Monday, 14 December 2009

I duly went to the doctors 4 days after the last post. I tried to run again on the Wednesday, but struggled, and dropped the physic’s letter in the same day.

The appointment was a bit of a farce. The letter had been mislaid at the surgery so she hadn’t seen it and hadn’t heard of the condition but agreed to refer me to radiography anyway, and advised me not to run and despite the arrival of some weird compression/support shorts which might help, I did as I was told and wallowed in self pity for the last 2 weeks; predictably finding comfort in food.

This means I’ve only ran 10 times in the last 9 weeks (with 2 of those being aborted with pain) and my weight is a little over a stone heavier than it was in mid October.

That’s left me bouncing between two extremes of outlook.

If I’m feeling positive I compare myself to this time last year. I’m nearly 2 stones lighter than I was then, have ran slightly more in the last few weeks than I did in the corresponding weeks last year and I’ve ran better as a whole during the year. Even the cautious and flabby 4 miles I did yesterday (after 20 days off) was at a comparable pace to tempo runs at the start of the year, and it’s left me without any great increase in pain.

On the other hand, if I’m feeling negative then I compare myself with where I was on target for reaching by now, only a couple of months ago: I’d expected to be some 22lbs lighter than now and have a solid base of 30 miles a week running since May to set me up for training for a 3:30 in Paris.

I’m hopeful that whilst I can’t expect to do any races, hills, speedwork or long slow runs for the foreseeable future (and that injury resolution could be several months away) I should be able to do 3 or even 4 short easy paced runs a week if I wear the support shorts. If I can that might just be enough to help get rid of a little weight in the new year.

At present I’m hoping to drop a couple of pounds before Christmas, easily rediscover them during a week of festive gorging and then do as I did this year and hit the new year with a bang.

Realistically Paris isn’t going to happen for me next year but there’s an outside chance I might make a May marathon or, more likely, an autumn one.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Oh bugger

The whole groin/lower abdominal area felt ok yesterday even with day 2 of my new stretching routine and I managed to get a same day appointment at the physio, pleased to be able to get treatment underway immediately.

The news though wasn't too good. Looks like a psoas injury should have responded to stretching and also to rest and as this has been around for 3 months the physio suspects something else is the culprit.

She did a series of tests, most of which caused no pain whatsoever, and asked some questions about when and where pain kicks in. Net result is that she can't be certain what it is but suspects a condition called 'Gilmore's Groin', and has given me a letter to take to the doctors later this week asking that I'm referred to a specialist. If her suspiscions are confirmed I'd need surgery followed by 6 weeks rehabilitation before running properly again.

On the basis that it could take 6/7 weeks before I see the specialist and another couple of months after that before an operation she's given me a series of resistance band strengthening exercises to do in the meantime. If she's wrong then they may help treatment and if she's right they'll help strengthen things ahead of the op.

If its surgery Paris is definitely out. If its not then hopefully the exercises and stretching will help resolve things ahead of training but starting training itself will be a severe test.

Oh, well. Who said these things were meant to be easy?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

These DIY temporary fillings are good...

...its amazing how much you can eat with them :-s

Managed to get in at the dentists on Wednesday but they can't fix the tooth (which is painless) until 7th December. Oh well.

Another mixed week for me.

Didn't manage to get out on Monday or Tuesday but did manage to fit in a short run on Wednesday. A very short one. A very, very short one. The Ronnie Corbett of courses in fact.

I set off along the same route as I've been doing lately - along the river Aire - but the recent heavy rain meant the trail was very muddy and slippy and often hidden beneath long puddles. In itself that was fine but for much of it I was one slip from the fast flowing, swollen, debris filled river and whilst I'm not a bad swimmer I didn't fancy putting my skills to the test. That put me on edge a bit and even had my imagination going into overdrive when one 'lump' of debris looked to me like a bloated corpse. Nice.

What shortened the run though was that at just under 1.5 miles the trail and river merged where the latter had burst it's banks. It wasn't over by much - not much above ankle depth on the trail - but I knew that even if I picked my way through that the path further ahead would probably be worse as its virtually at river level already. I turned and headed back to the car.

No run on Thursday - work again - but I did get out in the torrential rain on Friday. That was an opportunity to test my new Gore Running jacket - it passed. I took a cross country route across fields to the canal, along the canal for half a mile or so then a mile and a half through the woods before heading for home. About 5 and a half miles and (I counted) 24 stiles and/or fences and lots, and lots of mud.

Yesterday I decided to try a long slow one so did a little over 12 miles along the canal from the edge of Leeds to Shipley. Like the week, it was mixed. I'm pleased I did it and pleased that the pace was as quick as many of the shorter runs of recent weeks but the downside was that I started getting groin pain from before 2 miles. This got imperceptibly stronger until about 9 and a half when it then became really difficult just to keep my left leg lifting and moving.

That's a worry as I've had quite alot of disruption of late and I'm only 4 weeks from marathon training kicking in. Didn't seem too bad through the day yesterday but this morning, as I waited to carry out my marshaling and t-shirt distribution duties at the Leeds Abbey Dash, it was horrendous. I've kept 800mg of ibuprofen on the go since and done quite a long stretching session this afternoon.

Will get off to the physio asap this week and book a few sessions. Really want this right before the mileage and LSRs go up dramatically.

Oh, and I'm toying with the idea of doing Windermere marathon 5 weeks after Paris...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Minor trials & tribulations

Its funny how just as you feel you're back in control life can throw some unexpected obstacles in your direction.

Things were going well last week. By Friday morning I'd had a good week dieting and the heavy, morale boosting weight loss of the first week was very much in evidence. After a rest day I was due to run again too.

Then along comes obstacle number one. My youngest daughter was absolutely full of cold, hadn't slept well at all and had a slight temperature so wasn't fit for school. That meant she was home with me all day so no opportunity to nip out for a run during my lunch break. Not to worry though - I could simply run Saturday & Sunday instead.

Time for obstacle number two. Late morning there is a knock at the door and there's a lad selling dish cloths, fridge fresheners and the like. Thanks but no thanks. Then as I run back upstairs I somehow catch my little toe on a door frame. As I do so there's an audible 'snap' and I fear the worst, but as I brace myself for a wave of pain I actually find it doesn't seem too bad. Within minutes though it doesn't look good as the toe swells to be 50% bigger than it's neighbour. It throbs the rest of the day and Friday night and its difficult to walk on. Still swollen and now largely blue, I cancel Saturday's run and don't feel too optimistic for Sunday either.

Saturday dinner and time for obstacle 3 to join the party, as a tooth breaks. That's slightly painful and certainly irritating but a trip to the chemists for some temporary filling mixture limits the damage.

Trouble is I haven't run as planned and, feeling sorry for myself, the dieting stops and is replaced by binging of sorts. Fortunately the tooth precludes sweets but an enormous chocolate cake made for the youngest's birthday party on Saturday (that was cancelled due to her illness) provides a capable stand in.

By Sunday morning the swelling has largely gone and, contrary to expectations, I manage a run. Along the muddy bank of the river Aire and back. Slightly slower than last time but with an occasionally painful toe, lots of slipping and sliding and a wait for a family of runners to pass at one point means that's none too surprising. Positively, at least I'm running again and, passing wait aside, its done none stop.

The chocolate cake hasn't completely gone though - a situation I remedy by early evening. Meaning its turned into a mixed weekend. It wasn't the virtuous, lean, athletic break I'd envisaged but then neither had it turned into the complete disaster that looked on the cards by Saturday morning.

Once again, I'm back on the dieting 'horse' today, and a few days of discipline and the weekend's excesses will be just an insignificant blip.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Back on track

So far this week I really have been back on track.

I've logged everything on and kept comfortably under the target for the week to date.

I've also started running again but its amazing how quickly your fitness goes.

I ran Monday, along the canal to Apperley Bridge and then up onto the road to Woodhouse Grove school and around the fields onto the riverside path back to Rodley: 4.85 miles.

Its a nice route along the river: peaceful, scenic, muddy and quieter than the canal towpath. I did the same route on Wednesday and on neither day did I see another soul along the river. Maybe its the mud that puts people off or maybe they just don't know its there but in certain stretches you feel like you're in the dales rather than between two large industrial cities.

On Monday I stopped twice during the run and felt worn out despite a very modest pace. I was also extremely sore afterwards in the psoas to the point where I struggled to walk the kids back home from school that afternoon. That was worrying as I'd hoped 2 weeks of rest might have cured it.

Wednesday was better. Hardly any quicker but only one stop and it felt slightly easier. Most pleasingly there was no real psoas pain during or after. I'm hoping I can stretch my way through that now.

Marathon training starts in five and a half weeks. If I can finish this week on about 20 miles, then nearer 25 next, then carry on into the upper 20s for the remaining 3 weeks but do that fairly pain free that'll be the best I can hope for.

Neither that nor the likely weight at the start of training will be what I'd planned for but the weight wont be too far out the running won't be too bad as long as the psoas is settled enough to allow a big ramp up in frequency and mileage once training begins.

I guess that all remains to be seen.

The downward spiral continues

My newly invigorated commitment at the end of the last post didn't quite live up to it's billing. It lasted a day and a half.

For the first couple of days of that week I managed to half heartedly stick to the diet and on the Wednesday I forced myself out for a run. Instead of going to the canal I ran from home which meant a long downhill followed by a long uphill back again. The route I took lasted only 3.45 miles and I found it slow and very hard work, even on the downhill. That knocked me a bit and I found solace in more fatty, sugary, sweet foods for the remainder of the week - and no more runs.

The Saturday was the first of 10 days off for me and we headed down to Northamptonshire to see the in laws. That meant having dinner at a local pub (where I had the enjoyable but uncharacteristic choice of a mixed grill followed by treacle sponge pudding) and then an enormous Chinese buffet cum banquet for Sunday dinner.

