Sorry Sir

No this is not about school or being told off. No, hang on it is about being told off. I have for over a year been seeing a physio and very good he is too. The exercises he’s given me I try to do but my job often gets in the way and being a runner then running over physio will come first.

If I do have a spare 30 minutes then running 4 miles is more important to me than spending time working on my core or doing the strengthening exercises he has shown me.  The trouble is over the past month I have been really busy. Not like the usual busy of not being bothered to get out of bed or leave the house but really non stop working busy. So busy in fact that I have had very little time for running and the time I have had I did not feel up to it.

The issue is that come Friday I have another appointment and I am as stiff as a plank of wood. He already complains about the long distances I do as apparently it is bad for you. Well if loosing over 3 stone in weight and feeling good and beating PB’s upon PB’s and having a good night sleep is bad for you then I have been reading the wrong information.

The trouble is my time is so short at the moment that I have not been doing any real cool downs and I am now paying the price. My legs, while they don’t ache are tight and I can feel this as I run and today I even tried to stretch some important bits but failed as I realised I would be spending a good fifteen minutes on each calve muscle just to levitate some of the tightness, I would have to spend a lot longer to really give it a good stretch.

So the end result is Dom is going to shake his head and tell me that this is what long distance running does. What really annoys me is that I started the year and have improved in my flexibility so much I have almost been able to touch my toes but judging my hamstring stretch today all that work has been run out of my legs so to speak.

So with the thought of Friday looming and the facing Dom and one of his lectures about why running is bad for you… I need to spend an evening with my stick and foam roller to iron out all those knots. I don’t know why I bother as I am only going to go to the gym tomorrow for some hill and speed work on the treadmill which will end up undoing all my good work.

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Thought it was Suppose to Get Easier

This running lark and lifting weights and doing 40 minutes on the old spinner before jumping across to the static rower is hard work. Some one once said and in fact everyone says if you keep at it you will find it easier except I don’t.

Well I do. 3 years ago, running for more than two minutes was something off a dream not that I would choose to dream about running. Lasting 40 minutes on the spinner or being able to row 2000 meters in eight minutes seemed to be out of my reach. Roll on the old clock and I’m doing Marathons. I’m doing 60 minutes of hill and speed work in the gym while I have other men falling over themselves trying to complete the pre programmed 5K in less than 30 minutes. As they wheeze for the breath of life in contrast my composure is that of some one walking in the park.

So this is evidence that it does get easier. Well yes, but also no. It’s a big no. I know that I have lost several pounds while I have been running and that affects the calories you burn which means it becomes harder to carry on losing the weight. When I ran 5K as I was starting out on the running journey my body was burning 500 calories, now a 5K may see as little as 300 being burnt. As for my heart rate that is a whole different kettle of  fish. Looking back at my Garmin I can see my first 10K had my heart rate at around 175 BPM that I ran in 55 minutes. Roll on the years and a brisk 45 minute 10K will see my heart max out at around 160 BPM.

This may be good. I have trained my heart to a level where it can do it’s job while being economic, but at the same time it means if I really want to do high intensity I have to work harder than I ever have before. And so we come to the title. As I am training for yet another run I have decided to mix in some speed work and interval training and while I am finding it easy, or should I say easier than I thought, I am really having to push myself to the limit to get my HR up high.

So while exercise is good for you, it seems the more you do the more you have to continue doing and work harder to maintain the benefits of when you first started.

Does it come with stabilisers

Now I have never been good with balls. I was hopeless at football when I was at school, so dreadfully poor at the sport that if I was at school now I could be picked for the England team. I was pretty useless at catching and throwing but did enjoy rugby and was slightly better than other people at this contact sport. I had trouble hitting balls be it with a tennis racket or cricket bat, and much preferred that of a shuttle Cock in Badminton.  So what is this confession of the lack of sporting prowess all about? Well it’s here to give  a background as for Christmas I asked for a stability ball or yoga ball depending on who you are. I didn’t get one partly because my father has one which is now sitting in my room after he made it redundant when his elbow/wrist improved. 

Now I was told to get one or to use one by my physio to really work on my glutes and get my core strength nice and strong… Now I have one and its taking up the majority of the living room… (Do they come in different sizes?) anyway I tried it out after spending a good two hours pumping the dam thing up and if I’m honest I don’t think it was 2 hours well spent as it still seems a little squishy. 

