The body I had an awful nights sleep after the marathon. I would have thought I would have been so tired that I would have surfaced sometime in July. I did manage about an hours worth but then tossed and turned for the rest of the night. I managed to get away with only one trip to the toilet during the night as to actually get to a vertical position was a near impossible feat. All I felt like doing on the Monday was eat. The contents of my second goody bag  (courtesy of Sue in celebration of my efforts) was mainly chocolate and although I would normally hoover this material up, its aid to physical recovery was next to zero. The psychological comforting benefits were still being explored, just to make sure. My physical being on the Monday could be summed up by the following YouTube clip. Stairs were really difficult, going either up or down. Getting in and out of a seated position was absolute torture, particularly the toilet. I was ‘Mick of the Dead’ I had an appointment with Colin in the afternoon to relieve my quads that had undergone tectonic levels of transformation and in need of some toe-curling manipulation. I could feel the release of these troublesome muscle groups through gritted teeth, and normal service was being resumed. Although it would still be another few days until all the stiffness and pain would fully subside. The only lasting affect on the body is three blackening toenails that hopefully I will keep and they decide not to drop off in my sock one day. Yeuw! The... read more

Marathon Day

Before I thought I would wait a few days before writing up this entry to get a more rounded perspective of what actually happened on Sunday. My initial feelings on the day were not what I had thought they would be. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the experience. But, like I say, with a bit of time to reflect and put some other factors into their rightful place, this will probably change. I could start by taking in the fact that I was about to take part in one of the most iconic public participated sporting events in the world. Now that should elevate it a bit. I did not have the best night’s sleep on Saturday night, in fact I was awake by about 1:30am and wrestling as best I could to suppress any negative thoughts by forcing memories in of all the hard work I had put in and how I will just squeak in front of Mo at the finish line later today. I must have managed to win that battle as my alarm clock brought me into consciousness at 5am. After small porridge and a second, third and fourth inspection of my kit bag later, I was ready to disembark to the train station to board the Striders bus at 6:30am. The journey was incident free apart from the state of the toilet, which I assume was being utilised to the full by numerous nervous patrons. I will try and keep this blog entry above the waist, but you might as well share the full experience with me. We arrived at... read more

Only one thing left to do now

Weather Stalking the weather started a few weeks ago with regular checking of unreliable long-range forecasts. This week, every available meteorological website was scrutinized almost hourly to see whether next Sunday was going be kind to 36,000 runners and hundreds of thousands of supporters. The ideal scenario would be a cool, overcast with a gentle breeze and no rain. As the week moved on, this wish was looking like it could become a reality. Almost like magic there were beautiful days manifesting either side of the Sunday and then the sunny conditions and higher temperatures began to edge their way in to M day forecast. By Saturday it was looking like being a sunny, but cool day. I will take that as long as it doesn’t get any hotter, just need to pack the sunscreen now. Tapering This is the big week of nothing, or so I thought. There is no more training to do as such, just resting, eating and pushing out any last emails to try and part people with their cash all in name of charity. The money was coming in thick and fast, big and small, which pushed me through my initial target, so I adjusted it to £2500. With some more money promised I’m now quietly confident of reaching £3000, which I am really pleased about. I closed the Sweepstake on Saturday with over 160 guesses and a £40+ prize fund. I went for a gentle jog on Tuesday down to Striders and partook in the warm up session on the track before breaking off and jogged gently home again. Apart from that I... read more

