Tuesday, 4 September 2012

You don't know what you've got 'till you lose it

Or, in my case, until you gain it...

Sixty days ago I had a BUPA fitness assessment, measuring weight, body fat, strength, VO2 max, heart ECG, lung strength and flexibility. 

Going into it I felt fairly happy with the condition I was in:  I'd just done the first of 7/8 20+ mile runs ahead of Amsterdam, my weight was back at Paris level, weekly mileage was creeping up to about 60 and I was running pretty fluidly.  On the flip side I still felt I was carrying too much fat, my weight was half a stone or more above where I wanted to get to and I knew I'd done no speed or intervals work since March.

The results, though, were incredibly pleasing.  I won't bore with all of them but everything was OK and I found some real highlights:

  • Bodyfat was 13%
  • Lung health was that expected of an active 25 year old
  • VO2 max was 60.5 - the highest the nurse had seen in 3 years of conducting tests
As these were the results for a physical condition that was 3 months from peak I was delighted. 

Delighted to the point of complacency. 

With 2 weeks until a fortnight's holiday in France I started eating badly, feeling that when faced with duck, cheeses, croissants, chocolate, deserts etc, I'd gain a little anyway so why not let go a bit beforehand?

The mileage stayed high though, and by the time we went away I doubt I'd gained too much. 

We drove down to the gite, stopping a night in northern France and then another in central France en route.  At 6am following the second stop-over I went out for a 21 mile run and it went perfectly.  Running along a peaceful long distance path (disused railway line), in the early morning sunshine I did the opening 10 miles at 8:23 a mile and the next 11 at 7:19.  I was thrilled.  It just underlined that I was in a great position to really ramp the training up from.

What I didn't realise was that it would prove to be my peak, and on the other side of the summit was a long, steep decline.

Through the first week at the gite I carried on with my runs but it was a struggle.  The high 30s temperatures left me tired and it was a challenge to get going early enough to avoid the heat (despite the alarm) and my running began to feel as laboured as it had previously felt fluid.

By the end of the week I had a more serious problem.

When I injured my left achillies last summer I also had pain on the inside/back of my right heel.  This wasn't anywhere near as bad but whilst the left healed the right stayed the same - no worse, no better - right through Paris training and beyond.  It didn't effect my gait or ability to train so I gave it little thought.

In June, though, it had started to gradually feel a little more sore; enough for me to mention it to the physio.  She was re-assuring.  I had very tight calf muscles, especially on the inside right of my gastrocs, that restricted ankle flexibility and caused strain on the tendon; but this could be fixed easily with eccentric exercises and concerted daily stretching.

Unfortunately, in the same way that nutrition went out the window in the lead up to the holiday, I did virtually no stretching/strengthening; telling myself that I'd have plenty of time for that while away.  Then, when I was away I did nothing.

On the Thursday of week one I manged no more than 2 miles as I was limping.

Rest eased it a little though so that on the Sunday I opted for a 17.86 mile route in the hills rather than a flat 22 miles on the riverside road.  Hindsight says that hills were the last thing I needed with a ropey achillies but I'd estimated the distance only at 16 miles and hadn't appreciated just how hilly the route would be.  Afterwards I was sore and limping.

Monday was a rest day and Tuesday's 10 miles felt OK-ish.  Sore, yes, but not too debilitating.  On Wednesday, though, I got no further than 10 metres.  As soon as I set off I was limping heavily and knew I had a fairly big problem.

I rested it for the remainder of the holiday and for another week at home.  By this time there was almost no residual soreness and I drove into the centre of Leeds geared up for anything from 18 to 22 miles.  I managed just a quarter of a mile.  With the first step my foot collapsed painfuly inwards and whilst I tried dynamic stretches I knew that each step was damaging me further and gave up.  With that my Amsterdam marathon plans ended.

I'm another few weeks on from that and haven't tried running since as the achillies is still sore even from running up a flight of stairs or jogging across a road.  I have another 8 weeks to rehabilitate by which time I must start running again to give myself a chance of training for Paris next April, and I've made a physio appointment for 27/09.

