Tag Archive for marathon

Mums always think you're the best

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I swear there was a time, maybe ten or 15 years ago, where doing any kind of exercise, never mind a big challenge was kind of frowned upon. It seems like it used to be that instead of counting the miles you ran, the number of pints you drank was your badge of honour.

I’m not sure where the change came from – these days it seems everyone is at the gym or racing a 5k or half marathon – but I suspect it came over from the States. While the Midwest may still have its fair share of dumplings, New York and LA have always been terribly body conscious. And over the past few years, people have taken it one further by raising cash for charity at the same time.

Whatever the reason, Greece, where I was brought up and where my mum still lives, is still pretty much behind the UK when it comes to this kind of thing. Sure people go to the gym and they don’t drink loads but you hardly ever see anyone out just pounding the streets simply because they enjoy running. And no one does extreme events for charity.

I was telling George, my Greek brother-in-law about the Portsmouth Half Marathon the other day and how some runners had mates located around the race who would pass them a bottle of water or a banana. He said: ‘In Greece, your mates would be passing you a cup of espresso and a fag’ – and he was only half joking.

So trying to explain to my mum what I’ve been doing for the last six months has all been a bit of challenge. She’s 75 bless her and not lived in England for more than 35 years so the idea of running for fun, running loads and raising money for charity by running are alien ideas.

She gets that I’m running a lot… but that’s about it. I was telling her about Sunday’s half-marathon yesterday and the conversation went something like this:

‘So mum, I ran this half marathon.’
‘What’s that?’
‘It’s a race, like a marathon but half the distance.’
‘So it’s not a marathon?’
‘No mum, that’s why it’s called a half marathon.’
‘So did you win?’
‘No, I came 174th’
‘It sounds like you had no chance of winning.’
‘I didn’t’
‘So why do it?’
‘For fun, to take part, to see how good I am.’
‘Trelos.’ (it means crazy)

A bit of silence followed where I think neither of us knew where to take the running conversation. And then she came back with:

‘So, with all this running, will you be training for the London Olympics?’

Bless her, she really did think I had a chance of running in the Olympics, despite the fact I’m 42, have been running seriously for less than a year and have knackered legs.’

You’ve got to love mums, they always think their kids are the best.

Miles today: 3
Target: 564
Miles to date: 741.07

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Running with altitude – the hypoxic chamber

Thanks to Ben Maher for the pics and to Ben and Amanda Ellison of The Third Space for organising.

Today I managed to run a mountain or two all from a treadmill in central London.

It wasn’t just that the treadmill was set to rolling hills either – thanks to my pal Ben, I got the chance today to run in the hypoxic chamber at posh Soho gym, The Third Space.

The chamber, a small glass fronted room over looking the rest of the gym, has a special unit in it that depletes the oxygen levels to mimic training at 8,500ft (2,600m) and is the place where the Comic Relief lot did a bunch of their training before attempting to climb Kilimanjaro last year.

While a severe case of hypoxia will clearly kill you, training at oxygen levels that are similar to that of a high altitude is said to have great benefits as it forces your cardio-respiratory systems to work  harder to deliver sufficient oxygen to your working muscles, resulting in a harder workout.

The body is also said to adapt to the reduced oxygen by stimulating the production of a hormone called Erythropoietin (EPO), which in turn leads to an increase in the level of haemoglobin and red blood cells (those that carry the oxygen). All in all, it’s considered to be the equivalent of fine tuning a car.

On a practical level we did a five minute warm up before a half hour running programme on the treadmill and before we’d even started the serious stuff, I was doing some serious sweating. The first thing you notice when you start to run is a slight tightness in the chest as the lungs try to adapt to the new oxygen levels before you begin to feel a little light headed.

The hills programme made things even worse: starting on a level, every couple of minutes or so, your treadmill incline increases – and it was somewhere around here that Ben suddenly decided it was time to take some pictures (which should be on here soon).

Have a look at the link to my run details below and see how my heart rate changed on the hilly parts, at some points I was touching 174 beats per minute. Given I normally run at about 150bpm, you can tell the kind of workout I was getting.

