Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I am sitting at home ready to fly to Portugal. I have not been away for 7 months now. Strange, it makes me realise how much my life had become dominated by running. Last year by May I had been away 6 times, usually using a race as an excuse!

I feel more positive now about my potential distance running ability. It is strange to be setting targets, hugely ambitious targets, when I am not even able to run for 5 minutes without pain. Without belief that things will get better, and that when they do I will be back better, and stronger and quicker, there is no point. I have been averagely good at a lot of things in life. I have always seemed to do well in the workplaces I have ended up in. I have not had a career though because I have not had the passion for any specific area of work to push to become great at it. I was an averagely good photographer, averagely good DJ, averagely good when I worked in marketing, and project management. When I use the term 'average' I am not benchmarking myself against others, it is average for me, for what I could achieve. If I had stuck with my first job after University maybe I would have become very good at it....but I firmly believe you have to have a passion for something to achieve your very best, because most of that achievement is mental, rather than skill based.

I think I have enough passion for my running, and my coaching, to go beyond being averagely good at both. I don't have much natural athletic ability, but I believe I have enough, and more importantly the passion and the discipline to go well beyond the target I set for myself when I started this blog.

Over the last week my knee has been painful, running on consecutive days, and spinning, caused that. It's settling down now, and I will go and enjoy my holiday. A week on Friday I will see the results of my MRI and I will know just how long my road from here is, it's been 4 months now, and I am sure several more months if not longer still to go, but when I do come back it will be to be the best I can be, to go well beyond the goal of this blog, which is not (for me) averagely good.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

All Change Please...

Been a strange few months, and clearly blogging is not yet an important part of being 6 months since my last.

Running went well until Christmas, up to 90-100 miles a week through the last bit of base training and a nice comfortable half marathon PB of 1.19.04 at Bedford over a hilly course. New year came and went and snowy days came. After a couple of 90 mile weeks over snow and ice was feeling OK. Running home one evening I picked up an annoying pain in my right knee...

4 months on...less than 25 miles run since that day in mid January...ouch. Been a troublesome injury to sort becuase there has never been a clear diagonsis and I am still waiting on MRI results later this month. It's improving, slowly, but my running and fitness has gone so far back. Watching London was fun but handing in my number the day before was pretty tough and I have realised over the last few months just how much running has got into my soul. It is not a hobby, it is a part of me. It is my way of regularing my energy, of controlling my body, the only area of my life where I see results and can see myself excelling over the next few years...all the more result to get better soon!

Cycling has become more important, but the more I have cycled the more other niggles I have picked up...tonight its ITBS. Postive thinking goes along way though and I am trying hard, so hard to stay positive, but at times over the last 3 months I have felt slipping back into darker days of a few years ago.

Since then my job has changed - no managing coach development across Sport England sports in Central London....and my home has a flat from which I can almost see the marathon course in Whitechapel. I can see light now with my running, but I am some way of a proper comeback plan.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Endings, Beginnings and Overly Simplistic Metaphors

Another month gone...

Having seen a bit of progress through September with more miles resulting in a 10k PB I was looking forward to October.

Enjoyed a fantastic week in Cornwall, I never get bored of Cornwall. When I saw young we walked the coast path...the coast is so full of celtic energy and rugged beauty - I love it. The week went by too fast and running in the hills and on the trails round St. Ives proved more challenging than I had anticipated! - Perhaps my grand plan of running the full SW Coast Path might have to wait a little while longer ;o)

Here was the sunsetting over Godrevy Lighthouse, I feel so at peace by the sea with a camera and tripod. Although I am now more stimulated by other forms of photography and art every now and again I still enjoy getting out and taking landscape photos -

After a long but painless drive to Nottingham I had a nice run out at Kimberley and District Striders Goose Fair Gallop 10k. Pretty tough point to point 10k - mostly up hill and along trails I felt pretty comfortable running a controlled race to come 6th - just behind Sutton Harrier's Claire Woolis who has a 35 minute 10k - so happy enough with that. She was so much stronger than me at the finish - fantastic form stemming from obvious core strength - something to think about through the winter. Got a nice mention in the local paper - cheers Ian! -

Birmingham Half (and the World HM Championships) was a week later on the 11th. Felt good and the weekend was made much less stressful by the offer of a free place to kip on the Saturday night from a club mate...Felt good and confident of sub 80. Got the start in good time, nice warm up and good place at the head of 16,000 runners. An overflow of adrenaline led to a 5.26 first mile and from that point I was hanging on. I was still course time wise at 10 miles (about 15 seconds ahead of 1.20 pace) but I knew my legs we gone. After 11 miles I resigned myself and jogged home for 1.21. Perhaps the worst feeling of my racing year...felt so deflated and confused. But as my energy returned the mile splits show my obvious mistake and the full effect of running to hard too early...

