Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Easy does it

Training miles completed this week: 10
Total training miles completed: 78.5
Training miles left: 167.5
Training runs left: 26 + taper off period

Hello - Happy Wednesday - thanks for dropping in.

Another 10 miles down this week and I've gone through the first psychological milestone on my plan.  I'm very much focussed on taking this one run at a time now and being able to tick the miles off every week is becoming very satisfying.

My weekend run was brought forward slightly to Friday night due to commitments I had at the weekend.  I managed the whole distance in 69 minutes and also managed the first 3.3 miles non-stop.  Whilst that felt like a good time (for me at least) and it felt really good to do a significant part of the distance in one burst, I realised that I'm starting to let my focus shift from my real goal - to do the marathon.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of knowing how fast I can cover a set distance and knowing my mile split times etc but I feel like I'm starting to convince myself that every run must be better than the last but really that simply isn't true.  I do feel very satisfied when I post a good time, but I also know that pushing myself harder each time I step out of the door isn't really going to help in the long term.

My guide time (and I think it'll help if I refer to it as such) is a 12 minute mile average.  I've consistently run inside this for a few weeks now which is good over a relatively short distance, but in a month's time I'll be talking about a 14 mile run not 6 miles.  Pushing myself over a shorter distance is one thing, but my approach and mindset will need to be completely different for the proper distance runs and I need to concentrate on adjusting my attitude for what's coming up if I want to avoid another injury.

With that in mind my 3.5 mile run tonight was an easy one - I took it at a gentle place, stopped a couple of times (partially due to an annoying stitch - symptoms of wrong food at the wrong time and not enough water I think) and still managed the distance in a respectable 39 minutes.  What was most interesting was how the extra rest day affected me.  I thought I'd be a lot fresher and find it easy going. In fact this morning I was actively looking forward to getting out there.  The reality was slightly different.  My ankle started to feel a lot stiffer and harder to run on after a while which was unexpected.  I think regular exercise is benefiting it more than I thought and perhaps I need to focus on the steady pace and minimising the impact.  Hopefully Saturday morning will be easier going.

As an aside, to give you an idea of what's coming up, in the next 4 weeks, I'll run 61.5 miles with a maximum distance of 14 miles!

My diabetes has been slightly better behaved this week but I remain convinced that my immediate approach to my insulin has to change, as well as how I medicate myself in the run up to the marathon.  Yesterday was the first day in a few weeks where I made it from breakfast to lunch without the need for a snack or something to boost my blood sugar mid-morning.

As I think I mentioned last week, I've got a consultant appointment next Wednesday (Feb 1st) which will give me a good chance to sit and talk through all my concerns about training in detail.  Hopefully next week I'll be able to elaborate a bit more on what it's going to mean.

It's been a good week on the sponsorship front as well - I've raised another £100 since the last blog taking the current total to £257 - just over a quarter of the way there.  I'm very fortunate to have the support of so many generous people.  There's 13 more weeks until race day to raise the remaining £743 and I think the fundraising page stays open until the end of July so hopefully I can get close to the target by then.  All money raised will be split between Diabetes UK and Sheffield Children's Hospital so if you have £1 to spare, then please consider clicking on the fundraising page link above and donating it.

I talked last week about keeping a better eye on my weight and trying to lose 20lbs over the next few weeks in time for the marathon.  As well as feeling and looking fitter, it's a lot of weight I won't have to carry round the course with me so it can only be a good thing.  My starting weight a fortnight ago was 199.4lbs.  By last Wednesday I was down to 197lbs and tonight I'm at 192.2lbs which is surprising (I've had Chinese and cake this week) but pleasing.  It adds a bit of support to my theory of lagged weight loss - expect minimal change next week.  I'm doing this weight loss with a couple of friends and having their support has been really great and inspiring so long may this continue :-)

I think I'll come to a close there.  It feels like it's been a really good week which is nice to be able to say after so long.  I was thinking back to the posts in early September about how positive it felt to finally be able to go out and run a mile (with walk breaks) and now I'll be doing a minimum of 13 miles a week.  Progress indeed.

Take care and thanks again for your support


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Patched Up

Training miles completed this week: 10
Total training miles completed: 68.5
Training miles left: 177.5
Training runs left: 28 + taper off period

Hello - thank's for dropping by.

There are 95 days to go until the marathon - it's starting to feel very close now, and I've still not done over 6 miles yet.  But that's about to change quite quickly over the next few weeks.

I'm now heading into the stage of long run/short run, with the next two being a slight exception.  When I originally finalised my plan, I realised I'd ended up with all my distance runs mid week and my shorter runs at the weekend - and running 14 miles on a Tuesday or Wednesday night didn't seem appealing so I swapped at one week.  This coming week is the changeover week.

