Down One Place at Number 2 (The Running Charts)

A Non-mover at #10 its the 5K a distance for anyone quick or slow.

Number 9 isn’t going anywhere its 10 Miles for when you want to let of steam but don’t have another 3 miles in the legs

Straight in at 8 its the 7 to 8 Miles – long enough to be tempo and not burn out, or useful if you want to extend that 10K if you have the energy or used as a long slow run with sections of speed.

Number 7 moves down five place partly because I’ve not done it for a while it’s the Marathon. A great distance and the training is the best bit.

Meaning number 6 has also slipped its the Half -or 13.1 miles, long enough to feel like you’ve ran and a distance you can keep the speed up.

So number five is Fartlek yet again not done this for a long time since I like to do it on a treadmill along with…

Non mover at number four Hill Sessions. Find a hill and run up and down, also great as you can mix up your routes with hills

Still clinging on at Number three where its been for 6 months is the 10K a distance that I can do at anytime at any speed – also my first major run.

Meaning number 2 has dropped from the top spot its Listening to Music. It somehow puts your mind of the task in question, but listen to the wrong tune and it throws your run out.

So back at number 1 is Just Running Yeah with no music or no set goal just a run and see where it takes you, add some hills if you wish, cut it short or extend it – but with no music allow your body to guide you.

Yes people last week I spoke about running with music again, this week I am still running with tunes, but todays run was so up and down with pace, what should have been enjoyable turned into a chore until I ripped out the headphones and just enjoyed the run for what it was.

The jury is still out on running with music as I feel that without it today the I’d have thrown in the towel after three miles. I am sure I will keep you informed.

Returning to my Roots.

This blog and let’s be honest has grown and travelled in several directions, a little like my running and that is where this blog was born. For some reason I felt that the internet needed another blog written by some one who wasn’t very good at writing telling the world about his exploits in the hope to one day cross a finish line in a 10K race allowing people a key hole look into the highs and lows of my 10K training and my discovery of running.

Well, to save you the hassle and bother of trawling through the archives I can confirm now that I did cross the finish line and my addiction to running was born. I carried on telling tales of my training, my injuries and of my running adventures and soon the blog snowballed into tales of work, dreams, walking and anything I felt there was to moan about.

Today I return to write about my running experiences. Its been almost a year since my last event and that happened to be in New Zealand. I have yet to get back into a full training session as work (What little there is) and my cycling has got in the way. Plus I have not felt I can enter… But now I am determined to train for a half and to get out there and start running regularly, however for some reason I have started to listen to music on my runs again and I feel this has been what was missing.

I always use to listen to music on runs, it would help me set my pace and some of my Personal Records have been thanks to my playlist, slow medium tempo songs to start me off which slowly build to faster dance or faster tempos – and using the same playlist for each race I would often race myself – I have to get to Stereophonic’s by mile 2 or I must have crossed the line before James comes on.

Now like most people I stopped listening to music because of the races I ran, many were on country roads or smaller events that were run on open roads as it wasn’t worth the cost or hassle to close roads so for safety headphones were banned. One of those very races was the Snowdon Marathon and so I started to train with no music to get use to it and you know what? I found I liked it. Didn’t at first, but I grew to enjoy it, being able to hear your surrounding and your body I found my running improved. I found I enjoyed running a lot more. I enjoyed races a lot more. I enjoyed not having that distraction of music and trying to fumble to skip a track or turn the volume up and off course hitting the accelerator because the beats were at 5 minute pacing.

But for some reason I decided the other night to slip on some headphones and listen to music on my 5K and while it was no quick run (one of my slowest as it was 25 minutes) it felt quick, the music distracted my mind from saying “you’re tired” “This hill is too steep” “Turn left it’ll take us home quicker” instead my head was telling me to turn right as they liked this one . So I tried it again today with a 10K and the same result. The music lifted me it carried me along.

