Monday, 22 September 2014

Reasons to be cheerful

The Yorkshire Marathon is 20 days away now and I’m now fully focused on the last nine (NINE!) training runs before the big day.


I did my longest run yesterday – 22.2 miles – which is the furthest I’ve ever done in training and the second furthest I’ve ever done in my life.  The time of 4 hours 10 was a little outside what I’d hoped, but nothing too demoralising so I felt pretty pleased with it all things considered.  I didn’t push hard at all to be honest – didn’t tackle any of the major inclines on my route as I was trying to leave a bit of energy for the later, more gruelling miles.


I got to about 19 miles before I really felt like I was struggling but, that said, a lot of the last 3 miles was uphill which I took at a walking pace.  I’m also having to do these longer runs with a backpack carrying spare water as I can’t convince people to set up impromptu water stations for me around Sheffield.  Losing that bit of weight might make a difference.


I’ve decided that while a sub 4:30 marathon might still be a remote possibility for me, a lot of that will come down to conditions on the day.  You can train, plan and prepare as much as possible but sometimes things just won’t quite click and you’ll not get the performance you wanted.  Conversely, you can feel under-prepared and go out and have a great run.  I’m prepared to accept that unknown factor so I’ll just take it as it comes.  I feel confident I’ll beat my last time (5:30:41) and I’m quietly confident I can do sub-5.  Anything after that is a bonus.


This coming weekend will be interesting as I’m doing 20 miles on Saturday followed by another 6 on Sunday morning as part of the Great Yorkshire Run.  After that it’s some swift tapering before Race Day.


I’m also feeling pretty pleased about my weight for once as I’ve finally managed to get below 180lbs for the first time in about 5 years.  It’s fair to say that marathon training whilst dieting has played a major part in that, but I’m now looking to  just try and maintain this new weight.  It feels strange actively trying to find extra calories to eat (rather than avoid!) but I’m hoping it’ll build up my energy stores over the next few weeks and maybe make those last few miles a bit more bearable.


My diabetes seems to be behaving itself as well with all my post run blood glucose levels being in a ‘normal’ range.  I’m having to scoff most of a bag of jelly babies throughout the course of a long run but it seems to be paying off.  Hopefully that’s going to continue without incident.  It’s an added variable I have to take into account on each run and the longer I can keep it well controlled the better.


Finally it’s been a pleasing week from a fundraising perspective with people generously donating another £30 to take the total raised to £215 so far.  There’s still a long way to go to the £1000 target but it’s great to see the notifications come through about new donations – it really is an added incentive to get out and run.


I read something recently discussing how running a marathon had become ‘normalised’ because of the number of events and the number of people signing up for each one.  I think that is true to a large degree because it is a lot easier to find an event that it was 15-20 years ago.  But what that doesn’t do is normalise the amount of work that goes into preparing for running 26.2 miles.  It’s still an incredibly hard slog and the support that comes in from friends, colleagues and family makes a real difference.


As you probably know by now, I’m raising money for Diabetes UK so they can help to support the millions of people living with diabetes on a daily basis.  Diabetes is a chronic condition that directly affects more than 4 million people in the UK (and over 30,000 in my home city alone).   There’s also an estimated 700,000 people who may have undiagnosed diabetes at present, and seven million adults are currently at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


The money I’m hoping to raise will pay for 20 qualified assessors to help people at risk understand what changes they can make to reduce their risk and be able to live a long and healthy life.


If you feel like you can spare a few pounds to help this incredibly worthwhile cause, please visit or text BROO81 + your donation to 70070 (e.g. BROO81 5 to donate £5).


As always, thanks for reading.




Monday, 8 September 2014

Five weeks to go

I’m conscious I’ve not done an update for a while and with just under five weeks to go until the Yorkshire Marathon, I thought I let you know how I’ve been getting on.


I’ve logged just over 380 miles this year now and I’m on track to go over the 600 I’d planned for 2014 in total.  That’s quite encouraging in a sense because while I started the year pretty well, I had a huge dip around March/April after I’d done the Retford Half Marathon and it took quite a lot of motivation to get back out running at all, never mind training for a marathon.


I’m now very much at the business end of the training – three weeks of long runs and lots of miles, followed by two weeks of tapering (when I basically try not to undo all the hard work a fortnight before the big day!).  I logged 101 miles for August and I think September will be close to 120.


It was great to see the coverage of the Great North Run this weekend as I find it incredibly motivational to see all those people pushing themselves to their personal limits to get round the course.  Hopefully that’ll be what I can manage in a few weeks’ time.


