safe space for people to run.” I’m the club’s coaching coordinator, so I can give a bit more detail on the discussions we have had.

  • Before lockdown started, but when social distancing was advised, I contacted the heath to encourage them to keep the track open for as long as possible each day so it was easier for people to social distance and to see if there was any possibility of our members getting some form of discount on paying to access. They left the track open for about one week, without charging.
  • During lockdown, the government’s restrictions meant that the track was compelled to close. People continued to use it, but the heath authorities did not feel it could employ people (and risk their health) simply to chase them away. They asked us to communicate to our members that the track was closed, and I was happy to do this.
  • In that first week of social distancing, the track started being used by all sorts of people inappropriately: cyclists, dog walkers, children playing in the sand pits etc.. In the view of the heath authorities it was becoming unsafe to train at the track, and I agree with them. As a result, they will only reopen once they have sorted out ticketing and supervision of the track. They are working to do this as rapidly as possible. They plan to provide a range of lengths of season tickets with a club discount.

I personally feel that we have worked constructively with heath authorities to keep the track open as much as possible, but I think that they are absolutely right to not do anything that might put people in danger.


Strength and Mobility

Posted on March 29th, 2020 by

Just to follow up on the recent Facebook post and to share some of the documents that I mentioned.

Now really is the perfect time to work on some other areas that we all tend to neglect.

Strength and Mobility – I have attached documents and links to routines which do not require any equipment, and can be easily done 2 to 3 times a week. Credit for all these documents – http://www.coachjayjohns.com/ – @coachjayjohnson

RunningCircuitswithQRcodes SAM Phase 1 SAM Phase 2 SAM Phase 3 SAM Phase 4 Ballista+Routine+Instructions

Strides – 20 to 30 second runs at roughly 85 to 95% or mile race pace/effort with full recovery before the next rep. These can be incorporated into the last mile of an easy run. Start off by doing 2-4 and over the course of the next 4-8 weeks build up to doing 6-8 by adding 1 or 2 a week.

Short Hill Sprints – 8 to 12 second efforts at high intensity with full recovery before the next rep. Start off by doing 2 of these one day a week and over the course of the next 4-8 weeks try build up to doing 6-8 by adding 1 or 2 a week. Focus on your form and mechanics.

Fartleks – There are any number of ways to run these so it’s pretty much self-prescribed. Great way to break up a run, once a week.

Long run – Anything from 70-90 minutes would be good.

My own two cents on what to do over the coming months would be to maintain your run frequency, back off on very high intensity intervals, get some strides and hills sprints in once a week, build mileage at a reasonable rate, think of the much used 10% rule but also know that this is a rough guide, some people can handle more while some may need to be more cautious.

If you have any specific questions or are looking for some ideas on fartleks then you can ask me directly or any of the other club coaches who I’m sure will be more than happy to help.

Stay safe everyone and stick to the guidelines on social distancing.


Running and Social Distancing

Posted on March 26th, 2020 by

We’re all just learning how we should be running while social distancing. At Mornington Chasers we’ve been discussing this a lot with each other on Facebook to figure out how to handle it. This is what we’ve learned.


Laurie, our club welfare officer, tried the experiment of taking a 6 mile walk (always at 2m distance obviously) to observe runner and pedestrian interaction. She forgot her love of running and get into the mindset of someone who walks but doesn’t run. Here are her tips:

