Excitement & Dread! At the same time.

First of all

Please let me apologise, I have not written a blog post for 2 and a half weeks. I had almost forgotten how to use this thing.

Over half way

Looking over the training programme for this marathon (which can be found here) and the last few big runs I have done, I am now over half way. Weeks 7 and 8 consisted of some serious long runs and I am chuffed to bits that I managed in week 7 my second fastest half marathon distance whilst running with my mate Andy. Last Sunday I hit 14.1 miles (22.5 km) but unfortunately I had to run on my own as a mate of mine twisted her ankle slipping on water on her kitchen floor two nights before (I reckon she was drunk, but I digress).

I met Andy when I ran with Ben Smith from the 401 challenge back in August 2016. This guy is insane, he had never run a marathon, let alone a half marathon and he ran an ultra marathon smashing 28.1 miles on the day. Sure enough, he found our half marathon distance at the end of week 7 a breeze, apart from the odd bit of chafe (he will hate me saying that). We took in the sights of Sefton Park and headed down the waterfront to the Albert Dock and the Three Graces. It was a sweet run.

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To top this off, when I posted this on twitter, the man himself Ben Smith got in touch :).

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Less than 8 weeks to go

Now that I am over half way in my training, a harsh realisation has hit me. There is less than 2 months until I have to run the fucking thing. The mileage keeps rising (16 miles this coming sunday) and surprisingly I don’t feel too bad yet. I’m wondering, when should I see a sports physio for a massage? The last thing I want is to turn up on April 2nd with niggles.

I am excited about the race, the atmosphere, running with some mates and then the finish (I WILL GET THERE WHATEVER IT TAKES – I keep telling myself), eating some BBQ. They are all the great things. Equally, I am shitting myself with nerves the closer this race gets. I am really dreading the high likelihood of not being able to walk properly for a short while after, the high risk of longer term injuries and decided to fuck off running completely.

If anybody is in town and fancies a long run on Sundays, give me a shout.

When it is bad, it is BAD!

This week I will admit has been a bit deflating. I got to Thursday before I felt the need to run. I got out, ran around Sefton Park again for a freezing cold 10.01 km and everything seemed as normal. A bit of soreness thanks to the longer 19.2 km the Sunday before was expected but I got through the recovery run and foam rolled away any lingering aches when I got home.

I had my dinner and pretty much because I thought I should, but I felt awful. I didn’t feel sick, just incredibly tired. I hit the hay pretty early compared to usual and off I went into the land of dreams. OR SO I THOUGHT. I woke up about 3am running to the loo and found myself hugging the toilet for about an hour and hated every second of it. I tried my best to get a bit of sleep thinking I would be sound by the morning. I woke up at 8 and still felt absolutely shit and just knew there was no way I was going to work.

I sat on my arse all day, fell in and out of sleep and put it down to one thing. Exhaustion. I’ve never really felt exhausted before. I have felt tired and happily dozed off to sleep but this was different. Aches, serious sleepiness and absolutely no desire to do anything.

At the end of Friday I went to bed about 9pm and awoke at 11:30am Saturday. 14 and a half unbroken hours of sleep. I can’t really remember ever sleeping that long before but I clearly must have needed it. I sought a bit more advice from some mates who I chat about running to and they all said the same thing, REST. I have taken their advice the rest of this week and have done no running at all.

I feel awful about it but I know it has been the right thing to do and I now look to next week’s training with a bit more excitement after getting some serious sleep in. My legs feel fine and I hope to get back on track with a 10km run on Wednesday evening.

 

What have I learnt from this? LISTEN TO YOUR BODY ‘zzzzzzzz’! 🙂

When it is good, it is GOOD!

Resting works

Last week I took on the advice that when feeling sore from the ‘long run’ you should rest. At first I was thinking that if a plan says you should run 4 days a week then so be it. But, last week and this I have done just that, rested properly and taken to running 3 days a week. After a few days rest after last week’s ‘long’ run of 11.2 km with Ian, I hit the road on Wednesday in the pissing down rain and went out for a couple of laps of Sefton park (in the dark). Running with a Camelbak is brilliant and I never have to worry about being desperate for a drink whilst out.

