Monday, 15 October 2012

One month off (or five)

Since the Milton Keynes Marathon earlier in the year, running and blogging have been pretty low down on my list of priorities.  I started this blog as a way of motivating me to pull on the trainers and get out the door.  I also had an underlying desire to find out whether I could become a better than average runner.  I think the last few months have helped answer that question, even though I probably knew the answer when I asked it.

I probably could be a better than average runner*, but I'd have to put in more than the average amount of effort and training.  

At the moment and for reasons that will become clear, more than average hasn't been something that's a realistic option for me or my family.

Don't get me wrong there's not much better in the world than finishing a long run and feeling like it's gone really well.  A new PB is great for the soul and can leave you feeling like you can conquer the world for a few weeks and I really really like that feeling! I want to feel it again sometime soon but a new baby has been giving me a much longer lasting and slightly different feeling of euphoria recently.
When I think about it, perhaps the feeling isn't that different to running a Marathon; you feel like shite and your knackered but its bloody great all at the same time.  Whatever the feeling, Reuben (see pic) is the main reason for a distinct slow down on the running front.
Future runner?
For the last few months any running I have managed to do has been focused on going back to basics.  Getting out purely for fun at lunchtime and with a bit of company from whoever wants to tag along.  Since May my weekly mileage totals have almost always been in single figures and I don't mind a bit.  'Fatherly duties' are now firmly Item 1 on the agenda.  Worries about fitness won't be rekindled until such times as running becomes a bigger part of my life again.

Baby Reuben is now 7 weeks old and I sense some normality around the corner.  You never know, routine might be returning to the Hos household in the next few weeks.  So with that prospect my thoughts are starting to return to putting one foot in front of the other and what might be realistic challenges for the next few months.

In the spirit of going back to basics, my Winter aim is to be a happier than average runner.  To get to that point I guess I am going to have to do some kind of running, so these are my running objectives until Christmas (or may be March) : -  

1. A bit of night running (with my trusty head torch)
2. A few Sunday morning long(er) runs in the sun
3. A 10 miler just for fun
4. A short dog run / jog (with my virtual training partner)
5. A bit of muddy running around Danbury

So that's what I'm planning to do and then I'll try and write a little bit about it.  If that happens then I'll be a happy runner.  If it doesn't I'll still be happy but I probably shouldn't call myself a runner at that point.

* Average does depend on how you measure it!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Too long

Well it's been a while since my last post. I thought I'd put a little note up just to say that I actually did a bit of running this evening. A nice little trail race around Heybridge. It was hot and I was really slow but it was good to get out and get running again after a little break.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sunshine on a rainy day

As laid in my hotel bed at 3:45 am, unable to sleep because of the combination of excitement and nerves, I thought to myself, 'we must be close to a railway line or something'.  A short time later I realised it was actually the wind in the trees outside my window.  I eventually got up at 7am and looked out, it didn't look quite as bad as the forecast suggested. Yes it was raining, yes it was windy but I imagined a biblical downpour rather than just - rain.  I managed to eat my breakfast and messed about packing and unpacking my bag and trying to decide between shorts and tights.  My pre-race routine went completely out of the window as my Sister and Brother In-law (Pete) called to say they were waiting downstairs.  It was time to go (outside) and at this point it was clear that actually it was pretty flippin cold.

We got dropped off and spend the next few minutes avoiding the puddles in a vain attempt to keep our feet dry on our way into the stadium/start. And that was the last time I saw Pete until about 6 miles in (when he overtook me like I was standing still).  A few more distractions inside the 'Dons' meant I was even less organised than normal.  What a time to get a call about a stray dog a 100 odd miles away!

The plan for the race was to stick as close to 3:45 (8:15) pace as long I could, accepting that at some point I would blow up and that by then I'd hopefully have banked enough to scrape under 4 hours.  Not a 'normal' pacing strategy but I was worried that if I started running just under 9 minute miles when it came to the latter stages I'd not have anything left to pick up a bit.

