Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Numbers update...

Some numbers borrowed slightly from the Milton Keynes marathon page, I have... dayshours to go until my first marathon (26.2 miles, gulp!).

In other numbers, 4 days until the St. David's Day 10k, 11 days until the Bath Half-marathon (13.1 miles). I ran 9 miles on Monday, and 5 miles yesterday, at an average of 9 minutes per mile.

In other related news, I have to report that suddenly it seems spring has 'sprung'. I managed an evening run that started in daylight, the temperatures are higher (I have not worn my LiveStrong running jacket this week), and moreover all the running events are looming large! I can not decide at the moment whether to hit the 10k and / or half-marathon for PRs, or to use them as marathon training runs with marathon pacing for at least half of each event. This all stems from the feeling that I could very well set a new personal benchmark in either of them if I committed to it on the back of recent marathon training. The longer view of course is that I should not break myself during the program of marathon preparation, but the temptation is huge at the moment... number of times I will 'flip / flop' on how to run these events... incalculable! (help!).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

400th post - which the blogger finds incredible!


[Possibly the most exciting 400th celebration picture 'in the world'
- I plumbed the depths of my creativity here!]

I am amazed that this is my 400th blog post, it is incredible that I am still going. The whole thing has been quite a journey, with periods of heavy posting and of low posting, with changes of emphasis (even blog title), with many varied visitors, with often evolving 'style', and much much more. It is funny as I have said before that this is my longest running journal / diary by some massive distance. Also as I have mentioned before I do this in most part for me, and it that sense it has often proved a valuable motivational aid (a good friend).

What was I actually going to blog about before I noticed that this was number 400? Well, I was going to coo about having completed a tough but reassuring 9 mile run last night (it had been a few days since I was able to run last). Instead I'll save all that for another time - if I remember ;-)

Mild, overcast, with a gentle breeze.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marathon training got tough

Marathon training gets mentally tougher as the runs get longer
[Another bloggers own cartoon effort using the 'fine art' PowerPoint drawing tool ;-)

I had been happily increasing miles and reckoning on finding the whole process difficult but none to complicated. It is now abundantly clear to me that I massively over simplified the process of getting to 26.2 miles. There are complications around nutrition, stretching, time, recovery... near enough anything you care to name. At the moment I have the feeling I have biten off more than I can chew, the next couple of weeks will be critical to see if I can really build some belief in my ability to get round with ruining myself in the process.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lessons learned the hard way

With age and experience come many things but unfortunately not the ability to avoid silly mistakes as I discovered after a long run this weekend. I set out early on Saturday to get a really long run under my belt and made a series of fundamental gaffes. By getting up early to fit the 3hour run into the day I didn't leave enough time to digest breakfast, and though I headed off armed with liquid refueling gels in my running belt I didn't take any water. As you might well imagine (or know if you are a runner) I was building a perfect storm, only I didn't realise at the time.

The run itself went very well for 10miles and then on top of the impending nutritional issues I felt my right calf 'squelch' - somewhere in my calf / Achilles a tear had happened. I ran on more slowly and found it eased, I am still feeling the ache a day or two later but its seems not too bad. After the run I popped some ibuprofen to treat the inflammation (another potential error). The run totalled 18.6miles and represents the biggest single distance I have ever run to date, and the after glow felt pretty good... until I went to bed and found my stomach felt incredibly unsettled... that is when I discovered runners runs! The lack of digestion of breakfast, the lack of thought about what I eat the day before, the lack of water during the run, the lack of consideration about how many gels I took (five in all), the lack of knowledge about the potential contribution of aspirin and ibuprofen to runners belly, all added up to a lesson learned the very hard way every hour all through the night!

In every other way I felt fine post run and was so please to have completed it and managed 37 miles for the week. I am now looking into and seeking much more nutrition advice as I don't want to run long again without having done everything I can to avoid runners runs. It was so disruptive that it ruined my weekend, and led to the worst meeting I can remember in work today. I am finding out that training for a marathon is the hard part and that perhaps the run itself will be straight forward by comparison. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Training update

I have been training relatively well (though not blogging about it, sorry), managing to get the miles up and seeing some improvement in split times over regular loops. Recently I've been getting around a varied 9 mile loop with some regularity (once to twice a week) and doing some other shorter stuff in between. Aside from one big fartlek run I seem to have been shy of pace work proper, though I like to think I have balanced this with the persistent 9 mile runs.