I did run on the Sunday morning, along the Grand Union Canal from Foxton Locks near Market Harborough. It was a good run even though the towpath was nowhere near as good as that near Leeds. It totalled 15.1 miles - the longest since Paris - but I found it very hard work after the 11 miles point, underlining my feeling that its stamina I'm lacking.

You'd think that would have energised me for the week ahead with its opportunity to run wherever I wanted each day and cook some healthy meals, but it didn't. Instead I spent the week pretty much indoors, cooking meals each day, cooking other meals for the freezer ahead of Christmas, and having lots and lots of sweets along with ensuring Sue made a pudding most days.

I can't point to a single reason for that but I suspect its a combination of factors:

- The time of year made both of us crave 'hearty' foods. The clocks had changed and there was a definite feel of winter being on the way.
- I had the vicious circle of not running because I felt bloated and sluggish then over eating because I didn't have the discipline of running...
- I turned 40 on the final day of my holiday and, daft though it seems, I felt pretty down about it in the lead up and on the day.
- Job insecurity and reduced pay lead to money worries and I guess I comfort ate in response.

That meant that by the 3rd November, the second day in my forties :-( , my weight had leapt further to 12st 7.2lb. That's a stone heavier than I'd been less than 4 weeks earlier.

That was depressing - to have been so close to goal and then so far away again - and that led to a week where I didn't quite stick to plan but I did cut back on my 'bad eating' and had a couple of day's genuine dieting. I still didn't run though. That all led to a modest loss of 0.6lb in the week. Not quite the heavy early loss I'd wanted but enough to break the cycle of weight gain.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Oh the irony of the post that precedes this one!

All was going well until Tuesday evening but what followed was a really bizarre week...

At 7.40pm I was ready to leave for my Tuesday evening club run. I'd stuck to calorie limits the previous day and had followed the normal Tuesday plan of eating all my calories by mid afternoon secure in the knowledge that I'd be burning off plenty in the evening ahead of my final meal of the day.

The trouble was the baby sitters hadn't turned up. They normally arrive by 7.30pm - though we said they just needed to be here by 7.45 - so I called Sue to check she's confirmed with them. No...she hadn't thought to.

That meant no Tuesday run and I was fuming as it put paid to my mileage targets for the week, my weight loss targets for the day and was very, very irritating. With little food in the house it meant I turned to toast and crisps and biscuits for the mini binge that inevitably followed.

Didn't feel too good Wednesday first thing (and hadn't Tuesday either) but stuck to plan during the day. I toyed with not going to the Kirkstall run but decided I must force myself out and duly turned up at 7pm.

The run started off ok - straight up the 2.5 mile hill to the ring road - and after 1.5 miles I felt good running just behind the fastest runners. By 2 miles I was beginning to struggle to keep to the pace though and by 2.5 miles a deliberate slow down meant I finished some 50yds behind the quickies and felt rough.

I decided I'd better turn round and head back, making it a 5 mile tempo run rather than the 7 miles planned, but after just another mile I had to stop. I was able to start again but it felt really hard work.

On Thursday I needed to head to Warwick for a meeting and stuck well to the diet plan again but as I pondered the previous days on the way back I decided to completely change tack for the rest of the week - I would take the rest of the week off. No running, no dieting and no race on Sunday. I'd give myself a physical and mental break.

Boy, did I put heart and soul into that!

On the journey back I ate 4 chocolate bars and had a Burger King meal. That set the tone for the next few days and since then I can recall having:

About 4/5 chocolate bars a least a dozen Indian 'sweets'...2 homemade curries...2 fried breakfasts....a big bag of fruit pastilles....3 big bags of white chocolate 'moments'...a big bag of chocolate eclairs sweets...2 packets of crisps...a packet of peanuts....a pizza...a small box of shortbread....3 butter laden crumpets...lots of white bread instead of wholemeal...sugary squash...about a pint of mango lassi...meat paste....sandwich spread...lots and lots of tea to drink...

All comfort foods, many echoes of my childhood or of Christmas eating patterns. What might a psychoanalyst make of that?

I suppose 'not dieting' immediately became 'binge as heavily as possible to get it out of your system'.

Its had some interesting effects.

- Ten days ago I was 11st 7lb - today I am 12st 2.2lb.
- I've struggled to get to sleep the last few nights, have woke during the night and have felt tired in the morning.
- I've had terrible wind
- I've been constipated and when I've gone its been painful
- I've felt sluggish
- I've felt bloated & uncomfortable, so much so that I couldn't go out with the family to the cinema yesterday

Hopefully, that's that - though this time of year is where I've ceased running and put on weight in each of the last 2 years!

Gradually get back on track today with the diet and tomorrow with the running and no race pressure for 3 weeks. That's the new plan.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Planning to succeed

I spent much of Saturday afternoon sorting out my marathon training plan for Paris.

I know its early but there was method in my madness. For one thing I wanted to get it sorted so I'd know what I needed to do in the intervening period to prepare and for the other, more practical and pressing reason, of wanting to know on what dates I should plan and enter races as these tend to be scarce in the winter so fill up very quickly - in some cases within a couple of days.

I’ve very closely based the training on the Runners’ World 3:30 plan with the odd allowance for the practicalities of races and local training.

As I typed it into a spreadsheet it was a bit of a shock as the plan calls for:

- 16 weeks training
- 6 runs most weeks, occasionally 5
- Long runs of 18 miles (2), 20 miles (4) and 22 miles (1)
- 2 speed sessions a week
- 4 races
- 4 weeks where the weekly mileage tops 50 miles

Compare & contrast with this year's Paris training with it's 3 runs a week for 12 weeks, no speedwork, no races, one long run of 18 miles and two of 20, and peak mileage of just 28.2 miles in a week!

Since then I’ve become more comfortable with it. For one thing I’m over the initial shock but I’ve also acknowledged a few benefits particularly compared to last year:

- I’ll be a whole lot lighter than I was last year (nearly 3.5 stone compared with the start) hence the training will be a whole lot easier
- Last year I hadn’t run for 8 weeks prior whereas this year I should have had a year’s solid running behind me
- I’ll already be used to running 30+ miles a week so my base is far higher
- I’ve still got 10 weeks to prepare for the training
- The training doesn’t get out of the 30s until the 5th week and there are another 4 weeks after that that don’t reach 40 (if you include the first 6 days of the marathon week!)
- Between racing and club runs I’m already doing more speedwork than the plan entails - that and the LSR pace will actually come down

Looking at it that way and the gap between now and where I’ll need to be doesn’t seem so great.

I’ve tweaked the plan for the next 10 weeks a little bit too. I’m tied to some degree by the 4 races in that time and the need for rest before and recovery afterwards but as it stands I’ll have:

- 6 runs of 12 miles or more which will help acclimatise me to the marathon LSRs a little better
- 3 easier weeks, including the one immediately before marathon training starts
- Topped 30 miles in 8/11 weeks preceding marathon training
- Become used to running 5 times a week with a couple of weeks with 6

I’m also going to try and have a decent stretching routine at least 4 times a week and preferably daily to try and clear up the psoas problem and any other niggles prior to the marathon training starting.

That was the week that was

Overall, I guess that was a good week. Up to four runs again, got Beth doing her first run since August, did my second longest post Paris run and had 2 good club runs. I also got my Paris training plan sorted.

As has been the routine for the last few weeks, Monday started with a rest day after the exhertions at Harewood.

Tuesday was Abbey, with a far lower turn out than usual, presumably down to it having rained all day right up to run time. That was a pain as I'd worn a gilet in the expectancy of getting wet but the rain stopped just as we headed out, and with no rain and no wind it was warm! It felt a fairly tough 7 miles (the reverse of the previous Tuesday's route)with my legs feeling tired after Sunday's race.

Next day it was Kirkstall. Despite the (even hillier) 7 mile route I probably felt slightly better and was able to push myself fairly hard for the last 5 miles - even surviving the hard slog up the ring road from Rodley to New Roadside.

Thursday and Friday were rest days once again and then on Saturday I cajoled Beth into doing a slow 2 miles along the canal. She was reluctant to go but I think she enjoyed it in the end as the weather was good, we saw some Abbey runners and she had a few questions about canals and railways.

Yesterday was initially meant to be a cross country race day but in the absence of getting any information on it I decided to do a long slow run. At first I thought of 12 miles then decided I should up that to 14.

It proved tough. I've done alot of training and racing since the end of July that's conducive to speed and endurance for up to 10 mile races but I'd only once ran over a half marathon distance (over 2 months ago) so I'm possibly lacking in the extra endurance and certainly not used to the extra time on my feet that 14 miles at a deliberately slow pace entails.

That's a bit of a worry ahead of the Bridlington half next week, but there is hope!

I've recently entered the Central Lancashire half for the 3rd January so Brid is the first of 3 decent PB attempts at the distance and yesterday's run and next week's race will certainly help in terms of training for the Lancaster half on 8th November. Plus, next week I'll run at a faster pace so at least I wont be running for so long.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Moving the goalposts

I hit my weight loss target today! Sort of...

When I did Weight Watchers 12 years ago I went from exactly 14 stone to exactly 12 stone. The latter was the target that was suggested by the WW leader and felt pretty good when I reached it.

As a result I'd always held that as the figure of where I wanted to be and where I should be. I knew it was at the high end of my healthy weight range but I always felt I was naturally broad shouldered, muscular and 'big framed' so it was right for me.

Roll the calendar forward 8 years to September 2007 and after (frequent) weight gain and (occasional) loss I joined with a view to getting back down again but this time to a target of 12st 7lb as I figured that maybe 12 and a half was right for the older me!

In fact through much of the next 18 months my weight went up and down as I struggled to stick to calorie control and never once did I get below 13 stones.

A year ago, as I blogged a good while back, I decided to move the goalposts to an ambitious target of 11 and a half stone for Paris marathon but failed to start dieting until January by which time that wasn't achieveable. At that point I set my aim at 12 and a half by Paris and then switched again to 12st - eventually getting down to 12st 2.8lb the week before, but still held the long term aim of 11st 7lb.

