Saturday 31 March 2007

A sensible week of training

I've only attempted 2 runs this week due to the pain in my lower back. The pain only occurs when I get up to a certain speed or distance on a run. I've taken the same approach with this injury as I did with the groin strain that occurred in February - i.e. no running! I've found this quite frustrating as I'm keen to prove how much I've improved on the shorter runs after so many long runs. It's no major issue because I feel that the training to date has been of the highest quality. I could never have imagined that running 50 miles a week would be so easy. Also, and probably more importantly, my recovery times after a long run have been reduced to virtually nothing. So all in all I'm in pretty good nick with 3 months of training left.

This week's lack of running doesn't mean a lack of exercise altogether. I've had 2 hard sessions in the gym where, thankfully, I've felt no back pain whatsoever. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed on Monday.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Nearly a PB....If it wasn't for that pesky bad back!

It was a nice change to run a short distance for once; my favourite 6 mile run around Gosforth and the Town Moor. I'm sure I was on for a PB, thanks to a mile or so of sprinting between lamp posts with Ian 'The Coach'. However, a sudden pain in my lower back unfortunately prevented this and I had to slow down considerably for the last mile. Later, the pain was excruciating in the changing rooms and I just about managed to get showered and dressed. Thankfully, the pain eased later in the afternoon.

I think I know exactly how I got this injury. I reckon, the pain was caused by carrying up to 2 litres of water for a total of 51 miles on my long runs home last week. Anyhow, if you happen to see the pictured road sign in or around Shotley Bridge, please slow down for me.

Monday 26 March 2007

Road side support rota almost complete

Great news today! I've managed to fill 5 of the previously unsupported 9 days on the run. On the flip side of the coin, these 6 days are to be provided by a man who thinks Barcelona is North of London. What can possibly go wrong! It's a good job I'll have the route worked out prior to setting off!

Anyway, despite his grade F in geography, thanks go to Owen for pledging a few days of his time (and annual leave!). The other support days will be provided by another colleague - Keith and my good lady wife Katy and son and heir - Jack. I'll be profiling each member of the support crew in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, pictured left is Owen while following his team (Celtic) in Europe. He's holding aloft a trophy awarded for the worst ever sense of direction.

Keith, Owen, Katy and Jack are providing 38 days of support between them. This leaves only 4 days left to fill. Does anyone fancy driving after some fat runner this summer?

The Route (Week 5 of 6)

The 5th week of the run will take me through Somerset and Devon before reaching the final county of the big run - Cornwall. And boy, will I be pleased to make it to Cornwall in 1 piece!

This is the week where I'll be keeping a look out for the Beast of Bodmin. Hopefully, after running 800 miles I will have slimmed down a bit and the chances of being mistaken for said Beasty will not be that high.

Sunday 25 March 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 25/03/2007)

Monday 19th March - 17 miles. Gosforth to Shotley Bridge. (03:29:11).
Tuesday 20th March - Gym.
Wednesday 21st March - 17 miles. Gosforth to Shotley Bridge. (03:12:44).
Thursday 22nd March - Gym.
Friday 23rd March - 17 miles. Gosforth to Shotley Bridge. (03:21:50).
Saturday 24th March - Lay on the settee most of the day!

Saturday 24 March 2007

Spirt of the Italian Stallion guides me home safely

I'm very pleased and relieved to say that I've managed 3 x 17 mile runs this week, as planned, as well as 2 sessions in the gym. I found Monday's run (03:29:11) quite easy, Wednesday's run (03:12:44) much more difficult and Friday's run (03:21:50) very very exhausting (physically and mentally). Only a playlist of music, on my iPod, from the Rocky films inspired me to finish. The impact that certain music can have on a particular run never ceases to amaze me. "Eye of the Tiger" and "The Rocky Fanfare" are my personal favourites. It's a good job it was pitch black at the end and nobody could see me punching the air like a boxer in training!

I said last week about this week's 3 big runs that "This will be a real test of where I am at this stage of my training and will either serve as a great confidence boost or bring me crashing down to earth with the realisation of the scale of this year's run.". Well, I think I'm somewhere in between a confidence boost and a reality check. This week has certainly given me something to think about in terms of how I will spend the last 3 months of training.

After running 101 miles in the last 2 weeks, I think I'll give myself a "rest" next week and do some shorter quicker runs. Perhaps a few personal best times could be on the cards?

