Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Bientot Running

Hello again

As many of you know, I've had a love/hate relationship with running over the last year or so.  If you're unfamiliar with that, you might want to re-read the opening post of this blog and the one describing my finest hour (but don't feel obliged).

Tonight will mark my penultimate run of 2012, with my grand finale being the Great Yorkshire Run on Sunday.  It's a difficult decision to turn my back on it for a while, but it's the right one to make.

In truth, I've not felt right since the marathon in April and I've held on to the notion that having races like the upcoming 10km at the weekend will keep me fit and solve all of my problems.  The reality is much different.

Without rehashing old ground too much, I've found myself back at almost the exact same place I was a year ago.  I'm not as fit as I was in March and my inability to find any kind of consistent exercise has meant I've piled on about 2 stone since the end of April.  I'm probably a bit better off in the sense that my diabetes is more controlled than this time 12 months ago (though it's still be no means perfect).

I'm also battling quite severe shin splints.  No matter how much I try and convince myself it's not a problem, I know deep down it is.  I'm at the stage where a long drive in the car causes me pain from holding my foot on the accelerator in the same position.  Fortunately I rarely drive more than about 30 miles at a time.

The only real treatment for shin splints is rest and so I find myself in the situation where I'll be stopping my running adventure for this year when I cross the finish line on Sunday.  I suppose if I was less stubborn, I wouldn't even bother on Sunday, but I've paid my entrance fee and with the opportunity to get a medal as well, I'm not prepared to give up (I'm all about the glory really).

Instead I've turned my attention to a low impact form of exercise and I've bought an exercise bike which is currently in front of the TV in my living room (much to my wife's disdain).  I'm on a mission to lose around 35lbs by Christmas all being well and I'm hoping that 2 bursts a day on the bike will help with that.  It'll be more regular exercise than I've had in years so I'm hoping the "little and often" approach will work.

Of course I'll never manage twice a day every day, but if I keep my targets realistic then I'm confident I'll start to see a difference eventually and I'll allow my body the time it needs to properly recover.  I managed 7km before breakfast this morning and hopefully that can continue alongside a longer burst in the evenings.

I know I'm going to have a certain amount of jealousy when I see other people out running but I'm trying to look at the positives and come back fighting fit in 2013.  The date of the Sheffield half marathon is 12th May 2013 and I'm determined to finally beat the distance.  I'm aiming to start training after the New Year so I've got 4 months of cycling and dieting to get me into the right position for that.

My sponsorship page for the Great Yorkshire Run is still open and you can find it by following this link.  I've not actually raised anything yet, and I feel a bit cheeky asking people to dip into their pockets again given how incredibly generous people were at the start of the year, but if you have two quid spare, then The Children's Hospital and Diabetes UK would be really grateful of it.  I'm going to stagger over the line come what may and I'm optimistic of beating my 10km time from three weeks ago (68 minutes).

Before I go, I should wish Dan and Ben all the best for Sunday as well.  I know they're both running and will do a much better (faster) job of it than I will.  I'd also like to mention Sam who's running the Berlin Marathon on 30th September for Children With Cancer.  I'm sure Sam will attest to the fact that distance running isn't without pain and suffering and you can follow her journey on her blog.

Thanks to everyone who's supported my running/fundraising efforts this year - I do appreciate it all so much.  Hopefully I'll be back next year asking for your money and support again.  The blog will continue in the meantime...

Take care


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Concerning Sport


After a ridiculous absence I'm back.  It's not been a conscious decision to stay away - I've just struggled to find something meaningful to write about.

The last few weeks saw the country gripped with Olympic fever and I was no exception.  I was fortunate enough to get tickets to 4 events (football, tennis, handball and volleyball) and I was so enthralled with the buzz of the Olympic Park that I signed up for Paralympic tickets as soon as I got home.  I'll finally get to go inside the Olympic Stadium this Friday for two sessions of athletics.

