Week ten done

21st December 2019

Ten weeks done, effectively I find myself at the end of the year so it will be a good time to catch up on the week’s training and then reflect on my progress to date. Earlier in the process I set some loose year end goals, so I’ll be taking a look at those.

First, let me catch up on the week. On Thursday I held good on my promise and went to the pool after work. It was a good night to go on as even though there was an aquafit class going all three lanes were available and I had the medium lane to myself. With no distractions I was able to plough through twenty lengths of crawl followed by twenty lengths alternating breaststroke and crawl bringing me to the magic 1km mark. I’m not sure whether to swim for longer in the future or to increase my pace. I think I’ll try and work harder on the first twenty lengths and hold on for longer. I don’t actually know what the benefit of these swimming sessions is, it just makes sense that they’re doing me good. Therapeutically they feel very good for run-tired legs, equally swimming is a good all over workout and if I put a bit more effort in there may be some pay off stamina wise as well. Whatever it is, I’m confident it is a really healthy part of my training so I will continue to develop it.

Distance covered 1km

Friday was the last day in the office before Christmas and we had a lightly boozy lunch before heading home. A slight change of plan was scheduled for Saturday as my son fancied volunteering at parkrun, this would allow us the chance to run there and back. Unfortunately, late on Friday evening a route inspection found large areas of the park under water so the event was cancelled. Rather than head somewhere else I took the opportunity to try a treadmill session instead. I’ve never really used the treadmill in anger since I started road running so haven’t really developed the discipline for it but I fired up the latest Mr Robot episode on my iPhone and decided to see what I could get done in an hour. I set off at a gentle 9:30km/h pace to get my balance before moving up to 10km/h, the first thing I noticed was how hot I was getting. Even just in technical Tee and running shorts I was really working up a sweat, very different to running in the open air. The treadmill had all manner of buttons and switches on it so over the hour I spent a couple of kilometres at a 6% incline and another couple trying to stay upright at 12.5km/h pace. Anyway, the hour passed and while I didn’t quite hit the 10k I was hoping for it was an interesting challenge. I guess running is running but as tiring as this was I’m not sure if it really counts, I’ll include it in my weekly record though. I doubt I’d replace a road session with this but if all else fails and a treadmill session is the only option I’d be happy to have another go.

Distance covered 8.5km

That’s the week done and the final reckoning of the year beckons. No proper long run this week but I’m pleased with how things have gone.

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 1.0km)

3 Runs (total distance 32.8km)

Current weight 12”13’

So, let’s have a look at those year-end targets I set myself back in week 2:

Goal 1: Lose some weight. I started this process at 13”12’, the heaviest I have ever been. First target is to get back to 13 and then try and push on to 12, which I haven’t been for over a decade. If I can be 12 stone on the start line that will almost be victory enough.

Well, look at that. Sneaked in under the wire right at the end. A long way still to go but I have reversed a trend which, seeing as I’m getting into my fifties now, I’m quite relieved to see. Scope to push on in the new year and really roll back the years. Goal Achieved.

Goal 2: Build long run up to half marathon distance and get comfortable (!) running 20k at a time.

Good news, I did two runs of half marathon distance and beyond. I wouldn’t say either were anything but painfully hard work and I can’t claim to be running 20km distances comfortably but I have normalised running 15-16km. There is still some time in the year to fit in one more genuinely long run but even if that doesn’t come to pass I’m going to say that is Goal Achieved

Goal 3: Stay injury free. Running is a non-contact sport so I’m hoping injuries can be prevented through preparation, rest and complementary training.

Despite a couple of scares and one aborted run I haven’t missed a training run or session through injury yet. I’ve no doubt that I’m just loading up a store of bad luck but equally I’m going to give myself some credit for building in complementary training and exercise throughout to balance out the hard yards on the road. For now, that is Goal Achieved

Goal 4: Maintain enthusiasm. Keeping the focus and progression going through the chilly winter will be vital.