Seven days to go

Now that the longest run is out the way and the marathon itself is only days away, it is time to taper. This basically means that you put your feet up and eat pies. Well, actually it doesn’t mean that at all, but it is a time of rest and recovery. Eating sensibly to repair the muscles and pulling back on the training to allow the body to rest and all this should equate to an easy run in to the big day. That said at Striders this week I was looking at doing some longish reps. No Abbey Avenue reps this week as the first Tuesday of the month were reserved for hill sessions. However, at the introduction there was another group who were running 1k reps around the lakes in Verulamium. The clocks had gone forward which offered a safer environment for running now – or so you would think! I could tell something wasn’t quite the same as the other group I usually run with by the ‘gentle’ jog to the start, I thought I may have mistakenly put my walking boots on before leaving home. Some parts of the park were still affected by the recent flooding, so we did a reccy of the course – these guys were fast and I was almost at full effort just to keep them in sight. On arrival back at the starting tree there was a brief explanation of this evening’s task – two sets of three reps at increasing pace and possibly a couple more (pace to be decided) at the end. Ready! Go! And off we... read more

Sick Mick

I mentioned in my last entry about the useful attributes of having a distraction to take your mind off a niggle here or tweak there. However there is nothing quite as distracting to one’s marathon preparations as a stomach bug that produces entertainment at both ends. This happened on the Monday and rendered me pretty much useless for the next four days. I was beginning to get used to lounging about feeling sorry for myself until Friday when a metaphorical slap in the face forced me out of bed and got me out on the road,  just for a few miles. I managed four miles in the end and felt surprisingly OK, but err’d on the side of caution and resisted another lap. All the advice I was receiving was to not run the Gade Valley Harriers 20 miles that weekend. This was a bitter blow as it is a significant milestone, both in distance, time and the subsequent beginning of the tapering period before London. The only plus side to this was the thought that I wouldn’t need to run the hills of Potten End this weekend. I did manage to get out on my bike for 90 minutes or so on the Saturday and found the exercise very beneficial. It wasn’t really until Sunday before I had a decent nights sleep and my stomach had really settled. So while people up and down the country were putting in their longest runs, I had to settle for 10 miles around the lanes of Chiswell Green. The frustration of having to hold back was messing with my mind and... read more

FUNdraisers and Inspirators

Quiz Night As the week progressed, the teams for the quiz night increased in numbers, the questions were formulated into a series of brain-bashing rounds, raffle prizes were flooding in and we were all set for a fun, money-making extravaganza. Over 100 people turned up on the Saturday night to Stanborough School to form 12 teams ready to do brain battle to the death, or at least until the questions ran out. Quizmaster Rob, who had single-handedly put these mind teasers together, set up and introduced everyone to the evening’s entertainment. Brains were set whirring, pens were rattling between dentures and animated discussions were opening up to such dilemmas as to whether it was Led Zeppelin or Def Leopard who performed with a one armed drummer. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to create a round all about me, but by the time I had thought how self-regarding this was; ten questions had been created and ready to go. The only difficult aspect was creating ten cunning questions that even my own family wouldn’t know about me. I think the rest of the table containing my Mum and two sisters thought their Christmas presents had come early. Sadly not! We had pizzas at the break, a raffle near the end and even a sweepstake on my Marathon finishing time. Add to this all the entry fees received, the final cash injection was over £680 for the evening which is great news and helped push my total to over £1700 so far. Big thanks to Rob for putting this quiz together, Sue and Trish for raffle ticket selling, pizza... read more

Drink, drink and then drink some more

Water Apparently the human brain is made up of approximately 76% water, mine is probably closer to 100% as I still have this inability to put enough of the clear stuff in my system to get the rest of me hydrated.  It is not that we are short of water in this country, especially at the moment, maybe I should keep my mouth open when I am running! Sunday’s long run was admittedly in slightly warmer conditions than other runs recently, I’m sure my nutrition was good enough, so the arduous trudge up Abbey Avenue and the feeling afterwards was probably down to hydration. It is known that fluid loss will impair performance before glycogen depletion, so take note and “Drink more water Mick”. Pre run, during run, post run, when you’re not running, when you’re sleeping, just all the time, but obviously not too much that you dilute the electrolytes in your system and cause hypernatremia. This running lark continues to surprise me and to throw up more challenges. This continuing voyage of self-discovery had exhausted me so much that I missed my first Strider session of the year, so I chose to do a very slow recovery run instead. On Wednesday I conducted my own 1k reps around Midway and Abbey Avenue. It really is so much more difficult to push yourself when you are on your own, but 5 reps, a warm down and a stretching session were worth doing. I visited Colin Bailey for some untangling of muscles in my left calf on the Friday and after an hour of wincing, I dragged my mullered... read more