I hit 10.0 km (6.2 miles) Wednesday and foam rolled the hell out of my calves when I got in. A really decent start to the week.

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Looking at the picture above, I know you are thinking ‘that isn’t too fast for a 10k is it?’. You know what, it isn’t too fast but its steady, it is actually quicker than what I need for a sub 5h marathon so all is good :). I have learnt to enjoy running, go at a pace that is comfortable without relying on my GPS too much and just see what happens. When feeling good, you will always naturally go pretty quickly, yet when feeling rough you’ll probably slow down but thats running. I take a lot from the saying below, I actually know a few really unhappy runners because they constantly care about their time.

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Running on a hangover

Leaving work on Friday I decided to jib off my evening run and go for a couple of pints. It was Friday after all and sure I could just do the 5 km at Park Run. A couple of pints turned into 7 of Wolf Rock IPA and as sure as the pope is catholic, safe to say I felt awful Saturday morning. I completely missed Park Run which I wanted to make a habit event but I slept right through. What a start.

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So, after dragging myself out of bed at about midday I realised it was necessary I got out and did something. To dust off the cobwebs as they say. Being honest, I wasn’t expecting anything at all, perhaps the odd km before stopping, a sedentary stroll. I was completely shocked. Feeling like a veggie in a slaughterhouse, thinking I might rid of the wonderful 7 pints at any given second I smashed possibly my best 5 km run in absolutely ages. Not only did I manage a sub 30min 5km but negative splits. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. I have no idea how this happened. Take a look for yourselves, there they are in all their glory, and finishing with a 5:18! :D.

Finishing off right

The long run to end the week was set at 19.2 km (12 miles). Ian agreed to come along but after having injured himself playing footie he bailed at 10.0 km. To be honest, fair play for getting that far. After getting Ian’s car keys and saying our goodbyes I took off again for a second lap of princes park with the intention of heading towards the Georgian quarter then back home via Wavertree. I got about 200m into Princes park and ran into a group which turned out to be a few from dockside runners. Turned out they were 2 miles into a 10 miler and asked if I would like to join in. Admittedly their pace was far too good for me and I had to slow it down but a couple of other members joined a touch later and were paced by Ken and got me right to the end of my run. Ken and Holly were great company and it turns out Holly and I are raising money for the same charity, Mind. Epic work.

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After such a good week and particularly such a good weekend I am looking forward to a few days rest then getting back on the road later this week. Sunday’s run is a 21.1 km beast but I think after Sunday just past, I will be just fine :).

Music Monday #2

This week’s Music Monday track is heavy as hell and from a band that I never used to like. I remember seeing them back in ‘heaven’ club in Liverpool in 2003 now they play arenas across the world. It is Bring Me The Horizon – The House Of Wolves. The first riff immediately makes me speed up when running and as soon as it is over, I regret it :). It is from their 2013 record “Sempiternal”.

Check out the video below (it links through to youtube if you press play).

From bad, to awful, to fantastic

Lead Lined Legs

The start of week 4 was bad. Last Monday (end of week 3) I ran 16.0 glorious km around Liverpool and felt like I had achieved greatness. Stunning views, awesome weather and I didn’t feel a thing after the run. SWEET, I thought.

Come to Wednesday (Run 1 of week 4) and the second I started moving I felt like somebody had done something to my legs (obviously it was the 16.0 km) but it felt horrific. Sharp pains from my thighs downwards, ankle pains. What was weird was my pace was pretty normal, sub 6:30 minutes per km (target) yet I felt like shit. I struggled to get to the end but I got there.

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What the fuck?

I was considering hitting the road for run 2 of the week but my legs were still feeling shit, I was limping, couldn’t walk so well and just felt like a failure. I spoke to a few friends in the running community (Liz, Boukje of note) and they advised me to rest. REST REST REST. At the risk of injuring myself I took on that advice and spent the next few days doing just that. No running, baths, walking, lying around. It worked.

