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.

Not sure what to pack

Having never been travelling before, and lets give you the truth… The first time I went camping was only a couple of years ago and that was carrying a load of extras in the boot of the car. The one time I did hike with a pack, the trip was only two days so the load was not a great deal.

I never did the gap year thing, I have never really thought off staying in a hostel and roughing it around a foreign country was my thing and until July I won’t really know. But come July I will be in New Zealand and will be driving around in my camper exploring the place and forgetting my troubles and doing some long hard thinking of where I’m at.

Running was supposed to kick the break down of having a mid-life crisis into touch but it seems that after three years running alone will not help and travelling to another country away from friends and family will help me put my life and future into perspective.

But here’s the million dollar question! what do I pack? Well I know clothes will be on the list, but how much and what type. Should I take my computer as after all I have a working holiday visa and will settle in a town for a number of months and the jobs I would hope to do over their kind of rely on me having the use the programs on my hard drive. Manly CAD packages for theatre lighting design.

Do I take my Garmin, my trainers, walking boots, books. Do I just buy an Ipad. How many coats, shoes, mugs, sleeping bags, towels. The list is endless. So please any travellers or backpackers let us know your thoughts. The trip I will be embarking on is a working holiday for a year. two months in a camper van. Then I will be going back to the areas I like and then I would settle down in a city for the remainder of my stay working in the local theatres or what ever work I can get.

So what do I need to pack?

Any Ideas?

Change of Plan

It’s always good to have a plan B. Lets face it what kind of General would you be if you didn’t have a ‘Plan B’ even shouting the orders to ‘retreat’ is a kind of Plan B.

I once read a book. I have since read several others, but none of the others offer the information to explain the subject of this blog. Sure I could try to use the plot of Jurassic Park except they were not clever enough to have a Plan B as they thought everything would be okay and that was like me on my first Marathon. Hang on, wait a minute… I have just referenced another book to explain my point.

The point is, that in the book I was reading all about Marathons the runner talked about some advice he got from a coach. That tiny bit of advice as seen the way I train and think about races completely change. Within the advice the coach offered, she said always have three times in your head.

Simple really. It explains where I have gone wrong. My first Marathon was like many other people’s. I dreamed of getting around the course within the golden four hours. I didn’t even think about any other times and so when my Garmin read 3:30 at 18 miles I knew I had blown it and with it my sense of caring. I was now just going to finish. At the Manchester 10K when I wanted to break my PB, and saw with a Kilometre to go that this was not going to happen I just slowed down to my Sunday run pace. Time only mattered if it was better than the last.

However when I ran my latest half. I had three times. Sub 1:30, Sub 1:35 and 1:40. The latter I knew I could achieve. When I saw I was not going to do a Sub 1:30 my determination and energy went in to obtaining the 1:35, which as we know paid off. Without these three times in my head I think I may have just slowed and crossed in rather disappointing but still respectful 1:45.

So what has this got to do with my ‘Plan B’ well my marathon , which I have coming up has three times. To break the four-hour time, followed by 3:45 or really trying my luck 3:30. However my training has been a little lax, and my long runs have only been lengthy in terms of the time between me getting my trainers on and running. Not to beat my self up, I would like to say I have done two long runs of 20 miles, and one of 16. But that is not enough and with todays run of a little sneaky speedy 10K and speed session I decided that I should concentrate my efforts on chasing a new 10K PB of sub 40 or a sub 35 and just be happy to complete the marathon course. As long as I come in within 4:15 it will be a new PB and I should be happy with that.

I said to my friend after Snowdon that I would never doing the distance again, but with me going to New Zealand and Manchester being my first, I just had to race it again and while I enjoying running long, I must admit that I think my distance wis the half. I enjoy the way it is long but also fast. 26.2 miles just seems nothing more that a long time on your feet which you have to pace correctly.

So with only five weeks to go, I think I will start on my 10K training and sneak in some long runs just so I can complete the last Marathon I will possibly run in the UK.

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.

Clock Watching

So some time again I was confirmed to be a true runner as I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a watch. £220 I think the tiny device cost me. It told the time but it also knew my heart rate and told me the pace and distance I was covering and ever since that day it has been on my wrist for every run.

