Schneider Paris Marathon

Soon be time for the Paris marathon, training has gone reasonably well and the worst of the injury I had has passed. A fuller blog post and report will done after the race. In the meantime I have the following I need tweeted on Twitter, thanks to anyone willing to help.

 

 

If you could include #BelievewithSE along with #Run42! and @Traindriverbaz. Every tweet equates to an amount of distance and the target is 42k. These three bits would equal 400 metres of distance so to reach 42k I would need around 105 tweets!!

 

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24 Hour Treadmill Run For Children In Need

After coming out of the Saffron Trail I was happy with the fact I had managed to cover 70 miles in pretty good shape and felt OK at the end of it all. Having done a few ultra events I was thinking about the 24 hour type events that usually run in a loop of a few miles with a rest area where you can rest, eat and drink as you please during the 24 hours and the total distance accomplished determines the winner. There wasn’t anything that fitted within my work diary so thought of another way I could do a 24 hour run..the dreadmill!! Looking through my work diary a gap that looked OK was also coinciding with the UK charity night of BBC Children In Need. So I had a space in the diary, a plan of what I wanted to do now I just needed to get a local gym onboard.

I approached 3 local gyms, Lord Butler, Just Gym and Wilburs all based in my local town of Saffron Walden. There was quite a delay in hearing back from them so started to ask around for help. I had a couple of offers via the running club to use a home treadmill, I also contacted Ernie Jewson at www.wombatfitness.co.uk down in Chalkwell, Southend to see if he would be willing to help. Fortunately himself and Debbie were willing to help so I told them I wouldkeep them as a back up if things fell flat locally. I heard back from Lord Butler first and explained what I wanted to do and they set in motion some staff meetings to discuss my proposal. Just Gym within days also contacted me, I told them as Lord Butler had stepped in first I was giving them first refusal. Wilburs to this day have never replied to my email. Beckie Reynolds at Lord Butlers was really enthusiastic and hopeful it could go ahead, just one issue, they needed 2 members of staff to stay overnight. Over the course of a few weeks asking staff and meetings 2 members of staff, Alex and Holly volunteered. 24 hours on a treadmill was all set to go ahead so I set up a just giving page and started to contact local media.

The local area papers put small articles in, regional BBC Look East said they would be interested in either putting some pictures on TV or visiting with cameras if they had a gap in their busy schedule as well as tweeting various organisations and people about the event. My training had been leading me toward the Stort 30 in October so I only had a few short runs in the couple of weeks between the 2 events. I wasn’t too concerned with distance just the amount of time and throwing myself into another unknown. Staring at a wall for 24 hours, how hard would the treadmill be on my legs and tiredness. With events like this you can’t dwell on the unknowns too much you just need to be open minded and deal with any issues as they arise.

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I started on Thursday 13th November at 20.30pm and planned to continue through to Friday 14th November 20.30pm finishing while Children In Need was on air. I had Electrolyte tablets which I have now found invaluable, Crisps, cupcakes, jelly babies and fruit smoothies to get me through. I was planning on going at a very slow pace with no idea how long I would go until needing to walk or take a break. I set out at 5mph, the gym was busy and I had 1 1/2 hours until closing time. Things were going fine, slowly people finished and left until eventually it was just me. The TV’s and music were left on so I had something to occupy my mind, everything was going fine. After around 4 hours I had to ask Alex to turn the music off as it was on a loop and was driving me mad!! My head was already telling me it was bedtime..I had 20 hours to go, so I started on the first of many coffees. every 45 minutes or so Alex or Holly would check if I needed anything and topped up my water bottle for me. Early hours of the morning I was dead tired already I was snacking regularly trying to keep salts and blood sugar up but I was still drowsy. Then around 05.30am after 9 hours of jogging…BANG..I hit “the wall” just out of nowhere my energy went off a cliff edge and I had nothing. It was about an hour until opening time so was a good point to take a toilet break and top up on food and drink. The next 3 hours were really tough trying to recoup some energy and get back into a jog again. Once the gym had filled up and more people were chatting to me about what I was in the midst of doing I began to feel better and managed a very slow plod of just over 4mph. During the night at 00.30am I had had Will Leonard from my running club drop in with snacks and some encouraging chat to keep me going, when the gym reopened in the morning more friends form the club dropped in to offer their encouragement and bought a top up off snacks for me. They are fantastic friends who I am eternally grateful to. I also had a light massage from my physio in the morning to loosen my legs up,