I took my daughter to the tennis at Wimbledon as well and she was remarkably well behaved for a 2 year old.  I wanted her to know that she'd been part of this great spectacle, even if she wasn't necessarily ever going to remember it herself.  Aside from being asked to leave Court 2 at one point for walking around and shouting, she survived a full day of sport unscathed.

Last weekend, the football season returned to fill that void left by London 2012.  A number of people (including journalists far and wide and those at the FA) were quick to note the differences between top flight footballers and our Olympic athletes and 'demand' something be done about it.  Privately I think I was one of those people too.  Having been a follower of football (in one way or another) for a good 27 of my 31 years, it's fair to say I'd forgotten how brilliant other sports can be, and how humble and gracious other sportspeople can be too.

Football is a worldwide "brand" (I hate that term) and due to it's lucrative appeal it has over a number of years descended into a soap opera of sorts.  For those less familiar with this, you only have to look at Sky Sports' self-parody of a Transfer Deadline Day to see what I mean.  I've tried to stay away from "articles" about what Rio Ferdinand tweets or who Ashley Cole has dinner with - such things fill me with an inner rage that isn't good for my health.

Compare the daily, relentless, in-your-face minutiae of football with the Olympics and the difference is so refreshing you'd think someone had thrown a glass of water in your face.  As you'll no doubt be aware, our Olympians work incredibly hard for a fraction of the recognition (and for the most part, a fraction of the financial reward) of top flight footballers and, it seems, do so with a graciousness you'd be hard pressed to believe.

And so, for the first time, my enthusiasm for the start of the football season was subdued.  This is the first year I've ever had a season ticket for my club (Sheffield Wednesday), and yet somehow I was struggling to motivate myself submerge myself back into football. 

Admittedly, a lot of that went out of the window on Tuesday night as I turned up at Hillsborough for our first home game of the season.  I sang as passinately as I've always done and shouted as loudly as ever when we scored, but it felt a bit different watching the game.  Seeing players (ours and theirs) shouting at the referee for calls that were never going to go their way seemed cheap somehow.  My Dad turned to me at one point and said "you wouldn't have see that [player rolling around on the floor after a 'foul'] at the women's football the other week".  And he was right.

I don't mean this to sound like some incredible revelation - it's quite the opposite really.  To anyone who's not a football fan (and to a lot that are) this is old news. 

Football is, and will always be, my first love.  I've been going to Hillsborough for about 26 years now and I'll keep going as long as I can.  But I think the Olympics has changed my view of it as a sport - in the short term at least.  There's a good chance that the spirit of London 2012 will die away (the reasons for that are numerous and probably another post in their own right), but for now, the daily gossip columns and "Breaking news" stories can go whistle.  I've long understood that football is only a part of llife, but now, more than ever, I'm starting to insulate myself from the trivialities of it all.

My best football memories make me smile - I haven't cried about football since I was 9 years old - but I'm still not yet past the stage of watching Jessica Ennis win the 800m without welling up.

Whether London 2012 inspires a generation remains to be seen.  It's inspired me to look at my sporting life differently and that feels like a good thing.

I know this is just a set of random thoughts, but I felt like I needed to write it down.  If you made it this far, then thanks.

I'll be back again soon no doubt.


P.S. As part of my final fundraising attempts of 2012, I ran a 10km the weekend the Olympics finished.  I worked out if I was 2.5 faster, I'd give Mo Farah a run for his money.  My Olympic dream may be over.  I'm running my second and final 10km next Sunday (2nd September) and like the other one, I'll be doing so in quite a bit of pain, having struggled badly with shin splints since the London Marathon. This will be my last run of this year as I'll be switching to low impact exercise afterwards to give myself some proper rest ahead of training for a half marathon next year.  I won't post a fantastic time, and it'll hurt like hell, but I'm going to do it anyway.  If you want to put a few quid towards my attempts to raise £200 then you can do so by following this link to my fundraising page.  Thank you.