A New Year and The Same Old Story

Well it is now the 10th or maybe the 15th of the first of the grand month of 2015, for some of you watching on Dave then it could quite possibly be the 2017. (UK Telly joke)

Once again I made a promise to myself to shift the weight and stop with the heavy drinking, and like a fool I picked the first month to start this off. Now its no secret that I have shed the pounds before but then its no lie that they have piled back on. I run and train for marathons and run some more, get injured rest a month or so out and bingo, I’m half a stone bigger. This is not to say that I am anywhere near the sight or weight I was when I first started my running addiction, no I’m just talking about that last bit of weight I can’t shift or get rid off and then to help matters I decide to go on a binge.

Well, I said to myself you are out of work so you might as well put that bike to good use and those trainers are still looking far to new. So I said to myself I will slowly bring myself up to the fitness I need. Now since December to now, I have placed a whole stone or 10kg on me. For my US friends that is around 14 pounds. (Get with the program and learn some other measurements) So come the day after boxing day I cut out the drink. Didn’t even have any on New Years and still have not. The chocolate and snacks were last to be cut out as they were still in the house sitting and waiting to be gobbled up. I eventually removed them by around the 4th.

So since then I have been keeping a food dairy and doing some running and cycling. Depending on the accuracy of my scales then I have already lost 2kg. Don’t feel or look thinner, but the high tech scales also says I have lost 5% of body fat.

So once agin its a new year and I have promised myself the same thing… I will train like a pro and I will look at what I eat. So far I have managed it,but for how long.

In truth I really do want to get down and start wearing smaller sizes. I don’t mid a little belly. I’m not on about looking like an Ironing Board, but I would like my hand to run down from my chest to my belly in a smooth straight line.

Oh well sure you’ll find out my progress at one point or the other.

Just When you Start to Doubt

Well a couple of blogs ago I mentioned that I was turning my efforts to the 10K as my training for the Marathon has fallen behind schedule a little.

Even with this knowledge I still need to get my long runs in, if I am to even complete the course. My little mind had decided that the dream of getting a sub 3.30 or 3.45 was out of the question and I should just concentrate on finishing and invest my time and efforts into my 10K training to get a new PB and hopefully a sub 40.

However today on my long run of over 21 miles, and I will be the first to hold my hand up and say from mile 18/19 I was wanting to quit. I found that I had run a very fast good run. If I was to run as fast as that on the day it would see me come in at 3:40:22. So basically my mind is now back on the idea of trying to get a sub 3:45.

I have excuses why today was a little hard. Not enough sleep this week. Not enough carb loading. Too much booze in the week. Way to many chocolates and not a good pre race meal. All of these can be changed and with a month to go what better place than to start now.

I also quite enjoyed the run, and I’m sure that having a crowd of people cheering me on will also make me forgot about any pain that my quads are complaining about.

Right now for food and sleep.

A letter

To Thomas,

I know you enjoy it and you read all the mags and articles on that world wide web thingy. I even know you have that race coming up and that you are determined to break some PB in a couple of months time. But I do beg you to listen to me.

I enjoyed the two weeks off that I had and really enjoyed taking it easy but you must remember I am not a car. I can’t be started up and driven long distances, I need to warm up and get back in the game.

After this week, and I will be the first to admit the mileage is very little and the work load has been on the small scale but I am feeling it. Feeling so much that come Sunday I may refuse to play ball at the start line and if I do play along I may throw in the towel in the last 400 meters.

So if you don’t want a DNF on you record then may I suggest you spend the next two days giving me a rest. Giving me some TLC. It’s all well and good running long and hard and doing hills and speed work but like you I need time to recover and the harder you train the longer I need.

Off course you are able to help in this matter. Some more protein, seeds, nuts, fruit. Less bad fat and chocolate. Plenty of stretching after the runs. At least half an hour. You use to be so good at your warm downs now you seem to think a poxey five minutes with the foam roller will suffice. Well have I got news for you… It won’t.

Like a car I need the correct fuel and maintenance. If you spend time looking after me I will perform and keep on performing for many years to come. I’ve shown my worth in the past… Looking how your PB’s keep being smashed. Look how far I have carried you. The speed I have travelled.

So please take note. I’m tired, and I really don’t want us to fall out over this as I know how happy you get when pounding the streets. But you won’t be happy when I can’t carry you forward and get an injury.