While it was not super fast as I was still listening to my body in terms of pace, the music helped me to keep going and to zone off and be in the moment. Not sure how long it will last as when I ran with no music I felt in the moment but just recently running the same routes with the same scenery and not being able to push myself with times or distance as left me feeling deflated and adding music as some what for now   added a new sparkle into my running.

I’m still not 100% sold if I am a runner with or without music… But these last two runs have been very enjoyable with some musical accompaniment.

Going the Distance

So where has this come from…

Well the other week my mate and I embarked on a 100 mile ride, one of only two for me and for both of us the first for a considerable time out of the saddle. Around the 70-80 mile mark as our legs were on fire and our hearts were about to give up on the final hill a little thought popped into my head.

“If our fitness levels were that of Olympic or professional athletes then what discipline do you think you would do?”

What I meant by this is that if our fitness and ability were the top notch and were good enough to be representing Great Britain, as in it takes me and my mate 6 hours to do 100 miles, or riding on the flat at an average speed of 21 mph then in this scenario those times and speeds would be considered the doings of athletes, not just your average 30 somethings dressing in lycra putting the worlds to rights on a Sunday jolly. So basically if our times and speeds were the benchmark then what areas would we compete in. My mate is all about speed and trying like so many to get the KOM (King of the Mountain) on Strava for his segments on the ride home, for me its about distance. I love a quick 5K, but I prefer a nice long hours run.

Now by no means are my mate and I ever going to be considered professional athletes, I have dreamt of beating Mo Faharh in a race, but in this world I have created then the World Record for the 10,000 would be 39:56 something very close to my own PB. But in this world our times and ability are that of elites and we’re about to be called up to represent Team GB.

So what did we decided? Well for me its all about the distance, at 80 miles even tho I wanted to throw in the towel and just phone a taxi my body still had enough petrol in the tank to get me home, all I had to do was switch of my brain… Your body can do fantastic achievements and can survive and power through, your brain however wants to protect you and prevent damage or injury so starts to lecture you until you stop. through my three marathons and training for them, even my 10K’s where I went out way to fast in 25 degree heat I have learnt to push through and complete my goal.

So for me it would be endurance, long distance. I’m quick, but I’m talking quick for like 300-400 meters on the bike, and even with my running I prefer the longer routes, the longer races. I love the Half Marathon, its long enough to feel I have done something but yet I can run it quick enough to push myself. I love my long runs, 8, 10, 12 miles just running where my feet take me.

So if we did live in my world where slightly beer gutted men who ate pizza before and after a race were representing us in the Brazilian Olympics, then I’d be lining up for the Marathon start line hoping to take the WR of 3:22:34 while my mate will be in the team time trail on the bike.

Getting Back

Well, being back in England is jolly nice, no job or home and a strong desire to get back to New Zealand. Even all those friends that ignored me for a year and then suddenly emailed to say we should meet up as they’d love to hear about my adventures have once again disappeared off the radar. 

Now I don’t want to sound like a moaning miserable bitter old man but there are just somethings that a trip abroad will not change. So what is this all about? Well, in truth I don’t really know. Its… I suppose a little metaphor of my life at the moment. Being in New Zealand allowed me to think and examine my life and where I want to go. We all know, if you’ve been following the blog that I want out of theatre that much is clear, what is a little hazy is what I want to replace it with. 

Today I applied for an outdoor shop job, and a trainee Air Traffic control, both fit in to what I wish to do. One work outdoors and be an activity leader and the other have a well paid job with future prospects. 

The other side of me is trying to work back up to running a marathon, except my legs and hips seem to have differing thoughts on this as every run is growing harder along with what seems like a little injury in my hips. Maybe a tight hip flexor or something else. But what ever it is, running more than 5 miles is proving to be a pain. 

Either way I am not really committing to anything, running, job hunting or re-contacting my old connections in theatre. I’m also not really making a concerted effort to contact old friends I did without them for a year so a little longer isn’t going to hurt. I would like to point out here that I am contacting some, ones who remained connected and didn’t have a spell of radio silence while I was away. Yes I know how to hold a grudge. But if one more says they’d love to hear my adventures I might just say ‘You could have skyped or IM’d or Facebooked and got it in real time’ Like its not like I was in the Borneo rainforest with no modern methods of communication. But I can count the amount of people on my right hand who emailed, or FB a couple of times. 

