Friday, April 27, 2012

Forecast Friday

Well here goes some forecasts for my weekend.

(1) I will set a PR - all being well a first marathon all being well I'll get round and set one :-)

(2) The marathon itself could well be a challenge....
Ripped from the BBC Weather page
- the only part of the key you'll need to know is that blue equals rain (heavy rain!)
...the weather forecast is heavy rain, essentially from what I can see a storm! What on earth to wear...gibber!
[currently thinking wellies, fishermans oil skins, and sowester hat!]

(3) On Monday I will be setting myself a new challenge... at the moment either rowing or triathalon?

(4) I will owe my family the biggest most massive "thank you" for all their support whatever happens :-D

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Systems are go for marathon attempt

So the cross-training went okay last night (though light cross-training is even duller than full on cross-training I discovered), and then this morning I stepped onto a treadmill for a running test. I got my leg taped beforehand and then set off nervously to run 5k or 30mins on the rolling road....
Image: digitalart /
....well it seems I am going to try the Milton Keynes marathon on Sunday.

There were no strange reactions in either leg and it all felt fine. Now that I have decided a wave of nerves have hit me properly full on. The 5k test was odd as I almost never use a treadmill and so have no idea how it translates to road fitness. It felt like I was not running in an especially relaxed way, but then that could have been because I don't normally run in busy gyms on equipment that I find quite awkward (always have, I don't know why - perhaps it's because they are always set up in front of full length mirrors!!).

The training I have done leads me to believe I can complete. My injuries still present a worry, but the fact I stopped in the last half-marathon I ran tells me I know when to draw a line under a bad situation. So now I will just have to go find out...

PS. I have no target, I am even considering putting tape over the pace reading on my GPS watch so all I see is time elapsed. It's all about finishing, finishing, and finishing at this stage.

PPS. I know I use one photo source a lot on my blog, it's not because I have any association with the site - it is just the simplest quickest (free) way I've found to splash some colour and give due credit for the images. I will try to do better work with my camera - promise :-P

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A phenomenal reaction to sad events

There is one phenomena that has totally taken my breath away, and that has been the out pouring of goodwill towards the charity supported by the London Marathon runner who sadly died in the last mile of Sunday's event. The news was broken and moved through the Internet (newspapers, blogs, and Twitter) during late Sunday and Monday. Shortly after and during the sad news becoming public knowledge the Just Giving page set up by the deceased runner Claire Squires began to see activity that has yet to slow down. People are donating in their thousands to The Samaritans charity and the total at the time of writing is now £628,586.50.
"hi guys as you all know i am running the london marathon it was just going to be for fun. but its a fab opportunity to raise money for my charity the samaritans if everyone i know could donate £5.00 that would be a great help and change lives." - from Claire Squires JustGiving page
The story encompasses a mix of sadness, ultimate altruism and human spirit. That a young woman simply set out on the challenge of the London Marathon (I gather not her first marathon) primarily for fun and then to raise money, but then did not make it home to her family is immensely immensely sad. Her altruism was the same as any fundraising marathon runner, essentially "I will give up my time to train and prepare for an extremely tough physical challenge if you will perhaps agree to support my chosen charity". That her act of giving lead to her untimely death appears to have connected with marathoners and non-marathoners around the Internet and the real world manifesting itself in thousands of charitable donations in her name.

In these times of global economic uncertainty, civil unrest within various regions, ongoing droughts, ongoing famine and so forth it is all to easy to entertain cynical thinking a great deal of the time, and perhaps negative outlooks upon the motivations of the current human populous, but the wide connection to events such as this and the widespread desire to act in support of such tragedy opens our hearts to the warmth humanity is more than capable of. I did not know Claire, I have no more of a connection to the events than the vast majority of charitable individuals donating to the site, but I have the sense that a tragedy is actually serving to spread the warmth of altruism and the warmth of caring empathetic thoughts that will leave a lasting impression on so many.

