Back to the Physio

My physio is pleased with the progress I am making. I have tried to push him a bit about when can I run, or when shall I defer my place in the marathon.

Simple answer- next week.

I have a timetable of things to do this week- stretches, strengthening exercises, turbo training and riding- and then- next Monday- I can have a trial run. A 5-minute walk to warm up and then a 30-minute normal effort to test the hip.

I am already nervous/ excited! I am back to see him next Tuesday and we will see how I go and make a decision then. I have not run (other than a rubbish 2 miles) for over 2 weeks; my longest run is still 14 miles, and I have not successfully run over 13 miles in one go for over a month.

However, the dream is still there and alive. Once again, I am surprised and bewildered that I am not having trouble with my heart- like I thought I would at the start- it is the rest of me that is falling to pieces. If he says to me ‘No!’ then no it is, and I will defer my place to next year- although I want to do this, I also want to walk afterwards.

It is still on the cards, though. There is a small slip of light creeping through the doorway- a glimmer that maybe, just maybe, I can go and have my own carnival around London. Yes, I may walk, and yes, the running I will do will be slow, but it will be me and honest and alive- something I never, ever thought I would do when I first had heart troubles.

Lets do this!


Turbo Time!

With just 30 days ( or one calendar month) to go, I needed to do something, so I got onto the turbo trainer with my bike (which the physio said would be fine). 45 minutes ticked off- I could have kept going but I want to ease back into the riding.

2 days into the exercises and they seem to be going well. My thigh feels less tight, especially when I have been sat for any period. It was hurting a fair bit this morning but I put that down to lying wrongly in bed.

The truth is as it gets closer I get more and more excited. I don’t care what time I do, I just want to be part of the carnival- a celebration of London. At this time, this is even more important than ever.


A different approach

With my hip sore at almost any given moment, I have felt a bit lost sat around. Whenever I do go out, there just seems to be hundreds of people running and riding. Frustrating! Combine this with a massive cooked breakfast, guilt has been setting in.

Bring on the turbo trainer. I did think about trying my bike, but I figured if my hip started hurting then statistically it would be at the furthest point away from home, and I would have to ride back again in pain and possible further damage.

It was a very gentle turbo session of 30 minutes, but I am pleased to say, it felt fine. The sore place on the front of my hip was still sore, but the side part- which is the major pain- was good. Who knows- it may have done it some good! (Although it has been a bit sore afterwards, but this could have been down to swinging my leg over the bike when I got off).

It must be said it was nice to sit on the bike again. Something I promised myself at the start of all of this was I would keep riding, and I have not done this. I can not change it now, but just to say, it was nice to be on the bike.

Physio Tuesday, and I will know what I need to do to be on the start line on April 23rd. It is interesting that I am now making plans for afterwards- things I want to do, places I want to run (and ride). I have some BIG plans for this blog as well; in fact, I started some training today in the use of a new-to-me piece of software to help make it happen.

It maybe a bit early for all of this, but right now, I am feeling positive.

Constantly Learning/ Responding

Yesterday was my long run day. I had to work in the morning, so it made sense to go straight from work (I work in a town 10 miles away).

The plan was to run 17 miles, and knowing that I would be unlikely to want to do a loop when I got back home, I started by doing 2 times around a 3.1 mile loop down there before I started on my way home. Also, I was aware how sore my hip was the previous week so I popped a couple ibuprofen an hour before I started, hoping to keep it at bay.

I can honestly that the first few miles was the most fun and happy I have ever run. I felt great, the running was easy, my heart rate was low, and I really did believe I could keep running forever. My smile was large and my hopes were very high.

My hip started to twinge at about mile 2, but it was enough to ignore and think about something else. As all the advice says, your long run should be about 1-1.5 minutes slower than race pace, so I managed to slow down to 13 minute miles whilst still actually running. My heart rate was low 130’s- this was going really well.

Then mile 10 came, and things went to pot. My hip started really hurting, and this meant I was dragging my right foot- I could bearly lift it off the ground. From the earlier highs I hit a real black spot. I switched from eating nuts and soreen to eating energy gels which lifted me mentally, but the physical side was still dreadful. I was walking/ running but with longer walking and shorter running.