Training hasn't been the plainest sailing... life has shown it's talent for stepping in when you have a brilliantly constructed plan. My son was very ill last week which meant a night in hospital, and I am deep in working out where my career will go next (constructing applications to extend current work, and applications for other related positions). I can only be happy that with everything going on I am feeling more and more able to get around a marathon course. As it happens if I can't do the race for any reason we'll still be taking a nice weekend away in Milton Keynes otherwise - I have already booked non-refundable hotel accommodation!

This weekend I hope to go long (at least 15miles) with a new running buddy, and later today I am off for a 6 'miler' with my long term training buddy (or my "other wife" as my wife wryly refers to him). Keep adding up miles is my plan... and along the way I might get to set a PR at the half-marathon distance as my 'warm-up event' the Bath Half is only a month away now :-) 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My first marathon - USP / POD ?

I am trying to raise some money for two charities as part of my attempt at completing my first ever marathon, and it has begun to strike me that I don't have a modern USP (unique selling point) or POD (point of difference). That I lack that X-factor-style (reality show-style) heart rending back story. It used to be very much the case that anyone running a marathon (any marathon not even a major city marathon) would inspire awe and instant sponsorship if doing it for a cause.

So I asked myself a series of 'devils adovcate'-type questions and pondered answers:-
What's your motivation? - Well, at its simplest - the satisfaction of a long held personal goal and the gratification of raising some money for charity.

How is your challenge sell'able? - in many ways it isn't, I am not running 10 in 10 weeks, running from one end of the country to the other, or even running an 'uncommon' distance. I am running one marathon (possibly my only one) to test my strength of resolve and encourage colleagues, friends and family to consider my chosen charities.

So the charities are close to your personal experience? - actually, no, they are extremely worthy charities that I have experience of through my workplace/s. I haven't directly suffered from either Huntington's or cancer. A member of my immediate family died of cancer but that isn't all that uncommon to anyone within a relatively wide family. I once worked as a care worker helping a guy with Huntington's disease and I have met families through an open-day in the workplace, but those are the limits of my personal experience.

So what is different about your challenge? - Well, no I don't consider that there is anything 'different'. I have lost a lot of weight over a period of nearly ten years that was initiated by running and aerobics in the beginning (losing over 25 kg, or 4 stone in weight). I have experiences with the diseases the charities seek to alleviate as part of being a scientist researching aspects of both diseases as part of two separate contracts. So I am just a guy attempting to run 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), a marathon for charity.

Surely you have a challenge within your challenge? - No, I am not running in a costume, running while juggling, running backwards, or any other extra challenge. The challenge for me is to complete the long training program around work and my family life, and to complete the event with a big smile without breaking myself.

Hmm, so you are just running a marathon? - Yes, after a few years of failing to win a place in the London Marathon ballot, and knowing that meeting a charity place minimum fundraising target would take an effort that would affect my work, I chose to find another marathon and challenge myself to complete the distance.

Milton Keynes? - Yeah, it is their first effort at holding a marathon in Milton Keynes and that seemed to resonate with the fact that it will also be my first effort at a marathon. I have been there a couple of times and think it will be a brilliant place for a marathon.

Good luck with your challenge - Thanks, I am running for...

The Huntington's Disease Association
Cancer Research UK
This line of thinking was inspired by a couple replies I had from public relations people in my workplace after I sent around a mass email asking for sponsorship. I got to thinking about how likely I was to get sponsorship and whether in all actuality my run was in any way 'truly' noteworthy. I hope that there are enough people out there who aren't as cynical as the little voice in my head saying "dude, you're just running a marathon!".

Only time will tell, and on reflection I don't have a target for fundraising in the first place so I shouldn't feel so very bothered about how notable or otherwise the whole effort is (in fact I am probably missing another USP there). I am only perhaps sad that such an undertaking by anyone is currently perceived as 'minor' compared to the much reported efforts of 'celebs' walking across the Antarctic, cycling across Europe, or even running a marathon... every day for weeks.