A much delayed long run

8th November 2019

As I feared, I missed out on both my club night and a long run on Tuesday. The sixth form open evening was a success insofar as we got to speak to several teachers about A Level options and my daughter met a couple of old primary school friends who are considering transferring over. The upshot was by the time we got home and I was in a position to head out it was knocking on nine thirty which is a bit late to be planning a long run. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Hold that thought, come Wednesday evening I realised that Tottenham would be live on telly in the Champions League so I wouldn’t have time for that long run then either. However, to avoid a complete washout I managed a quick, tempo run early in the evening so that I didn’t feel like a complete failure. Around a familiar local 5k loop I managed to hit a good pace and stretch my legs a little, I felt good during and after so maybe there is some benefit to this training after all. Plus Spurs won comfortably, so a positive evening all round. I’ll do that long run tomorrow.

Distance covered 5km

The stars aligned on Thursday. I worked from home so was able to get everything completed and be ready quite early in the evening and had been building myself up for the long run all afternoon. With no club run in the middle I plotted out an extension of my normal loop in the knowledge I would have to do it all myself. These extensions are all based on a neat 10k loop I’ve done many times and I think I can continue to extend these incrementally for a few more weeks but once I get to around 20-22k I might need to try something different. The trouble is I live right on the outskirts of London and it doesn’t take long, if I go in one direction, before I’m in countryside with no street lights and no pavements. Given I usually run late in the evening this isn’t the safest environment to run in. This leaves me with one direction to build a long run around and I worry that repetition may become a factor. For now though it’s quite fun to build up the loop and this route was nice to follow with some longer stretches, some hills and enough variety to stay interesting. I also managed to hit my first milestone, a ten miler. Thinking about it, last week’s 15k should probably have been a milestone as well so maybe I need to get my head around this so I don’t miss any others.

Proposed milestones:

15k – DONE

10 Mile – DONE

10 Mile Race – Target 2019

20k – Target 2019

13.1 Mile – Target 2019

13.1 Mile Race – Target 2020

25k – Target 2020

3 Hour Run – Target 2020

30k – Target 2020

20 Mile – Target 2020

20 Mile Race – Target 2020

4 Hour Run – Target 2020

26.2 Mile – Target 2020

Have I missed any? As you can see, I am desperate for any motivation and approbation even if it comes from within. Writing down those big numbers has given me a slight turn but in for a penny, in for a pound.

The run itself went well; even running solo I was able to maintain a good pace. While somewhat short of what I’d hope to be running come race day it was satisfyingly up on recent weeks and fairly consistent throughout. I admit I walked a few sections and I also had a few niggles here there in my foot and calf but all evened out and by the end I felt as if I could have gone on further. Once home I did a twenty minute stretch and roller routine and while my legs felt drained overnight and this morning by lunchtime they were back to normal.

Distance covered 16.3km (10.12 miles, oh yes!)

I’m going to give my legs a rest tonight but I’ll be back to parkrun tomorrow morning after three missed weeks. This should be event number 222 for me and it is a course I have done once before a couple of months back so it will be interesting to see any impact from the recent training.

Third week done

2nd November 2019

Three weeks down and while I’m making progress I still can’t imagine being able to run a whole marathon. It is just so much further than I’ve run before, maybe this realism will stand me in good stead but at the moment it all seems so daunting.

Good habits slipped a bit this week. Shop bought salads instead of homemade and a beer most evenings meant my Goal 1 weight targets were missed but at least I added to my Goal 2 weekly mileage and again ran (largely) injury free.

As with last week I fitted in a quick parkrun substitute before the rugby final on Saturday, this time with my wife and son. Weather was lovely and we ran in bright autumn sunshine through local parks and woods, very lucky as it happens as an hour later the rain was brutal with winds to match. The final was disappointing from an English point of view, we were in such a good position going into the match but South Africa just outplayed us completely and were deserved winners.

Distance covered 5.3km

Next Saturday should be back to normal, son will be back playing rugby so I will fit in a parkrun while he’s warming up and be back in time for the start. That’s the beauty of parkrun, whether he is playing at home or away there is usually one nearby I can go to. I could go on about parkrun, and maybe I will one day, but suffice to say I think it’s awesome. Everything I do with running probably traces back to my first parkrun back in 2011.

