Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On the fourth day of christmas - my 12 days of running

On the fourth day of Christmas I completed my fourth run in 4 days, and having gotten this far I thought I would share why. Just before Christmas I cooked up this plan to re-ignite my running after the post marathon challenge lull (which was utterly intentional, after two marathons in 4 weeks my body wanted the rest - or was it my brain? - either way I took a running sabbatical). The plan I came up with was a simple one, after Christmas day excesses were over I would run the twelve days of Christmas running once a day for the 12 days through to January 6th.

You can read about the actual twelve days at Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas

So I am now four days in and it hasn't been so bad. There has yet to be a sticky day or difficult run and I have run over 5km each time. At the moment I certainly feel my homemade scheme might just get the start of my 2016 running year off with a bit of a boost.

Monday, December 28, 2015

BMW Berlin marathon 2015 - my race review - part 2 the race

Finally belatedly getting round to the second part of my Berlin marathon race review....

Sleeping the night before a race is always an interesting challenge, and all I could manage in Berlin was a fitful broken night of trying to get comfortable while switching off my brain. We had stayed up to watch the Wales vs. England pool match in the IRB rugby world cup, which while being a great distraction was not exactly restful. I was on social media most of the time too, soaking up those sleep impeding wavelengths of light.

By the morning I was absolutely ready to get on with things wanting to turn my back on the lost sleep   and meet the day. Breakfast was great, the food in the hotel was excellent, as is my way I indulged in coffee for race day. Still caffeine is limited to green tea before midday most days, so yes I was cheating a bit 'using' the caffeine to focus my mind and quash some of the effort feedback during the run. I'm not entirely sure it isn't a placebo thing, and really more of a pre-race habit like getting a hair cut, washing favourite kit, eating the same food, and so on.

We met up with my school buddy and headed into the middle of the city, to the start area. Underground and over ground trains ran like clockwork, and we were soon looking at the thronging masses of the Berlin marathon field. After taking the obligatory photos I left Mrs.H. to her day of stalking me on the Berlin marathon tracker app and coffee shop tourism. Going into the start area I was on my own and feeling the buzz of the event grow and grow. There were banging house tracks and aerobics demos to warm us up, and booming PA system announcements to keep us focused. The start pen was a fun friendly place, and I set about my pre-race kit check loops - a mild form of running OCD I think.
Fresh as daisies before the start - fabulous to catch up with an old school friend :-D
First 10k
The main (elite) field left us behind with a fanfare, and one by one the sections of the field pulled up to the start line. Crossing the line was emotional for me, being back again, being fit enough to run, and being so charged with positive human spirit. The first 10k was to be all about clock watching and trying not to overdo my pace, despite not really knowing what my pace should be. I found a rhythm well and went generally with the flow. There were pacers just ahead with 4:30 balloons and I calculated I would try to catch them by the end of the first 10k and ease away from them in the second.

Second 10k
Atmosphere! I love a run with a happy atmosphere!... apologies for butchering Russ Abbott song lyrics, but the Berlin course really does have some great support, music, and vantage points. I was enjoying myself by the time the distance began to get 'real'. I was looking for Mrs.H. at all the points she had said she might see me, was happy with my gel strategy, had gotten used to water in plastic cups again, and was pleased that I had caught and eased around the noisy pace group.

At this stage I was a little unsure of my pace, but felt it was not too excessive. The lack of a full training base meant I didn't have enough points of reference. It was becoming an adventure in what would be possible.

Third 10k
The steadiness of pace was pleasing but it was getting harder and harder to maintain. I found my breathing was a bit hard for that point in the race I knew from experience and by now I was busy convincing myself that it was okay, that all would be fine. Passing halfway was a boon and all signs seemed to be I could squeak a 4:25 out of the race.

During this phase I was double stalked though - my wife found me and we had a good wave at each other - my other stalker turned out to be the pace group. It was increasingly obvious that they were back, the distance between us was dwindling and the signs pointed to me slowing.

Fourth 10k
All I can really sum it up was is 'ouch!'... the wheels as they say "fell off". First the pace group caught and slid past me, and then I became increasingly aware that the slowdown was biting. To be fair to myself I held out until 34 km before everything really got hard. On reflection going through halfway in 2:10 was simply too hot. I fought myself and had to pull all motivation out of myself between 35 km and 40 km, pushing and pushing as best I could.

Final 2 km
My fade was only halted by finish line fever, and the elation of finishing a second Berlin after what was a flawed training / preparation period before. Heading towards the Brandenburg gate I got so giddy I was waving my bandana around above my head like a flag. After patting the gate on my way underneath the madness returned and I started waving my arm about again. Seeing the finish line I worked out I might get in under 4:45 and managed a final surge to do it.
Apparently I'm in there somewhere over the far side
My race by the number thanks to the Berlin marathon race tracker app
The post race analysis
In the end even with the horrible and painful fade I was chuffed to bits to have completed, to have enjoyed it, and to have had so much support and good will from family and friends. The time was not earth shattering but I was very pleased. The walk back to the hotel was interesting as my legs were in pieces, so much so I had to start the staircase shuffle straight away (not the next day like usual). Shower facilities were kindly extended to runners by our hotel and happily (though awkwardly) I had time to take up on it. The end of the trip was a pair of flights home which went smoothly - if a little painfully.
Super pleased and proud of my race being :-D

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Waiting on a watch and a few satellites

Waiting for my watch to find the satellites again, its been a recurring theme of my runs over the last little while! Once it has successfully finished its navel gazing then I'll be off for my second run in two days - hardly a running streak but a step in the right direction after weeks of little to no running at all. I will be also taking a first run in a pair of Newton running shoes I bought back in the summer at of all places a swimming lake. Trying out new shoes usually only ends one way but I remain desperate to get out of my super heavy and clumpy Beast shoes... I am wondering just how much of a post I'm going to get written before the satellites, stars, planets, cloud formations, passing passenger jets, and international space station align and I get GPS tracking lock so I can go run.

My wife just asked me why I don't go for a run without it and that would make for a long answer-although perhaps I might have time to knock out a short essay on why I personally prefer to run with GPS! Either that or build an entire spring training schedule from scratch!

While I've mentioned it 'Spring' training will be all about half marathoning and perhaps a crack at a PB - how many other runners are plotting the same type of master plan around now I wonder? How many also are waiting for their watches? Could be a strong correlation perhaps?

