Saturday, 30 January 2010


I'm being a bit bold tomorrow and trying to go more than my half marathon distance...108% of it in fact - 22.7km. I just want to try it once, then I want to do another couple of weeks at similar distance then pull it back and stick to 10-15km distances and concentrate on building some more speed and endurance over the final 2-3 weeks.

Sound plan in theory I think. How I wish reality would be just as simple. I think I went and charted out a stupidly hilly route which is going to be stupidly hard. The fact that I am for some reason unknown to anyone willingly going beyond the distance I need to is either dedication or madness - haven't decided which yet.

On the bright side, once (or if!) I get through tomorrow I will know I have enough in me to pull it together on the day.

I suspect knowing my pace will be crucial. Last week I went out at a pace a bit quicker than I am accustomed and held on well for a while until my backside decided to stiffen up and start cramping about half way through. Week before I took it slower and was able to actually run alot more of it, which I think might be the better approach. I have time to work on speed afterwards - tomorrow is about enduring. 

My shoes have started getting worn out in a weird place now though - the toes of the in-soles. I didn't even think I used my toes when I am running to be honest, but there you go. I got some replacement in-soles put in and I am really liking the feeling in them. It does however put me in an awkward position for my run. Do I go and get new shoes? If I do get new ones, will I have enough time to break them in? If they're too new, that is bound to blister. Or do I stick it out with my current ones and whatever risks that may entail for my legs, in the hope of avoiding said blisters?

I guess I will see how tomorrow goes and decide after that. If I do need to get some shoes, I suppose I should act soon...

That of course leads me on to where to go and whose advice to trust. Ahh decisions, decisions....

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I think I discovered the downside of solid solid training. And I mean the downside apart from the aching muscles, blistered feet, freezing my @$$ off and the sacrifice of sleeping in on weekends. I suppose I shouldn't complain about the last one because I am fully aware I can go training later, but I usually need to train early in the morning - before my brain wakes up and realises what I'm doing.

Anyways I digresss. The downside I was referring to, which is worse than all of that is the fact that I seem to be eternally hungry! 

Its this horrible shrieking monkey jumping up and down on my back all day. Except this monkey devours all the bananas I have and still wants more. 

Control is the key, I shall persevere. 47 days to go and I'm not planning on slipping up. Although I suppose if it was in my plans it wouldn't be a slip up in the first place. Hmm.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Getting close

7 weeks to go to the day! Not sure whether the adrenaline is out of fear or excitement. 

I did an accidental 19k today - leaving me with another 2k to build to. I say accidental because I got my distances wrong - I set out aiming to do 18k then when I realised I had hit 18k, I noticed I wasn't exactly at home yet. I literally had to drag myself that last km and it was absolutely horrible! 

If I was mentally ready for 19k I think I would have been fine - well more so than I was - but I could barely move my legs! 

Was quite pleased with my pace at the start actually. I hit 5k in a fraction over 30:36, 10k in 01:03:12. That is not far off my best time actually for 10k. 01:02:12 was what I did at Leeds Castle last year and that was knowing I wouldn't need to push on afterwards. So I am well chuffed - finally feel like I'm building some pace back. My run on Thursday as part of running club definitely gave me that confidence boost.

A few things did start to pull me down at this point though:

First and foremost - my @$$. Seriously. After about 10k, it just stiffened up. I was really struggling to move my legs properly. Need to obviously try to get some gluteus endurance going on - or work out how to stop the @$$ cramps happening altogether!

Second - Hills! The bane of my life. I swear every single small upwards gradient feels like a mountain - and I seem to be on some horrible eternal uphill run - my mind clearly blocks out any memory I have of downhill running. At least I will be safe in the knowledge that my half marathon is a FLAT run. Not a hill in site - I hope...?

Third - Traffic. I kept stopping to cross roads, and to make sure there was no oncoming traffic. I suppose I could have tried to keep going and without stopping....Might have been the heat of the moment but having weighed up risking my life against risking my momentum, I came to the conclusion that the latter may be the more appropriate option. Again on race day - no cars and no traffic so I won't have that disruption.