I arrived at mile 13 and knew that another 4 miles was going to be hard but I was determined to do it. My leg was dragging so badly now that I could not even lift it over debris on the tarka trail (I actually tripped over some mud- very embarrassing!).  I turned and headed towards home, by now it was 100 metre running/ 100 walking.

I was still determined to do 17 miles, and I felt positive that I could tick it off. However, when my garmin ticked over 15 miles,  I just stopped. I was mostly walking, and when I did run, it was running with my right leg 2 steps behind me. So I did the sensible thing- I called it. It was not doing me any good, I was not getting better because of it, and I was getting cold.

So- things I have learnt from this-

-There is a place for energy gels etc- they made a real difference to me mentally.

-I am sensible enough not to keep going when I should not.

-I can run slowly! Really slowly.I mean, I could have timed myself with Halley’s Comet, not a Garmin.

-London is now looking like a run/ walk strategy.

– I need to balance my runs ahead of the day. I have got 2x 20 miles run planned- this now does not make sense. I need shorter strength building runs and sensible distance runs.

In truth, when this all started I thought it would be my heart which would limit me. Now it seems my body has other ideas. I know looking beyond London, running longer distances will not be something which will matter- but in the meantime, I need to do what is right for me to get me to the end of the Mall.

Will I ever learn?

We started with a plan. A very clear plan. 12-minute miles for the first 5 miles; then gradually knock it up and finish strong. Easy. Do-able. Sensible.

So when the blower went off, and we started running, I threw the plan out the window. Totally.

Like an idiot.

Early miles were too fast. I caught myself about 200 metres in running at 8 minute 45 second pace- ludicrous. I eased back and eased back but still the timings were too fast. I tried to justify it to Ian- ‘I feel fine’, ‘It feels comfortable’.

I started to suffer from about mile 7, with a sore hip. Had to switch to a walk/ run strategy at mile 9. All very ugly.

I would love to say that I nailed it, that it has given me strength and there is lots to be positive about, but I would be lying. I am very disappointed that I am not further down the line, better, faster. It so clearly is what it is, and I need to plan now for London knowing this. My end time was 2 hours 25- five minutes slower than my target, so on the timings, it can be said I dodged a bullet; the thing is, I need to learn from all this when I get to London, or else it will break me.

I suffered chest pains in the final mile, which is not good. If I ever was going to get them it should be in the last mile, but it is worrying how they came when my heart rate was above 160- something which has not happened before. I guess I was just tired from the earlier stupid-ness. This is something I have to monitor, though.

When I get there I aim to find the 5-hour pacer and stick to them like glue, mainly for the reason it should slow me down at the start. If I loose him half way then I do- but it will not be from starting too quickly.

So what should have given me confidence and a spring in my step has left me feeling flat and knackered. But it is all learning, and would only be silly and pointless if I ignore the lessons from it.



Back again

An interesting one tonight.

After the failure of Saturday’s run, I have taken a break. A few days away from running, without thinking about it once. It has been nice, and I feel all the more fresh for it.

Tonight I wanted to try something. Tonight I ran- I ignored my alarm, and just ran. I wanted to see if I enjoyed it or not; is it something I am just doing, or is it something I like doing? Dare I say it- do I love doing it?

The answer is yes, I do like it. Really like it. I enjoyed tonight, and felt no tiredness at all, both whilst running, and in the 2 hours since.It was nice to be out in the wind, pacing away. There is something about harder exercise- where you are breathing hard and in some type of rhythm- which is therapeutic and relaxing, despite it clearly being anything but relaxing.

2 miles became 3, which became 5km.  I even snuck a cheeky PB on a Strava section in there, and I got home with a sweat on and a smile.

It’s the second of my tester events on Sunday- The Bideford Half marathon. I am aiming for sub 2 hours 20 minutes; feeling slightly uncomfortable with this- which is good.


I wanted to spend a few minutes to look at what exactly went wrong yesterday- why was it so tough? I am still feeling it today- it feels like I have done a marathon.

So here are a few unstructured thoughts.