So yes, back to civilian street, no more walking down to the beach with a mountain as a backdrop and clear blue skys watching ships and relaxing in the coolest littlest capital in the world. Oh no,  its getting back to my old life which for reasons known to me I’m trying to avoid. After all why go away for a life changing experience only to return and resume with your old life. 

So getting back to it, is something I think I will carry on avoiding. 

If You Take a Walk Through Mt Vic Tunnel.

“Show us your tits love”
Cried an oversized bricky perched aloft his scaffold tower.
“Look at the arse on that” Echoed another cry from the crowded platform, each builder bending their neck to spy at the view. One nudged Paul “if she was a car I’d love to drive here hard and fast”.
“Aye and it’s got the air bags for you to crash” Gary snickered.
“Come on love… You’re not shy are ya?”

Sandra continued walking, ignoring all cries that came from the now drooling pack and no sooner had she turned the corner than the wolf whistles had died down and she returned to a slower more relaxed pace. ‘I need a new route to work’ she mumbled beneath her breath as she sighed and turned into Dickson Street.

For many a walker, cyclist and even a runner taking the path through Mt Victoria Tunnel in Wellington face a similar experience, maybe a little amusing and enjoyable on the couple of occasions that you may experience it, but come the 5th, 6th and definitely the 20th the joke has grown old. Like Sandra it’s not a nice experience. For walkers it must be worse, as a runner I speed my pace up to get the hell out of there, but yet I’m not sure if all the attention is aimed at us mere pedestrians or if it’s some other kind of game.

We’ll take a pause here, as comparing the mere objectifying of woman to a simple annoyance through a tunnel is by no means the same… But I’m sure is equally annoying as it is not needed, but like the builders, the drivers feel it is justified.

I’m talking about the honking of car horns. A barrage of ‘beep beep’ and it only takes one to begin the chorus. It has roots and reminds one of the running of the ‘ Great North’ with ‘Ogie ogie ogie’ ‘Oi Oi Oi’ as the cars and their owners try to create a tune.

Runners get it all the time, as you run along, Gary in his mates Ford Fiesta learns out of the window to shout instructions, just incase you had managed to get this far somehow running in an incorrect fashion but thanks to Gary you now know to lift those knees up. And like Sandra your mind straight away sends a curse to these people. Why do they feel the need to shout at you or in the case of the cars, beep their horns.

No one yet can explain this phenomenon from Wellington, no one seems to know when, how or why it started, but like the woman walking past a building site being objectified with wolf whistles, you can gaunatee that if you were to cut through the tunnel on state highway 1 then a cacophony of car horns will be accompanying you on your journey and while I’m informed it’s not aimed at those using the raised walkway, one but can’t help that maybe just maybe it is in some way and if not then why not…

Still got it… But we won’t discuss the next day.

Well after two months of being in a camper I needed to stretch my legs. Regular visitors will know that I love to run and after the marathon and Manchester 10k I gave my legs a little rest and its been that way since I touched NZ soil. As those who are new to the blog and following it from the NZ entries, then the soul purpose of the blog started to document my training for the Manchester 10k some years back. But like my running, the blog as grown to express other areas of my life. However today I returned to running in both the blog and life.

Sure I did one or two 5ks on a beach or a quick run around Auckland when I first arrived but nothing to tell my legs or body to keep their form. Well roll on to Wellington and the sight of lycra clad cyclists makes me want to get back on the bike, but the streams of runners that traffic up and down the shoreline inspired me to delve deep into my rucksack and pull out the trainers and get back on a different saddle all together.

Garmin on, heart rate monitor set and I’m off. Running head on into the wind (which is strong) and following the crowd of other like minded folk who enjoy a good workout. The path was flat and being that I had been out of the game I was in good condition, well better than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d only being able to run 5k, but 7 miles later I was saving my activity on the gamin and going in for a well deserved shower.