Also I decided to venture out with 2 full 500ml bottles and after about 10k, they feel seriously heavy. My shoulders got a great workout at least. I think the race will (or at least should!) have drinks stations so I won't need to carry much.

Anyways I managed to get to 19km at 02:11:48. Puts me on course for a finish of around 2:25-2:26. Taking into account the above, the adrenaline on the day and the general effect of running in a group, with some good (demonic) training I would love to get down to 2:20. As long as there are no more blizzards, I guess I have no excuses.

7 weeks to go. 49 days to go. 21 training runs to go.14 weights sessions to go. 7 boot camps to go. 1 pair of legs to try to cope with all that.... err... woohoo??

Saturday, 23 January 2010

50 and on the lighter side....

50 days to go to D-day. Knowing that has sort of given me a bit of an adrenaline rush and I can't wait to go out and get my freak on....well whatever you want to call it. Carpe Viam (Seize the road!)

I read a joke a couple of days ago, which I figured might happen to me next year....just don't think I'd have the presence of mind to do it in a race situation...Here it is...

Last year I entered the New York City Marathon. The race started and immediately I was the last of the runners. It was embarrassing. The guy who was in front of me, second to last, was making fun of me. He said, "Hey buddy, how does it feel to be last?" I replied: "Do you want to know?" and I dropped out.

The diet of champions....or something...?

There is so much information out there on diet and nutrition it is easy to get just plain confused. I know I went through it and I bet there are alot of people out there in the same position. And it sucks. 

I have had plenty of moments banging my head against the wall trying to work what I should and shouldn't eat, when I should and shouldn't eat, what I should and shouldn't eat with what, how much I should and shouldn't eat....and so on and so forth....the sort of stuff insanity is made up of.

Anyways, long story short - I think the most important thing is deciding what works for you and what works with your goals. Distance running, weight loss and building muscle are 3 completely incompatible goals or so I've been told. 

In short, I think you rely on carbs (and atleast maintenance level calories) for the energy for running. You rely on protein (and excess calories) for muscle building. You rely on a blend of carbs and protein (and a calorie deficit) for weight loss. Like I said, three seemingly incompatible goals. 

At the minute I am trying to mix it up and experiment a bit so I am sort of hitting all 3. My improving runs, heavier weights at the gym, lower weight and smaller waist suggest things are going in the right direction. I am becoming the lean mean running machine I always wanted to be. Woohoo indeed!

I think I am getting that balance of carbs, protein and (good) fats right, and I think it shows - I have been feeling alot beter for it too. So what is a typical day in this diet of champions? (Ok ok getting a bit ahead of myself, I know!)

Let's take yesterday as my typical weights training day.

0600 - Half a banana and my own trademark cereal/protein bar. I make these up with peanut butter, porridge oats and some protein powder. (Recipe and where to get the protein from at another time).

0630 - 0730 - Gymming it, lifting reasonable weights (free weights, not machines!), full body workout, 3 sets of 8 reps on each exercise.

0731 - Protein shake. Yes, 0731. Literally as soon as my workout finishes, I down a protein shake. Same protein powder as used in my cereal bar, but made up with water. Its something of an acquired taste not using milk!

0745 - Breakfast. Scrambled eggs made up of 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites with a few mixed spices. That plus a wholemeal tortilla wrap or something along those lines.

1000 - Usually some mixed fruit and another one of my cereal bars.

1230 - Lunch. An absolute load of spinach leaves go in first. Lots of healthy vitamins and so on in there. Some wholemeal carbs - cous cous, quinoa, or a toasted tortilla wrap or pitta bread broken up. Some houmous. And some meat or other source of protein.

1600 - Another snack. Usually a handful of almonds, if I'm hungry a bit more.

1900 - Dinner. Lots of grilled and roast fresh vegetables and some lean meat.

2100 - Another protein shake - this one made with milk. 

That's fuelling myself 8 times a day and I don't really feel hungry any more. I love it. I don't binge, I don't get tempted, I eat lots of natural good foods and I notice a real difference in how I feel. 

I am actually only 3 pounds lighter now than I was  before Christmas, but I have lost a good couple of inches off my waist -  the jeans I bought myself in the Christmas sales are already loose - much to my wallet's annoyance.