I love my Garmin and love the way I can review the maps and look back at all my past runs. I love the way It tells me if I’m going to fast or slow in a race. The trouble is I’m for ever watching it, constantly looking at my wrist and not just when it beeps to say ‘You’ve run a mile and here’s the break down’ no I’m constantly looking at it. I feel I’m breathing heavier I look, I feel I’m running slow up a hill I look. I reach the park and I look to see what time I’ve clocked in at to see if I have beaten any of my records.

So yesterday when it rained and I decided to get my new coat on to go for a run, I started the watch then velcroed the sleeved shut, preventing easy access to the watch and decided today it would just record the run. I got back to my house to stop the watch and saw I had done 9 miles. 9 miles. It certainly didn’t feel more than 6.

The point is that just running like I use to do seemed to be better. I ran further and controlled my pace by listening to my body more and went the extra miles and just let my legs take me on a run rather than me looking at the clock face and thinking ‘Need to find another two miles before I go home to make the run up to 10K’ Because thats what we all do isn’t it, as we are running down the street to get into that warm shower and comfort of our house we will give a flick of the wrist and see we are on 6.7 miles and we think wouldn’t it be nice if we ended on a whole number and so we carry on past the house to get the watch to read 7 but then it’s too late as we can’t walk back so carry on running.

I think the phrase ‘A watched pot never boils’ can be used here. I would recommend every one to try it. It frees you up and you will get far more out of the run. I think partly with the rain that I love running in yesterdays adventure was one of the best runs I have ran for a long time. I just felt free and enjoyed the basics of just running.

Keeping a Record

Now I’m good at keeping records, I am after all self-employed and do my own tax and the job contains a lot of paper work and plans that need to be organised as you never know when a show may rear its head again to go on tour, or you need to reference or use a piece of furniture, costume or prop from another show. Yes sorry to break it to you but theatre is cheap we often re-use costumes, props and sets from past shows or other productions, and with Cameron it is going to get cheaper. But this is not what this blog is about.

You may be aware by now that I like running. I don’t think I have said it enough even with the fact that a very good friend and another friend have stopped following me on twitter because ever other tweet is about #running followed by the rather evil tweets that were impersonating my tweets on their account. Well fool to them as I no longer tweet (I was going to stop in the New Year). But no seriously I know I bore people and go on far too much about my hobby but if I have to put up with people constantly talking, tweeting and Facebooking about their kids or their new girlfriend, wife, walking, train driving, hating their job; then I feel I should be able to do the same with my passion.

So a number of you who have signed up to follow this blog (and thank you for thinking i’m interesting enough to follow) you will know I am doing the Manchester Marathon. Now for Christmas I asked and Santa delivered a book to record my runs, and other data like HR, Speed, Length and weather conditions. While with my Garmin and before with Endumondo I would often track or record my runs now I can along with my Garmin see patterns or set targets to help me train. Even with the 10K and the Halfs I have done, I never really followed a plan, I would run and then would run a long distance . But now I have a record keeper called a running diary.

To help me in this time of need, my best mate is taking holiday from work because of a cold night 9 months ago, and I am stepping in to cover while he is away. This is good for several reasons as it will give me 8 weeks of continuity to my running plan, but also the money is very good and I will be able to pay my car insurance with ease, buy a new Mac, and go on holiday and walk in Wales and visit all my castles again in mid March and you never know I might even do some hill sprints up Cader Idris

Oh well off now to give my calves another stretch and then to buy some foods.

See you on the next post.

Running on Empty

Today I woke at 8am to keep the promise that I would be going on a long 10 mile run after giving my body a day off from the extreme running and weight training that it has endured during the past week.

It took some effort to get up I can tell you, I was not tired as I had retired the night before at 11pm but it was more a sense of not being bothered. Anyway I got changed, did some warm ups and I was out of the door with no planned route, I knew roughly what 10 miles was as I have run that distance before so I just set out running turning left or right following my 10K route where I would soon turn off and start running towards the Manchester City stadium and then back into town and around Ancoats that surly should be 10 miles.

