Monthly Archives: March 2010

Annoyed enough to speed up

One thing that’s been annoying me over the increasing miles is the reduction in my overall average speed. Generally, I know I have to slow down to avoid injury on the longer outings with little recovery time between runs, but when I fancy upping the pace and it doesn’t appear (like tonight), I feel put out.

Again I came home to run, not fancying sitting wet in a wet car for half an hour. Again the temperature was low enough to call for tights, so these plus shorts plus t-shirt plus jumper plus rain coat were worn in a attempt to stay warm. As I left the door, it was raining. As I got to just under a mile, it started raining so hard it was hurting my head. Combined with the wind, I was seriously on the verge of coming home.

But i’ve a marathon to run so I pushed on.

The first mile felt quick but, with a headwind and slowing through the torrential part of the downpour, it turned out to be anything but. A check of the Garmin at mile two saw me at 16.20 just as it clicked onto 2.02 miles. I’d been concentrating on pace through mile two and thought it ok (I set the Garmin to time screen, not virtual partner, and locked the bezel due to the rain so had no partner to pace me – it was all on feel) but clearly my current ok is half a minute slower than a month ago’s ok.


At the turnaround point, after a further concentrated session, I showed 20.24. This was taking the piss. Another half a mile of trying to keep a pace and the only pace I was keeping was my proposed race pace. Never in a million years will I keep that up for 26 miles if I can’t do it for 5. And I have no idea where all the speed has gone.

I turned and ran. Concentrated on form and hoped some pace would come without making myself start puffing like a smoker. I didn’t see the garmin until 3.34 miles, but the pace looked better. With no round figure, I wasn’t sure how much better so I started concentrating on form and pace of step turnover. Lowering my arms, picking up the speed I lifted my feet, I was properly focused. Around mile 4 I was pissed in the extreme to see about 32 minutes up – I was still well over 8 minute mile pace.

The last mile was focused to say the least. Ignoring the time, I simply thought about maintaining a low breathing rate to know I wasn’t pushing too hard, lengthened my stride to a comfortable pace, not an injury avoidance gait, picked my feet up quickly to ensure fast pace turnover relative to breathing and forced myself to not move my upper body to save energy.

Mile 4 was a 7.45, mile 5 a 7.23.

I have to say i’d be happier if I hadn’t had to focus 100% to get the last two miles up to a semi respectable speed but also that i’m glad the pace is in there somewhere. I don’t know how i’ll feel tomorrow but at the moment have no interest in another slow run as preservation for Saturday and the planned 20 miles. I do want to do the 20 and have a good stab at the marathon, though, so maybe i’ve discovered frustration at my times too late.

January and February saw 100 miles each, averaging 7.58 pace for both months. March has been 93 miles (missed one 18, one 8 and two 5 mile runs) but the pace has dipped to 8.18 average. Very bad. Not helped by a bad cold, admittedly, but slower than my hoped for race pace. But the effort in the first two months didn’t seem overly high. And it contained many runs interrupted by ice and snow. I don’t get it.

What I do get, though, is that I don’t like long runs. This will be my only marathon. I will still do it under 4 hours, i’m targetting better than that, but am now very dubious about my ability to achieve it.

Longer term goals are on hold but I will put on weight, run less but quicker, cycle more and enjoy everything more as a result.

Marathon first, though. And a 20 miler before that.


Wet again

So after a new start in my new job at my new head office, having collected a new laptop and a new phone and a new hard hat and a new high vis vest, I decided i’d go home to run rather than try to get changed in the rain in the site accomodation at the new place. It’s a bit basic, you see. Having resented the waste of money on the last firm (ridiculously stacked, open plan cabins containing around 35 staff), to only have a single unit to serve as drying room, toilet, canteen, office and generator is a bit extreme the other way.

And with nowhere to dry off and change if things got wet, homeward bound it was.

When I got here, of course, it was lobbing it down.

