Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

“You cannot be serious!”

… this is an accusation levelled at me often…

– sometimes by my son, who is doing his impression of John McEnroe.

– sometimes by my wife who just wants to have a sensible conversation about something.

…and now also by myself, as you may remember a while back I stated I would like to target a sub 04:30:00 time at the Nottingham Marathon in September 2015 (but I would not even enter it unless I lost some serious weight – 10kg was what I quoted, I think).

I’m beginning to think that I’m not really serious about it and I don’t really want to do it after all.

Well I like to think that I do.

But maybe what I don’t know is that actually really I don’t. I just think that I like to think that I do.

Maybe I’m not really serious about it at all and I just like the idea of it.

What has led me to this conclusion? Well… 

…maybe the fact that I weigh more  now than I did when I promised myself I’d shift 10kg (I’m currently 95kg, 2kg heavier).

…maybe it’s that I couldn’t be bothered to head out the door at 6am on Sunday morning which I knew would be my only opportunity for a long run this past week.

…maybe it’s that I’ve just eaten two choc-ices.

…most likely it’s the interrelation of all of the above.

I didn’t run yesterday.

Hard-working wife continues to work hard and so I took the kids to the swimming pool in the afternoon to give her some space. It wasn’t really hard work. I feel a cheat counting it as exercise. But I’m going to anyway.


Well, here we go again… an attempt to write a race review.  I always struggle to write reviews because everything is a blur.

On this occasion however, nothing is a blur. I wasn’t moving fast enough for anything to blur.
When people have asked me how I got on, I have told them my time and then felt compelled to inform them just how hilly it was. It was really very hilly!

It was my slowest ever marathon at 05:35:58

I know. But it was really very hilly.

   When I ran a similar time at London in 2005 I was very disappointed. I think if this had been a flat marathon, I would have also been disappointed and would be considering hanging up my marathon shoes.

But it wasn’t a flat marathon. It was really very hilly. This wasn’t a surprise – I wanted to do a tough marathon and I got that. I paced myself well over the first half (I thought) keeping things very steady and hitting the half-marathon distance at 02:15:00. At the recent Ashby 20 road race, I covered the 20 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes, passing the half marathon mark at 01:52:38

So slowing this up by over 20 minutes was a good thing, I thought. But those hills took more out of me than I knew. Not just the ups… but the downs too. They were too steep to run down. Every step was braking, (maybe breaking) and pounding the joints, and over-working my poor quadriceps.

   (The photos never convey steepness, do they? I’m taking a spirit level next time*) 

*as if there would be a ‘next time’!

Having done these hills once already, I had resigned myself to not actually ‘running’ at times and it was nice to have that ‘do I?/don’t I? run’ question completely removed from my psychology. There was no choice. At least the views were good…

  (That was actually taken at mile 14 of the two-lap course)
I passed mile 19 (and a nicely decked out ‘nutrition’ station) at approximately 3:45 and a sub-five hour marathon seemed likely…  


…but MAJOR cramps kicked in at mile 23 and I literally could not move for over 5 minutes each time it happened (as well as being in serious pain).  Things didn’t look so pretty now…

The clock kept ticking. I was walking now and every occasional attempt to resume running ultimately stopped me in my tracks as the cramping hit once more. I had experienced this during a Nottingham marathon that I hadn’t really trained for, and it is not fun. I had said after that one that I never wanted to run for over five hours again. I stand by that. I don’t.

On my first lap there had been a chap pressure washing the war memorial as we passed mile 12ish… I enjoyed a little refreshing shower at the time and took this photo looking back on it… 


The workman was no longer there by the second lap (unsurprisingly).  It would have felt even better at that point BUT was probably for the best as I was later informed it would have been a water/bleach mix anyway!

So… Yeah, a particularly slow final few miles but despite the slow time, I was pleased to complete it. 

  (Final straight)
And in terms of ‘placing’ this is likely to be my best marathon ever… 44th!

Ok… Only 86 had entered, and they didn’t all complete it…but still. Top 50 finisher 😊 !

  (Post-marathon nutrition)

This wasn’t a big marathon in terms of numbers and it very much had the feel of a local club-run event. 

