Posts Tagged ‘Running’

Eager or Anxious?

Watch out for me on SundayI am now fully immersed in marathon excitement/frustration/anxiety. There are 4 more days to go until this is all over and every part of me is wishing Sunday would hurry up and get here. The lack of exercise is driving me slightly loopy. I’m constantly fidgeting, doodling and finding every excuse to move around. Today I ran up the stairs at work as fast as I could like a little school boy, taking three steps at a time. I even jumped ahead with my checklist and bought my 7 DVDs to watch on Saturday today. One of which was Run Fat Boy Run.

Although I’m ready and raring to go, a side of me is wishing I had longer. I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself after the marathon is over and done with and apparently I’m not alone with this feeling. There is actually a condition called post marathon depression, where a person, instead of feeling relief and a sense of achievement, feels empty and falls into a lull. I’m sure I’ll be feeling the former, plus I have a 10k race booked in after (in which I’m hoping to break the 50-minute mark).

Over the past few days all I’ve done is research the London Marathon in a bid to get a feel for what the experience is going to be like. I don’t want any surprises coming my way on Sunday. In doing so I stumbled across the London Marathon media pack, which contains a multitude of brilliant facts about the marathon – like the following:

  • The most money raised for charity by a single marathon runner was £1,841,138
  • This year over 150,000 people applied to run the marathon, around 50,000 normally get accepted and around 36,000 actually start
  • The most common profession amongst this year’s runners is teaching/education
  • 159 of the runners will be celebrating their birthday on race day
  • 300 litres of blue paint will be used to paint the line on the course that represents the shortest distance
  • 750,000 bottles of water will be distributed throughout the course
  • The fastest time run in a Santa outfit is 3:12:27!

However, this is the most worrying fact…

  • Number of urinal bays at the start = 400

Lets say that out of the 36,000 people that normally start, 20,000 odd are men (this year the number of men out-weigh the women at around 3-1). Lets also assume that every man will need the loo at least once during the build up to the start. That equates to 50 men per urinal! This is probably why the London Marathon magazine in the starters pack contains this picture…

My garden is near the start line!

I’ve always been one for toilet humour.

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More news:

£2000 target reached.

Today my employer put my London Marathon sponsorship total over the £2000 mark (£100 over it actually) and I reached my allocated sponsorship for the MS Society. With 9 days left to go until my first marathon this gives me the opportunity to relax a little and to focus my efforts on getting ready for the big day.

Target reached

I’m well and truly tapering off for the big day and, if I’m honest, I feel a little lazy. This week I’ve only done two runs so far and will being running 25 minutes on Saturday with an easy 10k on Sunday. I feel like I’m slacking as every part of me wants to be getting as much training in as possible before the 26th. I constantly worry that I’m going to undo all my hard work by not exercising enough but getting enough rest before the marathon is crucial.

So, to keep my mind off running, I’ll fill you in on a little more news…

356

The number of miles I’ve clocked up since I started training. This has been calculated from the 3560 minutes I know I’ve run and estimating an average speed of 10-minute miles. Some people seem to think this is quite low but, considering I’m counting from the beginning of January, it equates to an average of more than 23 miles a week. Basically, bugger off, I’ve done loads.

211018

The number of pennies I’ve raised so far (using Justgiving) for the MS Society. This morning, BBC Breakfast and a Daily Mail columnist (who blatantly took a negative stance just to get her grumpy face on television) made poor old Anne-Marie Huby (MD of Justgiving) justify Justgiving to the public after claims that fundraising websites are a form of emotional blackmail. Considering JG has helped raise over £400,000,000 since the year 2000 and without it’s help I wouldn’t have even come close to raising £2k, I won’t exactly be losing any sleep at night.

3099

The number of hits this blog has had since it’s debut in January. The busiest day was 23rd March after the I won the Justgiving competition and this blog featured in the JG newsletter.

