No pain no gain

Another day another run but I’d been dreading this one, the 20 miler!

Now previous posts will show that in the course of this training I’ve already surpassed my pb’s in terms of distance with the last one being 16 miles. So I basically had to top that by another 4 miles. To say I was shitting myself wouldn’t be too far from the truth!

Despite it being the Easter school break and us going away for the weekend I’d managed to keep my training up by using the holiday site’s gym to do my intervals in.

Big thanks to the wife for putting up with me for this.

But an extra 4 fucking miles! And it was going to be mid afternoon when I got to do it because my wife was at work that day so I had to wait until she got back home which I didn’t mind, it just meant I was dwelling on it more than I’d like to.

Right up until a few minutes before I started the run I was debating whether to do an out and back on a relatively straightforward, flattish/gently changing incline/decline albeit this would include a path/trail I’d never ran before so was unsure of its suitability or whether to do a haphazard compass style run that I’d devised near me.

I chose the latter as it meant that should I bail out or get injured, etc then I was never really that far from home and I could pass my house twice and use it as an aid station to fill up my water bottles and gels, etc.

I set off and did the first 5 miles ok before turning into the next branch which changed to a trail run involving some incline. I managed to nip this off and headed for my first fly by of home. I managed to ring my wife and asked her if she could take my bottles off me, refill them and leave them out for my return trip to pick up to which she agreed because she’s a good’un like that. I saw her waiting along with our little boy who was cheering me on and said that he wanted to come with me. Now given I still had about 11 miles left to do I told him that it maybe wasn’t such a good idea and he should go run me an ice bath instead. Cue the tears from him, bless him, and I then spent the next few miles with his upset face in my mind. The thing was earlier that day he’d ridden his bike without stabilisers for the first time and we were so proud of him, he’d shown me that anything is possible if you try hard enough so I used that thought to carry on.

I cracked on round the fields admiring the views, eating the swarms of flies that had appeared due to the slightly warmer weather and was glad to get back to road running at the 13 mile mark so that I didn’t have to watch my tired footing so much.

Then mile 15 came and the first point where I had to walk for a few seconds. I downed a gel, swore at myself and pushed on. This happened a few more times but I kept going whenever I could. I even had to stop myself from chasing other runners like I normally do by looking down so that I couldn’t see them as I knew that otherwise I’d just subconsciously pick the pace up and burn out even quicker.

Eventually mile 20 came and I was so relieved, not only because I’d made it but because I’d also managed to do it within the 3 hour maximum time limit that I’d set myself for it.

I look back and whilst I’m disheartened that I had to walk a few times I draw strength (how corny does that sound and I’m the one writing this shit) from the fact that I was to complete it, in my time limit, despite also making it (unnecessarily) harder on myself by including the trail sections but like the old saying goes “train hard, fight easy”.

The ice bath was most welcome at the end as always as was the recovery shake and roast dinner to pile the calories back in.

As for our son and his desire to run with me well we did that today when we ran to the park and back which he seemed to enjoy even if I did run like Forest Gump in his callipers.

Ps if you look closely you’ll be able to chart the pain and agony across my face during the course of the run. Great days and all that.

When you think the whole world’s against you

First post in a little while but like my opening gambit said, it’s a case of when I’ve got time and if i can be bothered. It’s the time that’s been in short supply as work has been busy but then we’ve dropped straight into the Easter break from school.

We (the family) managed to get away for a quick break over the weekend so prior to that i was cramming runs and swims in to make sure that i didn’t need to do anything over the weekend.

In order to try and not be a boring arsehole i let the diet slip a bit and had a few drinks and the occasional bit of chocolate, ok a lot of chocolate and i could feel my self restraint slipping. Everywhere you go at the minute there’s chocolate and sweets splashed all over the place and it’s absolutely killing me (not literally obviously before the pedants start) not to gorge myself on it.

Then there’s the small fact that a few weeks ago my Ironman partner Rob told me that he’d injured his knee and may have to defer his place in this year’s event until next year. As i write this he’s waiting an MRI scan to see the true severity of the injury and is receiving physio on it. I’ve been working under the assumption that I’d be taking part in the event on my own and dreading that prospect as yes there’ll be other people there but that’s not the same as going through it with someone you’ve trained with and who can really help you along as much as you are them to get through it.