When a similar thing happened last year I felt really low.  Depressed at not running, comfort eating, then depressed at the weight/size gain.

However, last year I recovered and was able to then execute a perfect winter training programme and spring marathon so the decision to abandon Amsterdam (the race not the trip - everything is paid for) was met with a more philosophical shrug as a result.

However, when you run 60 odd miles a week you can eat pretty much whatever you want.  If you suddenly stop, but don't curtail the eating, you'll gain about 2lb a week.  Add to that an element of comfort eating and the rapid weight gain of a fairly sedentary holiday (where any exercise beyond the week one runs consisted of trudging a few feet from a sun bed to a food filled fridge) and the outcome is inevitable. 

Sixty days on from the thrill of my fitness assessment and I'm twenty one pounds heavier and doing virtually no exercise.

Or at least that was the case on Monday.  Since then I've started logging food intake and doing rehab exercises.  Starting today I'll do some walking and cycling.  Yesterday I had half an hour in the pool. 

Small steps.

I guess every challenge like this is an opportunity to learn.  Last year I learned that I can come back from injury and that's made coping with this summer's set back far easier.  That's helped me to recognise that my body can't cope with 2 marathons a year and that next year I'll have a fallow period with little or no running post Paris, maybe leading to 10ks, relays and halves in the autumn. 

What I'm learning right now is to be realistic with regards to weight and body shape.  Sixty days ago I thought I was 'okay' but the assessment suggested I was more than that.  When I look in the mirror now, or try (and fail) to fit in to most of my clothes I realise I really was in very good nick and perhaps shouldn't have been trying to endlessly chase (relative) perfection that was always just over the horizon no matter how far I travelled.

In a few months time when the weight is back off and I'm running again I hope I'll be rather more thankful for what I have.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Whatever next?

Once the waves of tiredness and euphoria of the first day or two after a marathon subside, this is the question that invariably presents itself to runners.

The answer might be to tweak training to eradicate the weaknesses exposed over 26.2 miles, it's frequently the booking of an event for next autumn/spring and sometimes it's the decision to look at challenges away from running for a while.

I'm no different, and after a week of pawing over Garmin data and previous training plans I think I know my answer.

That is to say I think I've refined my answers, as Amsterdam was already booked and I'd taken the decision several weeks ago not to view Paris as an end in itself but as a milestone on a longer journey.

I've got 27 weeks, including last week, until The 'Dam.  I know what I'll be doing for the last 18 of those as that will be the Pfitzinger & Douglas 70 miles a week plan.  It's what I'd do before that that was most loosely formed in my mind.

Initially I'd thought of having 2 full weeks off from running but the need to be doing 55 miles, running 6 days a week, in 8 weeks time makes that a problematic approach.  The initial rest might be beneficial but it would make the ramp up steeper further down the line.

As a result, I decided to build from P&D's 5 week recovery plan, but with a week off beforehand and 3 further weeks of building at the end.  I'm hoping that from a running perspective that will allow a number of easy weeks (compared to what came before) but will have me in reasonable shape for starting a tougher marathon training plan afterwards and in terms of running that's it.  No speedwork, no runs longer than 15 miles, all fairly regulation stuff and all quite deliberate as, learning from the last 20 weeks, I want running to step out of the limelight for a bit. 

Through the Paris training I was so focused on my mileage that I did very little in the way of strengthening, core work or even stretching.  It was so easy to skip session after session after session, and I'm sure that had I incorporated these it would have been beneficial for the 26.2 miler, and by beneficial I mean faster!

So, as well as writing up an 8 week running plan I've also done an 8 week cross training plan that I hope will strengthen me ahead of marathon training but also make cross training a habit.  I won't go into detail over the content but in summary it includes:

  • Daily stretching and foam roller work
  • Basic core work 3 days a week
  • Leg & glute strengthening 4 days a week
  • One gym based weight training session a week
  • The P&D dumbbell/body weight weight training session twice a week
That's 17 sessions a week on top of the running.  Whilst they're all pretty short that's still a large number and that's why I want this to have greater priority in my mind than the running, which I'm regarding as something that will just happen as routine.

