Sunday, 5 December 2010

He who fails to plan, plans to fail

Looking back to my earlier posts I seem to have been frequently ignoring my own advice, in spite of my desire to start being my own best friend, this best friend has not been good in the support department.
My wisdom to other runners seems to be helpful in many ways. How to increase training gradually, hints and tips for getting the best from their workouts, motivational spiel for training sessions, and recommendations for massage help when needed. I have numbers for Sports Massage, Physios, Personal Trainers that I happily pass on to others, so now tell me why I am so reluctant to use them myself to get my knee problem fixed, why I avoid visiting the doctor to get my breathing sorted once and for all, and why i won't allow myself to improve?

I feel my biggest problem at the moment, is not that I don’t have a goal, as I most certainly do, but that having a goal in itself is not enough. I need to plan how to get to that goal, I need to set out the steps I will take to get me there, otherwise as I read somewhere recently that without a plan it isn’t a goal at all, it is just a wish.

April 2012 and the London Marathon for that year is fast approaching and I am not yet off the starting blocks, so it will make a tough 26.2 miles, I know how tough, I have been there before and this time I wanted to be better than I was previously. Maybe I have a fear of not being better that causes me to hold back so I have an excuse when I do not achieve it. This of course would be much easier than putting in the hard work required to make me improve so that I can be better and fulfil my goal potential. The easy option then!!! So what is so difficult about achieving success?

Maybe it isn't really that difficult, maybe it is because I am unprepared and unplanned to achieve that it seems so difficult.

OK so maybe trying to think about 2012 is not helping, it is a while away and I am currently not fit to run at all let alone 26.2 miles, but I don’t need to run it now I need to run it in 16 months time. Plenty of time to implement a new plan with small steps to achieve along the way, but still there is definitely a plan required, and once that is in place, then I do actually need to work towards it in order to achieve it in the end.

So to inspire me further my first interim goal is now set to help focus me along the way, I have entered a half marathon at the end of May, which I need to be my starting focus for fitness. I need a plan NOW to bring it into focus and the longer I leave it, the more difficult it becomes.

I know I am not alone with this problem, and I know that others overcome the feelings of malaise, so I need to plan and then execute the plan with determination and in small chunks or steps. Fitness will not come by itself it does require some input to achieve, this is my first start point. In one of my favourite quotes at the moment
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” – Aristotle.
So today I am getting my required training habits down onto paper and making each step to fitness a goal in itself.
Give me those training habits again, and just watch me go.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Flaw in my Grand Plan

OK Folks, this post was heading in a slightly different direction before the London Marathon Magazines started arriving on doormats.
As anticipated the blow to my plan to run in 2012 has arrived. I have an acceptance for 2011. After I had picked myself up off the floor after laughing so hard, because that, as they might say, is typical. When you want to get in you can't, when you want a rejection it seems you can't get that either :-)

Now, many people would be very pleased with this outcome, after all, that is what you enter the ballot for isn't it? But I have a plan.......albeit a very vague plan....and that is to be running the 2012 London marathon. After all how can I tell people I am taking part in London 2012 otherwise?

The next step........well do I pay for my entry to secure the place? Then in time defer it to the following year at which time I pay again the following year when I go to take up my place.
Is it worth double the cost to get in?

But no.....wait.....there is an option outlined in the congratulations magazine. I can withdraw from the 2011 race, and I will then receive an email next May asking me if i wish to take up the 2012 place, at which time I assume I will need to pay.

Well there you go. So the decision, do I train like mad and run in a year I really don't want, do I pay and then defer, or do I withdraw and hope they don't forget me next year, because if they do by then I will have missed the ballot?

Decisions, decisions.

But really not much of one. With my knee still not working fully, and my training at present limited to two very short sessions a week, I know I have a long way to go to be marathon fit.
So.....the withdraw button was pressed and I now have 18 months to get fit, trained up and be ready to run the 26.2 miles around London in 2012.

Why did I want to do this again?

Ah yes.....because I am MAD!!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The dangers of planning ahead

Well exercise planning starting to get going, new ideas buzzing, running slow but steady ish, weight management still requiring serious thought and effort, so all ticking along, maybe not nicely but definitely ticking. Then a weekend away ruins the lot....