By the end of the run, I certainly knew I’d been in a tougher workout, dripping with sweat and with my head ringing from the blood pumping up to it. You also feel even more light headed when you come out of the chamber and back to normal oxygen levels.

Now if only I could afford The Third Space’s monthly rates…

Click here for full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3.42
Target: 543
Miles to date: 709.98

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Trying to gee myself up

Four days of taking it really easy, a ton of Ibuprofen, ice packs and an hour’s sports massage and I’m still feeling the wrong side of sore on my left shin.

This morning’s run wasn’t that bad but I’ve stiffened right up since so I’ve spent much of the day trying to find things to gee myself (not to mention cheer myself) up for the next few weeks before the Brighton Marathon and, indeed, for the next six months until the challenge is over.

One of the things I’ve been thinking of for a while is introducing a charity element to my running –  if I’m suffering, then someone else might as well gain – and I’m thinking of splitting the proceeds between two different charities. I should, hopefully, be able to launch that next week.

I’ve also decided to try and promote the site more so I’ve had some running shirts printed with 1095miles.com related information on them.

I’ll be wearing them most days when they come in – especially on my longer runs – but I’m also running the Water of Life half marathon in three Sunday’s time at Bisham Abbey and I’m hoping wearing one of the shirts might get some of the other runners to have a look at what I’m up to.

Finally, I’ve also dropped the editor of Runner’s World a little note – just to see if he wants to do anything on the site.

I’m hoping it will all help me keep focussed through the current injury laden blip.

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3
Target: 498
Miles to date: 631.36

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Split to the gym and back

Still a little tight today so another fairly easy run that I actually split in two.

I’d not made it the gym at all this week so decided to run there and back, happily, in another case of running serendipity, it’s about 1.47 miles to the gym…

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3.00
Target: 477
Miles to date: 615.19

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

Suggest more songs for tomorrow's race

Thanks to David Whitely, Steve Swift and Kate Popham for suggesting tracks for my playlist for tomorrow’s Portsmouth Coastal Marathon: Manics, New Order and Eminem all added…

If anyone has any more suggestions, please leave a comment below or email me by clicking here.

For this morning’s run I did a nice easy amble on London Road through Norbury – the first time I’ve had energy for a run all week and the least my legs have ached. I can only conclude that running 15 miles last Sunday less than 18 hours after getting off a flight from America can’t have been that good an idea.

I’m getting quite excited about tomorrow now… my first big race since I did the Athens half marathon at 17 – that’s 25 years! Now get me inspired! Suggest a song.

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3
Target: 462
Miles to date: 590.32

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

Suggest a song for Sunday

So as part of my training for the Brighton Marathon I have my first proper race this Sunday, the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon raising money for the RNLI.

For 13.2miles or around 2-2.5 hours, I’m going to need some inspiration for my iPod playlist, so please, if you have a great suggestion, leave a comment below or email me by clicking here.

In order to look smart, I’ve gone and got some new kit ready for the race and tried it out today. Aside from the worrying fact that my legs are still tight from Sunday’s 15 miler, I can conclude the following.

1. New Adidas running shirt – absolutely fine, no problems at all – made with Climalite materials to cool you down.

2. New Asics GT 2150 trainers – these have inbuilt support to stop by ankles from turning when I run. My old trainers (GT 2140) did a good 550 miles and its around this point the support tends to go… a return to turning in the old trainers could be the cause of my leg ache this week. The GT2150 are simply the new generation GT2140s so there was not much difference. the

3. Given it’ll probably be cold at the weekend by sea, I decided to invest in a new base layer by Skins. Despite getting a large size, I almost felt like I was being asphyxiated. I’ll probably revert to my old Adidas one to keep warm (which, despite being a medium, is much more comfortable).

4. New New Balance shorts. Again fine, although they bunch a little around the privates which could lead to chafing. Extra vaseline or old shorts could be in order.

Finally I also tried a carb gel for the first time. These are supposed to give you energy as you go but as you have to drink half  a litre of water with them, you still end up running with a bottle. I think I’ll stick to a bottle of Lucazade Sport when I run Sunday. They tasted bloody awful anyway, so I’m not too fussed with not using them.