On a similar theme my weight wasn't where I'd initially planned for Paris.  I was able to lose weight for a week or two but couldn't keep it going.  In part that's because, again, mileage was the dominant objective but it also reflects greater difficulty in maintaining calorie deficit when mileage was high.

So, maintaining a deficit while mileage is low in the next 8 weeks is my other big objective.  In that way I expect to finally get to 11st by the time marathon training starts.  If I drop a pound or two after then I'll be delighted but at this stage that's not something I'll be deliberately setting out to achieve.

The final part of the plan is about taking a mental break from running and pace defining success.  In truth weight loss is principally linked to running success in my mind but as I won't be pushing myself while running I need to define success here more as aesthetic.  I'm helped in that by having 2 weeks booked in South West France in late July, though staying in an isolated inland gite with private pool kind of makes the beach/pool body a bit superfluous...

To summarise, I'm looking to use the next 8 weeks to allow full recovery from Paris whilst gradually getting me into the best shape possible for (and to allow focus on) the Amsterdam training that follows.

In terms of my aim in Amsterdam, at the moment I'm just saying sub 3:15, but in the same way that Paris started at sub 3:30 and became sub 3:25 I have half an eye on something lower but that is absolutely dependant on weight loss success.

The late Max Jones had a formula for predicting marathon times that proved shockingly accurate (to within one minute) for Paris.  Makes me wonder what more I could do?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Paris Marathon Race Report

Well, that's all done then...

...and quite satisfied with how things went.

The pre marathon taper held a few of it's usual trials and tribulations.  With 2 weeks to go I was scheduled to run a race of about 5 miles on the Saturday but the race choice was limited to a park run so instead I did a 5 mile 'time trial' on my own, covering the distance in 33:50.  The next day though I struggled on a 16 mile run with very tight hip flexors on the right.  A trip to the physio found tightness in HFs as well as adductors - probably as a result of almost completely neglecting strength, core and stretching throughout training and the speed training exposing it.  Took it easy as a result, dropping the last speed session as well as one run in the final week.

Carb loading was its usual challenge of bloating and discomfort and on the Saturday afternoon I was convinced I was coming down with a virus.  Ironically though, that night was the first time I got anything close to a decent night's sleep for some time.

Weight loss didn't work out as planned either in training or taper and I tipped the scales a stone over where I'd wanted to be and 5lbs heavier than Paris last year.
The forecast for the marathon was for it to be mercifully cool at 6c but there were northerly winds of 21mph gusting to 49mph also forecast, and whilst most of the route would be sheltered from these the last 6.2 miles would be in park land largely straight into the headwind.  As a result I invested in a pair of Gore arm warmers at the expo!

It was extremely cold waiting for the start, not helped by the new starting process for this year.  The normal approach has been for time based pens but this year these were also split into left and right with each half being started on a random pattern.  Unfortunately that meant a 12 minute delay before starting (as I picked the wrong half) rather than last year's 4 minutes.  The approach was designed to reduce congestion but I found the opposite to be the case as there were far more runners to pass.

I'd firmed up my plan to be:

  • Hit 20 miles at 7:44/7:45 average
  • Run the remainder below 8:02 average
It didn't take long to get into the right rhythm for that with the first 6 miles looking like...

  1. 7:44
  2. 7:39
  3. 7:39
  4. 7:39
  5. 7:43
  6. 7:37

...and nothing much to report from them other than a realisation that I maybe should have 'gone' in a bottle before we started, meaning a water station and toilet break slowed mile 7, with water stations also losing a few seconds in 10 and 13:

     7.   7:57
     8.   7:39
     9.   7:43
    10.  7:49
    11.  7:30
    12.  7:37
    13.  7:49

That meant that at half way I was feeling really good and if anything was having to hold myself back so that adrenaline didn't prompt me to abandon the discipline of the plan too much.

