Saturday, 1 February 2014

the day it all went wrong

In the words of the song by Nazareth ... "woke up this morning ... "

Yes, that's how I'm feeling right now - just waiting for shit to happen [sorry about that].

Let's start at the beginning:  woke up this morning ... and their was no warmth in the house.  The heaters have stopped working.  Not sure why, no matter what I try nothing seems to help in the slightest.  Guess I'll have to call an engineer - but it's Sunday tomorrow.

At least the cooker works and when I'm using that it does provide some heat in the kitchen.  So ... I set to and began chopping onions, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, etc to make a large quantity of tomato sauce - but - accidentally sliced my left thumb whilst chopping an onion [ouch].  As I was doing the onions first it made everything else more difficult than necessary.

So .. I'll be in the kitchen for 100 minutes instead of 60, at least it's warm, sort of.

All the prep done and then start the actual cooking.  Onions softened, garlic and tomato puree added and cooked, white wine, tomatoes and tomato juice added, herbs and spices added.  All going well so far, but then, instead of 30g sugar ... I added 30g salt.

Why, I hear you ask.  Don't ask me, how should I know.  A simple lapse of concentration.  But I've never ever done that before.

It's not finished cooking yet but at the moment it seems to taste OK.  Rest assured it won't be wasted.  And neither was the remainder of the wine ...

And the left over whisky is welcome too.  Forgot to mention that I also made a large Tipsy Laird !!!  No, don't titter, ... it's a Scottish trifle.  There's a recipe on the BBC website, here.  Keir's girlfriend first brought it to my attention although I expect one or two of my Scottish followers/readers could suggest improvements.

At the moment I'm well aware there are still many hours to go before the day is through and many other things could go wrong ...  I could fall down the stairs, the washing machine could fail [got to go for a while ... need to put another load in], England could lose at rugby, I could spill that whisky ...

What was that - you want to know about training.  Why ?  Well, since the last post running has gone very well indeed.  I'm now up to three hill reps and the pace was much quicker but the effort felt the same.  The tempo run is now up to 4k at the same pace - but the very windy conditions meant I had improved a bit.  Long runs are now up to 14 or 15k and although they seem good at the time (event the fartlek one) they do leave my calves a bit sore - I'm sure that will improve as time goes by though.

Monday, 20 January 2014

First few day's training

Well, after the first week [and a bit ...] of training I can report that I feel fitter and healthier than at any time since early September 2012.

Let me briefly run through my recent running exploits -

MONDAY 13 JANUARY - in late afternoon it was 13 km fartlek,
TUESDAY 14 JANUARY - left home at 7.00am for a steady 14 km

as expected my calf muscles were a bit sore for a few days after this.  Nothing major so I took things easy on

WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY - ran 3 km slowly but followed this with some core and upper body strength work.
THURSDAY 16 JANUARY - my first tempo run.  I had absolutely no idea what time I should be aiming for so I simply used the times from 6 months ago as a guide (but I was prepared to slow down if necessary).  So, I planned for 3 km at about 4:15 per km.  The splits turned out to 4:09, 4:11 and 4:14 which I was pleased with although it was very hard work and I did slow down as the run progressed.  Glad to have a running free day after this.
FRIDAY 17 JANUARY - only cycling and strength work.  The training week ended on
SATURDAY 18 JANUARY - hill reps.  Only two but a good start.  I use Farnley Lane in my home town of Otley and hill is just over 700m long and climbs 35m.  The climbs took 4:19 and 3:56.  Not very consistent but again I had no idea what to expect.  Enjoyed that and the added bonus was that my legs were no longer aching at all.

Many of you know that I designate every fourth week as an 'easy week' and aim to do only about 50% of my usual training.  Working back from the Tooting Bec 24 hr race shows that my first easy week began on

SUNDAY 19 JANUARY - planned to cycle and lift weights but skipped the cycling after I felt nauseous and light headed whilst doing some minor plumbing repairs.  Felt fine after laying down for a couple of hours ... very strange.
MONDAY 20 JANUARY - my first very long run (by my standards anyway).  During these easy weeks I increase the length of my long run by 50% and only do one instead of the usual two.  So, early this morning I went out and ran 22 km.  It was exceptionally cold and icy in places but again I enjoyed the experience of just running for 2 whole hours.