7

The number of pounds (lbs) I’ve lost in weight. This is after initially gaining 7 lbs so I’ve managed to shed a stone since then. This was achieved by simply cutting out my daily early morning croissant. They’re fatty little blighters. I’m now as streamlined and aerodynamic as I’ll ever be.

206

The number of Twitter followers I now have. Most are all supreme athletes, fundraisers, bloggers and nutcases but they all have had at least one thing useful to say and it’s been a great way to stay in touch with this wonderful running community across the country.

4:14:2

My estimated marathon time having used the Runner’s World Race Time Predictor. I entered my half-marathon time to come to that conclusion. If I enter the best time I’ve done a 10k in it reckons I can do it under 4 hours. I’ll be watching out for the Runner’s World pace makers on the day.

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Running a Marathon With a Cold:

My girlfriend was ill with a nasty cold last week and my punishment, for not looking after her better, was to get the cold myself. Obviously, being a guy, mine was ten times worse and forced me to take 2 days off work. I also didn’t run for 4 days as a result.

Too run or not to run...

Just before I felt it coming on I did my biggest run so far (and ever). After this it would mean tapering down all the way to the marathon. The 20 miles took me 3 hours 20 minutes. Again, not a great time but at least I managed to squeeze an extra mile in to that time slot. I’d prepared well for the run. I’d had beans on brown toast for breakfast and this time I’d taken 3 carbo gels with me that I’d bought the day before from the London Marathon shopin Covent Garden.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel any effect after taking them. It was a pretty hot day during the run and I had to ration the water in the bottle I was carrying as it’s not very big. Apparently it’s important to get your water intake right while taking the gels so maybe this had something to do with it but I still felt knackered at the end and couldn’t keep a decent pace. In hindsight, this is probably because I was on the verge of the WORST COLD EVER, and I’ll finish the marathon (I’m sure of it) but I really don’t think I’m going to be able to complete it in under 4 hours.

This, coupled with the fact that being ill has stopped my training, has meant that this has been a tough week. I’d wanted to keep training so badly during these past couple of days (especially as the marathon is now less than 3 weeks away). I nearly followed the ‘neck rule‘; if your ailment is above the neck (sniffles, head colds, ear infections) then running will most likely not do you any harm and if your ailment is below the neck (injury, coughs, stomach aches) then running won’t do you any good. I’m not sure if there is any scientific theory behind this rule but I rested up nonetheless.

Apparently, the volume of runners that pull out of the marathon due to illness is quite high. Here’s a fact that’ll put a smile on couch potatoes across the land. Endurance training causes a rise in the hormone cortisol which causes stress. This stress can affect the immune system, which can make you more susceptible to infection! So basically, because I’m eating better and exercising more, I’m more likely to get a cold than Fatty McFatterson of Cheeseburger Land!

Of course, I’m exaggerating (I’m not well). The key difference is the volume of exercise. Running for anything longer than 90 minutes causes blood sugar levels to drop to a level where this hormone is more prevalent. Marathon runners exceed this regularly in training and as a result, towards the end of their training, many marathoners pick up a cold.

This wouldn’t have mattered to me if I’d picked up this cold the day before the London Marathon, I’d still have blamed my girlfriend. I’m terrified that something bad is going to happen between now and the big day and I won’t be able to run. I’ve stopped playing football in case I pick up an injury, I’ve stopped drinking so I’m never running on a hangover and I’m taking a Berocca every day to keep the vitamin-C up. 17 days left to avoid twisting my ankle walking off a pavement…

Next week I’ll be attending the Justgiving pre-London Marathon Meet-up at the RIBA, London. Hopefully I’ll see a few fellow bloggers there to watch the 4 speakers, Monty Halls, Simon FosterSally Kettle and Vanessa Galeshare their tips on fundraising. I’ve got £200 to go…

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It Won!

I had some smashing news today. The video entry I created for the Justgiving video competition came first place and won a cracking £100 sponsorship for the MS Society. Many many thanks to the Justgiving crew for voting for it and a huge thank you to everyone who viewed the video and got its hit stats up on Youtube.