The next few miles were where I'd began to suffer last year but this year I just felt like I was chalking off the miles one after the other:

    14.   7:44
    15.   7:50
    16.   7:39
    17.   7:47
    18.   7:46
    19.   7:50
    20.   7:47

Not sure why I dropped a few seconds in that section.  The two 7:50s included water stations, and that area was very sheltered and briefly sunny meaning I felt a fair bit warmer but overall I suspect it was a mix of fatigue starting to kick in alongside realisation that I was comfortably ahead of schedule overall.  At 20 miles I was averaging 7:43 a mile - the average having slowed by 1s a mile since halfway.

So, that was the first part of the plan done and dusted.

   21.   7:55

No water station to mark that mile - I think it was more a case of my allowing myself to slow but still be 7s ahead of the new target, particularly as I realised I had 40s extra banked from the quicker first 20.

  22.  8:08

Over confidence, running into the wind and a drinks station all slowed me down but it was a bit of a wake up call and I decided I needed to maintain focus rather more.  This was getting tough though as at 20 miles I was starting to get some ITB pain and this had widened to engulf my quads which were incredibly painful from mile 22.

Looking at the data afterwards it looks like tightness shortened my stride but I automatically upped the cadence to over 180 spm to partially offset it.

  23.  7:51

Better, much better.  Higher cadence and a conscious effort to breathe more deeply even though it was my legs that were the challenge rather than heart or lungs.

  24.   7:49

Held the pace ok and stayed focused. 

  25.  7:44

Back to the first 20 target pace so obviously still working well.  I've since wondered whether I could have stuck to this sort of pace after 20 and whether the revised target became a justification to allow some pace drift?

  26.   8:12

Really don't know what happened there.  Certainly I was tiring and for the first time I found myself mentally 'looking' for the finish.  I don't recall the wind being any stronger but I do remember other runners were becoming increasingly unpredictable in terms of blocking my way or running erratic lines.  Mainly though I presume I knew by this stage that I was 'there' and simply lost a little discipline.

The staggered start meant a good number of runners to pass (about 1500 passed net) and that contributed to my running over distance: 26.34 rather than 26.20 and by the latter stages I was struggling to mentally factor that in.  The 250m to go mark also took me by surprise meaning I hadn't 'wound up' the pace in the last full mile.

As I tried to lift the pace in that last short section I didn't feel there was much there but the last 0.34 miles were covered at 7:01 pace so I must have had something left.

That meant I finished in 3:24:39.

A perfect 'Ronseal' plan and strategy: they did exactly what they said on the tin.

That's why I describe myself as satisfied rather than elated, but that's not to be mistaken for disappointment.  Elation would have been if I'd pressed on to run sub 3:23 but this one was just nicely executed.

Pawing over Garmin stats afterwards shows me that heart rate stayed fairly low so my CV fitness would have let me do more.  For Amsterdam I need to drop the blubber and show a bit more discipline with leg and core strengthening.  Do that, as well as run a few more miles each week and I'm confident of getting under 3:15 but for now there's no running planned until next week at the earliest!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Into the taper

This week marks the beginning of that rather strange period: the taper.  There's still 19 days to go until Paris but the mileage will steadily decline as I walk the fine line between maximising rest/recovery and losing fitness.

I feel in good nick.  Still haven't missed a run (though one was cut short), but am still about 10% ahead of mileage targets and some 260 miles ahead of this point in last year's programme.

In terms of long runs, I peaked at 23.15 miles and have done 7 runs of 20 miles plus.

Since the last post the speed side has come together through weekly intervals sessions, trying to do part of long runs at lactate threshold pace and even a couple of races.

First up I did the Roundhay Parkrun 5k.  Hilly, with a net ascent, I finished in 21:36 and didn't feel I'd gone all out.  That was a small confidence boost as it fitted with marathon goals and I was told that course was about a minute slower than flatter ones.