1. If you do run, just focus on the pure unadulterated joy of still being allowed outside to do this. Don’t focus on your Garmin or your speed. Approach running like a precious freedom that you might lose if not used correctly
2. Slow down and, also, slowdown. You can also take this tip with an extra pinch of ‘slow down’
3. Even if you know that you’re extremely skilled and nimble at dodging people and crowds, just pretend that you’re not – just seriously slow down or walk as you pass others. Especially people walking in household groups and families.
4. Know that if you are running behind someone who is walking and you’re breathing heavily and the sound of your feet are pounding the pavements, that this will be disconcerting to walkers around you. It doesn’t matter that you are a kind and considerate, they don’t necessarily know this. So, slow down.
5. If you find yourself in an area where you are completely alone and can see far into the distance, then use this to pelt out some speed and sweat. But – don’t do this when you are heading towards corners or where other people are nearby
6. Whenever anyone (seriously, anyone) makes way for you to run, then go out of your way to shout ‘thanks’, wave or just beam your biggest smile at them. You’d be amazed by how reassuring that is to someone who doesn’t run. It will let them know that as runners, we don’t always expect right of way and we are nice people.
Some other tips I’ve heard:
  • Don’t combine running with shopping. Nobody wants to be near you if you are breathing heavily and sweating right now.
  • Don’t running in groups even with people you are isolating with (except for children). You are making it harder for others to pass and no-one but you knows that what you are doing is legitimate.
  • Run at the edge of the pavement to make it clear you’re the one who will give way.
  • Some advice from an epidemiologist in the New York Daily News: “Try not to spit. If you have to, move to a less-traveled part of your route such as off the road in the grass”


I went for a 16 mile run on Sunday into central London just before the rules were tightened up to see if I could run that far without ever going within 2m of anyone. Even though people were being a bit silly last Sunday, it was perfectly possible to do this, and it should be even easier to avoid going near others now. Here’s my advice on how to plan your run to maxmize social distancing.

Covent Garden on my social distancing run

Covent Garden on my social distancing run

1. Make it a game. Many people will not want you to go within 2m of them, so make sure you never go within 2m of anyone at all. They are the rules of the game. If you have to double back or dart down a side street, do it. If you have to stop or walk, do it.
2. Vary your usual routes. Try running somewhere new that will be unusually quiet. I ran to Covent Garden and it was deserted. The football fields in parks are usually out of bounds because of the footballers, but they are now the perfect place to go for a bit of faster running. On the other hand you can’t run along canals and keep 2m away from people, so they are forbidden. You can’t cross long bridges or run through long tunnels. Avoid high streets, but side streets are empty.
3. Keep on the grass. Paths are for wimps. Be willing to get a bit muddy. If you see a keep off the grass sign, feel free to ignore it. If a parkie chases you, practice one of your sprints.
4. Avoid unnecessary travel to and from your run. As far as possible, it should start and end at your front door.
5. Loos are closed. Know your limits.

Training Racing and Goals

I spoke to our former club coach Tom Craggs who now coaches one of England’s veteran running teams and his advice to his athletes is to see this period of social distancing as the off-season. Training for performance is a cyclic affair where you try to peak for an important race (maybe that’s the Olympics, a marathon, or your club championship). Once that’s over, you give yourself some time to recover and consolidate your gains. It’s a pity that most of us missed out on our big spring races, but it is time to let that go, we did most of the training and got the fitness benefit we wanted anyway, so it’s not such a big loss.

Since it’s now officially the off-season, you can wind down your distance and ease off a bit on the speedwork.  Focus instead on improving in the areas you might let slide a bit during your peak training. Now is a great time to establish a strength and conditioning programme that you can stick to once you start running again. Similarly, this is a superb time to be working on building basic agility, balance and coordination or to work on your flexibility. These are all things you can do at home, maybe with the kids you are having to home school. At Mornington Chasers, we’re planning to have online strength and conditioning sessions together with some dance sessions and pilates to cover all these bases.

As it’s the off-season you wouldn’t normally be racing. We’ve all grown addicted to regular races, especially because of parkrun and quite a few people are coming up with ideas for online races. At the moment, I’d discourage online racing because I haven’t seen anyone figure out a format for an online race which encourages people to stick to the etiquette for running during social distancing. If anyone cracks this problem, I’d love to get involved.

If it’s the off season and you’re not going to be racing, that means you should be avoiding setting yourself inappropriate training goals. Now is not the time to be trying to increase the distance you run. Running for speed is OK to an extent, but you should never compromise on the etiquette. If you are going to be running on the grass carefully dodging other people you won’t be able to be as obsessive about your times. I think the best kind of running goals at the moment are technical ones – for example can you improve your technique with some running drills and by doing regular core workouts?  You can set yourself a fitness goal too, but that could be related to your flexibility, your strength or your coordination. Some good goals you could set yourself would might be to do 50 press ups in a row (or 5, or 500), to touch your toes or to dance the Charleston.