Oh I did forgot one of the most important thing, and possibly the simplest thing.... WATER. I think I have 3.5-4 litres a day.

You are what you eat....Eat healthy, be healthy :)

Cool runnings

Finally starting to build something and I can see some progress. Wednesday I found a hill and knocked out a few hill sprints until I could barely walk up the hill. And it felt great - well ignoring the pain in my legs anyways. I followed it up with a few squats afterwards. I realised during my last run that my @$$ muscles are majorly lacking in endurance and I need to try to strengthen that a bit. Hence squatting seemed like a good idea, combined with the hill running.

Thursday was AWESOME. I joined a running club and went out in a group. 7.4km in 43 minutes, without stopping. I have never done that speed for that time without stopping. I would go as far as saying it was my best ever run (so far)! Was on such a massive high all of Friday and I'm still buzzing.

I know I will desperately need that buzz to carry me through 18k tomorrow! Bring it on....

Sunday, 17 January 2010


As the title suggests, woohoo indeed. Had a pretty good distance run today, probably for the first time since I started training for this thingy.

16k in 1 hour 49 minutes and 50 seconds. Not overly excited by my time, but I had picked a challenging route and more importantly, I did the first 9k without needing to stop once! Never made it that far before, either in terms of total distance or in terms of distance gone without stopping. So needless to say, I am well pleased! Hence the woohoo.

I did realise my gluteus maximus isn't quite the lean powerhouse I had envisaged. Work needed there me thinks - Might keep it simple though, like trying to cram in a couple hundred body weight squats/lunges every coupe of days, to specifically target that muscle group and test its endurance.

I did find afterwards however that keeping food down was a major challenge - I felt sick for a good hour or so after I finished. It might have been the protein shake I had right afterwards which by own admission I pretty much downed in a gulp. I was starving and it was an easy filling ok so back off! :P

Oh and the leg cramps! Holy sh*t. Atleast when they're in my calf or something like that I know how to stretch it off - what the fudge do you do for inside thigh???? Couldn't get up for a bit. I'm guessing logical reasoning suggests general lack of hydration (I took a Lucozade but no plain water...I know, I silly!)

I'm feeling pretty good. On race day (8 weeks to the day!) I will have a flat course, adrenaline pumping and I will have built up to that distance (so not feeling like I'm doing it for the first time!). I am hoping to have developed the muscles in my backside a bit so I should be set to go for a decent time - I think 2 hour 20 minutes should be reasonable, although I know that does mean running further and quicker than I currently am! I like a challenge. Muaha.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Random musings...

Didn't realise it had been a whole 6 days since my last post here. Whoops.

First off, I want to request anyone reading to donate what ever you can to the Haiti earthquake appeal. There are quite a few charities and international aid agencies who are raising money and DEC is just one, but its the one I went with - the link is to a UK website by the way:

Disasters Emergency Committee

On a much lighter note, we had snow again this week on Wednesday which thawed and then froze on Thursday, completing defeating my attempts to go out running. Unsurprisingly I am really disappointed given I also had a shoddy run on the Sunday before that. I did however get to the gym on Friday and had a pretty decent weights workout - legs were definitely feeling it for the rest of the day!

Gearing up to give 16k a second attempt tomorrow so after my Saturday morning bootcamp, I am having a really chilled out relaxing day under the guise of resting my leg muscles.

16k..bring it on :D

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Another faltering run

I think the #snow is really starting to get to me now. There is my inner child who is still loving it. And there is my inner grown up child up who is delighted at having worked from home for 3 days last week. There is however the runner in me who is going a bit mental with it.

I set out today to get up to that 16km mark. I thought I would counter the snow and the hills by slowing down to about 8.5-9 kmh and I should be comfortable at that. I mean I did 5 km a couple of weeks ago at 9 and hardly broke a sweat so I figured I should be able to push myself a bit more and drag myself to 16km if I go a bit slower. Sound reasoning, yes? No.