Anyway the race got underway and I slipped into a nice 8:15 pace for the first six or so miles, give or take 30secs for a wee break.  Despite limited training in April I felt okay in the legs but crikey my stomach felt as ropey as a bag of full of ropes. I had only one swig of water until I got the first Lucozade station at 8 miles and after a swig of that, I spent the next mile trying not to lose my breakfast.  Puddles of rain is bad but puddles and other runners breakfast is quite another.
I reached halfway more or less bang on 3:45 pace and started to think that maybe it would be possible to keep up the pace, but by 16 I was starting to slow up a bit and beginning to felt the miles. By 20 I'd worked out that I was still about a minute ahead on my 3:50 pace band but I was loosing about 30 seconds a mile on that.
Just a small puddle!
I should have mentioned that I was I-podded up for this run and until 22 miles I had only one dodgy shuffle.

But just before 22 miles there was quite a steep hill that really started to hurt, then of all the songs on my i-pod, Adele came whining into my ears about some bloke who's she's heard about and who's married now or something. It's not the easiest thing to 'release' the i-pod from my back pocket, switch of the 'keylock' thing with frozen hands and then try and change tracks... But I just about managed it but did a sly walk whilst changing - sadly my wife and sister were just up the road a bit and spotted that!

The next event was my second gel attempt. The stomach was feeling better by now or at least my legs were hurting so much my stomach felt better by comparison so the 23 mile gel station was visited. Another narrowly avoided vomiting incident later 24 miles were ticked off and I knew that I could run 12 min miles and still make sub 4 hours - phew. But if I ran a little bit faster I might, just might scrape sub 3:55 so off I went.  It felt like I'd suddenly started running 7s but the Garmin told me different! The final mile or so was emotional to say the least.  As Doug says on his blog Stadium MK appeared out the trees and suddenly we were a wide open road, running down hill.  The I-pod chose this moment to shuffle onto 'So here we are' by Bloc party which is one of my favourite songs and one of those tunes that makes my hairs stand on end even though I've heard it loads of times.  I've never actually looked up the lyrics until now but after 25.5 miles it seemed much more meaningful... So I've pasted them here with my MK Marathon additions

I caught a glimpse, but its been forgotten (of the stadium and no it's not been forgotten) 
So here we are again (yep)
I made a vow, to carry you home... (yep and I blogged a bit about it) 
I really tried to do what you wanted (run sub 4 hours) 
It all went wrong again (Not this time) 
I figured it out,  (apparently I did) 

Brilliant - those 3m53s of Bloc Party brilliance will stay with me forever.  The song ended just as I turned into the stadium and I pulled out my ear phones and just ran as hard as I could running past the goal and up the side line... and across the finish line.
3 meters  from the finish line if you squint

13 seconds over 3:55 I blame that ALL on Adele and her rubbish relationships!  Anyway I set out in the morning to run sub 4 and was nearly 5 minutes under my target so at that point i was an emotional wreck.  Crying when your out of breath is so hard I gave up until I saw my wife and niece in the stands waving...

Where's Wally (in a yellow top)
Plodding out from the stadium was nice and gave everyone a chance to encourage the people coming into the stadium to finish.

MK Marathon - Done. And I loved it despite the rain, the cold, the mud, the puddles, the floods, the pain and the hills.  All of those things made it a really memorable day but most of all it was the marshals and people that lined the course with so much enthusiasm, energy and at times humour.

The Journey to MK
This whole MK adventure started with a conversation with my sister and Pete. Sis didn't manage to do any training for the race so didn't run (something about a new job).  With 600 odd training miles between us and a 26.2 mile Pete was the clear winner completing his debut in 3:37.  I am seriously impressed with that time and it does give me a target for NEXT time.

Thanks to my wife (Lisa) for taking the pictures and supporting me throughout the journey...

Monday, 30 April 2012


New PB by 29mins 01 secs. A slightly more detailed account of my experience to follow...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Not long now...

