Welcome to my running blog. I am currently training to run two marathons in April 2011 - Paris and London - to help celebrate my 30th Birthday. I often get asked about my training methods so thought would write a blog so you can see what it takes -also it provides me with a momento of the last few months of my twenties! In addition to the personal challenge I will be raising money for charity - please see my fundraising page for more details:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Wekk 15: The End!

On the emabnkment - looking v serious!
Finally, after all those weeks of hard training, the final hurdle – the Virgin London Marathon. I’ve done marathons before but never two in eight days – how would I cope? Would I have enough energy to get to the end? Could I manage to gorge myself on pasta one final time?

A week of rest
Woke up after the Paris marathon feeling in remarkably good nick with my only concern being the torture of the planned sports massage. Suitably pummelled and twisted I filled the week with rest, overeating, a touch of yoga and the merest hint of a run on the treadmill (a whole 10 mins – marvellous!)  Physically body felt a bit tired and there was a slight twinge in my right hamstring but overall in fighting form.

In my sponsorship form I had suggested that I would run in fancy dress – enough ideas came in that I opted for a beautiful fairy/angel outfit – mainly because it was the only one that fit!

The race
Woke up feeling fresh as a daisy on the day of the race – although was still full from the blowout pasta meal the night before. However I still managed to gobbled down a large bowl of porridge, dried fruit and nuts, some toast, a couple of slices of malt loaf, an energy bar, orange juice and a banana. Yum – prob a little bit overdid the food and felt pretty heavy all day but a marathon is a long way you know.

Walked down brick lane past all the usual partygoers who were still out and about – felt very virtuous having not had alcohol for a couple of weeks! Picked up my friend David (who was also running) and together wondered down to the DLR to join the steady stream of runners all congregating in Greenwich park.

The start was busy with runners stretching, eating and liberally applying lube  (chaffing is a runners worst nightmare). Unlike Paris there were lots of toilets provided – although even then there were reasonable queues – the curse of the over-hydration! I got many an admiring glance and compliment on my white dress and wings. We got corralled into our start pens, a quick word from Richard Branson and we were off!

The weather was already humid at the start and I wanted decided to get a couple of fast km done to get away from the crowds and before it got too hot. My legs felt good, I wasn’t too full and my wings weren’t rubbing too much. Its been a successful few months and I know what pace I am capable of and what speed to go out as that I am on the limit, for the marathon it was just a case of focusing and running like a metronome and hoping I made it to the end! Varying your pace drastically is a very bad idea in a marathon – and I can only apologise to the many runners I overtook – one look at the idiot in fancy dress going past and most of the serious runners would try and keep up. One guy battled to stay with me for the whole first half before dropping off!

During the second half the field was very strung out and the heat was oppressive. I was suffering from some pain in my left Achilles but kept on at the same speed – it was fairly obvious people were struggling and was very satisfying to spend the second half of the race continually moving up the field. Wearing fancy dress is very popular in the marathon but less so for the serious runners – there were big cheers for me all the way round as one of the first fancy dressers and by far the best looking. One runner was very happy to see me go past in costume as he thought the cheers of ‘Come on you fairy’ were a critique of his running style! In addition I had the support of my parents who managed to see me a staggering four times on the way round (no mean feet) and a number of other supporters along the course – a special shout out to all who were at Manuela’s marathon balcony brunch around mile 11 and also to Ben who spotted me twice while also looking out for his girlfriend.

When pushing things to the limit the last 10k is always tough  - however in London the crowds along the embankment are immense – unbelievable support for all runners and if they can see you battling away you get even bigger cheers. I injected a little extra pace for the last couple of KM, steamed past Buckingham palace and into the Mall for the Finish. The Achilles which had felt dodgy all the way round didn’t snap and my super large breakfast (topped up with a couple of gels and copious amounts of lucosade on the way round) kept me going through to the finish. I stormed across the line in my new PB of 2 hours 50min 17 seconds! This was at the upper end of my expectations and amazing given the hot conditions – I’d run solid, steady race all the way round with the second half only about 1 min slower than the first half.

I was greeted across the line by the Guinness world records people – they were expecting an official record breaking attempt that year by a fairy – but I didn’t qualify as I hadn’t applied (I had applied for a fancy dress record a previous year but then got injured so hadn’t applied this year out of superstition). Maybe next time…

Was a glorious sunny day and afterwards relaxed in the park and enjoyed a few beers to celebrate with friends and other fellow runners (congrats to Barbarra who had a storming race as a peacock for a Guinness world record and to Helen who got an amazing time!).

Race all done – checkout all the pics to see how awesome I looked. Mission accomplished pretty much as planned – two marathons in eight days and a new personal best – can’t really ask for more – I may be thirty but am still fighting fit!

Thank you for everyone’s words of encouragement and support, for those of you who trained and raced with me, my parents and obviously my girlfriend who had to cope with me training non stop for the past three months. Has been a great few months and has been fun writing a blog for a few months.

Finally thanks for all the sponsorship – am still collecting in money for anyone who was waiting to see if I actually made it! Link at the top of the blog. 

Running past buck palace
Runnign across Tower Bridge

With the parents post race - note their Paris finishing tops!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Week 15: London Marathon - come and support

Massage on monday to recover from Paris. Legs feeling pretty sprightly considering. Spent the week relaxing, touch of yoga and pigging out on carbs.

Race on sunday - here's a detailed guide to the best places to watch and a full description of the route.  It all starts at 9.45 and I will be running around 6 min 30s per mile so you can get a rough idea of where I will be at any point in time.