I suspect the hard work here is still to come but I think I’m mentally in a good place on this one. I’ve managed the two long runs without hating the running experience. Recent training over the marathon course has boosted my confidence in my ability to succeed on race-day and I’ve tried to be innovative in my training. Given I don’t have a regular training partner I know I will need to continue in this vein to be successful. The weather has been kind to me as well and while it has often been wet it hasn’t really been very cold. I expect the worst is yet to come and those 20 milers in deepest February will be a fresh challenge. Goal Achieved.

Goal 5: Improved parkrun and 10k times. Not expecting any PBs but it would be nice to start closing the gap.

Mixed bag here. Rather than circling the drain at 30 minutes for parkruns as I have been in recent months my last event saw me home in 27:03, my best of the year, and a few weeks earlier I managed a 28 at a tricky course. Still a long way from my best but clearly moving in the right direction. Other parkruns were not so great so I will have to reserve judgement. I haven’t managed any 10k races since I started training so have no idea if I would have got comfortably under 60 minutes. I have to say Goal Not Achieved here and defer to a later date.

I think all these goals will remain live throughout the rest of my training so I’ll have a little think in January and reset them for a midpoint between now and race-day.

I’m not going to take the next couple of weeks too seriously from a training point of view but will catch up at some point to record what I have managed to fit in. That just leaves me to say Happy Christmas to anyone still reading, and thank you to those who have read, commented or otherwise encouraged me in this process. I have so much further still to go but I feel ready for the challenge.

I’ve finished the London Marathon – sort of

19th December 2019

I’ve really got the bug for running the marathon route now and have based this week’s training around this. Running the course has brought a number of positives; it has been a real confidence boost to cover the actual ground that I’ll be running on race day, not least to see how flat most of it is. It has also really freshened up my training and it is invigorating to be running new routes rather than running loops from my house as usual.

On Tuesday I skipped the club run, the last of the year unfortunately, to rest my legs between VLM route practices. Instead I took a spin class, with the same instructor that runs my Sunday morning class. As I’ve said before he is incredibly popular and when I booked his class the night before I was tenth on the waiting list. Come class time though Christmas parties must have taken their toll as the class was only half full at best. It was a good session and I worked hard but the music he played was a real horror show (Baywatch theme and Phil Collins!), I won’t be adding any of those to my running play list anytime soon.

On Wednesday I brought my running gear back into work in order to tackle the final section of the marathon course from Tower Bridge to The Mall. I had some reservations about this as I didn’t want to affect the ‘magic’ of the day but the reality is I’ve run much of this section many times in the past. A few years ago I was working near St Paul’s Cathedral and I would regularly join the Sweatshop running group as they headed along the Embankment to Big Ben and back. Also, I appreciate the reality check this has given me in terms of the finish line. I had in mind that passing Tower Bridge for the last time and having just (just!) 6k to go would bring a sense of job done but depending how the various underpasses and bridge junctions along Upper and Lower Thames Street are tackled this stretch could be quite challenging, not to mention that the turn at Westminster Bridge still leaves a solid mile to the finish line so a reminder that it ain’t done till it’s done is welcome.

The run itself was good and not as busy as when I’ve run it in summer but it was still packed around Parliament Square. I ran there and back and held a good pace despite the crowds but after three days of work my legs are feeling a little tired. On the return leg I held to the Thames Path which took me onto the cobblestones beside the Tower of London, blimey they were horrible to run on. Is my memory correct and did a section around Cutty Sark used to be cobbled? I hope those days are long gone.

Distance covered 13.3km

I’m going to take Thursday as an active rest day. I’ve worked my legs pretty hard for three solid days so tonight I’m going to try and get in the pool session I missed on Monday. With luck I will hit the 1k mark and this will help my legs recover. Friday will be the last working day of the year before the office closes for the holidays and we will be having a team lunch before heading our separate ways. On Saturday I should be able to get a parkrun in to round off the week nicely.

