Thursday, 24 March 2011

My PT1000s

At the start of the training cycle for the London Marathon 2011, I got my hands on a pair of UK Gear PT1000 running shoes. The version I have is more supportive, for mild to moderate pronators. I got them for free because at the time I was editing a magazine for the sports retail industry in the UK. I'm not doing that job any more, and I can be as harsh as I like on my own blog about whatever I want…

But there's no need to be. I love the shoes. This is the best period of training I have had for years, with next to no injury problems and mostly, great quality training plods. Sorry, I mean runs. The shoes have been terrific. They feel less cushioned than other mild-to-moderate pronation control shoes, and the profile at the heel feels a lot lower, much less bulky. They're pretty light too; consider that the manufacturers claim you can get up to 1000 miles from a pair and you'd expect them to be built like bricks, but from the first run I've found them to be pretty responsive, flexible, strong – and with just a month to go to the marathon, after six months of building up to it, the shoes are still going strong. No tears, cushioning still feels good, and they actually still look fine too.

1000 miles from one pair of running shoes? I didn't think so. Now I've tried them, I do think so. I remain very, very impressed. Great work, UK Gear.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Another 20-miler, and three new bits of inspiration.

I was reading my favourite running blog, Run This Amazing Day, and the author, Katie, was really titsed off. She's injured and angry, and lashing out a little bit because of all the inanities she was getting from well-meaning readers. I don't blame her, I would be doing the same. I hate it when people assume I am fucking stupid - "Are you stretching/icing/resting?" No, I'm mountaineering. Fuck off. That said, they mean well. Without thinking sometimes, they mean well - not just online, but in life. Where you say to someone, I have an injury, I can't run and the reply comes out something like: "See? I told you running is bad for you." Sometimes, you just have to bark. There's no hurt meant, no bad intentions and certainly no malice from either side, you just want to lick your wounds and get on with it.

So, I was running my 20-miler this past Sunday, and I thought, well, I didn't leave any platitudes that I can remember. I certainly didn't leave any advice. I'm doing what I know how to do, because right now, I can. So Katie, that run was for you, because you couldn't.

In other news, I had - apart from the above, running because Katie couldn't - two new bits of inspiration. I have been musing on motivation post-marathon, even worrying about it. Where does one go from there? How do you motivate yourself to run four miles on a wet and cold morning after you've had 100,000 people lifting your tired feet, urging you on to be the best you can? Easy! Sign up for another race!

I was on the phone interviewing someone a few days ago when someone came to the front door, which is pretty much under my office. My stepdaughter went down to answer it and came back with a Hereford Half Marathon leaflet. She couldn't remember the name of the person that had left it, but knew it was 'someone I liked'*. I read the leaflet while doing my interview in a half-arsed way, and thought, I'll run that race. It's exactly a month after London, so it won't be easy - I should just be loose enough to run it, I think! But it's organised by a local hospice. I'm running London for one local hospice, this is the other one. One in which my best friend's dad died just a couple of months ago. I phoned her, and said, there's something I would like to do on your behalf, and explained about the race. She said brilliant, they'll be able to help with fundraising. Perfect, I thought.

On my 20-miler on Sunday, I was easing** up a slow hill when a car pulled to a stop on the other side of the road from me, and started reversing. I figured it was probably someone I knew. It was Dave, who I hadn't seen for a couple of weeks. Dave's the father of someone I was at school with and Dave is, frankly, a bloody lovely bloke.

The conversation went:
"Did you get the leaflet? Are you interested?"

"I got it, thanks Dave. Yes, I think I'm going to go for that - my friend's dad died in that hospice a few weeks ago, so I'm well up for doing something to help them."

"My wife is in there now. Do you want me to pay for the race entry, or just sponsor you?"

If ever there was motivation, it's finding out someone you really, really like, think the world of, even, is hurting like Dave must be right now. So the least I can do, is something I can do. If that makes any sense. I'm doing it because I am capable of doing it where others are not. I'm doing it for them, even if they're gone. Doing it to remember them, and to help others remember them.

* It's not a hugely long list, believe me. And before you go 'awwww, isn't she sweet?', she's nearly 15 and should be able to remember names by now…

** Barely moving

Friday, 18 March 2011

Hmmmmm. Almost time.