It's less than 22 hours until the start of the MK marathon and the weather forecast is looking interesting to say the least. I can't really complain as I was hoping for a cool race but I don't remember ordering 40 mile an hour gusts of wind.  

  • The bag is packed. 
  • Pace bands are printed.
  • Carbs have been loaded. 
  • (Some) Training has been completed. 
  • Hotel's booked and dog sitters organised. 
  • Meal with big sis booked for this evening.

I am ready... (I think).

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Virtual training partner?

I thought I'd introduce my new training partner for 2013, Rosie.

I'm hoping that in 12 months time she'll be big and strong enough to come with me on some shorter runs and be far more interesting that the 'virtual training partner' function on my Garmin.  In the interim she can just look cute and probably eat the furniture.

The plan for tomorrow is a final really long run of about 20 miles followed by an Easter egg based recovery strategy.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Boy Lilikoi

This last week I've rediscovered two running experiences - Running with music and running in the heat. Luckily the weekend was pretty cool so I'll just skim over the heat part, its going to snow (maybe).

I stopped running with my iPod last winter because most local races have banned them and in all honesty I hadn't really missed it.  My home turf is pretty remote therefore all you get to hear is your own footsteps and whatever the environment has to offer that day.  It sort of adds to the isolation, atmosphere and the whole experience.  But I thought I'd dig out the old iPod for a long run over the weekend and I'm glad I did.
Seal (In St Lawrence and not featuring Adamski or on my iPod)
My run took me along my route to work along the sea wall towards Mayland and Lawling Creek and then a loop between the two creeks before retracing my steps.  The first 8 miles ticked by really easily as my iPod shuffled through MY music. It might have been the cooler day but I actually felt quite strong!

I like to think that my wife has pretty good taste in music but then she does also have an affinity to Take That and similar, so I enjoy a few hours listening to  MY music without any complaints.  Don't get me wrong I do appreciate that Gary Barlow can write a decent pop song (I'm nearly middle aged you know) but frankly I can do without being reminded of Morrisons while I'm running.  Typing this now I'm struggling to remember all the songs so I'll just share my 'top five' from the weekend.

5. Price of Gasoline, Bloc Party
Woo hoo I had a political thought during exercise!
4. Counterpoint, Delphic
A cracking tune to run to
3. Second, Minute or Hour, Jack Penate
Actually this is one of my wife's songs, see she does have taste.
2. Overpowered, Rosin Murphy
A long run wouldn't be a long run without this song (or lots of Sigur Ros).
1. Boy Lilikoi, Jonsi
This is the song that shuffled into my ears at the point where I got to the section between Mayland and Lawling Creeks.  It's one of those tunes that builds and builds and makes you feel great when its really loud.  It was made better by the six seals sitting in the mud on the opposite site of the creek watching me run past.  I wonder how many people can say they saw six seals on a run?

The rest of the run was pretty good too, the sun came out and I did a boil in the bag impression as I was fully 'tighted' up again.  It was unpleasantly hot in all that clothing but I just thought I better get used it, it will be summer soon!  So I ticked off 16 miles averaging about 8min30s. Not quite the 8:00's I'd hoped to have been doing at this stage but I am not unhappy with that.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I hate coughing

Although my Essex 20 time was not the fastest, or particularly consistent in terms of pacing, I started that week feeling pretty confident about my ability to get around the MK Marathon in a reasonable time.  I'd done twenty miles and didn't feel too bad.  Two days after that I managed a nice 12ish miles around the village with a more consistent pace and the shins seemed to be holding up nicely.   
Beeleigh Falls
Then I developed a cough which has been hanging around since and as a result I've missed more training runs. About 8 in total including the Great Bentley Half on Sunday just gone.  I feel like I've taken a big step backwards on the training front as well as missing one of my favourite races - frustrating to say the least.    

But still I did manage to get out and do 4 miles at lunchtime yesterday.  After just over a week off it was fantastic to get out in the spring sunshine and run down to Beeleigh falls (picture credit).  It's only a short run but its got a bit of everything including some proper steep hills depending on the route.  That spring feeling's started me thinking about running to work again. 