Apart from the running listed above I also did a fair amount of cycling, strength work and stretching and - as mentioned earlier - I feel good.

Now I've begun the search for a warm up race in May, June or July to help get my ultra racing head in gear and try out the nutrition and other plans.

Friday, 10 January 2014

first post of 2014

Well ... here I go again ...

Unfortunately I'm not going to do the traditional thing and write about my running in the previous year.  I wish I could but in reality it would be just a single sentence ... hardly any running and no races.

But, for the past five or six weeks I've slowly arrived at the point at which I am able to run on four consecutive days - not very far, but four days nonetheless.  My weekly total has climbed to an amazing 38 km and I think I'm now ready to start proper training on Sunday.

Obviously slowly and gently at first.  Long runs will be 12.5 to 13.75 km ... hill reps will be 2 ... tempo runs will be less than 4 km.

And the pace ... I've absolutely no idea but if I can manage a short race in the next couple of months that will help and be good for morale too.

So, a new year and a new start ... and I plan to enjoy it.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

good news

Apologies for the delay ... went to see the specialist a couple of weeks ago and the news came through that everything is good.

About time too.  No more operations or hospital visits needed ... until next time.  Hopefully many years into the future.  Strangely though, I like hospitals.  Always have.  Maybe it's the community spirit and camaraderie that exists in the wards.  Like one big family all striving for the same goal ...

hmmm ... like ultra running perhaps.

OK, let's get Christmas and New Year out of the way then I can begin training again.  As mentioned earlier I have been running (shhh !!!) and doing one or two bits and pieces indoors to keep fit but nothing approaching what anyone would call proper training.

The scheduled date for switching from running to training is Sunday 12 January and the target race in the Tooting Bec (London) 24 hr race on 20/21 September.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who reads this ... and the RUNNING blog will resume in a few weeks time.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Quick Update

Another brief post ... just to let everyone know that I had my final operation of the year (hopefully) about two weeks ago and I'm feeling happy about that.

Going to see the doctor next week and it should be confirmed that I won't need any more surgery for a few more years.

Then I've just got to wait for my body to recover from the surgery and for my breathing to return to normal after the swelling has gone down.  And then I can gradually start training again.

As mentioned earlier, I have been doing what I can to keep as fit as I can.  But that's never been a problem for as I enjoy running so much - even when I'm ill I go for a run when I'm able although the distance and speed are not important.  So ... 10 to 20 minutes a day.  If that's all I can do then I'll do that.

I know it's only a temporary hiatus.

Even chemotherapy didn't stop me, although back then it was a case of 'I don't feel ill so why should I behave as though I'm ill ?'

This autumn has been different though - laboured breathing has made me realise my current limitations.

More news after I've seen the doc next week.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

what's happening ?

This isn't going to be an easy post to write ... it may waffle at times but bear with me a bit and everything will come out.

The past 12 months or so have not gone very well but, until August, things were definitely improving.  I'm not going to go into any detail about what happened before that other than to give a very brief reminder ...

... injured badly at hour 21 in World 24 hr Championships (Poland) [Sep 2012] ... spent about ten weeks walking with crutches ... diagnosed with gout last December ... six months intensive rehab for the injury ... finally able to train normally from July this year ...

But then things deteriorated and at the end of August I ended up in hospital (again) with the throat problems explained below.

At the age of four I began to have trouble breathing (so I'm told - I don't remember) and this rapidly worsened causing my parents much distress.  I was taken to hospital and it was found that my trachea had been severely narrowed by the presence of many nodules.  A hospital stay of many weeks followed (I do remember that) during which I underwent various operations including a tracheotomy and removal of the nodules (as well as the start of a few years worth of speech therapy).

OK so far ... but, unusually, these nodules kept regrowing which meant many more operations until the age of 16 when they appeared to stop growing.  At this point the doctors thought that it would be something that would stop as I reached adulthood and it did appear that they were right, but in 1983 (age 19) I was back in hospital.

I remember that time well because I was at the Reading Festival when everything suddenly went wrong and I ended up in the back of an ambulance being taken to the specialist back in Bradford (a distance of about 320 km).