For those that haven’t seen the video yet, here it is:

Also, a huge congratulations to Jenny Rice, Ulen Neale and Kaveh Fatemian who were awarded the runner up positions. I’m sure having a video to display on their Justgiving pages has increased awareness to their sponsorship efforts, as it has mine.

Since posting the video 5 days ago, I’ve had a huge £257.22 in sponsorship. It works and even though the competition is over, there’s still a valid reason to get a little bit proactive and gain a little extra money for your charity. All it takes is a digital camera/mobile phone and a copy of Windows Movie Maker! Blair Witch Project, eat your heart out.

The temptation of a video is too much to resist for today’s web 2.0 culture. The video, along with the use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging, has kept those long distance relatives and friends in the loop and has pulled some much needed sponsorship out of the woodwork. Some people who have sponsored me I haven’t spoken to for 10 years or more!

Less than £400 to go with 5 weeks left.

Coverage:
Justgiving blog
MS Society Fan Page
Justgiving London Marathon eNewsletter
MS Society eNewsletter
Horncastle News

Marathon Email

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Marathon Pace:

I got up this morning and ran 19 miles. It kicked off immediately with a celebrity spot as Richard Bacon jogged past me! I wonder if he has any old Blue Peter badges knocking around? He deserved one with the pace he was running at. He’s probably Ebayed the lot of them though.

This was my biggest run so far in training (and ever) and the first 2 hours went really well. I thought I’d try out chomping on some jelly beans as I ran today to give me a bit of a boost in the latter stages. At each hour mark I had about three. I’ve never eaten them before while training and really had no idea of the amount you’re supposed to eat but I didn’t really get much from them. Maybe three isn’t enough but I have to be careful with my sugar intake, being diabetic.

I ran from Blackheath to the O2 dome and then back through Greenwich to Canary Wharf. From there I ventured into Central London and ran over Tower Bridge. After I hit Waterloo Bridge (after running along the embankment) I was making fairly decent time. I didn’t set out to break the land speed record but I thought I’d give it a good go. However, after 2 and a half hours of running, I hit a spell of extreme tiredness.

Jelly bean fun...

The previous Saturday I ran for 2 and a half hours and couldn’t go on any more. I blamed this on not preparing well enough. For breakfast I’d had a boiled egg, no water and didn’t go for a pee. So by the time I got back I was dying of thirst, bursting for the loo and my blood sugar was so low that I was almost experiencing those hallucinations I mentioned in ‘The wall‘ post. But this week I’d had a hearty breakfast, hydrated well and had my magic beans so I should have been fine.

I know this is my first marathon event but I really want to do it well. Apart from a 6-year spell when I smoked, did no exercise and ate what I want (ah University – leaving home never felt so good), I’ve always considered myself to have a pretty good base-level of fitness. I’m not sure why I so desperately want to complete the FLM in under 4 hours but now I’m not so sure I’ll be able to complete it in under 5!

Today, after 2 and a half hours, the same thing happened. My legs tensed up, my pace slowed and at any slope I ground to a halt (and by any slope I really do mean any slope – stepping up on to the pavement was agony!). With a bit of will power I stopped myself from walking and continued to jog, but my 19-miler took me 3 hours and 20 minutes! Miles off the pace.

My worry is that I’m not training enough. Here is the guide I used before I picked my training plan:

Intermediate:
“Who is this plan for? You are already a runner, you have been running for a minimum of several months, you have probably completed a 10k or half marathon event, you are currently comfortable with training for approximately 4-5 hours per week, you may have already completed a marathon and are looking to improve your time.”

That suits me perfectly but I’ve noticed something. My training plan sets your daily targets in minutes run, not miles.

Essentially, I could have been following this plan to the exact detail and have never really exerted myself! That’s a harsh reality to face, given that there’s only 5 weeks of training left so today has been a tough day (and not just because I can hardly move).

Runners World Pace Guide

There are two points that I can console myself with and relieve a bit of pressure.

