Sunday, 6 August 2017

Back to the day blog

Well at time of writing my first vlog still hasn't reached the 500k views I was anticipating so thought it was best to give it a back seat and go back to blogging.

I did say on my last vlog that July needed to be a big month to get me in the right shape for Aberdeen half later this month. I also said that I was feeling ill. That got worse and I had take take some time off work. After that I have found it difficult to get back into running again. Not helped with being in a bit of a stressful work situation. So basically my big month of July never happened and I think I was lucky to get over 20 miles for the entire month.  I did Ruchill parkrun yesterday basically run/walking the whole way in 33.30 minutes and yes I was trying.  I do wonder how long it is going to take me to get back to where I was just the month before when I was in the 26 minute region for parkrun.

So what now? ......

I have cancelled my hotel in Aberdeen. No way I am in any state to do a 10k never mind a half marathon at the moment.  Even if I was taking my time I would struggle.  It is frustrating to have to cancel another race as it is does seem to be a regular occurrence over the last few years. While I'm still running I think I'll always be in the mindset of wanting to do a big race again and yes while I was on my high of training during June I did enter a marathon for next year. Which you never know I might be in a position to do it. But I keep saying to people that I might just stick to parkruns for the rest the year. Now notice the word "just". I say it as if there is something wrong with that and that I should be going longer. But there is really nothing wrong with it! And it is a mindset I need to change for now. So for the rest of the year it will be parkrun fest and that is that. :-)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

2nd Vlog on my week in running and a feature on coming last in races

Here is my latest Vlog

For those who would prefer to read a blog here is a brief report on my week.

On Monday and Tuesday I was feeling better but decided to take a few more rest days. On Wednesday I did a 2 and half mile run round the campus at work which was good. Thursday I struggled a bit and just managed 2 miles. Friday rest day. Then Saturday I had planned to run to parkrun, do the parkrun then run back but went back to bed instead. So went on my own run later. I sent out at a really easy pace but struggled to keep going after 2 miles and stopped it there. I thought I would try again today but not feeling that great again.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

First vlog

Back in 2010 I did a few race videos which you can find in the right hand side of the page.  But today just on a wim, I decided to try doing a vlog instead of the usual blog. The first one is basically a short introduction to my running just to try and get to grips with doing vlogs. So if you followed this blog for a while (thanks!) but I'm afraid there is nothing new on there. But in future the vlogs will be new stuff. I haven't decided yet the balance I will give between the vlog and the blog I'l just see how it goes. I've never been good at public speaking or anything like that so I thought this might be a good way of improving that skill. That may take a while lol.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the first one.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

18/06/17 - Mens 10k Glasgow

The 2 weeks run up to the 10k haven't really gone according to plan and I have missed quite a few sessions. I haven't been ill. But in the harder sessions I really have been pushing it and I found it has been taken me longer to recover from them.  Most notably the Monday before the race where I did a 10k over a very hilly route in 1 hour 11 minutes. I was going at a easy pace but due to the hills it really took it out of me and ended up run/walking after 3 miles.  So it was going to be interesting to see how I would do today.

Although I have done plenty of parkruns this year I haven't actually done a race since last July.  Last year my best 10k time was 59 minutes so I was hoping to beat that today.  And I was confident that I would beat the 1 hour 4 minutes at the Mens 10k 2 years ago.  This was also the first time my brother and I would run in the same race, although we have done parkruns together.

So on to the race. We arrived in plenty of time and did a warm up before making our way to our pen. We both put down an hour finish time so we were both in the same pen. We were actually in the last wave of people to go off. As it started I was determined not to dodge in and out of people and wasting my energy. But that was never a problem and I was able to get into the pace I wanted immediately which was 9 minute mile pace. I never checked my watch during the race but going by feel and what I had practiced in training I knew I was going at that pace or there abouts.

In the first couple of km my brother got further and further away from me till he was out of site. I was confident he would stay ahead of me today judging by some of his training where he did a 55 min 10k training run.  About 3k I caught up with Stuart who I know from parkun. He was being a VI guide and doing a great job. Its amazing the detail he was going into, telling the runner about the surface and giving information of the degree of turns coming up and when exactly he'll be hitting them. 

I was in a good zone at this point. I was putting in an effort but I felt I could sustain it.  When I got to Buchanan Street I was expecting the 4k marker but it never came. I got to the water station which was half way but I never saw the 5k marker. It wasn't until going down the street back towards the Clyde where I saw the 6k marker which was a relief.  When I turned left onto the road going up to the top end of Glasgow green, all of a sudden my brother came into view and I was reeling him in and passed him in between 7k and 8k. I gave him some encouragement and pushed on. 8k I was feeling it but I kept it going. I found that the km markers did seem to come quickly (at the times I saw them). Which was a good thing mentally.

Passing the 9km mark I knew there was lots of twists and turns as it weaves its way to George Square. I found this quite difficult.  I'm not sure if it was the heat or my head or just physically I was done. But halfway through that last km I had to take a walk break. I don't know about anyone else but when I take a walk break it feels like you are walking for an eternity.  I did pick up again and start running. And somehow I still did the last mile in 8.40 so I cant have been walking for long. And the last .2 of a mile at 9.10 pace (I'm not sure exactly what point I started walking).  

There were great crowds at the finish. I think I finished at rush hour as literally as soon as I crossed the line the queue for the medals and goody bags started. It took a while to get through but everyone was patient and it didn't take away from this excellent event.  I crossed the line in 55.39 so its the fastest 10k I have done in years and I think well and truly reflects where I'm at, at the moment.  I really gave it everything and pretty much paced it the way I planned.  Well done to my brother who finished in 57 minutes in his first race in many years.