That gave me the confidence to make my 20 miler a progression run 4 Sundays ago and as that went OK the following week I planned to run 5 miles at 8:30 per mile followed by 15 at 7:50.  In the event that turned out to be 5 miles at 8:15 and 15 at 7:34 a mile.  Huge confidence boost. 

Last Sunday was similar with 4 miles at 8:04 followed by 16 at 7:41 pace, though by the end of it I felt done in - which I realised later was dehydration in this unseasonably warm March.

In between those runs I ran the St Annes 10 mile road race in Lancashire.  That proved to be another huge boost to the confidence.  Remember that a few weeks ago running a few miles at 7:30 pace seemed to have me needing rest breaks, but as the previous weeks had gone so well I decided to run at 7 minutes 18 seconds a mile with half an eye on 7:12 (which would get me 1hr 12).

The day was warm and sunny and the flat out and back course had a strongish breeze to run into on the way back.  I made a schoolboy error and ran the first mile way too fast at well under 7 minute mile pace but as it felt reasonable I tried to keep to a pace a shade under 7 minutes and by half way I was still under that pace.  Predictably the wind and fast start took its toll on the way back but I was passed only once at 5.5 miles but then passed 8/10, so slowed less than those around me.  By the finish I'd ran at 7:04 pace and smashed my PB with 1:10:59.

The race and the two 'marathon pace' long runs either side of it have allowed me to firm up my Paris plans.  I'm intending to run at 7:45 a mile and review again at 18/20 miles.  That's 3hrs 23 pace but I'm realistic enough to accept there will be some slowing down in the last 6.2 miles so my 'Gold' target is actually 3 hrs 25, silver sub 3:30 and bronze a new PB for anything below 3:38:51.

Weight wise I'm still where I was before at half a pound over 12 stone.  I'd like to use the first 2 taper weeks to get down to 11st 9lb if possible as that would put me at the same weight as last year's race.  As the training demands fall I hope I can spare some focus to watching diet a bit more closely and consistently.

I can't praise the Pfitzinger & Douglas plan enough.  It all comes together nicely but most of all the varied intensities get you through without injury and allow you to get maximum benefit from the tougher training sessions.  If anyone wants me to explain more - let me know!

Only fear is the weather.  Current weather conditions are so like both last year and 2007, each of which were uncomfortably hot.  Still, nothing I can do about it and hopefully if it is the same that's where the silver and bronze targets will come into play.

I've also set my targets for after Paris:  I've entered the Amsterdam marathon on October 21st and, if Paris goes well and the post race recovery weeks reveal no injuries, I'll follow the 55-70 miles a week plan and see if I can get anywhere near 3:15.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Well,  I'm not sure if this marks a return to blogging or not, but it's been a while hasn't it?

While running last week I had a fancy to write a blog post but as with many of the good ideas that drift into my relaxed mind while running they're gone by the time I'm out of the shower and facing up to the challenges and responsibilities of the real world.

Anyway, here I am now, so I'll take a tentative step back by giving a quick re-cap-cum-update on where I am now:

All seems good here.  I've carried on running, and whilst I still get some soreness on the back of the right heel its not debilitating and doesn't seem to be getting any worse.  On the left (the initial issue) there's no pain at all.  Occasional I think I imagine something there and some weeks ago I squeezed the tendon and felt a tiny bit of soreness on the inside.  So now I don't squeeze the tendon....ignorance is bliss.

I'm just coming up to the midway point of the 18 week Pfitzinger & Douglas 'up to 55 miles a week' plan.  Pre-injury I'd hoped to follow the '55-70 miles' plan but settled on the lower level for obvious reasons. 

Tempting fate here, but its been going shockingly well.  I've yet to miss a prescribed run or to cut one short. In fact, through adding in a little here and there, especially to long runs, I'm about 10% ahead of prescribed mileage and around 140 miles ahead of the same point last year.  Last week I topped 60 miles for the first time, something that seemed unthinkable six months ago.

With nearly 10 weeks to go I've done three 20+ mile runs already (including 22.1 miles in heavy snow on Sunday) so I'm very happy that the endurance training is very much on track.

