Sunday, 27 February 2011

Injured, kind of.


I've run precisely once this week, but that's not because of injury - it's more like not running is the cause. If I don't run. the muscles in my legs contract, and they pull on my back, and that's that - can hardly even stand up straight put my socks on, all sorts of things. Even wiping my arse becomes a chore rather than, erm, a pleasure.

It's annoying because I've had a bunch of deadlines this week and so I've been glued to my desk. I've worked most of this weekend because I have to have my work in before 7:30ish Monday morning, or I won't get paid next month. So even though my back hurts because of not running, and partly because of sitting on my arse at a desk, I have to do more of the same. Gah.


So no long run this week; I've been trying to remember what a physio said to me several years ago about back pain and me, and I think she explained it to me as something in my lower back swells when the muscles contract, so ice and anti-inflammatories are the way forward. And walking - lots of walking. Thank goodness I already walk the dog for around three hours a day.

Hopefully I can build it back up in the week and knock out another 20-miler next weekend. It's been going beautifully, even though I've run a maximum three times a week. It's worked for me, and the 20 miles was easier than I could have believed.

I even invested in some new tunes for my iPod - a couple of Eminem songs I saw on someone else's blog comments. Class.

Anyway, back to work. I'm actually listening to Duran Duran right now, what a guilty pleasure. Ooooh, now it's Frank Black. And now... I think it's The Strokes. I'm typing this slowly to avoid work...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Weight. No, carry on... this is about weight.

I used to get really pissed off whenever I went to see the doctor. I moved around a lot, and had a lot of different doctors as a result. Every one I went to said the same thing, or a variation of: 'You could do with losing a few stone' (a stone, US Fact/Fat Fans, is 14lbs, so a few would be 42lbs). This always came about after they weighed me and asked my height.

Now for the shocking facts. I'm 5' 6", so not particularly tall for a man. Hell, not even tall for my house - both my wife and my 14-y-o stepdaughter are two inches taller than me. I weigh, and have for quite a while, around 220lbs. I know I don't look that heavy, but that's where my weight's been. I'm short and stocky, and can pick things up that most people hurt just looking at. I have huge, muscular legs, big arms, a large chest, and a fun belly. Hey, I'm not saying I'm cut, I'm a long, long way from even being vaguely buff. But if I were a lard arse and 220lbs, I would be blocking out the sun. Actually, at my height, I would probably only block the sun out for very young children and shrubs, but you see my point.

Then one day, I went to a doctor about a grinding in my knee that was stopping me running. I said, "Before you say it, I know, I could do with losing a few stone." He replied "I wasn't going to say that at all. In fact, the Body Mass Index chart doesn't really apply to you at all – look at how much muscle you're carrying just in your legs. Don't worry about that chart, just stay active and healthy."

Amen. I was so happy to hear that, I can't even begin to tell you. I'd even weighed myself on those scales that pass a small charge through you to gauge resistance, and they revealed that even with zero per cent body fat – just muscle, organs and bone – I would still be 14lbs over my 'ideal weight'. Of course, I should have realised around that time that it was all a load of old bollocks.

I contribute to another blog about weight loss, but I don't think I take that seriously enough in terms of diet. Mind you, I might weigh myself later today because I ran 20 miles on Sunday and that has to count for something. Mind you, I had four cans of lager and some doughnuts yesterday. Maybe I'll wait.

Monday, 21 February 2011


...20 miles seemed so far away
Now I can't believe I ran all the way
From here to there, yesterday.

I don't have that pain in my right knee...
I thought it might be here to stay,
But now I know, it's fucked right off.

Okay, so it doesn't quite rhyme (I know, right? Away, way, yesterday indeed! Pfffffft) but you get the idea. Yesterday I went out and knocked out 20 miles the way a teenager might knock out a hand-shandy before school. Seriously. Everything that was wrong with the 18.5-miler, was right with this run.

Everything, in short, clicked. I changed my pre-run fuelling strategy – I drank 500ml of Lucozade Sport beforehand (I prefer Gatorade, but it's not that easy to get round these parts - and for US readers, the UK Gatorade is quite different to the US one), then went out. I had a friend stash another bottle outside her parents' house, which was 2/3 of the way round a 5.4-mile lap, which was also a huge help. And I had a Kendal Mint Cake in my arm wallet.

Oh, my arm wallet. I think I must have picked up a ladies' size by mistake. I mean sure, I've got big biceps, but I can only just get it over my forearm. I wear it right below my elbow, in fact, where the muscle comes back in toward the joint.

So, I ran three laps of Squirrel Lane (out from Ludlow, round it, then back via a different road), to total 16.2 miles-ish, then added four and a bit on the end to do something like 20.43 according to

First lap breezed by, though I consciously started out slower than last time. But it was fine; the slower pace didn't bother me, and it made me more conscious of form. By the second lap, I was thinking a drink might be nice, so I stopped outside the friend's parents' house, and had a third of the Lucozade Sport. Third lap, and I know by now I have it nailed even though I am far from finishing. Every step I took, I became more certain. I can do this. I even loosened up my arms with a little dance to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now when that came on the iPod. Well, quite a big dance. For quite a long time.

