Thursday, March 20, 2014

Like a bull at a gate

And so it seems I charged into things like the proverbial bull, and it hasn't done me any good. I dived back into trained and developed some niggles. Niggles became aches, which then became pain, which then became an inability to run. There is something wrong with my heel that is stopping me running, and worse still slowing me walking. After a whole week of TLC, anti-inflammatories and stretching it is really no better and the next port of call is the doctors or the physiotherapists...

...the saddest part is that I haven't had this much pure unadulterated drive to run in a long time and I can't. In the last few days I've spent over 4 hours on a stationery bike in lieu of running, and it just isn't the same. I can only hope when the professionals take a look at it there are some quick things I can do to get back on the move.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Very quick three things thursday - without pictures or hyperbole

No pictures - sorry, I am out of picture fodder and need to go around capturing some stuff. It probably stems from an overly busy work schedule of late, but I will try harder.

Hyperbole - reading back my through my blog of late I have notice my predilection for hyperbolic post titles (which at times are let down my the ramblings they lead to), and more than occasional over use of exclamation marks!!!!!!! I hereby promise that neither of things are likely to change, oh okay I will be trying.

Marathon talk - more substantial than any of the above and a great source of material to boast your running IQ.

Running - I seem to have found a new groove, Thursday I rest - tomorrow I Friday Fartlek!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Only when I'm planking

The New Year brought many things and one of them was planking, I have even been chased a few times by the plank police. Right around now you might be wondering, "What the heck is this guy on about?" or alternatively you might be feeling the spark of recognition of the social media meme that is #Plankaday

Its a challenge to do a plank at least once a day and tweet about it. Core strength is often overlooked as we go about our daily lives, and a strong core can be aided by using the simple plank exercise (as well as many other exercises). The beauty is that a plank is simple, and that Twitter keeps you accountable (and likely to keep doing it).

Really?..... Who? What? Where? When? Why?... go really see what it is all about go see Sherry Pagoto's page at -

I like my life simple and straight-forward so laying down with a timer is hardly difficult to organise on any given day. It seems to be paying off and my times are improving - follow my Twitter account to see the stream of (almost) daily efforts -  [there's a link over there on the right too].

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday - run day

Okay so my training has been more stop-start than a stop-start thing, but it was good to hit a second Sunday long run in two weeks [ssssh]... with no apparent niggles (!). I wandered out into the sunshine (my eyes burning as we've seen so little of the big yellow globe in the sky in the U.K. of late), and knew nothing else than I planned to return in 100 minutes - the marathon training plan said so.

I kind of made up my route, avoiding this taking in that (the park mostly), and turned around after 50 mins to see what it all looked like in the opposite direction. My pace was very akin to the Bath Half last week, and like last week I managed to keep a lid on the first half of the run meaning I negative split the trip.

Sometime during this meandering run / jog I clocked my 1000th logged mile on my Garmin, shame I didn't realise I'd have thrown it a 1000th mile party or something. It appeared to celebrate all by itself by misting up part way through the run so I could only just see the screen, with hindsight it was probably a little sad that I hadn't done anything for its milestone. It was probably sadder still not to have clocked a thousand miles sooner on the wrist of a faster more consistent runner, hehee.

So 16.2km in the sun, and now I cross my fingers it'll be more of the same next week to keep my long run streak going...

Friday, March 07, 2014

Friday Fix... dis-concertedness

I've had this lying around my drafts folder for ages wondering whether or not to click publish and today I just thought 'why not?'....

Why is it that the advice that comes with new diets, new exercise strategies, new life style plans and so on never explains the biggest single likely drawback and probable cause of failure. What is this thing? Dis-concertedness - for which I want a better single word, so I shall do my best to explain a bit better using a few more words. When you have gathered together the motivation, the tools and perhaps even the items of shopping you start the grand scheme only to find that in the space of a few days to perhaps even weeks you will feel weird / dis-concerted within yourself.

Now this for some is fine and it doesn't bother them too greatly, but the issue is that many don't find they understand, so don't persist and then give up. The thing to 'know' is that you will feel 'odd' when you make such changes, and by 'odd' I don't mean ill (go to the doctors if you feel just plain ill). The feeling of oddness can be everything from a swimmy head lacking usual concentration span, to strange feelings in your stomach (bloating, emptiness, sudden looseness of bowel habit), and so forth. When you stop and consider what you are undertaking then of course you won't feel 'normal' during periods of huge change.

Take diet for example, likely your system will need to clear and at the same time adapt to the new food choices you've made. What is more comforting when your stomach is a little upside down than some of your favourite comforting foods? So you 'break' your diet and have one or two things your body 'knows' to settle you, and so begins the erosion of your new plan. Often it is not that the diet change didn't work because you were not mentally tough enough it is that your body nudged you into making that change of mind. I see it as a common sense type issue, change anything wholesale, or even sometimes fractionally, and often things don't work out immediately. 

Knowing that the changes in your diet and exercise plans may make you feel dis-concerted or dis-quieted within yourself better prepares you for when it arrives. Then if you do wind back some of the change (to put calories back in, or to reduce that 'over' long gym session), you are prepared to accept it might simply be slow adaptation that you are accommodating and not a total retrograde step you are taking.