I've done 10 miles this week (4 and 6) and 10 miles are planned in next week (6.5 and 3.5) and then it's 2 miles a week extra on the distance run until the end of March.

The title of this week's post is a reference to how I'm feeling at the moment.  My foot aches quite a lot of the time now, particularly after the long runs and on Sunday, I felt some pain in one of my toes so I've strapped it up as a precaution.  I think at worst, it's a tiny stress fracture but there's no evidence of that really - I'm just being cautious.  I also felt a bit of a cold coming on this week but I think I've held it at bay for now.

I think that feeling like you're facing a constant battle is probably natural during any kind of training like this.  There's probably a lot to be said for mental fitness as well as physical fitness and I've overlooked that up until now.  I'll be trying to focus a lot more on the positives over the next few weeks.

Saturday's run went pretty well - 4 miles in a few seconds over 44 minutes was pleasing.  The 11 minute mile is nice, but realistically I know that as I start going further and further, that will probably push back out closer to the 12 mile mark overall.  It's not something I'm overly worried about, but it's good to be able to track what you're doing.  Another bonus was that it didn't feel too horrific getting up at 4am to fuel up before running.  As I get in to longer distances, I'll probably be leaving the house at a more sensible time so I can adjust my eating time accordingly.

I did 6 miles tonight in 65 minutes - consistent with my last run at this distance.  It might be a sign of how far I've come that I'm disappointed that I didn't do it faster.  I managed to run the first 3 miles without stopping which felt great - an actual sense of achievement.  I'm not sure if it's the cooler air, my determination to run whilst feeling patched up or the fact that I remembered I'd forgotten my inhaler and so paced myself a lot more but it felt a lot easier tonight than probably any other run I've done.  My foot started feeling heavy towards the end of it and I've not doubt it'll hurt tomorrow, but I'm celebrating while I can!  I may have mentioned that I was using Endomondo to track my runs.  Here's an example of tonight's 6 mile run (though you can see that the GPS is a bit off on the map) - I thought I'd share it with you.

It's been a very strange week from a diabetes perspective.  Since my run last Tuesday, I've really struggled to keep my blood sugar in check, but not in the way I've been used to. I've found that it's been really difficult to maintain a decent level and that I've crashed a few times a day.  Whilst it's obviously good to be having lower blood sugar, too low is as bad as too high and as I've mentioned before, it's walking that tightrope in between the two.

I've been experimenting by lowering my insulin doses with meals but it's a lot of trial and error at the moment.  I've got a consultant appointment at the hospital on Feb 1st so I'll be able to talk through it all in a lot more detail then - I'll just need to muddle through on my own until then.  Runsweet have a lot of good information and advice for people with diabetes but I'm wary of making any drastic adjustments without speaking to a doctor first - I think that's just sensible.

I was talking to someone last night about how frustrating it feels in many respects.  I've made a conscious effort to adjust my diet and get back into a proper diabetic regimen for a good few months now and it almost feels like I've got to start and learn how to do it all over again.  I think I probably just need to understand the science behind it and it'll hopefully be fairly straightforward.

A quick mention on diet and such as that feels like quite a good segue there.  I've started tracking my food through the MyFitnessPal which is giving me a good idea of how many calories I need to lose about 20lbs over 20 weeks.  It also helps track what I'm eating around training days and my carb levels (to aid insulin doses).  It's quite a useful tool.  I'm think I'll print off the reports to take along to the hospital in a couple of weeks.

Final quick update on sponsorship. A few very wonderful people have chipped in this last week and the total (exclusing gift aid) currently stands at £157 which is quite good I think.  You can keep an eye on progress, stay up to date with the latest blog and track the countdown to the main event by visting the fundraising page.  All the money is being split between DiabetesUK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity and you can read about all their work by clicking on one of the links.

A hectic weekend meant I wasn't able to go out and get any pics for my Sheffield photobook, but I'm hoping to rectify that this weekend so I can get a good start on that.

I'll leave it there for this week - appreciate I've gone on a fair bit there so thanks for sticking with it to the end.  I mentioned a few weeks back that the end of this week was critical and it's really positive that I'm just about through it relatively unscathed.

Thanks for your support - the messages I get really mean a lot

Take care


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Open and Honest

Training miles completed this week: 11.5
Total training miles completed: 58.5
Training miles left: 187.5
Training runs left: 30

Hi - thanks for stopping by.

Whilst I only write these updates once a week, it feels like they're coming around a lot more frequently.  I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing.  It's always nice to be able to give an update on how things are going, but with every week that passes, I'm getting closer to the start line without really feeling prepared.