Afterwards will head to the gardens on the embankment - between embankment and temple tube - to drink beer and eat food.  If you're coming by please bring plenty of both ;) Everyone welcome.

For anyone who can't make it out please show your support by sponsoring me - link at the intro to the blog. Thank you for everyones generosity so far.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Week 14 Cont: Enjoying the brass in Paris

Tick.  First Marathon completed. 3hrs 20mins. Next up London.

Sunny Paris
And how did the weekend go? Tres bon since you ask. J’ai  arrive a paris on the Friday night feeling relaxed and rested after a chilled week of training.  Saturday nous sommes promenade from cafe to cafe and manger beaucoup de crepes pour le carbo loading. Un petit relax in the jardins in front of le tour Eiffel followed by a charming trip along the seine dans un boat. Lots of soleil and not a cloud in sight. Tous le monde ( parents, sister, partners, parents neighbours etc.) decamped to a belle Italian restaurant in the evening to fill our bellies with pasta ahead of the big day. And so to bed filled with a certain I don’t know what or even a little je ne sais quoi.

(mange tous Rodney  mange tous– but that’s enough of the cod French for now),

The Marathon
Up early for a breakfast of museli, a couple of bananas, nuts and orange juice. Running clothes on with attractive emergency poncho to keep out the early morning chill and into the metro to join the forty thousand other runners all rendezvousing at the Arc de Triomphe. What a start to a marathon! Lining up on the Champs Elysees, the rising sun lighting up the whole of Paris before us. The only downside was the lack of toilets – queues for miles for the few portacabins that were provided. As usual at a running race the thousands of over-hydrated people made use of any available wall or shop window turning one of the poshest streets in Paris into a giant urinal. Herded into our starting pens we had a few words from the mayor of Paris and a moment of silence for the victims of the Japan earthquake and then we were off!

The route meandered through the centre of Paris, past many of the major landmarks, out through a large park to the east of the city and then back, along the bank of seine through the Bois de Bologne and finishing just short of the Arc de Triomphe. The wide streets meant there was plenty of space, however, compared to other marathons, there was a scarcity of water (only every 5k) and only one measly sports drink station. On the upside there were plenty of bananas, oranges and raisins at every water stop as well as hoses spraying down the runners at regular points. I had my stash of gels to keep me going through the last few kilometres.

The front of me - in red shirt and glasses

My arse.

As this was my first of two marathons within a week my aim was to get round in a steady 3hrs 30mins. My training has all been for a speedy sub 3 marathon so my main aim was not to get carried away with the crowds and excitement and go too fast. For those of you avid blog readers you may have noticed I get a little competitive and in a marathon with so many people around it is very easy to keep trying to overtake. There is a real ebb and flow of runners even though the majority of people around you are aiming for a similar time – keeping focused on who you are keeping pace with is essential. Luckily technology is there to help and the instant feedback that a GPS watch is invaluable with speed readings rather than the old fashioned method of trying to calculate every mile in your head. One downside is the modern runner relies too much on this and when we went through a kilometre tunnel chaos ruled as everyone lost satellite connection and watch pace alarms started beeping left right and centre.

The views were fantastic and the sun was out but not too strong and there was a preponderance of brass bands round the course – by my reckoning more brass than water stops. The crowds were thinner than for London and New York and less vocal. Luckily I had my travelling band of supporters armed with cobweb brushes cleverly transformed into Union Jacks. The night before a plan of attack was drawn up and I knew where on the course and what side of the road to be on to see the GF! Chasing round after runners is a pretty tough task and the GF and Jason, my sister’s boyfriend, had the whole family to cheer on at various points. They did a brilliant job and helped break up the tedium of all those miles.

Post Marathon
Finished in a slightly faster time than expected – 3hrs 20min but felt good. Mum and Vicky, her long time running partner, beat their target time of four hours by a couple of mins and dad was four hours on the button. Little sis, in her first ever marathon, stormed through the majority of the course but an injured ankle scuppered her final few KM – was a brilliant performance from her. Everyone together we decamped to a beautiful square to enjoy the sun, sample the delicious French food and enjoy a well deserved wine or beer.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to do a race with the whole family. Mum and dad have been inspirational to me in many areas of my life, with running being one of the more obvious. They have never pushed me to run but I have always felt inspired by their obvious enjoyment and dedication to it. Ever since I can remember dad has been running - he also took me to watch my first London marathon a good twenty years ago. Mum took it up once we had grown up a bit and didn’t need constant looking after – and has promptly stormed round every imaginable distance often finishing in the top three for her age.  Great to run the race with them and also have little sis there as well and celebrate together afterwards.

Legs felt decent afterwards – managed a walk around town. Luckily GF's french cousin had joined us so took us on a trip to the Musee de Orsay and a few more café stops. I enjoyed a cheeky glass of wine and some more crepes before heading home on the Eurostar.

Round one of two done – a week of eating, sleeping and stretching ahead of me. Bliss.

Mum, Dad, Me and VIcky at the finish (waiting on a pic including little sis - will be in a future blog!)

The whole crew enjoying a relax in a Parisian cafe.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Week 14 - Carbo Load and Paris marathon

Quick post before jumping on the Eurostar and heading off to Paris. Been a great week - couple of chilled runs, still off the booze and now off the coffees. Feel a different man! Just starting the tough task of carbo loading - someone has to eat those cakes! Now just a matter of staying hydrated and not stubbing my toe or walking into anything. Still aiming for a relatively steady 3hr 30min pace on Sunday ahead of the big test in London the week after. The whole family in Paris as well as mum and dads neighbour Vicky who is also running. My sister and I's better halves out on support and cheering duties.  Wish me luck, sponsor me if you have the time and will let you know how it all goes next week!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Week 12 and 13: Tapering

And finally the tapering period has begun – the longest run has been ran and from now on the frequency, distance and intensity of training decreases. Luckily this coincided with my 30th birthday allowing me a couple of nights of celebrations unhindered by the need to pound the streets. Not only has my running decreased but my blogging updates have been tapering as well! Its been fun writing about the training and hopefully you’ve got a rough idea of what’s involved in training for a couple of marathons but there’s only a few different ways of writing about the long slog of running to make it sound that interesting!