Upped the ante now.... two watches duelling to be the one that comes with me- my wife has offered hers up... and in a flash it has lock and I'm off now with her watch.... wonder if her model will be discounted in the ne year sales? :-S

Footnote - the run went very well (even with an unfamiliar watch), the new shoes felt great though how my legs react in the next few days will be the real test of them. As for my watch it is definitely on borrowed time (pun intended!!).

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cardiff10k 2015 - 30th Anniversary edition - my race review

Another back log post today, this is a race report from the start of September that I didn't get around to completing and posting. I am still catching up on my blogging and I am not teaser trailing my recent marathon reports, really I am not...

Cardiff 10K 2015 
September 3rd 2015

The out of tens:
Course: 9/10 - super flat course
Marshalling: 9/10 - looked to be a really happy bunch as usual, though happily I had no need to make use of any directly.
Facilities: 7/10 - penned in by the building of the city centre the port-a-loo provision is always a small issue. The athletes village was a busy place that was jumping with a live band.
Organisation: 9/10 - Cardiff 10k do run a good simple no fuss event. As last year a single point deducted for the disposable timing chips.
Fellow runners: 10/10 - a happy and jolly bunch bubbling around the course.
Crowd: 8/10 - fabulous support in the start / finish area, crowds were patchy in the middle of the race.
My performance: 9/10 - I had a plan and I stuck to it - almost - see below.
My time: 58:10

From the Cardiff10k flickr feed - (Photo by Matthew Horwood) https://www.flickr.com/photos/136044049@N08/21251962941/in/photostream/

My Race
For me this was not so much a race as it was all about preparation, preparation for the two marathons to come. So what this meant was steady running, containing my enthusiasm and perhaps feeling about what marathon pace will be. I intended to set off at around 6 minutes per kilometre and then perhaps let my pace sneak upwards in the last couple of kilometres. On race day I planned to walk to the start and so be nice and loose before doing my training plan prescription long run after the race. In my enthusiasm (and fear of being late for the start) I pretty much ran all the way to the race adding a bit more distance. Arriving in the start village I made a rush for the port-a-loo and joined a huge queue of other nervous runners. Watching my clock I knew it was going to be tight, but as I was planning to set out slow I realised I didn't much care if I missed the start remembering that I was wearing a timing chip.

By the time I got finished in the loo the starter's horn had gone off and I joined the back of the pack to get going. The start area was buzzing with positive energy and I enjoyed the obligatory shuffle to the start line. My main goal at that point being to just go enjoy it. The weather claimed a top temp of 18 degrees Celsius but it felt much warmer as there was not a cloud in the sky. I was so chuffed with the pace that I found and that it was somewhere near what I thought might be that elusive marathon pace. Through to halfway I was having a ball.

The second half of the race I let the brakes off as soon as I hit the 5k marker I just couldn't hold back for the last 2k. That said I didn't go crazy I slowly ramped up the speed so that my watch was consistently reporting a dropping average pace. Into the last 1k I pushed along a bit and then in the height of a sense of fun 'raced' some random guy across the finish line in a 50m dash. I smiled and laughed at myself then remembered I had the long run to do, oops!

I met with my family took a drink and then set off for my long run with what I discovered were leaden legs. The heat of the day and the sprint finish of the race meant that the long run was hard, but it was the kind of day where I didn't mind too much considering it all good 26.2 mile preparation. My route for that long run was winding and rambling, and even doubled back along part of the 10k race course. The only plan I had for the route in the end was to revisit the water station and see if they had any left overs... and they did! They were tidying up and had part of a pallet of bottles left, so I helped myself and again considered it great marathon training as I would have to negotiate multiple water pickups through the race.

All in all I had a really great day, the organisation is fabulously friendly (the route green, fast and flat), and it was easy to see how they have successfully made it through to their 30th edition. Long may the race continue.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oops, the one I didn't post - "Hills? What hills? There are hills?"

Oh dear, I didn't click 'post' on this in the build up to the marathon I did on Sunday. So to get your appetite going for my race report in a day or two here you go.... it was written around the 12th of October...

So far in the build up to the second marathon of my two marathons in a month challenge (for DiabetesUK) has gone really well, but I see a potential bump in the road ahead - hills!! I didn't notice the size of the hills, there are two that are four times larger than anything I regularly run which is something of a training oversight to say the least. In fact I saw the hilly profile but didn't look at the y-axis on the graph and consider what the numbers truly meant for running, falsely assuming they were gentle rolling slopes. So with under two weeks to go until the Bristol-to-Bath run that is not a great deal I can do about it, it is a little late to start cranking out hill repeats or hilly long runs.

Happily last night I ran 25.25 km with the biggest and steepest hill I could think of in the middle, and it wasn't too bad but I clearly noticed I have no clue how to run down hill (running uphill was almost more comfortable). I can't run pan flat Berlin type marathons all the time so it is something that I have to address living in the UK and do more of in future training blocks. Quite what I do about my pacing for the Bristol-to-Bath marathon I am not entirely sure, indeed my current best guess is to go out super conservatively and save energy for the hills (all of which are deep into the second half of the race).

Thursday, October 08, 2015

How I made better use of a calorie tracker app

The run up to my marathons this autumn has had many ups and downs, and I thought I would share one of my better 'discoveries'. I have been using a calorie tracker app MyFitnessPal for a long time now (I first blogged about it in 2011 - "Calorie counting no really") - it is as far as I know one of the most popular. Every now and then I find more people I know are using it.

You might be wondering... "So what? People use it to keep their calorie intake in check?" Yes, of course this is its primary function, and one that I have made much use of in the last few years. I have set it up to loss weight slower or faster (once even to maintain weight) and I discovered that if I set it to lose relatively steeply that over the course of several weeks I got increasingly tired, with feelings of zero energy. Granted this could have been any number of things, but what I discovered lately is the most likely cause - hidden activity!

What is it that I am labelling hidden activity? Well the tracker does a great job of logging your training, your food intake, your body metrics, and your baseline activity levels. It is in the last one that I found I had issues. The baseline activity asks for your job type / daily activity levels. Upon discovering that my smartphone was tracking my steps (yup, some phones have pedometers in them that you would struggle greatly to switch off apparently - some suggested you can't turn them off!), reasoning if it was there I might as use it I linked this pedometer to the myfitnesspal app.

Bingo! I now have a day to day gauge of how active I have been and thus a better feel of my calorie 'needs' - some days I have had to pack a bit of extra food down so that I am not in crazy sized deficits. What was happening before the tracker was that when I started a training plan I would also start walking to work when I could, taking the stairs, walking the dog a bit further each day, etc. and making no allowance for it over and above the baseline option I had ticked in the app. So when I was hitting my targets I was more often than not in big deficits leading to the tiredness, grumpiness and increasing energy deficit.

