the view from the middle of the pack

"the hopelessness of the long distance runner"

Archive for the category “Random Stuff”

Aching Limbs and Tonsillitis

Following that great big behemoth of a race in the Brecon Beacons, my body and in particular my legs have felt of late like they were passed on loan from Pheidippides, immediately following his arrival in Athens. Perhaps rather foolhardily I decided to train again on Wednesday 24th following Saturday’s race. A mere three days rest. Somewhat hopefully and against all prevailing experience and logic, I figured that three days would be ample recovery time. How wrong can you be? Well apparently, very is the answer.

Sensibly I took it very easy on the Wednesday and felt quite loose for the three or so miles that I jogged. Suitably inspired, I decided to go to the club night on the Thursday. After a short jog to warm up, I upped the pace and pushed hard for a couple of miles. I got to start of the hill climb on the Congleton Edge route and disaster, or maybe reality struck. My feet were suddenly cast in concrete and I felt like that 35lb bergen was back on my back. My knees groaned and it was a struggle just to make it back to the leisure centre from then on in.

To my own amazement given my usual blasé attitude to injury prevention, I decided that the only way that I would recover would be to take a week off. Following the Dave Clarke 5k on August 22nd the plan of action was that I would hang up my running shoes and take that week off to get my mojo back.

As it turned out my system was so beaten up by my experience in Wales that I didn’t make it to the 22nd. I had to take a break immediately to try and ensure that I could make the start line. My training runs had become slow and painful affairs and it was a doubt as to whether the sessions were doing anything anyway. Quality always usurps quantity and this had never been more evident.

I came back after a week off feeling suitably refreshed and with a couple of weeks left to get in shape for a good crack at sub 21 on a tough multi terrain course in Trentham.

After my enforced break the training had gone well and I was looking forward to a good race. On the day of the 5k I woke up feeling like I’d been gargling with glass. I put it down to sleeping with the window open and feeling the effects of hayfever. As the day wore on I felt gradually worse and seriously considered pulling out of the race. However, being a tight fisted sod I reasoned that as I’d spent £6 on my entry fee I would run the race and hope that I didn’t throw up or collapse before the end.

Luckily I did neither and my time was a fairly reasonable 21:09, a slight improvement on the previous year. I did feel terrible and couldn’t really get going at any point during the race. I struggled all of the way through and wanted it to be over, a strange feeling for such a short race.

Afterwards it took me ages to stop sweating (virus alert!) but the post race endorphins kicked in and I felt good on the way home. When I woke up the next morning my sore throat was even worse and I couldn’t swallow my breakfast without grimacing in agony. It turned out I’d picked up a dose of tonsillitis and another week of mind numbing inactivity was ahead of me.

Since the race I’ve run several times. The first four times were horrible. My legs were like lead and I struggled along doing 9:00 minute miles. The next few have been slightly easier but the virus seems to have killed my stamina. I did manage to open up a little yesterday, it was less Aston Martin more Austin Allegro but on the right path at least and a sub 42 at the Stoke 10k is the target.

Sadly the Congleton Half now is out of the question. Too little time now to rebuild my ‘lost’ stamina and I don’t want to run a race just for the sake of it, tempting as it may be.

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New Year; Motivation Needed!!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post; over seven weeks. How time flies!!

To be fair my inactivity at the keyboard has been mirrored out on the road so there hasn’t been a great deal to write about. Like most of the population, sickness in the Walker household during December pretty much wrecked my running schedule over the festive period. Weeks of inactivity followed by false starts and then more inactivity have put me back months in terms of fitness and stamina. This week is the first week since Conwy really, that I have put a string of more than two consecutive runs together and whilst my base speed of 6.30 – 7.00 miles seems relatively unaffected, my stamina is absolutely shot. I could comfortably maintain 6.45-7.00 miles for 5-6 miles before December before fading gradually as the lactic builds and the muscles burn and slow.  Now I’m struggling to maintain 7.00 beyond the first mile and am struggling with hills that I was eating for breakfast last year!
I don’t expect that I am alone here as the combination of seasonal illness, freezing cold weather, motivation and Christmas overeating means the majority of us are struggling to some extent but it’s frustrating.
Onwards and upwards though and in an effort to pull myself out of the proverbial mire and get back on track I’ve entered a couple of races already. I’ve got the Alsager 5m to look forward to at the start of February and then our annual club race, the Knype Pool 5m trail race. Being the type of person who needs a target I’m aiming to run sub 35 minutes for each race. A big ask considering where I am at present but I like a challenge and sub 7 minute miles are very do-able as long as I manage unbroken training and stay out of the biscuit tin, although the later will be the biggest challenge!
I’ll need to stay clear of injury, illness, dogs (long story) and dog shit (even longer story) but my schedule is written for the next few weeks (I’ll post it later) and lets hope I can stick to it!