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Getting on towards midday my feet were killing me and becoming really painful and I was having to start taking more regular breaks. It was really frustrating as my thighs and calves felt fine and my energy was far better with the activity around me and my brain back on daytime mode…but I just couldn’t run as it was far too painful. Heading into early afternoon the pain in my right foot was extremely sharp and my energy had faded again. I was falling asleep on my feet at regular intervals and I still had some 6 hours to go. It was no longer about trying to attain a large ego massaging distance but grinding out the last few hours and not quitting before the full 24 hours were up. I was now down to grinding away at a literally painful 2 mph. minute by minute, hour by hour all I could do was keep pacing away and taking the occasional toilet break. With 22 hours done I was well and truly done for, I had nothing. I had to employ a 15 minute on 15 minute off strategy to see myself through the last bit. I got myself to 62 miles 1600 yards, gave myself a rest and spent the last couple of minutes doing the last 100 yards to rond it up to 63 miles completed in 24 hours.

The challenge was easily the hardest thing I have ever done and far harder than the Saffron Trail from back in the Summer. The firmness and unchanging nature of the treadmill had destroyed my feet, the monotony was also crucifying. I certainly won’t shy away from future ultra events but I will NEVER do such a stupid challenge on a treadmill again and would actually advise anyone not to do more than 10k on a treadmill.

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The following day I couldn’t initially bear weight on my right foot and had to take painkillers to get myself moving. As well as being bruised it was sharply painful and knew it wasn’t good. I booked myself off work and headed to A and E. After hours of waiting I was told I had a stress fracture of the Cuboid bone, they were really good at the hospital and I was provided with a plastic boot which would enable me to keep more mobile than plaster would thus losing less strength in my leg. I have to keep as long as the pain is too much to walk on. Once I feel I am comfortable to walk in regular shoes I can ditch the boot so although the full healing will be a few weeks I am hoping to get rid of it after this week.

Treadmills are bad for your feet, no more!!

Stour Valley Path 100km

I had gone in to the Saffron Trail with a mild ankle injury that only felt slightly bruised. The race, although starting badly turned out great. The downside being that a mild injury was now a serious injury. I had bad sharp pain on the medial side of my left ankle. I took a week off after the Saffron Trail to recover then went out for an 8 mile run, the ankle was agony and I had to keep stopping. Another 10 days off, icing and massaging then a 4 mile tester, still no good. Then we had a family week away to Tunisia, no running but some gentle exercise in the swimming pool. On return I had 3 days until the start of the SVP 100  race. I was injured and unfit, common sense would scream to most people to take a DNS and nurse the injury. Myself on the other hand thought I would give it a go, the worst outcome being a DNF. I would personally give it a try and clock up 1 mile than stay at home wondering “What if?” and clocking zero.

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 Newmarket is not that far from where I live but having to get the train I decided to go up the evening before so I could make the 7am start and give myself a good chance of being able to get my train home from Manningtree. Thanks to Rich Cranswick for pointing out a spot out of the way to stick the tent up and only 5 minutes from the start. After arriving in town I made my way to the White Lion pub where registrations and kit check were taking place. Thankfully all of my kit was in order, I took down race race director Matthew Hearne’s  number in case of emergency. There were only a few other runners about and it was fairly early in the evening. It was about 19.30 so I decided to have a pint before heading up the road to pitch my tent. A couple of locals asked what was going on, I told them and in conversation all of the usual clichés spilled out about being “crazy”,  “mad” and asking “why?”. We’ve heard it all before and although you can give reasons you can’t make people understand. Around 20.30 I headed off to get some sleep. My first navigation error and the race hadn’t even started yet! I was heading the wrong way to the camping spot and by time I made a u turn it was after 21.00 and the light was fading. Tent up. Ear plugs in. Kit ready. Sleep.

