Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Don't stop me now

Training miles completed this week: 17
Total training miles completed: 129
Training miles left: 89 + taper off period
Training runs left: 16 (inc taper period)

Hello again - with 53 days to go until the big race - things are really starting to get serious.  

Last Friday saw me complete my last evening distance run (12 miles) in a pretty respectable 2 hours 11 minutes - an 11 minute mile pace.  It felt really good to do and it was my first run in what I'll actually wear for the marathon in April (unexpected heatwaves aside).  It was also very tough towards the end but I made it home relatively unscathed which is always the target.  I got my first blister but I'm not going to complain as it took more than 100 miles to appear.

I have to confess that when I got home, the thought of going back out and doing it all again (plus another 2 miles) was far from appealing, but I'm hoping that was more psychological as I'd paced myself for 12 miles and not 26.  We'll have to see how that goes over the next few weeks.

I did 5 miles tonight in 53 minutes - a best for me over that distance.  I was really surprised when I got in and saw that as I felt like I'd not paced myself properly and had very little energy while I was going round - particularly around 3.5 miles.  I guess the training is paying off and I'm able to work a bit harder than I expect.  Shorter distances afford me some leeway as well but the longer routes need to be a lot more disciplined.

The remaining weeks are very much a pattern of long run/short run, building up the distances as I go.  This coming weekend marks an important milestone for me.  It'll be the first run I've done under proper "marathon conditions" (i.e. up early ish and running from about 9:30am).  It'll also be the longest distance I've ever run and should give me an opportunity to banish the demons from 2008.  It feels as though the training has been building up to this run and I think it'll give me a massive boost physically and mentally if I can make it through intact.

I've got a bit more of an interesting diabetes update this week.  I realise my definition of "interesting" may be different from yours but...

I had an appointment with a diabetes specialist dietician last Thursday and it gave me a good chance to discuss what I eat now (and when) and what I should be eating to give me the best chance of getting round whilst managing my conditions.

What we found was that when I eat before running, my blood levels don't raise as much as she was expecting.  This could point to too much insulin (although I've tested previously and ruled that out to a degree).  She also said that what I'm currently eating for lunch (some salad leaves and grapes effectively) isn't really enough and I need to be eating more carbs and protein to build up muscle and improve glycogen stores for when I run.  She also mentioned that if I eat a few jelly babies every mile then it could reduce my chances of 'hitting the wall' at around mile 18 so that's good news.

We came to the conclusion that I really need to focus more on a running diet rather than trying to lose weight.  I've been trying to balance the two to a degree and I think it's more successful to shift my focus to running for the next two months and hope that the exercise will lead to some weight loss, albeit at a slower rate.

I've now started to incorporate rice cakes and fish/cheese into my lunch and I'm looking to switch to more chicken and pasta combos in the evening - particularly before a big run.

The other change I need to make is to reduce my insulin doses before and after a big run.  I have two types of insulin that I take (Background insulin twice a day, and quick acting insuling before each meal).  The exact amounts I need to reduce these doses by aren't clear yet and I'll need to experiment to understand what is best for me.  As a result, for the next few weeks, I'm going to have to take my blood sugar meter with me whilst I'm running to monitor my levels.  This should give me a guide ot managing my condition whilst I'm running.  Hopefully I won't crash too spectacularly this weekend!

It's all down to a combination of numbers now - mile times, sugar levels, insulin reduction percentages, carbs per mile to keep my sugar levels correct - it feels a bit overwhelming sometimes but it does come down to training and numbers - something I can conquer if I put my mind to it.

I'm going to stop blogging on my weight loss for the time being as it's not really my primary focus.  I'll still have a weekly weigh in, and I'll mention it occasionally, but it's not something I'll live or die by until May now.

No further fundraising at the moment - I've hit a bit of a plateau at the moment which is frustrating, but a number of people have pledged to donate before the race so I'm hoping I can still get close to £650 before I run.  I know £1000 was always ambitious but trying to get as close as possible remains my goal.  As always, all money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes.