Since Paris I've gone up and down a couple of times (immediate post Paris relaxation then on summer holidays) but overall its been a downward trend and today I finally hit 11st 7lb. Fantastic eh?

Trouble is I decided in August to drop my target again, to 11st exactly - the mid point of my 'healthy' weight range - figuring I could still lose a little more and that the weight loss would help my running. I'm in with a shout of getting there before my 40th on the second of November and before the big 3 PB attempts at 10k, 10 mile and half marathon during that month.

Thing is the closer I've go to 11st 7lb the more I've began to toy with the idea of dropping just a little below 11st or even of trying to get down to 10st 7lb.

I can't decide if this is good or bad thinking!

On the positive side my apparent body fat percentage says I should certainly be able to drop further (and less fat equals faster running) but I do wonder if there's more to it than that. Am I scared of hitting a final target? Am I getting addicted to dieting? Do I not trust myself to be able to maintain my weight?

These are questions that may link to my occasional binge eating - is moving the goalposts ever downwards motivated by the same desire that causes me to try and sabotage myself from time to time?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Best do the old running round up for last week now!

It all started rather painfully. Two races in two days had taken it's toll and everything (almost!) south of my waist was stiff and painful; particularly my glutes and calves. I couldn't even walk properly.

All that meant that Monday was a rest day and on Tuesday I booked for a massage for the following day. I did manage to run Tuesday evening with Abbey. A shade under 7 hilly miles. Felt stiff at the outset then it slowly eased through the run, though running downhill I could feel it in the glutes and when faced with a short steep hill my calves felt absolutely dead.

The massage the next day wasn't pleasurable - the pain on massaging the knot(s) in my glutes was strong but hopefully it did some good and I did just over 7 equally hilly miles with Kirkstall that evening. That was done slightly slower, with a couple of stops en route, though my legs (and me in general) felt tired and not up to speeding up.

Rest was the plan for the remainder of the week though I did go out for an hour's bike ride on Thursday which also seemed to help the legs feel better.

I had thought of taking Beth out for a short run Saturday as she's only ran twice since July but other plans for her and the rest of the family precluded that, so the next run was the Harewood 10 mile trail race on the Sunday.

I did this race in 2006 and it was fairly tough - with a fair amount of climbing and downhills, 2-3 stiles, lots of narrow trails and a final mile that was almost entirely up a steep climb contributing to a course with a net ascent of about 120ft.

It was good running weather - bright, breezy and cool - and there was a good showing from Abbey with a dozen or more running it.

The first mile is pretty much flat overall and the second has a good descent and this, combined with my finding myself nearer the front than I intended led to the first 2 miles being over 40 seconds ahead of target pace (having used the road PB from Wistow as the target even though this was an appreciably tougher event).

Mile 3 was all uphill barring a very brief drop at the end and that immediately wiped out the time in the bank and put me about 7 seconds down overall. It also left me pooped for the undulating 4th mile as we headed across fields to the flatter environs of the reservoir and after 4 miles I was down by 22 seconds.

Theoretically that should have been the cue to speed up a little and claw that back - a couple of flat miles that would allow me to get some sort of rhythm going - but the legs still didn't feel quite able. Not sure if it was still after effects from the previous weekend, the early hills or the pace but I had dropped a further 30 seconds by the time I reached the 6 mile mark.

I lost more time in mile 7 as we left the reservoir across undulating fields before joining a narrow track where I spent a bit of time boxed behind a tiring runner. I'd felt very fatigued at the beginning of that mile but the slower pace on the trail allowed me to recover a bit, and whilst I lost another 30 seconds in that mile (now 83 behind) I felt good going into the friendly mile 8.

Here there was a gentle downhill for the mile and I was able to claw back 10 seconds. Then, in mile 9, there was a steady and occasionally steep downhill that I could fly down and in the process pull back another 35 seconds.

Had it been a flat last mile I'd have then had a chance at hitting the target but immediately at the beginning of the final mile you're faced with the first of two steep climbs going straight up ahead of you. Mind you, I'd used the road PB as a target but realistically I just wanted to be vaguely close - maybe within two minutes - as that felt like a reasonable comparison bearing in mind the gradient and terrain differences, and I was well on course for that.

The last mile consisted of the first steep rise for maybe a third of a mile, then 100m or so of flat, before another equally steep climb that's a little more than a third of a mile and then the final 400m that's at best flat or at worst a very, very slight incline.

The first climb was tiring but for the second I was able to pass a couple of runners and still have enough breath left to speak to another runner who laboured past me - presumably she didn't have enough breath as she completely blanked me and my compliment about her hill running skills!

I speeded up a little to the finish - enough to keep the runners behind at bay without wishing to pass the ones in front or go all out. Final time was 40 seconds slower than Wistow 3 weeks previously. That felt good and when I looked at other Abbey Runners times (who had done both races) they were all between 3.5% and 9.5% slower whereas I was less than 1% slower. Whether that showed that I could have done more at Wistow or that Harewood was particularly good I can't be sure but I guess its good news either way!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Self destruction

Time for a post on weight loss and binge eating. Not had one of those for a while. Maybe it'll help in the future if I've jotted down a few thoughts now.

By the 24th of September my weight had fallen nicely down as far as 11 stone 9lb - the lowest I've been probably since my middle teens. I felt good. I was on track to hit my target of 11 stone before my 40th birthday at the beginning of November, and thought of myself as being 'about 11 and a half stone' and slim.

I then had a bit of a heavy few days food wise. This was partly because the in laws visited from Thursday to Saturday (meaning fruit pie, a meal out and a relaxed day or two), partly because I didn't run Thursday or Friday, and partly because after the races on Saturday & Sunday I felt like comfort eating and that I deserved it. I did mange to resist another meal out on the Sunday evening but that just led to a mini binge on cheese, toast & butter!

Net result was that on the following Monday Morning the scales said 12st 1 lb!

Now, I know that thats a 'false' weight gain - as much to do with water retention and the weight of the food in the gut after over eating as any genuine weight gain - so I didn't panic. Instead, I went back to basics of dieting and exercise and by Thursday morning was down to 11st 10lb.

Trouble is, that was the high point!

I did ok through the day on Thursday but in the evening went out for a curry with friends. It wasn't a weight loss day as a result but I resisted the temptation to buy illicit chocolate on the way home. Friday started with good intentions but by the middle of the day I was feeling tempted to nip out for a quick treat lunch out despite knowing I'd got a big (and rather nice) casserole for tea.

I resisted once more but again this led to bingeing in the evening - huge amount (8-10 slices or so) of toast and butter (again after a very large tea) plus assorted picking at cheese, snacks, dried fruit, fruit buns and some newly discovered digestive biscuits.

Saturday was even worse. During the day I had 6 chocolate bars and half a bag of fruit pastilles alongside many, many more slices of toast and butter, fruit buns, digestives and 3 decent meals!

On Sunday I ran a tough race and managed to limit myself to only the four chocolate bars and the other half of the pastilles alongside a huge roast dinner and - you guessed it - yet more toast and butter, biscuits and assorted picking.

The scales today were 11st 13.2 lb. At least its under 12, but the lost time and weight gain now mean even at 2 lb a week loss I won't hit my target until the 22nd of next month.

This pattern of weight loss and bingeing is long established so is there a trigger?

Possibly yes.

The following all seem to contribute to this feeling of wanting to binge and sabotage myself:

Stress - especially work and/or money worries - seem to leave me more open to wanting to comfort eat. Funnilly enough money worries leave me wanting to spend too!

Denial - it seems (from this weekend) that if I deny myself a treat (like the meals out) there's a fair chance my response will be to binge on other things which will ultimately be far worse. Worry is though, if I gave in to the initial temptation would the bingeing follow anyway?

Not exercising - not sure how much of a trigger this is but if I go for more than 2, maybe even 1, day without running I'm more likely to go into binge mode. Exercise seems to give me discipline (post 10 mile run mini binges not withstanding).

Complacency - when I've had a few weeks good loss and am feeling ahead of the game I seem to get tempted to go off the rails. Maybe that's a response to a too strict period or maybe its simple complacency. I don't know.

I do think that the likelihood of bingeing (and its severity) are linked to these triggers working in combination though.

I can even recognise them at play. Trouble is recognising them and finding a way of not acting on them seem two very different things and words and phrases like sabotage and self destruction seem very accurate.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Had a rest day last Monday following Sunday's exertions then ran as normal with Abbey on the Tuesday - 6.7 hilly miles averaging (despite a slow first couple of miles) 7:45 a mile.

Next day I ran again, this time with Kirkstall Harriers.

They run Mondays & Wednesdays so there's the option to join them as second claim club as the training fits nicely around the Abbey nights. My thinking is that during the winter when its dark and wet it'll be difficult to motivate myself to go out and keep up with the planned marathon training but if I have routine club nights I'll stick to them.

Similar sort of run - hilly 6.77 miles with a couple of slow miles at first and a final average of 7:49.

Thursday and Friday were rest days ahead of Saturday's trail race, the Saab Salomon Turbo X in Sheffield.

That proved to be a very taxing race. It consisted of a 10 mile route through woods, up and down extremely steep hills (on all fours to get up some of them), over felled trees, through a couple of becks and also several hundred yards of mud filled trench with the stinking grey mass between knee and bum height!

I got round ok but it was far more tiring than the 10 miles (or time that was 30 minutes slower than my pb for the distance) would imply. Really good goody bag and Salomon technical running shirt though. I finished 94th out of getting on for 400.

The next day was the Horsforth 10k. I know, its crazy to do two races on consecutive days, but it was local and as I'd payed my money I wanted my t-shirt!

Trouble was, my calves and glutes were really stiff and sore when I woke Sunday morning. I don't normally get any post race DOMS so it showed how tough Sheffield had been the day before. I got there early, did half a mile warm up and had a really good stretch. I felt better after that - still sore but ok.