Signage could have been a little better in places (mile 10 / mile 23 for example) where my lovely wife ran after a runner or two to redirect those who had missed a turning…. They don’t know how priviliged they are – my wife very rarely runs (though she did join me for the odd minute or two for support along the way – I am also very honoured).

Water stations only had bins right next to them, so if you wanted to appropriately dispose of your cup you couldn’t run and drink.

There was no goody bag to speak of at the end, but there was a technical T- shirt, and unfortunately my medal said ‘HALF marathon finisher’ on the ribbon (look carefully at the beer photo again). They did apologise for that – I don’t do it for the bling anyway.

I did do the full. I promise. I have a million strava segment PRs to prove it (and an equal number of ‘second best’ times for the repeat lap!).

It was very good value for money though. And very friendly.

Of course the people were great  – runners, marshals, supporters (particularly my my own personal support – the actual present one and my virtual ones – thank you), and in all it was a good day. I can say I enjoyed it. A few quid was also raised for my local charity.

So… Did I achieve my goals?  
Well…  three out of four ain’t bad!
Good luck to you if you are marathoning soon!  I might be back.

Sounds like a great band name, right?
Maybe not.

Firstly some grammar…

I chafe. I am chafing. I chafed.
You chafe. You are chafing. You chafed.
We chafe. We are chafing. We chafed.
They chafe. They are chafing. They chafed.
He chafes. He is chafing. He chafed.
She chafes. She is chafing. She chafed.
It chafes. It is chafing. It chafed.

This, on the other hand, is a chiffchaff…


It has nothing to do with chafing.

It does ‘chaff‘ however… and indeed ‘chiff‘s (though not necessarily in that order). It is a bird so named due to its call, that sounds a bit like ‘chiffchaff‘.

This post is just about chafing.
It has nothing to do with ‘chaffing’ at all. In fact, I’m not even sure ‘chaffing’ is a word other than my rather contrived use of it, above.
STOP PRESS – quick Google search…

So. It is a word…BUT has nothing to do with chafing.
I am fed up with chuffing people referring to chafing as chuffing chaffing! Ok?
Shall we move on?

I run. I am a runner (It’s ok – I’m not doing the whole grammar thing again!).
And as a runner I have experienced some pretty nasty chafing in my time. It happens. It has happened sometimes when not even running.

Now, I’m not a huge size. That’s all relative, I know. So, yes, probably (definitely) I am officially overweight, and with a BMI of 32, I could do with losing a few pounds, but I genuinely don’t consider myself to be large.
I do admit however, that I have a rugby player’s thighs rather than svelte runner’s legs. You can barely pinch any fat on them (probably the training they get from carting the rest of me around), but they are big and solid. And they rub. Especially on a run. They rub. Especially on a long, sweaty, hot run. They rub.
If I was a caveman, I’d have been famous as the one who discovered fire by rubbing his upper thighs together.

I have experimented in the past with different types of running underwear… cotton / polycotton / Polyamide 82% Elastane 18% /tight / loose / existent / non-existent (sorry…yes), and up until last week I’d have advocated the tight, low-friction option. And there would be plenty of Vaseline.
Let’s face it though, nobody really likes using liberal amounts of Vaseline down there on a cold winter’s morning….well…they might…but I don’t.

Sweating and Chafing Reducing Underwear

I was sent some underwear by the above company and was politely informed that I was not required to actually model them myself on here (although if I did then the SUSTYM would have come in very handy).
After I recovered from my exhibitionist disappointment, I agreed simply to write a review instead. So here goes…

They work.

I have now run some long runs of 15 miles plus wearing the men’s boxers…obviously… I had not been sent by any of the women’s knickerboxers or briefs so I couldn’t wear them to test…and I probably wouldn’t have worn them, even if they had been sent, but my guess is that they would work too.

Here’s the long version of the benefits:

-Seamless & Stretchy
-Lightweight, quick drying and machine washable
-Keeps skin cool, dry and comfortable through high performance wicking fabric COOLMAX®
-Latex Free
-Anti Bacterial properties
-Gives relief from sweating and chafing
-Double stitching to strengthen seams
-No irritating labels
-Soft flexible fabric with a second skin feel for minimal movement.
-Sizes Small-3XL
-Short (5″) and Long Leg (7″) Lengths
-Available in 1 (individual) 3 or 5 pack

And here’s the short version:

They were supportive, cool, really comfortable, and prevented thigh fires.