After a celebratory 6 pints of Goose Island IPA and the spiciest N’duja sausage beef burger I decided to hit my first Park Run at Princes Park here in Liverpool. Unfortunately I turned up late and had to catch up with the tail. I went off rapid, probably too fast for my liking but caught up, carried on through and got around the park in a decent time. I got around in some 20s per km quicker than my usual pace. THE BURGER AND THE BEER must have worked, not the resting and sitting around 😉 . At the end of this run, Emma’s cousin Tom and I snaffled what I felt was a very well deserved bacon sandwich. A top start to the weekend.

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The end of week 4 of marathon training

After all the excitement of my first Park Run I took to my ‘short’ long run to end week 4 with a nice 11.2 km (7 miles). My pal Ian joined me and it was again great to have the camerardarie around the beautiful Sefton park. Ian took it at my pace which was nice, as usually he disappears off into the distance. Evidence of this is his ability to run a sub 2h half marathon without training. Frustrating git, 😉 . We introduced a decent hill at around 8.0 km and we both managed it, got to the top and the rest of our run was down hill.

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What I have taken from this week, is through some good advice (resting) and swilling a few Goose Island IPAs is that running can be fun. I felt like a right limping loser at the start of the week but finished by smashing a decent time at Park run and again on the long run today. Oh and my final thought for this post?

FOAM ROLL, FOAM ROLL like your life depends on it. 🙂 .

What happens next?

The miles pick up. I have changed my running plan a little bit to suit the recovery after longer runs. I will now run 3 times a week and cross train maybe 1 or 2 times a week. Swimming is my cross training of choice. Fancy joining me for 19.2 km (12 miles) next Sunday? ping me a message.

 

Music Monday #1

This is the very first of the Music Monday series which I hope to post throughout the training up to Manchester Marathon. It will cover what songs get me going on my  longer runs which typically fall on a Sunday (Monday’s over christmas and new year).

Today I finished week 3 of training by running around the glorious city of Liverpool. I started around Sefton Park, headed to Otterspool Promenade and onto the docks. At 11 km I reached the city’s 3 graces and it was superb. The run back home from there was tough, but having the camelbak meant I could relax and get water onboard as and when I needed which felt amazing.

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This week’s Music Monday track is the one and only Frank Turner with his epic, get you going, get you moving, get you dancing ‘Four Simple Words’. This track starts off a bit slow, but is a bit of a story and once it gets going, it makes you want to run faster. It makes you want to dance. Check out the video below (it links through to youtube).

The things that get me through

It might not work for everyone but it does for me

Advice gets batted around left, right and centre I have learned over the past 6 months. Advice can be good and bad. Whether it is about diet, speed work, the right shoes, the right supplements, quite honestly I think it only matters if that piece of advice works for you. What I mean is, someone telling me to eat Tuna and Kale for every meal will start to piss me off. I like burgers, beer and a good pizza every now and again as well as the typical fuels of pasta etc. So far my training has gone quite smoothly and with Christmas causing all kinds of dietary chaos, though I am only in week 3 of 16.

Some advice that I was given before I started my marathon training was “Make sure you get the right shoes, ones that will last”. This is the one piece of advice that I am happy to take. I have horrifically shaped feet (high arched) and have suffered in the past with feet and knee injuries thanks to wearing god awful shoes that weren’t fit for purpose. I had the pleasure of getting my gait analysis done at sweatshop and the chap there sorted me right out. Horrific over pronation (which way your ankles bend and point on landing) was sorted with a pair of Asics GT-2000’s and moulded insoles. Admittedly it all cost me a few quid but I want my shoes to last and to be able to walk by the end of the race.

Even though these shoes felt great the first couple of runs, I was still having issues with my feet swelling up by the end, and the front of my feet were in bits. I recently came across this great piece of advice (via The Running Bible) which covered how to tie your laces based on your foot shape. I am usually sceptical about this but in the end just had to give it a go.