Monday 19 March 2007

A cold, icy, snowy 17 miles

Well I actually did it; 17 miles in 3 hours 29 minutes. I set off from Gosforth at 15:45 to make sure that there would be enough light when I finished (but there wasn't! AGAIN!). The first 6 miles to Blaydon were done in a mixture of bright sunshine one minute and snow showers the next. Fortunately, I'd packed a waterproof coat in my back pack and had to put it on after only 2 miles. It was to prove a life saver as icy snow showers were in evidence at quite a few points on the run. I took plenty of water on board and even tried another energy gel. I think the gel worked a treat this time as I felt quite comfortable all the way along the route. Those gel things have a disgusting taste though. I'll just have to put up with them as they do seem to do a lot of good.

I felt really good at the end as you can tell from the picture (the white dots are snow flakes!). The only aches I seemed to have after the run were at the ends of some of my toes. I think I need to get the nail clippers out!

I never imagined I'd put in a run as good as this due to the fact that I was "persuaded" to go to the chippy at lunchtime. I was on my way to the deli when the idea of a bag of chips was put before me. "No.... must... resist.... the..... chippy..... Got.... to...... get...... something...... healthy.....Fish and chips please pet.......with curry sauce!". But hey, they did the trick. I think I'll stick to the usual jacket tatey before Wednesday's 17 mile effort though.

Sunday 18 March 2007

Time to get out of the comfort zone!

With 50 relatively easy miles of training achieved this week, it is now time to try and get out of the comfort zone. Things are going far too well, so next week's plan is to run home from work (17 miles) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This will be a real test of where I am at this stage of my training and will either serve as a great confidence boost or bring me crashing down to earth with the realisation of the scale of this year's run. Also, for every mile done on the road, strength work in the gym is needed as a compliment. I've somehow got to look at getting at least 3 gym sessions done. It seems that there are hardly enough hours in the week to get all the required exercise in. How on earth do proper athletes manage?

Incidentally, the final run of the week was on the Derwent Walk Path (yet again). However, instead of ending at Shotley Bridge I started there and as a result it was 95% downhill. What a way to end the week! Well almost! This is the last time I put my iPod on shuffle mode when it is out of easy reach in my backpack. Just 2 miles into the run I was graced with a Bing Crosby classic. White Christmas! Note to self - Remove all of the seasonal albums from the iPod before setting off from John O'Groats in July. In fact, given my musical tastes I think I'd better review all 40GB and remove any songs that would have a negative impact on my running. For instance, I could have done without "What's that coming over the hill? Is it a Monster?" after 3 miles of running in the dark last Wednesday.

Training Summary (Week ending 18/03/2007)

Monday 12th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:40:36).
Tuesday 13th March - 6 miles. Town Moor Memorial. (01:00:12).
Wednesday 14th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:46:21).
Thursday 15th March - Gym
Friday 16th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:48:22).
Sunday 18th March - 11 miles. Shotley Bridge to Blaydon (01:36:29).

Friday 16 March 2007

Another comfortable week of training

I've just ran my 39th mile of the week finishing, yet again, with an 11 mile run up the Derwent Walk Path. I'm averaging a very comfortable 9 and a half minutes per mile pace and find myself finishing every run in a strong fashion. My training is going very much to plan.

The challenge now is to get this training mileage up to over 50 miles per week for the remainder of March and in April. I then hope to get up to 60 miles per week in May and June. If I stick to this plan then I reckon I've got a very good chance of completing the big run in July and August. The immediate challenge, however, is to finish this week off in style with an 11 mile run on Sunday giving me a total of 50 miles for the week and possibly the most training mileage that I've ever done for an event in one week.

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Sponsorship total starting to get a bit respectable!

After nearly 3 months of harassing, pestering and begging lots of people the fund has surpassed the £2000 mark. I've found it quite difficult to devote as much time as I should in trying to get sponsorship. I've spent this lost time either training or with my family (or at the match!). So it's all a bit of a juggling act at the minute. Looking on the bright side, I think I'd be in a much worse position if I'd spent more time on sponsorship and not as much time training. My 11 mile runs home are a doddle now and the weight is starting to shift quite nicely.

In terms of devoting time to raising sponsorship, I can't see things getting any easier. I'll soon be running 50-60 miles a week and attending the gym 2 or 3 times. As it stands, if I'm going to reach the target of £5000, I'll have to think of a new approach. I need to get my thinking cap on! Any suggestions welcome!

Sunday 11 March 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 11/03/2007)

Monday 5th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:52:00).
Tuesday 6th March - 6 miles. Town Moor Memorial. (00:57:36).
Wednesday 7th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:45:21).
Friday 9th March - 11 miles. Blaydon to Shotley Bridge. (01:46:31).
Sunday 11th March - Tennis. 90 minutes, 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 defeat.