Ha! That will have to be what they use on their ‘customer reviews’ section now.

Now, I don’t want to be all positive and not present a balanced review here, so here’s a couple of negatives:

1) How can a product have ‘double stitching to strengthen seams‘ AND be ‘seamless‘? Ok I’m being pedantic (very unlike me, I know). And to be fair, I know the point is that they certainly feel seamless. Flat. No harsh lines.

2) The company is called ‘Chaffree’ – not ‘Chafefree’.
After everything I said at the beginning, too. I guess I’ll just have to let that one go.

But ultimately, the point is that they work.
It’s true.
What more do you want?
They do the job… and they do it really well. They don’t roll over on the waist band. They keep their shape and they keep me running pain free…well at least pain free from chafing.

They aren’t cheap, at £17 for a single pair (although increased purchases result in decreased unit costs), but you pay for quality and I can honestly say that I will make sure that I have some of these boxers ready for any future long run, including my upcoming marathon.
They are definitely a part of my stock running kit now and I will not be going on another long run unless I’m wearing a pair of these beauties.

Disclaimer thingamy bit: I was sent three pairs of Chaffree boxer shorts free of charge in return for writing a review here, but was under no obligation to be nice about them. This post contains affiliate links.

Every cloud

Posted: January 28, 2015 in Janathon, Jantastic, Marathon, running
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, I worked out…

Stop! Hang on…


No I didn’t. That is the problem.
I shall rephrase…

I calculated that if I ran 5 miles a day for the rest of January, I could still make it into the Janathon 100 club, even if my blogging has been a little erratic over this final week.

Unfortunately, shortly after calculating the ‘5 miles a day’ thing, it didn’t take a huge intellectual leap from a mathematical genius such as myself to work out conclude that I could just go to bed and do 10 miles the next day. So that’s what I did…

…well…    …a bit…

The going to bed bit.

Because the next day (today – Wednesday) I had agreed to meet a tennis club member for a set or two at the club after today’s school run.
We warmed up and got two games in before we got massively hailed on…
(…and cue the obligatory photo that never fully conveys how hard and wet and cold it actually was…)


The weather looked set in, so we called it a day there, postponed it to tomorrow (when it’ll probably be under a few inches of snow) and I went for that (somewhat wetter than anticipated) run after all. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

Not quite enough time for the 10-miler, but I got 9 in at least before nursery pick-up time.

I didn’t enjoy it.

I was tired, I was aching, I wanted to be playing tennis really.

I wondered why I had bothered entering another stupid marathon if I didn’t enjoy running anyway.

And then I thought…”Brilliant! This is close to how I feel towards the end of a really long run, but without the hassle, the pain, the time issues of having actually just run 18 miles or so”. So I convinced myself it was mental training. I needed to keep going, even though I didn’t feel like it, because that’s exactly what I’ll have to do in a few months time, anyway.

Every cloud and all that.

It certainly felt like every cloud that could have passed overhead today, did.


Posted: December 10, 2014 in Marathon, running
Tags: , , , ,

It’s 4am, I have been awoken by my eldest child and returning to sleep is not something I do well.

Blogging regularly is something else I do not do well.

In fact, here are ten more things I don’t do well:

1… Head out for a run less than 40 minutes after I’ve decided I shall head out for a run.

2… Stick to a training plan.

3… Not eat all the biscuits.

4… Dance.

6… Count.

7… Wrestle crocodiles*.

8… Run up hills.

9… Motivate myself.

10… Ignore grammatical errors and just get on with my life.

*It is, admittedly, quite possible I am brilliant at crocodile wrestling – I just haven’t tried.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. There are many, many things, but it would be rather depressing to go through them all right now.

Some things I am aiming to improve on, however.
Namely – points 2,3,5,6 and 8.

The running mojo has been somewhat lacking recently. As has the general, getting-on-with-life mojo.
So I did what many of us folk who pretend to be runners sometimes do… I entered a race.