Weekly training summary

1 Spin class

0 Yoga classes

0 Swim sessions

4 Runs (total distance 29.3km)

Current weight 13” 5’

Yoga free week

31st October 2019

Woke up on Tuesday still with the sore foot. Strange sensation though, and not particularly similar to plantar fasciitis which feels to me like very sore bruising towards the heel. This was more of a throb in the middle of my arch that would intermittently give the sensation of swelling up and then receding throughout the day. This continued into the evening but I decided to run through it with the option to back out at any time. Running didn’t seem to make it worse and I was able to complete the club run plus a little there and back without further discomfort. In fact the following day, there was no trace of it. I wonder what it was.

So, the run. I’m approaching these Tuesday night runs as my weekly long run and I’m in the process of building them up week on week and here in week three I’ve managed to add an additional 1k as planned. I’m now pretty close to the magic 10 mile mark. Not sure if it is magic, but it feels like a milestone. I ran several when I was training for the half marathon but that was in 2016 and I haven’t come close again until I started this journey. Managed a good pace throughout, the group run was a little down on pace as there were a couple of unscheduled pauses as the group regathered, but overall the pace was OK. No particular physical issues although legs were unsurprisingly tired and a little achy overnight but by the following lunchtime I felt mostly recovered. That was a nice feeling.

Distance covered 15.3km

Wednesday was a parent’s evening at my daughter’s school and we heard lots of encouraging things. It’s GCSE year so lots of pressure but she’s worked really hard over the years and I hope she gets what she deserves next summer. The upshot was I had no time for the usual yoga session which is a shame as that means a blank for the week. I ran through a 15 minute stretching / yoga session at home, probably not very effective but I felt better in myself for having a go.

Thursday evening is an opportunity to try something different. My daughter has a tap class in a local school so I’m getting into the habit of running around the playing fields onsite. The clocks have gone back since the last time I was able to run here and it was very dark so it was a little nerve-wracking in case I found a hole and turned an ankle or worse but the field was in very good condition. The grass was cut for rugby and pretty soon my feet were soaking wet but after a leisurely warm up lap I used the well prepared football pitch for some speed work. Sprint goal mouth to goal mouth and walk back. Repeat until bored. I enjoy this work and hope it is effective but I like putting some power through my legs for a change rather than just worrying about endurance so even for its own sake it is a nice change of … no, I won’t say it. In any case it’s certainly nicer than hill work which I know I will need to include at some point.

Distance covered 3.7km

No run Friday as might be fitting in a fireworks display or at home bonfire, subject to weather.

Saturday is the Rugby World Cup final, England v South Africa, so no parkrun for the third week running. If you’re from a part of the world not familiar with rugby this is a VERY BIG DEAL. My son’s school has cancelled all sporting fixtures (mainly rugby matches to be fair) for the day so the boys and staff can watch. Plan is to get up early and fit in a parkrun equivalent again before settling in to watch the match over a hearty breakfast.

C’mon England!

Week Three Begins

28th October 2019

I need to get more original with the titles of these blog entries as I feel them getting repetitive. I started this blog / running diary as way of keeping me focussed and force me to think about my training and approach and yet I can feel myself slipping into a routine. In some ways this might be a good thing as a good routine could be read as good habits but equally I wonder if it might lead to complacency and a degree of ‘settling for’ at the expense of consistent progress.

To emphasise this Sunday began with an early spin class, this time for 45 minutes and in all honesty not as challenging as last week’s 60 minute class. I had to get this class out of the way early as my son had a hockey match later that morning. It did give me the time to run home again and I will try and combine this with as many gym sessions as possible. Realistically I have a choice of two routes home, one of 5k and one probably around 7k (I haven’t done it yet). When time allows I will try and do the longer route, possibly extending with some twirly bits as I go along.

Distance covered 5k.

Monday evening has my favourite yoga class but again I won’t be able to go for that pool session beforehand. I’m convinced a good swim will be beneficial both for fitness and muscle recovery so I really must make more effort to fit this in. Unfortunately I also missed the yoga class as son’s geography project was being sabotaged by the evil MS Word refusing to format as requested, and I was happy to help.

Went to bed with a sore foot, not sure where that came from as only had easy runs over the weekend. I live in fear of the plantar fasciitis returning so will be sure to do extra stretching tomorrow onwards. Club night and long run tomorrow, hope the foot is ok.

Second Week Done

26th October 2019

So, that’s two weeks down. Should I start a countdown? It’s a bit early for that I reckon but I think I should set myself some goals for the year and then begin the countdown after Christmas.

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.

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

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.

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

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

Then I’ll see where I’ve got to at the end of the year and begin the real marathon prep.

