Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

14th December: Disaster

Well, I played footy at the weekend and had a full 90, scoring my first goal in a long time, albeit in a loss with our side having been 2 goals up at one point. As the match progressed I could feel my right heel getting more painful but it did not prevent me from finishing the game. Straight after the match I had to go off and do some work and as my adrenaline levels were dropping-off, I was finding it harder and harder to walk. When I returned home, LSS and I went out to do our normal dog walk, and the pain in my right heel was now excruciating, leading me to stop several times over the walk's duration to let the pain subside before continuing.

Over the last couple of days it has not improved. I have to take pain killers several times a day just get by and I am unable to walk with any speed, for any distance, or without limping. It seems that my running trainers and my work boots are the only footwear that seems to minimise discomfort when walking, and even then it is hardly any amount.

It seems that 3 Sundays ago when I previously played a game of football, I took a bad tackle to the sole of my boot, the guy kicking it incredibly hard. Yes it hurt at the time but I thought nothing of it and 'running it off' I played-out the game and carried-on with my normal life, even running the Grim last weekend (as detailed in the previous entry), with no ill effects. It transpires this tackle caused a stress fracture in my heel which on Sunday was exacerbated through playing once more; the twisting and turning rigours of the game from the continual changes in direction and explosive sprints from a stand-still split the bone further.

There is no easy fix for the heel fracture, these days they do not like to put you in plaster unless totally necessary, and as this is not a clean break I've dodged that. Only total rest and time will heal the heel. Apparantly I am supposed to keep weight off it whenever possible, which is easier to say than do when my job is an active one; continually on my feet and moving about as an electrician/ kitchen & bathroom fitter and to top it all, every man and his dog is wanting things finished before Christmas, so there is no chance of any rest. I'm pretty sure I will not be able to run the Jan 1st marathon along the canal as planned.

4th December: The Grim

Today I ran the Grim, an 8.5 mile extreme XC race where you have to run through puddle after puddle,  and wade through mud that reaches chest deep in parts. This run being my final 'competitive' outing before the marathons get under way.

The start 20 mins before the start
Milling around beforehand

This morning's race was the second of 2, the first being yesterday and I ran it along with my neighbours Guy and his wife Katherine. The weather was overcast and with a wind whipping around it was freezing cold, with the course all churned-up and extra muddy from yesterdays race. Trying to keep warm I wandered around and took some photos of the course... As you can see below there's the scramble-net and it's attendant mud bath and the large waiste-deep puddle near the finish through which you must wade.

Scramble net

The last puddle

Waiting for the start we were given a safety briefing about the course had how to run through puddles successfully. Sure enough just after the start we encountered our first puddle and someone just along from me decided to forget what we were told about not just ploughing in to them and went flying, belly-flopping in to the 6 inches of muddy water much to the amusement of those of us jogging by! Boy that water was cold, but after the initial shock of the temperature and your feet turning in to sensationless lumps of frozen lead, you soon get over it. After the first few puddles you then realise there is no point in avoiding them as you will get soaking feet no matter what, so you just steam through them :)

Just after the scramble net

 The course was fun and the terrain very varied, the highlight must be the scramble-net and watching people fall over in the sandy mud, sinking down so nearly their heads are submerged. You also know the course is not easy when you run past someone's trainer sole lying forlornly on the pathside! There were plenty of long winding inclines, short sharp hills, a section of moguls and an 'obstacle' stretch of railway lines, large stepping stones and logs. All sections wet and all of them muddy as the previous week of rain had just sat there rather than draining away.

A good splash :)

Well I managed it in a decent enough time, finishing in the top 22% of the field, especially with little training beforehand... The whole event was incredibly well organised and a big thanks goes to those people who spent months planning and arranging it all and I will be wearing my 'Grim'll Fix It' finishers tee with pride. I certainly hope to be back for more next year...

Bring on the marathons :)

The last wade before the finish

27th November: Gear of 'war'

Well I've gone and bought some gear for the marathons... One of the fundamentals: A new pair of trainers. I've nearly worn-out my current pair of Asics, ones specifically for cross-country running and gone for a pair of trail-running ones, the 'Gel Lahar 2 GTX':

I've opted for Asics as I love the pair I currently own, even though all the stuff on the web for trail-running seems to push people towards Saucony, Inov8, Salomon and Brooks. When I have run the off-road races in the past I have looked to see what those around me wear and the overwhelming choice, about 80-90% is Asics with New Balance and Adidas being the next most numerous... No Nike though!