After a confidence building threshold session on Tuesday night it was onwards to Cabbage Patch 10 mile race and club championship on 18th October to end this season. This time with 60 odd other Chasers running, Ian down from Nottingham and a promise to myself to pace properly...please...just this once. The day was so perfect, cold, no wind, clear skies - I can't remember a better day for running. Having run this before I knew it was a fast course. Just before the start a guy in the street collapsed right in front of us, his family all around, it was awful - thankfully police and ambulance were close at hand. I have no idea what happened but safe to safe as the start was delay my thoughts were not really on sunning sub 60 for 10 miles - I hope he pulled through but it looked very serious.

Gun went...everybody flew off....but not John and I, for once. Keep it steady and fight that amazing 'start of the race feeling' where 3k pace feels like you are out for a Sunday jog! After a mile I checked my watch...bang on 6 minutes - perfect! Passed last years club champion Tim, just recovering from injury. the next few miles passed so easily - 5.55, 5.57, 5.55 - John was in great form and started to pull away but I knew this was my pace for that day no matter how comfortable it felt...on through 5 miles in 29.40...feeling happy and controlled. There was abig group of runners ahead - mainly the red vests of Serpentine runners, all looking strong, and Claire Elms from Dulwich AC. I passed Nick Sirs, a former sub 2.30 marathon runner and still a top runner in V50 category. Gradually I passed each one of the group ahead - I remember only feeling this a few times in my short life as a runner...the feeling of getting stronger as others are fading. I knew they were all going for sub 60. Up the hill and over the Thames at Kingston...2 miles to go, just have to hold on now and for the first time I was beginning to feel the pace a little...but still feeling in control. I managed a strong last mile cheered on the the locals to 00:59:28 and 3rd in my Club Championship. Mile splits were;

6.00 5.55 5.57 5.55 6.01 5.58 5.57 5.55 6.02 5.48

What a relief to finally pace a race properly and meet my own expectations after such a disappointing run at Birmingham - it made my year and I was smiling all the way home. The day was made even better by fantastic runs from my training partners Alex in 57.18, John in 59.04 and Mike Hurford, 3rd overall in the V50 category with a fantastic 59.50. Ian had a great run as well on his steady return from injury.

Base training starts again now, back to big mileage from November through to February with 70-100 miles a week as the aim. Lots of hills and cross country chucked in as well....and maybe one last half before the year is out...with no pressure. The point of this phase is aerobic development, so mostly steady and easy running, building to hills and anaerobic conditioning February/March and sharpening in April ready for London. Going into it with much more confidence now though.

The difference in a week could not have been more different, from feeling I had gone backwards to taking a big stride forwards. A little like life things are so often better when you allow them to develop rather than rushing in and consuming everything too fast. Talking of this developing slowly my mind is pretty much made up that I will not by making my Photography Masters application to Falmouth for at least another year or two whilst other ideas grow and develop. I feel my creativity is still developing and it's very much still my aim to do the course but for now I think I need to explore, work wise, something more fulfilling...

I am taking my athletics coaching qualifications and running leadership qualifications later in the month, and helping out getting the new established Finsbury parkrun going for it's launch on 31st October....looking forward to it.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Higher miles...PBs...and Niggles

The last few weeks seem to have flown by. Running has really been focused on just getting out and doing as many miles as I can fit it...without worrying too much about specific sessions or intensity. Over the last 3 weeks I have plodded through 72 miles a week. Generally feeling better for it though, aerobically stronger.

First race back from injury was a bit of a mare at Derwentwater Trail Race. I normally love trail racing and significantly over achieve compared to my road times...this time not so! I went off a bit to hard, dragged along by GB international James Walsh...and paid later as I climbed...very slowly up Glenderaterra...couldn't get my legs going downhill either and suffered a fair bit of DOMS in my quads for 3 days following the race. I guess it was just lacking sharpness really. I was still a beautiful race all the Lakeland Series are...

I was back racing again last Sunday having taken a long weekend by the seaside near Brighton. It was lovely to get out of London and back to the sea for a few days...chips...icecream...piers and the sedate but peeling grandness of Eastbourne cheered me up a lot as the week previously had a bit of a slog...mentally. Took the opportunity to race the Chestnut Tree House Coastal 10k in Littlehampton on Sunday morning...which required getting up at not long gone 6am to pack up our tent, generally fumble our excess baggage into the car, dodge September spiders in the campsite showers and drive to Littlehampton in time to register....thanks Nina for your tolerance. The race went well enough, it was a dead flat course and the wind stayed down. About 1.5km of grass running and a shorter for killer section of pebbles (akin to running through marmalade) were the only things that stopped this being the fastest 10k course I've run. I started off slower than I normally would and it paid off with a new PB of 36.27...and 6th out of 1000 or so. Pleased as I find 10k such a hard distance. That combined with post race massage and flapjack left me with a warm glow heading back to London...