For the record, week 12 I managed a grand total of two runs: a rather stonking 29k run after work with some particularly strong speed work for the last 10k. The following day I limped around a 12k with sore legs. On the weekend I celebrated turning 30 and enjoyed my last few drinks before the marathon. By Monday I wasn’t ‘enjoying’ them so much and a slow start to the week culminated in a couple of light runs by the end of the week to clock another 44k. However the clocks have changed, the sun is out and the evenings are light – running is wonderful again! Shame the change in temperature and clocks has brought out all the fair weather runners and groups of school children – the south bank becoming particularly congested. I find the best solution is to drop the shoulder and lean in – amazing the distance you can get with a gangly exchange student.

In between the running have become a bit of a yoga fiend – a couple of bikram sessions at the weekend and the odd ashtanga class (which I have only discovered recently and is brilliant). The reduced training, increased yoga and lack of alcohol all helping me feel fantastic (although it took a few days for the previous weekends hangover to wear off). Hopefully that continues for the next few days – off to Paris with the family on Friday and marathon on the Sunday.  Wish me luck!

KM Ran
Week 12  Ran  41k  (plan 60)
Week 13 Ran  44k (plan 40)
Week 14 Plan 25k (excluding paris marathon!)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Week 11 cont: Winning, duh.

Boom – the tiger blood started pumping this week! Post the weeks skiing it took a few days to get back into exercising without big planks strapped to my foot but by the end of the week we were flying. And the secret weapon? Off the booze for the week and lots of shut eye. Obviously my training is coming to a peak and the weeks ‘rest’ while on the slopes has left me rejuvenated but is amazing how fresh I feel after a week with no alcohol. The only thing I’m addicted to now is winning.

On Friday I was an F-18 bro, but on a treadmill! I deployed my ordinance as I hammered a sprint session – 3 mins at full tilt and 2 mins rest for 40 mins with a warm up before and after. Hit a top speed of 20.5 on the treadmill (that’s 20.5 kmh – or 3 min per km for those of you without a warlock brain.) which is impressive although sadly that’s roughly the pace that the marathon world record was run in.  

At the weekend I was at home with the aged rels for a pre-emptive birthday celebration. As a special treat the whole family had entered a 15mile race in Banbury on Sunday (I’m spoilt aren’t I…). The race started off tough but I managed to tailgate someone for the majority of the course. We made steady work overtaking people from about half way onwards – he dropped me on a big hill three miles from the end. Despite only having one gear, one speed, go, I managed to pick up the pace and steamed past him and with the wind in my sails (or the afterburners enagaged on the old F-18)  had a storming final 3km picking up a few more places including beating the first lady – winning, duh! Jogged back along the course to add a few more KM to my overall total and to see in aged rels, their running buddy Vicki and my little sis. Gnarly day had by all!

Overall for the week a nice tidy 86km including a nice run out along the river to Battersea park – pic of Battersea bridge included. Also managed my usual hour long gym session with Ian where I worked out like a rock god from mars. Week ahead scattered with plans to celebrate my birthday but aiming to clock a respectable 60km – after that it’s the easy bit – tapering! Exercise less, sleep more, eat well. Can’t wait.

P.S. If you didn’t get the topical quotes in this weeks entry then congratulate yourself that you don’t waste your time reading vacuous quotes by overhyped celebrities. If you want to catch up with the rest of the world check out the following link, or just google Mr Sheen and see what turns up. Winning, duh!

Week 11 Total
Week 11 Km Ran   86km  (80km Target)
Week 12 Target      60km

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Week 11: Back running

Back in London after an excellent weeks skiing – decent snow over most of the resort although had to trek a bit for the best of the off piste. Fortunately no damage to limbs and muscles although the liver took a bit of a beating. No running at all but we were up promptly to get first lifts and skied pretty hard all day (apart from Friday when body and soul needed a leisurely day, skiing gently with regular break to enjo gluhwein sat out in the wonderful spring sunshine). Just what I needed as a break from all the running. Pics below of the beautiful scenery and secondly  the Mooserwirt - apres ski bar for the discerning customer...

Back out on my usual running jaunts this week – lets hope the legs are feeling strong after the week off – aiming for a solid 80km this week.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Week 9 and 10

Week 9: I ran 65km. Whoop de whoop. What fun.

Week 10: currently in Austria skiing, drinking and singing amusing songs about eisbears whilst dancing on tables.

The dancing is very important as it is key to any serious and dedicated marathon training program.

Dancing on a table less important but allot of fun.

Will be back running next week. Bet you can't wait ...however I can.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Week 8 Cont: Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

First Hill

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow

And there let me wallow in glorious mud   

100km! Finally hit the magic ton after a number of years trying. Was a slog but worth it. Quick 8.5km on Friday and 14km on the treadmill Saturday then just a mere 20.2 miles ~ 32.5km on Sunday.