I managed about 6k before things started to go a bit wrong. I didn't lock the display in my Garmin watch properly so it kept randomly changing display, it ended up doubling the speed of my virtual partner, it started beeping randomly and I got my rhythm completely screwed up. So I figured it would be a good time to stop and have a snack. So I pulled out a cereal bar thinking that the sugar in it would give me an energy boost to push through for at least another 5k.

Unfortunately it was downhill from there. My shorts started to slide down my legs.  I should emphasise at this point that I was wearing two layers on top of my shorts so I had no indecent exposure of any kind, but it really made it hard to run in any sort of rhythm. I lasted another 4k, then had to stop. Tried to adjust my leg wear slightly, with minimal success. Had my other cereal bar and hoped it would power me through the last 6k.

I lasted 2k more, before my legs pretty much gave way. I think the combination of my clothes, my watch, the snow, my lack of stamina and endurance all kind of combined to screw me over for the day.

So were there any positives? Well last week I did 12.5k in 1h 34m, averaging 7:35 per km. This week I did 12k in 1h 26m, averaging 7:13 per km. The terrain was much more challenging as well - shows a definite improvement in my book. Even if I walked the last 500m to get to the same distance, it wouldn't have taken me 8m (I hope!)

Back to work tomorrow, gym Tuesday. Next run is Wednesday - I will probably go for a short 5-6km one and try to build some speed in that. I did 5k on Wednesday this week in 32:37. Want to try to get that down ideally to 31:00 and if its warmer and not icy, possibly aim for 30:00 even.

We'll have to see how it goes I guess.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Before and after...

I'm not quite where I want to be either in terms of body weight or in body composition, but from time to time it really helps me along to compare some 'before' and 'after' pictures. Never really thought of putting this out on the public domain, but I somehow don't really seem to mind that much any more.

Anyways, this was me in September 2005. I don't actually think I have any more embarrassing pictures than this - it's just a hideous nasty picture. When I look at it now, I always wonder how the f**k did I let myself go like that???? I hope I don't need to point out that I am the one in the green...

And here are a couple of me on holiday in Morocco in November 2009:

Sorry I'm not sure why the spacing is as odd as it is, but meh.

I had been a bit down these last few days with the crappy UK weather and the inability to properly train - Silverstone is 9 weeks from tomorrow, after all!

But having another look at these pictures, I suddenly feel a lot better looking at the progress I have made and what I have achieved so far. I realise the fact that I can actually run at all today is an achievement, considering I could hardly walk a  couple of years ago. Just need to push on, keeping giving it my best.

Told you it cheers me up :P

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow man!!!

The #snow in the UK has been absolutely awesome! At least that is what I would be saying if I didn't need to go out running in it!

Check this out on the BBC website:

UK snow from above

Since I moved to this country at the beginning of 1997, we have never had snow like this, and every year up to now I would have killed for it. This is like the first year I had honestly been hoping for dry conditions to go running in (I don't mind the cold really) and it really has gone all t*ts up.

Arctic conditions are expected to continue for almost a week still - really starting to get to me. My run on Sunday showed me how truly unprepared I am, and with ice all over the place, it just means I am not going to be able to get in the training that I seriously need to.

I suppose I do still have some time on  my side - between now and Tuesday next week the only run I would be missing would be my distance one. The problem is that I have hardly been able to test myself over distance yet - I practically limped that woeful 12.5km on Sunday and if I don't get out this Sunday, I will need to go straight into doing 16km the following week.

Not sure whether I am just letting panic get to me, or whether there is genuine need to worry. I am sure there are runners training up and down the country who will all be suffering from lack of training, so I can probably breathe easy that it isn't just me losing out or something but my time will probably be well below what I would have liked.

On a positive side, I did go out both yesterday morning and this morning and didn't do too badly I guess. I was getting some weird looks from passers-by struggling to hold onto their footing in the snow while I cruised along running around in my flourescent orange thermal. Ahh well. I managed a decent 5k time yesterday - 32m and 37s. Ideally that would be below 30m but I will allow it due to the cold, my phlegmy cough (did I mention I have had a cough for 10 days now which I haven't been able to shake off yet!) and running on snow.