A local 10k track and trail type race, with, I might add, a Christmas pudding at the end for all finishers.
About 3 years ago I really pushed myself to run a 10k in under 50 minutes, so with that in mind I…(blah,blah,blah…might edit this later to give a bit of a race report….but let’s face it, I probably won’t…) managed to cross the line in 50:18.

Not too shabby, I thought (but sub-50 would have felt better) and I then immediately blamed the unhelpful habit I have of cycling to races. That would surely have been worth twenty seconds off the final time.

It’s funny,though. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the goal. I even, sort of, enjoyed the thrill of being so close but not achieving it. That means it was a good goal to have set. It’s no fun if you know you will attain it.

So with that in mind, I went and entered a marathon again.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I haven’t actually entered, but I’ve thought super-seriously about it, planned transport, written the date in my diary, and told my wife…which is as good as entering.

The thing is, I promised myself I’d not run another marathon unless I felt prepared and ready. I have nothing to gain anymore from ‘just getting around’. I’ve done five marathons now, I know I can ‘get around’ the course. But I also know it is not much fun if I’m not fully prepared and fully trained. I have told myself that even if I have paid to enter a marathon, I will not run it if I don’t feel prepared. Oh, and I definitely won’t cycle there.

So I have restarted writing here to record what I’ve been doing to prepare. To be (a little bit, at least) accountable. I will try to be a little bit more regular over the next four months (I hear prunes help) about recording my training here (oh…I see). I need to see progress, or I won’t actually run it.

I have four months. The marathon is mid-April. The day after my birthday. Huddersfield. It’s hilly. I need to run hills.

So I’ve entered a hilly race in March ’15.

That one is a twenty-miler. It should be the perfect prep run. And tough enough to make me take it seriously enough in its own right. Hopefully stop Mr from saying to myself, “ahh…It’s ok..That marathon is still a long way off…you can still get loads of training in before then…go on…eat that entire packet of biscuits….they’re nice!“.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been getting out a bit more regularly, visiting my local hill (a now abandoned ex dry ski slope) and doing increasing numbers of reps there.

I also have been trying to lose some weight and although I don’t want to turn this into a weight-loss blog, it is a part of this, because it stands to reason that dragging my current, 92kg frame around 26.2 miles of Yorkshire hills is going to be a lot harder than dragging say, 80kg around the same distance.
I’m not a sports scientist, but I’d say that sounds pretty good as a hypothesis to me.

I’ve been parkrunning a little more regularly again recently, managing an equal-to-the second-why-didn’t-I-just-push-a-little-harder-? PB on a local (Forest Rec) slightly hilly (but nothing like as hilly as Parke) parkrun. I get overtaken on hills – a lot. I catch up on the flat, then lose folks on the hills again. I need to run hills.

Oh and the other, maybe slightly less than perfect (8 days before the planned marathon) prep run could be that a few days ago my brother, who has his 40th birthday a week before my (not 40th) birthday, has asked me to celebrate with him by joining him on a ‘wolf run‘. One of these run-through-mud and climb-over-big-walls sort of events.

Ankle-twisting-tastic mate!

This could be dangerous… I’m sitting with a full bottle of wine in front of me, determined to move on from my last post ’10 things I like about marathons’ (which was only partly tongue-in-cheek) and work out where I’m going.

I might even neglect to check it for spelling and grammar. Yeah… I’m living life on the edge!

I’m not an elite athlete.
I wouldn’t describe myself as an ‘athlete’ at all.

That may not come as a shock to you but I state it clearly because it’s relevant to the next bit.

I’m not even sure I would describe myself as a runner.
But I run. I have enjoyed running (and sometimes hated it).
I play tennis.
I ride a bike.
I swim.
I like a physical challenge.

I don’t do these things because I’m brilliant at them. I do them because I enjoy it. Sometimes, there and then at the time – THE PROCESS… and sometimes because of the results, accomplishing something that was tough, feeling fitter, feeling stronger, feeling healthier – THE PRODUCT.

I remember entering my first marathon, which happened to be London in 2000 and thinking it was well out of my scope of possibility but with regular training, being unable to afford food, and a large helping of blissful ignorance, I made it over the line in what has since remained my PB. This marathon, I enjoyed. I would have been happy to just ‘get round’ but I felt like I’d really done myself justice. I finished in 4:15:something.

