UK Run Chat May Virtual 5K

UK Run ChatI realised this morning that today was the last day to get my Virtual Race done for the UK Run Chat May Virtual Race Series, hosted by Virtual Running UK. After yesterday’s run being cut short, I knew that my best bet would be to go for the 5K this month and that to achieve it I’d have to go back to using the run/walk ratio.

Yes, I know, I want to get back to running without ratios again, but knowing that using the ratio would make it more more achievable gave me the incentive I needed to get moving again this morning, so that’s what I did.

The weather has warmed up quite a bit and, even at 8:30 this morning, I knew that I’d better take a drink out with me. I never used to bother with taking water on anything under 10K but, after having to bail out on yesterday’s run, it seemed like a good idea.

It was fairly quiet down on the seafront, which is one of the main reasons that I like to get down there early. There were quite a few runners around as usual, which is always nice to see. I even spotted a family out running together, with a very small boy jogging with his parents while his younger sister cycled along side them.

2015-05-24_OverviewThe run itself was fine. I took it nice and slowly, enjoying the early morning sunshine and a nice warm breeze coming in off the sea, and my leg didn’t give me too much grief. There’s still a bit of numbness there but not much pain, so I’m hoping that a bit of exercise will help to loosen up what I’m assuming is a trapped nerve, but time will tell.

My time was 34:19, which is quite a bit slower than usual for me, but I’m happy that I got it done and am feeling much more confident about getting back on track again over the next few weeks.

How’s your training going? Do you use virtual races as an incentive to get out the door? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

New Shoes and Old Legs

Circle HopIt’s Saturday, which means it’s time for the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop.

Even though I’ve not been running much recently, I thought I’d better have a quick catch up and get my backside over the doorstep again for a bit of a run so that I can start contributing again. The blog hop is hosted at Virtual Running UK and it’s easy enough to sign up if you want to join in. Just click here and follow the instructions.

I’ve been really missing my training over the past few weeks, so to cheer myself up, I finally got myself a much needed new pair of running shoes. I didn’t bother with the whole getting fitted properly and running on the treadmill thing as I’d done that before and knew what I needed.

As I pronate slightly on one foot and not on the other, I’ve been told that a neutral shoe is best, so I opted for a pair of Asics Nimbus 16s. These are basically a neutral shoe but have a guidance system that can help with slight over or under-pronation, and they have plenty of cushioning and a bit of extra heel to help with the old achilles.

Asics2

Of course, having a shiny new pair of shoes sitting there staring at me for the last few days made me feel even more guilty about not running. So, even though I’ve still got a fair bit of numbness in my left leg, I decided to head out this morning to give them a little road test. Well, it would be rude not to.

I planned to run for about 30 minutes and felt pretty good to begin with. The old leg didn’t feel too bad and I kept the pace nice and slow, but after a couple of kilometres I decided to take a short walk break. The leg still felt ok, but it was quite warm on the seafront and I realised that, even with a short run, I should probably have taken a drink with me.

The walk break seemed to help and I carried on a bit further, but by the end of the third kilometre my stomach started complaining and I knew it was time to call it a day. A little bit disappointing, yes, but the leg feels no worse than it did before and at least the shoes got a bit of a test run.

The best part though, is that I got a bit of a run in. Even if it was only for about 20 minutes, it was still 20 minutes of activity that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It all counts, right?

How’s your training going? Are you enjoying some warmer weather? Please share your thought in the comments.

Pain In The Arse

Circle HopAfter four weeks, it seems that my post-marathon niggle doesn’t really want to go away and I’m going to have to face up to the fact that I am a little bit injured at the moment.

I have run once since the marathon, and I felt ok, but the next day the niggle was back and it isn’t going away. It’s a milder version of some of the pain that I felt in the final stages of the marathon, so I can only conclude that I did myself a bit of damage. A real pain in the arse, literally.

I didn’t really see much point in going to the doctors because, lets face it, there’s probably not much that they can do, so I looked up my symptoms on line to try to make sense of what’s going on. I found some useful information at sequencewiz.org which, although a website about yoga rather than running, had some useful information. As well as explaining what might be causing the problem, it also suggests some exercises that might help.

The main issue for me is that other than running, I don’t do much else in the way of exercise, which means that some of my muscles and tendons can’t keep up with my training. So it looks like I’m going to have to give running a miss for the time being and focus on working on those muscles and tendons.

In terms of cardio, I should still be ok to use the exercise bike to keep my fitness levels up, but in terms of running I’m going to just have to wait and see. Listen to your body, right?

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to join the fun and share your running adventures.

Getting My Legs Back

Circle HopIt has been three weeks since my last run. I didn’t really plan on having such a long break after the marathon. I wasn’t particularly broken or injured afterwards – just a bit of tightness and discomfort, but I guess my body needed a bit of a rest after all those month of training.