If you've been following my progress for a while and would like to donate, please do consider giving just a couple of quid.  I know charitiable donations are often very personal things and so people rightly prioritise things that mean the most to them.  Every pound I raise will help and so please consider having one pint less this Friday night and clicking on the fundraising link above instead - it would mean a lot to me.

Thanks for sticking with this until the end, I appreciate it's been a bit long winded this week and I can be a bit boring at times, but hopefully it's given a bit of an insight into how things are going and what changes I'll need to make to get round the distance in April.

Your support has been fantastic and I'll do my best not to let you down.

Take care


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Moving on up

Training miles completed this week: 16
Total training miles completed: 112
Training miles left: 106 + taper off period
Training runs left: 18 + taper off period

Hi and thanks for stopping to have a read.

It's been a good week this week - something I'm really pleased to be able to say after the last couple of weeks.

I've done 16 miles since I last blogged (and actually 21 in the last 7 days) and I'm not feeling too worse for wear for it.  Friday night saw me finally get through the 10 mile barrier, which I did in 1hr 53 which is just over an 11 minute mile pace.  Remember that I'm forecasting about a 12 minute mile average so getting through 10 miles inside that time is encouraging.  Here's the route:

It was definitely the most gruelling run and the first time I've really got home and thought "that hurt".  Fortunately, a shower and a sleep seems to be enough to get me back on my feet.

I ran 6 miles last night in 66 minutes.  I was more than happy with that as I'd done it after a 4:30am start and a return trip to London.  I'm feeling the aches and pains a bit today but it' be foolish to expect anything else given the amount of training I've done.

This coming Friday marks the end of my evening distance runs.  I'll be doing 12 miles that night and then all my long runs after that will be done during the day at the weekend.  That's partly to get accustomed to race conditions, and partly because I can't reasonably run 16+ miles on Friday night and still find time to eat.

I recently finished reading The London Marathon by John Bryant (a Christmas present) and I've never felt so inspiried and terrified at the same time.  The book is a history of the race mixed with notable performances of elite and "fun" runners.  It also highlights (on several occasions) the amount of physical stress your body goes through when actually running the marathon.  Whilst I won't bore you all with endless quotes and references, two of the things I've read have stuck with me and reminded me how important it is that I take it steady in the build up and on the day:

1. Running a marathon is approximately 32000 paces.  Couple this with your (average) body weight and you can put up to 500 tons of pressure through your feet and up your spine during the race

2. Linked to the first point, it's said that you can be up to 1cm shorter at the end of the race than at the start due to the compression of the discs in your back as you pound the streets

I'll be taking it very steady I think.

Managing my diabetes has been a bit of a rollercoaster this last week or so.  I'm finding my morning readings are higher than I'd like and this is difficult to control when I've run the night before.  I'm eating to replenish my energy levels and then going to sleep so it's difficult to understand whether my insulin doses are correct.  During the day I'm pretty normal but over night it's a bit trickier.

Obviously diet, running and diabetes are a tricky threesome to manage and so tomorrow I have an appointment with a diabetes specialist dietician at the hospital to discuss what I should be eating and when, how to adjust my doses and what, if anything, I can do to try and avoid hitting "the wall" towards the end of the marathon.  I'll talk about that in next week's post.

Not too much to report from a fundraising perspective this week - no new donations have come in so I'm still sitting pretty on £482.  As the big day approaches (59 days to go!) you may see me being a bit more active in terms of asking for donations so I'll apologise for that up front.   All money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes.

My weight has also stayed constant this week (perhaps the two are linked...) at 188.6lbs.  I'm not going to complain too much about that really.  I feel fitter and slimmer and that's probably the most important thing when all's said and done.  I also maintain the belief that your diet and weight loss have a lagged effect and all that takeaway from a fortnight ago has negated this week's running.  Hopefully I can drop another pound or so next week.

