Blisters and big hills

•February 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In the end I decided not to go the full 16 miles on Sunday – and the fact I can still walk today makes me glad I did. This section of the schedule is a slightly strange one; we’re teetering on the verge of Monster Month (of which more in a second) and how you feel about the whole running-a-marathon thing can change several times per run, let alone per week.

The downsides: I feel slow (of which also more later). I’ve got a blister the size of small country on my right foot. There’s NOWHERE flat near my house to run, which means I’m sick of the sight of hills, no matter how good for me they are. The prospect of going from this weekend’s 13.5 mile long run to 18 and 20 milers in five weeks time looms like an unassailable cliff face…

The upsides: I sleep like a log. I’m thinner. I’m eating like a horse (and god, I love eating). Spring is springing, so running through the forest is an extraordinarily uplifting experience. There’s nowhere flat to run, so if Runner’s World are right about the hill training thing, my speed on the flat should be super human by the time April 26 comes round. And in five weeks time, if all goes well, I’ll have a (hilly) 20-miler under my belt and be lacing up my shoes to see how fast I can peg it round the Bournemouth Bay half.

These mixed emotions basically come down to one thing. I love running. I love the feeling of being the only person running up Clay Hill in Sunday sunshine. I love running down hill and suddenly feeling full of energy again. I love the sense of achievement and the fact my legs are killing me

Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Either way, monster month fills me with excitement and trepidation.

It’s called Monster Month because it’s the heaviest training load. The long runs get longer, the weekday runs get tougher. It’ll be the first time in four years that I’ve run more than a half-marathon – and not just a little bit more, but another half again.

So this week, to give my legs a bit of a rest from the hills that all my long runs will have to be run over, I’m going to concentrate on speed.

I’ve not really had the watch out yet, but in order to achieve my marathon goal, I need to run a 9ish minute mile. That means around an 8min/mile half marathon pace. I have no idea if I’m close to that, so this week will be a couple of faster runs to see how I’m doing. According to my schedule, we’re recommended to race this weekend – anyone know of any decent events it’s not too late to sign up for?


Ale and hearty: why running and beer don’t mix

•February 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

My Runner’s World Marathon training newsletter landed in my inbox today with the schedule for the week.

Now while I’m on track for the weekly runs – I’m already hill training and speed training and my running from home involves undulating and soft-underfoot tracks through the forest – all those long run numbers make me nervous.


I’m aiming for a sub 3.45 (actually a sub 3.56…) but as I’ve mentioned, illness and snow mean I’m a bit behind on the long runs: so do I build up gradually or take a bit of a mileage leap and do it?

I had hoped that this weekend’s long run would make me feel better about the whole thing. (mile total for last week: 23)

However, a night of darts (no really) and a couple of pints of Ringwood Best meant I found it tougher than I’d hoped for (which just goes to show that I’m too old now for drinking and training – what I could have coped with before knocks me out these days.)

So what would you do? Do I carry on adding a couple of miles a week? Or do I add five in one go and hope my legs can take it?

Short on motivation? Run in a rainstorm

•February 10, 2009 • 1 Comment

So it turns out my mojo was hiding in a rainstorm.  There’s something funny about me… I’ve always preferred running in appalling weather to running in good weather.

It was so wet yesterday that my weatherproof jacket was soaked before I’d got from the office to the car. But almost instantly I felt better. Excited. The seafront was deserted, waves crashing, rain driving, blah blah blah.  I LOVE weather like that, when you’re the only person on the streets.  It’s not about speed, it’s not about distance, it’s you versus nature, and nothing can stop you. I’ve got a little routine that it inspires. (I never do this in good weather. Maybe I should…)

First, check posture. Head up, chest expanded, elbows dropped to release the tension in my arms, running through the knees, as a wise old man once taught me (not in a martial arts, top of a mountain kind of way, just a guy at my running club in Cheltenham).

Second, repeat motivational mantra. I picked this technique up from a brilliant book called the Non Marathon Runners Handb0ok. When you’re tired, or can’t be bothered, talk yourself out of it.

My mantra goes like this: I am a marathon runner. I love to run. Every step is making me stronger. Every breath is making me fitter. repeat ad nauseum.  It’s brilliant!.

Admittedly, it started to fail me at about seven miles, when I was wringing water out of my jacket and ran straight into an ankle deep puddle. And it wasn’t a lot of use when I got to Bournemouth Gardens to discover that a drain had burst and the path I needed to take was a shin-high puddle. But I was within sight of the finish by then so it didn’t really matter.

The moral of the story? When in doubt about your commitment, go out and run in the worst weather you can find. It’ll make you feel smug, fit, dedicated and worthy. If a little cold.

Where’s my mojo?

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to a combination of weather and illness I’m not nearly as far ahead with my training as I’d like to be.

I think I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that my last marathon (2005) was so much fun – but I’ve failed to take into account that a) I was much fitter then and b) I was much fitter then.

I’ve also rather rashly boasted that I’ll finish faster than my brother-in-law, who’s running his first marathon. And also faster than my previous marathon time of 3hrs56.

The trouble is that training still feels like a chore. I don’t feel like a runner right now. I’ve lost my flow. The magic date creeps ever closer, and where I am feels further and further away from where I should be.

Any tips?? I need my marathoners mojo back, and fast!