I still had a real dilema in how to approach the race though. Common sense said to run it very slowly but, muscle soreness aside, I felt good and wondered if I could get a pb on a relatively difficult course...

The course profile is 2 miles uphill from the start along narrow private road, then 2 miles downhill to the canal, followed by 2 miles flat along the towpath and a couple of undulations in the last 0.2 miles to the finish.

I started a bit further back than I intended and was boxed a bit for the first mile. The uphill was a real challenge to aching calves and by the end of the second mile I was 67 seconds off target pace. I accepted then that a pb wasn't on the cards but recovered about half of that time in the next 2 miles of descent.

The canal section proved to be the most difficult. By that time my legs felt uncharacteristically tired and, feeling the effects of the previous day, keeping close to pace felt mentally very, very tough. I managed to pass a few people and battle it out with a girl from Kirkstall (eventually giving in on about the 4th time she tried to pass me) which helped drag me along but I lost about another 8 seconds by the time the 9km mark was reached.

I speeded up a bit then though and had a sprint finish of sorts, probably passing another half a dozen people, finishing in 46:13. That's 10 seconds away from the pb but considering the course profile and my legs being shot I was very pleased!

Problem was that within minutes of finishing every muscle south of my waist was seizing up....

...but that's the story of the first half of this week!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Four down - seven to go!

On Saturday I remembered that there was a 7.25 mile trail race on in Kirkstall so decided to substitute my planned LSR for that. That increased my planned races to 11 between 23/08 and 29/11 but now its done I'm still over a third of the way through.

It was a challenging but enjoyable race, starting with a lap of the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey's ruins, across Burley rugby union's pitches, a drag up the A65, down and along the river until the footbridge at Newlay, then across some fields to the canal which was followed until The Railway pub. That was just over halfway and the turnaround point.

From The Railway we headed over the ancient packhorse bridge across the river Aire and then broadly alongside the river before heading up a steep hill to a new housing estate and back to Newlay to head back up the valley to the A65 and a descent that reversed the opening 1.5 miles.

This featured paths that I didn't know were there but it was hillier than I'd expected and at one point - after the steepest section - I could feel the bile rising and was reduced to more of a shuffle for 100m or so. That particular hill immediately followed an undulating but long and general uphill track away from the river and I'd decided to take it easy up there. Trouble was a couple of Abbey supporters had positioned themselves there and their cries of encouragement made me feel I had to go onwards hard!

The other difficulty I'd had was that my Garmin had frozen just before I went to register. This meant I had to run with no guide as to how far we'd gone or what pace I was maintaining. This wasn't essential as I wasn't chasing a PB but it felt strange. Not sure if it may have helped me though as despite the terrain, the hills, the extra 1.05 miles and the twists and turns I completed it in 53:25 meaning my average pace was exactly the same as for the 10k PB in Sheffield a fortnight earlier!

I only ran two other times in the week. Partly because there was little opportunity to run with Bethan but mainly as I was taking it easy on the psoas.

I ran with the faster group at Abbey on Tuesday evening. The overall pace was 8:01 - faster than I ran with the slower group as you'd expect - but there were very few stops and those there were lasted only a few seconds, meaning we covered 7.28 miles in a couple of minutes under the hour. I'll stick with them from now.

Thursday's run wasn't so great. I did a little over 6 miles but it felt hard work. Opening mile was done in 8:20 and each one hereafter got progressively slower, yet each felt like I was running a minute a mile faster. That's the last two Thursdays that felt tough, but I've a plan to tackle that (more later).

My other fitness thing for this week was taking delivery of a bike on Tuesday. I haven't rode a bike in nearly 15 years and even through childhood didn't ride that often so I felt a bit nervy taking it out for a short ride on Tuesday. Yesterday I went out for an hour and a half with a friend and by the end of that felt alot better about hills/gears/bends/traffic. It was a nice ride round Bramhope, Otley Chevin, Guiseley, Carlton, Yeadon and back home. Also pleasing that my running fitness transfers fairly easilly to cycling.

Weight was also good news. By Friday I was down to 11st 11lb. I've over eaten and not logged since then but I'll be back on track today and hope to see a further drop this week.

Yesterday's run also gave rise to another idea.

I'm facing 16 weeks of long runs along the canal again before Paris*, starting in mid December. I like the canal side runs - traffic free, scenic, quiet, flat - but I do want some variety, espescially after my last 2 runs there haven't felt so good. I do have the Abbey run on Tuesday evening but need to do one or two more decent runs a week - especially while Beth isn't running as much )which had added in short, light 'filler' runs).

The solution: Kirkstall Harriers run Monday & Wednesday doing runs of 6.5 - 7 miles. I'm going to look into running with them and maybe joining as second claim club. That would give me another run, in company and of a reasonable length, that I could do each week assuming I did one or the other of the Mon/Wed with the Abbey Tuesday run fixed.

I'm in Birmingham on Wednesday but hopefully could get back in time to try a run with them this Wednesday.

If I do that as well as Tuesday plus the 2 races planned for the weekend that'll take me over 30 miles for the week even without warm ups, cool downs or a run with Beth. Only possible fly in the ointment is a trip to the physio today to check out the psoas where rest might be reccomended.

Monday, 14 September 2009

A much better week.

Beth returned to the juniors running club on Monday so I went for a 4 mile recovery run that turned out to be rather more hilly than planned. I took a turn on a whim and ended up going through some hilly woods before running back to the club down and then up steep hills. Ah well, tested the legs a bit after Sunday's race eh?

Tuesday was my own day at the running club. I still hadn't got round to joining up with a faster group but the previous week that hadn't been an issue as a small group of us had broken off and ran at a faster pace but this week that didn't happen. I took the first couple of downhill miles easy but from then on was haring off on my own for each interval. A decent enough run but not ideal to have to wait so long between 'intervals' and probably not ideal for the other runners to see someone shoot away.

After a rest day on Wednesday I went out along the canal on Thursday evening. It was still and warm as we went through a mini Indian summer and I found it hard work. The psoas was very painful for the first few strides and then 'present' thereafter and I felt a bit pooped. I'd planned on doing anything between 5 and 6 miles and ended up doing 5. I decided to pass it off as the bad run before a good race.

Rest day again on Friday and then 3 very gentle miles with Beth on Saturday morning.

Yesterday was race day - the inaugural Wistow 10 miles. Preparation had been much easier than for the previous week and I was that organised I even took a packed lunch to avoid a McDonalds visit on the way home! Got there early, parked up, listened to the Archers (!) and had a little warm up jog between visits to the loo.

Jogged down to the start with some of the other Abbey Runners (there must have been about 15 there)and off we went.

It was a flat, figure of eight course mainly on exposed single track lanes. That made it essentially traffic free but occassionally the steady wind proved a problem (I swear it was never behind us). Mercifully the temperature stayed at about 15c and the sun hidden behind clouds.

I'd aimed to run at 7:40 to 7:45 miles throughout. That would give me a time betwen 1:16:38 and 1:17:30. Based on the 10k times that looked ok - though it was a decent stamina test - and the fastest 10 mile training run (with a couple of untimed breaks too) only averaged 8:14 a mile.

I quickly got into a steady pace aided by the Garmin's new setting of displaying average pace to date and covered the first two miles at 7:36 each. A little faster than planned but not too much. Mile 3 slowed a little to 7:41 and then a few seconds walk to drink water from a plastic cup in mile 4 kept that to 7:42.

That was the pattern for the next few miles. I kept my eye on the average pace as it crept from 7:38 to 7:39 and on to 7:41 at one point, again following a few seconds walk to drink once more.

By this time the field had thinned out alot. In fact, I don't recall passing anyone after the first drinks station until mile 5 by which time one guy had noisilly and slowly gone past me. By the 6.2 mile drinks station I'd passed two others and went passed the noisy lad again. As I reached 7.5 miles I realised I was very slowly gaining on the gaggle of runners I could see in the distance and shortly after passed one and was within 30m of the next. At the 8 mile mark I passed him and a minute or two later the one after him - though one of the two I'd passed at 5 miles went easilly past me - and was within sight of another.

He was passed just as we headed into the last mile.

All the way round the mile markers had been measuring 0.05 miles short and I hoped they'd stay that way - giving me a nice little time bonus - but the 9th mile had speeded up to 7:34 again after a couple in the late 40s. I seemed pretty much on track.

As we entered the village I passed another runner before drawing alongside another Abbey for a brief word or two of encouragement each way before pushing ahead. I then turned a corner and the finish was suddenly 20m ahaead.

I crossed the line at 1:16:52. Not quite down to the first target but easilly within the second. I was pleased - especially as I knew I could have pushed harder in the middle miles and hadn't gone for a fast finish at the end (last mile was 7:28).

I did spot that the last mile measured long, something that everyone seemed to be commenting on afterwards, so that not only was the time bonus lost but the final measurement was 10.04. Ah well - more evidence of a moral victory and the average throughout was 7:39!

The psoas pain wasn't too bad during or after nd seems ok today. I'll keep working at it and hopefully the absence of a race this week will help.

Diet wise, after a couple of weeks where I'd gone up and down but ultimately lost nothing I stuck at things more and was rewarded with being 11st 12.8lb by the end of the week. Yesterday was a post race binge (popcorn, ice cream, malt loaf, roast dinner, Eton mess, M&Ms, digestive biscuits etc) but I'll allow that guilt free. Aim this week is to get some 'space' under the 12st barrier.

All in all a good week.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Wow. Just spotted that last week was the lowest mileage week since the end of April/early May at only 14.49 miles, yet I feel fairly knackered right now!

During the 13.2 miles last Sunday I had some groin/lower abs pain that I'd had a hint of during the 2 races the previous week. By Tuesday morning it still felt a little sore and 'Fizz' one of the Paris veterans who is a Physio suggested it could be a sore psoas muscle. I looked it up and it matched the symptoms, location and cause so I've been doing stretches for that through the week.