On went the hat and waterproof jacket, but neither did very much, to be honest. Well, I should award the jacket some points for managing to rub my nipples sore in only 5 miles, but as far as water repelling properties go, I might as well go nude and use my skin right from the off. The whiteness of my pathetically wasted, stick thin torso might alert any traffic to my presence better than a hi-vis jacket, too. I really can’t wait for 4 weeks to pass and the time when I can put some weight on and regain the energy to weight train, too. The sight of my torso in the mirror while cleaning my teeth makes me quite depressed at the moment.

To think I once got an approving look about my physique. It was only once, but certainly wouldn’t be now. Pesky marathon.

Anyhow, I ran. 5 miles through rain, half through waterlogged fields, all pretty slow but done nonetheless.

14 more planned runs, then i’ll cycle like crazy, gain weight, rediscover a sense of humour and get a haircut.

Lots to look forward to.

If only it’d get dry for a while.


Yesterday’s run went swimmingly smoothly and so it bloody well should have done. I have some worries, though.

My legs went through the week ok and it was a week I was intent on completing perfectly, what with there only being 2 proper training weeks before I “taper” – I didn’t want the taper to be from nothing to even less. The previous week had been a recovery from cold, so I needed a good one for confidence.

Unfotunately, that’s going out the window at the moment. Yesterday was greeted with a headache, tight chest which was intent on wanting to cough all the time even if I resisted, and a feeling of dull ache in both lower legs. I drank, ate, drank more and headed out the door hoping that if I could do 12 miles when setting out feeling rough, if I get to London feeling fine I should at least be able to double it.

The run was surprisingly ok. My nose kept running, I had little spring in my step and I soon needed a wee, but the first miles were workmanlike but fine. I stopped for the bladder break at mile 5 (apparently 45 seconds recorded on the Garmin) and went through all my jelly fruits at two mile marks, sipping Orbana as a test out as I went. And all the miles rolled out consistently enough. But I felt, around mile 9, that I had little more to give. The last miles were a push. I kept form, didn’t visibly struggle and stayed consistent but on the inside I was panicking that given twice and more the distance, I wouldn’t make it.

I reckon 90% of everything is mental and this is borne out by what I can and can’t/won’t jump on the pushbike, work performance, happiness at height, skydiving moves – in fact just about everything I can think of. So somehow, on next week’s 20 miler, i’ve got to get my head sorted. I know I adopt a different mindset for a huge run. Similar to a race. I’m just concerned that I won’t maintain the good mentality for over 3 hours and let myself go to pieces. I guess some of it is the fatigue and with a good taper, that should be gone. I guess some of it is pushing too hard, despite holding myself back to prevent injury (I was checking the Garmin every few hundred yards to make sure the pace hadn’t crept up but I find it impossible to run at my “recommended” long, slow run pace – it kills any desire to run at all and I can’t carry on). Hopefully some of it is still feeling i’ve got a cold inside.

The rest? I’m not sure.

Next week, i’ve got a new job. My first site is in Rye, East Sussex, so i’ve got to find some 5 mile routes for next week. Maybe a new job will kickstart me again in every discipline including running. Combined with a long weekend, hopefully i’ll have the chance to recover fully, do the 20 miles without drama, recover again and get set for a challenge of a race and do it well. If not, I think it’ll be time to panic and get stressed. I guess it’s taken so long to get this far (further than last year…a year ago, I tore my calf) I really don’t want to fuck it up so bad, i’m at risk of doing just that. However, with the removal of the “5 year guarantee” on gaining entry, I should be grateful i’m there this year and don’t have all i’m doing plus trying to raise thousands of pounds just to get to the startline.

Or maybe i’m over analysing things and I will be ok. I’ve not missed too much training, I don’t think, so surely I couldn’t be much better prepared?

Man, the unknown.

After this i’ve got 8 weeks before a 54 mile challenge on the BMX to contend with – am I going to find myself in a similar state for that?!