 

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Number 3 for high arched feet
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My shoes, with the new lace formation

I have used this lace-up method now for 3 runs, including a longer 13.0 km run on Boxing day and my feet feel incredible. I feel like my feet are running in slippers, and who doesn’t like the feel of slippers on their feet? I have no swelling and no pressure on the top or base of my feet. WINNER.

If you are having trouble with foot-ache and change your laces, let me know how you get on. It would be great to see if this works for everyone, it did for me.

Running over Christmas

Week 2 of 16 is complete

I have a habit of not being motivated to do anything around Christmas other than eat and drink, but then who else does anything else? What has become a tradition, I spent my Christmas in Forden mid-wales. A great place, with great people, but loads of BLOODY HILLS. I did somehow manage to maintain my training this week and keep relatively on schedule by doing the long run on Boxing day. Realistically there was 0% chance of me doing any exercise on Christmas day (even though that was supposed to be the day of the ‘scheduled’ longer run). The week started well again, with 4.8 km, 6.5 km, 8.0 km and then on Boxing day, finishing the week again with 13.0 km (8 Miles). Some shots of the views are below.

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Camaraderie is key

I certainly learned this week that running is significantly more fun when you have people to run with. My girlfriend joined me on a couple of runs and then the big run was shared with some family friends after agreeing (admittedly after 5 pints and 5 gin and tonics) on Christmas eve to join me. Getting to the end felt great but what I realised was that Forden is full of hills. Big, inglorious bastard hills, yet somehow the times managed to stay relatively flat which I am chuffed about.

What is next?

Week 3 lies ahead, and I have to get back on track. One 4.8 km run is complete but the longer run on New Year’s day is where the miles start to increase. FUCK. 10 miles it is.

If you are tech savvy, please check out the Instagram and Twitter links at the bottom of the page :), I typically keep those up to date day by day. I am learning that the running community is absolutely class.

Marathon training is go

It is finally here.

So training has started. It is a strange mix of emotions. I have run multiple 10k’s and half marathons, but this it it. At the start of this week it didn’t really hit me until I put my shoes on. I am training for a marathon, a fucking MARATHON. Am I stupid?

I remember back at university living with my best mates where they would head out for a casual stroll around Sefton Park and they’d ask me ‘mate, fancy a run?’ and I would snort with derision and turn back to whatever game it was I was playing on our Xbox and get back to the pizza I was snaffling. For me to do this now, is quit frankly ridiculous but it is something I will finish even if it means crawling to the finish line just like the Kenyan legend Hyvon Ngetich.

Week 1 of 16 is complete

Today, week 1 of 16 is complete. It has been a fun week and moving back to Liverpool has given me the opportunity to run around one of my favourite parks. The week started nice and easy with two sets of 4.8km (3 miles) and finally finishing the week with 13.0 km (8 miles). Below is a snapshot of the runs, and some of the breakdown of each of the runs I did this week.

Week 1: Run 1 (1)

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Week 1: Run 2 (2)

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Week 1: Run 3 (3)

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Week 1: Run 4 (4)

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What comes next?

My intention is to keep you all (if there is anyone reading this) updated on my progress throughout the 16 week training cycle. I will update my day by day progress via Instagram and Twitter (links via social media at the bottom of the page) and review the weeks in posts like this.

I am also going to post about  injuries (hopefully not), what running does for me, and general thoughts about running. I will also share some other pieces about what inspires me to run, and share some of the music I listen to via a weekly ‘Music Monday’ post.

Here we bloody go

The intention here is to have a laugh, to write a bit about running and more importantly see how training for a marathon goes. I’m running Manchester marathon on April 2nd 2017 and being honest, I’m shitting myself with nerves.

I’ll blab on about how fucked my legs feel after the longer runs, whether or not its good to eat pizza or curry before hand and keep track of whether a knacker like me can keep it up and finish the bugger. Hopefully I can lose a bit of weight in the process so my knees don’t have to suffer with this 15st forever.

if you are reading this (poor bugger), well cheers. Let’s have a blast.