I had stopped briefly to stretch my quads at the friend's 'rents house on lap two, and this time I did my quads, hamstrings and ate the Kendal Mint Cake, too. And finished the Lucozade. Then went about my merry way.

As I came in to the last couple of miles, there were a couple of daunting hills. Not big ones, just hard ones. And luckily, almost in sequence, on came Eye of the Tiger, Gonna Fly Now, and Born To Run. Talk about timing. It's no coincidence that the last two miles of the run were by far the fastest. Oh, and when I finished, I finished with the thought 'I could have gone much further'.

Then, when I stopped, I pretty much seized up. But I could have run, of that I am sure… Today I have next to no aches and pains. My abs are a little sore, and the outside of my quads is a tiny bit achy, but apart from that - bring on London.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hmmm, and harumph.

So, last Saturday I ran 18.5 miles. It was hard, it hurt, and I probably walked a mile (or perhaps less) of it. But I'm still claiming the 18.5, okay? Okay.

But since then, I have had no motivation to do anything at all. Not even work. I've actually spent a fair amount of time drunk, too. Totally lacking motivation for anything. I haven't even been for a teeny tiny run since. Not-a-one.

I'm going to force myself out the door in a few minutes. Just to do a little warm-up run, then some hill reps (the hill only takes 30 seconds to sprint up, but I plan to do it 12 times if I can, which represents progress…), then walk home and get some shopping on the way, though I will be sweaty like a crazy fat person and probably bright red in the face. Yay!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Friday, 11 February 2011

Up, down, up, down.

Some weeks it seems I'm going to run a marathon on just two runs a week. Then last night I remembered that I can get a quality run in, burn some lard, and really work the hamstrings and glutes in less than half an hour.

So this week, so far, I have done two runs, on Wednesday, one on Thursday. Wednesday I thought I would try a familiar 3.3 mile loop at race-ish pace, so I just kind of went for it. First mile was hard, and I think I did it in something like 10:15, which is a bit slower than I had planned, but then it does feature a couple of hills. I didn't look at my watch again after that, just ran. When I finished, I discovered I had covered the 3.3 in around 32.5 minutes, which is about my race pace - for a 10k. Really rather pleased with that, as I can go faster, but it was pretty comfortable.

Thursday night, all I wanted was a fucking beer. Just one. Or 10. So instead, I took the dog for her second walk of the day (most days, I walk the dog for between 2 and 3 hours in total), came home, changed, and went for a run. I warmed up with perhaps 3/4 of a mile, came to the spot I had fixed in my head for the hill reps to start... The eagle-eyed among you may recall that hill reps mostly suck arse, but here I am doing them for the second time in two weeks. A different hill, a bit steeper but a bit shorter, too. So to compensate, I did more reps. Some people do them until they spew on their feet, but not me. I want to get stronger, not injured. So I went for it, completing the first five reps in 29 seconds every time, regardless of perceived effort. Run up hard, walk down and recover; hit the bottom and start again. The next two times, I did it in 28 seconds. The eighth and final time, I did it in 26 seconds. Then I cooled down with a walk home, and was only out for a total of perhaps half an hour. And yes, that includes the walk home. I was fucked.

Feel pretty good today though. And tomorrow? I have the course in my head – we're going for 19 miles. Just to see if we can. One 5.4 mile loop, three times. And one just-under-three-miles to warm up. It will be dark, it will be wet, and it will not be very much fun. But let's see what I'm made of, shall we?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Last week's round-up

I went for 15 miles again at the weekend, and failed, dagnabbit; according to mapmyrun, I hit 14.22 miles. Still the longest run I have ever done, but disappointing to have mapped it so wrong in my head that I was over three quarters of a mile out!

Also typically, I ran a loop I like twice in the long run, which is just over 5 miles a loop. It's really pretty, and most of the ascent is in the first couple of miles. One the first loop it was dark, I had my headtorch on, and I cruised through it feeling great, with a bounce in my step, and I saw no-one I knew; second loop, I saw loads of people I knew, felt like shit and had turned purple, again. What are the odds?

In the week I had to go to London for work, so took my running shoes (UK Gear PT1000). I ran every morning I was there, even the one with a hangover. Because London is such a massive shithole, and the pavements are all concrete, I ran shorter distances but made up for it with fartlek, so I would run steady for 10 minutes to warm up then go fast for, say, 80 metres, then recover with a steady jog again. It was fun and it's not something I have really done before. My arse and hamstrings feel a lot stronger as a result, too. Win-win!

Total mileage for the week was about 23. Pleased with that.