Monday, 30 January 2012

Heaven knows I'm (not so) miserable now

I decided that my last post was just a little bit too negative - sorry about that.  I've also had one complaint about the photographic content being 'horrible' - sorry about that as well.

MK MarathonLooking around at some of the MK marathon training blogs it does appear that I'm not alone in struggling a wee bit with positivity.  Reassuring I think!  Perhaps its the weather and that time of year?  However I am happy to report today that the pain in the shins does not appear any worse, despite reading all about injuries last night in Mens Running mag.  With the Great Bentley Half coming up at the weekend I've decided to hold back on harder running for this week and save it all for then.  My bike might make a rare appearance one or two lunchtimes for a bit of open air cross training to get the heart rate up a little.  The primary reason for any heart rate will probably be caused by me forgetting to un-cleat in front of work colleagues rather than any physical effort.  

The MR article about injuries (but mostly cross training) also made me think about how little I stretch at any point during the day let alone after running so I've set myself a New February resolution. To stretch properly after running and do a few other stretchy things in the evenings instead of sprawling out on the sofa.  I hope with those precautions I can avoid to much in the way of serious niggles or full blown injuries.  

In other news - I got my number for the Essex 20 (Mile) road race today and another run to look forward to. Entering an event with a cheque and SAE also gave me a lovely warm fussy retro feeling a bit like drinking Ginger Wine at Christmas.  Attempting a 20 mile road race is not something I've done before and will be a real benchmark for MK. It's a month and a bit away at the mo so I have plenty of time to decide on my approach.  We'll see how this weekend goes before I foolishly commit myself to attempting to run a particular time or pace.  If nothing else I cant fail to PB on the 20! 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dark, dark, places

It's been nearly two weeks since my last post on here which probably is a result of 1. finding it hard to find time to run let alone writing about it and 2. having lots of other things to do at home, such as making some new wardrobes.  I say making, I mean assembling them really!

The last week's been pretty tough in terms of running motivation.  I've been struggling with a few niggles by far the biggest is calf pain / shin pain.  According to a running friend 'shin splints are worse than child birth' so, unless womankind has been exaggerating for years, I don't think it's shin splints.  Perhaps just a bit of a strain and just my body telling me the training is having an impact.

Thierry (Yucky) 
Niggle number 2 is my sixth toe which seems to be developing nicely. It's by no means the biggest blister I've had in my running career but its a right pain in the... big toe.  It's been causing all sorts of drama in the dressing room and it suddenly came back after a few years away so I've called it Theirry.   Niggle number 3 is more minor but effects my walking gait.  I have what you might call 'intimate' chaffing, thats a pain in the arse.  Must remember to pack the Vass.

On Friday, I'd planned on running 10 miles after work.  It was one of those occasions when I was very, very tempted to just get in the car and head home.  But I decided a trot down to Hoe Mill Lock, Ulting was what I really needed to do, although it only works out about a 8.5 miles round trip.  With the niggles at the fore I concluded that it was probably best to run very gently.  Once out of Maldon it's dark dark countryside all the way, so head torched up I set off plodding away.  At about 3 miles the calf/shins seemed to have loosened up enough to begin to enjoy things.  There's a few fishing lakes near the lock and in the darkness, all I could hear was ducks and geese going about whatever they do in the dark.  Whatever they do do it sounds spooky on your own.  The lock is about half way and running wise I felt quite relaxed and so I sped up a little bit.  The next next two miles passed quickly and then I felt a very unnerving feeling. Was it wind caused by the tin of chickpeas I'd munched at lunchtime as a garnish to left over chilli? Or was it something much more sinister?  I was not prepared to find out.  I blame the next few miles of paranoia on Tonky Talk in last months Runners World which was about runners bowel movements.  I know some people really suffer with faecal issues but fortunately, and touching wood not cloth, I had never experienced any problems in that department.  Never before had I spent 3 miles looking for discreet places to crouch.  With immense concentration, I focused on the thought of Tesco's loos which by then were only a mile or so away...  But strangely by the time I got to Tesco the feeling had disappeared as quickly as it arrived and I was back focussing on how much the niggles were niggling.  An unusual sense of relief!   I managed to get another half mile on to the end of the run by doing a couple of circles around the streets near work, but decided to call it a night at that.

Everyday is like Sunday
Sunday's planned run was a 11 miler, as I've got a Half coming up next weekend. So I met up with my Maldon based running chums and set off again to Hoe Mill lock with the plan of adding on a bit at the end.  What a difference a days rest makes.  The shins where not sore, the bowels were fine, but the chaffing and blister remained. Still thats another 11 ticked off the plan at a nice gentle pace.  It brings the months running total to 106 miles which isn't too shabby considering I missed a couple of longer runs for various reasons.  Most importantly though my running chum who's training for next weekends Half did really well and ran strongly.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Game of Two Halves

Sunday was 'long run' day for me as I am sure it was for lots of other people.

Earlier in the week I'd agreed to run with a work colleague (and friends) who were also training for the Great Bentley Half in February. That was fantastic news as it meant there was no bailing out and finding the Sunday sofa a bit too comfortable. As good a plan that was, I also needed to get a few more miles done than the 8.5 miles my running chums had planned.  My perfectly simple solution was to go off and run another 7 or 8 miles after trotting around the first bit.  The first part of the run was a pleasure, with people to talk to and encouragement flowing in all directions.  The sun was out, there was not too much breeze, it was without doubt a crispy, winters day and in my mind, perfect running weather.