And finally there’s the Nike app that i use to plan my run schedule, those of you that use the NRC app with a training plan know that once a week it will adapt to suit your needs depending on how your training is going. So yesterday morning i checked the app and it said that i needed to do a 3 mile tempo run. It also asked me if i wanted to adapt the plan and i clicked ‘yes’. It updated so i checked it again the tempo run was still there. The day was a busy one and i made the evening meal (I call it tea as I’m far too working class to refer to it as ‘dinner’) for the family and plated mine up to save it for later. I walked the dog and then quickly changed into my running gear as time ticked on and was about to leave the house (the time being nearly 9pm) when i loaded up the app only to find that the tempo run had now been replaced with a ‘rest day’. FFS! So i sat down, ate my tea and was mightily fucked off that I’d been messed around.

All these temptations and knocks can’t help but make you wonder if you’re up to the task at hand. Then, this afternoon, whilst out with the family i got some (potentially) good news from Rob stating that the physio was optimistic about his injury and hadn’t ruled him out of the Ironman. Cue Rocky style training montage in my head as i set off on an 11 mile recovery run which was difficult but not impossible.

As the sayings go, “the night is darkest just before the dawn” and i believe Churchill remarked that “success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”.

Basically I just need to give myself another kick up the arse and crack on moving forwards.

When the mind is willing but the body is not.

5am has gradually (and with the stealth of a ninja) become the new 6am for me in that i see it as an early wake up but not as outrageously as i once did. So despite the run plan telling me to rest i decided, as the forecast looked favourable, to get up at 5 and get out on the bike briefly before starting work.

I woke up, left my now trademark early morning pre event/exercise toilet surprise for the wife to find as i daren’t flush the toilet and wake the whole house up (sadly she’s used to it by now), got my gear and set off. I rode the relatively short distance to work and dropped my bag off (hoping that an abandoned rucksack thrown under a staircase did not cause mass hysteria and panic first thing in the morning) and headed off to the nearby hills that i know rather well.

The first hill went well and the downhill felt great as i was hugging bends and relishing the speed. The second hill was shorter but steeper and this got the thighs burning. The temperature had dropped to 3º but I’d planned for this by putting my winter kit on which was great initially, however i quickly heat up and so the sweat was running down my back more than a fat kid in a snow suit, eating a curry, in a sauna, that is on fire.

Whilst I summited the hill without having to stand up on the pedals I could just tell that my thighs hadn’t properly woken up and didn’t have to the energy in them that i was for to complete the route that I’d planned. With that in mind i looked at the time and crunched the numbers in my head. Part of me was thinking that i didn’t want to throw the towel in as i knew that I’d be able to complete it even if it took a little longer. The other more sensible part of me tried to remain objective and knew full well that I’d end up being late for work and that it just wasn’t worth the hassle so it came up with an alternative, go balls out on a shorter route and complete the first hill again before getting to work on time.

This went well (all things considered) and i got to work, showered and changed, on time with no alarm being caused by my bag, result. Well i say ‘result’ but the fact remains that i was still a little disappointed by my legs and it made me think that any future early morning rides like that should consist mostly of flatter terrain or certainly start off flatter before incorporating hills so i can warm the muscles up more thoroughly.

Time will tell.

Still, it wasn’t a total loss, the scenery was worth it.

Surprising myself

Another couple of days and another couple of runs. Spring is in the air and the weather seems to be improving so the bike should be coming out more often soon and hopefully the water will warm up enough to get in the lake.

Hot on the heels of running the furthest I’d ever ran last week the plan said I had to go one better and add another mile onto it and then follow it up a day later with some speed intervals. This was going to be unpleasant at best and potentially even demoralising as I looked at my schedule for the weekend and realised that in order for it not to impact too much on family life I’d have to get up at 5am on my day off to do the long run. Even worse was that I had to turn down the chance of a lay in from the wife 😭.