More hospital visits and operations followed in 1989 (less than a year before my first cancer operation), 1997 and 2004.

Back to the present ... in August my breathing deteriorated very rapidly and I was in hospital at the end of that month where I was told there were too many nodules to remove all at once.  The first operation removed the major ones but I was back for another go in mid September.  I'll be back inside next week and the surgeons may be able to remove the last few nodules.

I feel that I'll have to go back in November for the fourth time in four months.

Because of all this I feel I've not been keeping a close enough watch on what's happening to one or two other ultra running friends [sorry Fiona - I know you're getting better by the day].

Apologies for not letting you all know sooner about what has happened but I don't really enjoy going into such great detail about a very long standing medical condition.  Even if it does compromise my running at times - eg the smoke drifting across the course during the first Commonwealth Championships in Keswick caused a few problems regarding breathing.

Those of you who are aware of my condition - thanks for the messages of support.  Especially Andy Smith who gave me the kick up the backside I needed ... THANK YOU.  Although I have to say, if you're reading this Andy, I very rarely think about my past achievements but often think about what I can achieve in the future.

Ending on a positive note ... having been a runner since 1972 I have absolutely no intention of stopping anytime soon.  And as ultra distances are far and away my favourite races I have in mind that my return race will be the Tooting 24 hr race next September.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

last week ... next week

Not posted for a while mainly because it's been a bit hectic here recently.  Keir, home from university until September, invited his girlfriend to stay for a fortnight.  She arrived from Belfast at lunchtime on Tuesday but he didn't tell us she was would be staying until two days before that ...

So Monday was spent shopping, cleaning, organising, baking, washing ... and training.  Since then we've spent quite a lot of time out and about as Rachel has never been to Yorkshire ... and there a lot to see (it's a big place).  On Monday they're going to London for a few days to leave us in peace again for a while.

Tuesday morning's run was unusual because amongst all the hot, dry weather we've had this month along came a thunderstorm.  Which began just as I set out to run 15.1 km.  To say I returned rather wet is a bit of an understatement.

My second tempo run of the year was on Thursday morning - 4 k this time.  The kilometre splits were 4:05, 4:09, 4:15 and 4:24 and the target was somewhere between 4:13 and 4:16.  Need to get the get the pacing more even but I know that will come in time and it's all over the place at the moment because it's been too long since I did any tempo running.

Friday was my first session of hill reps.  The length was 709m and the climb 35m.  Much better than expected but I only did two, a good start though.  Eventually that will increase to a dozen or more.

Today is the start of an 'easy week'.  I like to have every fourth week easier than usual to help with recovery and recharge the mental batteries a bit.  During such a week I do about two thirds of my normal workload and have one long run instead of two (50% longer than usual though).  So, tomorrow I'll be running about 25 km.  I know that's not far but it's my longest training run since 12 August last year when I ran more than 48 km.  Reading again the what I wrote about that makes me a bit sad (see here) that I'm not up to that yet ... to be honest I'm not sure about 25 km.  I'm sure it'll be fine though.

Also in the next few days I have a blood test as part of the new National Health Service free health check program for all 40 - 74 year olds.  Apparently, every five years, everyone of that age in England will be screened for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease.  It will come as no surprise to learn that I'm not worried at all about this except that I don't like needles.  Overall I think screening is good though.  So long as I'm healthy !!!

Saturday, 20 July 2013


Two days ago, on Thursday, I ran with Otley AC for the first time since ... last August probably.  It's been a long time and there was a few new faces but it was good to be back with old friends.

The following day I decided to run 3.2 km at tempo pace.  Not knowing what that would be at the moment I looked at all my race times over the past twelve months and putting the figures into various online forms such as this one from Runner's World I came up with 4:18 to 4:21 per km.

I haven't done any type of paced running in 10 months so I didn't know what 4:20 per km feels like.  I did know that I could adjust my pace as necessary every kilometre and that wouldn't be too bad.  Also, I vaguely remembered how my body felt running at tempo pace (breathing, tiredness, etc) so that's what I aimed for.

The first k passed in an amazing 3:59.  Couldn't believe that, I then expected to blow up or not even complete the whole distance.  So, I slowed down a bit and the second k took 4:04.  Something wasn't right, I thought, I shouldn't be feeling so good running so quickly ... I'm not fit enough for this.  Slowing down even more, the third kilometre took 4:12 and the final 200m took 50s.

