Must. Do.Better.

I’m slipping into bad habits again. Missing runs, making excuses… back to half-arseing my training. This is exactly what that article warned against. I read a tweet the other day from someone described as a world champion “I don’t do crazy workouts or crazy mileage. I just don’t miss days. consistency is my biggest weapon. I’ll break any athlete down with just how consistent I’m going to be training wise and just getting the work done.” I was also talking to someone on twitter, a younger runner who just took 11 minutes of his half marathon time since last year to get a 1.24. I asked him what plan he was using, it’s the Advanced Marathoning one. I tried that for about a year solid, and after great initial gains only improved by a minute over 10 months. He said he regularly runs 60- 70 miles a week, even when not on the plan, and has clocked a 1.21 half (the first time he went sub 3). OK, he’s younger,and presumably doesn’t do long shifts, but the secret is to just keep turning up. While I’m in this quiet period at work I must commit to training. I’ve started to turn my attitude around. I was getting to the point where I was thinking of quitting again, or just doing occasional fun runs without a plan, to try and get back to enjoying my running. I’ve forced myself out the last two days. The more I do the more I want to do. The test is tomorrow. I have a 09.00 – 18.50 shift. I should get finished earlier than that, but the point is I am a morning run person. I get up and put my running kit on, or else I might not run at all. After work I’m hungry and tired and just want to sit down. I can hardly ever be bothered to run. But I’m doing it tomorrow. And every day. Consistency. Talk is cheap, but I must do it. Every run is a success. The fact that I’m thinking this and writing it is a great sign. I’ve been very negative, looking for reasons why I couldn’t run. My watch still believes in me. It predicts a 3.05 marathon. I’ve beaten it on it’s predictions for 5K and half marathon. If I could match it for the marathon I’d be a huge step closer to sub 3. I mentioned the Advanced Marathoning not working for me after initial gains. After that runner said he was using it went back and looked at it again. You have to work out, based on your fastest times at 5k and Half, the speed you are going to run at for several instructions from the plan. For instance when given the instruction ‘Long Run’, it should be your target pace plus 10- 20%. So 6.50 m/m (sub 3 pace) means Long Runs should be run at 7.30 -8.10. (I’ve read people saying do most of it at the […]

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Fail Better.

Today was my challenging long run. I’ve been stressing about it. I missed my run yesterday because of it. I was thinking should I do my long run yesterday, and then thinking I was going to have to suffer so much only to fail. In the end I ended up doing a hard rowing session for an hour instead. After I’d burnt off some of the stress and frantic anxiety on the rower I got my head together. 11 miles at 7.45, I can do that. Then dig in for 6 fast miles. Then it’s just an 8 m/m trot home. I worked out a good route and a good strategy (to drink as much of my energy drinks as possible before the hard miles to minimise carried weight and maximise energy/ water uptake) and went for it. I managed the 11 miles fairly comfortably, despite the wind, and was going strong. The fast miles should have been 7.00, 6.55, 6.50, 6.50, 6.45, 6.45, then 8.00 to finish. I managed the 7.00 and the 6.55 but the wind was too much for me. I did the fast miles on a mile loop, but half of it was into a strong wind, so I had to work harder but I was going slower, then run a lot faster on the other half to make up the lost time, then try and push and hold on into the wind again. It was all hard, with no time to catch my breath or just maintain. I did a 6.56, 6.58 then I quit as I was getting nowhere. Started to jog home, then regrouped and carried on. It cost me a 7.14, but the main thing is I didn’t quit. I did a 6.56 then jogged home for an 8.02. I’m happy with that. I reckon if it hadn’t been for the wind I could have done that. On previous attempts I couldn’t get below 7.00 so I quit straight away. Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better. Apart from the one weak mile where I failed mentally I was only a few seconds off the pace. I got back, put my rower on to it’s toughest setting and did half an hour to teach my lazy arse a lesson. How quickly we forget. It was only last week I was writing about triggering the plague weakness by doing a hard session on the rower. Now I have to wait, fingers crossed, to see if I got away with it. Buck.

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Never Learn.

I read an article not long back on Long Covid, and the thing I took from it was it was hard exertion that triggered it. Running is something to which my body is accustomed. I take an easy pace run, of whatever length, in my stride, as it were. It’s when I beast myself up hills, or when I’m sprinting, that I risk the incurring the plague weakness from runs. When I’m in a susceptible period, that is. I had months and months where I could do what I wanted and nothing triggered it. Anyway, I thought I had got over it in January then I did two sessions on the bike turbo and wasted myself for weeks. I got over it again and got back to running. Then I got the rower… you can see where this is going. I did that one session as soon as I got it home, I started slow, set myself a huge catch-up target, then went flat out. That was after doing a hard run session earlier in the day. I was in denial about feeling weak the next day, telling myself it was just hunger from doing too much, but it was there the next day as well. Yesterday I was tempted to row, but today was my long run day and I didn’t want to risk anything. Today I got up and felt alright. I set off, planning to do my 18 miles then a gentle 30 minutes on the rower. The first two miles I got slammed by weakness. It was getting worse and worse. By the end of the second mile I was making deals with myself, ‘just get to 3 miles and then turn back, that’s a third of the distance at least’. I dropped off the pace and it felt like I was just shuffling it out. By the end of the third mile the weakness had gone and I’d only actually dropped a few seconds off the pace. I kept going. Then there was a strong wind, then tachycardia which stopped my for 2 minutes, but I got it done. The great thing is, my attitude was back. All last week I was struggling to run. I was counting down each mile and wanting every run to be over. I was getting worried that I might be about to quit running. Today, as soon as I’d got over the plague weakness, I was all ‘BRING IT, BITCHES!” For the first mile after the weakness I was worried I was going to get to halfway, get weak, and not be able to get back. Then I just dug in, said ‘I don’t care, I’m doing it’ and really enjoyed my run. I did a steady 30 minutes on the rower, and so far, touching all the wood, I’m fine. Rest day tomorrow. I’m toying with the idea of going to work for Sainsbury’s . It looks a good job, great pay, with plenty of hours, but… I […]