As I mentioned earlier, I was in London yesterday for a meeting.  It gave me a good chance to do a bit of a recce of the mile 17 to 19 stretch of the course around Canary Wharf.  What struck me the most was when I look at the course map, I never really visualise any of the surroundings other than the really famous landmarks I know (Tower Bridge at mile 13, Cutty Sark (as it is) at mile 7, Buckinghma Palace at the end).  Seeing the route as just a normal road just under the DLR tracks made it all seem a lot more real than it has done before.

For some reason, when I do look at the course map, the distance never really looks that far.  I can't explain why, though it's probably the soothing blue line that weaves around London that makes me think it's all going to be OK.  And I'm sure it will be OK, just a bit painful along the way.  I'm really excited to be doing it and while the weeks seem to pass quite slowly, I know it'll be here before I know it.

Head down and focussing on 17 miles next week now.

Thanks for stopping by to read this.  I know I say it every week, but the encouragment and messages I get really do mean a lot to me.  You can find me on Twitter (@BroomOwl) if you want to get in touch.

Take care - have a good week


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Back on track

Training miles completed this week: 5
Total training miles completed: 96
Training miles left: 127 + taper off period
Training runs left: 20 + taper off period


It feels like a very long time since I wrote the last post, though it has only been a week as usual.

First and foremost, it's been good to get back out running.  The last week and a half has felt very frustrating and being back out tonight for a steady 5 miles felt really good.  I managed the distance in 56 minutes which is consistent with every other time over that route.  My foot started to feel a bit stiff towards the end but I think that's to be expected really.  Rest for the next day or so before heading out for a big distance on Friday night.

I've adjusted the distances on my next couple of runs to avoid doing too much too soon and leaving myself open to a possible setback.  Instead of 14 miles this weekend I'm going to conquer the 10 mile barrier instead and push on from there. I think that having been out of action for a little while will mean my ankle is a bit stiffer and I just need to be sensible.  I'll still have done more than 200 miles of training before April so I think erring on the side of caution is probably best.

It's been a slightly up and down week from a diabetes perspective, but sadly it's all self inflicted.  The weekend mostly consisted of takeaway (I had a rare weekend to myself whilst my wife went to visit some friends) and as I've mentioned a few times, insulin doses tend to be a bit of guess work.  I think those indulgences, coupled with a lack of running meant the last few days haven't been quite as controlled as I'd like but I'm close to a return to normality.

Fundraising has gone pretty well again this week which is nice considering I've felt very lazy and done little that should encourage people to donate.  We've added £55 to the total since last week bringing it within touching distance of halfway at £482.  I've got a few friends and family to lean on yet as well so hopefully I can make the push towards £600 in the next couple of weeks.  As a reminder, you can visit the fundraising page by clicking on the link.  All money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes.

Given my takeaway indulgences this last week I'm somewhat surprised to have lost another 1.4lbs to be down to 188.6lbs overall.  I do, however, remain sceptical about getting weighed after running so if there's little change (or a pound goes back on) next week I won't really be too shocked

A final word before I leave it for this week... There are only 66 days left until race day now so I'm inside the final 10 weeks and I think the hard slog is really going to start - there are some huge milestones coming up. The furthest I've ever run (training or event) is 15 miles.  That was 4 years ago and that was the distance that lead to my foot getting injured.  In the next 5 weeks alone, I'll be going beyond that distance 3 times (16, 18 and 20 miles) and that's quite a scary thought for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, making those distances is psychologically important for me.  If you've been with the blog from the beginning then you'll know that all the training and diabetes control has been a series of steps and small progressions to get me to this point.  Getting out running at all was the first step, gradually upping the distances until I got through 3 intensive weeks at the end of January was another.  Doing 10 miles this weekend will be the next one.  After that, I need to prove to myself that I can run these long distances without my body giving up.

Secondly, the 20 mile run at the end of March is critical for so many reasons.  It's the longest run of the training plan and it means that understanding mile times, my ability to pace myself properly and my ability to perfectly control my diabetes will be tested.  If I can manage that distance and still be standing (metaphorically at least) then I'll know I can go to London and give a good account of myself which is all I want to do.