All was going well, I thought I was going slow and steady, but my results that I have uploaded showed I was doing my 7.30/mile pace for the first 3 miles only to slow to around 8.10/mile once I got into it (This needs to be sorted, if I am to run a marathon I need to be doing training runs of at least 10.30/11/mile). Around 3 miles I started getting pins and needles in my left foot so paused to loosen the laces and started up again. I enjoyed running in the rain, it was nice and refreshing and took the mind of the cold however when I looked at my Garmin to check my time, and distance I saw a square box that was surrounding the letters that made up the following message “Battery Low” Dam it I thought that’s not going to be good. Am I just going to have to do 2 laps of my 10K or will it last? Before I could make a decision I had started running towards Man City. Now my constant twitching of the head to the Garmin was not to check distance, time, HB, pace but to check it was still alive.

Coming towards the end of the run the Garmin was still running on empty and so were my legs, I was a mile away from my house and thinking maybe I should stop at 9 miles and walk the rest as a cool down, but the Garmin was still alive so I strode on, as I turned the bend on Roachdale Rd, I was 3 minutes from my front door and I had a look to see how many more miles I needed to achieve, was I to do a couple of laps of the park, or my block to make it up to 10 miles. The watch face glowed with 9.68. I thought this was good, maybe just a lap of the street would reach my ten mile target, and as this thought entered my mind the LCD screen slowly faded away to nothing. No my battery had died, why oh why didn’t I charge it up.

I finished the run and stopped short from my house. Having learnt the lesson on fuelling your body for long runs and taking on liquids a long time ago, I have now learnt to make sure my Garmin is fully charged before I leave the house.

My Longest Run!!!

Today I was going to go running along the canal to my friend’s house who lives out in Oldham. I decided that after yet another fast run the other day to cool it off, as he would have had to been pedalling so slow on his bike he might have fallen off as I wanted to use this long run as training ground to pace myself especially as I now have my trendy new Garmin which enables me to monitor my speed.

My mates in the pub the other night laughed when I spoke about not being able to run slow, there were cries of  ‘God yeah I have that issue running to fast’. Being drinkers I forgave their ignorance as they didn’t really get the idea of pace (both with running and drinking), especially when one said I could run 26.2 miles easily. I’m sure with training and after a couple of halfs (not pints but runs) I will be ready to take on the mother of all runs but for now I am quite content with running my first half and entering a couple of 10K’s each year. However after today’s triumph run I do feel that maybe next year I could enter a full-blown marathon and jog to the finish feeling good, all well be it not in a respectable time but after today’s result of 1hr 20min for ten miles maybe doing it in under 4 hours could be achievable.

A lot of runners like me who take running up to get fit, and see it as a hobby a bit like hiking or mountain  biking often dream to run a 6 or 7 minute mile and keep it up for 5 or 10K. The trouble is I can do this and have always been able to do it. My trouble is slowing down. I have read and been told to pace myself and I should be aiming for a 8-9 minute mile. The trouble is I can’t do it. Not sure why, I feel that I may be walking to fast or taking gentle strides rather than beating the road at any real speed.

But today I decided that the 15 mile run to my mates was too much, and if I wanted to give up, it was unfair on him who had cycled all the way to Manchester, to only have to cycle back to his house on the todd. So I decided I would go it alone around the streets of Manchester, and by god it was good. I started off with a pace of 6 minutes, this slowed to my usual 10K race pace of 7.20 eventually by the 3rd mile I had got it down to 7.60/8.05 but this seemed to make my legs tired almost ache as if they were asking to go faster, I was not striding as much, but this is how I continued until I felt my right foot getting numb and having a sense of pins and needles. With this I strode forward and increased my pace to 6 mins but this was also down hill. I then got back into a gentle pace, as I reached the 8 mile mark, and thought I would call it a day but felt good. My legs were working, my arms were enabling my body to function and pull myself forward and so I ran onto my 5K training route to get to ten miles.

And now I am home. On my travels my watch was a complete star, I do feel that it is helping me to train and pace myself correctly. While it may not feel like you’re running fast, your watch is showing that you are in fact covering a lot of ground.