Whilst running is obviously very much about overcoming physical barriers, it’s also crucial to be able to overcome the mental barriers too.  I’ve had my training plan set out for a few months now, but when it came to entering the last few long runs into my diary, I started thinking a lot more about what it means to run 18/20/22 miles just for training purposes, never mind the 26.2 miles for the actual race.  My wife has pointed out how physically and emotionally exhausted I was last time I tried this and she’s right – I was a complete wreck by the time I’d finished.  But at the same time, I’d like to think that no-one goes into a marathon thinking it’ll be anything but exhausting in every way. 


As a way of trying to promote a positive mind-set, I’ve been contrasting my first and second marathons:

 2012 London Marathon

Started training with one mile runs, having not run at all for over a year

Completely unknown territory – previous best distance was 13 miles about 15 year previously

Average mile times were about 11-12 minutes in training

Diet was mixed with no real information around the relationship between nutrition and running

Unsure how to deal with illness and injury – missed 5 or 6 training runs in the build up

Ran twice a week as pain meant any more wasn’t possible

Managing my diabetes whilst doing distance running was completely alien – lot of trial and error involved

2014 Yorkshire Marathon

Had logged over 700 miles in the run up to training

Know exactly what I’m getting into in terms of distance and the required mind-set

Average mile times are between 9.5-10.5 minutes and less than 11 minutes on hilly routes

More structured diet, eating the right foods at the right time

Able to handle niggles/aches/pain more effectively and better at preventing them

Run three times a week plus including non-impact training as well

Ready-made strategy to manage blood glucose levels whilst running and start/finish readings often almost identical


As you might gather from that, I feel like I’m in a lot better place physically which is very reassuring with my eye on Saturday morning’s 18 mile run.  I also think that mentally I’m a lot more clued up.  I know it’s going to hurt, I know I’m going to feel sick, that I’m going to have impossibly sore legs, and probably lose a toe nail or two along the way.  But ultimately I’m OK with that because it’s all temporary and I’ll live to tell the tale.  What I need to concentrate on is running my own race and not getting caught up in what other people are doing.  I’m not built to run a marathon in 3 or even 4 hours so putting myself down while reading about other people’s training isn’t going to help, and neither is trying to keep up with them on the day.  I’ve got to just zone out and do my best to ignore what everyone else does.


My training is currently focused on the end of September when I’ll do my 22 mile run on Saturday afternoon, and get up to do the Great Yorkshire Run (GYR) on the Sunday.  Thankfully I’m not looking to run any sort of fast time in the GYR and I’m just using it as a cool down run.  After that, my distances will drop to no more than 10 miles and I’ll be concentrating on keeping my legs fresh and injury free.


I feel like my diabetes has been incredibly stable over the last few weeks too which is good.  It often takes a while for me to get into a cycle where I can almost manage it without thinking and I feel like my current diet and exercise regime is really helping me at the moment.  I’m eating fresh, healthy food for every meal and I’m exercising regularly and that definitely shows in my blood glucose readings every day.  I’ve got an annual review coming up at the hospital in a couple of weeks so I’m hoping my consultant is going to be as pleased as I am.


As always, for those of you that made it this far, I’m going to finish with a little bit about the charity I’m running for this year – Diabetes UK.  There’s been a lot of press about charity recently and chances are unless you’ve been in outer space, you’ll be familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge and the incredible amounts of money it’s raised for charities all around the world.  What you might not be so familiar with is how much charities like Diabetes UK rely on fundraising and donations to help the millions of people in the UK who either have diabetes, or are at risk of developing it.  As I may have mentioned before, almost 4 million people in the UK currently have diagnosed diabetes, with almost another 750,000 people who may have it but be undiagnosed.  Another 7 million adults are at risk of developing the condition in the future.


As I wrote last time, diabetes currently accounts for almost 10% of the prescribing costs of the NHS and this will only increase as more people get diagnosed.   Helping to educate those at risk to reduce the number of people with diabetes is critical, as is the ongoing support and education of those already diagnosed to reduce the chances of them developing serious long term complications such as blindness.  As if helping and educating all these people isn’t a big enough task in itself, Diabetes UK is a charity with a relatively limited budget.


To use another UK charity for comparison, Macmillan spent more than one-and-a-half times  the entire Diabetes UK’s 2013 annual income on their fundraising activities alone (£58.1m on fundraising vs £38m annual income).


Fundraising and donations are crucial to helping those with diabetes be able to live their lives and you can make a huge difference to millions of people by donating.   By running a full marathon, a half marathon and three 10km races, I’m hoping to raise £1,000 this year to make a difference to people with diabetes.  If you have anything you can spare, please visit or text BROO81 + your donation to 70070 (e.g. BROO81 10 to donate £10).


Thank you.