  • Dehydrated- I don’t think I was hydrated enough to start with. I realised Friday evening I have barely drunk any fluids this week, by which time it was too late.
  • A sore throat- I woke up with a sore throat. Not sure if it is because I am coming down with something, or if I have over trained, or I am dehydrated. Combine this with –
  • High resting heart rate- I just checked and my waking heart rate for the day was 69- a 16% increase above my normal of 59. Not a good sign. (Incidentally, before I started running again, my waking was about 79- so this is overall a good news story). Online common sense tells you a 10% increase in waking heart rate means call it off, so I wish I spotted this yesterday instead of today.
  • Coat. As much as I love my new jacket, it just is not breathable- my base layer was like a wetsuit when I got home, and as I said yesterday, come mile 10 the sweet was running out my sleeves. Not nice- especially with the cold wind blowing it against my skin, making me cold.
  • Camelbak. Another sign could have been that the Camelbak felt like I was carrying someone on my back- surprising as I normally love wearing it as it makes me feel like an ultra runner. I clearly am not, but you know, image and everything.

It is hard to know what I should have done yesterday, with all this hindsight. Should I have just called it all off when I saw my high waking heart rate? Should I have cut it short when I realised that I was feeling bad (about the first mile)? Was I right to crack on? I know that towards the end I was walking more than running, and I was doing myself no good what so ever, so in this sense, I am glad we never went on to 17 miles.

If I hard stopped it early/ not gone at all, then would I have been OK to go out today instead?

Either way, today I feel like poo, and could not even face putting my trainers on. It is too late to change anything from yesterday now. I just want to make sure that I learn from it, so something good comes from it.

Long and Steady

Today was my long and steady, and sharing it with me was Ian. We set out for a half marathon, but my retention for round figures meant that if we did 14 miles, I would have run 40 miles for my week off.

I think we got it right today. Because of the company, the miles came and went, and the plan of running about 1.5-2 minutes slower than normal training was easily achieved. In fact, we even managed a couple sprints in the last half a mile, which showed that we were within ourselves.

This whole week has been an immense confidence booster, and I can honestly say that I am a far better runner than when I came into it. Although I was scuffing a bit towards the end, my position was upright and confident. I am learning to let go of timings and speeds, and to enjoy the distance and the minutes and the achievements. My next big challenge is Bideford half marathon in 2 weeks time, where I would love to break 2 hours 15 minutes, but 2 hours 30 minutes should be a bit more realistic.

With eyes to London, I feel like I am reading a book, where the pages are slowly turning and showing me the way ahead. I do not know what the next page will tell me, but right now, it is feeling like 5 hours is a new target.

Bring on the mall!


A Night Off

Not running tonight. The blister on the inside of my foot is as big as it was on Saturday after my long run, and very bloody. My new shoes ( have not arrived yet so I would have had to strap it up, and I was worried it would just get wet which could aggravate it and make it a lot worse.

So, with 82 days to go, how do I think I am doing?

Overall, quite pleased. No matter how ugly it was, I ran a Half Marathon on Saturday, which has to be good. I have raced 10 miles. I have completed in 2 Park Runs. This is all good.

Areas I could try harder- perhaps an extra run a week? I now work on 3 runs to give myself time to recover- a 47-year-old slightly overweight man with Angina surely can’t do much more. However, am I being soft on myself?

I want to be faster, and I know that will come from speed sessions on a Thursday, and losing weight. My weight is being chipped off, and I am about where I would like to be- I would love to loose about 6ilbs before the big day, so that is less than a pound a week- surely achievable.

So going forwards, my schedule will be-
Tuesdays- Tempo run with Phil, zone 3.
Thursdays- Hill repeats/ Fartlek, no zones used.
Saturdays(optional)- Parkrun, zone 4
Sundays- Long run, with Ian- zone 2.

This is up to the Bideford Half Marathon on March 5th. After a gentle week, from then, it will be longer running in zone 2, to build up endurance and stamina. This with lashings of recovery in between.

All this is in conjunction with daily squats (currently up to 40), and some core work in the form of planking.

This should hopefully see me get to being able to get around and staying alive.

And damn, it is exciting!

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