Having looked at the differences between the Asics and the likes of the Saucony, the main comment has been about the grips underneath being superior on Saucony etc, but the grips on this Asics pair seem more than adequate, and offer far more than my current ones which have been fine on trails, The uppers are also Gore-Tex as well so my feet should stay dry whilst able to breath... Oh and they are a fair bit cheaper if you shop-around :)

I've also made the purchase of a back-pack with provision for an hydration system incorporated in to it. I've opted for a 3L CamelBak as they are the biggest bladder you can get as I will be doing some of the marathons unsupported so carrying my own fluid is a given. Rather than just a running back-pack I've gone for a larger more general purpose one for use in other situations:


This Karrimor Wind has a curved rigid back that holds the pack away from your back to stop you from sweating and preventing any chafing from the sweat-drenched top being worn. One of the features I like about this is the pocket in the closing flap which zips behind your head so the pocket is easily accessible whilst you run and does not necessitate the dropping of the bag to fumble your way in to it.

Looking at the list of prerequisites for running in the CTS races, you need to have a back pack with hydration system, as well as the following: survival 'space blanket', medical kit, emergency whistle, phone, food bars oh and a hat as well as a wind-proof jacket, so there will be more to be purchased just to allow me to start their marathons!.. On top of the entry fees this could get quite expensive!

Monday, 30 January 2012

20th November: Advice from the scarred and hardened

As time has progressed and I have told more people around me of my plans, the reaction has been for the most part either: 'Why?' or 'You need your head read'... There has been a group of exceptions however in those people who I know who have run marathons and I have freely tapped in to them for advice.

The main advice has been on the old bodily functions side:

Speaking to Matt who managed to run the London Marathon earlier this year, he said he dosed himself with so many diacalms that he almost didn't take a dump for a week rather than start to turtle mid race!.. The other point on this front was to not over hydrate yourself as it will work its way through you sooner rather than later; just make sure you take a leak as close to the start of the race as you possibly can!

Wear and tear on the body was another topic for advice, mostly chafing related! Simply put, I have been advised to lube-up any prone or tender parts that are known to chafe with Vaseline to try and prevent it. Matt also suggested shaving between legs and arse cheeks, as by the time he reached the end of his marathon, everything had knitted together like wool and was tearing with every stride. He said he certainly knows that his missus is a keeper after she sat there as he laid on the bed butt-naked, cutting out the matted balls of hair.

Wearing any new gear is a no-no as if you're not used to it it can be uncomfortable, especially trainers and the last thing you need is a blister forming.

As you get closer to the end and your body is burning fat, the pain is building, every part of you is screaming to stop and the end seems an eternity away, it really is a case of, as cliched as it sounds, mind over matter: you need to dig deep, force yourself to keep going no matter and remind yourself continuously that the next step takes you one closer to the end.

Pini also mentioned to pay particular attention to the route and not to necessarily follow the person in front as you may take a wrong turn yourself, or you may be following someone on the wrong direction, and all of a sudden the marathon becomes an ultra marathon and all hopes of posting a decent time are forgotten about.

Taking on board nutrients and water is something you need to do. You may be able to get away without on a half marathon but you will not on a full distance. Gels, jelly babies (or any sugared jelly sweets) and isotonic drinks are a must. A banana before perhaps, and a good recovery protein-drink after to settle the muscles and reduce damage... Although to me that need for protein sounds like a good excuse for a bacon and egg sanger :)

With the gels I have been advised to try in advance and make sure my body can handle them as some find them difficult to digest on the move... In light of that I think I'll stick to the 'SIS Go' gels as I tried a cola one during the duathlon and it seemed to work ok.

I'm sure others will have other different advice for me and no doubt I'll be posting their pearls of wisdom on here as well as my findings from running the distance myself :)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

13th November: Training Plans

Well I've been looking at the training I will need to do for the running. I know I can do a half marathon straight-off now if I wanted to, however I would not like to run any further really without any hydration etc. provided en-route.

