Monday, 16 June 2014

Retrun of the blog!

OK, so the return of this blog.

It originally existed to help me with fundraising for the 2012 London Marathon, my first step on a much longer running journey, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Since then I have run a further 2 marathons, Paris in April 2013 and Valencia in November 2013.  That last one broke me in so many ways, doing damage to my left knee and while that seems to be better, I have still not managed a pain free run since October 2013.

So, the last month or so has seen me hardly do any running and I am down to just one injury now: a torn right glute (ie arse muscle) and I have a physio appointment for that this week.

It’s now time to get back in the saddle, but my aims for this summer season have been curtained somewhat. I was meant to set a 1.45 half marathon in the Winter/Spring and then concentrate on a sub 50 10k this summer, along with a sub 24 5K.  Well, I managed to run one half marathon in the winter, (Richmond old deer park) in 1.58, which I thought was decent given the lack of training, but that was it for that distance.

On the 10k front I just about set a new PB of 50.55 at Finsbury Park in May and was a minute off that in the London 10k a few weeks later.

My parkrun record at Highbury Fields is 24.57. That is my new aim. Beat that.

Although first I need to get back to running 5k, something I thought I was well past but here I am, starting again. Hopefully this blog might help with others as they find their way back after a period out, or it might just be me, shouting into the wind. Who knows, but at least writting about it should help me to focus. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

On the comeback trail

After a bit of a break I have decided to resume this blog to help me focus on my injury comeback. More to follow....

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

And the results are in...

So, how did I do? Well, I am going to go all American sit com style and go for a dramatic build up before a big finish.

Between my last blog and the race I still had a couple of warm up runs to complete, more just to keep my fitness up than really stretch myself although I was quite worried about doing myself some sort of stupid injury and wasting the months and months of training.  On the Thursday I did a 4km run on the treadmill and on Saturday morning a fast 3km along the canal, both of which went pretty well.

I also attended the runner’s expo on Wednesday evening.  The main purpose of this was to pick up timing chip and race information, although I also had a good poke around. Strangely there were loads of stalls selling trainers and clothes, even through the advice is to not wear anything new in the race! Also, in the goodie bag there was the usual health stuff, plus a can of Fuller's London Pride. Now, Pride is one of my favourite beers but it was odd to find it in a marathon goodie bag. A post-finish treat perhaps? Anyway, mine didn’t last beyond the evening.

I also had a 15 minute sports massage, mainly focused on my calves, which felt tight through the majority of my training.  The masseuse said that I had impressive calves, but they were also incredibly lumpy. After 15 minutes of pain she beat the knots out of the muscles and recommended some stretches for me to do in the next few days.

My alarm went off at 6.30 on the Sunday and I forced myself out of bed, trying not to think about what I was going to be up to that day. I had the usual pre race breakfast of porridge and a slice of toast with jam (carbs and a bit of sugar) and left the house at 7.30 to meet Steve (who was running for Shelter) and get the Overground to Shadwell, before changing for the DLR to Greenwich.

The weather forecast had predicted rain, but it was in fact a glorious sunny morning. Too sunny perhaps, and I was glad I had put on some sunscreen.  I was starting in the red area, with the majority of the other runners, and was in pen 8 to start. There was a lovely sort of Glastonbury type atmosphere, probably helped by the sun and the fact that no one wanted to think about what was ahead of them!

I joined my pen at around 9.30 for the 9.45 start and was over the actual start line surprisingly quickly, at around 10.05 to begin the race. However, it was more of a fast walk at the start, with so many people still bunched together and I found getting my pace up was pretty hard. After the first few minutes I just decided to go with the flow and was running at around 6.30 mins per km, slower than the 5.30-5.45 I needed to come in around 4 hours.

Nonetheless, I still managed to overtake a variety of mad people dressed in silly costumes.  These included the Blackpool Tower (all 12ft of him), a couple of rhinos, a giant apple, three wombles, a clown, two guys running BAREFOOT, some army blokes in full kit and a guy with an inflatable Zimmer frame. I also saw a couple of people running for Willow and had a brief chat with them.

So, miles 0-6 were pretty slow but I was getting on ok and enjoyed looking out for people dressed in silly costumes. By mile 6 though my right trainer had started to rub. No idea why, it has been fine on distances much longer than that, but there you go. My left shoulder was also quite achy, but that was no real surprise since it had been hurting the week before. It did mean though that when I saw my family at mile 9, I had to stop and get some painkillers from them, which my Mum took forever to find in her bag.  Still, medicated I trotted merrily on and was quite pleased that I had yet to even slow down to a walk, despite going over a few hills and feeling dehydrated due to the sun.