I felt a bit below par during the day on Tuesday and by evening fleetingly considered not going out for the club run. I did though - mainly to test the psoas - which held up ok and I felt much better afterwards. It was a fairly easy paced 5.51 miles but it included the hill on Spen Lane that I'd last ran in March and found tough. On Tuesday it felt pretty easy.

On Wednesday I'd normally run with Bethan but we've got out of the running routine since the holiday in France and I'd decided to rest alot during the week anyway so that didn't happen.

Similar with Thursday - 5/6 miles planned but I dropped them for the pesky psoas and because I still felt under the weather.

I did do a short run on Saturday though. I joined the Virgin Active gym on Friday and did 2 x 1 mile on the treadmill. I found it hard work and couldn't do more than 1/4 of a mile at 10k pace. Between that and still feeling just a little ropey I toyed with the idea of skipping the Great Yorkshire Run 10k on the Sunday.

I didn't though, and duly parked up in Sheffield at 8am yesterday.

I'd been delighted with 46:33 at Birchwood a fortnight earlier and had decided that with no weight loss in the intervening fortnight I should go for 4:35 a kilometre to nose me under the 46 minute barrier. To that I added the proviso that if I didn't feel I had it in me on the day through muscle soreness or general malaise I could just trot round the remainder.

It was essentially an out and back course. The first kilometre was downhill fairly steeply and then there was 500m of undulating followed by 7km that was pretty much flat before 500m undulating again then a final kilometre that was relentlessly uphill.

I found it quite tough from the off. After the first downhill I had 26 seconds 'in the bank' as it were and didn't eat much into that as the race progressed but it felt harder work than it did 2 weeks ago - not that I was out of breath or anything just that I didn't feel too peppy and frequently felt negative.

The course wasn't exciting and the pace pretty even so little to report until the Garmin bleeped and I began the 9th kilometre, by which time I still had 24 seconds in the bank. I'd been warned the final hill was a bit of a killer but from 1500m to go I found I couldn't speed up and struggled to even hold the pace. I just about held the effort constant on the hills in the second half of that kilometre but i'd dropped half of the banked time.

The Garmin bleeped again for one kilometre to go and with me 12 seconds to the good and a strong finisher all should have been well but just getting up the hill felt really draining. I managed to speed up in the last 50m or so but it was hardly a sprint finish. Mentally I'd set my stall just to hang on in the final kilometre and when I looked at my watch as I crossed the line I felt deflated to see 46:04 - missed it by 4 seconds. I'm sure I could have found those seconds somewhere.

Interestingly the Garmin measured it long - with the first 10 kilometres being completed under 46 minutes but the additional 65m was what cost me. Splits were:

4:09 (6:40 per mile)

4:34 (7:21 per mile)

4:36 (7:24 per mile)

4:39 (7:29 per mile)

4:39 (7:29 per mile)

4:29 (7:14 per mile)

4:36 (7:25 per mile)

4:34 (7:21 per mile)

4:47 (7:42 per mile)

4:43 (7:35 per mile)

Then the last 65m at 6:02 per mile pace.

The official time rounded me down a little to 46:03 and as thats a PB by 30 seconds I should be pleased - especially as I didn't feel quite in tip top condition and the course had an extra 450ft of climb & descent compared to Birchwood, but having been on course all the way until the finish to breaking 46 minutes and running within the pace target on the Garmin I can't help but feel dissapointed not to have got under that barrier.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Spent the Bank Holiday with the family watching the British Grand Prix athletics in Gateshead. We'd never been to an athletics meeting before and all thought it was excellent. £8 each to get in to see a number of recently crowned world champions at close quarters plus a load of freebies, free kids entertainment and events and even reasonable choice of refreshments. It puts football and even the great family game of rugby league to shame.

Still from one set of elite athletes to another athlete of rather more modest talent: me.

Last week's Tuesday evening run with Abbey Runners was replaced by a team handicap event with a neighbouring running club: Valley Striders. Its an annual event with 17 teams of 5 runners all drawn from a hat. Each team member is assigned to a different 'wave' of runners (A-E) depending on their 10k times and each wave sets off 5 minutes after the preceding one. I was selected in 'D' - the second slowest.

It was a toughish course - mostly cross country with a couple of stiles, gates, hills, and runs across fields before running the path round Eccup reservoir. About 5 miles all told.

I found it hard work. I'm not sure if my legs were still tired from Sunday but I ran 17 seconds a mile slower (though terrain would account for much of that) but still finished ina position that I was pleased with. I was 4th from the 17 in my wave, went past several runners from the wave before, would have been 7th in the wave above and was caught by nobody from following waves. It was a nice test and a change from routine.

The next day Beth and I did a sedate 3 miles along the canal.

Friday I decided to do 7.24 miles along the canal and it felt like hard work. Harder than the pace implied. It may be that I wasn't well hydrated and I certainly hadn't slept well the night before or it may be that I was still fatigued. Partly because of that I didn't run with Beth on Saturday.

On Sunday I managed 13.18 as an LSR. The overall time was fractionally quicker than I'd have expected but pace was highly variable and, again, hard work. It was also slightly painful in my groin - I'd had that all week after runs.

At the moment I'm not sure how to approach this week on the back of that. There's a 10k race on Sunday and then a 10 mile race a week later. I'm guessing I'll cut back the mileage and add more rest. I'll see how I feel after tonight's club run.

Weight has been a bit variable (literally) too. After the race at Birchwood I happilly over ate with the result that the following day I appeared not to have lost anything compared to the previous week but by Thursday and Friday I was weighing in at under 12 stone - within sight of my newly set target of 11 stone - but over eating Saturday, Sunday and Monday mean the weight today is ostensibly little different to this time last week.

Part of that was down to a meal out (and making a cake) for Sue's birthday so without distractions and with forthcoming races I'm expecting the scales to show me back on target soon.

Monday, 24 August 2009

One Down - Eight to Go!

My 'Racing Season' is underway.

The race calendar calls for 9 races between August 23rd and November 29th and the first was safely completed yesterday - the Birchwood 10k in Cheshire - with a new PB to boot.

After the previous Sunday's fairly brisk 10 mile training run my confidence came back. After the holiday I'd worried that my legs were fatigued and that I'd put on a fair bit of weight but that run told me I was in good nick and the scales the following day told me the damage wasn't too bad.

As the week went on confidence grew. I did 7 miles with Abbey Runners on Tuesday evening, a run that included 2 miles where I took off from the 'steady group' on my own and felt 'fast'. The Garmin packed up after those miles but they measured at 7.20 and 7.29 minutes each; and after that I ran straight back including running broadly alongside a faster group back to the club. Whilst I'd have liked to see what the speed was for those miles too it all gave me confidence.

On Thursday early morning I did just over 8 miles at a steady pace. That felt tougher than expected but it was my long run for the week.

On Friday I weighed myself again. A couple of days before we went away I'd weighed 12st 1lb. Disappointing that I didn't get to 11st something but really good that I was under the Paris weight. The 5 course meals, and kitchen full of cheese, chocolate, biscuits, nut tart, ice cream, chocolate mousses, crisps etc seemed to have taken a toll - and it felt a heavy one - but when I'd got back I only seemed to have gained a manageable 3.8lb. That was a boost, but by Friday I was down to 12st 0.8lb - even lower than before we'd left. Another pre-race boost.

On Saturday I did a 3 mile run with Beth - her first run for over 3 weeks. That proved enlightening. We kept to a slow pace and by halfway she seemed ok, but after the break she soon started behaving as if it was all very difficult - her face was screwed up in a look of pain, her breathing was loud, she was coughing - but we kept going as I was sure it was all in her head. It was. With about 0.4 miles to go and with no prompting she speeded up very noticeably as the finish was more or less in sight. Ahead was a barge and I called that she might even catch it before we left the bridge so she speeded up greatly and blazed past it. As she turned to go up the short but steep bridge incline I could tell she really was tired this time and a few seconds later at the top of the slope I said lets just jog down the hill to the finish. I hope she learned alot from that - that her early exhaustion wasn't real - but her surge at the end was really good, something I'd not seen before from her.

So, to Birchwood.

I really didn't know what to expect. I last ran a 10k in November 2006, and barring Paris this year I hadn't ran in any races since. The PB from that race was 53.01 and I was certain I could demolish that but by how much?

The nearest guide was a few weeks ago when I did 47:50 along a Garmin measured out and back 10k along the canal. That suggested a target of under 48 minutes was reasonable but I was concerned that I had stopped for a minute or two at halfway to catch my breath, stretch and take water on (and let it out). It also included no hills bar a set of locks and had no runners in the way, but might all that be negated by the adrenaline of racing? I didn't know.

I decided it was a learning opportunity and set the new Garmin (hastily purchased in York as the old one succumbed to its long decline Saturday morning) to km intervals and gave myself the target of going under 5 minute kilometres (i.e. 8 minute miles). That felt a reasonable challenge to maintain but one that would get me past the 50 minute barrier - a target I'd set after Paris - and if I found I could go a few seconds below or could manage a sprint finish then all the better.

I felt nervy Sunday morning. I was fairly sure I could get under 50 minutes because of the 10k training time but had a nagging doubt about being able to keep the pace up without a break and was concerned that I didn't know what 8 minute miling felt like (as distinct from 7:30 or 8:30).

I did a 1.5 mile warm up and met up with Andy & Jo from Runners World - 2 fellow Paris veterans. Their company and my ad hoc stretching helped calm me down.

Before long we were underway. I'd started further back than I'd wanted and worried that weaving in and out of runners was slowing me down at the start but the first km flashed up on the watch at 4:42. Time to re-assess.

That gave me 18 seconds 'in the bank' and I felt the pace was ok. There was a risk I was going too fast and could blow up in the second half but I decided that if it felt ok I'd carry on at the same intensity of effort and if needs be hang on as best I could in the second half.