  1. Running through central London is the worst. Constantly stopping and starting to make room for traffic, STUPID bloody tourists and ignorant men with a dog on a leash is a pain. Getting back up to speed after you’ve been running for three hours and had to stop is unbelievably hard.
  2. It was bloody hot today.

It might be time to start finding out my split times. I have one more long run to do before tapering down in preparation for the main event. Lets see if I can break 9-minute miles and still have enough at the end. Visit Runner’s World for a great pace band that you can print off, cut out and wear on race day. Mine’s on the right.

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Marathon Training Routes:

I went home this weekend. On Friday night after work I broke the land speed record in my girlfriend’s car while she slept the entire way to my home town of Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Big birthday celebrations on Saturday night so I needed to get the long weekend training run out of the way on Saturday morning.

I set off for my 2 hour and 25 minute run at 9am and decided to leg it to the neighbouring village of Tetford and back. I knew it was roughly 6 and a half miles to get there so I’d do a loop around the village to up the mileage a bit. Here’s how it looks from above:

Horncastle to Tetford and back
I regularly use Google Maps to map my training routes after my runs and see my how far I went. I bought a fairly decent stop-watch at the beginning of my training but it’s no Garmin Forerunner. Along with a piece of software, these GPS watches can plot your route, work out split times, average speeds and give you a virtual runner to run against! Who needs friends? A few of my fellow marathon bloggers have been having fun with these watches.

As you can see from the aerial picture, Lincolnshire is a pretty agricultural county. If you’ve never been in a tractor, built a scarecrow or used the phrase “Now then” then you’re not ‘Shire’ material. The countryside and views along this run are incredible. I’ve gotten used to the constant hum of London so I wasn’t prepared for how quiet it would be. It’s quite eerie. I popped in the headphones after 10 minutes of running and plodded along for what I thought was going to be quite a chilled, peaceful run.

I would never have thought in a million years that I would struggle to find a decent running route in an area as arable as this. The problem with any run over 3 miles from Horncastle is the absence of a path. The roads were narrow, windy and lined with 6ft tall hedges that obstruct the view of anything lurking behind a corner. Like, for example, a 6ft, lanky jogger. The 4 or 5-mile stretch of road to the village was also pretty hilly. So my chilled, relaxing, picturesque jog across the countryside turned into a fartlek, hilly endurance race. Through the bendy sections of road I was sure I was going to end up as road-kill so I would charge through to the straight as quick as I could, and by the end of the run legs turned to jelly.

Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park

It can take a little while to find a decent training route. There are a few good like sites that you can use to compare your training runs with others, such as the FLM Training Route Planner, Gmaps Pedometer or the Nike Route Finder. The irony is that by the time you’ve found yourself a decent route you probably need to change it as you extend your distance or to prevent yourself becoming bored. Try to explore as much as you can and keep your route varied. Also, from time to time change the surface you’re running on and make sure you include a hill or two in there somewhere.

A couple of people have asked about my routes so if you’re interested (and live in southeast London) then I’ve added mine to the Gmaps Pedometer. It’s pretty random and darts from one place to the next but you get to see Greenwich Park, the 02 Dome and Canary Wharf (parts of which are on the marathon route itself!). Click here to view it (thanks to Phil for recommending Gmaps Pedometer – a very useful running tool). At the weekend Canary Wharf is like a ghost-town so there’s no need to worry about traffic or tourist-dodging.

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The Eastbourne Half Marathon – part 2:

…and off we went.

Sally’s advice went right out the window. I was looking at my watch every 2 seconds to check my mile marker times, the first being 9 minutes 30 and the second was the same. I was already behind and although this was playing with me a little, I kept to a very strict, even and steady pace. In the first 2 miles everyone went past me. I was passed by two girls dressed like Arnie in the film Predator, a 70-year-old man and the lady in the dalmatian outfit. There were only around 1000 people in the run and by the time I’d gotten to the start line I was fairly near the back anyway (it had taken me a minute or two to get through the start/finish line and start my stopwatch). At mile two I took a look behind me and there were only a hundred or so people behind me.

