As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

51 weeks until the London Marathon?......

Maybe not eh. I think I will give it a miss in 2013 after a second consecutive disappointing result. Not really a result at all of course as I quit the race just before the halfway point having previously stopped to walk at 10 miles.

Didn't get as far as Canary Wharf  in the race - saw it from the bus

So what was the problem? Very similar to last time - major trouble in the abdominal region - felt exactly like a stitch but now I'm wondering if there could be a bit more to it than that.

I went to pains to ensure I got up real early and ate my usual breakfast so as to then have 4 hours for it to digest prior to starting running. I drank nothing at all with one hour to go. I drank nothing in the race (was planning to take energy/flud on board from 15 miles).

To some runners such abstinence so far out from racing might seem far too radical, but it's just what I am used to and (usually) works well for me.

Did I run too far? - hardly, this happened after about 6 miles and was too much to continue by about 9.5miles.

Did I run too fast? - At just inside 6:15 pace I was some 30 seconds/mile SLOWER than I can run for 5-7 miles and my 10 mile time when I stopped running was just over 5 minutes slower than my last 10 mile race. So no.

Maybe when I return again to London the Shard will be complete

Thinking about other long races I have done this year, Buttermere and Trimpell.....
 Although I ran badly at Trimpell I didnt have this particular problem, and at Buttermere I was flying, in fact I have always ran well there. Being shorter than a marathon is irrelevant as I didn't get anywhere near the end, so there must be something else about those races (and every other race I have ever done apart from the last 2 Londons) that lets me run OK. That pretty much means there is something about The London Marathon itself that is the cause. So it must be to do with the change in routine, sleep, food, preparation etc.... I wonder if sleeping on the other side of the bed could have set off something awry internally? I usually sleep on my left side but the night before the marathon I was on my right ( I know I was because I woke up often and reached out to check the time on my phone)

Anyway - at the time I was disappointed, but a lot more puzzled than anything. I didn't dwell on it  and was looking for positives within hours. The first one being that I could after all run the Keswick half marathon which I enjoyed last year on heavy marathon legs. It's next Sunday. Hopefully I will improve on my time and placing.

Tower Bridge on Saturday - A bridge too far on Sunday

3 days after the (nearly half a) marathon I was due to take photos of the Round the Houses road race in Keswick. It had been  bitterly cold all day and I wasn't relishing the idea of standing around in the rain trying to get photos in poor light and trying to keep the rain out of my camera. So I called in at home and changed my camera bag for my kit bag and entered the race instead.
Steve Hebb' - wins in Keswick
I think I raced well.  A real battle with Ian Davies of my second club Keswick AC was decided only in the final few hundred metres when the young chap edged away from me to take 8th place. I was 9th and 1st vet40. Border were first and second team, and only a win by young Steve Hebblethwaite (Keswick) prevented it being a thorough routing by the city boys in the orange and black vests.

Ian Davies - less hair, but more speed than me

Apparently the race was exactly the same distance as always despite a slight change of course due to roadworks. This gives me 5:43 pace for a fairly hilly 5.3 mile race. I  have ran it 80seconds faster in my heyday but not in such cold and windy conditions, and not with the extra small hill and switchback section over the narrow footbridge as was featured in the detour.

Despite the disappointment of the marathon I have already entered another - in about 6 weeks time!!
The big difference is it's in Cumbria, offroad, up fells on trails and paths I know very well. I will enjoy sleeping in my own bed, walking the dog before driving through to run with zero pressure on hitting split miles etc.

Nice one Wesman

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Funny Week

Nobody I knew was wanting to do a 10 mile run at the same pace and time of day as me last Sunday. So, with nobody to chat to to help ensure I maintained no faster than a conversational pace, I made a point of passing the time of day/weather observations with every person I ran past enroute. A very cold wind in the East made the return journey very pleasant for a change, making miles 9 and 10  well inside 6:30 pace and feeling very relaxed.
65:45 for the run is one minute slower than I ran it in 2004. I don't think this means that I can run the marathon merely  2.6 minutes slower than in 2004 though - but hey, wouldn't that be good if I could?

