5 days to go….

Not long now!!

Just 5 days to go until the Brighton Marathon and I can’t wait.

Ok, so training hasn’t been ideal over the last month but I did a good ten mile run on Sunday with a 7:30 average and have kept ticking over for the last two weeks with several 6k runs, so I am as fit as I can be.  Luckily I can combine running with cycling so that has helped me keep good fitness too.  And now I can’t wait!

I’m looking forward to the exhibition to pick up my number.

Todays Peas

Todays Peas

I’m looking forward to seeing friends in Brighton on Saturday.

I’m desperately excited to meet up with my brother-in-law at the start on Sunday morning.

I can’t wait to finally throw that old t-shirt over the barriers in the start line and get moving.

The thought of seeing my wife & kids and friends & family on my way round is giving me goosebumps.

And the prospect of crossing the finishing line and giving them a cuddle is bringing a tear to my eye.

The thought of being by the side of the course to cheer on my brother-in-law as he finishes nearly tops it all.

And then a beer (or two).

A long drive home (and maybe a snooze).

A glass of red wine and maybe a take-away.

A good nights sleep.

A hobble to school to drop off the kids

And a well earned day off work.

Anyway, it as just a quick entry to share the excitement and one last picture of these peas on my leg before I eat them next week!! Good luck to any marathoners with a few days to go.  Remember why you’re doing all this.  See you on the other side!

Advertisements

Training Turmoil – Help Needed!

I’m sitting on a train coming home from London writing this and it is now time to face up to the fact that I need a bit of help.  I need help to salvage a 16 day training plan for the Brighton Marathon!

Jose isn't happy with Mr Foy (from www.standard.co.uk)

Jose isn’t happy with Mr Foy (from http://www.standard.co.uk)

Sundays training run didn’t go to plan and I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to work out why.  I was going well until about 16 miles when the tightness in my quads and calves really took its toll on my stamina.  After 19 miles I slowed to about 9 minutes mile pace and finally chucked in the towel after 20ish. Many top sports people deflect the reasons of under performance on to things outside of their control as a way of maintaining confidence in their self ability. Just look at Jose Mourinho at the weekend blaming Chris Foy, the referee for Chelsea’s defeat by Villa.

So my deflections include:

  • I was badly nourished because I consumed only 2100 calories on Saturday and burnt 600 during a 20 mile bike ride
  • I’d done hard sessions on the bike on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and (to a lesser degree) on Saturday so my legs were probably tired
  • It was hot and I’m still getting used to fluid intake in Spring conditions
  • I didn’t take any gels and tried flapjacks instead.  These work well on the bike but the one I tried after 15 miles made me choke because I was dehydrated and had no saliva to help it slip down!
Killer Flapjack's (from The Guardian)

Killer Flapjack’s (from The Guardian)

But my biggest worry is that my legs tightened up a lot and very early on.  I’ve not been running much because if the shin splints I’ve suffered from for a few weeks.  But now I think I’m caught in a viscous circle.  I’m limiting my running to ensure that the pain in my shins doesn’t get debilitating again, but because I’m not running my legs tighten up after a couple of hours due to working my muscles in a way they are not training for.  At least that is my theory. Does it stack up?  This is where I need some help.

How should I train over the next 16 days? It’s Tuesday evening now, my legs still ache and I’ve got pain in my shin.  I might try a run tomorrow evening depending on how my shin feels.  But what should I do now?  I’ve got a half marathon booked in as part of my tapering on Sunday and am keen to do this as a confidence booster, but don’t want to do any damage.

The way I see it, along with regular stretching, ice and anti-inflammatory tablets I have a few options:

  • Wait for the shin to stop hurting and do several shorter runs for the next 2 weeks. Limit these to no more than 8 miles but mostly at 4-6 miles?  Supplement this with longer, stamina building bike rides of 3-4 hours over the next 2 weekends?
  • Continue cycling during the week and do the half marathon to see if Sunday was a one off and hope that my condition is not deteriorating by doing this for a second week?
  • Total rest from running for 10 days followed by a 10 miler the week before the marathon and a recovery run?

Or another option that I haven’t thought of?

All and any opinions or suggestions are most welcome at this stage….. other than not doing the marathon because that’s not an option.

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)

Getting fit for the Standalone 10k

276_24368427055_6689_n

Dad and Me doing stuff at an early Standalone 10K race

Each year I run the Standalone 10k race that my Dad used to organise.  I started running it when my sister had the idea that I run the 20th anniversary race (cheers Sis).  In hindsight taking part in that event, and being honoured by the North Herts Road Runners with handing out the winners prizes, has spurred me on to all of the sporting challenges I have completed since.