I'm not ashamed to say I'm scared or nervous because I am (and because I think it's probably quite natural given the circumstances) but I've come this far and I'm determined to do it.

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this - it's great to have so much support.  If you do have even a couple of quid going spare, then please consider donating it using the link above - it's not even the price of a pint these days (so I'm lead to believe) and it would make all the difference.

Take care, and have a great week - I'll speak to you next week



Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A frustrating week

Training miles completed this week: 0
Total training miles completed: 91
Training miles left: 140 + taper off period
Training runs left: 22 + taper off period

Hello again - thanks for dropping in this week.

I've been dreading writing this week's post as it's made me feel like I'm stepping into a huge confessional box ready to announce an unforgivable sin...

I haven't run this week.

After last week's post, I finally succumbed to the cold/flu that my wife and daughter have had and it knocked the stuffing out of me a bit.  I was in no fit state to run on Friday night (temperature, aches, cough etc) and I've still got a bit of a chesty cough lingering around at the moment.  I've felt really guilty about the whole thing all week.

I've also felt very frustrated.  I'd been psyching myself up for that first 10 mile run since New Year and to miss it felt like a real blow.  I'm not convinced I'll be able to run this coming Friday either which will mean I'll have missed three overall.  I'm hoping I'll be feeling 100% by next Wednesday.

I've spent a lot of time this week trying to gain some perspective and talk myself out of some of this guilt and my reasoning is this...  It's that time of year when there's a good chance you're going to catch something and having a chronic illness like diabetes actually means your immune system isn't as effective at dealing with or fighting off those sorts of things.  I also discovered from some reading around, that running and exercising in general can also reduce the effectiveness of your immune system.  You can read the science of that here if that's your sort of thing.  As that article also suggests, running with anything on your chest as it can end up affecting your heart with potentially fatal consequences.

I also decided that I'm obviously not the first person to train for the marathon, I'm not the first person to get a bit of flu while doing it and I'm not the first person who's had to miss a few training runs so, whilst I may feel guilty, I probably shouldn't.  And besides, it's probably better to miss a couple in February rather than get to the end of March and miss the bigger distances and head to London feeling underprepared.  My final thought on the subject is that I may have dodged all the snow we're going to get as well so the risk of slipping and breaking something may also have been avoided.

Hopefully I'll return to some form of running by next week.

As I've written previously, having a bit of a cold also affects your blood sugar levels, so after last week's good news from the hospital, I've spent most of the time since, battling high blood sugar.  It becomes very much about guess work when you're ill as the normal ratios and guides I use to keep control no longer apply.  Thankfully my levels seem to have just about returned to normal over the last day or two so this hopefully bodes very well for a return to action very soon.

It's been another good week for fundraising, adding another £70 to the total, making it £427 overall and another 73 days to find the rest before the big race!  Thanks again to everyone who's donated so far - it's very generous of you.  As a reminder, you can visit the fundraising page by clicking on the link.  All money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes.

The one plus point I've taken away from this week's frustration is that I have little appetite when I'm under the weather and so I've managed to lose 1lb this week despite the lack of running - I'm now at 190lbs and I've lost about half the weight I wanted to lose.  If I can maintain that then I should be around 180lbs by race day which would be an extra bonus.

I'll end it there for this week - I won't take up any more of your valuable time.  Apologies there's not much positive news this week - hopefully that'll change next time I post.  Thanks for reading this one - I appreciate they're not always brilliant and this week has been particularly self indulgent.  Thanks for sticking with me - your support really helps and motivates me to keep going.

I hope you're all well and I'm looking forward to having better news to report next week.

Take care


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Sacrifices and good news

Training miles completed this week: 12.5
Total training miles completed: 91
Training miles left: 155 + taper off period
Training runs left: 24 + taper off period

Hello and thanks for taking the time to read this week's post.