Since the weekend I enjoyed an evening jog with Milly  for about 40 minute on Monday - plenty of good craic, all running related topics.  On Tuesday Darren joined me for two 'soft mile reps' (about 6:10 pace).

Then on Wednesday I felt quite tired so opted to take the day off from running, but 90 minutes and approx 4 miles offroad walking with Scamp was perhaps just as good a workout as the easy jog I would have done otherwise.

Today will be an easy 20 minute jogging within Scamps walk, and Friday will be similar but in the early morning as I am catching the 10:50 train to Euston.

For once, the weather in London is just as poor as we are enduring 'oop North'. I say that, but  I don't actually regard 8-13 degrees centigrade and rain showers as being poor weather. In fact, the reverse is true - such conditions are ideal for me to run a marathon in. It pissed down for my Marathon debut and PB in London 2004 and also in 2007 when I won Langdale (did I ever mention I once won Langdale Marathon?) I am relishing the opportunity after most recent years have been 15-20 degrees and sunny.

With marathon training it is common to feel like you have trained to the optimum and are ready to run the race when there are still a few weeks to go until race day. That low point didnt happen to me this year. Maybe that was because I didn't have a written schedule to look at and dread having to adhere to. Maybe it was because I had races to enjoy every week or two since Christmas - they mostly went well and bolstered my confidence. Generally making or beating my pace target for the longer runs has also been good for the mental side of things.

I have enjoyed the first 4 months of 2012 immensely and am already formulating plans for the next phase of training. The  wee race this weekend is in the bag as far as I'm concerned - I can taste that post-race Tuna toastie and pint of Guiness in a pub on The Strand already.

So c'mon Richard Branson - lets be having you and your London Virgins Marathon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking back. Looking forward.

I've just been reading through the February and March blog posts I wrote in 2010 and 2011.....

Although I feel like I am currently enjoying the best fitness I have had since 2004/5, my training and rep  pace/times are actually very similar to those I was achieving in my last two London Marathon buildups. For example  - 63-64 minutes for the 10 mile circuit doing  11 minute reps, 11:30 for two mile reps and 5:45 pace for one mile reps.

Just to recap those last two years results -
2010  -  2hrs 47mins (faded second half)
2011 -  Over 3 hours (ran with a stitch from mile 1 and gave up at mile 14 walk/jogged home)

I note that in 2010 when I trained mostly with Milly, we ran inside 6:20 for the marathon effort runs. Very similar to this year then, although I don't ever recall running beyond 12-14 miles together at that pace and this year I have done several of 12-20 miles at between 6:13 pace (best for 16)  to 6:25 pace (worst for 18)

I also know for a certain fact that I have never (not even in 2004) ran so many 60+ mile weeks as I have this year. And finally, I remember running at 7:00 - 7:20 pace on the early long runs (of 14-20 miles) in 2010 and them being a bit tough at times. Whereas this year I have done every run inside 7:00 pace and they have all felt well within my ability. (OK, yes, the 26 miles hilly was 3:08 - give me a break though - it was 2000ft climbing included)

Maybe the weekly mileage and faster pace long-slow Sunday runs will just have made me more tired instead of fitter? Then again, I did do a PB at the 21 mile Buttermere race and my speed at the recent 12 stage relays was certainly the fastest I have ran in a couple of years.

On reflection I think I am right to be aiming to beat 2:45 next week. But not by much at all, and if I do 2:46 then that'll still be faster than when I was two years younger.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Training over until May

With tonights session of 800 metre reps over and done, I have now finished my training for the 2012 London Marathon. All that remains to be done over the next 9 days is about 6 or 7 runs of ever decreasing distance- certainly nothing that could be classed as training.

Eight days after the marathon it will be the month of May and although I will almost certainly run during the week following the race, it'll not be training - just going for a run. So effectively I have now finished training until May. Woohoo!

(Don't know why I elected to write woohoo there actually. I love training.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

10 days until the marathon

I'd said in my last posting that the 16 mile final long run of the campaign  should be easy pace and hopefully that would turn out to be about 6:45 pace. I ran it with little Mike Scott who, for all his fitness and speed, is not currently doing much by way of long runs. It was therefore quite comical at times to be running along at a leisurely conversational pace with his conversation mostly relating to how tough he was finding the run. We finished with 6:44 per mile and Mike went home to bed for the rest of the day.