So my overall target was to run 3.2 km between 13:51 and 14:00.  I managed 13:09 and felt OK doing so.  Next time I think I'll have to up the distance to 4k perhaps (or maybe more).  And the temperature at the local weather station was over 26 degrees C whilst I was out running.

Pleased with how this week has gone.

Other pace calculators can be found at Running for Fitness,, Runworks, Attackpoint, Santa Clarita Runners and many others.  Almost all of them are based Jack Daniels Running Formula and the idea of the vdot.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

guest post number one - recovery

As mentioned previously there will be a few Guest Posts over the next few months (and beyond ?).  The first one is here and it's from The Supplement Centre.  I know that almost everyone who reads this will be familiar with the content but I feel it's always worth reminding ourselves about this very often overlooked aspect of training.

Three roads to running recovery

Being a runner is as much about the recovery process as it is about the run itself.  If you don’t get the recovery part right, your body won’t be up for the running bit.   You’ll be aching and tired and the last thing you’ll fancy doing is donning your trainers and getting out there.

So here are three things you need to think about after you’ve done a hard run.  And they’re not chocolate, beer, and collapsing in a heap on the sofa.  Sorry about that.

1. Think about what you put into your body

Basically, this comes down to three things:

 - Liquid – a hard run will leave you dehydrated.
 - Carbohydrates – a hard run will leave your glycogen stores depleted.
 - Protein – a hard run will damage muscle cells, which need repairing.

The quickest way to get all three forms of nutrient into your body is to use sports supplements.  Have one or two energy gels to hand, and consume these along with a non-carbonated sports drink as soon as you’ve finished the run.

For the next 24 hours, drink plenty of water and eat regularly.  A balanced meal for a runner would be made up of 60% complex carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat, plus a generous helping of fresh fruit and vegetables.  During this time, avoid alcohol and caffeine as these will dehydrate you.

2. Think about what you do to your body

Get yourself into a swimming pool.  Hydrotherapy will help flush everything out and keep the blood flowing to your legs.  If you don’t have access to a pool but do have a bit of time, treat yourself to an ice bath.  No ice? Try a cool bath or cold shower.  Failing that, turn a garden hose on your legs.  No, we’re not joking.  Do not succumb to the comfort of a hot bath, as this will hinder recovery.

Once you have fed, watered and cooled your body, take care of those blisters that are likely to have developed.

A sports massage is a wonderful thing, but for the first 24 hours you should do little more than have a good rubdown.  Save the sports massage for the next day, or you risk exacerbating the breakdown of muscle tissue brought about by the run.

3. Think about what you do with your body

Once you’ve replenished your water and nutrient levels after your hard run, your second priority is to do some stretching.  Even better is to combine the two by walking around while you pop those energy gels and knock back that sports drink.  If you don’t stretch, you will be so sore the next day that you’ll never want to run again – and for a while at least, you may not be able to

Next, try to get a good rest so you are ready for the last phase in your recovery – the recovery run.

In the wake of a marathon, you won’t find the professional runners at home, feet up, eating Pringles; they will be doing a recovery run – a slower, shorter run – because they know this is the best way to improve their fitness.

And now you know how to do that too. Good luck.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

a few bits and pieces

First of all an apology.  To all my race organiser friends, I know I've been pestering you for a couple of weeks now about when your races are likely to be held next year.

I hope you all understand that it's only because I'm feeling fit, healthy and ready to go after a lengthy absence.  All the more so now that we have some good weather.

Next up ... there may be a few guest posts in the future.  Not too many but if anyone reading this is interested let me know.  But please be aware that I will still retain full editorial control.

Training.  Week one finished and the introduction of my usual two longer runs (the first one as a fartlek session) has been successful.  Next week I'll be introducing tempo runs and I'm looking forward to that on Friday.

Finally it appears that my morning heart rate is now, on average, 47.1 which is the lowest since 19 September last year.  And my weight has now fallen to 60.3 kg which is the lowest it's been since 15 November last year (until 17 June this year my weight had been over 61.5 kg for at least six months).

Things are looking good ... if I can find a few races.