5am came, I rolled out of bed and crept downstairs, got my gear on and had my nervous pre run poo (standard routine) and set off. I’d changed the route slightly from before to incorporate some different villages to try and keep it interesting and before I knew it I was 10 miles in before I had to stop for a wee. I had to complete just over 16 miles so my plan was to sink a gel every 4 miles. It was a gorgeous morning and things seemed to be going well right up until about 13-14 miles when my legs seemed to tighten up so I had to slow it down and do some quick stretching. At about 15 miles I actually felt like I got a second wind as the pace seemed to increase which I put down to ‘home straight giddiness’.

I arrived home, knocked back my overnight oats and recovery shake and jumped straight into the ice bath that my family had prepared for me much to their amusement as it was agony plunging into that icy water and feel my testicles jump so high internally that I thought I’d got my tonsils back. That being said the bath worked wonders and I’ll definitely be including them into my long run routine from now on whenever I can. There was no soreness and I was able to run around with my boy on his bike that morning and not feel like a pensioner.

(FYI my nuts dropped back down again after a few hours you’ll be glad to know)

That run led me into the next day feeling quite positive but then my wife got called out to work so my run had to be pushed back later in the day (selfish I know but she does love her work and she’s great at it so never mind 😜). I’d had a full Sunday roast dinner just a few hours earlier and set off on the one mile warm up with a stitch already building in my gut but luckily this passed. I’d decided to wear my triathlon trainers (ASICS gel noosa) for a change and they felt incredibly light so as I set off on the first of 14 intervals I felt like my younger self back at school sports day zipping along towards the finish line. I managed all 14 intervals without being sick and with the pace being around 1 minute faster than the suggested rate despite cutting the rest period down between each one as I was keen to get the job done. I waltzed into the living room afterwards (not literally of course, that would require a different set of shoes) with a stupid grin on my face and my wife thinking I’d gone off the rails. I explained I was just riding the endorphin riddled high that had come from surprising myself on back to back runs and realising that the punishing training schedule actually seemed to be paying off.

“That’s nice dear, now move out the way of the tv please and make yourself useful by rubbing my feet” she said.

“Yes dear” I said and normality had returned.

A Bridge too far?

The last few days I’ve been feeling a bit drained both physically and mentally. Mentally is a combination of work as well as trying to balance everything at home (which I admit i struggle with but I’m fortunate that i have a fantastic wife who seems to put up with me). Physically I’ve been drained because I’ve had a head cold to contend with (which due to my asthma always has the potential to move to my chest) and a dodgy stomach that has led to me dancing the sour apple quick step (another Profanisaurus reference) for a few days now.

Imagine my joy then when the plan said ‘Recovery Run 15 miles’!

Now just to be clear I’ve never run further than a half marathon before so not only was this daunting because of the distance but i wasn’t feeling 100% and my legs were tired and heavy from some intervals I’d done two days before.

I loaded up my running water bottles and stashed them on my belt along with a couple of caffeine gels and my phone. I also made sure that i packed some emergency tissues just in case i was blessed with a visit from the poo fairy mid way through as we all know I’ve been caught out there before.

Just as i was about to pop my earphones in and set off i looked at my wife and said “keep your phone near you in case something goes wrong and i need picking up please”

“I’m not picking you up!” She shot back.

I paused, one earphone in and the other on its way to blocking out the world, “w w what?”

“I’m not picking you up, you can make your own way back!” She clarified.

“Oh ok then” I whimpered as i set off out the door. The first couple of miles were sore as my legs loosened up and my lungs opened but i eventually made it to 4 miles when i popped my first gel. This was just prior to crossing the bridge which I hadn’t done in a long time. Now the Humber Bridge is an engineering sight to behold if you’re unaware of it, once the longest single span suspension bridge in the world, bigger than the Golden Gate Bridge but just not painted or marketed as well. It’s great to run across as it has dedicated footpaths which make it traffic free and the sights are incredible which really help as otherwise it can feel incredibly monotonous trudging across it. I got to the other side and swung by a nearby visitors centre for an emergency toilet stop before cracking back on with the run and heading home, popping my second gel at 8 miles. It was about 12 miles in when it got really tough and my legs felt really heavy. I had to stop and walk on a couple of occasions but i eventually made it home and celebrated by jumping straight into a bath which my loving wife had made me and polishing off some left over spaghetti bolognese with a recovery shake. Oh yeah I’m a class act alright.