The view on the run to work
Running along the sea wall to work is about 14 miles door to door.  I'm not really a morning person and but I do enjoy the novelty of being out first thing particularly when its a nice morning.  Last time I ran it was not nice in the slightest! Sea walls are great when the weather's nice but when the rains coming down and the wind is blowing they are bleak. The fact you end up running in and out of all the creeks also make that route mentally tough too.  
So the plan for the rest of the week is to try and get out and do a 'long as possible in whatever time I have' run tomorrow.  Thursday I'm off doing a six mile(ish) run testing out a walking route with a colleague.  Friday AM is the current day for a trot to work along 'the wall'.  Certainly a good way of getting a long run in without upsetting the family too much.  At some point over the weekend I need to fit in an 18 miler and a sport relief mile! More on that later in the week probably. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Twenty (6.2 miles too short)

A fellow 'Fetchie' described the Essex 20 course as flat with definite PB potential.  He was right about the PB (as I'd not done a 20 mile race before) but he was wrong about the flatness!

The course (not flat)
I'd call the Essex 20 course all sorts of things. On Sunday it was wet, cold, windy, undulating, and at times rolling but definitely not very flat.  No matter though as I had thought about the possibility of a few lumps and in a perverse way I quite like running up hills.  The race was three laps of the the Langham 10k course (which 'apparently' also has PB potential).  I've only done one other lapped race so this was going to be something a bit different for me.

My plan was to run the first 10k at about 9:30-9:45 pace, the second at 9:00 and the last at 8:15-30(ish).  The logic was just to treat it like a long run, not get too carried away by the 'race', get some miles on the clock and not ruin my legs.  Like many of my runs I didn't quite stick to the plan and I knew that was the case but until about five minutes ago I didn't realise quite how far off the plan I was.  I've just looked at my 'auto' split times from my Garmin which clearly isn't overly accurate and seems to knock of a few feet of each mile. I've noticed this at races before and its a bit frustrating to hear it beep for a mile when you're 100m from a marker post.  Anyway - according Garmin I did 20.25 miles and the last 'lap' was at 7:14 pace. The rest of the laps look like this.

1 - 9:04,  6 - 8:45,  11 - 8:50, 16 - 8:25
2 - 8:34,  7 - 8:48,  12 - 8:18, 17 - 9:26
3 - 9:12,  8 - 8:22,  13 - 8:31, 18 - 9:32
4 - 8:46,  9 - 8:28,  14 - 8:25, 19 - 8:40
5 - 8:50, 10 - 8:37, 15 - 8:35, 20 - 8:32

What does all that tell me? Well for one I'm not great at pacing myself but I knew that already. Second it tells me that I can run at about 8:30 - 8:45 pace for quite a long way and I kind of knew that too.  So I guess the most important lesson was that even running at quite a conservative pace hurts after about 14 miles and after 17 it really starts to hurt.  And I have to remember feeling and get the old bod ready for it and stop skiving off my long runs. Quite probably I also need to mix it up a bit more with some faster paced runs or speed work. Since my shin problems I've really held back from running 'hard'.

Crispin Bloomfield
At about mile 13 (I think) I got lapped by the race winner Paul Molyneux from Springfield Striders.  Instinctively you would have thought that being lapped would be a pretty crap experience but actually it was inspiring to actually see the race leader (even if he did pass me as if I was walking).   I worked out he did about 5 minute 25 pace all the way around!  Later on I got overtaken by Crispin Bloomfield (pictured) from Billericay Striders and winner of loads of other races I've done in the past.  I've never met Crispin but I felt the need to give him a bit of a yell which he acknowledged with a little thumbs up.  That tiny moment distracted me for the next few miles as I reflected (again) on how even an elite runner could acknowledge the existence of others but not some bloke on Maldon By-pass*.