The moral of this story is thus - if you track calories for restriction make 110% sure you have a good handle on just how much activity (including and on top of training) you really are doing.

Over 9 weeks before the marathon I dropped 10 lbs, and unlike in the past have not seen any of the niggles, grumps, and fatigue in the process by linking in my pedometer. Yup I dislike technology's ever increasingly pervasive intrusion into day-to-day lives, but if you are going to utilise things like lifestyle apps make sure you view them 'in the round' and use them intelligently (if only so that way they work so much better at the job you have tasked them with).

Sunday, October 04, 2015

BMW Berlin marathon 2015 - my race review - part 1 the travel log

This is part one of a couple of blog posts about my experiences at the Berlin marathon last weekend. Part 1 is something of a travel journal, part 2 will be all about how the race panned out for me...

Berlin marathon 2015 
The fine city of Berlin  - September 27th 2015 - website

My overall impressions from the day:

Course: 10/10 - flat, quick, great start area.
Marshalling: 10/10 - supremely friendly and always helpful.
Facilities: 8/10 - the race the facilities are simply really good.
Organisation: 10/10 - you couldn't fault the event organisation, or the energy they that generate around the event.
Fellow runners: 10/10 - as a World Marathon Major this has everything you would expect including the vibrant knowledgeable field of runners.
Crowd: 10/10 - vocal, enthusiastic, encouraging and all around the course.
My performance: 9/10 - so so pleased to have completed gave the struggles that impeded my preparation this year.
My time: 4:44.24

We opted for an early departure on the Friday before the race from Cardiff International airport (the oddly small trying to be big airport) on KLM to Amsterdam. We got up before dawn and arrived in the departure lounge in time for a very early breakfast, well what looked like breakfast - mostly on offer were pale imitations of pastries and strong chain store coffee. The flight itself was fine except for the an odd offering of an in-flight cheese sandwich - a step up from nuts? Sure! But breakfast?
So, so early - even the sun hadn't woken up
Amsterdam airport was alive and rammed with busy busy people rushing between gates with smartly suited aircrew sliding in between the masses. Once we got across to our boarding gate we found the flight packed with marathoners in expensive shoes, race finisher t-shirts from around the world, carrying triathlon bags, et al. Which made for a nice ambience, and added to my already growing excitement about the event long long before the expo!

It was during this second flight that I discovered I had a blown headphone (one of those expensive Apple ones!), also I discovered that the back of the plane is very very noisy, that 'chips' (nachos) are little better than sandwiches, that it is possible to develop a dad crush on stewardesses at my ripe old age, and that there is no such thing as 'knee room'! Oh, but at least the back of the plane gets food first :-)

Through out our travels we went hand luggage only rather than checking a bag, it was brilliant and made the airport experiences that bit less painful (though conversely of course initial bag packing a bit more of a challenge).

Berlin - a great kind of town
Arriving on the Friday afternoon we had time to do a classic sightseeing tour bus ride around the centre. This is not something I have ever felt the need to do in Berlin before as I used to live there, but it was a good use of time and allowed Mrs. H. the opportunity to get a much better feel of the city. She after all is the one who has to kill several hours whilst I try to get around a 42.2 km course marked out with blue lines. To say that I spent some of the tour looking out for the blue course markers was a bit of a understatement. Happily all kinds of spotting were aided by the great clear weather - an omen I hoped for race day.
Views from the tour bus montage
That night we met up with a school friend who I hadn't seen in far far too long, and went for pizza (I have always assumed pizza = pasta = carb loading??). Meeting up with my friend who was also set to run the race was fabulous, it kind of put the whole weekend into another (quite unique) framing as an event.

Saturday morning we all set off to hunt down race packs and race numbers with the promise not to spend a fortune in the many many stalls we were sure to face. On the way we rehearsed the route to the start, took selfies at the Brandenburg Tor, and had a goodly walk across to the Expo at flughafen Templehof. The expo itself was huge, though gratefully the queues were well managed, and it didn't seem to take any time at all to get sorted out with number, security band, bag and all the necessary bits and pieces.
I don't take many pics inside expo halls - but the queues were pretty good
Feeling happy and fresh (and not just a little déjà vu) in this expo essential photo
The rest of the day before was spent trying and failing (because of time) to visit the area of the city I used to live in, catching up some more with my school friend, enjoying the hotel marathon inspired pasta buffet, and staying up a little too late to watch Wales play England in the IRB Rugby World Cup (thank you Eurosport for saving us, we thought we wouldn't see it in Germany). That only left sleep to be had before race day - well I tried but my brain absolutely had other ideas...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Finished my first 2015 marathon I'm really really pleased

A longer review post will follow shortly about the goings on over the weekend in in Berlin and without giving away too much of what happened I finished in 4:44.24. It was not as fast as I'd hoped but in every other respect it was awesome :-D

It should serve now as a good platform for marathon number two of 2015 in 3 weekends time... the inaugural Bristol-to-Bath marathon. If you'd like to get behind my running madness and support a wonderful charity please visit my JustGiving page at - https://www.justgiving.com/Berlin-Bristol-Bath

With the Virgin Money London Marathon ballot results due out next week I have already decided to try and extend my fundraising challenge through to that event if I get a spot (so I'm crossing my fingers even harder this year!).

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tired but happy: signs of training progress and marathon day getting closer

Monday is a rest day in the training plan that I have doing my best to follow, so yesterday was a rest and it felt great. Not great because I had a day off, no it was great because my legs felt happy and like they could do running again the day after my double runs of the Cardiff10k / 2 hour long run (back-to-back). The proof of this apparent training progress will come tonight when I try a cheeky pacy 9 km with my running buddy.

With Berlin drawing closer and closer I really do hope this new found consistency of training pays off. Speaking of which I had my email confirmation details for picking up my race pack this morning... this sh!t is getting real... I am so looking forward to the event now. The excitement is really taking hold!!

I am running two marathons in a month for DiabetesUK - the Berlin marathon and then the Britol-to-Bath marathon - please, if you can support my double marathon madness at my JustGiving charity page.

Friday, September 04, 2015

One of 'those' runs - happy legs!

Last night I experienced one of 'those' runs, one that I always hope will happen when I press 'start' on my watch. It was a good run, a run where I thought "hmm, I can run". The truth of it is that after running 4 times on holiday the journey home and return to work stopped me running again for 5 days. The result of the lay off was a 'happy legs' run - 4 km of near 5 km PB pace followed by a comfortable 6 km at just over target marathon pace, followed by a recovery where my body didn't feel like it had just been smacked about with a cricket bat.