This week I've managed another two runs and I've had the chance to try and start to really plan for doing some bigger distances.  Running on a weekday evening is usually quite straightforward - I can have a snack (current choice being a banana) before I leave work and then I feel sufficiently fuelled up to run in the evening.

It's a bit more inconvenient for a Saturday morning run though.  This past weekend I did 5.5 miles in a very respectable 58 minutes - it felt like a good run at the time and I was very pleased with the pace.  As I'm usually out running by 7am, getting adequately fuelled meant waking up at 4:15am to eat something then having a couple more hours in bed before setting off.  I think that may become a feature over the next few months - particularly with a 12 mile run on the cards at the end of February.  It's not ideal by any means, but needs are...

The 6 miles tonight went well in some respects but not so well in others.  I managed the distance in 65 minutes which is pretty respectable considering everything.  I started to get a bit of pain between mile 3 and 4 but got through it.  It feels uncomfortable now as I'm typing but I'm hoping 3 days of rest will help to reduce any lingering effects.  Keep your fingers crossed...

I've talked previously about various routes I've taken but I think I've finally found one I can use to build up to at least 10 miles without too much trouble.  If you have a look at last week's post you'll see the map I used for 5 miles.  As this is a fairly flat route (for Sheffield at least) I plan on just running slightly further from home each time before turning back.  I used this for the 5.5 miles and the 6 mile run this week as well.

With regards to my injury, I'm definitely feeling a lot more discomfort in between runs now (and during them as you've seen above).  The physio exercises do help but I think I'm coming round to the idea that I'm just going to have to put up with the aches and the pain over the next few months.  I'm already putting in the lower end of the required amount of training and can't really afford to fall further behind.  As long as I can run, I'm going to keep doing so.  It's been nearly 4 years since the injury and the fact that it's still giving me pain makes me feel like it's something that I'm not going to be able to shake off.  Time will tell I think.

Following on from last week's diabetes update, my levels have come back down to sit within the normal range they were in before Christmas.  I've got a blood test next week (I hate needles by the way - not ideal for a diabetic at the best of times, but blood tests really bring out the worst in me), and should have the results when I see the consultant on Feb 1st.  That'll really give the best indication of how well my control has been.  Anything under 10 will be great, whilst I'd love to see a number under 8.

That consultant appointment will give me a good opportunity to discuss whether or not my medication regime needs to change in the build up to the marathon.  I've read a lot of articles about how people adapted their injections to cope with a run, but everyone is different so it'll be good to have that conversation and try and figure out the best approach.

I've not been sleeping too well recently and I think that's for a couple of reasons. Firstly I'm finding it hard to switch off.  My life feels like a never ending stream of numbers and maths problems at the moment - mile times, distances, blood sugar levels etc.  As I mentioned last week, I'm trying to understand the effect that running has on my sugar levels as well so that's something else to add into the mix as well.  Obviously feeling fully fit and rested is key to running - I think I just need to find some good relaxation techniques before bed.

Secondly, I'm scared.  I'm scared that I'll get on to serious distances and I'll break down.  I'm scared all this hard work will be in vain.  I'm scared I won't raise any money.  I'm scared I'll lose control of my diabetes.  I'm scared I'll have a diabetic episode halfway around London.  And I'm scared I'll let people down.  I know I shouldn't be - everyone is so supportive and I can't thank them enough for their kinds words and encouragement.  But fear isn't a rational reaction and I need to conquer it pretty quickly, to rid myself of the distractions.  I'll probably come back to these points in the next week or so.

Finally a more positive word about fundraising.  I had a conversation with @Victoria1867 on Twitter and she suggested putting together a photobook of well known Sheffield landmarks with a bit of a twist on the images to make them unconventional yet still recognisable.  I'm fairly confident I can get some good shots over the next couple of weeks and then it's a case of editing them and getting some printed.  Proceeds will all go to the charities I'm fundraising for so if that sounds like something you'd be interested in buying then do let me know.  And a big thank you to Victoria for taking the time to talk through some fundraising ideas - it's really appreciated.  Don't forget you can visit the fundraising page or find out more about Diabetes UK or The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity by clicking on the links.

I think I'll leave it there for this week.  The mantra remains pretty much the same - build up the distance, keep doing what I'm doing, and mitigate the pain as best I can.

Thanks for reading - I hope it's not starting to feel like too much of the same each week.  It's starting to get into a critical few weeks for the training so hopefully all the hard work over the last 4 months will start to pay dividends.  Your continued support means a lot.