Did a few intervals today, 10 x 400m. Wasn't watching time too much as my focus was on technique and building up some lung strength. The insides of my legs were aching like hell by the end though. I used to always run with my feet pointed out - now with my feet straightened, the inside leg muscles are working more - hence above mentioned hellish leg pain.

Rest day tomorrow - going to try to slip in some resistance work if I can. I can't be alone in thinking trying to get to the gym would be a bit stupid.

As I typed this I started to feel a bit better about my training and the snow - long may it continue. The good feeling I mean - not the snow!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Ice Age

Another #snow run is exciting me - with snow expected overnight it should be interesting to see what the morning brings. I will have to be out running whether there is snow, ice or neither. My extremely poor effort on Sunday has left me a bit panic stricken - not sure how my form/fitness/stamina/whatever dropped so much in such a short space of time!

Greater effort is needed indeed. I think if tomorrow is icy I will probably find a patch of green grass somewhere and just work on intervals for 40-45 minutes. If not then I think a distance of 5-6k should be reasonable - and I will need to put particular emphasis on measuring my time.

I have been making sure I have at least 2000 calories on a daily basis, and in fact I was on 2100 for the last 3 days - I have been counting (Thank you Tap & Track on my iPhone)! I have been averaging 2144 calories in fact, consisting of 42% carbs, 27% fats, 31% protein. It is broadly in line with what I was aiming for, subject to a couple of % here and there. The only thing is I will probably need to aim for carbs being a bit closer to 45%, with fats at 25%.

I had a weights session this morning at the gym (first proper one since before Xmas) and found some surprising increased strength, being able to lift more on every exercise (quite comfortably) than I had been able to before! Woohoo for me!

Will see how tomorrow goes. If you don't hear from me, assume I slipped in the ice/snow and died....or I just forgot.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


What a #disaster this morning was. I went out intending to get to 14km - made that much more important by my shortage of time - and limped to a woeful 12.5 km in the disturbingly poor time of 1 hour 34 minutes!

I don't know what's going on. Might be my body not liking the cold weather, my chesty cough, lack of training prior to today over Xmas and new year, lack of energy from lack of calories or something completely random and abstract. No idea.

Only things I can think of changing are becoming more strict with my training (pushing myself a bit more and upping the intensity in each session) and eating more. I'm on 1800-1900 calories a day at the minute so I'll try upping that to 2200, concentrating on complex slow-releasing carbs and good clean protein.

I am starting to really worry about how it's going, with the half marathon now about 10 weeks and counting down. My fitness and stamina seem to be dropping and I'm not entirely sure why.

I'll go throw myself into some weights in Tuesday, intervals on Wednesday to build some breathing ability and a shortish 5-6km run on Thursday and I'll see from there. Might take a rest Friday, boot camp on Saturday and try a distance run -maybe 16k -on Sunday.

Til next time...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Onwards and upwards

So tomorrow (3 Jan) sees me officially re-start my proper running, with the small task of 14 km to enjoy. Just to make it that bit better, its supposedly going to be -3 degrees. Woohoo!

I still question why I keep putting myself through this - I'm sure one day I will look back and give myself a pat on the back (assuming I survive) but not sure when that day will come and how much agony I'll have to go through to get there!

On a positive note, I am glad there is no ice on the ground at the minute - just means I won't be slipping and killing myself in the immediate short term.

I'm in the process of planning out my next few weeks. 14 km tomorrow, 16 km on 9 Jan, 18 km on 16 Jan, 20 km on 23 Jan and 22 km on 30 Jan. I've got all my routes up to 20 km planned out and just need to work out something for 22 km. Then in February I will probably 20, 20, 18 and 16. If I have my calculations right, that will leave me with one long-ish run in March (on the 7th) which I will probably cap at 10k. Then 14 March is the big day!

Obviously torturing myself once a week wont be anywhere nearly enough - I will need to get out there a couple more times a week, with the added joy of them being first thing in the morning, in the darkness, before work! Once a week interval sessions to build up some respiratory/cardio fitness, and once a week tempo runs to build up some speed!

With a clean diet, a couple of weight lifting sessions and the above combination, I should be a lean mean running machine in no time, right? Actually don't answer that.