Sunday, 15 September 2019

#runsub17 - Week 5

It's been quite a journey so far this #runsub17 project of mine. When I started running again 5 weeks ago after almost a year off from running I felt so very unfit. I still feel a long way off from where I need to be but there are small signs of improvement to be seen. I can feel within myself this improvement. I'm also running a little quicker and feeling quite comfortable. 

I recently noticed that the uploads from my GPS watch had the VO2 Max figures shown in the image below. I'm not normally one to take much notice of this kind of thing. I'm normally all about running from A to B and being able to do that on many consecutive days. That's what my training has been based on for nearly 2 decades now. These figures, however, have sparked my interest. 

Even if the figures from my watch aren't 100% scientifically accurate, I have something tangible to work towards improving. As you can see from the table below, there is much improvement to be had!

As well as improving VO2 Max, this project will be doomed to fail if I don't improve what I'm eating. It's always been a struggle for me and this has to change and soon. I've got so many bad eating habits which go from the ridiculous to the absolutely ridiculous. One example is the amount of bacon sandwiches I eat. If I go to Greggs for breakfast I will order two bacon and sausage sandwiches (it used to be 3 quite regularly). I always ask for one of them with red sauce and one with brown. This is to make the server think that they are for two different people! 

On some days this week I've had a bacon sandwich and some days porridge. I always feel fuller for longer with porridge. However, when the various around the world support teams have served it to me at a very early hour for days, weeks and months on end it is not an easy substance to eat. Donna used to try and spruce the porridge up a bit during the run across Australia in 2013 with a drawing on top made from fruit puree. Perhaps that's the answer to eating it on a  more regular basis!

The association of porridge and difficult times is a one I need to break! The focus on week six of #runsub17 will be to drop the bacon sandwiches and eat my porridge for breakfast. I also have an option of scrambled eggs so it's not all "bad news".

Speaking of Donna, I'll use this week's blog to confess to her a dark secret that I've been keeping for a few weeks. She's had a couple of boxes of birthday chocolates in the fridge for about 3 months. Knowing her, they'll still be there, fully intact, in another 3 months.

Well they would have been fully intact if it wasn't for the little hole that I made in the bottom of one of the boxes. I've had one or two out of the bottom of the box in my most desperate times in need of chocolate! If you thought the bacon sandwich behaviour was shameful then I think this is even worse!

On the back of this confession, the week six focus will be on saying goodbye to chocolate and other sugary snacks and drinks. Once that's part of my natural daily routine, I'll turn my attention to lunches and evening meals. Better breakfasts and cutting out sugary snacks is the immediate focus.

I'll also look to build on this week's haul of 21 miles next week. I managed to ditch my car, for 4 days out of 5 for the daily commute this week. I had to resort to driving in/back on Friday as I had a load of kit that needed bringing home. The logistics of self powered commuting will be a lot easier when my new bike arrives at the end of the month.

I managed six runs this week with the longest being 5.2 miles. I got slower as the working week went on but the main thing right now is trying to increase the volume and make running a regular habit.  

Relive '#runsub17 - week 5 - run 1'

The quickest that I ran was at the Blyth Links Park Run on Saturday. I managed to knock 1 minute and 8 seconds off last week's Park Run time with a time of 00:33:30. I was very pleased with that time. I even managed a quick "sprint" down the final straight. The split times were 00:10:34, 00:10:54, 00:11:04 and a pace of 00:08:23 for the final 10th of a mile. A huge thank you must go to the volunteers around the course for the encouragement dished out. 

Relive '#runsub17 - Week 5 - Run 6'

At the end of the Park Run, I had a chance meeting with a former running ally, Johnn Mallon. I'm beginning to make a habit of this!

John and I ran the newly opened 84 mile Hardian's Wall path dressed as Roman soldiers back in 2003. That's us pictured below back then. As you can see, it wasn't the full ancient military outfit but more the kind of thing that you'd wear on a stag do!

By the time we reached Segedunum 3 days after leaving Bowness-on-Solway a massive £4,140 was raised for St Benedict's Hospice. It was a brilliant 3 days with lots of laughs as well as being a worthwhile fundraising event. 

It was brilliant to catch up with John who, to my surprise, knew all about my #runsub17 project. Amongst other things, he talked about some of the recent changes that he'd made to his diet which had seen an improvement in running speed over the summer.

While the #runsub17 project was never intended to be a fundraiser you may remember from week 1 of the blog updates that Darren in Perth "...will donate 5 Aussie dollars for every second you get under 20 minutes, and $1000 bonus if you get under 17:00".

I received another message last week from David (pictured below with a strategically placed bottle of Cherry Active), who has been a brilliant member of Team Run Geordie Run over the last few years.

David's message read "...I’ve set up a £25 (plus gift aid) monthly Standing Order to St Benedict's which will give them £300 over the course of the year. Here’s the incentive. If by the end of your challenge you’ve gone sub 24 mins (easy :-) ) I’ll keep the Standing Order going for another 12 months. If you go sub 20 it’s 5 years and sub 17 is ten years. 

Hopefully I’ve pitched it well enough to keep you focused right up until the final day of the challenge whatever happens along the way.".

I was absolutely gobsmacked when I read the message from David. What an incredibly kind gesture! In fact, those words don't really describe how I feel about David's support or anyone else's over the years for that matter. 

This is the 26th year of my fundraising. The generosity shown from thousands of people over those years has been amazing. If it continues during the remaining miles around the world then my dream of raising half a million pounds for local good causes stands a good chance of becoming a reality. 

I often wonder what my Mam and Dad (in the pictures below) would have made of my running and fundraising. It's been very fulfilling to be able to fundraise in their memory thanks to the kindness of so many people like David. Most importantly, it continues to be a privilege to be able to repay the debt of gratitude that I feel towards St Benedict's Hospice for the care they gave my Mam.

Back to #runsub17 and in terms of next week's plan, I'll be looking to increase the volume of running but with little emphasis on speed (until the Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Park Run). As I mentioned earlier, there will a focus on what I eat for breakfast and also sugary snacks. It's all set up to be an important week. Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you're enjoying the early stages of this journey as much as I am.