Early drive down to Petersfield on the sunday in the Eros (my car – it’s a VW Eos but renamed for obvious reasons). Beautiful weather to start but the course itself was v hilly (see the profile pic below) and muddy. Had a group of six of us all running out of a total field of almost 500 and also bumped into a girl at the start (hi emma!) who was at school with me and I haven’t seen for 11 years. Everything was waterlogged and muddy so managed one step forward and half a step back – a number of fallers on the way which only added to the entertainment. An excellent run with great refreshments – cake and mars bars bars as well as the more usual jelly babies and water at various points on the course – delicious! Also a well stocked cake table at the finish (see pic) to reward weary runners.  Only downside was the rain which kicked in with about 50mins to go which made things even slippier and muddy. Mud, mud, glorious mud.

I ran most of the way with a friend (hullo ted!) and finished in a respectable 3hrs 11min. In our group Dave ran a fantastic race coming in 13th with a time of 2hrs 39.  I was also put to shame by Emma from my school days who kicked considerable ass to win the girls competition. Finished off with a warming pub lunch and then an anxious hour or so waiting for the final member of the party who was sick on the way round, v slow and then couldn’t get his car out of the car park due mud – bad day at the office that.

V satisfying week – legs feeling in good shape considering. Lets see how they do this coming week.  One more week of running then off to the Austria for some high altitude training (skiing for a week…)

KM Ran
Week 8 total 100km  (plan 100km)   Boom!
Week 8 Plan 70km

Muddy foot!

Ted Looking v relaxed!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Week 8: Mind over Matter

Channelling my best Uri Geller this week in a triumph of mind over matter – although to be honest spoon bending seems easier than running at the moment. It has been an unpleasant couple of days but we’re winning the war. After the (non exercise) exertions last week I have picked up some sort of illness – tight chest, headache etc. all v boring but making running a chore. Here’s what I’ve clocked up so far this week: 12km slog in the gym Monday, Training session with Ian on Tuesday, 12km stagger along the Thames Wednesday and then 21km river/gym session on Thursday. For the Thursday session I managed a few decent KM in the gym as although I was feeling terrible I managed to pick a treadmill next to a girl. Who was running fast. Now I’m sure you’re all aware of the gym rules: wipe down equipment, don’t swear, no petting etc. with the most important one being that if you are on the treadmill next to a girl you have to go faster than her. And not only run faster but to do so in a calm and collected manner with an easy, slightly bored look on your face as if you were wondering around Tescos on a relaxed Sunday afternoon. The looks are v important and obviously if you were not to float along the treadmill with the apparent easy of a galloping gazelle you would risk expulsion from the gym. So despite feeling faint and feeble, and with my lungs wheezing and my breath short I cranked the speed up to a decent level, chest high, eyes forward and put in a decent showing. My gym membership wasn’t revoked so can only imagine my internal pain and suffering was well hidden…

45km run so far this week – have a 32km race down in Portsmouth on Sunday so need to get 23 odd km in today and Saturday to hit the magic 100km – fingers crossed.

Have included a couple more pics of interesting buildings on my route home (this time the Gerkin and Lloyds of London). Taking these pics has made me realise how amazing London is – I often get wowed when I travel but forget to look all around at the structures I live amongst. Some exciting new buildings being built (Heron tower and the Shard) – will try and gets pics of both soon.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Week 7: Doughnut or the hole?

'Twixt optimist and pessimist
    The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut;
    The pessimist the hole.

If you see the lovely, delicious doughnut…Then this week was a perfectly executed rest week for both brain and body. A variety of extra curricular activities to keep the mind active coupled with a significantly reduced training schedule to heal tired limbs will have huge benefits in the context of my overall fitness regime. Indeed, the week could be seen as intense stamina training due to the late nights and early mornings – if I can survive all that then no problems for a couple of marathons.

…and if you are fixated with the hole. Then this was the week where the delights and temptations of London coupled with a lack of motivation contrived to scupper the best laid exercise plans. I had allot of fun, ate delicious food, danced the night away, watched one of the best football matches I’ve ever seen and caught up with good friends, however exercising didn’t get much of a look in.

The Week in Numbers:
Number of runs this week: 2
Number of gym sessions with trainer: 1
Number of visits to the gym but feeling too tired to run so did 30mins on the cross trainers instead: 1
Number of visits to the gym but feeling too tired to run, so attempted to cross train but too tired for that, so stretched for 5 mins then left in disgust, pausing only to drop my iphone on the floor and smash the screen: 1

Being a doughnut type of guy this was obviously the break I needed. For the coming week I have a relatively calm social schedule so aiming to clock up some serious KM. The aim is to approach 100km in the week which I have never achieved. Fingers crossed!

KM Ran
Week 7 total 32km  (plan 70km)
Week 8 Plan 100km!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Week 6 cont: Off to the Olympics

Well it had been a sobering week training wise with sore muscles and the lack of motivation. On Sunday I finally hauled myself off the couch and set off on my long run hoping to shake myself out of my slumber and stagger round a solid 25k to rescue the week.  

There’s something about a long run which is very relaxing. Nothing to rush back for, no pressure to put in a fast session, just the opportunity to get out and enjoy some daylight for once. I plugged in my iPod, laced up my brooks shoes and headed off. My mind wandered and before I knew it I was 10km in and down by Limehouse basin. Heartened I picked up the pace – the fresh smell in the air from the previous nights rain encouraging me on.