5 years later – another marathon. It was a 5:32:something misery.
5 years after that, a respectable marathon time of 4:32:53 followed by a 4:38:something a few months later.

Now, I’m not an elite athlete. I think I’ve made that very clear, and this isn’t about the times, but it is about feeling fit and feeling strong….. Or not.

The Nottingham Robin Hood Marathon was completed by me a couple of weeks ago in 5:17:something – I could go and look up the ‘something’ but there isn’t really much point because it’s not about the time.
I didn’t feel strong.
I knew the build up was not good.
A little nodule, which has since been diagnosed as plantar fasciitis was niggling a little, then a tendon injury 5/6 weeks out meaning my longest training run was 16 miles at just the point when I was building up nicely with speed work, hills, tempo runs, you know… all the ‘proper’ running stuff!
(Around about this time, I also fell on my shoulder during a game of football, but my foot/ankle was so painful, I ignored this)

I’d like to give a full-on race report but I’ve never been good at that. If I did, it would go something like this:

Arrived in good time.
Hung around a bit.
Used loo numerous times.
Hung around a bit.
Chatted to some people at the start line who thought I was weird for chatting to them.
Walked a bit.
(Repeat x lots – it was a walk/run strategy I’ll have know, to prevent tendinitis flare up and all that)
Got cramp.
Saw family.
Got cramp.
Hid in toilet.
Had a little cry and slapped myself in the face.
Got stone in shoe.
Bent down to remove shoe,
Breathe… Breathe… Breathe… Thank goodness it wasn’t in both legs at the same time!…
Talked to self lots.
“Just get round now and hope there’s a Mars Bar at the end”.
Eat mars bar.

Or something like that, anyway..well… I’m now half-way through the wine and I’m not too worried about checking for correct chronology (that’s easier to type than say, right now).

There is an element that I’m happy to have made it round. And the fact my tendonitis did not return is good. Even the plantar fasciitis (which was never bad enough to stop me running) did not, and has not since, worsened.
But if I’m honest, I didn’t want to just ‘make it round’.
I’ve ‘made it round’ before. And I’ve been happy with that before.
Despite everything in the build-up, I think I was hoping to prove to myself that I wasn’t actually getting older and unfitter.

At least at the moment, it feels like I have proved the opposite and I’m finding that a little hard to deal with.
Especially as I have recently dragged myself to the docs with this:

…which in recent weeks has been really frustrating me as I can’t play tennis pain-free, swim pain-free, or ride a bike pain-free. I used to do push-ups or pull-ups periodically for strength training but find that too painful now as well.

I’m booked in for an x-ray next week.

To make myself feel better I paid for a proper hair-cut yesterday (I normally just grab my trimmers and shave it all off for a few months), and when he’d done, the barber offered to trim my eyebrows too!

I punched him*

*in my imagination only (in reality, I accepted the offer).

1. Finishing










I have not given up… I’m using a run/walk strategy.

I have not given up… I’m using a run/walk strategy.

I have not given up… I’m using a run/walk strategy.

This could perhaps be my motto for life in general, but that’s another story for a different time and place.
It shall certainly however, be my mantra next week at the Nottingham Ikano Robin Hood Marathon on 29th September.

‘Mantra’ may be the wrong word. Explanation/excuse/reason/apology may be more appropriate. In fact, I may put it on the back of my shirt so I don’t feel the need to explain it to everyone who overtakes me.


I’m paranoid that people will ‘tut’ and shake their heads at me when I walk after only a mile. But this is exactly what I plan to do.

Today (Sunday 22nd) I ‘ran’ for 10.5 miles using a run/walk strategy of walking for a minute after completing each mile.
It seemed to work for me.
No aggravation of recent injuries.
All parts of my body appear to remain in their given locations.
I can still walk.
…and my overall pace worked out at only a little over 10 minute miles.
These things are all good, especially considering I felt I would have to withdraw just a little over a week ago!

If you are a regular running reader of this blog then ignore the next bit as you know doubt have your own charities you run for, or perhaps you don’t agree with sponsorship for stuff you do for ‘fun’ anyway (a position I quite genuinely understand). It is purely for the benefit of those I may have directed here personally.