 At 5am my alarm went off and I couldn’t believe how cold I felt! I think my body was still on Tunisian 100F temperature setting! Although the sky was bright and fairly cloudless there must have been a small shower overnight as the tent was wet so I was expecting the first part of the route to be slippery. After getting ready and packing away Rich Cranswick was also camped nearby with some lightweight kit he was trying out. We chatted together while making our way to the start. I was feeling quite apprehensive, I had the injury strong in my mind and I didn’t know the route at all. I knew a couple of acquaintances would be about for the run, Naomi Newton Fisher who was running and Gin Lawson Craig who was helping at checkpoint 3. I couldn’t remember if Naomi was starting at 7am or the later 9am start so just kept an eye out for her. A few nerve induced toilet trips later I spotted Naomi and introduced myself and had a chat. 06.45am, time for the race brief and a walk to the start area. A quick group photo and at 7am we were away on the Stour Valley Path!

 A pretty straight forward first section along a footpath heading South out of town until turning left on to the Devil’s Dyke. The Dyke was damp and slippery and had loads of tree roots to skip around and over. despite this I had settled in to a small group of about 7 people and we were running at a steady 6mph or so. About 4 miles in and the first navigation error happened. We had missed the first right hand turn off the Dyke. After a chat we looked at our position on the map and after an extra .5 of a mile we were back on track again passing Stetchworth. The group began to split a little and I was pretty much on my own, mistake number 2 of the day! The Stour Valley Path has yellow markers along it’s route. The SVP route guide in my opinion is dire and the detail awful. I took a right turn that also had a  yellow marker and seemed to end up absolutely no where with 2 other runners who had followed my turn. Damn! What to do? go back?, head the way I thought the map said?  I decided to follow a road. This brought me to a signpost that helped me locate my actual position and where I needed to be. I back tracked along the road until coming back in to contact with the route. It cost me 30 minutes! I could really have done without that. I was under time pressure as well. My last train home from Manningtree was 22.02. I had to finish by 21.30 at the latest, 14 1/2 hours. More than possible…if I wasn’t injured AND kept making mistakes. Feeling pissed off already I pushed on to the first checkpoint at Great Thurlow. I arrived at around 09.15am, 21 minutes inside my set schedule. Not bad considering making 2 mistakes.

 Having learned from the Saffron Trail I waste too much time at checkpoints I had a drink, something to eat and was away again with some time in hand. Psychologically The SVP is good in that each leg gets progressively shorter. The first is 12 miles and then 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 5 miles. The weather was warming up as I headed out on the next leg to Clare. I had to take some painkillers to cope with the ankle, but considering my lack of fitness my energy was good and I was keeping myself in the race. This leg passed without any fus or mistakes. I was approaching mile 23 and wasn’t using any energy gels just jelly babies and fruit pastilles. I was due in at no later than 12.05pm..it was 11.45am, still on target. I seem to crave sweet tea or coffee on long runs and was hoping CP2 had some. CP1 had none but CP2 were good enough to help out with a tea. Some more food, more first bladder refill and I continued onto leg 3 to Long Melford. Things started to get tougher! This was a really hilly section. The up hills killed my ankle and the downhills were now sending pain through my knees. More pain killers. I had the incentive to crack on to CP3 to meet another acquaintance Gin Lawson Craig. We follow each others running exploits online and she is an inspirational runner. I was hurting badly, I knew the day probably wouldn’t work out so I was preparing to throw in the towel at CP3. I was joined by another runner and we pretty much stayed together on the run into Long Melford which helped take my mind off the pain. I could see Gin ahead at CP3 and almost collapsed on the poor woman as we greeted each other. 33 miles in I arrived at about 14.15, my target time was 14.18 so my time in hand had slipped and I was on the edge. I took a good time out. I had a chat with Gin’s friend Lisa, a visit to the toilet, more food, drink and evaluated things. Gin pretty much told me to carry on. I got my kit back on and headed out on leg 4.