 I stopped briefly at the Olympic sight to take a few pictures of the development – two showing the brand spanking new buildings and one of the opposite side of the canal to prove that it is still in deepest, dankest east London – I wonder what will become of the graffiti over the next year. Perhaps Banksy will be commissioned to give the place an acceptably edgy feel. (There’s one of his pieces further down the canal nearer Bethnal green already)

Onwards I trotted, past my turn off home which would result in a 20km run, heading further up the canal to add on a couple of extra clicks before retracing my steps. As I continued I felt a burst of energy, my pace picked up, I felt fresh and alive. Head up I was invincible – faster and faster I ran and further and further – I felt I could run forever. I changed my targets – deciding that after such a miserable week and feeling so good I could easily do 30km. After making light work of the extra 5km I turned round. And almost came to a standstill. No wonder I’d felt so good as I felt the power of the wind, now firmly in my face, that had been propelling me on. Cursing being so optimistic and naïve (no way could I have felt that good) I kept me head down and hit out for home. Needless to say the next 5km were a struggle but managed to get back to the turn, across a field, over the north circular and into Victoria park. I managed a decently paced ten minutes through the park and then trotted back to Brick lane for a couple of delicious freshly baked beigels from the world famous beigel shop. Yummy. Home, shower and stretch and a very satisfying 30km completed.

Let’s hope everything’s back on track for the next week. Happy Valentines day one and all.

KM Ran
Week 6 total 66km  (plan 70km)
Week 7 Plan 70km

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Week 6 cont: The Wheels on the wagon are falling off.

If you were to believe Ok! magazine you’d think you’d bump into celebrities every few meters in London. Sadly not true – so when I do spot one a great cause for excitement. Not sure how high this rates on the celebrity scale but Duncan Banatyne and Peter Jones of Dragons Den were sat a couple of tables away at Dinner on Thursday evening. Now why is this relevant to my running training you may ask? Well, v little I’d reply.  On that front the wheels have come off the wagon a little this week so writing about something else seemed much more interesting.
After the big half marathon last weekend my body has felt pretty heavy and lethargic all week. Also, psychologically I feel ahead of the game having recorded such a fast time early on in training so mentally have been less focused. After struggling in my run on Wednesday (see last post) I couldn’t  face squeezing in a run on Thursday afternoon so retired to the pub for pre dinner drinks. Friday I was similarly jaded and struggled to complete 10k on the treadmill in the gym. Saturday I woke up relatively early and decided to get a morning Bikram yoga session in to sort myself out.  Three problems with that:
-          Far too early.   11am class but should have slept more
-          My least favourite teacher. For some reason he annoys me and I find it hard to focus. Sunday evening the best class with the best teacher. And the fact that she is beautiful and Spanish is completely irrelevant.
-          Hungover. Still had a few litres of vodka and cranberry swishing around inside me. This does not mix well with exercising in a sauna.
Later on Saturday I made it to the Virgin Gym in Angel for a late session before meeting friends. Again the body wasn’t working and slogged my way to 9km at a pretty slow speed.
Currently it’s Sunday morning. Plan is to get out and do around 25k. Thought writing the blog may inspire me. Not working yet... will have to bite the bullet and head out soon. Maybe someone could come up with an invention to motivate me – am sure Duncan and Peter would invest! See you on the other side...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Week 6 cont: Run Fat Boy Run - Food, Exercise and Weight loss

A quick update on this weeks training before I give my very non scientific view on food, exercise and weight loss – for those of you in a rush the secret to losing weight (shh – don’t tell anyone): eat less move more. For longer, but not necessarily better chat see below.

Anyway, the better half is off skiing this week so taking the advantage of that to fit in a few extra sessions and also to get to bed earlier. After the pummelling my muscles took on Monday I woke up early on both Tuesday and Wednesday and headed into the Barbican Virgin Gym for a quick pre-work workout. I have found I am very bad at running in the morning and often injure myself so avoid the treadmill and stick to the other cardio machines. Both days I did around twenty mins on various step/rowing contraptions then hit the weights to keep my upper body in shape (Back on Tuesday and shoulders Weds – I rotate each day focusing on different parts of the body alternating pushing exercises (chest and shoulders) with pulling exercises (back)).

Had rearranged my trainer to Tuesday as one of my post work classes had been cancelled (still need to outline the new program we’re working on -  will do another time) and Wednesday I managed a 15km run consisting of my usual river run with a couple of extra KM on the treadmill. Some days I love running and I fly round with a smile on my face. Wednesday wasn’t one of those days – the run dragged, my legs were heavy and was happy to get to the end and reward myself with a long soak in the hot tub. 

Will see how the next two days go – heading out to paint the town a particularly racy shade of red so will see if can fit in runs before parties and in whatever state I find my self in tomorrow.

Run Fat Boy Run – Food, Exercise and Weight loss

I love food. Love love love food. I love burgers, chips, pizza and chocolate. I love steak, roast chicken, sushi. I love a juicy clementine, a squishy pear, a firm banana; Fresh grilled broccoli, lovely leaks, potato gratin. I love healthy food and I love fast food. Everything.

I don’t love being fat.

Running has many benefits - I am sure it is helping improve my heart and lungs and general health but we are all a little vain and I love the fact it keeps me slim and trim while I can enjoy a wide ranging and varied diet.

Being particularly geeky I have kept a record of my weight over the past couple of years (we have scales at work and do a weekly weigh in – pretty sad I know) – check out the graph below. Have annotated events I have been training for and also periods when I have been inured or likely to eat more and exercise less (Christmas! Mmmm) and you can see, unsurprisingly a pretty strong link between weight and how active I am. When I don’t have something to train for I do allot less running – maybe 10-20k a week.

To get all sciencey, if I continued eating at the same pace this would suggest that exercising more helps weight loss – however this is not the whole story. My diet, drinking habits and exercise are massively correlated resulting in large positive or negative feedback loops (More geeky terminology!).