Sleep can be a huge component, especially of exercise but also diet change, your body may rightly tell you "go to bed early please" because the taking in the change may need a parallel change in recovery and rest habits. I dropped caffeine and for a few days I was oddly tired before a few early nights and the finishing of the change in my physiology left me feel massively better (and happy to return to my old sleep pattern).

In essence you can't ask your body to change physiologically (for either better, or indeed worse) without there being a process of adaptation that will likely leave you feeling 'different' or 'dis-concerted' for a short period. Take it in give, yourself a chance and watch those changes stick. Oh, and if you can take things at a more measured pace you might just avoid this in the first place, but then who of us doesn't get very tempted by that massive change touted as "instant weight loss", "short-cut to race fitness", "ripped by summer" or other grand scheme?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bath half marathon - how it went for me

I haven't been blogging much but I have been trying at least to train - though with limited success thanks to niggling injuries through Christmas and especially the New Year. The training that I had under my belt was so limited that I didn't really manage a consistent week of planned training all year.

And so it was that I found myself in the first start pen of the Bath half ruing my optimism of injury free training from last November, and watching the majority of the second pen trot by towards the start line. As I saw just one or two really keen members of the third 2hr plus pen come into view I stepped into the flow and set off to execute my 'plan'. My plan, though sadly not an especially swift one, was to run conservatively, aim for a negative split, and importantly finish with enough in me to run again as soon as possible getting into a marathon training plan I had had drawn up for months.

The first 5km were spent keeping a firm eye on holding my pace down just below my marathon pace to ensure a solid foundation for the run (and increase my chances of staying injury free). I got to enjoy the fantastic views of the huge and colourful field snaking around what is generally a very pretty course. I was in pace with a joggler (a runner juggling for the whole race) but he wasn't it seemed enjoying the best first phase and I left him behind.

The second 5km was the fastest, following on from the slowest - under-shoot / overshoot / hang on seemed to become the pattern, and one that was reminiscent of my Berlin marathon pace blocks in many ways. I was enjoying the free speed of the down hills and trying to work a bit on the ups, it is classified a flat course but does roll a fair bit to keep your legs interested! I took two gels in this phase but ignored that drinks stops as I knew I was well hydrated and the cool weather with fine rain was helping to keep thirst at bay. Around the 10k mark was where I'd pulled out of my only other previous attempt at the Bath Half and going through there feeling good was a huge mental lift. The noise around the course was amazing, and in spite of the rain the crowds were simply brilliant.

The third 5km was where I began to feel this was looking like a good plan, and where I mentally had to dig in a bit to stay on track (especially round those gentle up hills). I took two more gels towards the middle of this section and found that I'd taken too many in a short space of time as I suffered a few stomach twinges towards the 15km point. Again the crowds were fab, even if I did ignore the one or two that noticed I was in a sub-2hr bid but clearly not on for that type of time. I could project my likely time at this point and though it would be no where close to my bid projection I was chuffed that I was doing so well off of such a shaky start to my 2014 training.

The fourth 5km marked the toughest phase and towards the end the brightest phase. I had to work into the fourth quarter, pushing to maintain my pace and engineer a potential negative split race. Towards the end of it I could feel the finish line pull and was lifted by my eagerness to finish strong. I took a bottle of water through this phase and tried to drink, but didn't get much though being out of practice with bottles and spoilt by the cups provided in Berlin. At this phase I was reeling in quite a lot of runners, and trying to keep pace with a couple that were clearly on a strategy. I see-sawed with another couple running for TIP (Time Is Precious) and hoped that they would finish well as they were clearly working really hard together as a team. I hadn't heard of the charity but was lifted by the sentiment of its name.

The final km was fun, no really (!), I actually felt I could ignite the burners a bit and clawed back runners hand over fist. I know that this is really annoying to fellow runners but I could feel my plan had worked to a tee and was enjoying it. I tried in the last 300m to really open out and run like a 'proper' runner, and frankly yes I am sure I looked a prat, but it was fantastic to feel I was moving and was likely to get a great start on my marathon training from it. I crossed in 2:06:14 which is taking me back to where I was time wise almost ten years ago - not that I care as this run had become part of another marathon race attempt.

My wife met me afterwards with fresh dry clothes and we made really short work of heading off home thanks to the superb race organisation. The t-shirt, medal and bag were really good, and I came away with a huge desire to go back another year and look for a time more reflective of my best in future... one where my training has gone right and put me in the start pen confident of hitting a goal.

...oh, and that negative split? Near enough a full minute - BOOM :-D

As a footnote, this summary about the impact of the race was part of an email newsletter from the organisers:
"The runners who work so hard have once again raised incredible amounts of money for charity are a real inspiration to us. In the last thirteen years the Bath Half has raised over £12million for charity, making it the largest single day fundraising event in the South West and one of the biggest fundraisers of its kind in the UK. We anticipate that over £2million will have been raised for charity at Sunday’s race."