Speed wise its less clear.  With no speed work since March of last year I've found the half marathon pace tempo runs tough.  I've hit the pace target every time but have tended to 'need' a short break at some stage.  Last Friday I did 6 miles of a 10 mile run at that pace and even with the break would still have been under target though as I'd averaged 7:20 a mile.  That was pleasing.  Its only been the last 2 weeks that the speed element has really been introduced to the programme and that continues in the coming weeks so...cautiously optimistic...but I'm thinking about sacrificing an LSR for a half marathon race in order to get myself toughened up to the psychological demands of pushing on when really tired.

I've done a couple of long runs with marathon paced elements too.  Last one was 20.67 miles with 10 miles at 7:49 pace.  That also included a couple of short breaks though, and the 10 miles were the middle miles rather than the last ones.  I have a similar run scheduled for Sunday so will learn a bit more from that.

Cross training
Here is where I haven't stuck to the plan.

In theory I was doing 2 core sessions, 2 weights sessions, 1 bike/rower session, 2 stretching sessions and running drills per week.  In other words, 64 sessions by this point.  So far I've done 9.  The weights I'm ditching, probably the same with the drills but I'm trying to get back onto the other elements.

Weight & Nutrition
Pre-Christmas my weight had generally gone down from the injury induced high point.  I can't remember the figures but whilst I'd set myself targets and failed to reach them I'd at least got within sight of the top end of them.

Over Christmas I predictably gained.  I lost most of that in the week or two after but since then I've really struggled to get a hold of it.  At recent mileage levels I'd have expected my weight to fall off but the higher the mileage the tougher its been. 

At 30-35 miles a week I find weight control easy as I'm doing enough exercise to allow myself to eat a fair amount yet still lose weight.  Over 50 miles a week and I find I'm hungry but also lack motivation to even try calorie counting.  I hit Friday tea time and start to over eat, on Saturday I very deliberately over indulge on carbs but also give in to cravings for chocolate or sweets.  On Sunday I burn off a large amount but by the evening am ready to eat quite steadily for the rest of the day.  Similarly on Monday I feel the need to re-fuel.

I'm not sure what objective I'll be setting myself now.  I suspect I could still hit my ultimate target but that would have me dieting for 7/8 weeks consistently.  I may have to set myself a gold/silver/bronze and take it from there.

Looking back at last year its difficult to do a weight comparison as so often my entries talked about a change in weight but not absolute figures, but I'd hazard a guess that I might be close to where I was then and quite possibly a pound or two lighter.  Maybe that's a good incentive?

I think that's pretty much got me back up to date?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I'm still breathing...

Yep, I know, AWOL again.

That's not usually a good sign with me - it usually means I'm not doing much in the way of exercise and am eating my way through a Thorntons warehouse.  Not this time though: it's actually all going okay.

By way of an update:

  • I've lost 17lb since the late summer weight peak
  • I started running - very carefuly - 3 weeks ago
  • Longest run is only up to 7.5 miles and this week was the highest at 22
  • Exercising consistently 6 days from 7
  • Have recorded food intake every single day since the end of September
  • Achilles is holding up okay - no pain uless I squeeze it
  • I've entered Paris marathon again!
Plan from here is to carry on with the weight loss until Christmas then knock a bit more off after Christmas (along with any festive gain).  That should take me 9lb lower than I was when I ran Paris this year.  I'm already lighter than I was this time 12 months ago.

Training wise its a gradual increase to 30 miles a week by early December, and a long run of about 11.5 miles.  No speedwork, no hills.  Then I'll have a crack at following the Pfitzinger & Douglas 18 week 'up to 55 miles a week' plan.

Right now I'm cautiously optimistic of making it to the start line in April.  If I do I'll stand a good chance of a PB.  If I don't make it then so be it.  At least I'll have carefully given myself a chance.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

And here we are

Having posted precisely sod all for the last month or so this might be the first of several in the next few days.  Typical me: all or nothing.