I can pee a rainbow

Hills The last thing you need after scoffing loads of cakes at charity cake sale is another evening of ‘hills’ down by the Abbey, but that was the most useful exercise on offer that evening at Striders. There were a lot more people this week eager to grunt and groan up hills, so a small variation was added to try and reduce the risk of us colliding with stray pedestrians. The first ascent  was the same as last week (except with a belly full of delicacies), then the second ascent took us up to Orchard Street, left turn, then another left and back down the road to the pub. Five or maybe six of these was enough for one evening and once again I had forgotten my Garmin, so I have no reference to whether I am getting any faster at them. 15 We were going away on Sunday for a few days, so I had to re-organise the long run for earlier in the week. Saturday’s weather wasn’t looking too clever, so Friday slipped into pole position for a this 15 mile experience. The recent heavy rain had made all but the main roads navigable, so I plotted a route on Run, Jog, Walk that took in the A5 to Redbourn, up the Nicky Line to Harpenden, pop into to Skyes to refill with water and then back down the A6 to St Albans. Setting off for a two and half hour run can be psychologically difficult, especially one that spans 3 towns that I would normally not relish driving let alone running. It was breezy and the... read more

Aches, Lakes and Cakes

Aches Showers for the next couple of days were not for the faint hearted. The anticipation from when the hot water hit the skin to when the pain kicked in was almost more unbearable than the pain itself. Outside the hot water issue, I had to think about continuing the training without making the situation worse. I ordered some NipGuards to try out, they look like sticky Polos, so we will see how they work out when they turn up. Tuesday was my first taste of exercise since the Gade Valley 12 miler, so I had to make sure I wasn’t going to make my nips any worse. So there was the sorry sight of me rifling through Sue’s makeup drawer looking for some cotton makeup pads which I elegantly strapped to the offending parts of my torso with Micropore. Tonight’s track session was an uninviting 50 x 100m sprints and not really suited to the speed endurance that I had to continue to build on. Six of us took up the offer of some ‘hills’ over by the Abbey. We warmed up with a jog to the Fighting Cocks and then had one quick reccy of the course which was a run ‘with effort’ from the pub up through the park to the Abbey before turning around for the gentle jog back to the Fighting Cocks. A forty minute session was negotiated down to thirty to make it sound more appealing before we set off. The first one or two hundred meters were ok, but the last hundred or so required some serious gurning and puffing of cheeks... read more

Muddy, Bloody, Floody Hell

Remembering I cast my mind back to the days following the St Albans Half Marathon 10 years ago where I recall that stairs were particularly difficult to negotiate. So I am pleased that the days following a 14 mile run were pretty much ache free. I’m sure this is partly down to a better level of fitness and preparation, but also more regular and thorough post-run stretching. Striding After Tuesdays eight 800m intervals down at the track with Striders, I had a chat with one of their more experienced marathon runners and this reassured me that I am following a sensible program. However, I should focus on some of the longer threshold runs and sprinkle some of their hill sessions in there too. I thought I would take advantage of the Striders Thursday sessions this week to increase the distance on midweek runs. Huddled from the cold in the track clubhouse, the various run leaders announced their intentions for the evening and waited for everyone to make their choice. “Six 9½ minute miles”, “Seven 8½ minute miles” “Six 11 minute miles” and even a less popular “Eight 6½ minute miles” were put forward. I joined Jack and his 9½ minuters for a spiraling trip around Cottonmill, then a skirting run around St Stephens, down to Batchwood, into town and then back down Holywell Hill for what turned out to be a slightly faster 9¼ minute miles. It was interesting running with a group, especially the random shouting from the front of the pack warning the rest of us of upcoming obstacles ranging from posts, fallen road signs, branches and... read more