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3
Target: 459
Miles to date: 587.32

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

The hills are alive

As part of my regime for the Brighton Marathon, I was supposed to do some hill training last week while in Orlando. Pushed for time though and given Orlando is as flat as one of this Tuesday’s pancakes, I’d missed it out in favour of a flat run and so decided to do it today.

I’m not absolutely sure of what the benefits are but it hill training is in every training programme and, I think it is meant to strengthen certain muscles that are perhaps not put under the same stress when running on a straight.

Anyway, the program involved running for a mile as a warm up, finding a hill and running up it for two minutes fast before jogging back down in three minutes to the start. And then repeating this nine times.

So I headed out into Norbury as far as Norbury Hill – which is pretty steep – and went up and down it, veering off to side hills a couple of times to break up the monotony. Some builders in one of the houses there were just looking at me as though I was mad.

Toward the end of the run it started to rain, heavily and I began to curse my stupidness at going out in just shorts and a tee. By the last hill, my arms were red and sore with cold and to compound things, it started hailing as I was running home. Hard, fast hail that stung as it hit my head – but quite enjoyable in a masochistic way.

I’m off to do my first official half marathon on Sunday in Portsmouth and was chuffed to hear the doorbell ring this morning with the postman announcing the arrival of my new pair of trainers. There are the ones I’ll hopefully be running Brighton in but I’ve had to upgrade from Asics GT2140s, which you can’t find any more to Asics GT2150s… I’m hoping they’ll be as good and faithful as the last pair.

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 5.27
Target: 456
Miles to date: 584.32

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

Sometimes you just don't feel like running…

… and today was one of them.

On top of a slight cold I’m sure I got by taking an ice bath after Sunday’s 15 miler, my legs are still slightly sore from that run and my chest muscles ache from a weights session at the gym yesterday.

To top it all, I hardly slept last night and gave in at around 4am to take a melatonin tablet which is meant to release sleep inducing hormones – cue me almost not being able to get up this morning and feeling like I have no energy all day.

I was supposed to do a speed session this afternoon as part of my training regime for Brighton but I just didn’t feel like it (plus I was worried about the legs) and so I did an easy 3miler around Streatham Common.

Unlike my mood, at least the sun was out as I set off on the route which takes me straight into a massive climb. I wasnt too fussed about the steepness as at least it slowed me down but on the way back, when running on the Common itself, it was ludicrous. The heavy rain from last night was still running down the grass (water on Streatham Common gathers from the Downs I believe) which was waterlogged and had me slipping and sliding all the way back.

I’ve never been more glad to see the front door but I guess day’s like today come to test the resolve. I managed to grit the teeth and carry on and, as a reward, ordered some new trainers ready for the big Brighton push.

Click here for a Google Map and full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3
Target: 453
Miles to date: 579.05

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

Day 150 and thank heaven for sports massage

For Natalie Onions – as mad as me

Crickey, day 150 and still feeling very tender after Sunday’s 15miler… this training for the Brighton marathon is taking its toll.

I felt even more tender when I visited my sports massage therapist Lillian this morning. When I told her where it hurt, she started sucking her teeth like a plumber who’s found a blocked u-bend… ‘Don’t say shin splints,’ I said as she went to work and continued to suck on her teeth.

She eventually, after half an hour, said my legs aren’t in too bad shape for someone who’s been running continually for six months and just told me to look after my legs over the coming weeks.

‘This is the time when you are more prone to injury in your training, luckily you’re seeing me early enough for me to help,’ she said.

And so I did a very very gentle run in the gym to celebrate and you know what, it didn’t feel too bad.

If you’re wondering who Natalie Onions is, she’s a woman who is also doing a year long challenge… but not with a run every day, but a thusfar entertaining blog. She even runs dressed like a pirate. Check it out at www.run1000miles.com

Click here for full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3.11
Target: 450
Miles to date: 576.05

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here

Ouch, ouch, ouch

Really stiff from yesterday’s 15miler and my left calf has quite an ache, so I spent today’s run going very, very slowly on the treadmill at the gym. Ice and paracetamol on their way to help out…

Click here for full details of the day’s run

Miles today: 3.01
Target: 447
Miles to date: 572.94

Want to dedicate a run to someone or have one dedicated to you? Click here