A wet windy weekend and a walk along a stony beach, where a great amount of fossils lie in wait for discovery. wet rocks and unsteady scambling are no great combination for successful exercise and...... unable to control the slipping sensation underfoot... crash, down I went, slamming into my knee and causing several seriously foul expletives to rain continuously for a few minutes. (no change there then) (Bonus fossil found while on the down bit so some redemption allowed)

Hobbling continued for at least another hour, interspersed with wailing and howling (that's me not the wind and rain) when faced with wall ladders and climbing up and down things (not good with those as anyone who has heard of my exploits trying to recover things from my parent's attic will have noted - and that's another story)so... full panic mode and childish petulant metaphorical footstamping ensues, followed by getting feet seriously soggy having to walk in the water and eventual arrival back on soggy dry land (??) soaked to the skin (love leaving the waterproofs in the car) and ready to head home immediately please, well after a spot of lunch to aid recovery.

Investigation of said knee showed swelling and discolouration setting in..Oh Bum!!! Luckily icepack to hand and travel home with knee being iced was next.

More swelling to follow with hobbling pain and cut off cirulation as the ankle and foot are also the size of a small barrage balloon.

Running is, I think, not an option for a while......a short while I hope, but definitely not this week and will not hold my breath re next either.

So hey ho, back to beginner status again. Oh deep joy, well at least I can start from scratch and try and co-ordinate everything together....ooooh look....another pink piggy flying overhead.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Mining for gold

Every now and again we stumble upon a gem of an idea, sparked by something very simple that could really develop into something much bigger with a little bit of spark and enthusiasm, a bit of knowledge and the ooomph to make things happen.

I attribute my newly found enthusiasm for exercise and fitness (as opposed to the one I know I should have) partly to a chance conversation with another running club member, who like me, suffers from post marathon injury and demotivation and reduced levels of fitness, but also like me has previous exercise qualifications and also coach training.

So we started discussing various aspects of fitness and how we know that we don't do enough to strengthen our running muscles other than by trying to go out and run, and reminiscing back to the days when we both taught various aerobic classes and how fit we were at the time.

This sparked an idea which we are currently working on to get some decent running specific add ons for those who do nothing but go out and run. Things that will help runners specifially to strengthen the running and in the end hopefully to reduce the high injury rates we all seem to suffer from.

Suddenly my brain is in the zone of planning and motivating to get things done....ah but again this relates to others, so.....

PLAN A.......information gathering
What bits of me hurt when I run?
What exercises work to help strengthen those bits?
What stretches do I need to do to help?

Next step..... try them out, do they make any difference.
If No - then ditch that particular exercise
If YES - well get it on paper quick, if it works for me it'll work for others.

I am constantly being told I am a mine of information, so time to start digging it out and flogging it off rather than burying it for future generations. Theres gold in them there training hills eh?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Will Power, my new best friend

Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been 2 months since my last confession, and..... to be fair I'm not actually much further on than I was 2 months ago. Oh Dear! The idea of getting back to fitness and the combination of the food, exercise etc. is nice in theory, so why oh why is it so hard in practice.

To be fair, my running is starting to improve, I am now getting to the point of being able to run for much more than a 2 minute stint without collapsing in a heap, well on most of the sessions anyway, and to be fair the heat of the past few weeks hasn’t helped.

So far I have managed to kick-start my training regime back onto a track of sorts. I seem perfectly able to motivate myself to take out my beginner groups and encourage them to achieve in their sessions, and have even managed to be so motivational that many of them have joined in the local free 5k park runs and amazed themselves with their ability to run 5k when they never thought they could.
So great seem to be the motivational skills that one lady who was adamant she was never going to run again after she had completed her 5k race for life, has spent money on decent running shoes, shorts and tops, has entered the park run on several occasions so far and having been encouraged to run all of it one week with a companion, now runs the entire distance on her own, and has asked to carry on with the training once our 10 weeks is up and maybe build up to a longer distance. Next target 5-mile race in September, which I really need to enter myself, just to prove I too can do it.
So......motivating others - Tick done.....Motivating self....needs more work, a lot more work, in short I think I need a new best friend. One that isn't afraid to tell me what they think I should be doing and keep me motivated along the way while doing it.