In a busy 10k there's alot to think about - keeping up pace, looking where the route goes, watching runners who pass you, finding passages past others - so I didn't do the fairly simple equation that I was running at 47 minute pace. If I had I'd probably have slowed down a fraction.

Instead I speeded up. The second mile flashed up at 4:35. Another 25 seconds in the bank so a decent cushion already established but I really did fear this was too much and slowed down just a little.

That worked well as kilometres 3, 4, and 5 flashed up at a beautifully even 4:46, 4:45 and 4:46. More in the bank and I still felt ok. I decided to try and speed up a fraction and the next 3 km also kept beautifully to an even pace - 4:38, 4:38, 4:39.

Then it started to get just a little more difficult. For the most part the course was flat but there were 3 longish hills where we ran onto bridges over the M62 and M6 and two of these were in that final section of the route - just when legs were feeling fatigued.

I slowed in the penultimate kilometre to 4:50. It was still comfortably under the initial target but was 11/12 seconds slower than those that had preceded it. It might have been worse but for the the benefit in the final 2km of battling another runner. He was older than me but had a similar cadence and speed and we passed each other several times.

With about 500m to go we both speeded up a fraction and with 400m to go turned onto a wide tree lined boulevard with a straight flat run to the finish. I speeded up noticeably, and it hurt. I even ran a couple of seconds with my eyes closed for some reason. I'm not sure if my rival entered the boulevard ahead of me or if he ran faster still and came from behind but I sensed we were suddenly in a tussle with him alongside and passing (or fighting back - its difficult to remember exactly)so I went for full all out sprinting.

I may not be the fastest distance runner but my kick is pretty decent and I finished the race a full 4 seconds ahead and promptly dropped to hands on knees with my chest burning from the effort.

The Garmin clocked at 46:34 (later rounded down on chip time to 46:33) and I was delighted with that. It equates to a marathon time of 3hr 33min and gives me confidence and a target for upcoming races as well as resulting in my finishing in the top 40% of a race for the first time.

Happy days.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Part deux

Continuing the summary of the holiday running, this time with week two:

Monday - No real leg pain on waking so...optimistic that a rest day and a light run have 'cured' me I head out for 4.0/4.5 gently undulating miles. Soon realise my legs still feel 'dead' (especially anterior tibialis) and turn round at 1.6miles; partly in recognition that my legs aren't good, partly as that spoils the enjoyment of the run a bit and partly in a bid to take particular care with a race less than 2 weeks away.

Tuesday - After yesterday's difficulties I opt for another rest day and we head off to our old holiday stomping ground of Puy L'eveque - a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Wednesday - Headed to the undulating valley bottom route but did it in reverse for the psychological boost: 4.57 miles done at an easy pace. Legs felt more springy. Off to Puy L'eveque & Tournon again afterwards.

Thursday - An early start for Domme market again hence a forced rest day, though it probably doesn't do me too much harm after last week.

Friday - Legs definitely feeling more sprightly so the reverse undulating route done again (4.67 miles). Pushed myself a little on the way out before taking it easier (without realising) for a couple of miles, then pushed hard for the last half mile. 8.10 average overall, so pretty pleased that I seem to be recovered.

Saturday - Up early again to run amongst the vineyards, sweetcorn and market gardens south of Bergerac. Series of unused backroads that were flat and easy. Slower than yesterday - deliberately so - and felt sluggish, but completed 5.64 miles with no problems. Breakfast and a quick swim afterwards then the flight back to Leeds.

Sunday - Planned to do 6 miles along the canal but left myself the option of doing up to 10 if I felt ok. Felt cold at first (14c & breezy) but got into a reasonable rythmn and ended up doing the 10 miles @ 8.14 a mile. Evidently in better shape then I'd thought - despite not having much to drink yesterday afternoon and evening and feeling the last 2 miles in my legs.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

And home again!

It seems an age ago that I did the run above Ilkley, but then it seems an age ago that I was running in the sunshine past Bergerac vineyards and that was only this morning!

Its been a strange but largely enjoyable couple of weeks in the Bouriane and my running exploits have followed that pattern.

Its 2 weeks worth so I'll just give a resumé day by day of week one for now:

Sunday - Travelled from Bergerac to the cottage near Concores, arriving early afternoon. Rest day after yesterday's run. Went to Gourdon for a rather rich and grand meal in the evening.

Monday - Plotted what looked (from the map) like a 6 mile run and completed that. In the event it proved to be 8.68 miles including 2.35 mile steep climb to the finish. Pleased to have seen a deer and equally pleased that the weather was dull. Had planned to take the climb easy - with breaks - but bravado of seeing Sue driving down to the boulangerie kept me running and I was pleased with that afterwards though it seemed bloody long at the time!

Tuesday - Legs a little tired/sore so planned what I hoped would be a flatish 4 miles after yesterday's climbs but proved to be 4.75 miles of descent into a valley then back out again - steep. Pleased that I found the long uphill easier despite it being brighter and warmer. Later found the climb/descent was the same as previous day's - just that I missed the 2 flatter/undulating sections that the former included! Felt pretty 'buff' when we headed to Saint Germain for dinner. In the afternoon I did a 3.5 mile hilly walk and saw another deer.

Wednesday - Legs still a bit sore/tired so as the week had started tougher than planned I hoped to do a 3 mile very easy run with Bethan down in the valley bottom by way of recovery ahead of a rest day. Beth made it clear running wasn't on her agenday for the holiday and Sue showed little inclination to join me so (on the back of the confidence of yesterday) did a 'normal' 4.11 miles in the valley bottom instead - undulating not flat. Went to the gardens at in the afternoon - again felt good - then a dissapointing meal at a Logis in the evening.

Thursday - Calves a bit tight/sore today but its a rest day. Went off to Domme market in the Dordogne. Great views, enjoyable day and bought a 'buff' to keep the sun off and to wear in winter.

Friday - Legs feel almost completely back to normal so decided to do the week's long run of about 12 miles by adding a loop onto Monday's route. Proved to be another long descent and climb that was added and it took about 5 miles before my legs felt accustomed to running again. On finishing climb it became clear the run wasn't going to get much above 11 miles so I added another undulating loop on and took it up to 14.01 miles - longest run since Paris. Felt very tired afterwards but not too bad.

Saturday - Calves very tight and sore. Outside of quads and glutes also a little sore - hamstrings abstaining from the grumbling though. 'Rest day' but I did a couple of walks totalling about 7 miles and worked my calves with the massage stick a number of times. Had a really nice meal at Peyrilles on our own in the evening.

Sunday - Found a genuinely flat stretch of road on which I could do an out and back of 3.02 miles. Legs feel absolutely shot. Calves and anterior tibialis especially. Lunch en masse at Peyrilles afterwards.

Week finished on 34.57 miles - highest ever mileage. Wasn't a very big increase on recent weeks though but the hills have really taken it out of me. No spring in my step and calves and AT still sore & tight - though glutes & hamstrings seem ok now.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

That's the cut back week done with and we're off for a fortnight in SW France this afternoon!

Been a good week though. Probably not from a weight perspective - after Thursday I decided to give up for a few days - but the running has been good.

Tuesday was a club run with a small break away group. It was in the rain and part road, part muddy field but by adding on a couple of miles on my own at the end I got it up to 7.3 miles. Wednesday & Friday saw 3 mile runs with Beth again - on Wednesday she did the 3 miles without a break and on Saturday broke her 3 mile record without really trying. Thursday I did an easy 5 miles and today I did a sort of fell run above Ilkley that worked out about 7.5 miles.

The latter was really good fun, so I'll blog it in detail for posterity.

The run started just above the slightly remote White Wells Spa (where Charles Darwin, amongst others, has taken to the icy waters) and then climbed steadilly for about 1.5 miles. For the most part this stretch was on a fairly new gravel track but after the first mile this gave way to a rocky, wet, muddy path where you needed to watch every footfall - a mental challenge as much as a physical one.

I stopped briefly to admire the view down into the Wharfe valley but as I was already amongst the mist and low clouds the view didn't stretch for far so I cracked on after a few seconds. From there I then climbed straight up a steep hillside to the left - muddy, with no obvious path through the wet bracken and heather. It was covered at no more than a breathless jog for around half a mile before levelling slightly onto a clearer mud path through the heather to the edge of an area of commercial pine forest.

The path through the forest was probably the most interesting - and challenging - section, despite it being straight and for the most part flat or downhill. Initially the problem was that the wide path was pure water and mud (it was raining steadilly and had been doing so for quite a few hours) and it wan nighon impossible to pick a route through it without going ankle deep at regular intervals.

That was just the start though. In the centre there was a section about 150m wide where all the trees had been cut down leaving a desolate post nuclear war landscape. Here the path became narrow and indistinct and far, far muddier. In some places branches had been layed across the mud to offer some sort of route over it but on one occassion I went through a branch and into peaty mud up to mid calf.

Then, after crossing a plank bridge I leapt into what looked like a muddy puddle and instantly found myself covered in mud. My leading (left) leg had dissapeared into the mud far above the knee causing me to lunge forward. It was all boggy enough that there was no risk of injury but my legs through to waist were black with mud which also splashed across my vest, arms and face. I gave out an instant hearty laugh. Partly the laugh of relief we give when we fall and find ourselves unhurt but partly becasue it was fun! Besides which I was pleased that in that state I looked a hardcore runner!

The final stage of the forest was equally muddy but very, very dark, like a long tunnel within densely packed looming pines, before I emerged abruptly onto open moorland.

Here the path was pretty non existent and I hurtled downhill through the heather, every footfall a mystery, before emerging onto a single track road a little way downhill of where I'd intended.