12 weeks a slave (to running)

Getting out Not wanting to tempt fate by mentioning this, but the weather systems conspired to bring another fine day for a long run. Sue was playing netball in Stanborough, which gave a perfect excuse for a more interesting linear run. I checked on-line maps to see if I could cunningly tack on a couple of miles to my previous excursion to Welwyn. Armed with these mental routes I set off down the Alban Way and ran its length to Hatfield, where I branched off around the Galleria and down towards the Tescos. At this point I hangered off to the right along the A414 towards the A1000 that would take me back into Welwyn with the required mileage added. It was shortly after I made this turn, that my attention to on-line map reading came into question. I had checked that there was a path along the A1000, but neglected to do the same for the A414. Needless to say, it didn’t. And it didn’t for about a 1/4 of a mile of busy dual carriageway. There were brief areas of runnable grass, rudely interrupted by hawthorn hedges forcing me to skip on and off this potentially lethal length of road. I guess the speed work involved was an added bonus. With that little drama over, I turned left at the first roundabout where I could see the top of a very familiar Gosling Stadium. As my new running shoes slurped and slopped in metres of mud it was becoming clear that there was a railway in between us with no obvious way of getting across. I returned... read more

Core blimey

Spa-ing It was only the second day of 2014 and we were on our way to Nirvana Spa with four friends for a complete veg out after a manic Christmas and New Year. A brief spell in the gym, was complimented by a blasting session on all those worked muscles in the hydrotherapy pool. After a swim in the roman pool we swanned into the restaurant in our complimentary dressing gowns as luncheon was served. An afternoon snooze was briefly broken up by a session in the floatation pool where we drifted around in a semi-conscious state for forty minutes. Afternoon tea and cake, more lounging and then the reluctant journey home sadly saw the end of the pampering for the foreseeable future. Training had to resume and it had to move up a notch now as the post holiday blues had booked a visit to the emotional receptors in my brain. Core So, chuck yourself into a Pilates and book a class. ‘Damn, it’s full.’ ‘What else is on the gym’s list of exercises for the new year.’ ‘Core Blimey?’ Yes that is a question and coincidentally the resulting greeting to myself for the next four mornings as I attempted a seating position from horizontal. Core Blimey was a half hour session of brutal abdominal work and one I could easily have bailed out of after five minutes as the other two victims grimaced their way through the exercises. At the end my crumpling form must have resembled the last throws of a dying creature desperately trying to hold onto what life was left in it after this... read more

Resistance was Futile

Christmas offers such big temptations for mass body abuse, more than any other time of the year. Mince pies, boxes of chocolates, plates of turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pudding, wine and beer, the list is relentless. I resisted so well up until the eve of Christmas, when a well delivered toad in the hole, lemon meringue pie, chocolates and beer duly dropped my guard and I gave in to it’s loveliness. Even the four mile run earlier that afternoon would barely cut into the calorie intake for this evenings display of weakness. Christmas Day must be a “free for all” day in anyone’s training schedule. Guilt wasn’t going to play any part in this traditional day of feasting, despite the unveiling of various running related presents to remind me of what I should be doing. One unexpected benefit of wearing a t-shirt with an integrated drum kit was the strengthening of my core by the constant pounding it got from the variety of nieces and nephews during the day. I managed another four miles on Boxing Day that was neutralised with the introduction of a roast beef dinner and a continuing afternoon of grazing. My plan on Friday was to do some chores at Sue’s work and run the six and half miles back from Harpenden. The chores didn’t quite go to plan and by the time it came to running back, I was low on enthusiasm and felt even lower on energy levels. I did manage to scuff my way home even with a less than impressive plod across Batchwood golf course and a tired chug... read more