Week ten begins

16th December 2019

Week 10 has arrived and realistically this is the last full week of training for me before I begin a proper marathon training plan after Christmas, this is on the assumption that training next week will be very hit and miss.

Given that the marathon is on 26 April (I’ve checked) my 16 week training plan needs to start on 30 December. That can’t be right can it? It’s a good thing I’m old and won’t be having too much fun on New Year’s Eve, a bottle of wine and Jools Holland should cover it, allowing me to hit a double parkrun on 1 January to start the year in style. My ‘First Marathon’ training plan does seem to expect quite a lot of improvement over the 16 weeks given the low expectations at the start. Looking at weekly effort I appear to be on around week 10 and I certainly don’t feel like I’m within six weeks of being ready. I’ll also want to revisit the year end goals I set at the end of week 2 a bit early; I certainly won’t be weighing myself for at least a fortnight after Christmas.

No training on Sunday. My daughter had a work experience event in London and I spent time dropping her off and then picking her up in the evening. My legs were still a little achy from Friday’s long run home so I was happy to take advantage of another rest day.

On Monday I brought my running gear into the office with the intention of ticking off another chunk of the marathon course. Now that I’ve downloaded a copy of the route (probably 2019’s but close enough) I can see that it can be split into four parts. You have the first section from the start in Blackheath to Cutty Sark covering 10k. I know this area pretty well, it’s at the top of a hill and the roads will be unpleasantly busy to run during the week so I’m going to leave this for race day. The start looks quite chaotic on TV and the profile shows much of this section as being downhill so I think the biggest challenge will be to hold on to the adrenalin and not go off too quick. The second section runs 10km from Cutty Sark to the north side of Tower Bridge, the third section goes 16km around the docklands and back to Tower Bridge and the final section runs 6km along the Embankment to the finish on The Mall. Having had a crack at the long Isle of Dogs loop last week this time I jogged to the nearest station and got the DLR to Greenwich to head off from Cutty Sark. As usual it was quite busy around the centre of Greenwich but once onto the road towards Deptford things eased and it was quite nice to run. There were many junctions and roadworks to negotiate and despite running with headphones I was stopped twice to be asked directions. I’m so painfully polite I paused to help both times, despite not knowing the area that well. To be fair, because I didn’t know the area I was running with my phone in my hand and Google Maps open so I was actually well placed to help.

 I think I detected a slight incline around Rotherhithe but really this is another flat section with only the approach to Tower Bridge affording a couple of hundred metres gently uphill. With roads closed and no worries about getting lost I think this will be a nice, if rather less than scenic, section of the race. I haven’t mentioned pace and in all honesty I wasn’t pulling up any trees but given the many disruptions and still feeling the effects from Friday it wasn’t so bad. It was faster than my expected marathon pace but slower than normal 10k pace and that’s probably about right.

Distance covered 11km

With the lunchtime run and leftover kit from Friday I had too much to carry to be able to go straight to the gym from work so for this week I skipped the pool session. A shame really as I was due to hit the 1k mark this time but hopefully I’ll get that session in soon. I did make the yoga class and this worked out well as once again the focus was on hips and hamstrings and my legs felt much better afterwards.

Tomorrow is club night but given the way I’ve scheduled my runs this week I will be switching this for a spin class.

Ninth week done

14th December 2019

As week nine closes I’m beginning to feel some progress and I can see the benefits from this time spent on early training. I got back to the variety I have been striving for with swimming and yoga back on the schedule and although I only managed two runs both were very encouraging and ground breaking in their own ways.

Tuesday’s run covered the middle section of the London Marathon course, around the Docklands and Tower Bridge area. This was reassuringly flat and ‘doable’ and I’m drawing a lot of confidence now that I have first-hand experience. I have one more week at work before Christmas and I will try and get two more lunchtime runs, one to cover the route from Tower Bridge to Cutty Sark on the south side of the river and one to cover from Tower Bridge to the Mall on the north side. That will be virtually all the route covered and I feel pretty good about myself when I think that.

