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:

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.