Groundhog day

It was beginning to feel like Groundhog Day with the continuing saga of my shoulder complaint. Fortunately, after another intense physio session had been applied to the offending area, the instant relief tandem-ed with a recommended reduction in training this week began to see the end of this episode. Cutting my training by half meant only two Threshold legs instead of the usual four this week. This didn’t make them any more bearable, in fact I think I must be doing something wrong here as they are continuing to be a living nightmare. It is hard to judge what a precise percentage of one’s full effort is, so maybe I have to bring my speed down a bit instead of hugging the nearest lamp post in a spluttering heap on completion of each repetition. I don’t believe in “can’t”, so possibly I am suffering from “won’t” as I am still working on three minute reps instead of the recommended five minutes that I should be doing by now. I have been wrestling with the conundrum of cutting down the exercise this week, followed by a busy Christmas, going away for three days before New Year and failing to keep up with the schedule. Hopefully January will bring me more clarity & focus and less injuries & obstacles. It took an enormous effort to finally get down to the gym on Saturday, I really didn’t want to go especially after a late night out and a growing list of pre-Christmas things to get done before the 25th. I managed to endure just over an hour of biking, cross-training and stretching to banish... read more

Take a plastic bag with you just in case

Huge relief as my shoulder was massaged into submission on the Monday to give a fuller range of movement that I hadn’t experienced for a few days. It was also good to get a good long sleep that night, knowing the dreaded threshold runs were the next day. I took Colin’s advice to warm-up more gradually, but it was so cold I probably broke into a jog quicker than I should have. I repeated the same awful procedure as last week in the hope that they would be more bearable. Sadly, they weren’t! They were still the devil’s work, but my times were an improvement over last week, so Satan still may have a part to play in the big day after all. On Wednesday I went to the gym, only my second time since parting with my membership fee a couple of weeks ago. With 45 minutes on the bike and another 15 minutes on a cross trainer I completed an hour of low impact exercise without the aid of the rower this time to reduce the risk of any scapular related flare up. Despite doing nothing on Thursday, I woke up early Friday morning with a now familiar intense pain in my shoulder. Icing the area and copious painkillers had little effect, but I eventually managed a mid morning snooze that did help ease the pain. Later that day I had an induction at the gym to view all their instruments of fitness, some standard, some not and some just damn weird. Lewis shown me around the showroom of gadgets and instructed me on all the non-shoulder... read more

Cold Shoulder

Cold Shoulder Once I have taken all the bitching out about a frozen shoulder that has given me sleepless nights and various other levels of jip this week, I thought there would be very little left to report. I left the Gym session out this week citing it as the probably cause of the muscle spasm in the first place. I also cancelled the gym induction until I was in better physical shape to make the most of it. Threshold Of course this won’t stop the training this week, just a shame it included another set of threshold runs. This time it was in the dark, so I had to think carefully about where the visibility would be good, the area would be quiet and the road would be three minutes long! “What?” I hear you say, “a road three minutes long, don’t be ridiculous.” What it means is how far I can run in three minutes in a ‘controlled discomfort’ state. The other issue I faced is that I can barely see my GPS at night so I would be unable to know when three minutes had lapsed until I got home to analyse the data. I sourced a likely candidate in Chiswell Green which conveniently is a 15 minute ‘warm-up’ jog away. Arriving at the far end of Stanley Avenue, I hit the lap button on my Forerunner and set off on the first rep. I ran like billy-o to the other end of the road observing how much of it appeared to be uphill. I arrived in one ‘controlled discomfort’ heap at the other end of... read more