If you would like to see what has been written about events head to a search engine and you'll find all you need to know. Moreover if you feel moved to join the sentiment go to

Wow Wednesday

Wow, it is Wednesday again already, the middle of the week before the week I attempt a marathon (not that I am obsessed at this point! - much). What is 'Wow' today? Hmm,...
The rings have landed in Cardiff, on a wet lunch time I spotted the work crews finishing up outside Cardiff City Hall
Trying to take a more artistic pic of the newly arrived Olympic rings, but frankly I was in a hurry
- plus you might note this is the back of the rings (?!?!)
  •  Wow, the Olympic rings have landed in my home city thanks to the London 2012 games handing out some events to other city venues. The Millennium stadium has football (soccer) I believe - nice that we get a set of colourful ironwork out of it (the cities metal thieves will be looking on and pondering "wow, that'd fetch a fair price").
  • Wow, my physio Leon is a genius (Physio4motion - I have to put the link up again simply because he's good, not cause I'm getting anything in return).
  • Wow, cross-trainers are great bits of kit, but so so boring to use for long stints! If I had the space and the cash I think I would buy just two pieces of gym equipment: an ergo (rowing machine) and a full elliptical cross-trainer. Full body low impact all the way - though actually make that three bits of kit... there would have to be a huge TV too for the boredom ;-)
  • Wow, I really wanna go rowing / sculling.
  • Wow, I have been a good consistent little blogger over the past few weeks. 
  • Wow, my son is getting faster on his feet everyday (he's been walking less than a month).
Finally, wow simply being on the move is great!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Marathon Monday

The last Monday before I hope to run a marathon, and I am in full mental and physical prep mode for the run on Sunday (the Milton Keynes Marathon). I have hurdles to get over between now and then, most notably a fitness test on Thursday to see how my injury might react. In spite of the imminent test I have begun packing my bag, and compiling a dossier of paperwork for the event - maps, bookings, receipts, restaurants close to the hotel and so on.

Looking forward to the week, I can already sense my excitement building I so much want to be fit enough to run! I have physio sessions booked for taping / strapping and for a recovery session of massage next Monday after the marathon.
I think you can guess the weather here at the moment - a small gathering is happening in the office
Weather wise (I am resolutely trying to believe I'll be there to find out) it looks like being sunshine and showers, but the forecast only throws forward 5 days. As a preference I would like a nice flat cool overcast day, because I have not trained in warm weather at all through the late Winter. As a consequence I haven't tested my warm weather kit for comfort!

Three more training sessions to go - one short gym session, one short x-trainer and the 5k running test on Thursday - my fingers are going to be sore from all the finger-crossing I'll be doing this week! Happily I have managed to shift a few pounds in the last few weeks to lighten my load a little.

My Monday motivation - watching the London Marathon yesterday filled me with excited anticipation :-D

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pushing on

My blog post titles are in the main somewhere between the informative and eclectic. Usually they are pretty much nonsense, which anyone who finds them is left wondering quite how they relate to what I've actually written underneath. Today's two words do though simply describe my recent endeavours both on the move and in the workplace.

On the move I have been pushing on through the niggles and frustrations of injury hit marathon training. With the event looming ever closer on the horizon I have tried to push on through both the physical and mental aspects of a very broken training plan.

In work I have also been pushing on towards the end of my current contract and then towards well who knows what. At the current time there is no extension, no obvious sideways move, and no simple next step work wise. The kind of work that I have undertaken for the last 15 years is most likely coming to an end and I have felt the need to look seriously at what comes next rather than having another spin on the old merry-go-round. Working through a potentially crucial period like this has been hard and will continue to be hard, but I am viewing it like my running in so far as I want to identify the next goal carefully and then progress towards it.

You might wonder then why it is I choose to train for and run a marathon at such a time? It would on the face of it look pretty perverse. Well in all honesty I looked at all the other factors around my life at the moment and on  balancing the whole picture concluded that there might be no better time than now. Principally my children are very young and as they grow there will be a long period where I'll want to be ensuring they are on the move with clubs and activities (both sporting and academic).