These guys have some very happy 'happy legs'
[image found on flickr posted by slalit]

The term "happy legs" is not my own it owes its origins with my physio Leon. I think he defines it as the phenomenon of setting out for a run after a rest and finding your legs want to go fast. In the settings when he has used the term it usually leads to an athlete over doing the session (for example, over cooking the first half of a marathon after a good taper period). I have in the past fallen into the overdoing it category but happily last night I sort of saw it coming, enjoyed it for what it was, and was sure to split the run into the running free bit and the big step down in pace bit.

As it turned out my feet were not all that happy this morning, but I hope to rest them a little bit now before the 3 hour long run on Sunday (my last big one before Berlin). I know this last long run is mostly about learning to handle the fatigue of the last 10 km of the 42.2 and I am hoping it will go well. The first 10km will be done during the Cardiff 10k race (my sort of marathon mass start practice) and the following couple of hours will be spent working out just what paces to think about for marathon day.

I am running two marathons in a month for DiabetesUK - support my marathon madness at https://www.justgiving.com/Berlin-Bristol-Bath

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Holiday running

Just got back from holiday, and I am feeling good because it all went really well and everyone had a good time. I managed to run four times in ten days, and on top of that actually managed to lose bulk rather than gaining bulk from holiday eating (and I still enjoyed all of the usual holiday 'treat' foods).

We holidayed in France, as we do fairly regularly, travelling down through the country to a different destination as we do without fail. This was the second french holiday where I have done a decent amount of running, I blogged about my first attempts back in 2013 - My French adventures with training.

For me it was a high mileage week and actually felt very good. Some of the runs were before breakfast, not through any design and more due to time pressures I 'enjoyed' running in a 'fasted' state (oh, how my body complained). The reason I was trying to maintain a good number of runs was of course because I have the Berlin marathon coming up on my radar. It is now just crept under the month to go and three weeks remain, so I couldn't set aside my runs during my holiday as I have my biggest long run coming this weekend and I would have struggled with that.
Rolling farm land and blue blue skies
Rubbish picture but shows the fierce sunshine
Melting, I'm melting... and about to collapse in a sweaty heap (!)

The scenery was fabulous and the facilities where we were staying made the 'job' of getting the runs done nice and simple (washing machine, great shower,... patio to collapse on and recover for five minutes after each effort). In fact facilities were so good I got to pick and eat fresh grapes from the vine, which tasted sublime. I ran in the mornings where I could to avoid the 34 degrees Celsius peak afternoon temperatures, and managed to find a couple of routes that didn't have over keen farm-yard dogs on duty (always a bit of a risk in rural spots I have discovered).

Mentally running on holiday was very liberating and let my mind escape the 'usual' routes of home where to be fair I probably don't appreciate the scenery quite enough. From here now I can take on the rest of my training and the challenge of two marathons in a month with a bit of fresh gusto...

Some numbers for August - 
Runs - 13 (14 - if you count the calendar month instead of full weeks of the month)
Total Distance - 166.3 km
Weekly distances - 47.4 km, 51 km, 17.3 km, 50.6 km

I am aware that these aren't stellar numbers however there has only been one month in my GPS records where I have run further in a month and that was in the build up to my first Berlin marathon. I could only hope that that is a good sign for this coming Berlin attempt.

Almost forgot the other great number from August from our 10 day holiday... 2 lb lost (!) - while on holiday, while eating great french food, while eating french patisserie for breakfast... simply a great surprise to come home and discover.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Yesterday was one of those hiccup days in the training plan when I didn't run. I was experiencing aches in my ankle - Posterior Tibialis tenderness to be exact - likely from pushing the pace and over striding on Tuesday night.

This is fine, I don't have to complete every run in the plan to be in good shape for race day.... but then I got the munchies! All I can say is I'm not proud, it was a hiccup, I probably needed the blowout on some level, and move over today is back to the training plan / food plan norm.

I hiccup therefore I am :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The selfish motivation of a charity runner

So I have opted to run for charity, and though of the face of it it looks totally altruistic it can be viewed as very much a somewhat selfish approach. 

  • Do I want the kudos of a recognition from the charity? No. 
  • Do I want all my friends and family thinking "wow, what a guy"? NO.
  • Am I selfishly seeking some other form of notoriety? NOPE.

Why am I then selfish in choosing a charity to raise as much money as I can for in the run up to my running events (two marathons in a month)? Well for me simply this... to get me around the course! It is no more complex than simply the raw motivation of knowing that people have given money to see me do this thing.

The nature / scope of my challenge is explained on my JustGiving charity page (follow the link)...

When the going gets tough (and it very definitely will) then I simply use the warmth of knowing a collection of people have given hard earned cash to a charity in the name of my madness (marathon running is likely considered a form of insanity in many circles). I want nothing more from the process than that simple support, I don't mind that I don't reach an arbitrary target, it is that a charity receives some benefit that is enough for me. Yes, this sounds very slightly conceited, and it possibly is, as like I said it is a selfish motivation but one that I don't think harms anyone.

I am running for....

" Diabetes UK is the leading charity that cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of every person affected by or at risk of diabetes.
We provide information, help and peer support, so people with diabetes can manage their condition effectively. We are one of the largest funders of diabetes research in the UK. "

This quote was taken from their website on 18-8-2015. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Last week - turned out to be a big week

That was a hard week, in fact I covered the third most kilometres in a week (51 km) since I started GPS recording my runs (the only bigger weeks include marathon events!). Four runs in all capped off with a long slow Sunday run (24.9 km) that left my limping. With 6 weeks left until Berlin I had to make sure I upped my time on my feet in line with the training plan, and at this point try to figure out my likely race day target pace through testing out higher paces at the end of the longer runs.

I now know much more about my current state and can project forwards to Berlin where I will need to curb my enthusiasm for sure. It is clear that I am not where I was before I attended Berlin last time, not really a surprise given the broken year of training, but I am happy at least having assessed and set my range over the last 10 days. From here it is about staying consistent and staying injury free. For the first time in a while I am doing lots of extra post run recovery stuff - even putting myself through the 'fun' of icing my legs (!!).

In terms of the challenge I have set myself of two marathons in a month in aid of Diabetes UK - this last week has framed the size of the task all to clearly. It will very likely be a very painful experience, but now at least I am readying myself properly for it mentally as well as physically.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where I am with my challenge...

Time has literally dashed by over the last few weeks. I have done some training then had a two week break (thanks to work and then a holiday) and then done some more training for this crazy (for me) two marathons in a 4 weeks challenge.