I then followed the road back uphill for a steep 3/4 of a mile before it stopped by some radio masts on the increasingly misty moor. Beyond a gate the road was relaced by a wide track of gravel, sand, rock and puddles which gave an opportunity to run downhill and on the flat in a more controlled manner. I was soon presented with a good view over Ilkley again and realised I was virtually back at the car so headed back 50yds to a path I'd seen on the left assuming (wrongly) that this was the one I intended to take to add an extra loop on to take me to 6 miles.

I'm not certain this was a path as it climbed and then descended via a series of miniture gullies (at the time I though they looked like they were set up for a muddy first world war re-enactment by midgets) where the dense bracken hid large boulders that provided the need for sudden changes of direction in the downhill bits. Eventually I met the initial gravel path I'd set out on and ran the last 3/4 of a mile at speed down the easy downhill.

Covered in mud, with legs far more tired than the distance or slow average pace might have suggested I had absolutely loved it!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Another high

Another good week.

The staples included a slightly frustrating and stuttering club run which I extended by a bit of an extra loop on my own to take it up to 7.33 miles; and I ran a couple of times with Bethan who twice broke her 3 mile PB in the process as well as running 2 miles before her quick break during those runs.

The two 'hard' runs for the week were a 6.2 mile (10k) run done to see what pace I could manage and a 13.1 mile LSR today. The 10k was completed in 47:20 which was pleasing and today's half marathon LSR was finished in a shade over 1:56.

Weight wise it started well but then my weight stuck at 12st 1.0lb Tuesday to Saturday. Over eating through the weekend will have upped that but I still hope to get under 12 stone before next Saturday's departure on holiday.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Last week was the highest mileage since the week of the Marathon de Paris at 31.6 miles.

Despite a recalcitrant Garmin I managed 4.21 miles round Adel on Monday while Beth did her last session at the junior running club before the break for the summer holidays. The same afternoon I volunteered to take part in the Washburn Valley Relay event for the club as there were two teams 'spare'.

On Tuesday I headed to Swinsty & Fewston reservoirs with a group from Abbey Runners to 'recce' the course where we ran legs 2 & 3 in torrential rain, thunder and lightning. 7.14 soaking miles in total.

Wednesday was a 3 mile run with the ever improving Bethan before a rest day on Thursday.

Friday was the day of the relay where I ran the 3.26 mile leg 3 in 25:20. Overall I was happy enough with that. I overtook one runner and was passed by another but for the most part had nobody in sight in front or behind. That made it tougher mentally to keep pushing myself and I'm fairly certain that had there been a 'target' in sight or the route been on a drier track or tarmac the pace would have been higher.

Saturday morning was another run with Beth, who broke her record for 2 miles by a whopping 53 seconds! Then on Sunday I did my 6th run for the week, a 12 mile LSR.

That proved a little bit toughr than expected. It was quicker by some way than the sort of pace I was running before deliberately increasing my cadence a few weeks ago but also 25s a mile slower than the pace I'd done 10 miles in a fortnight before. The last couple of miles did feel noticeably tougher and the top of my right quadricep muscle felt fatigued, but I guess it was the 6th run of the week, the highest mileage for 4 months, the longest run since Paris and only 36hrs after running in a race.

The prospect of doubling it and then adding on 2.2 miles seemed ridiculous but with 8 1/2 months to go I think I've time to build it up again!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Back to it

After a week off it was back to the grindstone last week.

I started off with a short but brisk 3.75 miles on a muggy, humid Monday afternoon then followed that with an enjoyable 7.26 on Tuesday evening - round the reservoir with Abbey Runners.

Wednesday and Friday were rest days and they sandwiched 6 miles (done in 47:36) on Thursday evening. I was pleased with that.

On Saturday I did a mile with Beth in the morning (she'd been ill in the week so we took it easy)followed by 10 miles in the afternoon running the route of the Eccup 10 race which I marshalled at the following day. Both the run and the marshalling were good fun. Marshalling, like life, is a case of the more you put in the more you get out.

That meant another rest day on Sunday and I filled my time (post event) with a trip to the carvery, a dvd with the family and a whole lot more eating!

That was a change from the rest of the week where I watched food intake closely and dropped to within less than 2lb of Paris weight - somewhere I expect to get to this week.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Feeling racey

I've ummed and ahhhed about which races to do and now finally have my race calendar for the rest of the year organised. Its going to be a busy time:

  • August 23rd Birchwood 10k in Warrington
  • September 6th Great Yorkshire Run 10k in Sheffield
  • September 13th Wistow 10 miles in Selby
  • September 26th Saab Salomon Turbo X 10m x-country in Sheffield
  • September 27th Horsforth 10k in Leeds
  • October 4th Harewood 10 mile trail race in Leeds
  • October 25th Great Cumbrian Run half marathon in Carlisle
  • November 8th Lancaster half marathon in, er, Lancaster
  • November 22nd Abbey Dash 10k in Leeds

The ones in bold are the ones I feel I could aim for a PB at, the other 3 being participatory rather than raced. 9 races in 13 weeks but with 6 weekends free of racing within that period - doable with care!

EDIT: Now thinking of tagging the Thirsk 10 mile on the end of that on the 29th November. Its another PB possibility.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Give it a rest

Last week was earmarked as a rest week but with no real plan behind it. In the event it turned into a bit of a week off for the most part.

Monday was really humid so I did 2.6 miles while Beth was with the running club then left it at that. I'd expected to do 6-7 miles on Tuesday night with the running club but it turned out to be a slow and slightly disjointed 4.68 miles instead. Wednesday was due to be 3 miles with Beth but she was determined not to go leaving me in a foul mood and over eating. The dye was set.

Thursday's run was also cancelled though I can't think why and replaced with significant eating. Friday was always a rest day and normally a gluttony day too. Saturday was 3 miles with Beth and lots more eating; and Sunday I planned to do 8 but after several days over eating and sleeping badly the previous 2 nights I ended up doing a difficult 5 miles in the humid weather. And then went for a curry!

Ah well, a week off probably does you good. Yesterday I started the week living only on fruit & veg and did 3.75 while Beth was at her club. Running club tonight.

I have less than 4 weeks until we go on holiday and now want to get down to 12st by then. That's a very tough ask as yesterday the scales read 12st 13lb!

We shall see.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Last week has had a similar theme to the week that preceded it - both running and weight wise.

On the running side I did a 3 mile run in the pouring rain last Monday while Bethan was at running club then 6.72 with Abbey Runners the day after. The latter was with a small 'breakaway' group from the usual lot and was run slightly faster with fewer breaks. I rested Wednesday & Friday and between them did 5 miles in sunshine and heat. Saturday brought Beth's first 3 mile run and then yesterday I covered 10 miles in 1:22:56.

I've carried on with the Chi Running principles, or at least some of them. I've been running to the 85 cadence on the metronome (and will up that by one per week for 5 weeks) then after a mile or so have started to think more about relaxing the lower legs and finally practised the lean at different points in the two most recent runs. It now looks to have made me about 40s per mile faster for the same perceived effort.

With weight to lose, Chi Running form to improve, cadence to up further and fitness to come the PB targets I've set for the autumn look very achieveable.

I entered 7 races on Monday:

Birchwood 10k on 23rd August
Great Yorkshire Run on 6th September
Selby Wistow 10 mile on 13th September

Horsforth 10k on 27th September
Harewood 10 mile on 4th October
Lancaster Half on 8th November
Leeds Abbey Dash on 22nd November

The ones in bold are races with genuine PB potential. Add to those the Great Cumbrian Run (half) on the 25th October which I'll enter soon. I'll also fit in a couple of 5ks at the Hyde Park time trials in Leeds at some point.

Weight loss has been a complete mirror of the previous week: Going great guns Monday to Thursday, with weight at lowest by Wednesday, then blowing it by bingeing Friday to Sunday. Net result of only 0.2lb lost week to week. Not sure what to do about that - obviously weekends are a danger area for me, this week even without a meal out.

Having a cut back week this week, though realistically that just means I'll do 6 miles on Sunday instead of 10/12.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Its been an eventful 10 days or so since the last blog entry.

I ran with Beth Saturday before last and she struggled again, though having a glass of milk just before leaving home probably didn't help her too much! We ran again on the Sunday and whilst she wasn't at her best she was much better, enjoyed seeing a fox, and was chuffed to bits with herself when she chose to add a little 'sprint' onto the end of the run.

Before running with Beth I'd done 6 miles with Sue. It was meant to be a tempo run for her, a week before she did the Jayne Tomlinson 10k, with the middle 4 miles at 9:15-9:30 pace. After 2 miles of that (9:27 & 9:42) she stopped saying her heart was pounding way too much and she couldn't possibly carry on at that pace. Coach Bob snapped at her and we headed back at a slower pace and in silence!

She did the race today and I feel fully vindicated - her pace for the 6 miles ranged between 8:28 and 9:21! She did really well and really enjoyed it.

On Monday I took Beth to the running club and did 4 miles running round the fields on my own, while I waited, and then on Tuesday did an enjoyable and hilly 5.34 with Abbey Runners. Wednesday was a rest day and Thursday was 5 miles with the middle 3 (tempo) at 8:03 pace. Friday I rested again.

Yesterday I took Beth for her run (her second best time) then went to a Chi Running course by . It was quite enlightening in the end. I found the postural exercises relatively straightforward and the running element more difficult, largely because it required a degree of multi tasking & coordination - not my strong suits. No surprises there.

The instructors had said early on that my weakness was my very slow leg turnover (or cadence) but when I saw a video of my running taken at the start of the day I was shocked at what I saw.

I'd always assumed I looked relatively 'normal' as I ran and that my foot hit the ground somewhere between a mid foot and heel strike. Two things stood out as I watched it: firstly, there was the slow bounding gait (I honestly thought it was being played in slow motion at first) and secondly there was the most pronounced dorsiflexing of my foot and subsequent heel strike. Each stride was like a leap, with energy wasted bouncing me upwards as well as forwards and my leading leg stretched straight out as far as possible in front of me leading to the inevitable heel strike. Its no wonder I've had lower leg pain and now I also know what causes the tenderness I feel after runs at the back/base/'corner' of each heel - my entire body weight (several times over) bouncing repeatedly onto that small area!