Certainly the training time has provided 'space' to put aspects of the work changes in true perspective. That I made a busy time busier should trouble me, but it doesn't in the slightest as the fact I juggled the two has made me all the more sure a change is needed - in days gone by faced between a choice between work and life I would have chosen work hands down. Now I want the balance, I want to say 'no' to working so far above and beyond my job description and 'no' to it consuming my relationships with everything outside of it (family, health, friendships...). Sadly that I can not fulfill my current role within a balanced framework is partly because of the dogma of that specific work environment and also in no small part because of where I choose to place my focuses in undertaking the role (a whole other essay that would take too long to write just now). The areas I derived satisfaction from are in no way measurable in the digital system metric applied to this and so many job roles.

I am busy, I am on the move, and I am as the title above says 'Pushing on'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where was wittering Wednesday?

Ah, Wednesday was a work-related conference day and so I only had my smart phone as a form of computing power all day (plus I hadn't pre-prepared a wittering draft to hop on and post). So it is Thursday and I can happily report my Wednesday away from any computer was well spent. A very well organised event held my attentions all day and in fact still is on my mind (it was a careers event, just to put you in the picture a little).

This little blog doesn't have an acronym for Thursday's, despite there being some good ones around the blogosphere I simply don't tend to blog on a Thursday - just routine weekly routine I guess... so anyway wittering... two people that I know completed the Paris marathon over the weekend just gone, and both under 4hrs!

I am pleased for them, and  a little jealous too (one did it in 3:54, the other 3:22!). Truth be told when my brain is not otherwise engaged (in conversation, work, sleeping, etc.) my thoughts are never far from marathons at the moment - sad, but true. In just over 10days I will have to find something else to blog about...... rowing (!), you see in fact I have already decided that once my first marathon effort is over I am going to spend my summer rowing...
...and quietly training for a half-marathon PR, ssssh! 

More nonsense and training news soon.

PS. welcome to the visitors I reportedly (I never quite believe the stats widget) had from Brisbane, AU; Melbourn, GB; Auckland, NZ; Bristol, GB; Somerton, GB; Nottingham, GB; Uttoxeter, GB; Mountain View, California, US; Hartlepool, GB - some nice new destinations in the list for the last week :-)

Very overcast, occasional showers, cold in the firm breeze.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My motivation Monday

My motivation this Monday is my friends / acquaintances who have completed marathons - okay not especially deep or inspired logical stretches need be applied here. I am due to run in less than two weeks now, off the back of injuries that have hampered my training so I have been looking for an extra lift. Already I am armed with motivations, the ones that made me sign up and train in the first place. Now though I find myself wanting to hear / read stories of ordinary runners, first time runners, runners with injuries and how they motivated themselves to ignore training set backs, step onto the start line, run freely, and complete.

Sounds like I am having a confidence crisis? Well in some ways perhaps... as I posted yesterday I won't run until the day of the marathon and that will be a first attempt to 'complete' a planned run in some 4-5weeks. Some things I am happy with...
  • I know that I have the base aerobic endurance fitness and overall strength for it
  • I know from reading about / hearing / watching the scale of a marathon
  • I know I have the intelligence to listen to my body and not break it (well break it too badly)
  • I know that my organisational preparations are on track (hotels, parking, kit, etc.)
  • I know that I have support (family on the day, friends in spirit and sponsorship)
  • I know that I am motivated enough to complete regardless of time (currently my finish time projections run through a series of times over an hour window at least, best through to worst cases)
What I don't know is will my current injury play any part on the day? Will that first mile be as far as I get? Or will I get halfway? Three quarters? Okay, anyone who starts has some form of finishing worries, and I'll be stood there like everyone else on the line wondering what 26.2 miles ahead will bring. So in some ways the motivation I am looking for is that which persuades me that standing there in the first place is sensible having not run for essentially 5 weeks (but having trained every other which way)... ???