Just as I was thinking, ‘I’m going to come last‘ I hit mile 2 and the incline started. The Eastbourne run has two or three great sections where you run along the beach front and you can see for miles. I could see the approaching incline in the distance ahead of me, after which the runners were turning right, around a corner. Keeping the pace as even as possible I carried on in to a series of back streets and parked cars. The hill became a little steeper, evened out for about a minute and then started to climb.

Bricking it before the race

What I saw in front of me could only be described as a mass organised hike. The gradient had steepened so much that the runners who had overtaken me in the early stages were now all walking. In the stretch of road in front of me I could see roughly 100 runners and literally 8 of them were running. However, I was runner number 9. I was feeling great and passing so many people that I opened it up a little just to show off!

Bye bye Arnold Schwarzenegger! Peace out Pongo. See you later granddad!

After a mile of this the road U-turned sharply and uphill immediately became downhill. At this point I simply switched off the engine, extended my stride slightly and let the hill do the work. My pace was ridiculous but I was using half the energy and mile 3 – 4 went by in about 7 minutes. After a quick drink, which I had to queue up for, I made it to the bottom of the hill and started the 4-mile straight along Eastbourne’s beautiful coast-line. At mile 6 I was starting to feel a little tired and it was at this point that I took a look up and saw my girlfriend waving with her camera poised so I swiftly changed lanes to greet her. She’d been sat there for a while so I gave her a little pose and a wave to the camera, before realising that the lens cap was on and she’d missed my hilarious pose. I discretely pointed it out as I ran past only to hear an “Oh bugger!” behind me.

Trying hard not to laugh too much (my co-runners were all in hysterics) I pushed on. The support from the spectators at Eastbourne’s coast line was fantastic. Without my headphones on (obviously), I clapped back to all those who clapped me and although it wasn’t quite the half-a-million road-side onlookers that the London Marathon can expect, it was much appreciated. There was a troop of boy scouts handing out drinks, 2 bagpipe players and a hareem of rowdy women. What more could you ask for?

The latter stages of the race were situated around the suburbs of Eastbourne (where the spectators were now waving from their balconies) and Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour. At mile 8 I started pushing a bit harder to try to improve my split times. By this time the race had spread out a lot, to the point where the front-runners were returning to the finish line in the other direction (very demoralising). However, the traffic was bad as the roads had turned to pavements and the harbour’s tight, twisting paths and pedestrian bridges acted like bottle necks. A car turned into a side road and cut the path of myself and a fellow runner, who immediately unleashed on the marshal (whose job it was to prevent this) in the broadest Scottish accent I’ve ever heard.

“Youeer suppawsed to keep the f***ing traffic oot of ewer bliddy way you f***ing cretin!”

A little harsh maybe. The marshals are all there voluntarily and had, so far, done a fantastic job co-ordinating the direction of the race. The Scottish man then tried to engage me in conversation, which was just the motivation I needed to run a little faster. I’d like to thank him for that.

At the 10-mile marker my watch read 1 hour and 35 minutes. I’ve run 3 miles in 25 minutes before, but not at the end of a 10 mile run so I gave it my best and seeing Sally (lens cap now off) really spurred me on. She took a little video:

This’ll be important in the London Marathon so we’ll have to organise some strategic positions for her on the 26th April.

The last half-mile went on for absolutely ages. You could see the finish line but the course looped around the field where everyone had gathered at the start and my 2 hour time eeked away from me. With just enough energy for a last dash sprint I crossed the line, received my medal, grabbed a banana and went thirsty (the organisers had run out of water).

Just finished

Final time: 2hours 2 minutes 35 seconds

I’m off London marathon pace, which is disappointing but I don’t think that’s too bad for my first one. With 2 months training left before the big day I’m sure I can improve. Thanks to all of the Twitterati who posted congratulatory messages after the run.

**If you’re thinking of competing in next year’s Eastbourne Half Marathon then see Runner’s World for a few reviews**

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