Anyway leaving the infallibility issue to one side I tried the exercises my physio had shown me to get my Hams and Glutes good and strong and then decided that youtube may have some good workouts as I thought I was failing  to remember the precise nature of the method Dom had instructed me to do. Now I fell on a good 30 minute video detailing several workouts, some were the ones my physio had shown others were new and some just saw me never complete them as I was for every falling off. 

Trying to balance on an inflatable ball whilst lifting your left arm, right leg into a superman pose is not my idea of exercise or fun. There is a reason why my core is weak and I get injuries as a runner and that is because I don’t cross train, I just run. Running is fun and I can do it, and do it easily. Sure there are mornings when I need to motivate myself into getting the trainers on but at least I do get them on in the end. The days trying to motivate myself into carrying out the physio exercises or going to the gym for a session never seems to materialise, however that may all change with the ball, or it would if it had stabilisers that way I might be more inclined to continue with it without the fear of falling off. 

For those runners who use one, tell me your best uses, if your are a runner with out one then get one, the 30 minute routine I did today used and stretched muscles in my legs I never knew were there or could never reach.

Visit From an Old Friend

For some one whom I have not seen in a long time, well I say a long time I think it as been almost a year when we both hung out he did make a brief appearance back in September last year but it was such a quick visit it wasn’t anything worth writing home about. However now I suddenly hear from him again. I suppose I should explain that this ‘Friend’ is not really a friend, nor is he an enemy or someone I have distaste for. This ‘Friend’ goes by the name of Doubt.

Last night I was running the course (excuse the pun) through my head looking back at my training, wondering if I have done enough weekly miles, did I do enough 20 mile runs, should I rethink my game plan and go for a 4.30 time, rather than dreaming of a sub 4.  And then there is the weather, are people going to bother to come out and support if it’s raining, will my mates bother cheering me on. I know I have gone on about it, but so far no one seems to acknowledge this is a big deal and maybe it’s not but for me it’s the biggest challenge I have taken on and Doubt knows that, as he edges closer to buddying up once again.

He has started planting the seeds into my mind. ‘Am I going to finish’ ‘Will I wake up’ ‘Should I rethink the entire game plan’ ‘Maybe I should have tried the energy products they’re using on the course’ ‘Will my energy gels and drinks I use be good enough race day’ All of these thoughts are swirling around my brain making me dizzy, making me sick. People who are colleagues have gwaped and gasped at the notion of 26.2 miles as a nice little sunday run and have even gone on to question my madness where my friends and when I say friends I do not include all them in this following paragraph.

Where as my friends don’t seem to be there, only two have confirmed they may be on the course to support me, a lot think because I’m a runner then I will be able to walk the course easily, which is the exact opposite of what I want to do. Yes I’m a runner and yes knocking back a 6 mile or 10 mile run is easy but this one on Sunday has a wall and so far in my training I have not seen it. People tell me it is around mile 18-20 but I have run that distance and saw no wall. It’s fine because my good friend is being supportive telling me it will be at mile 22 and there not a cat in hells chance I will be able to run through it as a result the Manchester Marathon will be my first DNF, you can always rely on Doubt to offer reassurance.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect a big team bus with everyone I’ve met coming out to support me, but I am about step into the breach, the unknown, yes I run, yes I have run 20 miles but this, this is new and yes everyone can say it’s not that hard Mrs Brown aged 67 did it in London. But I’m not Mrs Brown, I’m me and this is unmarked territory I have no idea if I’m ready for this both mentally and physically and to have the support of my friends who see what a big deal this is and support me through it would make the whole day seem a lot less ominous as I can tell you now I am ‘Shitting it’ (Pardon my French) But yet again this is Doubt dealing the cards, making me think I will be all alone where in fact my Mother will be there, and hopefully two of my good mates.

Now maybe it’s just a big thing to me, but it’s a marathon, and how many people can say they have done one. According to my running mags, only 0.6% of Americans have run a marathon in 2011 and the USA is mad for the 26 miles. They reckon that in the world only 3-5% of the population have taken on the task. And maybe thats why I want my friends around me, to celebrate my achievement to share in my happiness of conquering this milestone. For some people it’s getting there dream job, getting married or having a baby, buying a house where for me it’s running and entering competitions.

I always find it odd when I turn up to races and see my fellow runners with their friends and family at the start and finish and I’m there on me lonesome. I have my mum at the race on Sunday and I hope some of my mates will be there as it’s not just crossing the line but all the months of training and sacrifice. It’s the years of being sat on my arse and drinking and smoking – looking back and thinking that the old Tom wouldn’t have been able to do that, the old Tom wouldn’t never have even entertained the notion of running to the shop let alone 10K or a full marathon.