I, however it seems, am not the person to be my best friend.

So hey best friend, just a bit of advice.......I know all the rules and what I should do, I just have a major willpower issue when it comes to doing it.

I know that planning has to be the key, along with lots of tick charts to keep me on the straight and narrow as all my good work with the calf stretching and water intake seems also to be slipping fast. Though I must admit, with the increase in the running the calves seem to have eased nicely now and my fluid intake seems to be much higher than previously, so maybe, just maybe, the habits have started to reap benefits.
Well OK then in that case lets get onto some nice new ones.

Logically I know what I need to do, the basic premise of eating fewer calories than you burn off is really quite simple to grasp. The difficulty comes with putting that into practice.
I speak to others and they seem to have that magic little thing called willpower.

Ha...if only it were so simple as that.

So Will if you are out there, please come and be my best friend, it seems you are the only one who can help.

Monday, 31 May 2010

to (park)run or not to (park)run

Week two of the Parkrun started badly. The weather was great, perfect conditions, I arrived a little later than planned, I never warm up anyway, so is that a problem?
Two of my new beginner group were there....hoping to beat them but hey who knows.

Start.....breathing rubbish, legs tighten, suddenly the tingle of pins and needles, the calf cramps and running on feet that I don't think belong to me. Still..... got to keep going, have a time to beat from the previous week, just a few seconds will do. Run, walk, run, walk, all have gone past me except one that I know of, try hard to keep running, think my feet are still there, end of first lap, oh boy lapped by 6 this week. (2 lap courses are so much fun...sometimes - encouragement and despondency in equal measure)

Finish......eventually, finally remember to stop watch, still under 5k (more corners cut)and watch shows 41.55, but I did let it run, so slower, but....hey ho room for improvement at least.

Wait for results to go up on web...wait.....wait....results up.....where am I.....there is a gap and an "Unknown" in the position where my name should be.

I realise my running was rubbish, but even the results didn't want to recognise me.

Email sent to the "race crew"......frustration emails as very angry and unforgiving....ooops, not the intention, send apologetic email and plead for result.
It took a while but hey I exist once more and according to their figures, not that much slower.
Avoid next weeks run due to perceived tiredness and aches and pains, but trundle along to support my beginners, who manage to run the whole 5k, well done them.

Week 4 managed to shave another 23 seconds off the first week (according to my watch anyway) and the time on the results near enough matches mine, and still my beginners are running the whole 5k while I am still struggling to run/walk.

I think it all seems to be coming together slowly, but feels painfully slow at times.

Parkruns rule....fabulous way to test out your 5k times if you have no other way to measure. And so much less pressured than a race you pay for. I think I shall be doing a fair few of these, and maybe (to make up for my outburst of frustration and anger) I need to also volunteer at a few.

Meanwhile....keep on training and maintain the pint of water first thing in the morning, with a 5 min calf stretch routine, I'm sure that is helping.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Water water everywhere

Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be how I work when I am coaching. It seems that I am able to help diagnose simple hydration problems for others, yet will not do the same for myself.

The number of times I hear myself saying to others, "Do you drink much water? Because sometimes the lack of water can cause muscle cramp" is incredible, and yet I don't appear to take note of my own advice.

Bascially I dislike the taste of the water, but I do need to make sure I consume sufficient amounts to allow my muscles to work effectively, so maybe just adding some flavour to it to take the edge away would help. I need to start the process.

In the past few years when starting the beginer groups the first thing we always say to them is "you must drink plenty of fluids" so what do I do? Complain that my calves are tight, know i don't drink enough water and then complain like mad.

So step 1, rehydration programme.

I have never been one to drink large amounts of any liquid, so to try and get into the habit of drinking more I need to keep a chart so I can tick off my "glasses of water" daily.
I need to form a nice new hydration habit, and I know new habits take about 20 times of doing to get them installed in the brain, or around 3 weeks of doing to get used to it, so i need to start small and build that up, a little like the running the training needs to begin.

I cannot deal with too may changes at once, i don't know that it is possible to effectively change more than 2 things at a time, so hydration is my first priority. This in turn may lead to natural food curbage as maybe there are times when I feel hungry when in fact I am actually in need of water.