How wet? Goodbye Maidstone.

Yep, not one but two titles today.

Tomorrow is my last day working for Carillion in Maidstone, today my last run. I wasn’t looking forward to it to be honest and the weather forecast had been poor.

My legs are feeling a touch fatigued, despite the strength of the recent runs, but this was offset by the desire to say goodbye to my running location for the last year and the fact that the rain had largely missed us over the day so I thought I might get lucky.


I set off in warm daylight, light breeze and light steps. I rapidly deteriorated into heavy steps as the wind got up and the first mile was directly into it. Very odd for the wind to rise like that, I thought. Little could I anticipate that the stratus cloud covering the sky was concealing a cumulonimbus that was about to give me a hearty farewell to Kent’s county town.

As I neared two miles, a light rain began to fall. At two and a half miles, I turned to run toward the town, got the wind on my back, sped up and simultaneously got wetter. And wetter. Every step was greeted by harder rain, it seemed, to the point where I crossed the road to seek semi-shelter under some trees as I continued through to 3 miles.

The next half was spent wondering why my final memory would be of rain when, as I turned toward site, the precipitation simply hammered down, the wind hit me head on and slowed me dramatically and everything got to the wet stage where it simply doesn’t matter any more.

Drowned rat, I think is the term. At least the few people left on site found my state amusing.

So, not a very nice run. My legs now feel weary, but they have gone 37 miles in 6 days, so I guess it’s entirely understandable.

This week has marked the last 8 mile mid-week run in the plan, which is a relief. One of the site boys commented he saw me miles away on Wednesday evening and wondered how far I went. While 8 miles doesn’t seem excessive at the moment, when I look at a map of Rye and wonder where I could do the same, it doesn’t look good. Thankfully 5 miles looks much simpler to route.

I’ve also been asked to add a link to a British Military Fitness bloke who’s developing some phone software or some such. I don’t begin to understand what, where and why most of these things exist, but the stuff I read on his blog last night made me laugh – hopefully they’ll appeal to someone else, too. Good luck to him is my message – hope it works, too.

So, Maidstone done, loads of people to say goodbye to tomorrow – plenty I hope never to have to work with again, too, and lots to pack in over the next few weeks. Got the new greenhouse delivered yesterday and the mower needs an outing (worked out that at top speed, without slowing to do bits around trees and borders, it’ll take 2hours 9 minutes to mow the lawn.There a numerous trees both out front and back [55 in total, but not all in the lawn areas, thankfully!] so i’m guessing two and a half hours…good job i’ll get some running time back after April!) so along with a new job that looks like it’ll be a monster, hopefully things will keep me honest for a few months to come.

So what’s gone right?

I wish I knew because i’d have replicated it three weeks ago.

I’m guessing my fitness is showing through as i’m fully getting the last bits of cold out of my system (still got the annoying cough – apart from this I feel superhuman), but combined with dropping 10 seconds from my times on the long runs and early miles, I’m feeling great.

I’ve been keeping a compression bandage on my right foot to help support it while walking around site and now the foot is healed. I can do pretty much anything with it and really have to try to make it hurt.

I’ve been massaging my calves as well as stretching lots (including while brushing my teeth – 3 minutes of multi tasking. Am I turning towards my feminine side?) and both now feel fresh and new, not abused for a few hundred miles of training.

And the best bit was going out tonight, in shorts and a long sleeved top, feeling warm and relishing my last 8 mile mid week run.

I simply devoured the first 2 miles with such enthusiasm, it was a job keeping a low pace. I let things go on the long downhill stretch, eased around the flat bit and jogged easily up the last mile and a half climb to site to average a really easy 8.09 pace. Faster than I intended but, honestly, so easy I wish it was time to race at the weekend because I think i’d demolish it.

Confidence is a strange thing.

Worryingly, this weekend is the anniversary of my calf tearing last year. This year, however, I have just got rid of all my niggles – last year, they were spiralling. I’m confident the weekend will go ok. Then i’ll plod the 20 miler and i’m happy to take whatever time I get.

