When I was at work on Monday I got a call from my wife with some not unexpected news. A package had arrived for me from the organisers of the London Marathon with a clearly visible word “sorry” on the front. The better news is that also in the package was this rather spended and worthwhile warm-and-toastie top, the best yet which fits me like a glove and will prove very useful in the winter months.
It is true that I am not that disappointed that I didn’t get in. The marathon in 2016 was one of those moments in life which will forever be burned in my memory as a truly amazing experience. I doubt it would be the same again and there is always a risk that going back might be a disappointment. I am not that sure I really want to more marathons in any case because to do one properly takes so much out of you during the months of training and even then, it can all go down the tubes if you get ill or injured. I took the attitude this year that if I got in, I got in and if I didn’t I didn’t. Maybe the title of my blog shouldn’t be MarathonMann but maybe RunningMann instead but its too late now and who knows, I might change my mind.
I think my favourite distance is the Half Marathon. I can routinely train at that distance and once “in the mode” can do one at the drop of a hat (as it were). For 2017 I think I will stick to the halves and see what I can do since my half PB (1:44:49) is certainly achievable and also I might take a pop at some of my shorter distance PBs. The biggest challenge when you start running faster is avoiding injury so it’s a case to taking things one step at a time and building up strength; not over-doing it etc.
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
Psalm 127:2 NIVUK
Leeds: 8th October 2016
I always take a couple of days rest before a race and this gives me the opportunity to volunteer at Temple Newsam parkrun. On Saturday, I was plunged into the deep-end of being Run Director for the first time, one of the two roles I haven’t done yet. Doing it for the first time, it feelt like quite a big deal, you have to get everyone’s attention and do that speech at the beginnning; you know the sort of thing, thanking the sponsors, volunteers and asking runners not to run-over civilian dog walkers who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time! Then at your sayso, everyone takes their marks and everyone sets-off when you say GO! The thing that gets me though, is that it’s more than that – you are the “go to” person; the last stop definitive answer to all questions, the one person who’s supposed to know what to do if there’s any problem. The fortunate thing is that I was not alone, certainly at Temple Newsam parkrun all the regular volunteers are really supportive and kind. Everyone pretty much knows what they are doing so it’s not as hard as all that. Now what about that other role I’ve not done yet? That’s bar-code scanning and you might think that sounds easy, until I tell the story of one scanner who was repeatedly pressing the “clear” button instead of “scan”. I therefore won’t take anything for granted and will concentrate on the task in hand. After all, how hard can it be?
Sheffield 9th October 2016
Last year my wife did this while I was doing the Brid Half and I was so impressed with the bling, I decided to go with her to the Sheffield Ten 10 Ten this year (Brid is next weekend). This is a little “local” trail race in Sheffield which has an amazing atmosphere which was certainly helped this year by the great weather. Like many races of its type, the start is innocuous enough with some running on the grass of the park followed by a short stretch along the road. Then, it turns off-road and you start running up an extreme grassy slope into the woods. This was like the same 45 degree hands-on-knees climb that characterised the Stainland Trail a few weeks ago. But here’s the difference: after that slope, that was it in terms of serious hill climbing. There were the usual root and stone covered woodland paths, but taking all that into account, it was fairly fast. With Stainland and other trail races I have done, that initial shock-climb has the label “welcome to hell” wareas with this race, the sting was taken out of the trail. It is therefore quite a fast course and I managed go get round in 51 minutes (position 168 out of 987) which for me in a trail race is pretty good going. Finally, check out the medal! This one is stylish, two-sided and weighs in at a hefty 110 grams. Small race, massive medal, well done to Kandoo Events for this one!
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19 NIVUK
One of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn in all of my running experience is that if I want to get the best out of myself, I have to behave like a proper athlete! I saw a television programme where Sir Chris Hoy was showing someone what he had to go through over many years to become the best sprint cyclist in the world – it was basically about training sessions full of pain. Now having to endure the pain I get and many of my running friends would happily put themselves through the pain of hard training because that’s good, isn’t it? (no pain no gain and all that). The difficult bit is how to regulate it and holding back when that’s the right thing to do.
Holding back is really hard, it was a beatiful day yesterday and I would have loved to have gone running but I know that would have been a stupid thing to do because I had done two running sessions the previous day and my limbs were feeling it a little; it was definately time for a rest. I got advice from a really good physiotherapist (another thing I have learned to do, start seeing a physio before I get injured) and a great gentle but effective excercise routine to do on days off running. I think it was listening to the expert and acting on what he said which has kept me clear of injury over the last 12 months.
The great thing is that I have a day off work today and have been for a fantastic 12 mile run in the country after being refreshed by my day off. I was able to run an off-road route which is one of my favourites, which I missed out on during the period I had my heart problems. There is a mysterious looking giant white cube stuck in the middle of the countryside (actually its a frozen food depot) and I missed its construction because I wasn’t well enough to use that fairly challenging route.
The route also takes in the Methley Deer Park and the trees still look so green. It will be interesting to see what this looks like in two of three weeks time; I may take another photo from the same spot.
The training ive been doing is really paying off now and I have stopped feeling like i’m running through treacle. I now need to rest for two days preparing for a 10K race on Sunday (The Sheffield Ten-10-ten), so volunteering at parkrun on Saturday is the order of the day (a great way to have a day off running before a race).
Way back in the summer I set myself the extreme goal of running 200 miles in a month; something I had never done before. The result was that I wore myself out by about half way through the second week and felt really bad about it. The simple rule, I was told, is to step up my running gradually and I had assumed that didn’t apply to me for some reason! In the words of Star Trek’s Montgomery Scott “I cannae change the laws of physics!” and it’s true I’m not exempt from the rules either!
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Romans 2:13 (NIVUK)