Other stuff 
After looking at the forecast my 'support crew' decided that three hours standing around in 6 degrees and heavy rain was not their idea of fun and would stay at home - I can't really blame them. So I was alone and feeling very 'unattached' with all the club runners everywhere.  There's something great a looking out for supporters as your plodding away and that was missing from Sunday's run.  I wont deny the last mile was tough, I'd been running just in front of one guy for ages - 6-7 miles and in that last mile he just went past me, but I tried to up the pace a bit and give it a bit of a last push.  As I approached the finish I could see this little boy who was about the same age as my son waiting with his mum for someone to come past.  But there, just beyond them was another little chap who actually was my son standing with his mum waiting for me. After 20 miles surprises like that are emotional.  

* p.s. thanks for your comment Doug if you read this

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Essex 20

Despite the weather it was an 'enjoyable' race. I managed to plod round in just under 3 hours.
More to follow!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Never eat shredded wheat (NESW)

The plan was to run 20 miles on the Sunday just gone.  It seems that unless you like going around in lots of circles or doing out and back route, proper long runs take a bit of planning. So Saturday evening was spent doing just that - Well that and trying to find my local OS map without success.

The result of all that plotting, undoing and re-plotting was this mighty loop around the Dengie. Surely it had everything I like in a local run, sea walls, sea, isolation, big skies and even views of an offshore wind farm!   I'd also pass through three unconquered Fetch conquercise areas - brilliant.

Sunday morning was bright and pretty crispy so I was really really looking forward to it.  Especially as before I left the house I put a nice leg of lamb in the oven to cook away and share with the in-laws later in the afternoon.  Household chores out of the way I set off stocked up with jelly babies, 'sports' drinks and a banana. 
The only bit of the run I was worried about was around 11 miles where I had to turn off the sea wall and start heading back for home.   The first part of the run was certainly chilly, but there's plenty of wildlife and marshy goodness to enjoy and distract me from any niggles or negative thoughts.  The first milestone was Bradwell marina which is about 4.5 miles in, after that its a quick hop through Waterside towards the old Power Station. 

At Waterside theres a nice little sailing club that I always think looks really friendly and there sitting in their dinghy park was one of two 'soap dish'es.  I'm not going to bore anyone with why this boat is so special but it is, and I was both really excited and sad to see it sitting there a bit unloved.  For some reason I alway feel that boats have souls and need rescuing, so spent the next bit of the run thinking all about how I could - but most likely wouldn't.  As much as it was a radical boat for its day it was also a bit of a dog.  

Next stop and jelly baby point was St Peters on the wall which was the subject of an earlier post.  At this point I think I upset a gaggle of bird watchers who were amassed looking south down the sea wall which was also my route home... After a bit of cursing and tutting they abandoned their 3 foot telescopic lenses for tea.  I'm not sure whether that was because I scared off the birds or that they just didn't want a telescopic look at my lycra clad arse. Either way they I got the distinct impression they were not happy.  I can understand that I guess. 

Grumpy bums
I actually saw another runner at this point on the run.  One of those ones thats all, heads down, and too cool to say hello or even acknowledge the presence of another human doing the same thing.  There's a few like that in Maldon that I've come to recognise.  For some reason I always get some weird satisfaction from combatting their unfriendliness with a really over enthusiastic, cheery wave and greeting.  Would it be that hard just to nod? Anyway...   I was making good progress, and was ticking along at round about 09:45 - 10min mile pace which was just fine.  The next milestone was the right turn onto a public footpath. But sadly, the footpath was not in the slightest bit easy to find, or follow.  So I merrily ran past my turning and then spent the next 20 mins trying to find a way to get back on track.  Phoning my wife didnt really help as much as I had hoped.  The conversation went something like this. Wife - 'What can you see?' Me - 'well , I can see a sea wall, a field and a drainage ditch'. Wife - 'Hmmm I'm not sure that helps there's 8 miles of that', Me - 'yeah I kind of thought that might be the case. See you in a few weeks then'.  In the end I did find a farm track that led back inland and eventually to what any sane person would call the middle of nowhere.  It was time to request a pick up before the in-laws turned up! 