I hear from Left and Right Foot that you treated them to some new socks and trainers. They pass on their gratitude. Now if you can only show me the same respect and give me some rest. The miles I am use too. The new training scheme of hills and speed is something I need to get use to, and this needs time. Heart and Lung do their best, but over the years I’ve adapted to long distance and need time to adjust. And I’m not just talking about in training. Recovery is when I grow and repair myself and at the moment you are refusing to give me that time.

So I beg of you Thomas. Please surrender the trainers until Sunday and allow me and your body to recover.

Thank you for your time

Your’s

Legs.

 

 

The Long and Short Of It

I fell into running a couple of years ago and always had a goal to increase my distance. Two marathons down and a third in training I am loosing perspective on the running game. Not fallen out or even become disillusioned just we don’t seem to be getting on.

When I went to increase my runs from the 5 or 6 kilometre mark to that of 10K and then to ten miles when I was in training for the Great North I was enjoying myself. Even only a couple of months ago I would joke that a 10K would be something I would nip out to do before breakfast. Truth known I rarely run before breakfast.

I enjoyed the long runs and found it a pleasure that the 6 miles that I had trained to run was something that was really quite painless and getting past ten miles was now the target. This has gone on and on and as I try to train for my third marathon I really can’t be bothered.

I will wake and think ‘Nah forget it’. The trouble is while I’m out running I enjoy it. But I only enjoy it if its short. Well, I say short, I’m talking under ten miles. This is off course an issue with  Marathon training as I need to be pushing another eight or ten miles on top of the ones I am still enjoying. I think the trouble was the weather as I as many other runners ran for the gym rather than quite literally hit the icy pavements.

It was while I was in the gym I decided that long running on a machine was dull and therefore I should give the old interval HIIT sessions ago. A month on and I am enjoying these workouts more, far more. I prefer running fast and short than slow and long.

So what is to be done. Friends have suggested to take time off, which can’t happen as I don’t have the time what with the marathon being in 3 months.

I’m hoping some new routes and some runs with people will ignite the flame that I held for long distance running.

I certainly hope it will do the trick, otherwise I will be hitting that wall very hard.

How Lonely is the Long Distance Runner?

Wow, that’s a question. I have yet to read the book or see the film that goes by the same title. Well goes by the title of ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ and while this is not going to be a rip off or even an interpretation of what Alan Sillitoe wrote it is going to be an examination into the world and mind-set of runners.

Everyone knows were a funny lot. People come in from the cold wrapped up to the nines with gloves, coats, hats they turn the heating on full blast and comment how icy and freezing it is and it has started snowing. Or they comment that the rain is hammering down so much it is bouncing. With this weather report you can guarantee that if there is a runner in close proximity then they will grab their trainers and be off for a run. Even the very name we take pride in. ‘Were runners’ I picked a parcel up the other day before going for a run and because of this I had my Liverpool Half T-Shirt on. The Post Office official commented and asked if I was going for a ‘jog’ before I could reply she had apologised and corrected herself with the word ‘Run’ ‘You don’t jog do you? You run, you’re a runner I’m a runner’ While the words ‘jog’ and ‘run’ don’t bother me I know in the fraternity of our sport anyone who takes it seriously is a runner.

Yes we are crazy, we know that. We run because we enjoy the freedom, buzz, energy and maybe the solitude and boy is there a lot of that. I am at the moment after hitting ‘Publish’ going to lace up the shoes and be on my way for a good 90 minutes running where the only company will be that of my own and for people who know me that is not always enjoyable.

But at the same time there is a community and camaraderie between runners. As we run and see other runners we wave, nod, even go as far to say ‘Hi’ if we can mange wasting our precious breath on speaking. As we go into running shops we talk about times, races, routes. At the start and end of races we chat and laugh. On route we sometimes talk and laugh, if people stubble we ask if they are okay, we offer water and energy gels around but while all of this is happening we are also in our zone. Running our own race on our path to a hopeful PB or course record.

So how lonely is running. Is the Long distance runner alone on the field, starving off the exhaustion with only his or her thoughts for company. When I ran my first Marathon I have never felt so alone yet there were hundreds of people around me running as one. The crowds were calling my name and cheering us all on but yet I was running my own race my own route.

The mind set of running is strange. We are a big family, large support and only a runner will be able to understand or comprehend an other. Our community is large and extensive we welcome new members to the fold but yet when we run we run on our own with our own thoughts and goals and I’m not going to lie Manchester Marathon saw me almost throw in the towel as my body began to shut down. Every movement required a strong conscious effort to move. As my legs filled with concrete and my head dropped I thought I was going to die out on the field and then the realisation that I wasn’t alone helped to bring me back to the land of living.

