Remember This Run

Remember that run.  That run that you didn’t want to do.

After a long day at work and a long drive home in the pouring rain, you know you’ve got to run.

Get home, run the bath for the kids, get changed, put the kids in the bath and kiss them goodnight as you head out.

Leave a loving partner at home doing the hard work to help you chase your dreams on the winter streets.

No time for dinner and no time to waste.  The only numbers that count are the 50 minutes or whatever your training plan dictates.

It’s dark and raining. Hard. Trainers have just dried out from the last run. Wear a hat, gloves and jacket in a futile attempt at staying warm and dry.

Close the front door and start running. Unable to spot the puddles on the road.  Streetlights illuminating the rain splashing on the ground like sparks.

Feet soaked through.  No point in wearing gloves.  Head’s too hot with the hat on, too cold with it off. Splash in to a puddle. The first mile is done.

Hang on. If you’re out, you’re out. Make it count. You signed up to this for a reason. Make it mean something.

Pick up the pace.  Work hard and envisage the route.  Picture the streets you’ll run and keep the milestones in mind.

The rain gets harder. So what? Wet already and still running well.

Good pace kept up. Run nearly finished.  Add on a loop to top it up by a mile. The reach the front door with a splash and a smile.

Remember that run. The one you’ve just done.

Remember it when you just can’t be arsed, or when the plan dictates a few miles too far.

Remember that run on a Saturday in April, knowing that tomorrow you’ll feel proud because you did the hard work one night in January.

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The Run of a Drowned Rat

The two pieces of information didn’t sit well with me.  Looking at the 14 mile run scheduled on my training plan and then looking up at the weather forecast had my mind racing.

What excuses could the devil on my shoulder give me that would make it OK to stay in bed rather than setting a 7am alarm for my long Sunday run?  My normal running parters, Jim and Leanne, had already given me a warning that they’d not be training if the weather was bad.  I’d already cycled 40 miles on Saturday morning…. surely it was enough?

But another look at my training plan showed that it was 15 miles next week and 16 the week after.  I couldn’t find a hiding place.  No excuse was good enough, so I set the alarm and got up in the dark to go out for the run I knew I had to do.

And I’m chuffed that I did!

It’s the fourth “long” run this year and I’m getting more and more confident each week.  Last weeks run was a bit of an epiphany for me.  I actually did what I’d say to everyone else: set off at a steady pace and kept it steady throughout – finishing with a better average over 13 than I had done over 12 the week before.

This week I satisfied my need for speed with a high tempo 6.5 miles on Friday so, once again, steady was the name of the game.  And it’s just as well.

As soon as I left the village I was running (largely up hill) in to the wind for 5 miles.  The wind. The icy wind.  The very strong, icy wind. The very strong, icy wind carrying very heavy, very wet rain.

I was delighted to turn out of the wind with an average pace of just under 8 min/m but I was completely saturated.  You know when you’re so wet that your feet squelch in your trainers? Yeah, just like that.  But I felt great.

Steadily bouncing along another 4 miles or so I reached the bottom of a steep climb (coming out of Croft towards Huncote in case you know it) but still kept a fantastic rhythm going.  I slowed a little after that though.  I lost concentration and started fantasising about what I was going to eat when I got home!  The prospect of scrambled eggs and baked beans cost me about 20 seconds on that mile!!  But as I turned a corner, my daydreaming stopped.

The sight of an overflowing ford known as Watery Gates reminded me that I’d had an easy ride in the elements for the last few miles.  The following wind had tricked me in to thinking that the rain had stopped.  So, it was with an impending sense of doom that I tackled the last three miles.

One more right-hander and I was head-on in to the elements again.  The steady, mile long rise combined with the stinging rain and battering wind made it the hardest mile of my training so far.  There was an upside to the conditions though: my legs were so cold that they didn’t ache, so I was able to push as hard as possible to keep the pace up.

After a brief respite, another battle in to the wind got me home with 14 miles on the clock and an 8.02 min/m average pace.  Spot on!  If I can turn out that sort of pace in those sort of conditions I think I’m in good shape to look towards sustaining that pace come April.

So if there are any fellow drowned rats reading this, give yourself a big pat on the back and recognise that it’s runs like the ones we did today that will make the difference when the weather turns.

(The eggs and beans were delicious too)

Not the sort of bonk you want …

Check out how smug I was in my last post where I was bragging about how I’d done so well losing weight since the turn of the year!  Well, I learnt a good lesson about dieting and training on Saturday morning.

I was delighted to get out on the bikes with my mate Stu who I cycled to France with.  He’s had a number of injuries over the last 12 months but seems to be on the mend so I hope he’ll be out with us more often this year.  We had a good chat and some banter around the first 27 miles of our route, then Stuey sensed the end was in sight and picked the pace up a little.

In normal circumstances I find the last 8 mile run-in on this route a good blast. It’s largely downhill from a beautiful village called Bitteswell, along quiet country lanes in the Leicestershire countryside.  Anyway, on Saturday I wasn’t so keen.

As soon as I had to start working harder, I found there was nothing in the tank. My quads felt heavy and ached to the point of exhaustion as I tailed behind Stu who was holding a 19-20 mph pace.  As soon as we hit the solitary incline on the run home I dropped way back despite pushing as much as I could.  The rest of the way home was just a case of keeping the wheels spinning and reserving some strength for Sundays 12 mile run.

Now, I do suffer from bad days from time to time and I am conscious that form and fitness only come along with hard work and dedication.  But this felt like something different and it didn’t take much analysis to work out what was going on.

I think I bonked.