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012

Now I don’t usually care for the SPOTY award, indeed the title implies personality over achievement and that has been in evidence in the past. Certainly anybody that remembers Zara Phillips taking the award a few years ago will know that it has sometimes been fairly meaningless and has highlighted the mediocrity of British sport (sorry to pick on Zara but that was a farce!) Fast forward to 2012 though and we have borne witness to what has arguably been the greatest year for British sport in living memory.

For the first time in years the SPOTY award is actually a ‘real’ competition and it’s incredibly difficult to pick a winner from a number potential nominee’s  that will eventually be whittled down to 12 contenders.

Potential nominees for the main award should include Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, David Weir, Johnnie Peacock, Greg Rutherford, Laura Trott, Ellie Simmonds, Rory McIlroy, Ben Ainslie, Sarah Storey, Jason Kenny, Katherine Grainger, Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy, Tom Daley, Nicola Adams, Alistair Brownlee, Jonny Brownlee, Jade Jones, Heather Watson, Laura Robson, Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Froch, Kell Brook and Phil Taylor.

As far as the team award goes I think Team GB have that sewn up, although very noteworthy are the Europe Ryder Cup team who had a none golf fan in me glued to the TV.

The oversea’s award is also a tough contest with Usain Bolt favourite against the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Sebastian Vettel, David Rudisha, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The news that Sir Steve Redgrave, Denise Lewis and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson have joined the panel should ensure a balanced ‘sporting world’ view amongst the journalists and media types that make up the expert panel.

We had immense success in the Olympics, a triumphant Ryder Cup team, Andy Murray taking his maiden Grand Slam and Olympic Gold, Bradley Wiggins taking the Tour De France and Olympic Gold a few days later, Heather Watson becoming the first female to win a WTA tour event since Sarah Gomer in 1988 and of course super Mo Farah taking double Olympic Gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m which will surely make him favourite for the award.

One thing is for sure, whoever the winner, I will be watching this year. It will be a pleasure to re-live the fantastic summer of sport we had in Britain this year (as long as they don’t show the embarrassing Olympic closing ceremony with George Michael et al!!!)

For my money the winners will be: –

Sports Personality of the Year

1. Mo Farah

2. Bradley Wiggins

3. Jessica Ennis

Team Award – Team GB

Overseas Personality – Usain Bolt

About time too!!

Mirroring my initial foray into running back in 2006, after much procrastination I have decided to start writing my running blog.

The procrastination was down to the fact that I expect nobody to be interested in what I have to say. I’m not Mo Farah or Steve Cram so why would anybody care what I have to say about running. Then it came to me during a moment of clarity on my training run last night when I realised that I was sort of missing the point. The blog is for me to document my running and the trials, tribulations and achievements I experience along the way. I suppose it will act as a sort of catharsis for me and as a form of open diary for people to dip into if and when they like.

As I said, I’m no Mo Farah when it comes to running. I’m tall (over 6ft) and heavy (14 stone), more suited to rugby than distance running but why let genetics get in the way of a hobby. That said, I’m no slouch either, very much a middle of the pack athlete. I can run a half marathon in sub 1 hour 40 minutes and a marathon in under 4 hours. I tend to shy away from the easier courses and go for the more challenging events where personal bests are not generally on offer but my aim for what’s left of 2012 and 2013 (assuming the world doesn’t end on December 21st) is to run sub 1.30 for a half and sub 3.30 for a full marathon. Ambitious yes, but very achievable with plenty of hard work and the right training plan.

The reason for my optimism after years of marginal improvements and ‘junk’ miles, is a book that I’ve been reading called The Art of Running Faster by Julian Goater.

Goater is an ex international distance runner and Commonwealth Bronze medalist from the golden era of distance running in the days of Bedford, Jones, Spedding, Foster and Ovett. The book explains how to bring structure into your running and that coupled with my recent purchase of a Garmin GPS watch (and the wonderful Garmin Connect) has given me the impetus I need to push on. I will review the book in full at a later date but recommend it to anyone, whatever your standard, if you want to shave time of your PB’s and improve as a runner.

That’s enough for a first ‘proper’ post. Hopefully the first of many and who knows, maybe somebody might actually read them 😉

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