So here we go then

Habit no 1 - A pint glass of water first thing every morning for the first 3 weeks, to establish the habit, while continuing with my other drinks during the day as well.

How hard can that be?

Better draw up a chart to tick them off though just in case. for your life

An email arrived in my in-box "Park Run" a 5k local run, free and timed for anyone that wanted to turn up. All you needed to do was register, get a barcode printed out, then turn up, run, get a finish time and you have a marker to start you off.
To go or not to go that is the question, always easier to sit at home and think about it than get out and do it, but that's not helpful for my training or my motivation.
So I arrived at the Park Run location just after 8.30 am on a Saturday morning to give it a go. Time in my head of 40 mins.
I am sure you can convince your body to achieve a certain time by just thinking about it, because a lot of run and more walk later, I finished just under my target time of 40 mins (39.35). Looked like I'd cut a corner or two though as my Garmin read 4.92k. Hey ho, it's a start eh? And now I feel very virtuous for having gone out to do something for myself.
Checked out the website and it said I did 38.44, well who am I to argue then?
I now have a benchmark to my training, so now to get practicing and see how well I can improve it.

First stop my beginner groups. At the moment I am leading 2 groups for the new Run in England initiative and as beginners they are starting from scratch to build them up nicely, the advantage is that I too am benefitting from this gentle build up strategy. My only worry is that they will build up quicker than I can and I will struggle to keep up with them.

Then there are the regular running club nights, I turn up to most of them and manage to do something, but at my stage of running at the moment find that too much too soon is not helpful, and while everyone might be comfortable with a set off from the start gentle jog (which equates to the speed of my fast run) my body and lungs are not happy and need a more gentle build up. I had thought about turning up half hour before training begins just to warm myself up, but life has a way of intervening with that.

Structure is I think the way to go then. IF my beginners are building up nicely with a build up plan then I too need something similar. So back to the drawing board and planning stages....and then to the food intake.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Actually its a bit of a wheeze

Having blamed everything about my dire running ability on my fitness, weight, breathing and deciding to do something about all 3 the first stage of my plan was to get the breathing checked out.

I duly made an appointment with the nurse at my health centre, not appreciating how long the process would take. Anyway, first blow into a machine that tells how much I can expel, apparently not too bad. 80% is the limit of being able to cope naturally, I score 89%.

So far so good, then comes the blow out as hard as you can part, only it isn't just blowing is it? There is a 1 inch diameter tube in your mouth and trying to breathe out hard with that there is nigh on impossible, still apparently I make 80%, with wheeze still intact and a post expel cough to match the 40 a day smoker.

So I am borderline for asthma, but not quite there, hence I guess why when I tried an inhaler in the past it had little or no effect on me. Still, next stage, pump me full of salbutimol make me wait 20 mins then try again just to see if it is anything that's asthma induced and that can be cured with a dose of ventolin. In fact I had several doses of it, so should be feeling seriously light headed.

We try again.

Very similar results and the conclusion is that it may (or may not) be asthma (useful) and that, however the nurse tried to gloss over it, I have the lungs of a 64 year old and a graphic representation of my breathing that should, for the figures I have produced, be a more straight line tail off, though mine shows a nice concave curve. It seems that "Houston there is a problem" we just don't know what it is yet.

Next step. Appointment with doctor to check out potential allergies and any other problems that might cause me to wheeze like a 64 year old 40 a day smoker every time I start to run. Now if I can find who did that transplant in my youth I would like to tell him off.

I am hopeful that planning the diet (maybe the weight loss will help) and upping the exercise (fitness has to help) will both improve the age of my lungs (i.e return them to nearer my actual age) and maybe reunite them with the correct birth certificate.

Why do i think the road to London 2012 will be an eventful one?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

planning to plan the plan

Every journey starts with a single step, and I know there are going to be a lot of steps to my journey. I know where I am heading, but at the moment it looks like there is a long way to go to get there.

Having the idea is one thing, entering the ballot...well that's a sort of plan isn't it. I am saying "I plan to run the London Marathon", so that must be OK then right?

I like to think I am intelligent (from time to time) so I know that just saying that something will happen, won't necessarily make it happen, and being the world's worst at leaving things until the last minute, I do actually know that I can't just turn up on the day and expect to complete 26.2 miles without having put any effort into it first.