 I felt like shit! About 2 miles into leg 4 I almost turned around to go back tp CP3. I didn’t, I kept going. I was struggling badly and now doing more walking than running, the overall pace was suffering. Along leg 4 you pass the town of Sudbury, I made another mistake. Another 30 minutes lost. I was now well and truly fucked off! I hated the SVP route guide and should have gone with an Ordnance Survey map. I couldn’t use my .GPX file as my phone battery is ruined and has been draining in as little as 2 hours. I back tracked and got on route…again. That mistake killed my chance of holding up the necessary pace.  Somewhere along this point I came across Paul,  he was having a really bad time himself suffering periodically with cramp.  I stayed with him knowing my race was dead incase he needed some help.  We both forged on as best as possible.  Paul did some math and worked out he was still just,  only just by a few minutes,  inside the cut off time.  That put me in the same place but my issue was getting my train home which put me 1 hour behind time.  Paul dug in and put in an awesome effort leaving me behind.  We battled on to CP 4 at Lamarsh.  Just approaching Lamarsh I was caught by another runner.  It was the sweeper for that section clearing up the back runners.  There were 2 runners behind me.  Another 1/2 mile and I arrived at checkpoint 4 Lamarsh at 17.40.  I was 1 hour and 20 minutes behind my own set schedule so even if I felt fit I would have missed my train home. I was now in pain and the pain killers had stopped helping. 42 miles in and it was time to call it a day.

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 The SVP route is fantastic and I would consider it for next year.  I can take some positives out of this race as well in that I had no sickness at all, I used no gels and the compression shorts fixed the chaffing problem I had during the Saffron Trail.  Some things I would do differently next year are that with the Saffron Trail I recced about 90 % of the course in advance, wrote my own route notes and spent about 6 weeks on google maps trying to memorise the route.  With the SVP I dod none of these.  I’m sure that a little more homework would pay dividends.

 Thanks to everyone who I crossed paths with, all the volunteers at the checkpoints and to Matthew Hearne for a great race.

West Highland Way – Re Visited

 Last year I took myself away to Scotland to run 35 miles of the West Highland Way from Bridge Of Orchy to Fort William. After writing up my blog post on how things went and speaking to friends at the running club my friend and fellow club member Tim Mcmahon said he would be interested in covering the route as well. So the organising of 35 mile re run was put into action.

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 We set out on the over night sleeper service from London Euston to Scotland and arrived at Bridge of Orchy at 08.15am. The weather was fantastic and a big improvement on last years overcast and rainy day. I had been briefing Tim on the route and what to expect but just as I had found last year the run is a shock to the system from the start having to climb up through a pine forest for the first 1.5 miles before coming up to the Inveroran hotel and a surfaced road to run on. With the weather being warm we were sweating right from the start and tried to keep an even and slow pace. The road way then leads onto the old military road way and on towards the Kingshouse hotel on the A68.

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20140516_100910Yours Truly, Baz Taylor

Heading down toward the Kingshouse hotel the wind had picked up quite a lot but was still very warm, we were only about 1.5 miles from the infamous devils staircase!

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20140516_100806Tim Mcmahon

I knew we were going to have to hike the devils staircase as initially I had tried to run it last year and found it impossible and led to me cramping badly on the following decent

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Given how steep the staircase is we managed to get to the top within about 30 minutes and the legs were feeling pretty good. We started a slow run down and headed on to Kinlochleven. We were now 17 miles in and things were going well, no cramps, energy was good and averaging around 11 minute miles. Given the steep terrain and the climb having us down to around 2 miles an hour I was more than happy with that. The path down was really hard on the ankles and very steep in spots so it took a lot of strength from the legs to avoid falling over. I found a pigeon step run heel striking was an effective way of being able to run downhill but retaining control at the same time. The scenery was breath taking and the miles were ticking by and we soon came down to Kinlochleven. The time was 12.40pm which had us around 20 minutes ahead of last years time. Again as per last year we went into the village shop and topped up on water before continuing on. There is a short steep climb out of Kinlochleven back up to a military road so again we walked this as it was too steep to possibly run.