Day by Day

For this week only I thought I would break down the new schedule day by day Day 1 – Rest Day Scraping the ice off the car windscreen more regularly brings home the reality of the impending cold months ahead. Although I do think I can take on a lot of the evening runs in the cold, there will be times when it would be too icy, possibly snowy and my cycling attire is not up to British Autumn, let alone a Winter. Time to join a gym methinks. Westminster Lodge’s newly opened gym seemed a likely first pot of call and to cut a boring story short, I joined. Day 2 – Recovery run The schedule had today as a recovery run, a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me. However, a 40 minute gentle jog up Holywell Hill into town, down to the Batchwood roundabout and back up to King Harry Lane, was actually quite enjoyable. I can’t imagine this state of joy will continue into the winter. Day 3 – Cross training My first trip to a gym for a few years was an interesting change from the solitary pursuit of winter evening exercise. Not that I was there to make friends or socialise, especially as the majority of users were hard wired into mp3 devices or absorbed into the latest doomful episode of Eastenders on their display screens. So when in Rome! Out came my own archaic iPod to block out the whirling of treadmills and the grunting and puffing of the individuals on them with the only playlist I have ever created. All... read more

Week of pain

Pain level 1 No pain, no gain! How many times have you heard that and wanted to punch the person expelling it from their lips? Well let me tell you about my week of pain without even putting by running shoes on. Whether it was a combination of my first threshold run followed by a 60 minute run the following day or possibly even the slightly ill fitting shoes I wore for a lunch time stroll on the Monday, either way, I became acutely aware of a familiar pain in my left heel. I suffered plantar fasciitis a couple of years ago after a volleyball weekend in Bath and by the time I had it looked at, it required a couple of months of rest before I could even go for an extended walk again. So I immediately booked a physio session with Colin Bailey and took it easy, exchanged work shoes for my more supportive trainers and regularly stretched my calves and iced my heel. Pain level 2 Along with the physical, came the mental pain. I received my first glimpse of the training schedule tailored to me and delivered through the ether by Full Potential during the week. The initial glance of this 20 week regime displayed a brutal abuse to ones body. With Kenyan hills, threshold runs, core workouts, cross-training, not to mention some extra long runs on Sundays, it will be a more uncomfortable winter than normal. On a positive note, the first session was a rest day, hoorah! Pain level 3 I cycled up to the dentist on Friday to get over the frustration... read more

Heart Runners’ Training Day

I was running out of photos for my blog entries. So on Thursday and took my Ixus and a baby tripod to catch some action during an interval run. Unlike my 650D, the Ixus only takes one image on a delay setting. So it wasn’t surprising that almost half the pictures I took contained a view up an empty road or a number of runner-less landscapes and woodland paths. I did get a few though. On Saturday with belly full or porridge, ears full of a Danny Baker podcast and eyes admiring the sights from the 8:16 train to St Pancras, I was on my way to a Heart Runners’ training day organised by the BHF at their HQ near Mornington Crescent. It was a beautiful sunny, crisp Autumn day, perfect for a jog down to Regents Park for a bit of threshold training; ‘threshold’ training?? BHF HQ is on the fifth floor of a building strangely decorated on the outside with black cats! I had signed in, got my post exercise shower booked and had my running style analysed all by 9:30. It was time now for a chat with an interesting cross section of people drawn to this event with the same aim of preparing themselves for the big day. After a brief introduction to what the day will bring, we exited the building in single file for a gentle warm up jog down to Regents Park. We arrived at an oval cinder track and were split into two groups to embark on differing levels of threshold running. It is jovially described as ‘controlled discomfort’ where you... read more

Injury, Enemies and Something Gross

I did have every intention of doing some running while I was on holiday, however it is surprisingly easy to ignore hotel treadmills while way from home. As for running outside, any one who has been to South East Asia will know that every square inch of land is either a paddy field or is occupied by more people and motorbikes per square inch than anywhere else on earth. In Saigon there was a long park on the boulevard outside our hotel that offered an opportunity to stretch the hamstrings and increase the heart rate. Due to the temperature and humidity the optimum time to use this area was between 4 and 6 am, something my mind and spring roll addiction had all contrived to make this an unlikely event. So coming back after 3 weeks away to a summer time adjusted home, jet lag and temperatures easier to quote in degrees Kelvin, the thought of getting back into shorts and running shoes was far down the list of desirable things to do. As it turned out, I managed to get in six runs in 9 days, including a 5 and 5.75 miler on the Sundays. This puts me back on course with a 10% build up on each previous long run, so training has started in earnest. Injury Sadly, I have to report my first injury. Stretching out the old hamstrings after the first run back, I noticed a blooded sock on my left foot. I hadn’t felt anything during the run and didn’t feel anything now, so I tentatively took off the sock to expose a horror... read more