Mile 12 is roughly where Tower Bridge is, and I did have a little walk as I came up it, as I was feeling a bit tired and the slope is much steeper than it seems when you are walking over it!  Still, as I crossed the middle I picked up the pace again, and at the halfway point (mile 13) I was on for a 4.10 finish if I could maintain my pace. Now, given I had never run the full distance before I was not sure I would be able to hold that pace, but I was still very confident that I would do the lot in the target time of 4.30.

Coming down the other side of the bridge, I turned right and along this part of the course I could see the fast runners going in the other direction, now only 5 miles or so from the finish line. Bastards. Still, I was doing alright and came through Limehouse and into Canary Wharf, seeing my family again at mile 15 and some friends a few hundred meters along. I stopped for a quick chat (it would be rude not too, since they came out to see me) and then plodded on.

However, at mile 16: disaster. My right thigh suddenly tensed up and every step felt like someone was stabbing me in the leg. I slowed down to a walk for a few minutes, and then tried to run again, but after a few hundred meters I couldn’t take the pain anymore, and had to slow.

My race was over.

But there was no way I was going to waste months and months of training and not finish the damm thing. I revised my target time to 5 hours and worked out what speed I needed to hold to get through that.  Essentially a fast walk and some jogging where I could should see me home in time, so that was the new plan.

At mile 19 I saw my family for the final time, and stopped to get some instant ice packs from them and let them know I might be a bit slower than expected.

From then on I stuck to the plan, using the GPS watch to guide my pace, running wherever possible (especially down hill).  The pain was pretty intense but the crowd were marvellous, shouting encouragement and offering Jelly babies galore.

By the time the 25 mile post came up I knew that I would be able to finish the race and picked my pace up a bit, thinking that I would just deal with the pain later on, and the sight of so many people who had come out to watch pushed me on a bit further as well, although I still had to slow to a walk a couple of times.

The original plan was to sprint over the line, but in the end I just about managed to jog.

So, my final time? 4 hours, 54 minutes.  Not too bad, but I did feel like I might never walk again.  Annoyingly, the top half of my body felt fine, I was tired but still had some energy left and I know I could have gone quicker. It was just a stupid injury, and on something that I have had no issues with all the way through training that held me back.

After crossing the line I collected my medal and was found by Carol from the Willow Foundation, who took me to the recovery centre, where I was fed tea and sandwiches before receiving a well needed massage.  Again, the masseuse felt the need to comment on my “serious calves”, which were also spasmisming all over the shop, making it look like there was something trapped underneath the skin. Lovely.

I also had a shower, which made me feel much closer to being human again, before having my photo taken with the legend that is Bob Wilson and then going for a well deserved pint with my family. 

So, that’s it, over. I am not going to lie and say that I enjoyed all of the process.  I did find that I like running half marathons, and also having a bit of time to myself while I am out running, listening to some music and generally getting some fresh air (well, as fresh as can be expected in zone 1). I am also fitter and healthier, although I have only lost about 6kgs through all this (about 13 pounds) but I suspect I have managed to shift a fair amount of fat into muscle. However, having to go training all the time obviously had an impact on my social life, while the last 10 miles of the race itself was agony.

Anyway, onto the thank-yous.  So, thank you to my Wife and family for supporting me over the last 5 months, putting up with my moaning and getting me running stuff for Christmas. Thank you to EVERYONE who sponsored me, particularly those who I have not managed to see for some time, although of course every penny counts.  Special mentions go to the Mystical Mr Miyagi for being the largest single non-family donor and to Mark Coughlan for rounding me up to a square £2000, and if anyone else wants to contribute then the page is

What next? – Well, I am looking at the Hackney Half marathon this Sept and the Run to the Beat at the end of Oct. Plus, the ballot for the 2013 London Marathon opens on Monday…….

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Do-do, do-do, do-do, it's the final count down!

Yes, there are only 4 more days to go until the big race! So, this is your final chance to sponsor me if you have not done so, at

I am pleased to say that I have reached and breached my target level, and am now looking to round things up to a cool £2,000.

Training wise things are also progressing well.  Since last week I have defiantly been into the taper, running much shorter distances as I start to conserve energy for the race itself. In fact all I have done since last week is a 6.65km, 10km, 5km, 13km and another 5.5km.  What is pleasing is that the last two runs were actually pretty quick, getting round the 10km mark in the 13km run in 55 minutes while I got through yest’s 5.5km in 29 mins, 14 seconds, way above marathon pace and I still felt fine after it. Maybe there is something to this tapering malarkey after all!