The London Marathon kicks off in just four weeks and a couple of days. Am I ready? Kind of, yes. But this week, like so many others, has been about getting awkward little things done, and hoping the big things will hang on for a while.

I've been doing some bits and bobs towards fundraising, as I told the hospice I would try and raise around £2,500 for them. That sounds like a lot - well, it is quite a lot - but it's a local charity, and people respond to that. They've touched a lot of people here over the years, and hopefully I will be able to get plenty of support from locals as a result.

We've got a night with a bunch of (mostly punk) bands playing; the Assembly Rooms donated the room free of charge (on a Saturday night, too!), and four bands are giving up their time for absolutely nothing. Even the PA is free of charge. One band has even said they don't want to get in for free, they want to buy tickets to boost the fundraising! Everyone is being pretty wonderful about it, and when you have support like that, you know you simply cannot fail them.

This week's been so busy… Between myself and WonderWife, we work four days a week in a local shop. The money really helps, as we're trying to get our bag business up and running. And I have what I jokingly call my real work too, which is time consuming and mentally demanding, though not all that difficult. Plus the dog needs lots of walking, which is always an absolute pleasure – but it all cuts into the time. So when does one train? If I can get my lazy arse out of bed, I try and get out bright and early, but I've been hamstrung this week (not literally) because of the lunar cycle. I'm a slave to that fucker - for a few days every month, I drink myself stupid in order to get to sleep. My emotions are all over the place, my brain won't shut up, and the only solution I have found is alcohol. Not ideal, as running the next day is not particularly attractive.

So anyway, I've not done a single run this week. I did a 16-miler on Sunday, which was a struggle because I had been on my feet all day Saturday (I took WonderWife on a trip to the seaside) and hadn't really taken into account how tired I was. This weekend I need to nail another 20-miler, so Saturday will be taken up by not doing very much at all, with an eye on Sunday. I'll go out and do 3.5 miles tonight to wake myself up a bit, before coming home for a bath and taking my wife out for lager and curry.

One thing I have been doing while out on runs is visualising finishing the race. I've discovered that when I do this, I actually well up, and could even burst into tears. What does all this mean for race day? It means I am a big soft shite, of course. Big. Soft. Shite.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Well, running folk. My back is now fine, though I have hardly run for two weeks. Why the long layoff, I hear you cry. Well, after my near-perfect long run a couple of weeks back, I had a bunch of deadlines which fell together. Ordinarily, I would rest a day after a long run, then take a short run the day after that to loosen up, stretch etc. But I didn't, I foolishly stayed glued to my desk, and the end result was the muscles in my legs and back shortened so much, so fact, that I could barely put my socks on by Thursday. And of course, the deadlines were still there.

With that muscle problem comes the inflammation of something in my back that I can't remember the name of, and after a course of stretching, icing and anti-inflammatories, that all worked out fine.

Then my foot started hurting. In a plantar fasciitis kinda way. Surely one of the most annoying injuries in any runner's book. So right now, I'm managing that one while trying to get back into the rhythm I had established quite nicely. Saturday I went to the gym and did a few basic weights, did some knee exercises, worked a pyramid session on the cross trainer (up the resistance every 30 seconds until I can hardly move the bastard, then work down every 30 seconds. Then do it all again), and a bit more. Sunday I went for a walk up some hills with WonderWife and SuperDog, which stretched my foot out quite nicely. I ran 3.5 miles Monday, and was aware of the foot the whole way round, though not actually in pain; Tuesday I didn't do anything of note, while today I ran about 5.5 miles. The foot was fine, though I know the plantar is still a bit tight. This afternoon, while working, I'm going to ice my foot again. Yay.

Times are tough. WonderWife is not that well right now, which would be perfectly manageable except we have a major promotion on something coming up in the next couple of days, fundraising for the marathon to do, a shop to work in, bags to make, publishing deadlines to hit and dogs to walk. Plus all the usual shit that life brings with it. So we're tired, in a big way, and if I could go back in time I might have waited until the 2012 London Marathon to do this instead.

Ho hum. Back to the motherfucking grindstone. Ha!