It's a bit like making a cake...honest it is..... all the ingredients in the correct quantities will make the cake come out of the oven in a beautifully edible state, but adding all the same ingredients in any amount you like will not have the same result, so it is with training etc. If I put into the mix a good training plan, that builds up gradually and add to it a sprinkling of the right ingredients....proper hydration, good nutrition... by the time I get to the event itself I it should all be second nature and I'll breeze through it. Well there's the theory anyway.

So to the plan
First write the target/goal down and pin it somewhere very visible, and at the same time make it SMART
"I am going to run the whole of the London Marathon in 2012 to finish uninjured and having enjoyed it in a time of between 5 and 5 1/2 hours" if that doesn't scare you....
Then look at my starting point
I have 102 weeks to go (getting less every day - but seemingly plenty of time eh?)
Currently struggle to run for 2 minutes (blame weather, weight, breathing etc)
Eating habits completely unhealthy (vegetables? what are they?)
Lack of regular hydration (unless lager and wine count)
Limbs that ache at the slightest form of exercise (you really wouldn't believe I have been running for years)

Start to formulate plan

1) Get the breathing checked out
2) Eating plan to be devised
3) Running programme to be worked on
4) strengthening exercises to be included to help build me up
5) Panic regularly then consider asking for help

Well as far as I see it the most difficult for me will be number 5 (The asking for help bit not the panic) as I very much like to sort things for myself, but there are people out there who have greater knowledge that I who can help to ppoint me in the right direction for each of the above. So maybe at the end of each of 1-4 I should add statement 5.

Now to flesh out the options

Sunday, 2 May 2010

start as you mean to go on

So I get a priority entry, this means that I WILL HAVE TO RUN the marathon at some future point, (oh rats, I sometimes hate being so determined) and I realise that it also means no more excuses, I need to crack on and get fit and healthy.
How hard can it be?
Day 1 - enter via priority email into the ballot - now sit back and wait until October for the outcome.
Day 2 - head to a local race, to watch of course, can't have too much effort on the first day of training
Day 3 - well it was the Thursday before the 2010 marathon so the running club held a pasta party, time to start carb loading then.

So far so good

Day 4 - try a forest run with the club, come down heavy on previously injured foot and hobble for most of the 3 1/2 miles in agony.
Day 5 - rest
Day 6 - watch the 2010 London Marathon practically for the whole day either on TV or via internet, while trying to follow each and every club member running. Not sure if I got more exhausted doing this or walking round London last year trying to spot runners.
Day 7 - head out for a race recce and manage to achieve just about 2 mins run with a lot of recoveries (thats several lots of 2 mins not just the one)

First weeks training hasn't gone too bad :-)

So into week 2

I have thought long and hard about how to approach the training and I do need to get the energy side sorted, so really need to think about the diet and how that's going to work. 3 stone (maybe 4 if I could get there) weight loss in 2 years is certainly achievable, but in the main means having to discard most of my beloved eating habits to help me on the way. Well... too much too soon won't be good so we'll have to start slowly. Planning definitely required.
While thinking about this my training is still under wraps. As a coach I attend the club sessions on a regular basis, I'm just not necessarily that good at it, so time to get cracking.

Friday saw the schedule advertising some triathlon training (as a club we are holding a club only trithlon in July so for the next few months the last Friday is dedicated to training for it) As my swimming and cycling are far worse than my running I opted for the alternative run.
One group (ONE GROUP!!!!) of fast and slow runners heading out for a run. This does not bode well. By now I have mentioned to anyone that will listen, that I am doing THE MARATHON in 2012, so to not go running would seem a bit contradictory.
Off we set.

My usual place is at the no change there then. My normal method of running, jog a little for about 1 1/2 mins to 2 mins then walk while the heavy breathing settles down so I am no longer sounding like a steam train puffing along, repeat this process several times, until breathing is beaten into submission and the lungs start to work properly, then challenge the legs to keep going.
Strategy therefore, 2 min intervals as a minimum, I can do that and my run sections are then a little quicker. So off we go, hey what's this we start on an incline and not in the direction I like....UP!!! Losing some of the faster runners after the first 800 metres (they turned left, we all turned right) I knew then I was at least not last (for the moment).