Dry, scattered cloud, moderate breeze - lovely spring day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week in review

This week has been a very busy one. The week started with huge uncertainty about my calf and my chances of getting to my first marathon. Thanks to some very sound advice from physio-4-motion (and some very sound taping support that he put on my calf), I got back on the move by getting through a number of sessions on the cross-trainer. So at the end of the week I became happier at the thought of attempting the 26.2 miles round Milton Keynes in two weeks time.

My cross-training week:-
Sun - 1hr
Mon - 1hr 20mins
Tues - 1hr 20mins
Thurs - 1hr 20mins
Sat - 3hr (just over 23 miles according to my maths adding up the cross-trainer readouts)

That was a total of 8hrs of cross-training through the week, at roughly 2.5miles per 20min program (dang machine only lets you work in 20min blocks) means I got through roughly 60miles of work. [not that I have any feel for how reliable the cross-trainers estimations of work done are!]

I won't be running before the race other than a short 5km circuit to test my calf about three days before my marathon attempt. Until then I'll be combining things like cycling and the cross-trainer to work my legs and lungs as thoroughly as I can in the time remaining. There is something odd about not running going in the lead up a running event, but I guess it is not all that rare?

Towards the end of the week my race pack arrived in the post box, which I was pleased to find produced excitement in me that I hope will see my through the next few training sessions and into the race. At this point I have to really get my head into the preparation, getting kit organised and meals thought through going into the taper phase. Nerves are building in general, but I am currently most worried about pacing having not completed a planned run in a month. It is not knowing what my cruising pace is right now that is making it really difficult to formulate my marathon pace plan. Increasingly I am coming to the opinion that I'm just going to have to go out super steady, forget totally about my running watch, tick the miles off and do anything I can to get round without injury. I guess that is a plan?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday ...(3)

Are you sure you are not being followed Commander Bond?
Last week my blog following doubled, yes that's right doubled!... to two. Aside from loving the fact that I am excited about it (yeah, I know "geek!"), it is kinda nice to know that perhaps someone might actually come back a time or two to see how on the move 'Andy on the move' is.

Charity worries
I am fearful (as you might know) regarding my chances of getting to the start line (let alone the finish line) of the Milton Keynes marathon at the end of the month but it seems I have kind friends and colleagues willing to sponsor my efforts (My First Marathon). If all things go well I will not be having to issue any refunds?!?!? To kind of sum up how this is all being viewed by those close to me a friend donated and then wrote "You are fantastically mad!! Best of luck!!!..." - says it all really.

Something I noted during the last week...

"If you are training for the Cardiff Half Marathon in October, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you’re fit and ready on the day. Get your Cardiff Half Marathon training off to a head start!"

I will be training very smartly for the Cardiff Half this year, I have a score to settle after missing out on going under 2 hours my 20 seconds last year! During the marathon training (injury aside) I have found some new runs, and know I can up my weekly mileage to really get into great shape for this autumn.... grrr!

And finally...
What I posted on twitter the other day- 
"110mins into a 120min cross trainer session and it takes me two mins to notice I'm listening to "10 green bottles" #kidsmusiconipod #fatigue"
....thing to know here is that it was an 80 minute session and I was 70 minutes in, my mathematics failed me as well as my attention to music! I like to think this madness was because I was so focused on the session and not absolutely dog tired :-S

PS. this post appears to have been powered in large part by the exclamation mark, I can only apologise for my lazily written wittering!!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Motivation Monday

Motivation from unlikely sources
The 'uber runner' is a lady that we see on the trails quite often when walking the dog or out running. She appears to be extremely fit and absolutely glides over the ground. We have seen her out in the snow, all weathers and at all times of the year, she is seemingly absolutely committed to regular runs. It is fair to say that both my Mrs. Taffi and I are completely jealous of her apparent talent and drive for running. The 'uber runner' is a mysterious motivation, we would both like to run like her but we know nothing else about her. We smile and nod as fellow trail users but she wears headphones so there isn't an easy way of saying "oh, hello again you seem to run a lot, are you training for a marathon?" or any such attempt at a conversation.