A flurry of emails started coming in from charities jostling for runners undecided on their fund raising exploits if they are ‘lucky’ enough to get an entry through the ballot. I arrived home one evening to a package from Virgin Money with my consolation rain jacket  and a letter explaining that you can wear this while watching next year’s Marathon. Was I bothered? I had my place with the British Heart Foundation, so no! Facebook was awash with messages of success or failure as a result of the ballot. Oddly it was those who didn’t get a place that were the happier and expressing feelings of relief. Friends, Chris Downing and Neil Turkington were both successful, both wondering what the hell they were thinking of entering in the first place. I have started looking forward to my longer runs on Sundays, even though I have had to move two of them to accommodate white water rafting and an upcoming holiday. My last run on Friday was 7 miles which took about 65 minutes and consisted of a run around Gorehambury. I am lucky where I live that I am close to end of town and country lanes in Chiswell Green offer a whole range of distances from 3 to 10 miles in half mile chunks. I can put together any distance without having to repeat the scenery too much. These long runs have been in great weather lately, but as Winter approaches I need to make the most of it and will need to look at alternative running when the clocks go back at the end of the month.... read more

Funding, Fun Run and Flies

Ideas for fund raising. Apart from the fiver I found at the beginning, I need to get fundraising. I want to maximise my efforts to get over the £2000 I have pledged to earn by doing some pre-marathon events. Selling Rocky Road and other cakes at work is a given, maybe other places too. But, I need some other ideas. Sponsoring the name to go on the shirt for starters, ‘Dipstick’ has already been muted. Not a flattering title, but one to raise a smile and some more money I hope. For anyone who is unaware, Dipstick is our cat and not a previous school nickname that has haunted me from the past. Other races. I have booked myself onto the Southwold 10K on Sunday 24th November. Despite the distance being less than my projected mileage by then, a race environment would be good experience. That, and a couple of pints of Broadside (the best beer in the world) in Southwold (the best place in the world) is always welcome. There was an old woman… As a change of scene for the long run this week, Sue dropped me off in Harpenden for the run back. It was a fresh morning and good conditions for the jog along the Harpenden Road, turn off into Childwickbury, across country to Batchwood and back up through Verulamium. All was going nicely until I approached the wooded path leading to Batchwood from Childwickbury. There I was, minding my own business and fly flew straight in my mouth and down my throat, it didn’t touch the sides. I stopped to convulse and choak to... read more

Pilates, Photos and Paella

Sick of  Pilates. To compliment the long runs on Sundays some schedules suggested a rest day on Mondays, with Yoga or Pilates as a possible fill in.  Core strengthening has been on my agenda for a while and Pilates would help me out there. Conveniently, a Pilates class is run every Monday evening at a local church so I booked myself in for set of four sessions and off I went to the first. Well, it was disappointingly tame with shoulder rotations here, and leg stretches there, what on earth is this really going to do to help me? I’ll tell you, it made me feel sick, after 45 minutes I was very close to going outside for some fresh air as I was so nauseous. I got home that evening and after 2 hours I felt no better and had to take myself off to bed. The next day my head was floating around like a Jager-bombed teenager and my torso was tightening up like Barry Manilow’s face. I under-estimated the power of these gentle moves and vowed to go back to continue the conditioning. Incidentally, I Googled ‘nausea doing Pilates’ and there are limited cases of it put down to low blood pressure and low blood sugar, but I know they were not to blame. However, motion sickness was also cited as a possible cause. I know I don’t travel well, but I may have to draw the line at taking Stugeron before my next class. Photos. To try and keep this blog looking interesting required some pictures to go with every entry, so what better way... read more