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Rowing Machine!

As long as I’ve been running I’ve been told to be a good runner you have to do strength training, but I’ve always put it off. I’ve been looking for a rowing machine for a while, they are supposed to be a brilliant exercise for loads of muscle groups, and they are low impact on the body, so no injuries. We had a cheap one which we both used, but it had so little resistance that it was of no use to me. A little bit of research told me the best one for training was a Concept 2. Gym level equipment that real rowers use for training. They are robust, long lasting and hold their resale value. The latter being a double edged sword as it means they are dear to buy in the first place. Today I finally took the plunge. There was one for sale in Manchester, second hand. I went and got it. It’s a beast! It splits in two for transportation but I still had to drive with the hatchback door open a bit and bungee-ed in place. I got it home and set up. It’s enormous! About 8′ long! I gave it a go for half an hour. I was slow starting off as I was watching a video on the correct form for rowing. Apparently that’s very important and something everyone gets wrong. It has screen that tells you information on your performance so I spent the last 6 minutes flat out trying to hit an arbitrary figure (5,500 metres, rowed). I managed it but I was sweating like a pig. Now we wait. I’ll be able to judge what muscles it worked by my stiffness tomorrow and the day after. I already know my shoulders are going to pay for it. Wendy had a go and she said it hurt her stomach and fronts of her thighs. Hopefully this will be my magic bullet. One extra thing I can incorporate into my training to strengthen my core, glutes, and upper body. Huh, looks good. I looked at my monthly running stats on Smashrun. The first few weeks were poor, I missed a bunch of day with plague weakness, but since that has shifted I’m doing pretty good. Unfortunately I’m suffering a lack of mojo. On my easy 18 mile long run I wanted to quit the whole time. The 8 mile everyday runs have been killing me. Not that they are hard, just I don’t want to do it. Today was a better run. It was 2 miles warm up then 80 seconds at sub 6.45 m/m pace, then 80 seconds jog, 14 times, then jog home. That was much better for me as I was concentrating on getting through each fast section, and I rise to that kind of challenge. Back to easy 8 tomorrow before work. I’m less than 12 weeks out from Blackpool marathon, I should be champing at the bit. Ah well, just showing up counts for a […]

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Try Again.

After declaring myself over the plague weakness last week I got it again the next day. I’ve been three days clear now. Ran for the last 5 days, with a beast of a run today, and I’m feeling fine. I really, really, hope that’s it. My plan said an easy 17 miles today. I decided to up the ante a little and do 17 miles with hills. I’ve found a great hill. It’s 4 miles to get there, then laps of it to make up the extra miles. Plus we are in the middle of Storm Isha or something and it’s blowing a gale. All in all, a challenging run. I got it done, it’s nearly 23.00 and I’m still fine on the plague weakness front. Surely that’s it for this bout? I’ve fitted my top box to the bike, and tracked down a tyre place. Bromley tyres has shut down and it took Wendy and me an hour to track down someone who would supply and fit a motorbike tyre locally. Wigan was the nearest one. I popped my bike on centre stand and lashed the back end down to keep the front in the air. Not ideal, but it’s not for long. As an aside, the bike was a joy to work on. Fresh grease, braided brake lines, cleaned out brake calipers, brand new brake pads, no rust. I think I’ve dropped lucky with this one. Low miles and lovingly looked after. Anyway, I left it dangling in the air and drove to Wigan. It wasn’t a tyre place it was a motorbike garage. They took the wheel off me and said “Are you picking it up today or tomorrow?” The horror must have shown on my face. I explained I’d left my bike perched, thinking I was doing an ‘in and out’ tyre swap. They did it for me while I waited, but if they are the only place I’m going to have to make sure I arrange for them to be ready to do it immediately in future. The back tyre is equally old, but a potentially slippy back end isn’t too much of a problem, I’ll wait for it to wear down. If your front end goes out from under you that’s a whole different story. Usually you crash and it’s very expensive and often painful. So top box and front tyre fitted, I’ve found some cheap handguards and heated grips, and I’ve got that suspension bracket to drop the back end down to standard height. The handguards should be arriving tomorrow. Then I just have to fit it all. Once the grips, handguards and suspension bracket is fitted that’s it. Just put petrol in and enjoy. I might be using it in earnest shortly. I was going to apply for an agency job at Iceland but I’ve been putting it off because it’s a pay cut and an awful job. Very difficult stores to access, in the middle of high streets and such, and […]

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