Today though, I decided that I had rested enough and that it was time to dust of my running shoes and get back out there.

I’d been using a run-walk-run strategy for the last few months to help get me through the marathon without injury, but I really wanted to get back to running continuously without walk breaks again. I wasn’t sure how my body would cope with this, so I set myself a target of 2-3K of continuous running for this morning, depending on how things went, and planned to gradually build up to 5K over the next few weeks.

It was nice and cool when I headed to the seafront just after 7:00 am. There was a bit of a breeze, but nothing to worry about, as I set off along Hove Lawns to the cafe just before Peace Statue. The plan was to run there and back, which would be pretty much 2K, and then maybe do a bit more if I felt like it.

As I had no clue as to how I would manage this, I started off nice and slowly, pretty much ignoring the Garmin and just running by feel. And it felt pretty good, so much so that as I approached the 2K mark, I decided to keep going for another half kilometre.

According to the Garmin, my pace was picking up a bit too, although I couldn’t really feel it. In terms of running by feel, the effort was consistent and comfortable, so I continued to ignore the Garmin and keep going to 3K, then 3.5K.

After that, however, I did start to feel a bit tired so, not wanting to push things too hard on my first post-marathon run, I decided that I would stop when I got to 4K.

I felt really good afterwards and pleased that I had managed much more than I’d expected. The left hamstring was a bit uncomfortable and my calf started to tighten up as I walked home, but it was nothing compared to what I’d been having before, so maybe the three weeks of rest wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

The most surprising thing about the run though, was that I managed to run negative splits for each kilometre. I hadn’t expected that at all, but perhaps it was just my legs waking up after their rest.

2015-05-02_Splits

How’s your training going? How much time off do you take after a big race? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Mara-Done!

Brighton Marathon 2015 MedalAt last! I’ve finally done it. I’ve completed my very first marathon! As predicted, it was long and slow and painful, but I got there… eventually.

The day started well. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze as I walked to Preston Park for the start of the Brighton Marathon. I could have got the train, but it was only a 30 minute walk from my flat, so I figured the walk would be a good warm up.

The park was already busy when I got there, so I decided to head straight for the porta loos where I met my first 5 minute friend for the day in the queue – he was doing the 10K but had done the marathon a couple of times before and gave me some good advice. After that, there was the warm up, a pep talk from European 10,000 metre champion Jo Pavey, and then another visit to the porta loos before heading to the start pens.

I was in the green pen, which was the last to go off, but I didn’t mind. It was actually quite nice because we got to see the elite runners as they ran past (the first mile is a loop of the park), so we were able to cheer them on too.

Before long though, we were off and, with a high five from Jo Pavey, my Brighton Marathon journey was under way. The start was pretty slow, so I decided not to use my run/walk ratio until after the first mile, and just jog along and enjoy the atmosphere. I wasn’t particularly bothered about the pace, although I kept an eye on my Garmin to check how I was doing.

At around 10K, I spotted a row of porta loos and decided that it would be a good idea to pay them a visit. I wouldn’t normally, but as it was quite warm I had been taking a lot of water and the old bladder was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable. It would mean queueing for a few minutes, but I figured it would be worth it in the end.

I had completed the 10K in around an hour and ten minutes, but this unscheduled stop meant that it took me over 16 minutes to complete the 11th kilometre. Still, it was worth it as I felt much more comfortable as we headed up the hill and then down to the roundabout that leads to Ovingdean.

This was one of my favourite parts of the race as there was a live band at the roundabout to entertain us and the residents of Ovingdean were incredibly generous with their support – lots of high fives from small children gave me a bit of a lift too.

The mostly downhill run back into Brighton was brilliant and, although my pace was starting to drop, I still felt pretty good and was able to stick to my run/walk ratio. I knew I from the way the runners coming the other way had thinned out that I was fairly near the back of the pack, but I was having a great time so it really didn’t matter.

When we got back into Brighton, the crowds were amazing and really kept everyone going, but round about the half way point I realised that my energy was waning. I knew that I couldn’t keep going the way that I was, so I decided to drop my ratio a bit with slightly shorter running sections and longer walk breaks. This kept me going, but it wasn’t easy as my stomach was starting to feel a bit dodgy. I put it down to the Gatorade that I’d picked up at one of the aid stations, so I promptly ditched it in a skip and tried to focus on the ratios.

Once we got on to New Church Road though, I saw a couple of friends from work who had turned out to support. This gave me a massive lift and made me smile and laugh a lot, which carried me through for a bit longer. Around the 27K mark though, I knew that my stomach wasn’t happy. Fortunately, as I was so close to the back of the pack, there weren’t any queues at the next porta loo and I was able to get in and out fairly quickly, only adding a couple of minutes onto my already quite slow split for that kilometre.