Run, run and run some more

Training schedule. I need to knuckle down and get myself a training schedule to follow. At first look, the BHF beginners schedule looked a bit brutal for me, especially in the dark cold of winter (I may need to grow a pair). Further searching for a more gentle approach alerted me to more ferocious regimes with Kenyan Hill running and other stuff I wouldn’t inflict even on a middle lane motorway hogger. Colin, my physio, suggested a 10% approach and to start now and not wait until the New Year. It is quite simple, just add 10% to your weekly ‘long’ run each week. This should minimise any injuries and give some  flexibility for periods of inactivity, due to injury, illness or weather. So adjusting the BHF’s schedule, I will do short runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. Cross training (bike or swimming) on Wednesdays and other Saturdays. 10% increased runs on Sunday mornings with a rest day on Mondays. Park Runs. One thing that my schedule has got me out of is Park Runs. I discovered the St Albans Park Run when I acquired my Fitbug* through a health initiative at work and realised you could earn Vitality points** by various means including Park Runs. These are voluntary events held all over the country to increase peoples activilty levels.  The St Albans Park Run takes place every Saturday at 9 am down in Verulamium Park. Always keen to up my Vitality points, I thought I would pop down one morning and take part.  I jogged the gentle mile or so to the starting point and was surprised... read more

33 weeks to go

The countdown has begun. This is a good opportunity to finally sort out my website and start a blog to chart my trials and tribulations as I work towards this my goal next April. First thing I needed on my blog was a countdown, thanks to WordPress there is now one at the top of this blog. Obviously designed by a fan of Star Wars, the countdown plugin has styles such as C3PO and X-fighter. So in it’s now Carbonite form, it proudly showed me that there was 33 weeks to go. That’s ages away, isn’t it? I don’t like running. In fact I have never liked running, despite running (jogging) for years now it just doesn’t do it for me. It could be because it is a lonely and boring past time, or maybe the fact that both the places I have lived in over the last 20 years have been at the top of hill, so the last part of any run was never enjoyable. I think I did always see it as a supplement to volleyball for keeping fit. Excretions. This isn’t what you think it is about. A lot of things change as you get older and one for me is an uncontrollable runny nose when I’m pounding the streets. As I do a lot of my running around quiet lanes near Chiswell Green, then it is easy to expell my nasal secretions with all the grace of a Sunday League footballer without offending anyone. However, when it comes to the big day I don’t envisage  being weighed down in tissues or blocking my nostrils... read more

London Marathon 2014 – I’m in!

Why the London Marathon? I have never had any intention of ever doing a marathon, especially with memories of the St Albans Half Marathon ten years ago, when I couldn’t walk properly for a week and I didn’t get back into running for at least another 3 months. Many London Marathon veterans have tried to sell the idea of competing in his great life ‘experience’, not one of them made the pitch that enticing enough for me to even watch it let alone sign up for it. So whether they finally wore me down or whether i was inspired from watching this years race or even looking for a distraction from retiring from volleyball, the application for the ballot was filed. Is my Heart in it? October is a long time to wait for confirmation of entry through the ballot and the likelihood of gaining entry was probably remote at best. Charities always have a huge presence at the London Marathon, so I drew up a list of potential bond places. I have raised money in memory of my dad, Harry and brother-in-law, Tony for the British Heart Foundation in the past, so they were always going to be one of my favourite options. On August 20th I received an email from the Hearts Runners congratulating me on my successful entry via the BHF for the 2014 London Marathon. The initial excitement was put in it’s place quite quickly once I had had time to think about what lies ahead. What was I thinking? First Sponsor. To celebrate the successful entry, I decided to go on one of my... read more