As I am sure everyone does I eat more and worse quality food when I am stressed or depressed or drunk or hungover. The harder I exercise the less stressed I feel, the happier I am and the less time or inclination there is to drink. When my diet is bad, in my mind there is not much difference having just one more sticky bun or chocolate cake or portion of chips. The bad food gives you a buzz but then you often get the sugar low so eat again to perk up etc. etc. When I’m exercising I eat better. So yes – as my wonderful graph shows when I exercise more I lose weight but I believe half of this is down to improved diet – not just bouncing around like the Duracell bunny.

Which has the bigger impact – diet or exercise? Running burns energy but not nearly as much as you can scoff down. One mile burns roughly 100 calories. A mars bar is around 300 calories. A pint of beer is around 200 calories. We could have a long discussion but it’s fairly obvious to see that it’s easier to eat less than to exercise enough to burn off all the things you would love to eat. In general exercise DOES help (especially when I hit over 50k a week – then I find I can be more of a pig!) but for your average person you wont do enough exercise to give you carte blanche to eat whatever passes you by.

I have lots of other tips for weight loss/maintenance – however most things have been well covered by newspapers/magazines at the start of the year (New year – new you!) – drink lots of water, eat lots of small meals, snack on nuts, drink green tea, eat protein for breakfast, keep a food diary blah blah blah. All v familiair and all work.

One final point I would add – I find losing weight (or getting fitter) is like an oil tanker - it takes a long time to turn. Eating better and/or exercising more pays off after about two weeks. Often I get annoyed that it’s not having an affect and then revert to my old diet/less exercise. By the time the weight comes off am going in the other direction! Whatever your plan stick with it for a while.

Bon appétit!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Week 6: ‘The pain is just weakness leaving your body’

So after an outstanding Watford half marathon (pic to the right of me in action!) I treated myself to a massage at the same gym where I have my personal trainer. I was introduced to a lovely, charming, polish girl called Joanna who had a big smile and was very welcoming. It turns out this is all to lull you into a false sense of security. For the next hour she push, pulled and pummelled me into submission. Half way through she asked if I had a very high pain threshold or whether she should push harder – was hard to explain that my teeth were gritted and couldn’t utter a squeak let alone ask her to ease off a little. She tried to comfort me with the not very comforting phrase ‘the pain is just the weakness leaving you body’ – hahahahahaha argh.  After an hour the pain was over – the diagnostics were that my IT band (the muscle on the side of your hip) was tight (which I knew) as were my hamstrings. My calves, where I often get problems were v loose and in good nick (probably because I focus on stretching them so much! Should spend more time on my hammys) and my body overall was in decent shape and well balanced. And with a cheerful smile and best wishes she sent me on my way.

If you too want an hour of pain - and why wouldn’t you? - then contact Joannna at complete physio ( It’s the day after the pain before as I write this and my legs feel great and fresh so in the end was well worth the visit.

As an alternative would recommend my friend Sheina Allen ( who will happily come to your home and torture you in familiar surroundings.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Week 5 cont. Watford Half

Thursday I went to the gym but just did twenty mins on the cardio equipment (rowing machine and steps) before doing some leg weights. My shins were sore and decided to rest them fully – learning lessons from previous years. Saturday ended up being busy with other things – I could have fitted a session in but decided that another rest day would be beneficial. I felt a bit restless but was definitely the right decision. Often the hardest part is taking a rest and not training when you are in the swing of things! You feel if you stop then you will lose all the benefits of the hard work when in most cases the opposite is true.

The rest days paid off though as I had a storming Watford half marathon. Was there with Mum and Dad who were running it for about the tenth year in a row (you can see where my running genes came from!) and Vicki who lives near mum and dad and is their running buddy. Set off at a decent – 3min 55s per KM (see timing section below) – that’s just over 16 on the treadmill for any of you gym bunnies. Didn’t think I could keep it up but got stronger and stronger as the race went on. There are a number of hills which I flew up – surprising as I generally run on the flat in London, however I put it down to all the strength training in the gym. Was overtaking people all the way round and finished in 1hr 21mins 16s which is my second best time ever and impressive considering the number of hills and windy conditions. In split terms that’s 3min 50 sec per KM so had kept up an excellent pace. Is amazing how much faster you can go in a race with competition – when doing speed work in the gym I often do 2min bursts at that pace and feel exhausted. Legs were pretty knackered after but it felt better to have had two rest days and then a powerful run than if I’d just done three average training runs. Back to London for a bikram yoga session to losen up the muscles.

Will be a day off on Monday and have a sports massage after work to treat myself. Sounds fun but in reality sports massages, if done properly, are often brutally painful.

KM RanWeek 5 total 54km  (plan 70km)
Week 6 Plan 70km

I run with a Garmin 305 watch  (see Pic) – I bought it three years ago and has been brilliant for training and races. It uses GPS to work out how far and fast you have run. For training gives you a real sense if you are getting faster and great for interval training. For races you get instant feedback on your pace without having to wait for mile markers. I did get a bit obsessed and used to run around focusing more on the watch than my running. Now, for casual sessions I run without it and just go at whatever pace my body feels like that day – sometimes fast sometimes slow but makes the whole experience less stressful and more enjoyable.  Much recommended to everyone – the latest version 405 has more functions but is harder to control and more expensive.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Week 5: Running on bubbles

A hard day at work on Monday followed by a glass of fizz and a beer probably not the best way to prepare for a long run. Still off I trotted to the river a little light in the head. Almost as soon as I hit the embankment another runner came up alongside me and edged past. Obviously having none of this I kept close to him for about half a kilometre before kicking in and past. Amazingly the sugar from the fizz provided a real boost and I was flying down the embankment. A quick glance over my shoulder and the wannabe was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately the buzz soon wore off and the second half of the run was a bit of a struggle. I did make it back to the gym to add on another 9km in to clock up a total of 21km. Wont be replacing the lucosade with champers anytime soon.