Take care


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

We're not in Kansas any more

Hello and welcome to my first post of 2012.  I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year.  Apologies if this is a bit of a longer post than usual - I do appreciate that I'm more suited to brevity...

With only 108 days to go until marathon day, I'm going to start each new blog post like this:

Training miles completed this week: 9.5
Total training miles completed: 47
Training miles left: 199

It's as much as a reference for me as anything else, but it saves you reading the whole thing if you're in a hurry... The mathematically minded among you will probably notice that by the time I line up, I'll have banked nearly 10 marathon's worth of training miles.

The official London Marathon 13 Week Training Plan kicked in on January 1st (although I actually started on New Year's Eve).  As I've mentioned a few times, they provide you with a few plans depending on what your goal is.  Given my circumstances, I've opted for the 'Just-to-get-round plan' which, in practice is the 'Just-to-get-to-the-start plan'

Under this plan, you get a schedule of 3 weekly runs.  The overwhelming problem is that I can't physically manage 3 runs a week - certainly not of any great distance.   That's become apparent recently with the amount of time I'm needing to recover.  Whilst I'm not getting the same pain as I've had previously, the aches are becoming more profound and I don't want to do myself any further damage.  The physio exercises do help a bit though.

Instead I've modified their plan into a 2 runs per week schedule, taking the longest 2 of the three runs and adding a little on to the other one.  I might post it as a separate entry so you can see what's coming up.  I'm going to run each Wednesday and Saturday so I've got 32 more runs before I line up at Blackheath on April 29th.  That feels like a long way off yet, but I know it isn't.  If you're interested, there's an interactive map of the marathon route

As part of my preparations, I've now got a hotel booked for three nights from Friday 27th April.  The non-refundable nature of the booking just adds an extra incentive!

Last Saturday I got up and did, what looked on paper, to be a fairly straightforward 4.5 mile run.  What actually happened was that my "local knowledge" conned me into forgetting how unforgiving a couple of hills were and it felt like an incredible slog getting round. I managed it in 52 minutes (just inside my target 12 minute mile pace).

Tonight, I'd learned from that "mistake" at the weekend at chose a flatter route to do 5 miles.  Given the howling winds and rain, I managed a respectable 56 minute time.  However much I may have been seeking a bit of sympathy, I actually really enjoyed it.  It was the first run I've done with music as well and it didn't affect may pace one way or another which was very pleasing.  I also discovered that my running top isn't as waterproof as it looks, so that was fun...

A to B and back again...

With regards to my diabetes, Christmas was as I expected it to be really.  A few highs, a few lows and a bit inbetween as well.  The effects of a sneaky couple of After Eights is not to be taken lightly.  I had a check in with the specialist nurse at the hospital yesterday and she's happy that I'm doing the right things on my own.  I've got an annual review at the beginning of Feb where we'll start to really see how much progress I've made.  As long as my blood sugar is trending downwards, I'll be happy.  I'll have a blood test that works out my blood sugar levels have been over 3 months (as opposed to the tests I do at home myself). Christmas will have affected the results of that test a bit but we'll wait and see what happens.

I'm back on my diet proper after Christmas (where I think I only put on about 3lbs) so I'm confident of a normal return to blood sugar levels very soon.

As an aside, I've realised that as well as pacing myself with running and "hydration strategies" I'm going to have to pay a lot more attention to my blood sugar levels before and after running.  I need to monitor what the distance is doing to me and making sure that I don't go low when I'm 6 miles from home.

Finally, you all know I'm fundraising for Diabetes UK and Sheffield Children's Hospital Chairty but whilst I'm not asking for your money (just yet!) what I am after is your fundraising ideas if you have any.  These are a few that have been suggested so far. I'm not sure I can manage them all but I'm prepared to have a go at just about anything to raise money:
  • Raffle
  • Finishing time sweepstake
  • Have my legs waxed (and apparently ask for extra donations if you want to tear the strips off yourself)
  • Bag packing at a supermarket
If you've got any more, or would like to throw your support behind any of the above, then please let me know.  As I understand it, packing bags at a supermarket is lucrative for charitable donations but I have the feeling you need a fair few people to make the most of it.

I'll leave it there for now - you've been very patient if you've made it this far, for which I'm grateful as always.  This blog managed just over 750 views between 9th September and 31st December and I'm very thankful for each and everyone one of those.  I'm hoping that I can encourage others to spread the message about what this training is like for me and how much it's going to mean to achieve something I've wanted to do for over 20 years.

As always, you can find me on Twitter (@BroomOwl) or drop me a line ( if you'd like to get in touch.

Thanks for reading and I hope that 2012 is a great year for you.

Take care,