Now it’s no lie that I did find the 10k distance a little straining, but nothing I couldn’t cope with. What was a real surprise was that I’d kept my speed. The pace was what I’d built up to in my training runs, and the only considerable factor that had changed from having a break was my heart rate. I had managed to get it down to around 152 b.p.m at the 7:30 pace but this run saw it sky rocket to 187.

So while my body has not lost pace or speed (yes they are different) my form is still good, but the three months out if the game as seen my fitness drop if you judge it by HR and the fact that I was ready to stop. Normally I also want to do another 3 or 4 miles. The other substantial factor I noticed that I was not use to running occurred the following day. My quads were acting like I’d just ran for my life, my calves were harder than the earth core and my hamstrings were, well they were behaving like they’ve always done… Stubborn and short.

However role on a day of rest and another run, this time up Mt Victoria, a cruel 3km of steep constant climbing. And only stopping at the top for the views, it seemed that I had not lost my live of hill running. My pace was also sitting at around 8:30 which was darn good.

It’s good to be out running again, and hopefully I’ll be able to burn some of this campervan fat off as snacking on crisps and chocolate in a confined place does nothing to an already shabby figure. The trouble is after today’s hill session I can already hear my tired sore legs complaining, that could see more than just a day of rest. But hopefully I’ll be back out there finding new running routes to fill my garmins memory up and hopefully when I get a job I’ll complete the dream of joining the lycra clad gang and fulling my desire to be back on another type of saddle.

Oh well, time for another stretch and then a shower.

Marathon (Take 3)

I have now ran three marathons. The second until last week was the best. Running within the shadow of Snowdon through the heartland of the National Park, I was just out to complete the course and with it managed to get a new PB.

But lets face it. That was not hard. Any of my mates with a little training could have beaten my time from my first Marathon. Lets set the scene.

I had worked and trained hard to compete in the Manchester Marathon and as most first timers I wanted to get that all magical four hours. Lets face it, runners and numbers are worse than mathematicians, whats the point of doing a 10K if its not below an hour, a half if it’s more than 1:50 and a marathon if its four hours plus. As we all know from this time last year the Manchester Marathon went horribly wrong for me. Coming in at 4:20 something, (that bad I can’t even remember, and I normally know my PB’s and times to the second)

The Biblical conditions we had on that day were not good for a run, the course and the organisation was not fantastic. The crowd support was the only element that kept you strong as you battled your demons to make it across the line.

Roll on a year, with two marathons, several more 10Ks and halfs under my belt and a lot more experience on how to take on this beast that sits so high on every runners tick sheet. To be honest I thought it was going to be  rubbish. My whole no booze and sensible eating had gone out of the window mid February and I had lost the fun of running and really couldn’t be bothered to run more than 40 minutes at a time. I did however manage to squeeze three long runs in and like Snowdon I kept telling myself ‘You have a marathon in the legs you know how to do this”

With this I had three times in my head. I had read some where that it is always good to have three times, as you  will always have something to cling to or chase if the first one slips away. The times were a rather ambitious 3:30, 3:45 and off course the time I have been running after ever since I laced up my running shoes when I first embarked on the 26 miles 385 yard jaunt. The golden four hours.

The week leading up to race day had been good, I was carb loading and stuffing my face with seeds and nuts, drinking plenty of water. I had a sport massage, did a gentle 3K and some walking, but the rest of the week I was seen to be sleeping and sitting on my arse. Race day itself arrived and as I rose to find the conditions perfect for marathon running the odd black cloud did send a shiver down the spine, but apart from a few spots of rain just before the starters gun, this was going to be a dry race.

I arrived at the athlete village and even after attending several of these races I still find it comical watching people prepare. Some do running laps, others stretch, some just listen to music. I too had my own routine which I set about to while waiting for the latest possible time to remove my hoody and deposit my bag.