Anyway, back to the diary. No training on Thursday or Friday and Rugby World Cup semi-final meant no parkrun on Saturday. However guilt got me up early before the match and I ran a parkrun equivalent distance with my wife. She’s a gym regular and is pretty fit but hates running so I couldn’t refuse when she said she fancied a run. I don’t normally run that early in the morning but it was a really nice time of day, very quiet on the roads and light enough to get back to running in the woods, something which is normally reserved for summer evenings.

Distance covered 5.3km

Weekly Training summary

1 Spin class

2 Yoga classes

3 Runs (total distance 24.5km)

Current weight 13” 6’

Week Two Begins

21st October 2019

Second week of training began on Sunday with a good 60 minute spin class followed by a short trot home. I really enjoy this spin class; the instructor is incredibly motivating and takes you through the peaks and recoveries to get the maximum from the workout. Really gets the heart rate up and brings on a cracking sweat, I’m usually done for the day after this session but I wanted to run on tired legs as I expect I will have to for 25 of the 26 miles come race day.  This doesn’t feel very scientific and probably not good practice but I actually enjoyed it. I took a fifteen minute break after the class to do some upper body resistance work (a variety of presses) to give my legs a breather and then headed off.

It’s a pretty flat route home with one sharp 500m hill and I ran a comfortable 6’30/km pace which is probably somewhere close to my target marathon pace. I felt good at the end but was incredibly tired during the afternoon. I wonder if this tiredness will become a feature of my week as training distances increase.

Distance covered 5k

I had planned to bring in a pool swimming session on Mondays but I had to help with my son’s schoolwork this evening so will aim to start that next week. Finished the day with my regular yoga class, this one is focused on strength and core work with plenty of planks and down-dogs as well as a changing rota of more challenging poses and balances. Club night tomorrow and I need to get back into the habit of attending each week, if I run there and back it should be quite a long distance. I’m not sure it will still count as a long run with the breaks in between, I’ll see how I feel after and decide then. NO EXCUSES THIS WEEK. I MUST ATTEND

First Week Done

19th October 2019

The first week of marathon training is over, how have I done? OK, I think. I ran a little further, ate a little better and drank a little bit less. And I’m not bored yet.

I was able to fit in a second yoga class on Wednesday, less intense than my other class it involves a lot more stretching and prolonged holding of poses. It felt good but some of the poses were beyond my middle-aged frame and an element of frustration seeped in. I like the instructor though and I hope to include this on a regular basis as it will break up my running nicely.

I intended to do some more speed work on Thursday but the biblical rain put me off. I know I should be weather agnostic but there is a reason. I hadn’t seen my son all week and we were going to run together while my daughter had her dance lesson but with the playing fields getting wetter and wetter we decided to cosy up and watch Tuesday’s Bake Off instead. Sometimes quality of life must come first.

To make up for this I decided to run on Friday evening which I don’t normally do. A day working from home meant I could get in a run at five and still spend the evening with the family. I chose an unpleasant hilly route for no good reason and set off. I hit two snags on the way round, firstly I’d forgotten that I’d changed my Garmin’s default from kilometres to miles the other day so couldn’t get my head around the slow progress. Secondly my Bluetooth headphones ran out of juice about two thirds of the way round, right in the middle of a really good podcast. Switched back to kilometres, distance covered 7.7km.

No parkrun today. Rugby World Cup quarter-final this morning so we were watching England v Australia. Took a trip up to London this afternoon and clocked up over 15,000 steps. Is that training? It may not make it to Strava but it was a lot of walking.

Weekly Training summary:

2 Spin classes

2 Yoga classes

2 Runs (total distance 20.8km)

Current weight 13” 9’

Featured

The Start of Something Small

17th October 2019

Hello friend. I say friend because I can’t picture the audience for this blog or think who would be bothered to read it but what the hell, maybe I’ll just do it for myself. And I’m watching a lot of Mr Robot at the moment and I like the whole inner monologue thing.

For the first time in my life I am doing something genuinely challenging, something I don’t really fancy doing and something I could easily quit at any time with no one really caring. No one can do any of this for me and I know I’m going to dislike 80% of what lies ahead just so, in a few months, I can say ‘I did that’. For someone with notoriously low will power this is daunting.

So, assuming this will be a unique and challenging journey for me I thought I would write down some thoughts on the progress I make, the challenges I face and pretty much anything else that I can think of that is relevant in getting me to the start line of the 2020 London Marathon. It’s in April isn’t it? I’ll check that later.