Tuesday was my usual rest day, Wednesday my trainer in the gym (new workout! Will list next week - to see my old workout see and Thursday just a slow river run (12km) followed by lots of stretching in the gym. Left shin a little sore so doing lots work on the foam rollers – these are like your own personal massage and are agony. Still they do help! On the slow Thursday run took this pic of the the London Eye.

Thinking may rest today (Friday) ahead of the Watford half marathon on Sunday. Have run it for three years in a row clocking up 1hr 25mins every time. Aiming to beat that this year.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Week 4 cont: Wandering in the Wiltshire Wilderness

Spent the weekend at a friends 30th Birthday celebration in lovely Wiltshire. Stayed in a beautiful farm cottage in the middle of nowhere. Seems like there were some other keen runners there and when I woke up on saturday there was a decent group ready to run off the beers from the night before! We went for a nice gentle five miles then in the afternoon  had a long walk and a visit to the local pub to recover. Sunday set out for a run on my with the main task being to avoid the ruts and animal hoofprints in the fields – really don’t want to suffer a twisted ankle at this stage! Nice and steady run in glorious winter sunshine – managed 12km in a little over an hour and wasn’t feeling too bad despite a long evening of food and drinks.  I've also bought some new shoes - check out the rather garish red number in the pic to the right. They have treads for off road running - was a real pain using standard shoes in the mud then having to clean them before going to the gym - never mind the slipping and sliding. I have normal brooks shoes that have been running in for the past three years so deicded to check out their off road model - overalll decent - although a bit heavy especially when full of mud. Have a few more off road runs this season so will see how they fare.
Great weekend and back into London on Sunday in time for Bikram Yoga. Since trying it out in 2008 have become a massive fan of what is basically yoga in a sauna. I find it much more intense than any other yoga type – it genuinely feels like a proper workout when i've finished plus I feel v cleansed having sweated out several times my own body weight! It has helped me with flexibility and avoiding injuries and I woulld do it more often however weekends are about the only time I can fit it in: if I go in the evenings I am far too hot to sleep! Andy Murray is a big fan of it too - judge that how you want!

KM RanWeek 4 total 64km  (plan 60km)
Week 5 Plan 70km (including 21km Watford half marathon on sunday - wish me luck!)

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Week 4 cont. What weights work

As promised, here are the details of my weekly training sessions with my personal trainer, but first a quick review of my runs during the week.

I managed 20km on Monday which consisted of the usual 12km after work river run followed by 8km on the treadmill in Virgin Active Broadgate. That ticked the box of the one long run a week as I’d missed out by skiing on the weekend. Thursday was the usual 12km along the river after work followed by 20mins on the cross trainer in the gym and Friday was back in the gym for a hill session. On the treadmill I usually warm up for about 15mins then do 5 minute chunks either speed or hills or both – with 3 mins on and 2mins off. The 3mins on this time was on hills ranging from 3% to 6% at a speed of 13kmh. Overall hill work is very good for both stamina and strength in the legs.

Personal Trainer
Wednesday had my usual session in the gym with my trainer Ian Holmes – he’s at Slim Jims gym ( in Broadgate having moved there  from Virgin active at the end of last year – it has been fun for me to try out a new gym and new surroundings. This year we have been working on strength work for the legs as I get enough stamina during my weekly runs. Strength training involves less sets and reps but heavy weights – we're doing a program with two sets of 10 reps with a minutes rest inbetween. To get the weights right they should be heavy enough that the last rep on the last set is almost a fail. He has a funky ipad with diagrams on but hasn’t worked out how to do a link to them on the web - until he works out the technology below is a fairly boring list of the current program we are working on – Google or message me for explanations of any of these. For all the weights we do two sets of ten reps and the whole thing takes about one hour.

Exercise                                  Weight
Dumbbell  pull-over                  25 kg
Dead lift                                   70 kg
Dumbbell lunge                         20 kg
Dumbbell side bend                  25 kg
Machine leg curl                       90 kg
Sumo squat                              50 kg
Back squat                               80 kg
Good morning                          50 kg
Romanian deadlift                     70 kg
Concentration dumb bell curl     17.5 kg

Abdominal reverse curl – 2 * 15 reps
BOSU Knee to chest – 3* 1min

Generally you need a rest day after this but my rest day is usually a Tuesday as I have an after work class and can’t fit in any exercise. On the day after weights I try not to do too strenuous a run.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Week 4: Skiing Weekend Over - Back to running

Survived three days of skiing in Murren, Switzerland. Couple of decent days skiing, 9km downhill race and a considerable amount of post race dancing on tables all helped keep the fitness ticking over. Legs felt pretty strong from the heavy gym work over the last few weeks. Managed a respectable 13min 56s for the race on a gorgeously sunny say. There were a couple of injuries in our group but all from après skiing activities – managed to avoid any damage myself so all fit and ready to get back to running this week. A little tired but legs feeling strong.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Week 3: Sickness then Skiing

Hmmm - tough start to the week. Started feeling a bit dodgy on Monday afternoon and thought just an upset stomach. Headed off for the usual post work river run but felt terrible. Unfortunately at my worst the furthest from home so only solution was to run back, shower up and collapse into bed. Think may have been a dodgy chicken breast I ate late sunday possibly combined with a lack of sleep.