Next day I was up and out the house by 7: 45am for a leisurely 7 miler along the river route with Daz. Then on Tuesday I travelled through to Keswick after work to run a particular offroad route with Plucky. The route was basically a circle around Catbells fell. Plucky is doing a Duathlon race the same day as London Marathon and wanted to practice on the course. In total we ran for 70 mins - it was a hard run, at times, flat out! It was also the last time I will run so long or so hard before the marathon.

Oh, one more small matter to report - the day after I last wrote here, I went for a jog with Gareth around  the fields and tracks near his house. I failed to spot some barbed wire half buried in the ground and somehow managed to flick it up between my legs, in the process tearing a number of horrific looking gashes across the back of my right calf. At the time I continued with the run as we had only done about one mile by then and anyway, I always try to run off things like ankle twists, knocks and cuts in case stopping allows swelling.  Although a bit of a worry initially and certainly not ideal in the last 2 weeks pre marathon, it doesn't seem to have had an adverse effect during the runs done since then and by the marathon it will be mostly healed up again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sorry for swearing

Running 20 miles on Monday gone and then that swift session in Gelt woods the next day was a tough start to what I supposed to be my final week of training/start of taper.

The next day I jogged for about 45 mins then Thursday I took as my one day off for the week instead of Friday. As Friday was (is) a bank holiday I got out early and did 4 x 1 mile reps in


My taper will see me reduce things even further now;

  • this weekends long run will be 16 miles at any pace inside 7 minute miling that feels real easy - (hopefully 6:45 will feel real easy.)
  • next weeks reps will be 6 x 800metres 
  • and I might also do the fast Gelt run again on Tuesday if Plucky is going again.

In the past I would worry about doing too little in the final run up to marathon day but not this time.

I am 100% confident that I have the ability to run a marathon inside 2hrs 45mins without the need for additional training before the race. Keeping on running most days and doing ever shorter reps will keep me fresh and my legs used to what they normally do every day but without building up waste blood products associated with heavy volume mileage/training.

It's a shame I have ran so many bad marathons because historically/statistically I am more likely to have a bad run than a good one. However, thats not to say I am dwelling on the negatives.....

  • Every day I visualise myself reaching 13 miles on target and then seeing 6:15, 6:12, 6:14, 6:10 etc etc on my watch all the way until  reach the Mall and finish inside 2:45. 

  • I imagine myself spotting Milly in his usual spectating place on Birdcage Walk 800 metres before the finish line and instead of stopping to chat to him and his family like last year I will just point at the watch on my left wrist and he will know immediately that I am saying ' I've f.....g done it Mill'.

  • I picture myself filling in the Championship entry form for the 2013 race and posting it at Christmas instead of entering the Good for Age in July.

There little to be done now except wait for two weeks and two days to pass and then go out onto the streets of  London and realise my potential.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An epic failure and some silly behaviour

The 18 miles at marathon pace run didn't go to plan - even though the plan didnt even have running at quite my (hoped for) marathon pace of 6:15. I set off intending to run 6:20 per mile. With Darren for company we were ticking off the mile markers approx every 6:27. Not brilliant but it felt 'right' and I hoped to increase speed after the turnpoint at 9 miles.

Darren left me to it at 9 (he lives nearby) and I ran to 10 in 6:26 despite a decent little uphill section. The next one included the biggest downhill on the route but was only 6:15 and soon after that I started to feel damn tired.

I'd been eating a mouthful of solid energy bar every 4 miles or so and washing it down with a tiny swig of water. This brought on a stitch at 14 miles!
I though I'd sorted my in-race eating when I moved away from gels to solid but I honestly now think I should have nothing at all until about 15 miles then only a small mouthful  - or maybe go with the Lucozade  provided as I did in 2004.

At the 15 mile point I stopped.