Friday 9 March 2007

A very satisfactory week of training

Having just ran my 39th mile of the week, I've got to say that I'm very pleased with the way my training is going. I think I've missed 1 planned run in the last 3 months. This is a sign that motivation is very high. The reason for this is partly because of the fact that I know what lies ahead in July/August. Also, the encouragement I've had from colleagues at work has played a major part. So thanks to John, Ian, Jimmy, Mike, Malcolm, Steven etc etc for advice, encouragement and for keeping a watchful and critical eye on my food intake. Although, I did manage to sneak a bacon, tomatoe and black pudding sandwich past Ian "the coach" this morning. He soon found out, though, as I forgot to dispose of the "Regent Centre Sandwich Shop" bag and left it lying around on my desk. Doh! Caught red handed!

Tonight's run along the Derwent Walk Path (pictured all thanks to the timer on my camera) was a case of 4 seasons in one day. There was bright sunshine one minute followed by sleet and rain the next. As was the case on Wednesday, I finished this run in darkness. I did notice that the more it got darker, the faster I ran and I followed up Wednesday's 1 hour, 45 minutes, 52 seconds with a very pleasing 1 hour, 46 minutes, 51 seconds.

Monday 5 March 2007

The Route (Week 4 of 6)

The 4th week of the big run will see me running down the west of England. I've got 5 night's accommodation so far for this week. Luxury!

11 wet, cold, dark miserable miles

This was one of 3 attempts at an 11 mile run this week along the Derwent Walk Path to Shotley Bridge. The last 20 minutes were done in near darkness and in the pouring rain with a nice south westerly wind to round things off. I eventually got home, soaking wet after 1 hr and 52 minutes. This is still a respectable time given the conditions and the fact that I've not had a rest day for over a week.

For the purposes of continuing to experiment with energy drinks/gels I tried a gel supplement after 6 miles. The only thing this seemed to do for me was to make me feel very hungry 5 minutes after consuming it. I think I'll be trying my "magic powder" again on Wednesday's 11 mile run.

Sunday 4 March 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 04/03/2007)

Monday 26th February - 5 miles. Race course (00:48:11).
Tuesday 27th February - 6 miles. Town Moor Memorial. (00:57:36).
Wednesday 28th February - 8.5 miles. Bridle Path, Race Course. (01:33:03).
Thursday 1st March - Gym (60 minutes).
Friday 2nd March - 11 miles (01:42:18). Blaydon to Shotley Bridge.
Saturday 3rd March - 4.5 miles (00:43:02). St James Park to Gateshead.
Sunday 4th March - Tennis. 90 minutes, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 defeat.

Friday 2 March 2007

11 amazing miles

This afternoon's run was an 11 mile route from Blaydon to Shotley Bridge down the Derwent Walk Country Path. I decided to run the route with a piece of equipment that I will hopefully be using on the big run in the Summer. The Camelbak Snoblast Hydration Pack (pictured) is large enough to carry 2 litres of fluid. This capacity should see me requiring less stops on the big run, meaning I will be able to run my daily mileage in as short a time as possible. Which in turn, should give me a longer recovery time and more time for sleeping/sight seeing!

The crucial thing, however, is deciding what kind of fluid to put in the back pack. I had intended to experiment with different things over the coming weeks but I think I've found exactly what I need - SIS Go Electrolyte (pictured). I drank about half a litre of the stuff during tonight's run and it had an amazing effect I can tell you. Every one of the 11 miles I ran felt like I was just running the first mile. My previous best at this run, last summer, was 1 hour 53 minutes. This time, however, my watch read 1 hour 42 minutes as I reached the finish point. I think, given the speed I ran the last 2 miles, I would have been on for a sub 2 hour half marathon time. This has given me a great confidence boost and it's just what I need as I will be attempting this 11 mile route over the next 3 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It's been a while since I've ran this route. Despite being chased by a few dogs and nearly being knocked over by a horse it was very enjoyable. And while I'm on the subject, I've got a new rule. I'm now going to stop and walk very slowly when horses are passing in the other direction! The highway code mentions "Look out for horse riders' signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Treat all horses as a potential hazard and take great care.". Well there were no requests to slow down or stop or indeed any signals at all. From now on, though, I will be treating all horses as a potential hazard and taking great care. Dogs, however, need a different strategy. I think the best plan with those pesky mutts is just to get your head down and run as fast as you can past them.