I drew a blank on Thursday, as term time comes to an end my daughter’s dance classes are winding down meaning I didn’t really have time to get to the gym, plus I was saving my legs for Friday’s efforts.

Friday’s plan was to run home from work, heading out of my office on the north side of Tower Bridge to the outer reaches of the London/Kent borders, just shy of the M25. According to Google maps this would be just over 13 miles and as I would be following its verbal commands I figured it would end up a little higher once my inevitable mis-steps were incorporated. The first half of the run would be through areas I barely knew so I really was at the sat nav’s mercy.

I was a little daunted by the thought of this run and it dominated my thinking for much of the day. In fact, I had been planning for it all week and I felt under some inexplicable pressure through the afternoon to the point that when I set off I felt very low on energy and it took quite a while to get into a rhythm. This wasn’t helped by the rather fiddly route required to get out of the London Bridge area and the decidedly sketchy areas I was being directed through. There were too many gloomy estates, underpasses and dimly lit parklands for my liking and I was happier when I hit the half way mark and found myself on more familiar ground. To be fair, the route was pretty good for running with several lengthy sections that allowed me to strike a regular pace but when you haven’t heard a direction command for several minutes it is easy to wonder if things haven’t disconnected so there were a number of occasions when I slowed to double check my phone. There were a few tough hills on the way and I never really hit the levels of Tuesday’s run so overall pace was a little off. I should give some thought to the differing energy levels between the two runs and see if that is something I can influence. Anyway, I keep reminding myself that pace is not a key factor on these long runs and the fact that the distance is increasing is the metric I need to worry about. I really felt the extra miles on this run and the last 5k was pretty tough going, I’m beginning to understand the idea of ‘getting miles in the legs’. By the end my pace had slowed to the point where I wasn’t tired, or out of breath, but my legs were done and 24 hours later they still ache when I go down stairs. This was a personal best in terms of distance so I will take that over the temporary pain.

Distance covered 23km

There was no parkrun this week, a family trip to a Christmas themed escape room early on Saturday took precedence. I’d like to take credit for any success but the reality is the kids did all the heavy lifting while I lucked into solving a couple of clues. Lunch in Nando’s and a little Christmas shopping filled the rest of the day, although to be fair I spent most of the time in Runner’s Need choosing a spare pair of running tights and gloves. I might look at a new pair of running shoes in the new year, now that I’m running longer distances I’m not sure mine are entirely appropriate.

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.9km)

2 Runs (total distance 39.4km)

Current weight 13” 1’

One more week of term/work before the Christmas break. That’s one more week of routine followed by a fortnight of, well, chaos might be putting it a bit too strong but certainly a disrupted training plan is to be expected. Oh well, as long as I can get a couple of runs in each week I should be ok.

Light bulb moments

12th December 2019

After two months of training for the London Marathon I’ve had a revelation, let me explain.

Tuesday would have been a club night but with a Christmas party planned for the evening I decided to take in a run at lunchtime. I work near the river at Tower Bridge and often see runners heading towards the quiet streets of Wapping so on this occasion I decided to join them. It was incredibly pleasant running by the river with empty roads and nice views and despite the chill and brisk winds I decided to extend my run and continued all the way around the Isle of Dogs before heading back to the office. It was while heading round the docklands that I realised I was actually running the marathon route and that gave me a real buzz. And that was the revelation; not only could I train for the marathon, I could quite easily train by running the marathon (or sections of it anyway). From my office at Tower Bridge I could comfortably do the final section towards The Mall, the loop around the docklands or out towards Greenwich on the south side, imagine how confidence building that would be. I just wish I’d thought of it two months ago. As a freelance worker I can’t be sure where I’ll be working out of in the future and I can only rue the missed opportunity.