From previous experience I know I will complete the two courses, but it never is really about completing it is about doing it in a time I am happy with. This is where I am falling down because at the start of the year I had a grand 'faster marathon plan' and set about it with great gusto. Of course life happened, things cropped up, and the plan dissipated into nothing much really. I have the realisation now that I have rediscovered my motivation and momentum all too late for these next to events. Following a training plan is necessary for me to get this done and of course stirs my inner geek with all the numbers and outputs. This time the training plan is serving as a nagging reminder of all those sessions I've missed.

I am doing these two runs as a personal challenge obviously, but moreover as a charity event for Diabetes UK. The charity is one that seems to creep closer and closer to me as more people I know suffer with the condition. A former work colleague confessed their recent type 2 diagnosis when I bumped into them a week or so ago and it utterly rocked me. I am at least 15 years their senior, I have known them since they were an undergraduate project student, and I was just struck dumb by the news that they had such news. They are not overweight or fit into any of the easy Western diet trigger categories (that I know of), their case like every case is individual and all I could do was offer words of support and encouragement on their journey of discovering how to manage things going forwards.

So whatever speed to travel at around the course, however imperfect my training, whatever the two days through at me I will be remembering them and my reason for putting my shoes on.

Follow the link to my Diabetes UK JustGiving page...

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Note: I had my first 4 sponsors in the first 24hours of letting people know about the JustGiving page, which was just simply fabulous. It is really the charity aspect that is fuelling my running at the moment.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The training plan beckons + a mad challenge

It is t-minus one week until the training plan for the Berlin marathon starts and I start running longer and longer again. My mission is to keep focused on injury prevention and staying run healthy going into the race - times once again are on the back burner and will be what it will be. A training plan sounds like an onerous thing but actually I enjoy the structure and I am sticking with one I have followed successfully before.

This all sounds sensible and not at all 'mad'... well no, it isn't... but what is mad is signing up for a second marathon four weekends after Berlin! I think I had a reason for doing this though having just completed the simple sign-up process I am already questioning my sanity (perhaps I've truly gone running mad). All being well I am going to tie the two together as a charity challenge and fund raising vehicle for one of two charities. Plans,aside from the training plan, are still up in the air a little which is adding to the sense of madness. As proper logistical planning swings into full force I hope it won't feel quite so crazy, and I am going to try and blog a weekly update of how it all goes.

The second marathon will be a new experience in more than race timing as it is a point-to-point city to city race across urban landscapes and English countryside - the Bristol + Bath marathon. It is the organisers first year, a brand new event, and it was something of the locations involved combined with the novelty of not running around in a big circle. Pacing is something that I will have to think hard about before the race as the course starts out fairly smooth and gets lumpy in the second half as it gets in towards Bath. There will be parts of the course I will recognise and others that will be totally new to me so it will be a full on adventure of a run.
The route - borrowed from the event website
I have the feeling my wife agreed to this because of the location, there is no getting away from the fact I might just be mad... am I?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Swansea half-marathon 2015 - my race review

My impressions from the day -
Course: 10/10 it is a super simple one lap course, that looks like an out and back and is more or less just that. Very nearly pan flat but for a bump in the final mile.
Marshalling: 10/10 Very good.
Facilities: 9/10 Very good, it is in the middle of the city so there was plenty of options for supporters too. Could have done with a few more port-a-loo units.
Organisation: 8/10 - two words "car" & "parking"
Fellow runners: 10/10 good and smiley, pace squad were excellent.
Crowd: great support all over the course, a bit patchy but lovely and vocal
My performance:  7/10.
My time: 2:04:59 official chip time - my watch gave me two spare seconds. at 2:04:57.

My race day -
Got up for an early breakfast and walked the dog which set me up nicely and got me properly awake. Getting to the race was a nice straight forward drive from Cardiff to Swansea along the M4. The morning weather was looking good, a little cloud cover, with no sign of rain.

I had decided ahead of time to make the run about training, and so time was put onto the back-burner. This wasn't to say that I was ignoring time - far from it - I aimed to go out at a strong pace, aiming to get to half way (something like 10 km race pace) and coming back in whatever I could muster from there. Hoping all the while quietly that I might be able to hold the high pace beyond halfway.... and so it was a race of two halves...
Image of the start taken from WalesOnline - there is a review article about the race at on their news pages
Inside the start corral I stood near the 1hr 50m pace guys (from race pacing) with their fantastic back pack mounted Xempo flags, it was utter fantasy for me to able to follow them the whole way but they were on perfect target pace for my 'hot' 10 km. For the first 3 km it felt pretty good, my running form was okay (not that good, but okay) and the pace didn't feel searingly fast mechanically (though my lungs weren't entirely sure). So over that first phase it was already clear that I could not run that pace the whole way, which I of course knew and so hoped to control. Though to 8 km I kept my focus on trying to relax and stick to the pace guys. It turned out that around 7-9 km the switch came as my body began to let me know just how much more it could take of the 'hotter' pace.

So my fall off the back of the pacers was slow and sort of graceful (!) in so far as I didn't just stop and wheeze. I eased to the inside of the course and let my pace ease down from 5:15 per km to 5:30 per km, which was okay to get me through to the turn around point out in the area of Swansea bay called the Mumbles. Now, the Mumbles is lovely and I have been there a few times, but on race day other than the over head weather and air temperature I couldn't tell you much about the lovely picturesque area - I was utterly internalised working out my second half and how much I had taken out of myself in the first. In the Mumbles was a water station, I took a bottle, pressed the lap button on my Garmin and steadied myself for the hard work part of my marathon endurance test! (see the photo montage below)

After having a handful of sports beans with the drink walking along for about 100 metres I picked up my feet and took off again. Well I say "took off" I mean started to shuffle again intending to find full marathon pace for the trip back to the start / finish. In many ways I did mange my second half goal - (1) I finished, (2) my pace was pretty good (but not quite what I had hoped for), (3) I enjoyed the day more with my head up looking around me, and most of all I discovered that I could put myself to the running sword and have my body deliver after months of niggling injury and uncertainty.
I think my face tells a story in itself - left top is me at the start; middle top is me taking a halfway drink,  from there on it was all hard graft
The last mile was hard - really hard (!), I walked a short way at the bottom of the hill and then ran it home through the cheering crowds of the city centre. One big downside for me personally was that I had signed up with my non-injury target time, which meant I had a 'quick' coloured bib number and large numbers in the crowd had the look of "what's he doing back here?" on their faces. I would have happily swapped my race number and stood in a different start bin but I didn't look into it in time and so just had to put up with the "look at that prat running so slow in a fast number" sort of sentiments.