I've been deliberating whether to write this post for a few weeks now and I've decided to give it a shot.  I'm a bit worried that it won't sound quite right and I'll end up coming across as a bit self-aggrandising.  I hope regular readers and those who know me would back me up in saying that's not how this is meant to be.

The trigger for actually writing this came from an advert of all places - specifically this one:

I suppose it struck a chord with me because, whilst I knew that training for a marathon was no mean feat, I'd never really understood the actual extent of what it takes until I started doing it myself.  I've got friends who've run the London Marathon, and my sister and my dad have both done it too, but I've never really grasped the enormity of the challenge until very recently.  The line in the above that says "I am all the days you don't see" pretty much sums it up for me.

The thing is, that it's not really me that's making the sacrifices - it's my family.  At the moment, my wife has to put our daughter to bed on her own twice a week while I'm out running and as I start getting above 12 miles in the next few weeks, I'll be taking large chunks out of our weekends to prepare.

Whilst I do make sacrifices of sorts (getting up early for weekend runs, not getting home til 9pm some nights) I'm doing that voluntarily.  My family take the extra burden to let me do this and I think that aspect is overlooked as much as "all the days that you don't see".  I hope I've articulated that in a decent way.

Back to running and I've banked a decent 12.5 miles this week.  A 7.5 mile run last Friday night was a good test and despite feeling a bit of a twinge in my thigh muscle and feeling like I'd lost a lot of energy after 5 miles, I still put in a respectable 80 minute time.  Going back to last week's post again, I'm not setting out to run any of these distances in a "good" time - I'm setting out with the hope of getting back in one piece.  I'm keeping an eye on the mile times, but only as a reference, not a target to beat.  Fortunately that twinge in my thigh subsided quite quickly and I've not felt any additional pain in my foot yet.

It's been cold in Sheffield this week but the 5 miles last night felt pretty good.  A solid 55 minute time with no reaction afterwards is good.  I think it's a sign of how far I've come that when my wife asked me how far I was going I replied "only 5 miles".  In September, doing a mile filled me with fear and now 5 miles doesn't feel like much. 

I had my diabetes review at the hospital today and had some really good news! My long term blood sugar level (used in essence to monitor how well you're managing your condition) has dropped from 10.1 to 7.4 since August which is very pleasing.  I know it may not mean much out of context so I've handily got a picture (below) which might illustrate it better.

You should be able to pick out roughly where 10.1% is using the top scale and roughly where 7.4% is too.  Basically moving from red to green is the good new story of today!

I'm hoping to get to see a specialist nurse or dietician about running the marathon with diabetes as the consultant felt that would be the best approach.  Hopefully I'll get to do that sooner rather than later as there's some big distances coming up soon.

On a fundraising note, it's been another good week as I've managed to add another £100 to the total - taking it to £357 so far - more than a third of the way there.  I just need to find another 65 friends who have a tenner to spare to make the target now!  In all seriousness, people have been incredibly generous so far and I never even dreamed I'd have raised this much by January!  I'm still committed to making up any shortfall via a company donation, but it would feel even better to add money on top of the £1000 if I can reach the target.  As a reminder, you can visit the fundraising page by clicking on the link.  All money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity

A final mention on my weightloss target.  It's felt like another good week of eating sensibly and the Weigh-In has me at 191lbs (a loss of 1.2lbs since last week).  I think that's decent as I'm still slightly suspicious about last week's weigh in - 8.4lbs lost in 3 weeks is good - another 11 to go though!

I'll leave it there for this week - appreciate that's been a long post so thanks for sticking with it and for indulging me a bit at the start.  Once again, your continued support means a lot to me so thank you very much.  The blog passed the 1000 view mark last week - I never thought we'd get that far so that was a pleasant surprise.  I appreciate you all taking the time out to read this.  I won't let you down.

Have a good week and take care


P.S. Other brands of trainers are available etc etc - I'm not endorsed or sponsored by Asics - the advert just struck a chord with me.