People that you don't know, and people that you see perhaps only at specific events can be motivation. They don't have to be famous, notorious or a celebrated sports person to be an inspirational figure.

Time pressure motivation
Last night motivated by the fact that it is now only being three weeks to the marathon I got on the cross-trainer again for an hour. It was a good session despite the silly socks keeping my calf happily warm and the fact that my ipod told me it was gone 8pm during my first 20 minute block (yes, it is the same machine that like to kick you off after 20mins #formergymequipment). There were no huge aftershocks in my calf so happy days :-)
Having to wear natty football socks to keep my calf happy
Cross trainer madness again and this time at gone 8pm?!?!?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Possible reprieve - magic strapping

Today I my marathon attempt received a possible reprieve...
Blogger's own leg all strapped up with 'magic' strapping
...I attended a physio session today with Physio4motion and found that all was not quite as bad as I had feared. The man worked magic to make my calf feel much more normal again, and then applied some strapping which is supporting everything brilliantly. I mentioned yesterday that I felt I'd need a minor miracle and it came in that the damage wasn't as bad that I'd feared meaning I might (though still a mighty big 'might') get to the start line in three weeks time.

There is another change in the planned training between now and the race, again I have more stretches and exercises to do in coming days / weeks. All being well, and possibly with race day strapping, I should at least be beginning the race after that we'll have to wait and see.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Injury potentially ending an ambition and other weighty issues

End of a marathon ambition? - My day started out with a great deal of plans for weekend plans including running and outdoor fitness, and then the wheels began to fall off the grand plan today. I went to outdoor fitness yesterday evening and really enjoyed myself, my hip didn't seem to be an issue and all I noticed was a little tightness in my left calf that I happily ignored. This morning I planned to run for an hour and do roughly 10k / 6miles. My calf was tight as I set off but not terribly so and I thought it would loosen off through the run.

Four miles into the run and the calf hadn't loosened, and was getting stiffer. I stopped at four miles because my hip decided to join the party and as soon as I felt it I knew I was in trouble. I walked the rest of the way, my calf felt a little better and my hip was not a problem at all. Once at home I iced it and then took the hound for his short walk. All seemed fine though I knew I'd have to look after it for a while and go easy at outdoor fitness over the weekend.

Later in the day we went out to the beach so the kids could make sandcastles and have a paddle. I was fine though moving a little gingerly over the rocks, pebbles and sand. We had a good time in spite of the cold wind, and as fast I could put up castles the kids loved knocking them over. As we set off back to the car and an ice cream everything was fabulous. Just before we crested an incline while carrying my son bang (!), the pain in my calf was fierce. Three shots of pain made me lift my foot from the ground and cry out.

My left calf is either stage 2 or stage 3 blown, I can walk on it but if I push off to walk totally normally I get fresh pain. If I walk slowly but twist slightly in a particular direction - pain. I hope to get it assessed soon, but at the moment I feel that my hope of running my first marathon in just over 3 weeks time is out the window. It was already an uphill task, but this injury I think has taken it into the realms of an impossible task. My only hope is that it isn't as severe as I believe and that physio can offer me some sort of a minor miracle.

Image: Grant Cochrane /
Weighty issues - It has been a while since I made any real mention of weight, specifically my own. Oddly enough that is because for all intents and purposes it has been pretty stable through 2012, hovering at a pound or two over 14st (196lbs). Stability has been great, and I was even hoping to lose a bit more before the marathon.