Inside the last 150 metres I put on a stupid burst of speed, partly because of the mounting feelings around my race bib and mostly because I spotted that I could sneak under 2:05. After colliding with someone in a previous race I had sworn not to be so daft, but the red mist dropped and I finished my run with a lung bursting attempt to sprint (in my head Usain Bolt, in reality of course a lumbering knackered bloke flailing his arms and legs about). Over the line the organisation and the funnel was great, returning me to my family and my wife's quizzical question of "why did the race tracker say you went through half way in such a fast time?". I spent some time explaining my mad plan!

Having the family there was great, with the enthusiasm of the kids and the flaming influence of my lovely wife. My kids had made little good luck signs that they waved at me in the start area. The signs made not just me smile silly smiles but the runners around me were smiling along with us. In the end I offered to carry two of them folded up in my back pocket to 'push' me along. Thankfully I remembered they were there when the going got hard and my plan seemed foolish - they did really push me up the only hill on the course inside the last mile.

On our way back to the car park we stopped for a Joe's Ice Cream which is a Swansea must-do in my wife's opinion (I have to say I am converted to her way of thinking). Munching our way through the delicious vanilla ice cream we spotted the only fly in what was otherwise pristine ointment - the chaos in the car park. We spent the next hour going nowhere as my legs began to seize and everyones blood pressures soared. Eventually a handful of community and full police officers came to everyones rescue by adding some common sense to the process of feeding cars out of the only exit from the Parc Tawe car park - certainly something for the organisers to tend to there.

My takeaway -
All in I was extremely happy with my effort, and even happier that my body took it well with no huge adverse reaction to a long and hard run. I feel I now have a good platform for a summer of training towards Berlin, so onwards and maybe upwards. I certainly hope to be back next year, perhaps to hunt the pacers all the way round.

Note - Swansea Half-marathon race day photography was looked after by Dirty Green Trainers Sports Photography though sadly I didn't have the kind of run where I would want a memento they did great work and were all over the course. So if you ran go take a look at what you might find.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

10 days to go until the Swansea half marathon

It seems to have come around seriously quickly, but the Swansea half marathon is ten days away. My preparation for the race has been fragmented and so I will be going into it with much lower expectations than the day I sat down at the computer to enter the event. I put down a time that was a good chunk off my PB as a race entry prediction, which was yes ambitious but a target I felt was wholly attainable. If asked in February if my prediction would hold I would have smiled broadly and said "yes!", things since then have been rocky to say the least (see previous posts).

In terms of training I have definitely settled into two run sessions a week and found my calf is doing okay with it. This weekend I did 18.1 km as a long run and 'test' for Swansea which went really very well, it was one third on grass, one third on gravel, and one on tarmac - so it was nice a varied too. My idea was to just run long and set some sort of benchmark for the race, and I think I now have a much better of where my fitness is. Tuesday night I followed up with another 8 km which was much harder work and reinforced my feelings about the race.

Aside from pondering fitness levels happily the organisation of the Swansea half-marathon ahead of time has been fantastic, the race pack has arrived and all looks very good. We know the course well and visit Swansea a few times a year so I am looking forward to race day all round.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trials, tribulations, and grass running

The last month since my last post has seen something of everything, though not the largest amount of running. A brief excursion back into run training at the start of the month led to another setback with my calf, so after more time off and rest, I tried again in the last two weeks. Though only managing two runs a week I have now gotten a few pain free runs under my belt. I have not been doing anything particularly 'clever' or active to get my calf into shape, I found that the more I simply rested it the better it got - doing over zealous stretching and so on just kept inflaming it. Being back at two runs a week is where I wanted to get to so from here I just need to keep keeping it simple and keeping it going.

It is now less than three weeks to the next event I've paid money to enter (the Swansea half), after having missed the Cardiff Bay 5 with the calf injury, and I will definitely be taking it in as a training run. It is only the second running of the Swansea event, and will be my first one around that course, so I will be looking to just go out and enjoy a fun new experience. The goal of this 'training run' will very much be to get round (how many say just that on the start line), and to do so without hurting the training and the runs that will follow. Time targets are the furthest thing from my mind, indeed so far out of my mind that it could be my slowest half marathon ever.

A very neat new discovery for me has been running on grass (namely the outskirts of playing fields) and enjoying the different feel. As an experience it is quite different, my legs are tired in a different way, my pace is harder to maintain, and when I switch back to tarmac path I feel much lighter / bouncier. Having tried it I looked it up in a couple of runners forums and found explanations of the mechanical, physical, pace differences between running surfaces - apparently grass can be up to 30 seconds per kilometre slower than the tarmac as the softer surface absorbs some of the ground reaction (impact energy). All physics aside I have found it seems to help me think about and work on technique, not cause calf pain, and present a nice new set of challenges / opportunities. The weirdest opportunity (and in a way a mental challenge) is running round and round a field, it gives a nice fixed distance and lap by lap feed back on progress of pace (or fatigue mostly). I am going to carry on running on grass once a week, and in fact am really tempted to move more runs onto it as I add to the two runs a week.

Monday, April 20, 2015

8.5k to begin a new training plan - injured or not

Last night I took myself out for a run, indeed my second in about 8 weeks thanks to my calf injury. On a very nice day for running (sunny, light breeze, and a cool / comfortable temperature) I set off at a warm-up pace intending to then hit a comfortable controlled 5k effort pace. It was a simple plan and I simply didn't get out of warm-up pace the entire way round, come the cool down I was already cool enough (!). The reason 'plan A' sank was that my legs were not capable of carrying me much faster without the feeling that my calf would 'go' again, there was no sense of strength and why would there be after the best part of 2 months 'off'. In the end I took all the positives I could out of it, after all I ran the whole thing avoiding tarmac (where possible) and ran an entirely new frankly fun route around the park / river.

Over two months of niggling and often painful calf trouble I have turbo trained here and there and tried to do things - frankly though I failed (!!) - I didn't stay fit, I didn't cross train enough, and I really didn't eat well. There was nothing much more I could realistically expect from a first effort back in training. My hit out at last weeks parkrun was good for my soul but set my calf back again, so was silly to have done at the intensity I did.