The run itself went very well, the route was reassuringly flat and I was encouraged by the sights as I passed them; Cutty Sark, the O2 and Canary Wharf. I didn’t follow the exact marathon route; that will use closed main roads and underpasses, but I did stick close to it with long sections following the Thames Path. In fact, these sections were quite tough as the wind off the river was fierce. It was quite the scientific paradox as although I ran the full 360 degrees around the Isle of Dogs the wind managed to be in my face the whole time. Another positive was that on the occasions I slipped off the Thames Path and back onto the main roads the wind dropped virtually to nothing. I was pretty tired after the run and could feel it in my legs through the following day but I had managed a really good pace throughout, significantly up on my target pace. If I could hold that pace for the whole run I would be looking at 4:20 which is light years ahead of what I expected to achieve.

Distance covered 16.4km

Wednesday is a rest day and after that 10 miler my legs needed the break. I spent the evening watching Spurs play out a dead rubber against Bayern Munich, which we inevitably lost, and then enjoyed the spectacle of the Apprentice candidates being humiliated at the interview stage by Lord Sugar’s roll call of stooges. This is panto telly and really offers a misguided view of what business is like but you can’t deny the formula works.

Planning for the rest of the week is tricky. This close to Christmas means training time at the weekend is at a premium and I may end up drawing a blank. I could head out on Thursday evening but I have something special planned for Friday and I think I need to save my legs for that. I might be able to squeeze in 30 minutes on the gym floor but I doubt I’ll manage much more.

On Friday I plan to run home from the office, something I’ve often thought about but never done. According to Google maps it should be around 13-14 miles so right on the money for distance at this stage of my training. I just really need to give some thought to the logistics involved. I’ll need to leave my work clothes in the office over the weekend so I can’t take anything I’ll need before Monday. I’ll also need to carry keys, wallet, oyster card etcetera back home so I’ll have to use a running bag or something. I’ll figure it out. The other problem is I don’t know the way and there’s no chance I’ll learn the route by tomorrow so I guess I’ll find out how good the voice directions on Google maps are. It should give me plenty to talk about next time.

Week nine begins

9th December 2019

Last week was very run focused and while my total mileage was significantly up, albeit with only a modest long run, it was lacking in all complementary training and I’m keen to redress this in week 9.

On Sunday morning I took advantage of no hockey training to return to my regular spin class. It was a good session but I felt a little off and I think my effort levels were slightly down. My legs were tired from the week’s running so I skipped the opportunity to run home, I might regret that though as looking through the week I can only see two opportunities to run before the weekend. I will look at the possibilities of a midday run once I’ve checked the facilities at the site where I’m currently based.

Sunday afternoon was an extended family affair as my dad’s big band (yes, the dad who’s in his nineties) were putting on their Christmas gig and it was an opportunity for many of us to meet up. There were several generations represented, literally from ages 1 to 92, and it was really good fun. In attendance was the niece who’s performance in the 2019 marathon lulled me into entering the ballot and I found out that her husband also has a place for 2020, as does another niece although she will be deferring her place as she will be undergoing fire-fighter training for the first half of next year. My two brother’s-in-law were also there and they’ve both run the London Marathon, one of them actually ran the first ever one back in 1981. All of this was quite reassuring and normalising but perhaps made me feel a little less special.

On Monday evening I was able to return to my ‘active rest’ schedule and spend time at the gym. It’s a tricky little journey from work to the gym and I have to change trains but I managed to get my act together this week and made it there a fair bit earlier than usual allowing me to spend time on the gym floor on the resistance machines between pool and yoga. My swimming has come on a lot since I started going regularly and the discipline of increasing the distance each time has paid off. In the past I’ve never been able to go over half a dozen lengths without a decent breather. Last night I got through 18 lengths of crawl before alternating crawl/breast stroke for the next 18, all with the briefest of pauses after each length to set myself and take a big breath. This was markedly different to before and I felt I could comfortably continue. At this rate I might even start thinking about a triathlon.