I have started to turn a little paranoid though, as after all this training I really don’t want to get injured or ill and muck things up. In fact I have got a little cold at the moment but ploughed through Boots and brought everything I thought might be helpful to try and shake the damm thing off before Sunday. I also moved away from someone on the bus as they coughed and am avoiding the tube at all costs!

So, as the day gets even closer the training will continue to wind down, with a 4.5km planned for Thursday evening before going to see Mark Steel In Town and on Saturday a quick 3km in the morning before Arsenal vs Chelsea, where I will only have one pint at half time, and that is it.

I also start carb loading from tomorrow, with pasta becoming my best friend, closely followed by potatoes and rice. What joy.

If you want to follow my progress on race day my number is 51446 and you should be able to track me on the London marathon website! I don’t think it is GPS style tracking, rather just showing when I have passed through each tracking gate, but you should be able to keep tabs on me as well as any bets you have on my finishing time.

So, wish me luck and think of me on Sunday morning when you are having a nice cup of tea and a bacon sandwich as I flog my way round 26.2 miles in the sodding rain. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

And now, the end is near…….

Yes, there is now only 12 days to go until race day! It has really come round fast. I remember back in November drawing up my training plan and thinking that a 10km run was the culmination of a week’s work, where as now it is just another medium length jog.

So, I am now into “taper mode”, which means I am cutting down the weekly mileage and starting to control my diet (ha!) so that I am ready for race day. In fact this has already started, with this weekend being the first I have not done at least a half marathon in the last seven.  However, I did do one last Monday and last week was in fact my longest to date, clocking up 47.8km (that’s just under 30 miles).

Since I last blogged in the middle of last week I have managed to get in a 5km, a 15km and a 6.5km, which is not too bad, especially considering I have been training with another cold, making it feel like I am running with a lung full of gravel. In fact apart from the last run I still felt pretty good and I am already looking forward to winding the training down as I prepare for race day.

It kinda feels like I ma coming up to a big exam and am at the point where no matter how much more I try and revise, none of it is going to stick, so I might as well relax and feel in good shape for the exam itself. So this week I am doing a 10km, 5km and 10km, before going for a 16km on Sunday.

After that I need to reduce my carb intake until Thursday and then start loading like there is no tomorrow, eating handfuls of dried pasta every waking second. OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but it seriously will be pasta and rice time, with a bit of protein sprinkled on top. I also need to do a few runs to keep up any fitness I happen to have built up, but also avoid any injuries.

Although training is drawing to a close, my fundraising is not! In case this slipped by any of you, I am running to raise money for the Willow Foundation (, which provides special days for seriously ill young adults. It is a great charity, so if you have enjoyed reading this blog please make a contribution here: and help me reach my target! Thanks.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Only 20 days to go and a lovely trip to York

Right, not long to go until the big day now!

Sorry for the tardiness for this blog, in-between training I have had a long weekend to York for a wedding as well as a few other social functions, which has not left me with much time to sit down and write something worth reading,

So, last time out I had just completed my longest run to date, going through a number of Monopoly board locations en route. The distance was 27km, and was to be topped last Tuesday afternoon when I had a half day at work with the express intention of going out for a 33km run, marking my “longest run” of the whole schedule.

However, things did not start out that well when I was feeling a touch heavy legged right from the get-go, and it was more of a “plod” than a “run”.  Still I marched onwards and was doing ok up until the 18/19km area. Around then I could feel my right calf tighten up as I was progressing along the Holloway Road, with the uphill section near the top end of it proving to be especially painful. 

I though I might be able to run it off but to no avail. At around 22km I stopped and though about if I could manage another 11km, or if I was likely to do myself some proper damage. Now, a few years ago I managed to tear my right calf when I was living in NZ, and had to go through months to physio to get back on track. I don’t have time for months of physio. Not even weeks. So, in the end I limped home, doing 24km in just under 2 and a half hours, with my pace impacted by the limp home.

After that I had to give myself a couple of days off to make sure I didn’t aggravate the injury. I would far rather get round the marathon in a slow time than not get round at all, and so on Friday morning I was up bright and early for a run around the outskirts of York, where I was spending the weekend to attend a wedding on Saturday.