Now I am looking forward to being back in a plan, whilst probably running only once or twice a week and cross-training all the other sessions in the schedule I hope that the structure will do me a power of good. It is the plan I followed at the start of this year that is good and progressive (and familiar). This time around by applying some common sense (!!) and by not running every and all sessions I hope to get to my next target at the Swansea half-marathon. That target is now essentially to get onto to the start line and get round, all thoughts of progressing my pace questing a faster marathon in the autumn have been forgotten for the moment.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

April - the only way is up

March was a wash out, I lost the entire month to injury niggles and frustration. March's woes were compounded by the knowledge that January and February had gone so well, the contrast could not have been starker. Now April and spring has arrived I am looking forward to more forward momentum and hopefully no more set backs.

There were obviously highlights in March, mostly non-running / non-sporting / non-exercising related, involving a family holiday and way too much eating (!!). One of the highlights that did relate to sporting endeavour was signing up for the...

Cardiff half-marathon 2016  the mass participation event as part of the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff March 26th 2016 -  Event website

...so I have another goal to look forward to next year that should help to limit just how much focus I put on the marathon this autumn.

I hope to get back to running this week nursing my calf, and perhaps back into a training plan next week if all goes really well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A massive dose of the 'shoulds'

There is a lot written about psychology, everything from the real science through to pulpy magazine soft soap, but over the last couple of weeks I have been indulging in one of those things they all agree is bad... the 'shoulds' or a little more specifically the 'should'ves'. For example:

  • I should still cross train.
  • I should've avoided the injury in the first place.
  • I should eat right.
  • I should've read all those run coaching books.
  • I should do proper training.
  • I should've seen it coming.
  • I should've listened to my body not try to stick to every letter of the plan.

None of these things are especially helpful, most are down right unhelpful, and all of them hurt my mental state. Given that these are only a sample, there are some I'd rather not commit to the blog, you can see that I was in a real funk. It was pretty nasty and meant that I was feeling drained even without doing any activity, it even stopped me icing my leg as much as I was advised because I was busy cycling the should list round my head.

All the 'should' stuff is something that most therapy practitioners would have a field day with, and eventually (though not a councillor) I spotted the pattern for myself. Now I have the fun part (!), stripping away all the paralysing shoulds and should'ves and getting moving again. Recognising the problem is more than half the cure, and I know that the moment I get to go for a run again they will almost all disappear.

Injuries seem to have plagued any attempt I have made at consistent training over the last couple of years, and this last one has carried the biggest psychological impact as I put a lot of pressure on my self to improve this year. Aside from avoiding injuries my biggest battle this year will be not to pysch myself out. I want do run the best marathon I can this year, and perhaps the only 'should' worth retaining is this one - "I should just enjoy it". In the meantime I'm back on the turbo trainer, looking to strengthen up generally, and have signed up for a running coaching course in a few weeks time to really get myself going again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Deeply humbled

The last couple of weeks have seen my training nose dive through the combination of a calf tear and then a huge stinking head cold, to the extent that I feel like have gone backwards fitness wise too. Initial effects of the calf tear were easing with the aid of rest and a visit to see Leon the uber physiotherapist, but then this Sunday I went and re-angered it. Happily in all this gloom I was deeply humbled, admittedly to be fair I am humbled most days by the activities of people around me. I ran with my four year old son on Sunday when I pinged my calf again. His face during the junior parkrun was a picture of delight, joy and fun as we negotiated the course to his 2km best time.

The ping happened in the first 400m as I jogged alongside the happy chappie, I didn't stop, I didn't want to stop, I wanted to stay in the moment, I wanted to not spoil his run and his fun. It was not a bad twinge / re-tear in so far as a change of running form alleviated most of the pain, and it simply grumbled a few more times as we continued. I was utterly in the moment and feeling so humble in the face of the pure delight he was exuding that there was no way I was missing it. In the end his pace towards the finish time was quite breathtaking, especially as he is only just old enough to take part and one of the youngest lads there.
The lil' dude's awesome sprint for the line, and his huge PB

Since then I have had to go back to icing and nursing my leg and trying to look for low impact training / rehab plans, but when I am feeling grumpy I try and remember that moment to put a smile back on my face. Suffice to say though I won't be parkrunning for a while - if only for the fact I fear I'll have to be fully fit to keep up with him in coming weeks :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Three things Thursday

1) I have a cold*

2) I have a cold*

3) I have a cold*

I am possibly one of the worlds worst cold sufferers, and I am desperate to do some exercise but I really cautious about driving the thing into my lungs. So, for now I am just wallowing in the self pity and occasionally entertaining thoughts of strange hot lemon drinks as a potential 'cure'.

Image from http://pixabay.com/en/users/steinchen-21981/

* this post has been nominated** for the dullest "Three things Thursday" in internet history. Vote via any channel you like, but know that it'll make no difference except to cheer me up perhaps ;-)

** this post also nominated for biggest stuff of nonsense of 2015***

*** no, sorry I am just rambling, neither of the above is true... medication? Medication!... can I have a lie down?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Block 2 - not off to a great start

My plan for the Berlin marathon involved three blocks: one for the Bath half, one the Swansea half, and the final for the marathon itself. Block one was boom and ultimately bust, with a great training block spoilt by picking up a niggle and not running the Bath half. So, into the second block with many lessons learnt already and off to the physio to get the niggle sorted... or so I thought.

Being a couple of weeks after my stupid back to back hard session in two days nonsense and I thought I'd probably mended and 'just' needed to do the right rehab. Nope, I still have a hotspot in my calf (i.e. a small calf tear) and need to be icing it still and generally treating it cautiously. So I will be turbo trainer, cross-trainer, and swimming for the meanwhile.

The lack of running for the moment might ultimately prove a good thing, because this second block in the longest and pacing my way into it will be helped by having to cross train so much for the first few weeks. A nursing a torn calf though was not the way I wanted to start block 2 I really wanted to get out of the first block ready to do great things in the second. Still, the first rule of planning is be flexible, so I have learned.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Sort of Race Review - Bath Half marathon 2015

My first review of a race I couldn't run...

My impressions from the day -
Course: it is a straight-forward two lap course, I am sure well set out as always.
Marshalling: Pass
Facilities: Pass
Organisation: 10/10 - the entry system, the provision of race packs (must send my timing chip back), the information supplied was all first rate. It is a super organised, supremely experienced event team, which makes me all the more sad I wasn't able to run.
Fellow runners: Pass, but the banter on twitter was pretty good #balfhalf
Crowd: Pass - it is a friendly city so it would no doubt have been awesome.
My performance: DNS - did not start, due to picking up a stupid injury 10 days before the race.
My time: see above - although in my head it would have been stellar ;-)

My race day -
I spent race day relaxing with my lovely wife, we took the greyhound on a good long stroll and tackled a bit of low level DIY before heading to the in-laws for a St.Davids day lunch. It was the kind of Sunday that we haven't had for a little while, so it was really very recharging and quite energising in that it was so restful.