So it was a 16 miler in the end and frustratingly I still haven't broken the 20 mile mark. 
On the plus side the shin didn't give me any grief.  I have learnt exactly where the footpath IS for next time and where it rejoins the 'main' road.  I found an old legend of a boat looking a bit sad in a dinghy park. I found that I can drink SIS sports drinks without any issues and I had a cracking bit of lamb in the afternoon. 

Next time I do a run like that I'm not going to leave home without the OS map though.  Oh and I ticked off a few more zones and am slowly reaching Dengie domination on Conquercise. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

20 miler tomorrow

I've just finished mapping out a 20 miler... that will test the leg out I suspect.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Restart tomorrow

It's been a while since the last post.  The Great Bentley Half sadly didn't happen because of the snow, but my legs been playing up so a weeks proper rest might have done me some good. However Im now behind (significantly) on the training plan so Im getting back on it tomorrow. To start with just a gentle 8.5 miler and we'll see how that goes.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Heaven knows I'm (not so) miserable now

I decided that my last post was just a little bit too negative - sorry about that.  I've also had one complaint about the photographic content being 'horrible' - sorry about that as well.

MK MarathonLooking around at some of the MK marathon training blogs it does appear that I'm not alone in struggling a wee bit with positivity.  Reassuring I think!  Perhaps its the weather and that time of year?  However I am happy to report today that the pain in the shins does not appear any worse, despite reading all about injuries last night in Mens Running mag.  With the Great Bentley Half coming up at the weekend I've decided to hold back on harder running for this week and save it all for then.  My bike might make a rare appearance one or two lunchtimes for a bit of open air cross training to get the heart rate up a little.  The primary reason for any heart rate will probably be caused by me forgetting to un-cleat in front of work colleagues rather than any physical effort.  

The MR article about injuries (but mostly cross training) also made me think about how little I stretch at any point during the day let alone after running so I've set myself a New February resolution. To stretch properly after running and do a few other stretchy things in the evenings instead of sprawling out on the sofa.  I hope with those precautions I can avoid to much in the way of serious niggles or full blown injuries.  

In other news - I got my number for the Essex 20 (Mile) road race today and another run to look forward to. Entering an event with a cheque and SAE also gave me a lovely warm fussy retro feeling a bit like drinking Ginger Wine at Christmas.  Attempting a 20 mile road race is not something I've done before and will be a real benchmark for MK. It's a month and a bit away at the mo so I have plenty of time to decide on my approach.  We'll see how this weekend goes before I foolishly commit myself to attempting to run a particular time or pace.  If nothing else I cant fail to PB on the 20! 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dark, dark, places

It's been nearly two weeks since my last post on here which probably is a result of 1. finding it hard to find time to run let alone writing about it and 2. having lots of other things to do at home, such as making some new wardrobes.  I say making, I mean assembling them really!

The last week's been pretty tough in terms of running motivation.  I've been struggling with a few niggles by far the biggest is calf pain / shin pain.  According to a running friend 'shin splints are worse than child birth' so, unless womankind has been exaggerating for years, I don't think it's shin splints.  Perhaps just a bit of a strain and just my body telling me the training is having an impact.

Thierry (Yucky) 
Niggle number 2 is my sixth toe which seems to be developing nicely. It's by no means the biggest blister I've had in my running career but its a right pain in the... big toe.  It's been causing all sorts of drama in the dressing room and it suddenly came back after a few years away so I've called it Theirry.   Niggle number 3 is more minor but effects my walking gait.  I have what you might call 'intimate' chaffing, thats a pain in the arse.  Must remember to pack the Vass.