Afterwards, I felt a mixture of relief (that I'd identified a big problem area) and despair (that I looked so far removed from what I thought I needed to look like that it might prove impossible to get there).

When we got back from the JT run today I headed out to do the planned 10 miles along the canal, but this time I took a bleeping clip on metronome with me, set to 85 per minute (the instructors had suggested 85-90 for me).

It was very strange. First up it was slightly embarrassing with the bleeping causing panic, confusion and amusement to the various other runners and walkers. Only one guessed at what it was and asked what it was for. Then there was the running itself. My feet felt like they were blurring beneath me in a fast shuffling stride but I pretty much kept the rythmn and turnover rate throughout. It would have been interesting to have seen a video of today's run for comparison.

For the first mile and a half I had the unwelcome and uncommon accompaniment of lower shin pain but then made a conscious effort to not only go with the turnover rate but also to 'loosen' my ankles between lifting the foot and putting it back down again. I don't know if that fixed things but the pain dissapeared and didn't return.

After 3 miles I stopped to get a fly from my eye - a standard problem from summer time running by a canal - and decided to head back rather than complete the 10 miles. This was purely down to my realising the left side of my vest had a large bloody circle on it from the nipple chaffing as I'd forgotten to apply plasters.

The run back was as before: pain free with the leg turnover on target, though I also added in occassional bursts with the Chi Running 'lean' which not only speeded me up a little without changing cadence but also helped promote a mid foot strike (I think).

I stopped the watch after 6 miles, feeling very comfortable, no breathlessness. Normally a warm sunny day would make me struggle if I pushed it at all, especially as I didn't feel I'd hydrated well and hadn't felt especially 'up' for running.

I looked at the watch readings for the first time and was shocked. 51:28 for 6.01 miles - an average of 8:33. In itself that wasn't astounding as I run tempo sections comfortably faster but this was for the whole 6 miles, without looking at the watch once, without trying to run fast, without heavy breathing, without trying to do anything really apart from keep the leg turnover high, and with my feeling relatively fresh at the end.

I feel pretty enthused now. I suspect the high turnover automatically shortens the stride in front of me and reduces heel strike - especially with the lean and relaxed ankles - and that the high turnover also forces the feet to stay closer to the ground reducing bounce. Net result a more efficient run - going faster but with less perceived effort. I'll look into the Chi running all the more!

Until yesterday the dieting was going well - not too far from Paris weight now and I still have a chance for 11st 7lb by the end of July. Yesterday was a mini binge but I can live with that. Its a curry tonight then back to the diet tomorrow.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A family affair

Generally speaking I think the mojo has definitely been rediscovered. Running wise at least...

Ran with Beth on Staurday and she did her fastest 2 mile time to date. She's trying to eat more sensibly and its paying off in how she looks and fitness I guess. She got some new trail shoes by way of a reward/encouragement on Sunday. She'll do her first solo race in July.

On Sunday morning it was Sue's turn to conquer new territory when we did 10 miles along the canal. She did it in under 10 minute miles despite tiring in the last 2 miles on a fairly warm day, which was excellent.

Tuesday was back to running with Abbey, where we did about 7 miles of part road part trail and an average pace of 8.36. Pleased with that - partly because it was the fastest pace I've done a club run at, partly because the weight is still high-ish, partly because it was hilly, and partly because the first 3 miles were accompanied by fatigue and pain in my tibialis anterior muscles. I'm sure the latter was because I hadn't stretched much for a number of days - including after Sunday's run.

Legs felt a wee bit stiff on Wednesday but did another short run with Beth and hen did a 5 mile tempo run yesterday. The tempo run felt harder (and slower) than last week's equivalent, but it was warmer, sunnier, I swallowed more flies, my legs were still slightly stiff and I probably hadn't drunk enough either. Still pleased with it though.

Weight loss hasn't been so good. The in laws came to stay at the weekend which meant a big meal Saturday evening and then Sunday dinner out the next day. The latter's self service buffet proved too tempting and even the 3 puddings I had there didn't prevent my having 8 slices of toast in the evening! Monday was even worse - away with work I binged: 6 chocolate bars, chips & peas, a curry, peanuts, milk. I felt really sick after. When things like that happen it worries me but I've been back on track since and overall I don't think its had a huge impact. Still looking for 11 and 1/2 stone by the end of July.

Happily no aches or leg stiffness to report today, ahead of the weekend's running.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Just reading through the last entry and these words caught my eye:

"...if I withdraw my diet and fitness could go to pot."

Well, I got that right!

The leg was sore for several days and it seemed daft to do Edinburgh so I rested some more and started again. For the next few weeks though my tibialis anterior muscles felt really worn out whenever I tried to run leaving my lower legs feeling dead almost from the off. I'd do 20 miles one week then cut back to 10 the next.

At the same time my weight steadilly crept up, peaking at 13st 4.6lb - comfortably heavier than Paris by more than a stone.

This last week I've got the mojo back a bit. For the last 9 days I've dieted well barring a mini binge today and one last Sunday and have lost 8.8lb. This week I've done two runs - 6.80 miles with Abbey on Tuesday then a 5 mile tempo run yesterday and for each I felt good before, during and after. I'll do a couple of miles with Bethan tomorrow and then 9.5 wih Sue on Sunday.

Monday, 20 April 2009

What next?

That's a tricky question.

While training for Paris I'd decided to avoid an autumn marathon, having done Paris & Edinburgh, and concentrate on a series of shorter races - 5k to half marathon - before training for a spring marathon next year.

A few days ago that was very much still the plan. I felt enthused at the prospect of Edinburgh, had begun to lose weight again after 10 days of post-Paris excess, felt good fitness wise and had looked up a series of races I could do.

The weekend has raised some big doubts though. The pain in my leg suggests that I'll struggle to train for Edinburgh and will greatly risk injury if I do - so do I pull out? If I do, does that leave the option of an autumn marathon?

I don't really want to withdraw from Edinburgh. I've paid my entry, planned a new target time for a PB, am 2 weeks into an 8 week plan and fear if I withdraw my diet and fitness could go to pot.

On the other hand, if I do withdraw I can let the injury heal properly and still go for the series of summer and autumn races and hope they are enough to keep me on track weight and fitness wise. I'd also save about £200 - not including £90 I can put by for a chi running course I'm signing up for in June.

Sue's advise is to withdraw and, in writing this entry it seems the sensible option. If it was the only planned marathon for the year I'd refuse to contemplate that but having done Paris recently its easier to think that way.

I don't know. I'll take it easy for a week or so and then make a decision. I think...


The initial post race euphoria soon wore off as my legs started to stiffen up after sitting on a kerbside in the bag reclaim area. While there i switched on the mobile and got a message from Sue to say they were somewhere at the finish.

That was great though finding each other was taxing. It shouldn't have been as all we had to do was to say meet at a clear meeting point but Sue isn't great with directions and it took several calls and about 20 painful minutes hobbling/standing before we met up.

Getting a Metro wasn't easy either. The queues at Charles de Gaulle Etoile were enormous - literally four abreast and 100s of metres long - so we made our way through and out again with Charlotte bravely leading me, and then down the now bustling Champs Elysses for half a painful hour before getting a train from a quieter station further along.

When I got back Bethan was still feeling poorly so that evening I stayed in with her while Sue, Charlotte, Eleanor, Olivier and the boys went to a local restaurant. By 9pm I was completely shattered anyway and went to sleep.

The next couple of days were painful. We did the whole tourist thing on the Monday - Notre Dame, bateaux mouche, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysses, Place de la Concorde, Tuilleries Gardens - and that involved a reasonable amount of walking and an overdose of ibuprofen. While ever I had 800mg of ibuprofen in me and my legs were warmed up I wasn't too bad - slow, but ok - but if the dose fell or I sat for a while my legs were painful. I couldn't walk quickly and my leg muscles were prone to occasional spasms that had me freezing or jerking like the late Jack Douglas in a Carry On film.

The next day Sue was unwell with the gastric bug so I took Bethan out. We'd aimed to get to the Musee d'Orsay by 9am but problems getting a taxi meant we ended up walking there, arriving about 10.30 by which time the queues were absolutely enormous. Generally my legs felt easier but the pain in my front lower legs was very strong whenever the pain killers were wearing off. We went back in time to take Charlotte out to a quirky little Bengali café then in the afternoon Sue was well enough to go out so we made the simple Metro journey to Parc de la Villette, which was pleasant enough even though virtually all the children's attractions were still closed. In the evening I took the 2 girls to a local restaurant.

By the following Saturday my legs felt pretty much fine and I took Bethan out for a 2 mile jog/walk with no ill effects, but the following day my planned 4 miles gave me pain from the off and I had to abort it after 2.5 miles. Two days later I did manage 4 miles - starting very slow but getting progressively faster - and a further 2 days on I did another 4 pain free, this time far faster. It was the quickest run I'd done this year. Great to be able to do that 11 days after a marathon but maybe not the wisest move.

This last weekend I did 2 miles jogging with Beth on Saturday and planned to do a slow eight miles on Sunday. In the end the 8 miles turned into 10 and I ran it faster than I've ran a 10 mile race (though I've only done 3 ten milers and they were all hilly). I had some lower leg pain on the right side after 3 miles but as it didn't get any worse I ignored it. The way it feels today makes me wonder if the right course of action would have been if it doesn't get any better, stop running, or at the very least slow down to the pace you intended to run at and not the minute and a half per mile faster that you've inadvertantly ended up at.

I'm my own worst enemy. On Runner's World I advised caution - that you'll feel really good but don't be tricked into running too fast or too hard too soon - and that I had experience of that before. I've then gone out and done the exact opposite myself. I think its rest time for a few days at least.