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 Once up on to the road it levels out so is far easier to get running on. Now 22 miles in I was tiring quite badly and made sure to keep eating and drinking to keep the energy up. After traversing along the mountainside for around another 6/7 miles we came upon a point of the trail where there is a couple of different route possibilities. Last year I had gone left and followed a tarmacked road back into Fort William, this year we decided to go right and follow the off road trail instead. In hindsight this may have been a mistake as it was extremely tough, very steep in places and very energy sapping. I was beginning to suffer quite badly feeing sick and dizzy, trying to keep on top of things I soon used up my remaining water. If you attempt this do not underestimate how much water you need. Over the entire distance I had only carried and consumed 2 litres of water, I could easily have drunk 4 litres!! The route climbs up and enters a very dense pine forest which was amazing and straight out of a Hollywood movie, very dramatic and heavily scented with the Scots pine. I kept moving through phases of sickness followed by feeling ok and energetic enough again to run more, quickly followed by more nausea. Now around 33 miles in we used the gravity of the downhill parts to help get back into a slow running rhythm. We only a matter of a couple of miles from reaching our designated 35 mile target, the same distance I had run last year, I could quite easily have laid down, not moved and just stayed there out in the open. It was a real help having Tim along this year as He was able to keep encouraging me. We soon came across the long awaited signpost pointing to the campsite that marked our 35 miles. The weather was turning, rain had been forecast but for later in the evening, it had arrived early. It was really starting to blow a gale and the clouds were closing in, we twisted around the final descent and could see the campsite through the trees. Out into the open and we reached our 35 mile target in 8 hours and 20 minutes, this was 41 minutes quicker over the distance than last year but the alternative route we took at the end was far, far harder. We dropped into the campsite shop and refuelled and after 10 minutes I started to feel a little better. Tim had faired really well but admitted he had found sections very tough and was shattered. Another great running experience, but for now I think I’ll return to some shorter distances no doubt before misplacing my marbles again and tackling another ludicrous distance.

VMLM 2014 Expo and Registration

A great start to the journey! The first train we boarded from home ended up being terminated so we had to make a change before finally heading to Stratford and then on to Custom House for the Excel marathon registration. The opening time was 10am so we had plenty of time departing home at 07.35am but I was expecting there to be large amounts of people and some queuing to do so I wanted to get there in good time. I took my 8 year old son along to experience the day and he was hoping to spot a celebrity or two! It was his first time on the DLR service which was an experience in itself for him, driverless trains weaving through the city buildings, great fun for him. Excel is dead easy to find, it is on the doorstep of Custom House station and you virtually walk straight into Excel once getting off the train.

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 We got to the queue about 09.50am..it opens at 10.00am and only had about 100 people ahead of us. Once the doors opened and people flooded in the numbers soon swelled and there were thousands of people streaming into the Excel. The first port of call was to loo for my relevant number station to pick up my race pack.

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Number 24813..went and collected my pack and listened to some instructions and then we could head on to the chip collection point.

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It didn’t take long to get the chip and then we headed on in to the expo. We tried to be methodical going up and down aisles but there was so much going on and so many people trying to get your attention and talk to you we had plenty of turns off our intended path. In all it didn’t really matter as we probably ended up doing about 4 loops of all the stalls anyway. Adidas had a huge wall that could be signed so my son and I wrote a few messages up on the wall for people.

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One message was for all the Saffron Striders at the club and the other was for the people on http://www.therunningbug.co.uk . As i was raising money for Macmillan cancer we went over to their stall and had a chat they also had a wall which I signed against my pre printed slot on the wall.

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Being absolutely bombarded with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to try out i was careful not to blow my money straight away. I had some purchases in mind but didn’t want to get caught by all sorts of things I hadn’t intended to. Having worn out socks i bought some new Balega socks which look and feel great but i’m not sure if to wear them for the marathon just yet. I had also wanted to buy some Brooks ASR shoes. Brooks had sent me a camera to document my runs in the build up to the marathon and in return for handing it in they were giving a £20 discount on shoes and a free bag of pasta. Typical! of all the possible shoe models they didn’t bring the ASR to the expo because it isn’t the most popular shoe. What to do..I was offered an alternative shoe but with no medial post…no thanks…what about if we email you a 20% discount code so you can still buy the shoes..yes please. And the bag of pasta? as we don’t have the shoes, no problem! Samples were available at the majority of gel and snack bar stalls and I think me and my son tried 75% of them, some far tastier than others. I ended up buying some powerbar gels and electrolyte tabs I haven’t tried before so we’ll see what they are like at some point. Fullers London Pride beer is one of the sponsors of the event so we stopped by to speak to them..and have some samples, “sorry son, dad only here”. Next on the list was Vita Coco coconut water stand where again my son was happy to dive in and try all the flavours available and settled on a purchase of mango and pineapple..good choice! I have had trouble with the soleus muscle on my left leg and have been having treatment for some time but one thing i wanted to try was Kinesiology tape. We found the KT tape stand and asked them some questions on what it was made from, how to apply it and why I shouldn’t go away and buy a cheaper brand. I had some applied to my problem area and was told it would be good to keep on for the marathon. I could feel the effect of it pulling and lifting the skin which is what is supposed to help alleviate pressure of any muscular pulls or strains. Feeling happy I bought a roll which I will use along side treatment.