I am doing this marathon anyway. I am doing it because I want to. I paid the entry fee myself, etc. But I was asked if there was a chance I might also raise a few pounds for a brilliant Nottingham charity that I supported last year doing the JOG/LE bike ride – the wonderful Rutland House School for Parents . I agreed, figuring if they can get a little something out of this venture too then all well and good, and there is nothing lost, if not.
So if you feel so inclined then here is the link…
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
Or you can text ‘PINT55 £3’ to 70070 to buy me a virtual pint at the finish line, except with the money going to the charity. But I will have a real, actual pint and think of you as I drink it 🙂

In other news… Here is another one of those ‘guess the running injury’ pictures. This one is quite hard. It’s almost better to think of the running injury and see if you can fit it to my picture. Good Luck!


So there we have it. Not 100% fit but… I think… fit enough.
We’ll see.
I said I’d never do another marathon unless I weighed less than 13 stone.


I saw this quote the other day…

I added the picture of the knife, by the way. I don’t know how sharp it is, but it looks pretty sharp.

To follow that up, as I’m playing around with adding text to pictures in an ‘inspirational quote with an inspirational background picture’ kind of way, I give you…


There is now a little over two weeks until the Ikano Robin Hood Marathon (Nottingham Marathon) and due to my inability to correctly ‘sharpen the knife’ my training diary looks like this…

My longest training run has been 16 miles, performed very slowly and with a recovery time of… Oooooo… Only three weeks… so far.
I eventually got a physio friend to look at my left foot/ankle and received confirmation that in addition to the anterior tibialis tenosynovitis, I do indeed also have mild plantar fasciitis.
Yes folks, that was the answer to this from last week…

20130911-223815.jpg(planter fascist eye-test)

So…To cut a long story short….I’m getting old and I’m falling apart.
I have been doing right by resting it up to now, but I have a few exercises and have been advised to try some orthotics to help further.
There is still a chance I’ll be able to take some sort of part in the marathon on the 29th Sept but to what extent is still very much in the balance. A run/walk strategy is the best I can hope for.

A taper is usually entered into approximately two weeks from a big race/run to allow full rest/recovery after having steadily built up the miles and time spent running over the preceding months.

It is not usually entered into a full five weeks out from the big run, when miles should still be being steadily increased.


NOT to be confused with an extreme tapir (cue more playing about with photos), because that would look like this…


Or this…


Or this…


Or (…and this is my personal favourite…) this…


Blog posts between now and marathon day can only go downhill now.

I went on holiday last week. One of those ones where there’s lots of trees and countryside and sunshine and activities for the kids.
I had spent day one having a great game of tennis with NotMuchOfaSitStiller and getting lost on our bikes. I particularly enjoyed seeing his growing confidence on a bike that is actually the right size for him.
We even entered a family quiz in the evening and won £40!

Everything was going swimmingly.

Deciding to make the most of the lovely weather, I set my alarm for 6am with the intention of heading out on a long run first thing in the morning of day two… especially as that annoying left foot niggle I don’t mention was practically non-existant.

I ran.

For three hours.

Over sixteen miles, with a little break at a fresh fruit and veg shop in Edwinstowe for an apple and nectarine. Lovely.

I walked/ran the last couple of miles as I was slow anyway and my shin was feeling the effects of my non-runner’s frame.
I got back home. Tired but happy. Proud of myself for being bang on track for the Nottingham Robin Hood Marathon in 4 weeks…

…except….over the course of that day, my shin pain worsened, my ankle swelled and I could barely walk.

Initially it felt like my lower shin, but later, a sickening ‘crunching’ sensation was to be felt just above my ankle and I was not able to flex or extend my foot without major pain.

Ibuprofen is being taken for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I am snacking on paracetamol.

Google + self-diagnosis indicates ‘anterior tibialis tenosynovitis’ and a 4-6 week recovery period.

I’m not a happy chappy. I was so looking forward to using this holiday to be really active, to attempt a parkrun PB, and sleep well – none of which have happened.

Soooooo… I’m petty much tapering now and my next few updates before the marathon, if I do it, will be even more boring than this one.