I think a lot of people don’t have a true notion of the distance involved. But as I sit and carb load and rest my legs alone, the only friend I have to speak to is that of Doubt he was there for the 10K and there at my first half, and he’s here now. He even said he will be there on Sunday somewhere along the course. Even now he is trying to break me down making me think I have no support and it is just me. He is slowly pounding on the pressure playing every tactic be it emotional with friends or causing me to question my own sense of belief.

The only thoughts I have running in my head to get rid of doubt is that…

1. I’m doing this for my self

2. I enjoy running

3. How many other people can say they have taken this on

4. Enjoy the day

So Doubt, do me a favour and do one, I don’t need friends like you around me.

I do hope its nice weather and not this cold windy wet weather, as I do want my mates to be out on the course cheering me on along with hopefully the other spectators.

I will leave you with this final thought. I am not sure who wrote it but I hope I will be able to say it on Sunday along with the other 8000 runners.

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2 I knew I was too tough to kill”

A Week to Go!!!

Sugar Lumps!

Pardon my French.

A week.

One week to go.

Jesus.

I’ve done long runs, sort tempo runs but I still don’t think I have done enough. The email came to download the course booklet and that just made any nerves that I had settled become very unsettled very quickly. I am a little nervous, more so than I was when I had been preparing for the Great North, not about the same thoughts, with that epic road race it was more about if I wouldn’t cross the line letting all those who sponsored me down, but also if I was indeed fit enough. After all I had only been running for several months and had only run in a 10K race and here I was an ex smoker and heavy drinker with a very inactive life style taking part in the biggest half marathon in the world, what on earth was I thinking when I signed up? But now with the full on 26.2 miles I’m thinking about the time it will take, the wall, having a gingerbread man, not finishing, fainting, basically everything that could happen.

My energy gels all arrived today, and the course booklet has been read several times with passages of text echoing around my mind. ‘ No earphones’ ‘You will be pulled out of the race if you don’t reach Durham Massey by such a time’ ‘The roads will be reopened at 3pm’ All extra stress and information to un focus my mind from the task in hand causing me to stress and fret even more. I am bricking it. I don’t need to go for a run to get my heart rate up just thinking about standing on the line waiting for the gun is getting me 167 b.p.m let alone looking at the map and mapping out if i have timed my taking of gels with where the water stations will be, I’m seeing other people complaining that they can’t get their weekly mileage down and are finding it hard to taper. Meanwhile I’m longing to be running the 30-40 miles there still trotting up. This week I have done 4 miles, four whole miles and maybe I should think of it has stocking up on my energy, resting before I go out and burn all my stores but there is a niggling in the back of my head. Well I say a niggle it’s more like an army screaming ‘You have not done enough’ and while I know, or hope my mates will be there to hold my hand to pull me up after I collapse over the finish line so far I feel like I am alone in this conquest which is ironic as being a runner can be lonely, but it’s also a really social activity. Everyone is in it together. But I think of what I have sacrificed, with nights out, work, drink all for 4-5 hours on a Sunday in April.

Everyone is on about London and how they are looking forward to it, meanwhile I feel like I’m the only one with focus on the Manchester Marathon. My friends have neither confirmed or denied their participation in the crowd cheering me on, or handing me extra energy bars or drinks. I have posted the course map and have hinted where I need people and support but yet no one has confirmed. I know they will come, well I hope they do as in my mind I am building this to be a big life event. Yes I am doing for myself, to prove that I can run 26.2 miles and get entry into the prestigious marathon club but it mean jack if my friends and family aren’t there to celebrate in my triumph.

Oh well just over a week and all kinds of thoughts are running through my mind, things to eat, drink, sleep everything thing about my life and habits is now being scrutinised like cramming for an exam anything I do now will have little or no affect.

Maybe I should just sit back and eat pasta with my legs up and look forward to this Herculean task and enjoy every mile with the knowledge that I am one of a few that have taken this ridiculous event on and be proud to hopefully cross the line.

But I suppose having that nervous energy is a good thing, but I wish I would have just maybe one positive thought before next Sunday. No doubt I will blog again before the big event.

Oh well, time for a quick run, to make sure my legs still work.

Two Weeks

Twitter is filled with posts about the Brighton Marathon and London is next week. Manchester is in two weeks and after a final long run yesterday I am in some kind of strange zone. I feel quietly confident, but at the same time I am concerned for the last six miles after all they do say the race starts on mile 20.

