Today I managed to get out for a run, the first one since my half-ironman at the end of August. A major part of the decision was due to signing up to the Brighton half-marathon 2017. Last year it was easy to focus on the training because the London Marathon was such a famous event – but I need to remember the Brighton marathon is just as far!
So – I need to take it more serious than last year and get more regular and planned training activity in over the winter. A trip to Australia/NZ over new year should help give me lots of opportunities for running.
Will put my runs back on Strava – please give me abuse if you don’t see me training! (Unless I get injured again!)
It was a strange thing running down Birdcage walk at the end of the marathon. I wasn’t sure what feelings I’d expect; elation? pride? achievement? I didn’t feel any of them, but just a massive sense of relief and an overwhelming urge to burst into tears. I avoided the latter (narrowly), but the sense of relief as the 26.7 miles of running/shuffling were completed.
Preparation for a marathon begins the day before. We’d got all our clothes sorted, and began to ‘carb load.’ Weirdly this was one of the toughest parts of the challenge; we drank plenty and made sure to eat plenty at every opportunity. We had to make sure we didn’t over-eat, but also at no point during the day did I ever feel hungry. Our last meal was at 6pm, and we were tucked up in bed and asleep before 9pm.
The day began well; an early start followed by a large bowl of porridge. I wolfed it down, and had a pint of Ribena too. We got the tube down to London Bridge, and joined the crowds headed over to Greenwich.
Greenwich Park was buzzing – Karly and I were in different start pens, so I left her at the Red Start whilst I headed over to Blue. It’s hard to grasp the size of the occasion – runners were setting off for the Women’s race, the wheelchair race and parathletes left all within a few hundred metres of us – but all of the focus was on self-preparation. Do I have the right food, am I wearing the right clothes – when shall I ditch my bright yellow poncho?
Thankfully the weather on the day was perfect; I left my poncho behind as I stepped into starting pen 6, and finally felt ready. I was nervous about my knee – at 10 miles in on my preparation run there was no way I could have continued, let’s hope it matched my 16 mile prep run and disappear.
The first 13 miles were great; the crowds were present from the start, but the noise & support really began around Greenwich & Cutty Sark. I did my bit of civic duty by giving out copius numbers of high-5s to old & young, even running round the outside of the Cutty Sark hairpin, partly due to wanting to give out some high-5s, but also due to the fact I was struggling to unwrap a starbust. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment of hygenine by providing runners with individually wrapped sweets – I’d much rather dip my sweat-encrusted hand into container of haribo. One to note for next time if you’re showing up to support.
Things were going well; I saw my friends @ a local pub just before hitting Tower Bridge. I say I saw them – but they didn’t see me til I was well past, and sarcastically shouting ‘Sh*t support guys’ back in their general direction. I apologised later, but was in high spirits at this point so all was good in the world.
I knew Tower bridge was the only real ‘hill’ on the course, and that the crowds would make me want to run faster. I’d checked my pace at around 9 mins / mile for the run so far, hoping to pick up the pace a bit later on in order to hit my sub-4 target. I’d passed the 9:09 (4 hr pacer) around mile 10, and knew that I could drop the pace slightly and still make my goals.
Unfortunately Tower bridge had other thoughts; I’m not sure if it was the incline or the distance I’d travelled, but turning right just off Tower bridge and my knee started to hurt. Not just the dull ache that I’d experienced doing the Colchester 1/2 marathon, but a sharp pain on the outside of my knee. Balls. I knew it was the tight ITB wanting to let me know that my stretching regime hadn’t been quite up to scratch in the months preceeding the race.
Straight after this was a St John’s ambulance stop. I was their first victim of the day, and asked what they had that I could use to pin back my ITB to stop it from being aggravated by dragging over the little bone protruding on the outside edge of my right knee. I got some tape. You know the standard medical tape that is use to hold on bandages? Needless to say, 50 metres down the road and I was cursing. It still hurt. Was I going to turn back and try and get them to try something else – they had nothing else. Balls.
It was then I had to look twice. Discarded in the gutter at the side of the road was a knee support. A few sizes too big, but a knee support nonetheless. Maybe I could get that on and use it to help me at least get round the second half. I slowed my pace, then made an about turn to go and pick it up. I apologised to the crowd for being a ‘tramp’, and they seemed to turn away in disgust as I picked up the support. If it could only get me round the next 10 miles, then at least I could walk the last three…
I started running with it and immediately I noticed an improvement. The knee was now fine but oh – my muscles were TIGHT. The support was tight around the top of my calf and the bottom of my hamstring, and that has the undesired effect of shortening both muscles. I then spent the next two miles adjusting the support to balance between numbing the pain, and stopping it from restricting my muscles too much. It was around the 15 mile point when the 4 hour marker went past me – but I was smiling because at least now I had a chance.
The next few miles around the Isle of Dogs was tough; my knee was less painful, but the muscles cramped at being restricted. I reverted to walking/running as I knew that in the grand scheme of things it was likely to have a negligable effect on my overall time. Walking/running I tried to maintain a pace of 10.5 mins a mile – and managed to keep this up for most of the rest of the race; crossing the finish line at 4h23 minutes.