I’ve just got the marathon race magazine. I’ll be starting from Blackheath, which is familiar ground at least, but hope the weather is cooler than Tom and Grant had for their Lisbon half last weekend. It seems theirs matched last year’s London temperature – i’d like to book 15 degrees and overcast, please. No drizzle, it’ll annoy me on the glasses. And no wind, I just hate it. Just cool, dull and fair. I’ll speak to Kaddy the regional weather girl and book some in immediately, I think. But don’t tell Cathy – she thinks I fancy her and gets jealous of my personal forecasts!

Strange, that.

After the horror that was Saturday and 19 miles, I wasn’t looking forward to today.

Well, more specifically today’s run. The day meant only 4 more to be spent at the Carillion machine. The run meant unknown becoming known in the fear of an inability to run.

But it was all unfounded. I got out with a mixed idea of clothing, knowing the wind was very cold indeed but was abating. So I went on the light side of winter and was pleasantly warm. And my legs felt great. Not “lets do a marathon” great, you understand, but really powerful and light. My foot has a small ache but nothing scary. I kept the pace lower than I wanted to ensure I did nothing silly. I ended 5 miles with 8.04, .09, .02, .02, .09 as my splits and really felt I could run forever.

What a change a day makes.

I’m out tomorrow evening, have 8 miles on Wednesday and if that feels as good, I’ll be a happy bunny. But I guess i’ll be a bit tired so expect it to be a bit more of a trudge, but i’m hopeful for good things.

My revised goals include simply achieving 4 hours now, any seconds ahead of that will be a bonus. If I carry on feeling like now, who knows what may lead from it but one good run in the last load isn’t giving me optimism. Maybe i’ve got the rest of the cold out of my system and this is the start of a good recovery.

Hope so.


I went for the sensible option on Thursday and owing to my foot still being sore and my calves still screaming from a week of nothing then 9 miles, I didn’t run.

Seems the last couple of weeks has caught up with me, though. While my foot behaved itself remarkably well and only hurt after it had rested a bit after the run, the same can’t be said of my legs. From the off, my legs didn’t feel 20 miles fresh. I guess in a way it’ll be good practice assuming I recover properly during the taper for the race but I felt sore all the way and tried to keep the pace down for the first few miles to have any chance of finishing.

I took the reverse route from my 17 miler, getting the hills (slopes) and furthest points from home out of the way early. And as I stopped to empty my bladder at 5 miles, I was feeling a bit better. The weather held off and at just short of 10 miles, I started eating my banana at eat a third, run a bit, eat a third, run a bit style. It was finished at just short of 12 miles. I always worry about eating like it but it was again fine – I felt far fresher and the effect on the average mile pace is surprisingly small. The effect for the next mile was amazing – 15 seconds quicker. Mile 13 would’ve been the same but I stopped to give directions for a minute and that upset it. Probably more than I know because after that, to be honest, I struggled.


The next 4 miles were damage limitation making sure I didn’t pull anything or do anything stupid and I nearly went home at 17 miles, things were so poor.

A quick stop and stretch focused me on getting through a bad patch – 26 miles will surely be tougher, after all, but my times for the last 2 miles were hideous with the amount of walking I did.

Still, the aim was another big run, something i’ve failed on too often, so all in it was fair. My legs now rested feel surprisingly ok. My foot hurts a bit but nothing too bad and now i’m intent on a good week next week and focusing on doing a good 20 miler in two weekends as final preparation.

I’m excited and, having struggled but pushed on, know i’ll be there in April and without the fear of injury stopping me taking part, am confident I can bury myself and achieve a good sub-4 hour time. It’s all in the right direction, just needs a bit of luck.

Well done Phil for the Reading Half. If you fancy Hastings next year, i’ll join you. I fancy seeing how torturous it’ll be at a proper pace without injury unlike two years ago.