Distance covered 900m

The yoga session was hard but really good for my run-worn legs with lots of work around the pigeon poses to really warm up the hamstrings and glutes and I can still feel the stretch on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday evening should be club night but the office Christmas party is planned instead so I’ve brought my running gear to the office and will try and get something in at lunchtime. I work near the Thames so there should be plenty of easy to follow routes I can use.

All in all a good start to the week with all complementary training boxes ticked already.

Eighth week done

7th December 2019

A busier end to the week than usual but I find myself in a better position than at the start when a pain in my ankle was so acute that I had to give up mid-run. I wonder if I’m too sensitive to injury fears and while I feel I am right to listen to my body and stop an exercise if pain dictates I should also be more confident in my powers of recovery. A dab of Deep Heat goes a long way.

Wednesday was a rest day and a chance to see Amazon Prime’s coverage of the Premier League. Have to say first impressions weren’t great as Spurs lost but, really, coverage across all channels is so boilerplate it makes no difference where you watch it. Remove the logos and they would be indistinguishable.

Thursday saw me working from home and I thought I would try something different so I headed off at 7:00am with a 15km loop in mind. This is a favourite route of mine with a good selection of hills and a couple of nice long, flat sections where you can cover some decent mileage without being distracted by junctions and thoughts of navigation. It was the basis of my half marathon distance run the other week but I ruined it by adding too many detours with the result that I completely failed to find a rhythm. It was pretty cold and quite frosty underfoot as I set off which meant I wasn’t especially quick although I managed to maintain a solid target marathon pace throughout. I made a point of running all the hills this time but did take a couple of opportunities to walk after a couple of particularly difficult sections. It was at the halfway point, when I was furthest from home when I was struck by an issue that must affect long distance runners regularly. I really needed the loo, and not a Number 1 but a full-on ‘Paula Radcliffe’. What is the etiquette and approach here? Bearing in mind this was in a suburban setting and by now in the middle of the school run any natural solutions would be entirely inappropriate. I didn’t feel any choice but to continue, in increasing discomfort. At one point I passed close by my gym and considered detouring there but I was holding to an even pace in a homeward direction so thought to push on. By the end I had been in a state of clench for quite a while and my pace had suffered accordingly. All in all it was probably my fault for running so early in the morning but realistically how much of a factor is this when running regularly between 3-5 hours. Are there toilets on the course and what state will they be in by the time I roll round? This isn’t something that had occurred to me before, is it something else I need to worry about or will adrenaline see me through. Anyway, upon reflection the run was quite satisfying in that a month or so back this distance was a stretch and this week it felt almost routine. I’m going to take that as a big positive.

Distance covered 15km

I feel bad for missing out on my yoga session on Monday so on Friday evening I made a point of spending 30 minutes running through a series of stretches and poses at home. I missed the structure my instructor brings to her classes but I enjoyed trying. Inevitably I leant heavily on the poses I feel most comfortable with and avoided anything too challenging but I would like to spend more time at home doing these sessions so will begin looking for inspiration online.

Saturday morning was back to parkrun and with no school rugby my son was able to join me for a change. We were back to our home run this week and since I was last here they’ve switched to their winter course to avoid damaging the grass too much. In theory this all tarmac route should be quicker but fitting 700 odd runners onto a narrow pavement makes for a very stop-start experience. It’s been a few months since I was here last so it was nice to be back. The run itself went well and I managed a good pace throughout, even managing to set a year’s best of just over 27 minutes. After a short rest to get my barcode scanned I walked my son to the bus stop and ran home (at a more gentle pace).