 After about 3 hours of wading through charity leaflet handouts and international marathon invites we decided we had seen and purchased everything we wanted and had covered all the bases on who we wanted to see and speak to we decided to move on to the final section where we could buy some lunch and listen to various speakers. On our way I bumped into a friend and stopped and chatted about our preparations where he told me we had not long missed Wilson Kipsang…gutted, one person on my list I wanted to listen to. We moved on and bought noodles for lunch and sat down to an informative but less interesting talk on final instructions. Looking through the timetable we would have to wait a good three hours to listen to a celebrity speaker and closer 4 to hear Priscah Jeptoo..a bit too long to wait with a couple of hours travel home and trying to keep an 8 year old interested. Nevermind! we had a great time at Excel, the only problem is I am in the rear most pen 9..the 3.5 hour pacer is in pen 3. Being conservative with my application time of 4 hours has given me a little catching up to do..i’ll stick to my pace and i’m fairly sure I will catch up to them in the second half. That’s the plan anyway!

The 8 S’s Of Running

SPEED

When we refer to speed as runners we are talking about our movement over distance and how much time that takes. So how can we improve our speed so it takes less time to cover a set distance. For shorter distances like 5 km or 10 km interval training is a great method to improve speed. This is running a set distance or amount of time at a high speed, anywhere between 85% and 100% of your personal effort. For increased distances like a half or full marathon we need endurance runs or tempo runs. As these suggest it is maintaining a higher speed over an increased distance or amount of time, somewhere around 75% to 85% of personal effort. You should be able to maintain this for about an hour, These runs will help your muscles deal with lactic acid as well. For any greater distances like ultras i would suggest HRM training, running very long and very slow keeping the heart rate around the 140 BPM mark. You will probably find you need lots of walking breaks to keep the heart rate in check

STAMINA

Stamina can be put into two types, cardio vascular and local muscular. Through a regular exercise regime your lungs and heart will strengthen and become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the muscles. A person can expect to gain a lower heart rate and increased stroke volume of the heart. Muscles will improve their ability to store glycogen to help with their endurance.

STRENGTH

There are three types of strength we use. Explosive strength where the energy is used in a single action like jumping or throwing. Dynamic strength, the ability of your muscles to support you over a long period of time. And static strength, the force that can be applied against a static object as in weightlifting. As runners it is dynamic strength that we are interested in. Bodyweight exercises are great for dynamic strength. Exercises such as squat jumps, bounding, hopping and various medicine ball exercises are all great at improving dynamic strength. Fitting in just one or two sessions a week will still be of a long term benefit.

SUPPLENESS

Suppleness refers to how we move and bend at the joints. Also referred to as flexibility, improving our suppleness can help reduce the risk of injury. There are a multitude of stretches possible. I have tried many and found a select few that work well for me hitting points of my muscles that tighten regularly. A favourite is the kneeling hip flexor stretch with raised foot. I find this really loosens my hips, helps with my gait and improves my speed.

SLEEP

Sleep is another very important factor in running. All of the bodies major repair is done during sleep. Getting 8 hours of sleep can help improve mood, concentration, improve athletic performance and you are less likely to get ill. I know how hard it is to get a decent amount of sleep as i am regularly home from work at midnight or later and then need to be up at 7am to help the chidren get ready for school and also to give myself time to run before starting work. So I am usually only getting 6 1/2 to 7 hours sleep and over a week i can end up getting quite exhausted. So I try as best as possible on days off to get to bed earlier.

SKILL

Learning and performing techniques will help improve your running. Pacing, you don’t have to take every run at race pace. It’s ok to slow down, long slow runs will improve your running just as much as short fast ones. Sprinting, adding short sharp bursts will activate different muscle fibres and will help in race situations when you need to increase the pace or overtake. Recovery is just as much a skill, cooling down and stretching will help with muscle repair and help make you stronger for your next run.