I am running the Round Norfolk Relay this weekend - I have been given stage 12...20 miles starting at about 01:30. Its odd perhaps that I am looking forward to this....particularly given the soaking I got on Tuesday. Maybe when you are running everyday it's just nice to have something a bit different to look forward to. It got me thinking about running odd odd beautiful places. I wonder what it would be like to run some of the National Trails from start to finish...?

Oh...and the niggles...calf pain has gone...but my old ACL reconstructed left knee seems to be groaning a bit at the higher workload...tough really.

Start of the Chestnut Tree House 10k -

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back running...

This week was all about getting back running again. Managed 48 miles in the end, all laboured, trundling easy running, but running (jogging perhaps) all the same.

My main thought on training for this week is that drinking until the early hours followed by a 20 mile run a few hours later on a hot day don't make for a relaxing Sunday.

Having struggled out of bed after not enough sleep, and still having wine in the system I thought it would be good to have some company on my long run so I headed to join some Chasers ( on an amble around Hampstead Heath and Highgate Woods. As much as it was good to have the company the run reminded me of the joys of running long runs by myself. Getting up at 6am and running by myself is one of the only times it's possible to find solitude in London, a chance to see that it is possible to find peace here...if it is sometimes punctuated by drunken fashionistas rolling out of too cool to imagine Dalston parties.

Derwentwater Trail Race is coming up in a couple of weeks. Had planned to have a go at a top 10 finish after 8th at Hawkshead earlier this year, I think this is out now as my pace is well down, but should still be a beautiful run. I have also been given my stage for the Round Norfolk Relay ( - stage 12 - the longest at 19.67 miles and in the middle of the night....I need to get training!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Getting Reflective

I have set up this blog to write down my thoughts on my running; how it links to my life, my creativity, family and try to find a way of releasing some of the thoughts that so often disappear before I can reflect on them.

Although this will largely be about running I am beginning to see running, or even just movement or travel, being nomadic as something that links together all parts of my otherwise wandering life.

I have been off injured for 2 weeks...this has made me a bit reflective about my running. I have decided that now I am back running again I need to start getting a bit more focused on my training in order to achieve my ultimate ambition of achieving a sub 2.40 marathon. Below is some background I posted on (running website)...this is where I am at;

'Having spent the last 11 days out with a calf injury I thought it was a good time to get a bit reflective about my running to try to remind myself that I have improved, what I need to do to get where I want and why I have got so frustrated not running over the last couple of weeks.

On a whim I entered the 2007 Bath Half Marathon. Didn't really do that much training, about 10-15 miles a week in the gym, and was pretty in active at the time. Was surprised on race day that I managed to get 1hr 40 minutes something as I was hoping to break 2 hours.

Summer came and went and running slipped a bit after moving to London from Oxford. Decided later in the year to have a stab at the Barns Green Half off a massively increased training programme of 15 miles a week. I was disappointed to just miss out by a few seconds on breaking 1.35.

Yet again running slipped and during Christmas 2008 Dad was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer. I made a commitment to myself then that I was going to try to mentally get some control over this uncontrollable situation by entering the 2008 Berlin Marathon and doing a few other cycling and running races during the year to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK....January came and went...February came and went...

2008 Bath Half Marathon was looming large and I committed to doing 20mpw for 3-4 weeks with a bit of cycling. I broke 1.30 and for one of the only times in my running career crossed the line pleased with how I'd done. From here, I naively told myself, if I could run 1.29 for a half, I could run sub 3 hours for a full marathon (6 minutes 52 seconds a mile pace).

Running then took a back seat a little as I raced (slowly) a couple of long distance cycle races before picking up running again in April doing Hawkshead Trail race before really start regular training in May. I thought training for Berlin went well. I had not joined a running club and I was doing about 30 miles per week (mpw), sometimes 35 - all pretty hard - generally marathon pace or 'tempo' - although I'd not heard of the term at the time. I ran Belper Rugby Rover in August and was surprised and delighted to come 18th, especially after getting lost.