I'm thinking that I should keep doing 10k runs on a daily basis, weather permitting, with rain days spent on the elliptical trainer for anything up to two hours. In the build-up to the first marathon I want to be building-up distance runs on the weekends before: 12 - 15 - 18 - 21 miles so the big day will not be too much of a shock to the system.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

6th November: Committed

Well I have now entered and organised the first 6 marathons for the year. I have also decided that I will attempt the local Hart Sprint Triathlon and the XT Triathlon (having enjoyed competing in the XT off road duathlon last year) so long as there are no clashes with the marathons. This does mean an extra training burden as whilst I can swim without any problems I cannot swim any distance with any technique as I have no upper body strength, so that will need to be rectified!

So after my planned New Years Day outing down the canal (weather permitting as I do not want to give myself hypothermia again as told in a previous post) I will have 6 weeks to build-up for the CTS South Devon on Feb 18th.

Next-up is the Sussex then Exmoor CTS marathons... Allegedly the Exmoor one is one of the hardest races in the country. One for a survivors badge of honour methinks!

In June there's the South Downs Marathon, something that I'm looking forward to experiencing having heard a lot about the route from Dean and Rob when they spent 2 days cycling its length, and from Walshy and El who cycled it at night.

Something else I am looking at doing is the 'Trailblaze' where you get your dongle through the post and you run a set route on one of their trails when you want and as far as you want, swiping your dongle on the marker posts... Once you're finished you stick it in the post to the organisers and your results go on to their leaderboard. The first one I'll be doing is the Thames Trail along the river from Kew on the Western edge of London further inland through the counties of Surrey and Berkshire.

As you can see I'm properly committed now, paid the entry fees, all fired-up and raring to go on the challenge :)

23rd October: Schedule

Well I've been casting my eye around the various events out there in the South of England and I have come-up with the following schedule.. All subject to change of course as I may not be able to enter some of them due to events filling-up etc:

Jan        Basingstoke Canal
Feb       Devon CTS
Mar       Sussex CTS
Apr       Exmoor CTS
May      Thames Trail (Trailblazer)
Jun        South Downs
Jul         Fairlands Valley (Stevenage)
Aug       Salisbury 54321
Sep        Farnham Pilgrim
Oct        Winchester Clarendon Way
Nov       Ridgeway (Trailblazer)
Dec        Dorset CTS

I'm planning on the first marathon being along the canal where I do a lot of my running. In fact from Brookwood Station to my house the route is exactly a marathon length.

The thinking behind this is that having never run a marathon before I want to ease myself in to it on a fairly easy course. Considering I have run a half distance along here several times and with it being a canal tow-path the terrain is pretty flat and steady I felt it will be an ideal practice before the first official one in February. At least that way I will not be throwing myself in the deep end at a competitive marathon having never done the distance before. Just a little psychological thing!.. And when I say competitive, I am not there to compete or race anyone but myself. I am merely asking myself to make a good effort and finish somewhere other than last.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

16th October: Garb

Running is something that I always have just gone out and done and aside from trainers i have never invested in bespoke running equipment, similarly with my cycling get-up. It has always amused me watching the village joggers in their expensive gear staggering around the block breathing out of their arses come January 2nd. My get-up has tended to be a more 'traditional' affair: a knackered holed old cotton t-shirt, a footy shirt on top, Footy shorts and footy socks. In the cold of winter I will top that with a pair of knackered old gloves and a thick cotton drill-top to keep the worst of the cold out.

As I look into this malarky more and more I am being sucked in to the thought of equipping myself with proper running gear.

I am not a fan of the feeling of man-made fibres against my skin but it seems whatever you look at for running is polyester/ nylon based to enable the wicking away of moisture, basically the same material as the footy shirts I sport. I realise the cotton t-shirts I wear end up stuck to me after running, so perhaps a quicker drying base-layer is the change to make... Or just keep a tight cotton tee under the footy shirt.

Having seen all the 'running tights' out there, I struggle to believe they do anything other than make you look like a complete tool. They claim to offer great support to all muscles etc. But do they? They just look like cheap nasty leggings for men... I'm going with the old principal of larding on the vaseline over the legs if it's just too damned cold.

On the other hand having suffered a nasty hip flexor injury last footy season I had to wear compression shorts for support as the muscles built-up strength. Since then I've taken to still wearing them during games and for longer runs and bike-rides and they do seem to improve performance and lessen muscle fatigue, so I reckon if I do end up wearing anything different it will be these bad-boys.