On my way around I was stopped my a homeless guy who saw my Christie T-shirt with the Great North Run logo and told me what a fantastic job I was doing. He then began trying to give me his spare change. This made me stride forward as I am doing it for myself, but also doing it for others and if some one who has nothing apart from the clothes on his back wished to donate to my cause then it makes any injury or pain I may feel after training worth it, and hopefully will encourage others to donate. Running started of as a way to get fit, and lose the weight. But it has now become my life. I feel fit, free, de-stressed and good about myself. Running is my life and if I can use my past time that I enjoy to help others then why not? And This is why I run races for causes. It makes me happy and raises a little bit of money for people who need it the most.

I’m now back home after icing my foot and doing a good 15 minutes of cooling down, probably not enough I know as I can now feel my calves slowly tighten. But tomorrow is a rest day, and all day monday will be until the evening where a bit of hill sprints are in order to get my fitness and cardio up. I might just go and visit the gym to do some cross training to completely rest my calves from powering me to run.

Well I’m now off to go and eat lots of protein and fill up on my carbohydrate stores and hope that I have over done it.

Being Watched Makes You Run better

Well it’s true. I’ve only run in one race but it helped me to run having all those people cheering and watching you. However I am talking about me watch, my new Garmin watch that I had to go out running in the other day just as the riots were kicking of in Manchester. Dressed up in all my lycra and gym kit I made it clear that I was running for fun not running in the opposite direction of the shop I had just vandalised for no other reason other than greed and stupidity. As you can tell my opinion of the riots is not a high one. I don’t think I have been so sickened at the behaviour of a few English people, and when the children of my city that I love decided to shit in their own back garden, my heart was ripped out with pain and sadness. But that will be a different blog post.

Anyway I had to pop my new watch on, set it up and run. Now while I was still glued to my data that was being displayed I was free to move my arms without holding my phone. While I did not break any of my records, I felt it was a good run, and if it wasn’t for the long run on Saturday I would have carried on. The main data that helped me, was seeing my heart rate and the pace. I could see if I was going to fast or to slow but this all helped me to concentrate on the running and therefore I felt smooth and relaxed. The run was one of the easiest I had done and even running up the hills I could fly up them as I was free to concentrate on the run rather the info that was being recorded on the screen all of which I could review later and load up to the Garmin website and replay my run to see where I can improve on my next.

Oh well of to finish designing the show I am on. Then it’s home to have another run which maybe accompanied by my friend but he has not got back to me yet. Then I will be resting for the 10 mile run on Saturday to Uppermill, where my mate lives. He has very kindly offered with me asking, to ride along and keep me company. So watch out for that exciting blog post.

Someone to Watch me Run

And that someone is Mr Garmin or maybe it’s Mrs or Ms maybe he is a lord, or a master. Either way Garmin is not a real person and I do apologise now if there is someone called Mike and Norma Garmin who live with their two children in Droylsden on a quite little terraced street. But the Garmin who I am referring is a GPS smart watch.

Now for the past couple of runs and posts I have been banging on about my GPS system and trying to pace myself, well tonight I took my phone with me and I ran. I ran like Forest Gump (the bit where his legs are better) and I carried on running, not really looking at my phone at tall and I managed a whole 7 mile. For me that is the furthest I have run and looking back at the stats I was doing between 7 and 8 minute a Mile. I say between as I started and ended with 7, and the 4 miles in the middle were 8 minute miles. The trouble is the graph showed that my pace was all over the place. So how does a watch help I can hear you cry. What’s that? Your not bothered! you would rather just read the Beano? Well I’m going to tell you anyway.

The Garmin Forerunners do a fantastic line in GPS watches that also measure Heart Beat, Pace, calories, Distance etc all that helps and allows you to keep track of your run. The best thing about it is, it’s a watch so it fits on your wrist and every so often you can give your wrist a quick fluid motion into your eye line, or listen to the beeps when you go over or under your heart rate to keep your pace. The true question is I am unsure which when to buy. So the question my humble 3 readers is which one do I get.




I will of course let you know what I decide, but any advice then please let me know.