Being supported by everyone including those who were shouting "Come on London 2012 isn't that far away", and other useful motivational tips I managed to get to the halfway point of the run in reasonable time (well I clocked 40 mins for 5k - which I knew gave me a base to work with)

We split the group..Hurrah!! The faster runners were off to do an extra 3 mile loop and we slower ones were heading back to base. I in my wisdom, set a challenge to the faster ones to try and catch me before we got back. Race on. I knew it would be close.

My run/walk strategy seemed to work, a nice long downhill stretch suddenly helped me find both my legs comfortable pace and a decent speed.
The race for home was on. No sight of the faster ones yet, I slowed to support another runner who was now struggling. I looked around, oh dear, the first fast ones were closing down. Ooops time to sort that sprint finish.

We started increasing our speed to make it back to the finish, faster ones closing

Through the gate, a glance behind, here they come....NO WAY JOSE. I put on my best sprint finish to go the final 150 metres and managed to keep them at bay. hurrah!!!
So 150 meters is fine, only 26 more miles to train for then :-)

The training begins

Welcome to my London 2012 training blog. Sounds impressive huh? Well London Marathon 2012 and not Olympics but we don't need to tell anyone that do we?

I first entered the London Marathon in 2006, so I am not exactly a novice to the training etc. But what has happened over the past 4 years since is that I seem to have gained a serious amount of weight and lost completely every ounce of fitness I gained during that training.

A little background then?

I joined the local running club in October 2004 in their beginner group. Could only make one session a week so didn't improve greatly, but ended up running the target race at the end of the 6 months and finishing in the penultimate position beating only an 80 year old man and the ambulance to the finish. From here the only way was faster, so I started training more regularly and at the time happened to start working for a local charity. When the chance to run the London Marathon in 2006 with a charity place came up I was unsure of my fitness, but decided to go for it.

Training was tough, no-one ran at my speed (very slow) so I ended up doing most of my training on my own and that believe me requires some serious mental strength.
But, I achieved my goal and completed the Marathon in 5.44.24 (important to have the seconds)
After that I seemed to get better and better, my race times improved, my stamina increased, I was entering races most weekends and achieving PBs all the time, then the inevitable happened. Injury struck, followed by lethargy and weight gain and more injury with lack of recovery and finally a reluctance to both train and race.

For some strange reason I still kept entering for the Marathon ballot and every year heaved a sigh of relief when the rejection slip arrived. The rule was 5 rejections in a row and you had a place as of right, well why not go for it then.

I kept turning up for training and found myself struggling with every step, but still went and tried, week in week out, sometimes demoralised and sometimes spurred on by others trying to keep my spirits high and praising me for the persistence. I started helping out with beginners, where I felt most comfortable, after all I might actually be faster than some of them. I started building myself back up, only to head off on holiday for a couple of weeks and return once again as a beginner (So how does that work then exactly?)

3 years of beginner groups later and motivation for others pouring out of me at every turn, I continued to put my entry in for each London Marathon ballot.

Suddenly the rules are changing, the 5 year rule is being taken away (too many people being rejected could mean a collosal race in one year with no real entrants other than all the rejected particpants - I personally don't see the problem, but I guess it does not lend itself to goodwill for the race)
Anyhoooooo, I received an email to say I had a priority entry available to get into the 2011 ballot. Oooer I thought, this means I don't have to sit at the computer all day when the public ballot opens, trying hard to get into the ballot proper (a ballot before the ballot) so now my dilemma starts. Decisions need to be made, or rather training plans need to be written and adhered to. As a result of the priority entry I shall be running the marathon at some point in the future, and I have decided that 2012 sounds good to me, gives me 2 years to prepare.
How do I know it will be 2012?
If I get rejected in the 2011 ballot, I then have 5 rejections, so 2012 will be my "in as of right" race. If I get accepted to the 2011 ballot, then I need to assess my training, but can at least then defer the place to 2012. So hence I am running the 2012 London marathon.
Phew all that to explain.

So anyway I am at least 3 stone over the weight I'd like to be to run, I am also currently struggling to string 2 minutes running together at a time, so the game is on.

First planning is a combination of health and fitness targets and goals. I need to get SMART and I need to start now, after all 2 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things.
Join me as I progress along the way.