This doesn’t mean you have to forget about running entirely. While we are allowed out, it’s a good idea to keep doing some strides and drills during this period somewhere you won’t get in other people’s way, perhaps on playing fields or down a dead-end. And if you stick to the grass you can still give yourself a decent work out while avoiding others and being easy for others to avoid.


We’ve only been social distancing for a week and half so there’s a lot to learn. In Spain running is currently banned and in France you can’t run more than 1km from your home. We’re incredibly lucky to still be allowed to run, so let’s make sure we keep it that way.




My Post Coronavirus Plan

Posted on March 13th, 2020 by

We all knew London would be postponed, and good on the organisers for putting the health of the elderly and those with lung conditions as their top priority.

I’m no epidemiologist, but I thought it might be helpful to say how I plan to respond.

Firstly, I’m shifting my training focus to Paddock Wood. I’ll immediately switch to that schedule. I have a place in a backup marathon but if I run it at all I’m not going to compromise my immune system by going at it full tilt. I know from experience that I get run down post marathon and so I’m not going to take any risks. I have no idea if there is any evidence that running a marathon hard will really be a problem, but I don’t care. My priority is my long term health, so I’m not going to chase a marathon time this spring.

Second, I’m only going to do races if this fits with the advice we are given on travel and gathering sizes. If Paddock Wood is cancelled or travelling there is considered a bad idea, well, so it goes.

The fitness I’ve built up can be used to good effect to knock out some fast short races. There are some small local races that seem perfect. After Paddock Wood, the athletics season starts with a meeting at Parliament Hill and Donal will be putting together a training plan for the Golden Stag mile. Last year I was knackered from London at the Golden Stag. This year, I plan to ace it.

We’ll need to come up with a schedule for early autumn marathons that makes the most of the summer league and the athletics meets to get us in top shape. Should be fun figuring out how to do this, and should mean some cracking long runs in beautiful weather. We’ll keep you posted…



Spring Training 2020

Posted on January 2nd, 2020 by

The Thursday track sessions this spring have been designed to fit in with our training schedules for London and Brighton marathons and for Paddock Wood half marathon. You can see the full schedules here.

To use the schedules, you should customize with a realistic target time. If you are running a first marathon, then you should normally base your target on a recent half marathon, assuming you are planning to commit to a similar number of training days each week. If you are targeting a PB then be ambitious, but realistic. If you decide you want to increase your training from 3 to 5 days a week (say), then do this gradually over the first few weeks of the schedule.

Our schedules contain a lot of practice races, designed around the events we like to run as a club. Most of these races are free to enter, but you might want to sign up now for the Fred Hughes 10 in St Albans and the Wokingham Half Marathon. They will both sell out pretty quickly, so get your skates on if you fancy doing either of these.

The other practice races will appear on your schedule if you choose to train on Saturdays. These include some cross country and lots of parkruns. Don’t run the parkruns hard every week, use them as a way to customize the schedule to how you are feeling. If you’re tired, give yourself a break. If you are full of beans, then go for it.

If you have a different target race in mind, or have different preferences for how to train, then use our schedules to tell you what will be happening on a Thursday and what races are coming up so that you can build your own schedule that fits in with the club. Our Thursday sessions would easily fit into a training plan for any distance from 5K up, but you might, for example, replace a Highgate run with some some hill sprints if your focus is on shorter distances.

Paddock Wood Half Marathon

Paddock Wood is an excellent half marathon for anyone new to half marathons or who is looking for a PB. It is a flat, fast course on roads. It is a one lap course with a relatively small field, so you there won’t be crowds of people getting in your way.  We’ve also selected Paddock Wood as the perfect tune-up run for London marathon.