Distance covered 10km

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin class

0 Yoga class

0 Swim session

5 Runs (total distance 45km)

Current weight 13” 2’

Strange to see my weight hasn’t changed for a couple of weeks now, that may be something to do with my Beer52 advent calendar but it is frustrating to stall so close to my year-end target. I’m heartened to see that my total mileage increased but I’m aware that this is at the expense of some variety in my training. I will look at getting some balance back in future weeks.

Midweek matters

4th December 2019

Having spent Monday worrying about my ankle Tuesday rolled around and things felt rather better. It was nowhere near as painful but I couldn’t with any confidence say that it had resolved itself.

In the morning I decided to try a quick one mile trot around the block to see if any pain flared up and running at a good pace it was only my hyper-sensitive injury radar that gave any indication of a problem. There were some twinges during the run and through the afternoon but, happily, I felt confident enough to join the others for our regular Tuesday night club run. As there was to be something of a club function afterwards the run itself was on the gentle side and run at a comfortable pace, I probably could have moved up to a faster group but concerns around my ankle pushed me in a cautious direction. As it turns out the social was to ballot off the London Marathon places the club receives both for its recognised club status and for manning one of the water stations on the day. There was no mention for those of us who had places already so that must happen another time. As I say, having had no previous interest in marathons this aspect of the club has largely passed me by but it was heartening to see how excited people were when they won their places. This is in sharp contrast to the feeling of fear and dread I’ve been living under since I got my place. I wonder what it will take to turn this fear into confidence.

Distance covered 10km (2km + 8km)

Wednesday will be rest day and I will be testing out Amazon Prime’s coverage of the Premier League. Not sure I’ve actually earned a rest day and I’m aware I haven’t done anything approaching a long run for a while so I think I will try and get out on Thursday morning and hit something around the 15k mark, assuming there is no further reaction in my ankle.

As an aside, I regularly listen to Free Weekly Timed, a parkrun podcast, and over the last couple of episodes there has been an interview with a physio promoting his new book where he takes a serious look at strength, conditioning and stretching to promote injury prevention for runners. A lot of what he said made sense to me as this is very much on my mind during my training so I think I will have a look. Given my fears around injury impacting my training I’ve tried to approach this myself through yoga and swimming but I would be interested in a more considered opinion. Once I’ve seen it properly I will give it a decent name check and report back my thoughts. That will have to wait, having just checked it isn’t release until late January.

Week eight begins

2nd December 2019

After last week’s relative rest and recuperation I had hoped to be heading into this week feeling stronger and refreshed but that isn’t the case.

Having missed out on a run on Saturday I skipped my Sunday morning spin class in order to fit in a longer run while my son played hockey. I added another chunk onto last week’s 8k route hoping to take it to around 11-12k. This route is quite gentle through a pleasant suburb with only a few short inclines and although it is getting cold these days I set off in good spirits. All went well for 8km and I was managing a good pace, closer to my target marathon pace which would get me home in around 4:40. But for no discernible reason at this point my right foot and ankle began to really hurt, it was clearly something beyond the usual twinges you get and walk/jogging for another kilometre did nothing to reduce the discomfort. I cut the run short and walked back to my start point with a very furrowed brow. My biggest fear in preparing for the marathon (apart from the doubt that I’m good enough to finish) is injury. Having suffered a couple of injury episodes down the years I am hyper-sensitive to anything that might require long term attention. I could feel it through the rest of the day and as I write this on Monday there is still something there. I’m not a medical professional but I don’t like it. The other week I ran head first into a tree and came home bloodied and bruised but didn’t have a second’s worry that it would put me off course. Today my ankle is hurting in a way that most definitely has my finger hovering over the panic button.

Distance covered 10km

Monday evening is normally an active rest day with swimming and yoga but this week I will be visiting my dad on the other side of London. He’s in his nineties now and on his own since my mum passed a couple of years back so I try to get up to see him every couple of weeks. I’m hoping the day off will help my ankle to settle.