But in training you don’t have the luxury of crowd support or fellow runners and part of the training is becoming strong, telling your mind you are strong enough to keep running. Running is a solo sport, hobby, ambition, lifestyle. You will only ever understand a runer if you become one and even then you will never understand how every individual feels as he crosses the line after 26.2 miles or comes in from a 20 mile run on a Sunday morning.

That is where the true loneliness happens. Not being able to share your relief and joy of long distance running, not being able to explain your thoughts and feelings as you picked up pace, tackled the hill, popped a gel cause you thought it was the right time. Everything about running is personal to you and to you alone which in itself is a nice thought.

 

My Two Vices

Yes I have two and so what! At least I can admit that I have vices. No guesses for what they might be but thinking about it one of them rarely gets mentioned in this blog so we may be here for some time if you all start to guess. We will definitely be here for a long time if you all start to guess by leaving your said guesses in the comments box and need to wait for me to read your guesses and then write a reply or another post to say you have guessed correctly or incorrectly depending on what your guess may have been. So after all that I might as well just say.

Running and Drink. They are my two vices both can be good for you but equally they can also be self destructive. Running because too much can cause injury and other prolong issues to the body and Drink…Well we all remember our science books don’t we. Now the trouble with these two vices is they can not be done together which is good, but one can certainly be done after the other, but then not followed by the first.

It’s while I was thinking about this and thinking that one will have to go that I met a friend and on the way back from her house purchased myself a bottle of wine. So after a good 9 mile run today I have turned to my other vice ruling out any chance of any descent running or training tomorrow which will make me sad that I have not fulfilled my drug addiction of running so that will result in go to the drink.

Why does drink have to taste so good.

Climbing the Wall

Well today I went out and managed to do a run. A long run. 20 miles. Twenty whole miles all for the aid of a bit of training to make sure I am ready for the Snowdon Marathon which is less than 3 weeks away. I thought the run was going smoothly apart from my leg and then my right quad the run was a good steady pace. Slower than my usual marathon pace and just could have been a knock on effect from the 7 mile Fartleck session I did the day before but for what ever reason it was working.

As I was running along at a snail pace, I was consuming the right amount of water and taking on the carbs at the right moments. Then at around mile 16 I could see the wall. Rather than hitting it I began to climb it and with doing so panic struck. I found myself consuming more water almost to the point of finishing my water bottle and with 3 miles away from home I needed to keep some in reserve.

I was really feeling it, I kept checking my Garmin to see if the LCD screen flashed to that all important target of 20 miles but each time I looked the only numbers that changed were those of ‘Total Time’ and the pace that was for everything slowing. Then just at the legs began to fill with lead and the water was almost drained my body thought it would be a great idea if the pace was upped. So from 9.30 miles I swallowed my pride and decided to ‘Man Up’ and some how settled on the rather quicker pace of 8.10. This was a crazy idea and only pushed the thought of being at home putting the kettle on and relaxing further into my mind. I was no longer concentrating on the goal of running and enjoying the run and if I had any common sense I would have stopped and started to walk back to my house rather than turning off to extend the run to make sure I achieved the goldern twenty by the end of the run.

I did it, and I felt it and now after Langdale and the long run have some serious doubts on weather I should be phoning Snowdon to ask them to withdraw my race number. The hills are very hilly and yesterdays run was an extremely flat route. I’m hoping the legs filling with sand was a result of the activities I carried out the day before and not because of the mileage I was undertaking on the run or the lack of energy supplements I was throwing down my neck.

Some more hill sprints and another couple of long runs this week to see how I feel and then maybe I will have to make the decision of pulling out and missing out on that bit of slate.

Oh well…

Macclesfield Half

If you had told me ten years that I would be running around Macclesfield I would have laughed at you. While I was young and lived in this urban sprawl surrounded by some of the richest villages in Cheshire I did partake in the activity of running but this was mainly confined to the school field during football or the dreaded cross-country. I can remember one time I decided to go for a run on my own steam when I was fifteen or sixteen to shed the pounds and managed less than a mile before my lungs burnt and my head banged with so much pain.

Roll on the years and I find myself training to complete the Manchester 10K, after discovering that I enjoyed running and enjoyed the benefits far more. The 10K happened followed by several halfs followed by more and more races and soon I was running in my home town when ever I visited and stayed with my old folks. Running in Macclesfield was fun and I often wonder why I was so quick to throw in the towel after my brief affair with the sport all those years ago.