On Friday, I'd planned on running 10 miles after work.  It was one of those occasions when I was very, very tempted to just get in the car and head home.  But I decided a trot down to Hoe Mill Lock, Ulting was what I really needed to do, although it only works out about a 8.5 miles round trip.  With the niggles at the fore I concluded that it was probably best to run very gently.  Once out of Maldon it's dark dark countryside all the way, so head torched up I set off plodding away.  At about 3 miles the calf/shins seemed to have loosened up enough to begin to enjoy things.  There's a few fishing lakes near the lock and in the darkness, all I could hear was ducks and geese going about whatever they do in the dark.  Whatever they do do it sounds spooky on your own.  The lock is about half way and running wise I felt quite relaxed and so I sped up a little bit.  The next next two miles passed quickly and then I felt a very unnerving feeling. Was it wind caused by the tin of chickpeas I'd munched at lunchtime as a garnish to left over chilli? Or was it something much more sinister?  I was not prepared to find out.  I blame the next few miles of paranoia on Tonky Talk in last months Runners World which was about runners bowel movements.  I know some people really suffer with faecal issues but fortunately, and touching wood not cloth, I had never experienced any problems in that department.  Never before had I spent 3 miles looking for discreet places to crouch.  With immense concentration, I focused on the thought of Tesco's loos which by then were only a mile or so away...  But strangely by the time I got to Tesco the feeling had disappeared as quickly as it arrived and I was back focussing on how much the niggles were niggling.  An unusual sense of relief!   I managed to get another half mile on to the end of the run by doing a couple of circles around the streets near work, but decided to call it a night at that.

Everyday is like Sunday
Sunday's planned run was a 11 miler, as I've got a Half coming up next weekend. So I met up with my Maldon based running chums and set off again to Hoe Mill lock with the plan of adding on a bit at the end.  What a difference a days rest makes.  The shins where not sore, the bowels were fine, but the chaffing and blister remained. Still thats another 11 ticked off the plan at a nice gentle pace.  It brings the months running total to 106 miles which isn't too shabby considering I missed a couple of longer runs for various reasons.  Most importantly though my running chum who's training for next weekends Half did really well and ran strongly.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Game of Two Halves

Sunday was 'long run' day for me as I am sure it was for lots of other people.

Earlier in the week I'd agreed to run with a work colleague (and friends) who were also training for the Great Bentley Half in February. That was fantastic news as it meant there was no bailing out and finding the Sunday sofa a bit too comfortable. As good a plan that was, I also needed to get a few more miles done than the 8.5 miles my running chums had planned.  My perfectly simple solution was to go off and run another 7 or 8 miles after trotting around the first bit.  The first part of the run was a pleasure, with people to talk to and encouragement flowing in all directions.  The sun was out, there was not too much breeze, it was without doubt a crispy, winters day and in my mind, perfect running weather.

One of our conversations was about how psychological running is.  One day you can feel like you're gliding along with efficiency, grace and a spring in your step.  On another day you feel like you're dragging a tyre around your waist and one behind you and your trainers are filled with lead.  Despite having 11 odd miles in my legs from my Friday run I felt good, happy and confident that the next 7 would be a breeze.

So I left my running friends and set off for my second 'lap'.  The first few miles were great, they weren't fast but I felt okay until the running demons came out.  They started telling me I hurt, my legs suddenly filled with cement and my spring was replaced with flat footed plodding.  The voices started to tell me things like 'run/walking is perfectly acceptable' and 'see that gate, stop there'.  It was tough going and somehow managed to experience the spring and the plod all in the space of a few hours.

I've been running long enough to know that you need long runs for very good reasons, but this was my first one after a such a tough running week.  Still, if I actually want to get around that Milton Keynes course in a decent time I'm going to have to get used to that kind of hurting.  My four mile recovery run today certainly hurt.  Hopefully it did its job though as its a 8 mile Fartlek session tomorrow. Gulp.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Good Bye Old Friends