To say I am looking forward to that Sunday evening would be a little bit of an understatement. I am looking forward to the end of the marathon and showing my medal off with pride being the only person amongst my friends who would have achieved this feat of human endurance. But while a lot of my fellow runners will be glad it’s all over and be happy to put their trainers at the back of the cupboard or in the bin I will be happy as I get to drink and a little sad as I won’t get to run while I rest.

Now I have not entire given up the source. Even tho I said after Christmas I would. What can I say I like a bottle of wine as much as the next man if the next man happens to be Keith Floyd. However for April I have been T-Total. I, like my fellow runners might have hung my trainers up if it wasn’t for the month of 10K’s I have in May, clever thinking on my part to book my next races to train for.

I like running, the bug as truly hit me so being happy that I have crossed the line (hopefully in a sub 4) would be very nice, however the real reason why I will be so happy is that I get to drink wine again.  Not any old wine you understand, oh no wine that my best mate got me for my 30th. I have been saving it for this very occasion and to be honest it should make it taste even better. The bottle in question is a 1981 vintage. My mate knows me so well. The wine was bottled the year I was born and came with a posh cork screw, thermometer, cork stopper, basically the works all concealed in a wooden box. I think it is truly the best gift I have got, and if it wasn’t for the fact it had to be drank (shame I know) then I would be keeping it to gather cobwebs.

So as I reach the wall on mile 20 and try to scramble over to get to the finish, the freshly opened bottle that I would have left to decanter will be pulling me across the finish line, and hey after burning 4000 calories I think I will be entitled to a glass or two of the red stuff, after all the antioxidants helps the healing and recovery process.

A Letter

Hello,

Just a quick note to let you know how we are all doing. I have given you several warnings but you  seem to have ignored them, while I know that this is an unfair statement as you did take a couple of weeks off with the foot and went to see a trained professional I am sure that I am correct in saying this is the only time, and while you did carry the exercises out while you had the injury I am informed by the hips that you soon gave them up once you could run without pain.

There was the episode last week where you carried on running and I told you to stop but with no result, with that little incident I had to shut your legs off to make you stop. You also seem to be eating a lot of carb’s and sweets and your belly informs me that you are still loosing weight as we can’t store energy for long enough before your legs demand it. You’ll looking good tho, but the skeleton and knees would rather be carrying the weight of a 17 stone man than suffering the impact of a six-mile run four times a week, not that we aren’t glad to shed the 4 stone of blubber that you had, but your heart and lungs don’t know what have hit them over the past year. It’s all well good doing this running but you use to be a heavy drinker and smoker who sat on his arse.

Anyway I’ve been informed by the memory department that there are only two weeks left until race day so soon we can all rest. Well that is what I have been led to believe however I have received a memo from the eye’s telling me that they saw you writing dates down in May. I might as well take this opportunity to pass on the message from everyone. When you do your three 10K’s in May please remember to treat them as recovery runs, no PB’s, Now I mean it NO PERSONAL BESTS we will still be recovering from the 26.2 miles you dragged us through two weeks previous.

Now my colleague over at phyc tells me it all started to build self-esteem and loose weight plus the prospect of turning 30 well I have had a look and you have achieved your goals but some how it has infected your entire soul this running bug that has been analysed by the immune department is multiplying in your blood. The boys down in the virus department can not combat it and I was rather hoping it would be like that illness you had back in 95 that suddenly went away one day but it seems to be growing and everything ‘the mind’ is doing to get rid off it is just making it worse. We thought getting you to enter the Great North would rid you off it but that just made you crave more running and more half’s, and the idea of the marathon has just stepped up the determination.

To sum up, while we all adore what you are doing and the benefits you are bringing us you are also bringing us pain and putting extra strain on us, for example only this week I had sent the builders out to repair the muscle wall of your calve and no sooner had they finished, they had to pack up and leave as the calve had received orders to start a 8 mile tempo run. Spoiling us with a days rest and stretches and dark chocolate and more carbs is not good enough.

Please just remember we are not a machine, we can not fix and recovery from daily abuse as quick a car, to come to that you are not a car or a plane while your ancestors were born to run to escape predators and to hunt your body has changed over the years and it certainly was never designed to run the 80 miles a week those magazines tell you, you should be running while training. I can assure you we are all looking forward to the time you taper your runs and the weeks of rest I will force upon you after the marathon.

So please share a thought for your body

Your’s faithfully

The Brain