I think that first race took me about 53 minutes. The following year I entered my first three half marathons, eventually smashing the 2 hour barrier in the inaugural Birmingham Half. A few months later I was full of emotion whilst standing on the start line of the London Marathon and facing the biggest physical challenge of my life. So I owe a lot to my sisters idea and to the Standalone 10k.

This years race takes place on 6 October and is probably full with 1200 entries by now. My brother-in-law has been training hard to compete in his first ever road race after a knee injury prevented him from taking part last year.  My best friend from my school years is “competing to complete” after his training plan stalled in July but it’ll be great to see him there. It was a special occasion when my wifes brother ran with me, and every year my good friends Jim & Leanne have been there with us, running when they’ve been able to and this year will be no different.

My initial reason for writing this blog is because each of us has been on a different training journey to get fit for it.  So I thought a bit of a best practice review would be interesting because I’m not sure if my cycling led approach is worth recommending or if Matts stamina training might be a better idea.  However, after a very quick Google search, it appears that we are all doing just fine according to one plan or another.   For those of us who need to get fit quick, there are even 2 week training plans around …. I like that idea.  My only bit of advice (to myself a much as anyone else) is to take it steady and run at a sensible pace for the first 5k.  You can speed up if you feel good but, if your lungs and legs are dead after 7k, it’s a seriously unpleasant last 2 miles!

It is only 10k.  Which is 6.2 miles.  If the worst come to the worst you can walk that in less than an hour and a half.

It doesn’t matter that none of us have followed proper training plans.  It means the world to me that my friends and family take part with me and that we continue to celebrate the race that my Dad built. Thankyou.

Should’ve done better in my first 10k race of 2013

Elvaston Castle hosted my first 10k of the year today and it proved to be a good reminder about form, fitness and attitude.

At the end of last year, I ran a PB for 10k and followed it up with a PB for a half marathon the next week.  And that made me a bit arrogant going in to today’s Sinfin Classic 10k thinking another PB was on the cards…. it wasn’t.

Spectacular Setting....

Spectacular Setting….

Today’s race was warm, but not hot enough to use as a full on excuse for running poorly.  The reasons for my poor run were:

  • Not running enough!  I’ve had good results from mixed bike/run training in the last 18 months but this spring I’ve been to arrogant about the fitness cycling can bring. And I’ve not done enough of either to bring any particular form
  • Poor preparation – “Aah, it’s only 10k”.  You still need to hydrate, rest and eat properly.  A 40 mile bike ride, BBQ and a few beers do not constitute proper preparation.
  • No concentration: I don’t know what happened in my head but, I ran the first 2k in 8 minutes which is at least 40 seconds faster than I am capable of.  I even recall that I felt like I was sprinting!  After 2k, I got slower and slower and paid for the reckless start all along

So I learnt/remembered to:

  • Train more with a combination of higher intensity training either on the bike or running
  • Eat and drink properly and rest the day before (which is obvious)
  • Start steady and speed up – once I’d blown myself out there was no getting back, but I could have sped up in the last few kilometers if I’d got gas left in the tank.

The event itself was pretty good for a small local race.  Organised by the Derby based Sinfin Running Club, the setting is spectacular and a great place to hang around and enjoy a picnic with family and friends.  The terrain is very flat with a mix of cinder path, pavement and well trodden lanes through woodland.  Oh, and a rather unwelcome short section of cobbles and pebbles through the centre of the grounds that gave the old legs a good wobble!

Simple but effective

Simple but effective

The start was a little walk from the car park and registration desk, so that probably accounted for the 5-10 minute delay in getting underway.  Once we did get going, there were plenty off twists and turns before we left the grounds of Elvaston Castle and after a short paved stretch ran along the side of a river for 2-3k.  This was where I started to come undone and the sun warmed everyone up because there was no shade. After a little straight/hairpin/straight back on the road we headed back to the grounds of the country park and the final few kilometers of mixed terrain.

There were no big banners or chip timing for the start or the finish and I heard the officials say 44:56 as I crossed the line (my watch said 45:01 so I might take the official time instead!).  It’s a minute and a half over last years PB and I’m annoyed that I am so far adrift so will be taking the training seriously for the rest of the month to make sure that the half marathon I’ve got on 30 June is not as disappointing.