Posts Tagged ‘London Marathon’

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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Dabbling in PR:

After winning the Justgiving video competition, I thought that the story behind it would be of suitable interest to my local media. I’ve been trying to come with an angle other than you might know this guy, he’s running the marathon and this was it.

The first thing I did was to get the news desk email addresses of my local press, the Horncastle News and the Lincolnshire Echo. Easy, I work for a media contacts database for the PR industry, but finding them out really isn’t hard.

The second thing I did was to draft a press release (Justgiving have a sample press release on their hints and tips page). Personally, I’ve never written a press release before but I’ve seen a fair few examples. They MUST start with a catchy subject line so the busy journalist won’t just think SPAM and delete it without even reading it. Ergo…

“Local lad wins London Marathon video competition:”

Key points to include:

  • Who are you?
    James Barnard, an ex Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pupil, now working in London…
  • Why are you running?
    James (24) is running the Flora London Marathon 2009 in April for his girlfriend’s sister, Katie, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
  • Your story.
    …has won the Justgiving video competition. His entry, which hosts a round-up of blog posts so far at his London Marathon training blog, sirjogalot.com, wins a £100 donation to the MS Society…
  • Your quotes.
    “I’m very happy to have won the competition and the extra money towards my sponsorship target has really made a difference. I’m just glad that I didn’t make a fool of myself for nothing!”
  • A photo.
    This is a little trickier as journalists get thousands of emails every day, which clog up their inboxes. In my case I gave my contact details if they wanted one but you can just as easily host one on the internet using Flickr or Photobox and provide a link to it. This way they won’t have to download your high-res image in their email.
  • Include your charity URL.
    It’s easy to forget but make sure you enter your sponsorship page in as the readers will have no idea how to sponsor you

I might follow up with another email in a couple of days time if you haven’t heard anything back, chances are that they are too busy to respond. However, usually this means that they’ve seen your press release and deleted it. Don’t feel too disheartened. Journalists are always short of time, always on deadline and will discard most things that aren’t breaking news.

It can’t hurt to try. You might get lucky…

The Horncastle News

The circulation of the Horncastle News is 5,190. Not bad. You could try and get a celebrity tweeter to mention your page and get it in front of half-a-million viewers, but who’s counting?

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Print Your Vest:

My running vest has arrived back. A fellow blogger, Becki Ellsmore, tweeted up her services as a running-top printer a few weeks back. The price? A hell of a lot better than the official printing service offered up by the London Marathon website. Plus all of the proceeds go to the charity she’s running for, Save The Rhino International.

I’ve been told that having your name on the front of your shirt in the latter stages of the race is a hell of a boost. Having a stranger shout “Come on James, lets have a big finish!”, sounds smashing and I’m sure that it’ll help me get over the line. Look out for this vest on the day if you’ll be there. I’ve also printed Sir Jog A Lot on the back so you’ll know who’s passed you…

Garish? No...

This is the first real bit of blog-on-blog loving I’ve done really and I feel a little ashamed. This is because without the help of my fellow FLM bloggers I don’t think this blog would have been nearly as popular (achieving 1000 hits per month now). A special mention to Becki, Tom, Dan and Phil (who does a great round-up of marathon blogs on the weekend). I’m not that generous really though. Every one of the pages I’ve just linked to has a link back to my blog in it! Reciprocal.

There’s a great community out of runners out there so get your journalism hat on and get involved…

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Other Forms of Exercise:

Let’s face it, after 12 weeks of running 4-5 times a week, you start to get a little bored. I’ve changed my running routes that many times that I could probably pass ‘The Knowledge’ exam section for the South East of London. I could tell you, without hesitation, all 6 TV stations that are on in my local gym between 6pm and 7pm weeknights and (because I’ve read the text on my treadmill so many times) what the average heartbeat of an 80-year-old man running at 65% would be. Let’s just say, maybe it’s time to change things up a little.

Wednesday night, 45-minutes hard-effort. I plonked myself on a treadmill, ready to set off, only to turn around to see a work-colleague warming up for her spinning class. I went over.

“How long is this class?”, I asked.
“45 minutes”, she said. “You should join me!”.

It was a sign. My blisters needed a bit of a break and after my 19-miler things were a little chafe-tastic. My buddy showed me how to adjust the seat and the instructor came around to show me the ins and outs. I knew that the seat had to be low enough so that at the moment your pedal is at the bottom of its revolution, your knee joint doesn’t lock out. But that was about it. Turns out it’s a dangerous game this spinning. The pedals are connected directly to the flywheel at the front, which means that if your feet come out then the pedals will continue spinning, entangling your legs!

We set off, my colleague on the bike immediately to my left, and I was determined not to be shown up. I’ve been running well for 12 weeks now so I should be fairly competent at this! I thought it was just going to be a case of pedalling at different tempos. ‘Pedal fast, now pedal slow.’ But after a series of different positions (standing, sitting and squatting), tempos (sprint, three quarters and in-time with the music) and resistance (the dial at the front making it feel like you’re riding through treacle) I was absolutely spent.

No good...

I’d managed to finish well but I’d stupidly not brought a towel with me and I was sweating so much I couldn’t see. I have a new-found respect for those that do that twice a week as it can be killer on the knees. I was obviously a beginner. My seat adjustment was slightly too high and at the sprint sections it meant that I was bobbing up and down on the seat like a jackhammer. I bruised my tail bone as a result (back to running for me).

On Thursday nights I’ve changed my running for a weekly game of 5-a-side football. Our company sponsors a league, playing our clients. Our boss keeps telling us to let them win but at the moment there’s been no ‘let’ about it. 6 games and no victory so far. Again, when we started (6 weeks ago), I was adamant that my marathon training would give me an advantage over my colleagues as half of them haven’t done any exercise in a year! Again, I was wrong.

Football is a completely different type of exercise to long-distance running. The constant stopping, starting, sprinting, walking, twisting and turning is killer on the joints and I initially grew tired quite quickly. Changing up the routine to include football once a week has really developed my quads and, 6 weeks after starting, I can now last the 30 minutes at a pretty quick pace. Unfortunately, being able to run fast doesn’t make you a good footballer (and I’m probably the reason why our team isn’t winning). With football, however, there is a very high risk of injury so I think during the last three weeks of training I’ll have to stop and let the ‘new blood’ come through.

4 weeks to go and I managed a new PB with a 10k run yesteday. 51 minutes. Bring it on…

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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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Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie:

So you may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post for a little while. This is because I’ve been hard at work in the ‘studio’ creating Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie!

This year, Justgiving have a competition to create a video that promotes your fundraising efforts for the London Marathon. The prize is a £100 donation to your Justgiving page. Last year Gwan Yips won £500 with this effort (obviously the credit crunch has hit Justgiving as they’ve cut their prize by £400). With my fundraising target still in the distance and sponsorship drying up I thought it couldn’t hurt to sacrifice one Sunday to create an entry for this competition…

…and here it is:

Possibly the most embarrassing Sunday of my life (parading around London like a lunatic and getting filmed doing it) but I console myself with the thought that it’s all for charity. Anyone can do this and I encourage you to give it a go. I made this with a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker and it’s a fantastic way to drive traffic to your sponsorship page.

However, if you are going to do a video then wait until after Friday (as that’s when the competition closes)!

If you’re interested, the backing track is from a song called ‘Mr Munchies’ that myself and a couple of  old school friends, Paul Child and Thom Hawkins, wrote when we were 16. It comes with lyrics too and if you want a copy then let me know. Be warned: The lyrics are very childish, rude and resemble any song by Afro-Man.

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