SPIRIT

Our state of mind when running or even thinking of going for a run plays a strong role in our participation, improvement and enjoyment of running. There are a lot of people that are very disciplined and rarely have any down periods with their running, I am not one of those! My moods towards running rise and fall constantly, especially this time of year when runs are gloomy, wet and cold. I personally help myself along by reading magazines, books and websites to keep my motivation up. I am also a running club member which is of a great help, we have regular social meet ups for meals that really helps boost mental positivity. Setting and hitting realistic targets is also a great way of staying positive.

SUSTENANCE

Diet is very important in not only improving health but also our running ability. Personally the way I tackle my food intake is to work out my calorific needs and then eat as much healthy whole non processed food to meet that need. I include oats, bananas, almond butter, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds, dates, noodles, brown rice, avocados, beans, peppers and various other fruits and vegetables. Diet can not only help with energy levels but also improve cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

 

If you take the time to cover the 8 S’s you’ll be setting yourself a good regime for improving. Spring isn’t far away and the improvements will show when the warmer weather returns. Don’t give up, keep striving and you’ll reach your targets for 2014.

Taking The Time Out To Realize My Running Improvements When Things Aren’t So Good

Working Hard Since The Summer

After my trip to Scotland back in June i made the decision to enter an ultra event. I had a couple of 10k events in the summer and settled on doing the Stort 30 ultra at the end of October. From June onwards I started working hard on improving my mileage following a Hal Higdon marathon plan. It seemed to be ok at the time and I adapted it a little to fit work and family events along the way. In hindsight it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped for and that along with running in fairly new shoes turned the 30 miles in to a real hard slog.

The Mileage

I had been putting in 3 to 4 runs of between 5 and 8 miles during the week and then going for a long run on Sunday continually trying to increase over time. Starting out at 12 miles and then progressing toward 20 miles. I hit a 20 mile road run in August of 2 hours 48 minutes so was pleased with the progress at that point. I then reduced the Sunday miles slightly and began a build up back toward 20 miles for the ultra. 2 weeks before the ultra I hit another 20 miler out on the course in a time of 3 hours 28 minutes, which was to be expected being off road so I was still happy with that time. The ultra didn’t turn out as well as i had planned and afterwards adapted my running plan to include some treadmill speed sessions a couple of times a week and doing some longer miles more often. This was panning out well and after 3 weeks I was starting to see the speed out on the road improve. The long miles were also back at 20 miles and I was hoping to start increasing those runs toward marathon distance.

Illness Strikes

Then out of the blue I have been hit with flu. Without warning, went to bed feeling fine and woke up feeling as if I had been trampled on by an elephant! I’ve spent the last 10 days feeling pretty rough with all the usual sneezing, nose blowing, headache, sore throat and chesty cough. Not being able to get out and run and sitting around dosing up on Lemsips I feel as if all the hard work is leaching away and every day that passes is ending back to square 1 with all the hard work to be done all over again!

Mental Self Doubt

Anyone that knows me knows i’m not one for self pity. It serves an individual no good and is a dreadful mental state to be in. A self pitier makes excuses for themselves why things aren’t going well in their life and then expects everyone else to run around rectifying things and picking up the pieces!! No! Not for me.  BUT. I have been thinking about all the hard work that seems to be slipping away. I planned to nurse myself through Christmas and pick again in the New Year. Get back to my new plan that was starting to work and build it up again. Also thinking as to why when things are going so well there always seems to be a spanner lurking around the corner waiting to jump into the works. Starting to feel a little better, although still with blocked sinuses and a chesty cough, I thought I would turn out for the first cross country of the season. I was just planning on having a steady run around, getting some fresh air and hoping it would help me to feel a bit better. I ran the 4.96 miles in 40 minutes 18 seconds. 5 minutes and 40 seconds faster than last year! 

Learning To Worry Less And Hold Onto Positivity

So proof if it were needed that I needn’t have worried so much and been down about being knocked back by illness. If the hard work is put in in times of wellness it will be well retained in times of illness. As a runner I think I am used to being of a mindset that I need to be in a state of continual forward progress. Anything less and it feels like the wheels are falling off the wagon. My physical ability will slowly but surely continue to incrementally improve but I need to relax a little more when things don’t appear to be happening in times of illness and also injury. I may read some books on positive thinking during times of doubt or hardship. The physical side of running is good the mental side needs improvement.

For all those that are good enough to follow and read my blog this maybe my last post this side of Christmas. So just incase I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a great time with your families and friends and to some great running adventures in 2014.

 

 

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