As a warm up for Snowdon Marathon I thought a nice hilly half would help and while Langdale was hilly, Macclesfield was going to seem like a pancake compared to the peaks and troughs of the Langdale valley the week before. The race was staged on the athletics track which was built while I was at school but I never used partly due to lack of interest on my account of  partaking in any physical activity. But here I was lining up at the start of the 400 meter line ready to race. Again not after any PB but on reflection I could have pushed for one as my legs had more than enough in them to carry me over the line, but this was always going to be used as a training run.

Now let be said while I did everything to avoid running at school, I really wished I had discovered this sport a lot earlier than my 29th Birthday, maybe twenty years before that occasion, but after fifteen years of the track being laid I was about to run on it. The weather was due to rain but stayed dry with a strong breeze and while the roads remained open this was not a ‘fun run’ in the typical running sense. The limit to cross the line was 2hr 35 minutes which for some people is in the realms of fantasy but for the majority of the runners we were all capable of a sub 2.

There were still a mix of people who were finding it hard after 4 miles and I was one of them (hard but yet still comfortable). Not because of the level of difficulty of the course or because I set out too fast but because I could not settle. It took me till mile four to settle into my pace and rhythm and even then I felt I was going to quick for a training run (a whole minute quicker than marathon pace which I wanted to practice) After that the run was fun and while the crowds were barely visible probably due the sheer lack of people out on the streets that and the fact that most of the roads were country lanes I was enjoying the run with little distraction and the lack of music was not missed (As the roads were open Ipods were banned). At one point, I had started racing another runner, it was either that or we were keeping pace with one another as we stuck together for a good two mile until I managed to break away and see if he would follow. Come the final two miles I was in my element and the legs lifted up and the stride was in full motion for the home straight as we closed in onto the track for the finish line, I crossed with a rather impressive 1hr 45 which was 260th out of 800 plus. Not bad for some one who was still hobbling on Thursday from my last half and wanted to treat the run as a sheer training run. Only 4 minutes off PB as well so I could have beaten it if I really tried.

All in all I would do this again and add it to my race calendar, I would recommend it only for those who are experience runners, and whether you are seasoned half marathoner or a runner stepping up the distance this is truly a god race to run. Not to be taken on my first timers or people use to the ‘Great Run’ series.

Running is Proving to be Stressful

So running is a way to relax and let of steam and de stress. Well while I am stressing out over the Snowdon Marathon and trying to enter as many half’s with lots of hills it seems like the stress of preparing for a marathon has got to me. Yes, it seems like I may have a stress fracture.

So what to do? Stop until it is confirmed? Carry on??? I’m in the middle of training and have not done as much as I should. If I stop and the X-Ray says its fine then thats two weeks of training gone. Or I carry on and the X ray says ‘STRESS FRACTURE’ I could have done more damage and ended my running for longer than 6 weeks.

And they say running is good for you.

What too do?

Getting Back into It!

So I did the Marathon, I rested for 13 days then ran a 10K rested and a week later did another 10K, then another then rested for a week and then ran another 1oK  and then a ten miler. Within all this I was seeing my physio to work on my biomechanics and core strength and stability (another blog) and my legs were so tired and tight after each race, partly because I was going for it like the clappers, were talking below 7 minute miles and for me that is quick. So it was after the Llandudno 10 mile that I decided that enough was enough and I would hang up my trainers.

This was a good idea for two reasons. The first my legs did not want to move and the second I was working in Birmingham and then in the Lakes so did not really have time to run. So I rested for two weeks, and they say that your fitness does not disappear that quickly but I would like to disagree.

Now maybe your fitness does not drop just after two weeks of no action, and maybe it doesn’t but it certainly does if you spend those two weeks putting on almost a stone through drink and eating crap which is what I did. So when I returned to running on Monday as lets face it I have another marathon to train for so really need to start. The short run of 5k was tough, very tough and it wasn’t even a fast run. The one tonight of 6 miles was a little easier once I got back into my stride, but it took the first 2 miles to run through the niggles and loosen up the legs.

So for the next couple of weeks before I start my training I need to get back into tho running lark, training myself to run and run through the pain (unless it’s an injury). The hardest part of both runs was to control my speed, as I could not run at marathon pace or even half marathon pace my body and legs are so use to running a fast 10K that is still what they want.

So here we go, two weeks of some practice runs to get back into it, and then some long hard training runs for the hardest marathon in the Britain. The Snowdonia Marathon.