Pressed through August on about 35mpw and managed to break 40 minutes for the first time in a 10k at the Nike Human Race in early September. 3 weeks before Berlin and I joined local running club Mornington Chasers, meeting my regular training buddy Simon who was also running Berlin aiming to break 3 hours. I managed a couple of 45 mile weeks just before the marathon which was more than I ever thought I'd manage. Race day came...I got the start line believing in myself that I could break 3 hours...even though I had only gone under 1.30 for a half twice (once at Bath and once in training) and hammered my body to a sub 40 10km only a few weeks previously....perhaps again naivety. Still there I stood in the sub 3 pen and luckily bumped into Simon from the club. We ran together and I remember thinking ‘this is all so easy’ – we were just flowing along…I went through half in 1.25 taking nearly 5 minutes of my half pb in the process. At 18 I was beginning to feel it and Simon pulled away. By 22 I was clinging on to dear life to 7.30s and by the finish I was knackered. I crossed the line in 3 hours and 1 minute and I was gutted, really gutted. Simon managed a fantastic 2.51. Looking back this is how I know I was naive. I should have been so happy with 3.01 off an average of less than 35 miles a week with no structure or plan…still when you believe with you heart you can do something then don’t achieve it it hurts.

It was not long after this that I heard I had my ballot place for 2009 London Marathon and this gave me a focus…now having some support of Alex and Simon at Mornington Chasers I began to realise how limited my training for Berlin had been. I got my mileage up to a regular 40mpw through until Christmas doing lots of hills and managing 01.01.27 at the Cabbage Patch 10 – which was the first time I had run a race which suggested I could break 3.

Mileage built through the early part of 2009, I thought I was doing a lot but looking back my average mileage for the run up to London did not go above about 46mpw…even though I managed a 70 and an 80 mile week. Speedwork never really kicked in and although I was supported and more consistent I never had much of a plan or real structure. 2009 Bath Half came up and I was really sure I could break 1.20. I finished in 01.20.11 and was again gutted having started off way too fast at 5.45 miling. Not stopping to think for one minute that this had taken nearly 10 minutes of my time from the previous year and that that might be a good thing!

However I felt fit, and I was sure I could target 2.49 especially after I ran Asics breakfast 16 miler averaging 6.14 a mile and getting progressively faster. I felt even more confident after finishing 8th at Hawkshead Trail race (taking 15 minutes off my time from the previous year) beating quite a few top runners including the woman who finished 10th in the Commonwealth Games Marathon. London came and although it was hot I am small and felt confident I’d be ok. For once I did not think I had started off too fast. I went through half way at 1.24.59 – bang on target and felt so good. Yet I began to get more and more dehydrated and I could not take on enough water and gels to stay energised without feeling very sick. Began to wilt and cross the line in 2.54.55…instead of having elation at breaking 3 for the first time I was disappointed I’d not achieved my target. Again I had not stopped to think that given the conditions I’d be better to adjust my targets…2.49 was the very best I could have achieved and on the day if I had aimed for 2.52 instead I reckon I could have done it.

Post London I had planned to start again, working on speedwork, intervals, tempo and get my 10k and half marathon times down before aiming for a ‘good’ time at Berlin 2010. A few weeks of this was going OK and I won my first race, a hilly off road 11k which reinforced my feeling that off road racing suited me best. However I did not feel I was really improving much, and my legs were killing.

Taking stock with a bit of advice from people here I changed my plan to forget all out speed work concentrate on PMP, general race paced running, tempo/threshold and more miles…

Then I strained my calf and here I am.

Sorry that was a ramble and not really for public consumption just for me to look back. This time last year I had not run more than 35 miles in a week, I had only recently broken 1.30 for a half and had not year managed a sub 40 10k. A year later I have a 2.54 marathon, a 1.20.11 half and a 37.07 10k….all of which I felt totally dissatisfied with when I achieved them. I think really it has been a good year, I have even won my first race, but I needed to take the time to reflect to understand this.

Going forward I think it helps to have a long term goal. I think, genuinely think that I can at some point run a sub 2.40 marathon before I start to slow down. This is my aim. I don’t feel that I have even begun to train properly yet. I have not looked at the efficiency (or lack of it) of my technique, I have not regularly run anywhere near the mileage required (for me anyway) to make dramatic improvements and I have only run about 5 tempo/threshold runs this year.

So here I am making a commitment to look at my technique and improve the efficiency of my running, to increase the quantity and quality of my mileage (my 46 mpw average for 2009 really needs to be closer to 80) and to do so in a structured way. I am committing to looking after my body more – to stretch, to spend the money on massage or coaching where needed. But above all I am committing to trying to be pleased with some of the improvements I do make going forward. I will always be hard on myself, it’s just the way I am…but I don’t want to stop running having spent 90% on my races being disappointed. Partly this is down to being over ambitious, a little, although I genuinely believe I can achieve what I want to, partly it is down to still being early in my running life and wanting to make big improvements all the time, but mainly I think it’s down to me needing to be more structured and committed in the way I train.'