What have I learnt? Runnning a marathon is tough. It’s a mental challenge as much as a physical one. You can spend months in preparation, with the risk of injury hanging over you to undo all your good work. It’s also not just about the running – I’d have done well to have lost a few pounds, but also to change my lifestyle to run-commute to work, rather than bike-commute. The biking was undoing all the good work I’d done on stretching out my ITB & hip flexors – going for a long ride wasn’t helping at all.
However, I got round, and I’m happy enough with the time. The second best bit? It’s beatable, and I hope that next time I decide to do something stupid like run a marathon I’ll get the preparation even better. The best bit? Running with Karly Jose – my girlfriend, & Hanna Jenvey to raise nearly £6000 for the Duchenne Family Support Group.
If anyone knows who the knee support belongs too – I’ll happily return it to it’s original owner. Please let me know!
I’m back running, and after my scare from last week where I had to halt my run on 10 miles with a bad knee, I’m now good.
I was worried when I got to the ten mile mark, but passed straight through without issue; in fact my leg actually felt completely pain-free for the first time since October. It was a lovely feeling.
I’ve been doing hip-flexor exercises all week, and rolling my ITB to try and loosen thing up – and it’s worked well.
I had to give my leg a rest this week, so apart from cycling I’ve not done any short runs. I expect this next week to have a couple of commute runs to work, and will finish it off with an 18 mile run next Sunday – the pinnacle of my training and two miles short from where I’d really like to be. However, I think it’s fair that I amend my plan to match my situation. If I’d had fewer injuries I’d probably have done more – but back look put paid to that!
Excited, happy and a starting to get a little nervous. Please sponsor us at www.justgiving.com/dfsg4 if you can spare some cash for this good cause!
This last couple of weeks has been quite good fun. I had an awesome week preceding my 30th Birthday celebrations, with a few short runs that both felt amazing and had a decent average speed. It was great to commute to work twice in a week with a run, and given that I had zero ITB pain it felt amazing.
Unfortunately last weekend (with a beautiful 30th Birthday Party up at my parents,) I didn’t make enough time to get a long run in. This was doubly stupid given that Karly had managed to convince me to take a couple of days off to relax and recuperate. In hindsight I should have run, but I also should have kept up my stretches.
I’ve always figured that I can deal with pain, but what I can’t deal with is discomfort. Ever since seeing a wrinkly elbow on an old lady walking down Dovehouse Parade (a row of shops near where I grew up in Solihull) I’ve had something against elbows, especially straight ones. When the elbow is bent the skin is taught and nice; I don’t like that extra foldy flabby stuff.
The same has been true of my legs. Back in 1999 when I broke my femur, it isn’t the pain of the accident that I look back and reflect on, but the months of physio afterwards when I was made to do hamstring stretches. I don’t like straight limbs – but I’m now acutely aware of the importance of stretching.
On my long run today (I did the Thames Path, Boat Race route given today’s event) I manage to get to just over 10 miles when my right knee decided to flare up again. I’ve not been keeping up with my stretching and that’s stupidly causing this problem. It’s frustrating because I know that I have the capacity to stop it from being a problem, yet need to force my willpower to find the solution.
The mindset needs to be for me to focus on getting these stretches done. Sensibly I stopped as soon as I felt the pain, and given plenty of rest over the last few hours the pain is almost non-existent. My plan tomorrow is some hot yoga and swimming, along with a tonne of stretching to try and mitigate my stupidity.
This has got me thinking though, as to how many other people out there share my mindset? We’re the generation of ‘instant gratification’ and one of the first parts of getting over a problem is to accept that you have one. One of the joys I get from using Strava is the fact that I can look back on my cycling/running activities from the last few years and see how far I’ve improved. Sometimes those improvements are negligible, but only having the benefit of time allows me to see quite how far I’ve come.
Is there an app or implementation out there that can help with stretching? It would be ace to be able to track the range of motion in my limbs; to have something tangible to work toward and something that gave me a record of progress so that I knew my efforts are having a positive effect. Maybe that’s just my mindset, but what do you guys do to keep motivated?
Nobody tells you that after not running for quite some time you start to feel guilty. It’s horrible when logging into Strava only to see other people’s exercise. However, it does mean when you pick it up again you get the feeling of ‘Strava-Love’ all over again.
I’ve definitely run a lot less than I thought I would have done at this stage of the plan, but I’m pleased that I’m back up at a distance I think is acceptable. I did a half marathon in training, two weeks ago, and then last weekend I ended up doing more cycling than running – but still squeezed in a 5 mile run. That was long for me at this time last year, so things are picking up.
I’m in for the Colchester half marathon this weekend, and it’ll be good to do a race where Karly’s family can come and shout some support. I’m disappointed that I won’t be gunning for a personal best, but I want to really focus on getting the miles in my legs so I’m ready for the London Marathon – it’s now only 6 weeks away.
The plan is to get a load of smaller runs done during the week, with a few running commutes for the next 4 weeks. I’ve also got my 30th birthday next weekend, so heading out early on the Saturday morning for a long run. I’m not sure when to stop the alcoholic beverages (initial plan was to not drink in my 30s until I’ve run a marathon – but given the risk of injury and missing this year’s marathon, that’s no longer a pledge I wish to take!)
Anyhow – early night before the run tomorrow. 9 am start.