For Fitness

Don’t sponsor me for running the London Marathon

It’s a month now until race day, so I thought it was about time I explain why I’m running for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.


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The 10 bits of tech helping me to the London Marathon finishing line

As my Facebook friends will be sick of hearing about by now, I’m running the London Marathon this year. I’ll be doing it for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity with a lot of personal meaning for me, and one that is addressing a terrible genetic disorder that affects over 10,000 people in the UK (oh and you can sponsor me here!).

I’m not a total running newbie, having completed a couple of half marathons last year. I’m actually running the Bath Half this weekend as a bit of a check in / tune up race ahead of the big day in April. So I’ve been training enough to hone my approach.

And being the tech PR type that I am, that doesn’t just mean I know when to run intervals, eat my porridge or take an ice bath. I’ve got a bunch of tech to help me cross the finish line in the target time I’m hoping for. Continue reading

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What I love most about running, is stopping running

I remember being around 12 years old and contemplating why I put myself forward for cross country running at school.

It wasn’t really a forté of mine. I was a decent sprinter, but not really competitive running over any distance longer than 200 metres. I tended to finish well and place OK in races, mainly through a sort of blind determinedness. I remember a conversation between my dad and my rugby coach about my ‘stamina’, a quality that I was aware even then as being more akin to stubbornness.

It wasn’t physical ability that kept me going so much as shere bloody-mindedness. A refusal to stop until I was meant to stop. Not because I didn’t really, really want to stop, but because stopping was *all* I wanted to do, when I was supposed to. So running faster was my only option to make that happen sooner.

So I asked myself why did I do it? And what I decided was that whilst running long distance was absolutely horrible, crossing the finish line felt amazing. I loved being able to stop running.

But crossing the finish line after a 100 or 200 metre dash just didn’t compare to long distance, even if in those cases I was more likely to be among the first to do so. The amount of pleasure derived from stopping running was in direct correlation with the distance run.

Fast forward 20 years (give or take), and I’m training for my first marathon. And not training to finish, I’m throwing my entire self; body, mind, and all free time my wife would rather I spend with her, at an attempt to run it in under three hours. Which isn’t inconceivable, I’ve managed a 1 hour 26 minute half marathon. With the right training, people on the internet have told me, I should be able to do it. Which sounds to me like a challenge I’m not about to pass up.

And all that training has, admittedly, made running easier. My heart rate’s steadily been decreasing and copes much better than it used to when under pressure.

There is irony in the fact that my running has strengthened my lungs, when I’m running to raise money to battle cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that cripples the lungs of its sufferers. I can run seven minute miles quite comfortably now, without really worrying about my breathing. What a lucky bastard hey?

Running has become slightly more enjoyable. I can stick an audiobook on my phone, focus on the story and do my best to ignore that I’m running. Or sometimes a run will feel good, I’ll find a hypnotic rhythm that doesn’t feel like I’m torturing myself.

But mostly, when you’re training day in, day out, running is still horrible. The early morning slogs when I haven’t had time enough to fuel brilliantly. The 10 or 15 mile ‘tempo runs’ where I’m supposed to be doing half the distance at a pace that’s pushing myself but my legs are still hurting from Sunday’s 20 miles. Just horrible.

There seems to be a myth perpetuating among non-runners that runners enjoy running. Well I can firmly say that in my case, that is absolutely untrue. My wife will often ask me “did you have fun?” when I return home from a run.

“No. It was dreadful. It is almost always dreadful.” This tends to get an understandably confused reaction, why would I do something that’s dreadful? But it’s the truth. Just because I spend hours a day out pounding the pavement, does not mean that I wouldn’t rather be in bed or on the sofa. Of course I would. But being in bed or on the sofa feels a lot better if I’ve been out for a run.

I only run more often, and further, and faster, because the more I run, the more I enjoy stopping running.

I’m running the London Marathon in April to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. You can sponsor me here.

photo credit: Stop

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London Marathon training: week three

This was the first week of the schedule that I felt myself again. Cough is still niggling but I wouldn’t say it’s affecting my running anymore. For most of the week I felt good. I did cut several runs short by a couple of kilometres, but only because I had to get to work. Need to work on my getting up earlier rather than my endurance!