Bonking is a “technical” cycling term relating to the point when you’ve got no energy left to draw on in your body.  Chris Froome was in danger of doing it in last years Tour de France and suffered a 20 second penalty when he got a late energy gel from the ever-loyal Richie Porte.  I’m not saying that the situation coming in to Sapcote was anything like the one Team Sky endured on l’Alpe d’Huez, but I do think I bonked!

A picture from the BBC showing Froome and Porte

Looking at what I ate on Friday helps explain.  With a total intake of around 1500 calories I hadn’t fuelled up for the ride which burnt 1200 calories in itself.  The tank was well and truly empty!

On rides of that distance I don’t bother with snacks but could’ve murdered a banana just to get some strength back.  As soon as I got home I started steadily carb loading with some macaroni cheese for lunch and a pasta dish for dinner.  I think I just about got enough in to cope with the 12 mile run on Sunday, but won’t be risking the same situation happening again.

So, lesson learned: In place of my daily tuna salad I’ll be having a pasta salad on Fridays from now on, with a proper carb balanced dinner in the evening. That’s about the best I think I can do to prevent any unwanted bonking in the future but I’m open to other suggestions?…

Progress Already!!

Just a short update on how the New Year has faired so far.

Each week I’ll be (trying) to do a weigh in to gauge my progress to running the Brighton Marathon a good few pounds lighter than at the turn of the year.

I know that these things seem easier when you’re just in “in the zone” so I’m hopping that blogging about it will keep me in that zone for as long as possible.

Anyway, we’re one week in to the New Year – how is everyone getting along with their plan and resolutions?  From my perspective it was about getting back to fitness, more clean living and dropping a few pounds.  Here’s what I have changed:

  • Back on the training plan and I have run 4 times/27 miles
  • Completely cut out some “bad” stuff:
    • The B’s = bread, biscuits, booze
    • The C’s = crisps, chocolate, cheese
  • Used My Net App to stay on top of what’s going in and what’s being burned
  • Started back on skimmed milk and cereal for breakfast
  • Fast food now means soup
  • Drinking herbal teas as a direct substitute to wine!
My little helpers!

My little helpers!

I’m pleased with progress on everything other than fitness – but that’ll come back with time.  I’ve already lost 5lb’s in weight and that is just the motivation I need to get out for a run later!  I hope it’s going well for you too?

A Little Wet One

The logic is this:  Run in the winter because cycling when the weather is bad can be rubbish.

Now that marathon training us well underway I am running twice each weekend (unless Saturday is good in which case I’ll take the chance for a ride).  So I’ve applied new logic too: If it looks like bad weather on both Saturday and Sunday, embrace it and go trail running on the Saturday.

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Sounds good in theory, but lessons I learned this week include:

  • Running across fields and slipping all over the place doesn’t really replicate a road run
  • Slipping can be dangerous
  • Pay attention to the telly when it says there is flooding everywhere
  • Wading through 15 inches of flood water is not great training
  • Have the kettle ready to go … it’s pretty grim out there!

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It was a character building run on Saturday but I twisted my knee a little while running through a swamp!  Subsequently, Sundays 10 mile run was a little disappointing.  I suppose there’ll be plenty of good and bad training runs before April. Let’s hope this running lark gets a bit more fruitful in the next few weeks!

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New Year, New Regime

Aarghh!!

Has anybody else got that perennial feeling of dismay after stepping on the scales or going for a ride and realising they’re back to the same stage they were this time last year?  After training with focus and determination during October and November the festive month of December has completely scuppered me!

The pinnacle of my autumnal training came at the start of December with a 14 mile run.  It was the most substantial distance of my early marathon training and a real confidence booster for the strains and stresses that lie ahead.  But that was it.  During the following week I contracted the man-flu that is doing the rounds (I was lucky but I know lots of other people using antibiotics to fight off the virus) and lost 10 days of training before heading out for my pre-Christmas half marathon (which was a big disappointment anyway)

I threw myself 100% in to New Years Eve

I threw myself 100% in to New Years Eve

Even on the run-up to the event I was fully in to Christmas party mode:  For two weeks I had drinks on Tuesdays, recovery Wednesdays, party on Thursdays, recovery on Friday, out on Saturday night…. you get the picture.  When the festivities were finally upon us, I was already feeling the bulge growing around my belly and my belt appeared to have shrunk again!  During this time the exercise all but dried up.  Even the Boxing Day bike ride that I arranged (from our local pub) didn’t help because my hangover started after about 10 miles!  Other than that, one short bike ride on a Saturday morning and plenty of postponed runs are not enough to maintain fitness whilst loading the body up with lager, wine, gin and mince pies!

So here I am again at the start of January, having enjoyed a brilliant months of partying, nursing the tail-end of my New Years Eve hangover and rueing the loss of that fitness I had just a month ago.

Yet I still feel hopeful of what the sporting year ahead may bring.  I’ll be repeating last years alcohol free January which helped me shed about half a stone and my marathon training schedule will

Todays Net Diary

Todays Net Diary

kick back in properly next week (with plans for a couple of runs/rides in the next few days).  As of today, I’ll resume using the app that helped me get on top of my food intake 18 months ago (that I’d highly recommend) and start avoiding the “3 C’s” of crisps, chocolate and cheese.  The tuna salad is already in my lunchbox along with some Greek yoghurt and fruit and I’ll be actively ignoring the treats lying in wait within the kids’ Christmas selection boxes!

So I think I’m in a good position – well informed and motivated for the marathon – and should be OK to drop the first few kilos that will get the ball rolling and enable me to see the rewards of my dietary discipline!

Is anyone else in the same boat as me and if so, what’s the plan?