If you are worried about transport, then there is a direct train to Paddock Wood from Charing Cross arriving 28 minutes before the start, which is right by the train station. If there is demand, I’ll look into arranging alternative transport for those who want to get their earlier.


Calculating your handicap

Posted on April 30th, 2019 by

I’ve calculated the handicaps for our handicap race in Highgate Woods as follows.

  • For every race over the last two years, look at your age graded percentage. We can only calculate this for certain event distances.
  • Take off a further percentage according to how long it is since you achieved this result. If it was a year ago, we would take off one percent. The idea is that if you have been ill or injured you still have a decent chance.

This gives your handicap as an age graded percentage.

Next, we work out what 5K time this age graded percentage corresponds to. Then we use the calculator on the website to work out your predicted time over the race distance (which is a little over 5K).

This number is your handicap. Everyone will start at such a time that if there handicap predicted their race time perfectly, we would all finish simultaneously.

To see your handicap visit the results page of our website and search for your results.

If you think your handicap is not appropriate you can tell me why it is not appropriate and tell me your own predicted time. I’ll decide whether I agree with you or not. My decision is final.


Book Your Spring Training Races

Posted on December 2nd, 2018 by

I’ve put together a training plan for London Marathon 2019. We’ll also have a half marathon specific schedule building up to Croydon half marathon which should be up by the New Year.

We’ll use the same key training races for both schedules, so book your place and get them in your diary now.

  1. Fred Hughes 10 OR Benfleet 15. Fred Hughes is a fast flat road race. Benfleet 15 is a slow hilly trail race. Don’t even think about Benfleet unless you are confident to run that distance in January. Think of it as roughly equivalent effort to 20 miles on the road.
  2. Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill. This is a brilliant race and a must for any Chaser who owns a pair of spikes. Click on the link to enter (you will require England Athletics membership too, so request that via your Chasers account if you don’t have it already).
  3. Wokingham Half Marathon. This isn’t even mentioned in the schedule yet. It will just be an alternative to the current published schedule for those who want a half marathon test at the end of Feb. The scheduled alternative is to do a long run the next week building in a fast section at the Regent’s Park 10k.
  4. Croydon Half Marathon. Get your discounted tickets from our online store.


3k Time Trial Results 10th May 2018

Posted on May 11th, 2018 by

Great job to all those who attended yesterday’s track session, which saw the first of three 3k Time Trials on the track this summer.

Results are below, be sure to come along to the next time trial in June to track your progress!:

Name 10th May
Chris Zair* 10:39
George Viner 11:01
Stephen Nash 11:02
Vincent Guillaume 11:11
David Thorne 11:18
John Paul Hipkin 11:27
Danny Berry 11:32
Lauren Longhurst 11:33
Liv Hawe 11:59
Yoel Marson 12:12
Claire Baudouin 12:28
Alex Renton 12:34
Rebecca Bryant 12:56
Sarah Funderburk 13:12
Eamon Byrne 13:49
Lauren Hall 13:58
Michele Griffiths 14:30
Jenny Moore 15:30
Dylan Tomlinson 15:31
Ciara McManus 15:54
Stephen West 16:24
Sarah Hayward 16:40

*recorded pre-session, proof on Strava!


Marathon day essentials

Posted on April 17th, 2018 by

  • Race number, pinned to vest
  • Shorts
  • Shoes, chip attached.
  • Socks
  • Bag with number on it.
  • Watch
  • Pacing wristband *
  • Mobile *
  • Fancy dress costume *
  • Vaseline, for anywhere potentially chafy
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses *
  • Hat *
  • Plasters for nipples (or more vaseline or a bra)
  • Gels, jelly babies, carrying device
  • Imodium *
  • Loo roll *
  • Beetroot Shots *
  • Drink for while you are waiting, maybe a bite to eat.
  • Bin bag or disposable clothes.
  • Oyster card. They say its free travel on race day but not everyone in TFL seems to get the memo.
  • Something to wear afterwards *
  • Lucky heather *

* = optional

I think that’s everything. See you at the start or at the Pineapple.