Tuesday night is club night and this week’s will be a bit special as it is focused on the marathon. Each year the club gets allocated several places for the London Marathon and these are distributed to active club members via a ballot. This will happen tomorrow after our normal run and there will also be a bit of a celebration for everyone who has a place in one of the spring marathons. I don’t normally attend this session, given my previous indifference to marathons, but I am looking forward to it this time. It is at a different location to normal so running there isn’t such an attractive option, but I should be able to run home giving me a total mileage of around 14k for the evening. This is all dependent on my ankle feeling better so fingers crossed.

Seventh week done

30th November 2019

Week seven complete and I have to admit things are getting a little scruffy. I’ve fallen out of routine a little and my intention to make this something of a rest and reset week leaves me feeling like I’ve lost some momentum. To let you glimpse behind the curtain a little I must also admit I’m writing this update on a Monday and something happened on Sunday’s run that has given me a wrinkle of concern. Nothing major and I will talk through it on my next update but it does play into my main fear in the marathon prep. More of that later, for now let’s return to the week just gone.

Friday was very much a night off from training as I was planning an evening out with some dads from my son’s school. Although we all work across central London we often meet in Sevenoaks as it is more relaxed and still easy for us to get home from. However the events on London Bridge that afternoon meant all stations near us were closed and we decided to stay in town instead. I work hard by Tower Bridge so this attack was very much on my doorstep and I know the area where it happened very well. As always, I am awestruck by the bravery of those who tackled the man and the swift and decisive actions of the police to bring the situation to a close. I’ve worked in London all my life and I remember when I started back in the late eighties it was IRA bombs causing disruption and through the years I have found myself there or thereabouts for other incidents where people seek to make their statements through violence and fear and it is consistently affirming to witness how people on the scene come together in their stoicism and their unwillingness to be cowed or distracted from their quotidian life.

Anyway, no politics here and I need to talk about my training. The evening was enjoyable and I had several beers followed by a hearty Italian meal accompanied by a couple of bottles of wine. What the hell, I’m not training for the Olympics here.

Saturday’s plan had me running at a new parkrun close by where my son was playing rugby but what a clustermuddle that turned out to be. On Friday I had checked out the ‘parkruns near me’ site and saw there were five suitable events close by the school he would be playing at. Three of these I had done before so I plumped for the nearest new one. Come the morning we arrived at the frosty car park at 8:30 and I prepared to leave him grumpy and moaning with 45 minutes to kill while I jogged the mile and a half to the 9:00 start. It was then that the plaintive cry came out ‘did you pack my boots?’  ‘No’ I replied, ‘didn’t you pack your boots?’ I already knew the answer. It was a twenty minute journey home and another thirty back (traffic getting worse) but while I resigned myself to missing the parkrun I figured I would have 40 odd minutes to get my own run in while he warmed up with the team. In the end we made it back just before 9:30 only to be told we should’ve been at a different set of playing fields a couple of miles away by someone helping out at the school. He then gave me a long string of directions; second left then right then right again then first left then second right he didn’t say because he clearly didn’t appreciate the three instruction rule and I’d forgotten what he’d said even as I thanked him and rolled up my window. ‘Did you get that?’ I asked my son, he replied ‘yes’ and got us there first time. I guess that’s why he made it into a grammar school and I didn’t. Anyway, the upshot was we only made the right place ten minutes before kick-off and I had no time to run. And that isn’t even the worst of it. By the by, the match was a lot of fun as he had several primary school friends on the other team so beating them comprehensively was very satisfying.

No, the real kicker came later when I checked my Strava feed and saw several of my running club colleagues had gone to that very same parkrun as part of a club event I hadn’t been paying attention to. And they were all posting photos of themselves standing next to Dame Kelly Holmes! Of all people, can you believe it? I tried not to make too big a deal out of it to my son, but, arghhh!

So, that’s the final running diary entry for the week with no running to report on. Great.

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.8km)

3 Runs (total distance 26km)

Current weight 13” 2’