Even better was having to get dressed and go to work after that where i basically just moaned and groaned with every movement like an arthritic porn star.

That being said i had surprised myself by hitting a new milestone, literally and yet the plan demands more of me with an even further run planned for a few days time. No time to rest on my laurels just stretch it out, walk it off and get ready for the next round but try to have some faith that your body will do it, it’s the mind that’s the hardest one to train.

P.s. Yes i know i look a dick in the visor but it keeps the sweat and sun out my eyes without boiling my head.

Spinning a yarn

Now I don’t know about you but whilst I really enjoy a spinning class for how much variety you can fit into a short space of time one of the main annoyances for me is the utter commercialised bollocks that the instructors (be they on screen or in person) spout during the workout. The ability to use simple, everyday language that the whole group understands is apparently stripped from the majority of them when they mount that bike at the front.

Examples of this are:

Find a connection with the gear”

What in sweet Mary does this shite mean!? Am I trying to build an emotional connection with an inanimate object!? Am I looking for some common ground with a piece of exercise equipment!? Why not just say keep increasing the resistance until it feels like you’re actually riding a bike and not one where the chain’s slipped off?

Power climb”

Look, there is nothing powerful about me sitting down, grimacing and making faces like I’m constipated as a i try to stomp my feet down one after another like some sort of tantrum riddled toddler in a matrix film. It’s a seated climb/agony, nuff said.

“Add another gear”

Now this one depends on the type of spinning bike you use. The old ones they used to have at my gym used to have a lever that could be moved back and forth in order to add or remove resistance as required and this would be translated into a number that was displayed on the small screen nearby. Now this was brilliant as you could establish, for example, that ‘4’ was your warm up gear, ’10’ was your racing gear and ’18’ was your climbing resistence, etc. The bikes they have now however, don’t have such a visual representation and instead stick with the incredibly vague knob/dial that you keep turning in the hope that something happens until all of a sudden it’s like you’ve deployed the anchor and began your ascent up Everest! This makes it really frustrating when they instructor says ‘add another gear’ as you don’t know whether to turn it a little bit, half a turn, a full turn, seventeen times round. It’s like saying ‘you’re underweight, eat more food’
(how much food?). It would be much better if they worked off the cadence if they don’t have a gear number to refer to.

“Racing resistence”

I’m aware that in the previous paragraph i used the term ‘climbing resistence’ but I’ll defend this by saying that this is more identifiable as it’s basically the point where you have to stand up on the pedals to get anything done but ‘racing resistence’? What the chuff is that!? Am i racing the Team Sky peloton? The old guy in the mobility scooter that trundles around the village? Those kids on their bikes nipping round the streets causing havoc during school run? It’s too vague a term.

Spin instructors, get a grip, use simple terms in plain language and you’ll probably connect with your audience much better.

There are other terms no doubt that just haven’t sprung to my mind right now but the fact remains that it’s still a great workout if a little frustrating at times.

Battling a serious case of the f@%k its

Slumps, we all go through them at some point. Times when you just generally can’t be arsed with something and your motivation is practically non existent. Well these last few days I’ve been a bit like that. I’d love to say that it was down to finding out that my dad was in hospital with a suspected kidney stone (it’s all sorted now and he’s fine) and that is partly true but I’d felt this way for the past few days. I’d let the diet slip a little bit and working nights didn’t help so all in all things weren’t exactly going to plan. I’d expected times like this because after all I’d gone from doing some occasional general fitness to full on physical warfare on my body and stripping just about all the fun stuff out of my diet. To be fair I’m surprised I’ve not been through this already.

Then, as if the Nike running app sensed my melancholic mood, it gifted me a most wonderful present, following the last benchmark run it had reconfigured the plan and i no longer needed to do the 12 mile run that i had been begrudgingly lining myself up. Now I’m not a religious person so I’ll just thank Elvis or the baby Chuck Norris for this little beauty.

So instead of the 12 mile run i had to a 5.75 mile run which worked out nicely as i had to pick the car up from the garage after it’s service. The run went well and considering it was meant to be a recovery run, i just can’t seem to bring my pace down by much compared to my ‘normal’ runs. The run was done with a couple of calf testing inclines thrown in and all worked out well in the end so to celebrate i drove home and knocked up some soup, a shepherd’s pie and some more breakfast cookies before walking the dog and doing the school run.