Monday night had hot sweats - woke up extra early feeling average. I had rearranged my gym trainer to Tuesday before work as off skiing on Wednesday - so staggered to the gym and made a decent effort on the workout. However struggled through the rest of the day - progressively feeling worse and worse - achy and sore :(. Post work made it home - packed ski gear then straight to bed for a few hours. Got up at 9.30pm for a hot tea with honey and some ibuprofen and then back to bed.

One solid nights sleep later and feeling much better!  Off to Switzerland tonight - taking part in the biggest amateur downhill race in Europe - the inferno! ( Glad am -feeling better - going to avoid the precooked chicken breasts for a day or two. Skiing does mean I miss some running training but feel is good strength training and helps avoid injuries. Less said about the apres ski the better. Back into the running next week...

KM Ran
Week 3 total 12km  (plan 20km)
Week 4 Plan 60km

Monday, 17 January 2011

Week 2 cont - Hackney Horror

Quick 7km on the treadmill on Friday then onto the big run on Saturday. Life got in the way during the morning and it wasn’t until late afternoon that could pull on the running shoes, strap up my left shin which has started to feel a bit tender and head out to the canal. Considering I live in central London it’s very easy to get onto the canal and then continue in a big loop avoiding traffic all the way. Some fantastic scenery – the best of which is the new Olympic stadium. Site is looking pretty good although I suppose it has to as only a year and a bit away! Will try and get a pic next time I go past to make this blog a bit more exciting. Was dusk by the time I got to hackney marshes and decided to add on a small loop. Hackney not the safest place in the world and running through the woods with no light the mind starts to play tricks. Needless to say I picked up my pace – good speed training! - and made it out the other side with no mishaps. However I then contrived to get locked into Victoria park on the way back. Managed to vault the fence and get home for a satisfying 23km. Right shin feeling ok but with all the strapping my calf hurts… always the same - every action has a reaction! 20 mins of stretching and an ice pack and almost as good as new.  When I get round to it will upload my routes - I train with a Garmin GPS (305) which measures your speed as you run and also saves your route details.

Despite the big run managed to dance the night away in Maggies – great new 80s bar in Fulham – allot better clientele than crazy larrys! Sunday was an early rise for a round of golf then to Virgin Active Essex for 6km of hill training on the treadmill. Seems like the whole cast of “the only way is Essex” was there. Great people watching…

Decent week - above the target plan for KM ran - everything going smoothly bar the odd niggle.

KM Ran
Week 2  total:  61km (Plan 50km)
Week 3 plan:  20km (off skiing on wednesday!)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Week 2 - Running slow - harder than it sounds.

Nice solid start to the week on Monday (10th Jan) with a run after work to the broadgate virgin gym. I work near St Pauls and my usual after work jog starts at the bottom of the famed wobbly bridge on the northside of the Thames. From there I run along the embankment (the finish for the Virgin London Marathon!) to Big Ben. I cross the river to the south side and jog up to the MI5 building by Vauxhall. A quick 180 degrees and run back with magnificent views of the houses of parliament – all lit up during the winter (see pics! - from iphone so a bit fuzzy). Continuing along the south side of the river past the London Eye, Royal Festival Hall and the Tate modern until I get to London bridge. Despite it being wet and cold this part of the run is a joy in the winter as in the summer months it is teeming with tourists. Up and over the bridge and then through the back streets to Liverpool street – either home or to the gym for a total distance of around 12km

On Monday it was supposed to be a slow gentle run as still getting back into my stride. However some fool decided to overtake me on the embankment so had little choice but surge past him and put clear pavement between us. Good for a bit of speed training but in the past have injured myself by racing too early in my training. Luckily I managed to slow down for the second half of the run. Bizarrly the first month of training the hardest thing is trying not to run too fast or too hard - in previous years have picked up injuries from being over eager. Popped into the gym to stretch and do some weights – shoulders the main focus (despite the focus on running still need to keep the beach muscles in shape!)

Tuesday was a rest day then Wednesday usual workout with my trainer at slim jims near Liverpool street– strong workout for the legs - more details ton the full program to follow in a future post.  Thursday was a late finish at work so did the usual run home (no-one to race so a nice steady pace ~ 4.30min / km!) and to bed.

Has been a quiet January with little midweek partying – v helpful! Hopefully a quick run on the treadmill Friday and a decent long run at the weekend.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Week 1: New year, New Start - My First week of training.

Always tough getting back into training after the Christmas season - a lack of practice and all those extra mince pies hanging around the middle usually coupled with a stupendous hangover from New Year Celebrations. Determined this year to avoid injury so planned a week of gentle jogs to ease myself back into things.  

Managed to clear the cobwebs with a run along the beachfront in Barcelona on the 2nd Jan but ruined all the good work with one final party on the 3rd jan before returning to London. Staggered into the gym on Monday, mainly to enjoy the steam room/hot tub/sauna combo, but did manage about 20mins on the step machines.

Solid rest of the week covering the whole repertoire of my regular runs – a 12k run from work, along the river via Vauxhall then back home; a couple of runs (11k and 5k) at steady pace (13 kmh) in the gym and a long 20k weekend run along the canal from home to canary wharf up round via Hackney marshes and through Victoria park. All nice and easy and only a few minor aches and a slightly tight hammy. Will detail the post work run and the canal run in later blogs as they are a regular staple in my running training.

To finish off a successful first week did an hour with my trainer in the gym – working on a strength program for the legs – and a Bikram yoga session.

Next week up the mileage slightly and try and get a little bit off speed into a couple of sessions.

KM Ran
Week 1 total :  48  (Target 40km)
Week 2 plan  : 50