I managed to get round 10km with only a bit of tightness in my calf, which pleased me a lot as I was really worried I had totally banjaxed it. In fact I even got round in a decent time and followed this up with a quick 8km on Saturday morning before the wedding.

I had Sunday off to explore more of York and its fine collection of pubs, before catching the train back to London on Monday morning. After getting home around 2ish I though I might take the opportunity of an afternoon off for a quick half marathon.

Now, the intention was actually to go for a nice slow run in the sunshine, testing out a couple of energy gels to see how my body would react, as sometime they can make me feel a bit sick.

However, this time out not only did I feel fine, I managed to record my second fastest half marathon time and the fastest I have down outside of a proper race, so the gels must have done some good. One side effect though is that you can crash a bit afterwards, which I did, falling asleep in the bath when I got home.

So I am now down to just 20 days to go, and I don’t really have enough time to fit in a 30km run as well as start to taper properly, so I am just going to have to go with what I have got and make the best of it. For now on I have one more half marathon to do and then the size of the runs gets shorter and shorter, although the frequency will stay the same.

I am now really close to hitting my fund raising target but am running out of time, so please, if you keep forgetting to sponsor me, then forget no more and do it NOW! My page is at: it is super easy to sponsor me, so please do! I am trying to raise £1,600 for the Willow Foundation, which provides special days for seriously ill young adults.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Running around the Monopoly board and my biggest run to date

Hi there, before you read the rest of this blog, I have set a challenge – see how many places mentioned here are also on the standard UK Monopoly board. First one to post the correct answer in the comments section gets a prize!

As the big day approaches my weekly distance seems to have levelled off in the 45km area but the balance within this has shifted, with the longer runs getting longer and the shorter runs being less frequent.  This is because I have found I usually need a couple of days off after a big run before I tackle the rest of the week, with the first day after giving my muscles a rest and on the second day I still don’t quite have the energy to go and do more training. 

This was certainly true this weekend and since Saturday I have yet to hit the road again, but then I did do my longest run on Saturday afternoon, so I reckon I deserve a rest!

I set off in some light drizzle which was fine by me, as the baking sunlight from the week before was a massive pain in the arse, and started off down the Regent’s canal towards the Limehouse basin, as usual. Another benefit of the rain was a lack of “Shoreditch trendies” – you know what I mean, the sort of people who have “haircuts” and hats, with silly skinny jeans, rolled up at the bottom. If the weather is nice then they flock to the canal, drinking their cider and generally getting in my way. No such problems this weekend though! I sound so old.

I was also feeling much less heavy legged than the week before and was confident of covering both a distant distance and doing it in a respectable time. On top of this I was giving energy gels another go, so hopefully I would get a bit of a boost near the end and not flag as much as I had been.

So, down the canal to Limehouse, no problems, then through Whitechapel and Aldgate and across the city to St Pauls, where I dived into M&S for a bottle of water and my first energy gel, around the 10km mark and in around 55 minutes, which is my target marathon pace. So far, so good. Then down to Ludgate Circus and turning right to go generally uphill to Kings Cross station. I did have to slow to a fast walk up some of the hills, but I was still generally ok and the rain had stopped, which was another bonus.

At this point I then changed my normal route to extend it a bit. Instead of heading up Pentonville to Angel and then Upper St to Highbury and Islington, I instead went up Caledonian Road and then back down to H&I. Although this is slightly longer I think it was much faster, as I was running along some fairly quiet streets instead of the hustle and bustle of Angel on a Saturday afternoon.  From here it was then up towards Stoke Newington and then Manor House tube and having more energy gel, before then heading east to Stamford hill and then dropping back down through Stoke Newington and Dalston before heading for home.

I still had some energy left this point, which was a nice surprise and I did consider running on but at this point I was frankly bored of all the running and just wanted to get home and have a quick rest before going out that evening!

So, after all that I covered 27km (16.5 miles) is just over 2 hours, 40 minutes, which bodes pretty well for the big day itself, which is now just 32 days away! In that time I still have another 2 big runs to do before tapering off, as well as a long weekend in York for a wedding, although the runners will be coming with me to that one.

I am now really close to hitting my fund raising target but am running out of time, so please, if you keep forgetting to sponsor me, then forget no more and do it NOW! My page is at: and it is super easy to sponsor me, so please do! I am trying to raise £1,600 for the Willow Foundation, which provides special days for seriously ill young adults. Since I know that most of you lot who read this fit into that bracket, then remember they could be helping you if something happened in your life, so just think of this as prepay ;o)