Back to pack - On a very slightly brighter note I have started packed lunches again for work. For a number of reasons cost (buying lunch is expensive), convenience (I know I'll like what I make for myself), calories (no hidden calories, I know what I am getting), and fun (I have a really cool lunch box to bring to work). I'll have to start browsing a few blogs for some new inspiration for contents.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday ...(2)

More outdoor
Last night I attended my fourth session with the Outdoor Fitness crew and wow was it tough! There were bunch of hill sprints with the usual spot exercises, and again some pairs work. All of this was good fun and again I met some lovely people. This morning though I ache like a very achy person, and wish I had taken myself off to my bed early. I have plans to go at least twice more (possibly trice more) this week - I figure aches on top of aches won't hurt as much, and happily my hip is not reacting to badly to the sessions.
Image: renjith krishnan /
It is all a little more than follow the leader, but this was the best image I could rapidly grab [I will investigate better ones]
In some ways I am wondering what next? In the four sessions I have attended I have 'experienced' four different trainers / leaders and so the variety has been pretty broad. It isn't possible to say which I have enjoyed more because aside from common themes they have all brought interesting and subtle twists. These being anything from how the interact to exercise style to different kinds of intensity. At the early stage of my block I am wondering where I could fit this into my week going forward beyond these six weeks and also beyond my marathon training block.

Podcast powered
There is something tempting about listening to a podcast or an audio book while training / running. The temptation of getting 'two for one' out your time is very appealing. I used to try and listen to crime thrillers in the gym several years ago, but found they struggled to compete with the background noise (even after I had invested in better headphones). In fact I usually enjoyed the plots better during the short walks to and from the gym, wherein each book seemed to last so long I lost the will to remember the threads of the stories. So personally I like the concept but have struggled a bit with getting a great deal out of it.

Image: Pixomar /
In the last week or two I caved into advertising and tried out the wisdom of Jillian Michaels podcast (free via apple's itunes istore, the most recent can be found at Just so we're clear, the advertising came in the form of tweets and facebook comments from the eponymous Jillian after I clicked 'follow' and 'like' respectively. I tend to follow athletes and sports people as a form of living my sporting life vicariously, I am not ashamed to say that I am an avid sports watching fan (the Olympic period is always an absolute treat for me). Anyway I downloaded the podcast an dipped my toe into the world of American fitness and lifestyle tips and found it was actually pretty good. I don't mean it in a derisory way but it is just like listening to the radio but with topics that are generally more useful than which celebrity did what, when, with whom which you get between tracks on a lot of 'regular' radio stations. The banter is fun, the topics illuminating, and so I will be listening to more in the near term.

Music to exercise by?
When I do exercise with music I generally go loud and large, stuff like the Prodigy (heavy dance tracks), the King's of Leon, the Foo Fighters (driving rock), basically stuff that is real adrenaline fuel. I have never really found anything that I can run long distances to outdoors, the rhythms of a long run for me at least, haven't fitted my (albeit eclectic) music collection. As I have moved to higher mileage I have found that I need to listen to my rhythms, breathing, footfall, and even the noises my t-shirts make (?). So music with exercise has become for me very environment driven: indoor gym = music, outdoor run = no music, and perhaps I am not so very unique in doing this?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Motivation Monday

Just recently I re-read an old post which reinforced my motivations, that I wrote way back in 2005, called "The couch escape". It was interesting to read where I had been and very much where I hope to never be again. I find that a lot of my motivation comes from briefly remembering how things felt at my health low - very often it is simply remembering the effort I had to find to pick myself off the ski slope at my heaviest.

Image: Stuart Miles /
The balance between feeling encouraged or discouraged really can be so easily tipped towards the positive with activity (getting out for a run, eating healthily, planning for a fun trip, chatting with a buddy about their / your efforts, etc.), but on other days it can slip all to swiftly towards the negative and feelings of discouragement. The day to day tends to make you forget just how far it is that you have already come and just how much you can achieve with the right motivations. It is at times like this that I look back to where the journey started and remind myself how much I've already achieved. Realising the great distance travelled in the right direction can be just that motivational nudge to keep me going down the healthy road and keep me 'on the move'.

PS. speaking of motivation... it is 26 days to go until I try and run 26 miles around Milton Keynes... I would be deeply grateful and spurred on if you could support one of my two choosen charities and please sponsor my madness...
The Huntington's Disease Association
Cancer Research UK