As the miles and kilometres plodded by, my stomach started to feel much better, but my legs were getting more and more stiff and heavy with every step, so I decided to drop my ratio even further to one minute running and one minute walking (depending on how I was feeling). There were moments when I was able to push myself a bit further, and there were moments when I just had to stop and stretch, but somehow I made it through the ‘road to hell’ around Shoreham Power Station and onto Hove Promenade (my regular running route) for the final 5K.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was on familiar ground, or that I was so close to the finish, or that there were smiley faces painted on the ground to remind us that there would be TV cameras there, but somehow I was able to find it in myself to start extending my ratios again, just by a little and keep things ticking over for the last few miles.

By the final mile, the crowds were really livening up and I started to enjoy the support once more. My feeble thumbs ups became waves and smiles as I thanked the supporters and ditched my ratio altogether, to run in the final 400 metres, with a massive grin on my face.

And then it hit me as I crossed the finish line: I just completed a marathon! How cool is that?

My official time was 5:44:50 which is a fair bit slower than I would have liked, but I’m not complaining. I came away from it with a huge sense of achievement, considerable aches and pains, and the knowledge that I did my best on the day and had an amazing time doing it.

The medal is pretty cool too. It features The Peace Statues next to Hove Lawns, which I’ve run past quite a lot in training for this, so that makes it extra special too.

For those of you in the UK, the highlights of the race will be shown on Channel 4 next Sunday; for those of you elsewhere in the world, it is sure to appear on YouTube at some point if you want to check it out.

Finally, thank you to all of you who have encouraged and supported me throughout these last few months with your comments on this blog. Knowing that I’d have to come back and report to you after the race really helped when things got tough. You kept me accountable, and that means a lot.

I’m going to take a week off to recover and reflect now, but I promise to be back soon with a new challenge.

Thanks again and happy running! :-)

The Lap of Honour

After months and months and month of training, the big day is almost here. Tomorrow is the Brighton Marathon or, as I like to think of it, my lap of honour after all that hard work and training.

I’ve been taking it fairly easy this week, trying to eat properly and stay calm. I don’t really feel nervous about it, although calm is probably not the right word either – more like resigned to the fact that I’m going to be doing this. And looking forward to it too, of course!

IMG_2578Today I popped down to the Expo to pick up my race number. It wasn’t too busy when I got there and I paused to listen to one of the speakers giving some pre-race advice, which got me feeling quite excited again. 

It was the usual stuff about not going off too quickly, sticking to your fuelling and hydration plan and remembering to enjoy the day; but there were a couple of things that he said that I will take with me on tomorrow’s 26.2 mile jaunt around Brighton and Hove:

  1. The race doesn’t start until after mile 20
  2. Draw on your best training runs when things get tough
  3. Remember to smile as you cross the finish line

As far as having a race plan goes, I don’t really have one. I put my predicted time down as between five and five and a half hours, which should be just about achievable if I stick to my ratio and keep the pace between 7:00 and 7:30 minutes per kilometre. However, if it takes longer, then that’s ok too.

After all, this is my lap of honour and I intend to enjoy every second of it!

For Bling And A Banana

This time next week I’ll be running in the Brighton Marathon… no, really, I’ll still be running five and a half hours into the race. It’s going to be long and hard and painful, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter any more.

Even if it takes me six hours, or six and a half, or seven… Ok, so I’ll probably keel over if I’m still going after seven hours, but the point is that the time really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to get out there, complete the distance and have fun!

Until this morning, I’d forgotten about the whole having fun aspect of the marathon. I’d been so worried about missing my final long run, the aches in my legs and not getting enough running in over the last few weeks, that the whole reason that I’m doing this completely slipped my mind.

I’m doing this because I love running and the opportunity to run for five and half hours or more, with thousands of other people, in my own neighbourhood, and with lots of people cheering us on is too good a chance to miss.

Ok, that’s a lie. I just want some bling and a banana.

bananas

So, with all thoughts of time goals pushed firmly to the back of my mind, I set out this morning for a slow 10K along the seafront and around the neighbourhood.

The old legs didn’t feel great and the pain in my left leg was still there, but it didn’t get any worse as I shuffled along making turrets on my running map by cutting back and forward down side streets – a nice way to make a short route a little bit longer.

2015-04-05_Map

In the end, I was having so much fun that I ran 11K instead of 10K, which brings this week’s running total up to a fairly feeble 16K (forgot to blog about Tuesday’s run – sorry!).

It doesn’t seem like much, I know, but as I’m tapering and don’t want to aggravate my leg too much, it will have to do. Perhaps I’ll get a 5K in later in the week. Who knows? But for now, I’m just trying to stay focussed on what it’s all about – bling and bananas!

How’s your training going? How do you keep your race day nerves at bay? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to join the fun!

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