One of our conversations was about how psychological running is.  One day you can feel like you're gliding along with efficiency, grace and a spring in your step.  On another day you feel like you're dragging a tyre around your waist and one behind you and your trainers are filled with lead.  Despite having 11 odd miles in my legs from my Friday run I felt good, happy and confident that the next 7 would be a breeze.

So I left my running friends and set off for my second 'lap'.  The first few miles were great, they weren't fast but I felt okay until the running demons came out.  They started telling me I hurt, my legs suddenly filled with cement and my spring was replaced with flat footed plodding.  The voices started to tell me things like 'run/walking is perfectly acceptable' and 'see that gate, stop there'.  It was tough going and somehow managed to experience the spring and the plod all in the space of a few hours.

I've been running long enough to know that you need long runs for very good reasons, but this was my first one after a such a tough running week.  Still, if I actually want to get around that Milton Keynes course in a decent time I'm going to have to get used to that kind of hurting.  My four mile recovery run today certainly hurt.  Hopefully it did its job though as its a 8 mile Fartlek session tomorrow. Gulp.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Good Bye Old Friends

On saturday I made one of the most difficult decisions I had been faced with (for at least a week).  I threw out my Asics Cumulus 9s.  They were my second pair of proper running shoes and took me to Half Marathon PB's at Cardiff and Great Bentley on two occasions before they were cruely replaced by my Cumulus 11s.  I'd been occasionally getting them out the bottom drawer of my trainer storage facility for the last year and running in them.  They were great and I kind of liked the 'slick' finish on the sole that they ended up with.  However time stands still for no trainer the 9's are in the bin and the 11s are now reserved for special occasions.  I have a pair of Nimbus 12 which are naff gold and shiney and nowhere near as nice as either pair of Cumulus - somehow they just feel too solid and clumpy.  Current favourite race wear  are my Trainer-DS' which are fantastically light and great to run in.  So alongside my Asics Trails and Salomon Speedcross and my original Asics that's total of 6 pairs of trainers at my disposal.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Revision timetables

Many years ago when doing my GCSEs and A-levels I seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time planning my revision.  Developing a training plans for running has re-ignited that strange, creative passion for carefully categorising and then colouring things in. 

With the aid of Fetcheveryone and Excel it is much easier and I can even plan which route I'm going to run months in advance!  Of course with revision, my time spent planning far exceeded the time I actually spent revising. As I struggled to run last weekend, I started wondering whether training plans were just a new way of planning badly.   There's about 4 years worth of training plans lying around the bowels of my PC.  Looking back it's clear that despite some plans being more successful than others, my mileage totals do suggest training was undertaken.  Whereas my academic qualifications suggest that wasn't perhaps the case with revision.  

Smart training?
A colleague at work is always badgering me about being SMART about targets I set and that's certainly relevant to training plans but it's a different type of smart I'm thinking about.  As I've already mentioned I failed dismally to get out over the weekend which meant I ended up missing a longish run and then an 8 mile 'fartlek' session on Monday.  Over the years I've read various articles, and from that established that you can't 'catch up' lost training runs by doing more.  You just end up getting injured or over tired which then means you end up missing even more.  So Tuesday night I tried something a little different (for me).  I incorporated some hill work circuits into the early part of what was described in my plan (coloured in black) as - 10 mile 'general running'.  The logic being that the hills would help improve strength. After the hills I'd have to carry on for the rest of the run fairly fatigued and that would help with the stamina?  So in Ben's world theory I would get more benefits than just a general run.  Whether my logic is actually good logic remains to be seen but it certainly made me feel better for missing a few sessions.  

What do I call hill circuits?
After a warm up, I ran to an area where I could do a short hilly or sloped loop. As it happens the uphill section of the loop lasted about 50-60 seconds, I then ran downhill on another road and then completed the loop with a nice flat bit. The total lap lasted about 2m20s. I ran hard(ish) uphill, jogged down hill and then what you might call comfortable pace on the flat bit. After that I ran off and did 7.5 painful miles finishing off, by accident, doing one more steep climb to the end.  My conclusion today is that different bits of me ache which suggests that the session probably did some good.  Next time I'll try and find a longer but less steep hill which I think would be better.  I say next time because I'm going to try and be flexible with my training plan. There's no point worrying about sessions that I miss because life gets in the way.

In other news I've finally entered the Great Bentley half in Feb and sadly I had to miss the last Third Blind mice trail run. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012


With 17 weeks to go to the Milton Keynes Marathon, the training plan officially starts NOW, or more accurately on New Years Day.  So far I'm already behind by a few miles as I missed a long(ish) run earlier in the week.  On Tuesday I was about to go for a quick lunchtime run and made the mistake of looking out the window before getting changed.  The rain was horizontal, the water coming out of the fountain at work was landing about 10 ft away from the pond... Hmm 'maybe I'll wait till after work instead'. The weather didn't improve and nor did my motivation to get blown about or hit by flying fences.  
Wednesday was slightly less windy and a constructive 9 miles were clocked up on some nice quiet lanes near Maldon. 
The plan for the rest of the week is a gentle 5 miles (recovery run) tomorrow at some point, 7miles off road on Saturday, and then whatever I can manage Sunday following the final Christmas get together the night before.  That's assuming I don't get scared of the wind again.