I even managed to squeeze some foam rolling in despite our Golden Retriever (Stuart) getting right up in face and nudging me as he clearly thought that it was game time what with daddy down on his level.

Battle plan for tomorrow is another benchmark run, a bit of spinning (not swinging, that’s a different blog) and maybe some time in the pool depending on how busy it is before battling the supermarket for the big shop and the school run. See you never hear Chris Froome or the Brownlees talking about that sort of shit do you!?

The fact is, despite initially having about as much motivation to carry on as the government have of sorting out Brexit (ooo he’s gone political), if you look for something positive you’ll find it and that may just spark your appetite again. And on that pearl of wisdom (more Norman than Buddha), laters.

Sit rep

It’s been about 6 weeks since i last weighed myself on the Boditrax machine and after my recent dip in mojo i wasn’t overly looking forward to the results but was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d not only lost weight but that this weight was mainly fat as my body fat percentage has decreased yet my muscle mass has slightly increased. My visceral fat has gone down, which is always good, so clearly there is some good to all of this.

I’ll try and check in again around the start of May to see how things look then but for now i can’t really complain too much, i just wish it made me a bit taller but life’s never that kind.

Jan 22

March 7

One way to beet the competition

A few years ago i read an article following a study by the University of Exeter which basically found that drinking beetroot juice can help you exercise longer and this is due to the nitrate found in it which helps your blood cells to carry more oxygen around your body.

If you want to read more about it then a short version of the findings can be found here:

Now ever since then I’ve bored my friends and colleagues with this stuff time and time again so i thought I’d bore a wider audience this time, you lot. Not only does it help with endurance but it also helps to lower blood pressure naturally so the benefits are two fold.

Surely there must be some sort of catch i hear you say? Well yes, there kind of is. Firstly the taste is an acquired one but a lot of them these days come with a small amount of apple juice included to help make them more palatable as otherwise it can taste like you’re basically drinking dirt. Secondly there’s the fact that it turns your pee and your poo pinky red and so, despite using it for many years when I’m training for something, i still forget and have a small micro panic every time i pee as i think my kidneys have packed in and I’m in trouble. Obviously I’m not and this is all natural.

Again, it could largely be a placebo effect but as the study shows there is some scientific evidence to back it up so that’ll do for me and I’ll take any help i can get so for the sake of pink piss I’ll knock it back and crack on.

If you’re interested in giving it a go then you’ll find it in most supermarkets and health shops in both the larger juice carton size and the smaller ‘shot bottle’ size. The shots might be harder to find and tend to be in the health shops but they’re great for throwing in a kit bag if you’re travelling to an event.

You’ll find out yourself how you’re body reacts to it but I’ve found that i need to leave at least 2-3 hours between drinking it to exercising otherwise i end up with a stitch.



Ah yes, it’s that time again, time to feel like an old man as my inner youth constantly reminds me that I’m slowing down as I get older, time to grit my teeth and move my arms slightly faster in the vain hope that I’ll go a few seconds quicker than usual.

I was delighted to see that I had 14 x 200m sprints today so I set off out the door and did my usual 1 mile(ish) warm up loop before settling in at the start point of the 200m that id used the other week and was already familiar with the start and finish points so I didn’t have to think too much about it.

Even though the app suggested that I rest for about 3.5 mins in between sprints I decided to cut it down to 2.5 to save time as I’ve found that they surprisingly take longer than you think to complete the workout because of all the waiting around. Groundhog Day was happening not only for me but also the builders and dog walkers, etc on that road as this strange guy would walk up to a lamppost, turn around, sigh and then set off like a lacklustre rocket trying his best to go full throttle with legs and arms flailing everywhere time after time. My brain was screaming at my legs to give me more but the biological Scotty within was retorting with his usual “I’m giving it all she’s got! She can’t take much more!”

Finally they were done and the sweaty mess that was me could waddle back home for a recovery shake and a shower secretly pleased that I’d made it and was improving if only slightly given how my heart rate had been but also somewhat dreading the 12 mile long run that awaited me on the other side of a set of night shifts.