I haven't really had a huge amount to blog about.  No great initiatives, no big leaps forward but no disasters either.  Equally I've had problems accessing some other blogs that I've found today, can be solved by using Safari rather than Explorer.

For what its worth, by way of an update, here's what's happened on my main blogging themes:

No big changes.  I still get a bit of stiffness each morning, achilles still feels 'odd' at times and the back of my right heel can still get quite tender.  I've been using the podiatrist supplied insoles for 'x' weeks now but there doesn't seem to be any great change.  Mind you, I've not been doing the prescribed exercises for the last 10 days and a little sporadically prior to that so therein may lie the problem.

As the injury hasn't settled down there's been precious little of this.  

I was hoping the insoles would work their magic and decided to more or less write off running for a number of weeks to allow them the time to do so.  After very little running since the middle of May I've become resigned to it (and I will be blogging about this soon) so another few weeks didn't seem much of a hardship.   

All I've been doing is the Couch to 5k programme with the eldest daughter.  This time last year, aged 11, she could (reluctantly) cover 5 miles of trails but she stopped running and this was a way I hoped to get her back into it and provide an accomplishment she could feel proud of.  She's enjoying it and doing really well, and my achilles seems to tolerate tiny bits of jogging.

Marathon Plans
Having cancelled my participation at Chester all my hopes were pinned on Paris next April.  Registration opened last week but a few weeks ago I decided I wouldn't be running.  Due to the date next year the family wouldn't have been able to go and a trip on my own would mean it would have to be a serious PB attempt or I wouldn't bother (as the total cost for registration, gels, accommodation, flights, food while there would have easily been £400), and this wasn't going to be a serious attempt.  

To have had a decent crack at it I'd have needed to start training at 55 miles a week in early December and ramp up quickly from there...to do that I'd have needed to be doing 45 miles a week pain free from mid October...and to get from zero miles and discomfort to 45 miles with none in 6 weeks was just never going to happen.

Bit of a bugger that.

So, my surrogate running is gym based, which works.  Sort of.

A few weeks ago I came up with a plan.  I like plans, maybe I like them a little too much, as the truth is I'm better at planning than doing; so I opted not to herald it to the blogging fraternity. 

However, the idea was to replicate the time and type of exercise that might be used in a middle of the road marathon plan.  In other words train 6 times a week, with some easy days, a couple of days with weights and cardio intervals and a long session on Sundays.

Rationale was that if I had something with a bit of intensity and structure I'd stick to it more,  feel a sense of accomplishment, find weight control/reduction easier and find transitioning to running easier when the achilles settled down.

As I said that sort of works.  For the first 10 days or so I stuck to the plan relentlessly but since then my adherence has been more sporadic.  I think there are three challenges:

  1. If I work away the plan has to give way - the gym can't go with me in the same way a Garmin and trainers could.
  2. There's no end objective so less incentive to stick to the plan.
  3. If I felt lethargic or under the weather running from home and seeing 'how it goes' was almost always the approach but its harder to get the kit, towel, change of clothes, drink etc ready and drive to the gym on that basis.
Beyond that though its worked OK in that I enjoy my time there.  Its not outdoors, its not as social and it doesn't feel as hardcore but I still enjoy it.  Likelihood is that I'll tweak the plan for the next 4 weeks and get going consistently again.

Diet & Weight
Unsurprisingly its chequered news on the diet/eating front too.  Some days I eat extremely well, others I don't.  As per the exercise, with no firm objective in sight its difficult to stick consistently to any sort of 'diet' so I've hardly tried.  Whilst that still leaves me a long way above the sort of weight I'm happy at the good news is that my weight has stayed level for a couple of months now.  At least its stopped going up.

Overall, I've ostensibly become accepting of my current lot and I'm really not sure if that's a good thing or not.  On the one hand I no longer beat myself up for being unable to run or for having some ice cream but on the other not being able to wear quite a few items of clothing and feeling I don't look/feel at my best constantly niggles away at me in the background.

Time will tell I guess?