On saturday I made one of the most difficult decisions I had been faced with (for at least a week).  I threw out my Asics Cumulus 9s.  They were my second pair of proper running shoes and took me to Half Marathon PB's at Cardiff and Great Bentley on two occasions before they were cruely replaced by my Cumulus 11s.  I'd been occasionally getting them out the bottom drawer of my trainer storage facility for the last year and running in them.  They were great and I kind of liked the 'slick' finish on the sole that they ended up with.  However time stands still for no trainer the 9's are in the bin and the 11s are now reserved for special occasions.  I have a pair of Nimbus 12 which are naff gold and shiney and nowhere near as nice as either pair of Cumulus - somehow they just feel too solid and clumpy.  Current favourite race wear  are my Trainer-DS' which are fantastically light and great to run in.  So alongside my Asics Trails and Salomon Speedcross and my original Asics that's total of 6 pairs of trainers at my disposal.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Revision timetables

Many years ago when doing my GCSEs and A-levels I seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time planning my revision.  Developing a training plans for running has re-ignited that strange, creative passion for carefully categorising and then colouring things in. 

With the aid of Fetcheveryone and Excel it is much easier and I can even plan which route I'm going to run months in advance!  Of course with revision, my time spent planning far exceeded the time I actually spent revising. As I struggled to run last weekend, I started wondering whether training plans were just a new way of planning badly.   There's about 4 years worth of training plans lying around the bowels of my PC.  Looking back it's clear that despite some plans being more successful than others, my mileage totals do suggest training was undertaken.  Whereas my academic qualifications suggest that wasn't perhaps the case with revision.  

Smart training?
A colleague at work is always badgering me about being SMART about targets I set and that's certainly relevant to training plans but it's a different type of smart I'm thinking about.  As I've already mentioned I failed dismally to get out over the weekend which meant I ended up missing a longish run and then an 8 mile 'fartlek' session on Monday.  Over the years I've read various articles, and from that established that you can't 'catch up' lost training runs by doing more.  You just end up getting injured or over tired which then means you end up missing even more.  So Tuesday night I tried something a little different (for me).  I incorporated some hill work circuits into the early part of what was described in my plan (coloured in black) as - 10 mile 'general running'.  The logic being that the hills would help improve strength. After the hills I'd have to carry on for the rest of the run fairly fatigued and that would help with the stamina?  So in Ben's world theory I would get more benefits than just a general run.  Whether my logic is actually good logic remains to be seen but it certainly made me feel better for missing a few sessions.  

What do I call hill circuits?
After a warm up, I ran to an area where I could do a short hilly or sloped loop. As it happens the uphill section of the loop lasted about 50-60 seconds, I then ran downhill on another road and then completed the loop with a nice flat bit. The total lap lasted about 2m20s. I ran hard(ish) uphill, jogged down hill and then what you might call comfortable pace on the flat bit. After that I ran off and did 7.5 painful miles finishing off, by accident, doing one more steep climb to the end.  My conclusion today is that different bits of me ache which suggests that the session probably did some good.  Next time I'll try and find a longer but less steep hill which I think would be better.  I say next time because I'm going to try and be flexible with my training plan. There's no point worrying about sessions that I miss because life gets in the way.

In other news I've finally entered the Great Bentley half in Feb and sadly I had to miss the last Third Blind mice trail run. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012


With 17 weeks to go to the Milton Keynes Marathon, the training plan officially starts NOW, or more accurately on New Years Day.  So far I'm already behind by a few miles as I missed a long(ish) run earlier in the week.  On Tuesday I was about to go for a quick lunchtime run and made the mistake of looking out the window before getting changed.  The rain was horizontal, the water coming out of the fountain at work was landing about 10 ft away from the pond... Hmm 'maybe I'll wait till after work instead'. The weather didn't improve and nor did my motivation to get blown about or hit by flying fences.  
Wednesday was slightly less windy and a constructive 9 miles were clocked up on some nice quiet lanes near Maldon. 
The plan for the rest of the week is a gentle 5 miles (recovery run) tomorrow at some point, 7miles off road on Saturday, and then whatever I can manage Sunday following the final Christmas get together the night before.  That's assuming I don't get scared of the wind again.