Happily, the whole day I didn't suffer too much with the sense of "gah, I should be running!". The occasional twinge in my calf did offer timely reminders as to why I wasn't and shouldn't run the race.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The hardest running decision: aka a Spot of bother

I have had to make the hard choice, the not to run choice, the choice that leaves you utterly empty at the completion of a block of training. I will not run the Bath Half marathon on Sunday, because I went and picked up an injury. Worst of it all is that it is my own fault, I should have seen it coming, and I should have listened to sound advice.

Good advice is often right in front of your face, so it was a little while back when I read some very good blogs and when I was following my training plan carefully / mindfully. So how I managed to read and then ignore some very sound guidance is a little beyond me (apart from perhaps having too male a brain sometimes).

My not quite running man just about sums it all up

I even read number 2 on MissZippy's advice list in her blog post "Running plans were made to be flexible" which says and I quote - 'avoid placing two hard runs back to back'... so what did I do? Two hard runs back to back that absolutely trashed my legs and left my left calf muscle torn (not terribly but torn). A week later and I had to walk / hobble to the shops leaving me in little doubt that I had blown the half marathon throwing away money, planning and effort in two days of madness.

What's next? I try and get fixed up into good enough shape to run again and get into the second planned block of the year heading into the Swansea half marathon.... only this time I hope a WHOLE lot wiser!

Hope your running is going well, and that you don't try two hard runs back to back - please don't!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Variable rates of travel

The single biggest revelation of the New Year has been the 'discovery' of pace variation in my runs, which "yes" I should have thought about and mastered long ago. In following a new training plan I took the time to read the 'blurb' about each session type, something I thought I had done many times in the past but this set of instructions seemed to embed. So each session has a warm-up and cool down where I realised I had to run slowly in fact very slowly to cool down properly for instance, not something I've ever done before in run sessions (spotting a theme here yet?).

Lately I have found a speed range across almost 3 minutes per kilometre (something around 4.5-5 minutes per mile), and while the quicker pacing has been 'easier' to find I found the slow running very difficult at first. The focus on technique that comes with the pacing range has been so helpful to my running form. I only hope I can shake a niggle of a calf injury I have picked up in the last week, get round the Bath half on Sunday, and then get back into this awesome varied training.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Wow, that was quite the January

I am looking back now more than a little amazed as to just how well January went from a running and training point of view. Setting myself several targets for 2015 felt like the right way to progress, but I had this lingering doubt that I might be over-reaching. The targets come in three blocks, block one (lasting 8 weeks) into the Bath Half marathon, block two (the next 15 weeks) into the Swansea half marathon and the final block of 12 weeks into the Berlin marathon. All three predicated on progression towards a marathon PB, with the first block in some ways the most critical in determining how far I dare to let my ambitions go.

All month I was waiting for something to go wrong for something to twinge and fall apart, but no through using warm-ups and cool downs properly and employing my friend the golf ball I managed very well. My body is not entirely happy with the switch from life without a training plan to life with one but we are agreeing in the most part that everything is okay.

Interestingly going to the local pool for a swim session once a week really has made a difference to my training week perspective. It isn't that I have opted to bob about lazily in the pool I have been working hard and got up to 2.5km in my most recent visit. The big difference it makes is mental, I have to completely change my headspace to get a good session together in the water. Embarassingly I can't freestyle so I have been monstering quick breaststroke lengths instead, but all the while working out how I could try to improve my freestyle. This alternative challenge has neatly stopped me thinking 24/7 about running paces, sessions, technique, and all that.

In the end January was my 4th highest (recorded) month for distance in 4 years of keeping GPS records with just over 116km (72miles). I even went out on the last day of the month to ensure I pushed the total to a personal fourth best total, which I know is tiny compared to the distances 'serious' runners notch up (!).

Heading into February I am looking to simply keep this wagon rolling and glitch free. Bath comes at the end of the month and my main goal go under my Cardiff half marathon time from last year and get as close to my PB as possible without damaging myself for the next training block.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Step change

2015 - "Hello". I have been meaning to blog all year and somehow time at the keyboard has not quite been enough. There are a few things to say, a few things to comment on, and new plans afoot.

The New Year has seen me into a new training plan, an 8 week progressive little ditty that I discovered during a somewhat speculative (read 'random') google search. Somehow I've ended up following the "Shape" - 'Train for a Half-Marathon in 8 Weeks' - plan....
...and frankly I have no notion of who or what "Shape" are or do normally, but weird the search engine bots found it and it didn't look half bad.

Now if you follow the link to the plan you'll see that it is an intermediate plan, hmmm, am I a beginner or an intermediate? No clue honestly, it looked like a training load I could handle, it looked incremental, and it was 8 weeks long (all the time until my first event of the year, the Bath Half). Done deal! Two weeks in and I'm doing okay.
For a change my plan seems to have me moving in the right direction
To be fair the last two years have seen me jump on the odd fitness bandwagon, against my usual judgement but the running plan looked to be a good one... what wasn't was the resurrection of the plankaday twitter meme challenge thing. Within two weeks I found I had angered the plantar fasiciitis that has obviously been sneakily hiding and waiting to pop out. It is all about the way I plank, I tend to move my feet about as the hold gets harder, and low and behold the day after my longest plank of the year my right foot was in agony. So that New Year challenge has been binned, which is not to say I won't plank - just not everyday... or to the point I get all wobbly!
The treatment method of choice for my plantar fasciitis - plenty of rolling under my foot after each run
Changes have even led me to the door of Strava, the GPS tracking app / website that acts as a diary, microblog, and motivational tool. Several friends were on there and so in the end peer pressure (I joke guys) made me sign up. Seriously a friend is on there that I hope to be running the Berlin marathon with and so it offered a simple way of tracking each other along with the opportunity to prod each other if need be I suspect. He is tackling London and Berlin marathons in the same year, is blogging over on Runaround!, and is raising money for Save the Children in London.
Runaround! - Don't be put off by the Google+ profile image, haha
Steps? Oh, yeah 2015 has seen my taste in daft post titles unabashed, sorry. I have been on the move for 20 good days and I have noticed the stairs in work are that little bit easier. In fact as little training as I actually really have under my belt, as little weight as I have lost, I am feeling that bit more lithe and nibble. Its not huge, but I've noticed it and it feels great. Roll on a couple of months time when I'll skip up them like a youthful mountain goat chasing the last patch of fresh moss.