Tuesday was the first speed work I’ve really enjoyed. 12km (was supposed to be 14) with 100 metre strides (this just means speeding up to a sprint over 100 metres). Thought I’d struggle but I found the strides a lot easier than longer but slower intervals. First time I’d used my TomTom Runner GPS watch to program repeats like that too and it worked a treat.
Wednesday I hammered out a half marathon, first time I’ve done that midweek. Did do it in the dark whilst sleeting, which didn’t make it a lot of fun. The kind of run that feels like an achievement in itself! Though again, it was supposed to be 23km.
Thursday I took my new Nike Free 5.0s for a spin on the treadmill for a short 8km after some strength work. Don’t expect to be wearing them much but wanted some semi flats for the Longleat 10k which is coming up soon. They’re comfortable, totally different sensation to my heavily structured and bouncy Brooks Ravenna 5s so will need to take them out a couple more times to get used to that.
Another reasonable distance on Friday, 16km, though dropped 2km from the 18 I was supposed to do. Saturday’s recovery 10km really felt like it helped me recover, had to resist the temptation to run it faster.
Then yesterday I ran the longest I’ve ever run, 30km. Not ludicrously longer than I’ve done before but it’s long enough now that it’s reassured me I can at least finish the marathon comfortably. It wasn’t quick, 4:46 per km pace, but that’s slightly faster than I’ve done my last few medium long runs, which have been shorter. And I felt really comfortable, didn’t push myself.
Only regret is I’ve finished the week having run 97km. If I’d got out the door a bit earlier on a couple of the days I had to cut short I’d have finished my first +100km week! Should see to that next week though.
I’m training for the London Marathon, running for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Sponsor me here.
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London Marathon training: week two

Well, week two of training was a lot better than week one, not that that’s saying much. Still suffering the very tail end of the cold (a cough that will just not sod off) so still not totally optimal, but better.

Tuesday was pretty much my first midweek longish run, I’ve only ever run 14km max on a week day and I did 18km. A morning run too, after a super early morning to get into the office on Monday, but I didn’t feel tired.

Unfortunately, tiredness hit me by Wednesday when I was supposed to notch up a half marathon distance (21km) but only mustered a slow 10km and a bit. If I’m going to manage two hard days in a row like that in future I’ll have to seriously think about nutrition and how I’ll manage to get enough sleep.

Then I missed the recovery run on the Thursday as I went into the office (going into the office is a 6 hour round trip for me; doesn’t leave much time in the day for training!) but was feeling good again for Friday’s workout. I say I was feeling good for Friday’s workout, but the tempo run of 14km with 6km at half marathon pace (should be around 4mins 7secs per kilometre) sleighed me. I managed to go a bit faster for kilometres 8 to 12, but not what I’d call my half marathon pace proper.

Then I did a comfortable recovery run on the treadmill on Saturday, after some strength training in the gym. Which hit me for the medium long run (24km) on Sunday, my legs feeling really rather heavy towards the end, which meant my pace was actually a second slower than the previous Sunday’s 24km when I was still recovering from the cold. I’d also run out of my electrolytey sports drink stuff, which might normally have helped stop my legs from getting stiff.

I’m not too worried about these pace issues at the moment though. Still recovering from illness, and I’m in the ‘aerobic base’ period at the moment anyway, meaning logging the miles is much more important than how fast I’m doing them.

As ever, I’m doing this silliness for the wonderful folk at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, so should the motion take you you may sponsor me here.

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London Marathon training: week one

I’ve decided I’m going to do a weekly blog on each week’s training, to keep track of how each week’s gone. I spent much of New Year’s Eve putting my training schedule into a pretty spreadsheet, and was going to add notes to each week’s column, but then thought why not just post them here?

Anyway, suffice to say the first week of my 16 week training schedule was rubbish. I was ill over the Christmas break, cold which turned into a bit of a chest infection. I managed to get out for short runs a couple of times before the weekend, but it wasn’t until the weekend I felt up to doing anything more. Perhaps because those short runs had prolonged my recovery, to be honest. So I managed 49km of the 86km I’d planned (the schedule, by the way, is a tweaked version of one from Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning)

Yesterday’s long run was the first I’d done with some new gear I got for Christmas though, 24km at 4:48 per km. So not super quick but it felt OK and my new TomTom Runner GPS watch and Brooks Ravenna 5s served me well, the shoes in particular feeling very comfortable over a reasonable distance.

It has occurred to me today though that 4:48 per km, although it feels slow to me, is technically only 10% slower than I need to run in the marathon to break three hours. Which sounds OK doesn’t it? Definitely better than needing to run 32 seconds per km faster, despite meaning the exact same thing.

Also thinking hard about fundraising tactics, and you could help out massively here by sponsoring me! I’m running for the very worth cause of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

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Running the mother flippin’ London Marathon for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Since taking running pretty seriously, which I have done for the last year and a half-ish now, the obvious goal for me has been a marathon. I’ve done half marathons, but now I’m getting to the point where I run that kind of distance on my long run every weekend. So it’s not a challenge anymore (though beating my PB will always be), and naturally the marathon is the next step.

I applied a while ago for a charity place with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to run the London Marathon. Because, you know, it’s the daddy of marathons, at least here in the UK. And the CF Trust is my ultimate charity to run for. I’ve had a couple of friends affected by cystic fibrosis, including a friend who died in 2011, it’s a sucky bastard of an inherited disease and I have seen first hand why this charity is fricking awesome. So, standard.  Continue reading

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Running speed in Runkeeper, Nike+ and MapMyRun

I’ve been running for a few years now, and have been getting progressively faster. As you’d hope I suppose. But I’ve had a few ‘jumps’ in how quick I am, that seem to correlate with my fickle switching around running apps.

Continue reading

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