Never done that during training before, but I knew to run on would make the stitch much worse and I would slow considerably. Up to that point I had been running a slightly faster average than the outward half. I should probably have just jogged home from that point and called it a 20 mile run with 15 miles fast. Perhaps foolishly I resumed the previous pace and completed the final 3 miles in 19 minutes (6:20 pace) to give a total of 1hr 55 for 18 miles and a one minute negative split (but you cant really count it as a proper neg split after stopping for 5 minutes).

The trouble with this marathon training campaign having been done in my head and not written out in advance was that some runs came up a bit unexpectedly. For example, if planned at the beginning of the year, my recent 26 miler would be 5 weeks out from race day, not 4 weeks, and this 18 would have been 6 weeks out with just a 14 miler to do today.

Not to worry, running my worst performance of 3 months inside 6:30 pace for 18 miles (or even 15) still has to count as good training.

Next day I was back to work and feeling quite tired so planned an offroad hour or so with Scamp in the evening.
During the day I learned Plucky was going to Gelt woods and decided an easy lap with him would suit my plan.

Walking Scamp beforehand it snowed!

Mark (Sparky) Ryan also joined us, making 4 if you count Scamp who ran for 20 minutes encircling us all continually. Lap over, I put Scamp in the van and said I would run the next lap with the lads for about 10mins only as they were planning a fast one. Chatting to Mark as we ran I was aware Plucky was falling back slightly on the uphills and regaining ground as we descended. At a checkpoint Plucky said we were on more or less the fastest time they'd ever done. This was all the incentive I needed to finish the lap with them. We dropped Plucky on the big hill but I knew it would take another 10 mins of 100% effort to prevent him catching back up and I knew this would be a very silly thing for me to do. Regrouped, we completed the lap  together, apart from the final 90 seconds when I eased back and jogged in to ensure my legs didn't seize up when we stopped.

Yes I know I should have resisted the temptation to race the lads and should have stuck to my plan for the week. But IT IS the final week of full training and the volume reduction I plan will see the midweek 13 cut out completely so there should be no issues thrown up by this extra session.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I know I am fit and can run fast, but the relatively slow 10k race last week felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth. So I was pleased to run much faster for Border Harriers in the Northern 12 stage Road Relays where we finished in 13th place, easily qualifying to run the National event in two weeks time.
All the 12 Stage team and 4 of the 6 lasses

Despite being the slowest of our long leg runners I was very pleased to run at an average pace of approx 5:35 per mile for approx 4.8 miles. (the approx is because it was much shorter than advertised and various peoples Garmins gave slightly different readings.) That pace would see me get inside the magic 35 minutes for 10k, so if I am thereabouts now, two months since I last did fast trackwork and the type of speedy reps 10k training entails, then I should be able to run a flat summer 10k in the 34:15-34:45 region.

Us long leg runners ran two laps of the course around Sefton Park whereas the short leg runners ran just one. I timed myself and at the lap end noted 13:05.  I'd heard Milly say his time was about 12:45 for his one lap leg, so I knew I was going quite well. I did slow a bit on my second lap (to 13: 27) but I felt really strong right until the line so I think my fast lap 1was due to a brief spell when I tried to keep pace with a lad who had caught and passed me - I even passed him back briefly on the only short downhill  which went through a twisty turny section.

Kev Bell strives for the finish line
Then I begin
A bit less striving from me
Then its Gareths turn

We had switched places with Barrow a couple of times during the first 11 legs and were ahead with only leg 12 to go. With our anchorman Gareth Melvin racing for the first time after lengthy injury trouble, there was every chance the Barrow runner would catch and pass him. The rest of our team were out in force on the course, cheering loudly each time he passed us. Gareth held off the threat and we beat Barrow. Gareth didnt have a clue what had been happening behind him.

The biggest battle of the day (apart from the Border/Barrow battle and interest with internationals Thomas Abyu, Michael Rimmer and Andy Jones), and the one that drew huge crowds to the finishing mall, was the one between arch rivals Graham "Milly" Millican and his sister Cazzer. Being much older, Caz was given a few minutes handicap headstart, which allowed her to hold off the faster finishing brother and take the family prize (a bag of cakes). 

Millicans - all friends off track
Michael Rimmer - less interesting (BBC take note)

As I write this I am preparing to go for my last long hard run - lets hope my drink hasn't been stolen again!