Before I knew it, I was on my way to the start line which was a short walk from the race village and as I followed the crowd I began to hunt for my race pen. As we were all gathering the chatting started with your nearest competitor. Subjects ranging from where they had come from, to how many marathons they had in the legs and then as if by magic the nervous banter faded to complete silence. 26 seconds of complete silence followed by an outburst of clapping in respect of the Boston Marathon.

Shortly after we were away and once again the river of colour on the Manchester streets filled my heart with joy. I was doing this, I was taking part in a special run. I always love seeing the stream of people and here at the start and later on, you often doubled back on the course so you could see those ahead or behind you.

The race itself was being ran fast. Not too fast that I felt it was uncontrollable. I kept going from 8.15 to 8.30 pace. Think I was averaging around 8.20 a mile and soon I would be hitting the 10K mark in 52 minutes. Well inside what I needed and also on course for the 3:45. I had the pace maker in my sights at all time, and was slowly gaining ground on him, and then at around mile 7 he dashed off into the tree’s. I now had to use my watch and pay special attention to the pace.

Before I knew it I was in Sale, then Brooklands, and on our way to Altrincham where I would see my Ma and Pa. this was also half way and I was still feeling strong. I went though at 1:51:22, still on target. Everything had gone right so far. My gel popping was working, my fluid in take was good. The crowds were just adding to the buzz and enjoyment. But then it was about to go wrong. Mile 18 through to 22/23 was coming up and once again this was to take us from the urban sprawl to the outskirts of the open countryside where support was none and many a runner will be running full throttle into the wall.

I knew what the wall was, I had felt it several times before and I could feel it now. I began to map out the course, working out how long it was till I got back into civilisation and as I counted to 100 over and over, my pace went as low as 10:00 a mile, I fought to keep it at 9, or 9:30 knowing that I had banked some extra time earlier on in the race and before I knew it I could hear the crowds. The shouts of not long…. less than 5k to go. I watched checked and saw I was back on 8:15 miles, and remembered back to the 20 mile mark that saw me go through in 2:51. Some quick maths about my 10K time and I knew I was on course for a sub 3:45. I was going to break the golden 4 hours, I was going after my second time. I speeded up, the wall had now been climbed, the warm up was over now it was time to race.

I took on water at every aid station, I popped my last gel, I took jelly babies, I laughed with the crowd, they shouted and cheered and I was running I was in my element. The night before I had tweeted that I was not confident in Marathons, it was my least favourite distance, but now I was loving it.

But then something hit the back of my leg. I looked to see that it was a water bottle and that the guy behind me at mile 24 screamed ‘Cramp. Fucking bloody cramp’ I thought, should I help…. Others would… But wait, I’m on to a new PB, if I stop I might not get going… this is why we have marshals, the crowd could help him…. I chose to go on when an other runner ran alongside and said ‘You okay’ “No I have bloody cramp, bloody shitty fucking cramp” I left him to moan about it. I felt his pain, as with two miles to go to get cramp is a disaster, but he never stopped to stretch.

I turned into Chester Road, and it was home time, the crowds were getting bigger. Then suddenly the 3:45 pacer over took me. What? No! I was going to lose the sub 3:45 in the last mile. I sped up, and clung to him. Thinking I was always 100 meters behind him at the start, so I just need to keep that distance and I’ll be fine.

I saw Tesco’s, I saw Old Trafford, I saw the finishing Tunnel and I ran, I ran like Mo on the home straight of the 10,000. passing the pacer ‘Excuse me… Coming through…. Excuse me…. On your Left….’ I ran like I was late for work, fixing on the clock. 3:43:22. It was going to be a sub 3:45. I crossed the line, I stopped my watch, I looked at electronic numbers beaming back at me, I stumbled and turned to look at the clock… I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I had done it. I had got my Sub 4, I had got my sub 3:45.

A year on from my first marathon which couldn’t have been more of a disaster, to now… I walked to the medal station, thinking if I hadn’t slowed I could have got a 3:40, If I had picked the pace up I could have got a 3:30.

But hey, that’s why there are other marathon.