Now onwards to Aberdeen at the end of August.

Monday, 29 May 2017


Well this has been a fun month.  It started full of promise and full of hope as I set out on a structured training plan for my half marathon in August. The first of the month, a bank holiday, 35 minutes easy running it said.  This should be easy enough! I got about a mile into it and started to feel more and more unwell till I just stopped, turned around and walked back feeling very faint.

That was me for the week. House bound. No exercise. No work. No nothing. By the time Saturday came round I was perking up a bit so headed over to Ruchill parkrun which at the time was the newest addition to the Scottish parkrun family. So I decided I was just going to jog round given the week I had. Well I thought it would be a jog. Its a 3 lap course and somehow it feels like you are always going up apart from one wee bit where there is a short, sharp downhill.  I jogged about a mile and a bit and ran/walked the rest.

For the rest of the month I really got into the plan and stuck with all the sessions bar one where I wasn't feeling up to it that day. But I am enjoying the mix of speed sessions, easy runs and slightly longer runs. Before this plan I have always just done loops of a certain distance. But this plan does so many minutes. So I have been doing out and backs trying to keep even pacing and doing smaller loops at the end if required to make up to a certain time. I think I may go back to loops though as I kind of know roughly how long each loop takes anyway.

One run on the schedule which I have changed is the 25 minute easy run on the Saturday. And you will be shocked as to the reason. To do an all out parkrun.  The week after Ruchill I did Linwood and did just over 27 minutes and gave a really good effort.  Then the next week I did Strathclyde. I wasn't unwell but I just didn't feel like going fast that day so set off conservatively.  But I found as the run went on I was gradually getting faster and finished off just under 29 minutes.  Then my last parkrun of the month was Victoria parkrun where I surprised myself a lot.  My brother came along too who has been running well recently so I expected him to beat me.  He shot off at the start and I settled into a nice steady pace. With Victoria being three laps and going round a loch I saw him build a substantial gap.  But on the 3rd lap I realised I was closing and I took a point where he passed and counted 20 seconds gap. But I thought that was too much as there was less than a kilometre left.  On the straight back towards the loch though I caught and passed him. I fully expected him to overtake me again on the home straight but he never caught me.  I finished in a seasons best of 26.06 with my brother getting a 5k PB just 7 seconds behind me.

I have also started the steps challenge again last week where I am aiming to cover 10,000 steps every day for 100 days (till the end of August). I have decided not to do lots of blogs on this, this year though and focus on my half marathon training instead. I am aiming to beat my average last year which was 13,000 steps a day and will give wee updates just to say my progress compared to last year.

Step count as at 29th May after 5 days

2016: 61,620
2017: 75,121

Friday, 19 May 2017

Flashback - London marathon 2004

As mentioned in my last post, the thing which propelled me into long distance running was watching the London marathon on TV in 2003. I decided then that I could not watch it on TV in 2004. I had to be there. I had to do it.  If I remember right back in  those days it wasn't a case of enter the ballot during a 5 day period in May. I think the ballot was open for a lot longer than that.  Anyway fast forward and I got rejected from the ballot. But I did get a very nice London marathon fleece which I still have today.

Of course there is another way of getting into the London marathon. The golden bond place. Where you pledge to raise a certain amount for a charity and they give you a place. This was the first time I had attempted to raise a lot for charity and at that time I didn't really have a real connection to any charity. So I chose the one with the lowest amount you needed to raise. So I ended up choosing Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland where you had to raise £1,000 and a worthy cause.  It was tough raising money as back then I was a student. So all my work friends, school friends and uni friends were also students. So it was a challenging task raising sponsorship. But I made it to £1,000 with the help of a few generous donors.

So now the place was sorted it was onto training for the marathon. Did I learn anything from my first race? Well I knew I could cope with a half marathon, I just need to up my long runs.   But at that time I still had no clue what to do in between. I didn't know about tempo runs/fartleks or interval sessions. Of course sometimes I ran faster but I just trained naturally. During the week then I just did runs between 3 - 4.5 miles. I built up my long runs accumulating in a 20 mile long run 2 weeks before the marathon. So I really thought I was ready going into the marathon. Interestingly my long runs followed the same pattern. I would start off easy and then get quicker and quicker as they went on. Obviously I did this by feel as no garmins in those days for mile splits.

On to race day. I was totally buzzing! I had no sleep due to the excitement of it all. But I felt ready.  I was determined to start slowly which is exactly what I did. Maybe even too slowly. After 6 miles I was feeling great so decided to start upping it like I did on training runs. I remember the first half of the course being pretty quiet. When I started upping it though I found my self weeving all over the place and going up on pavements. Probably working far more than I should of. Then getting to Tower bridge around mile 12 and there was this wall of noise. It was amazing. I still to this day have never experienced anything in a race like it.  I got to halfway in 2 hours 7 minutes. I had not been tracking my time but I knew it was because my first 10k was extremely slow because I did pick it up quite a bit in the 2nd 10k.  Just after halfway my parents and brother were there supporting which was great.

 However at mile 14. Yes 14. The wheels came off. I didn't know what was wrong at the time but all of a sudden the top of my legs were in agony. Turns out I got cramp in both my quads. I must have walked for about 4 miles.  I never thought about quitting once though and was determined to keep moving forward.  Then I got speaking to an older women who started walking with me. She asked me if this had put me off running which I said no. Then she gave me drugs which I assume were painkillers. My old school friends ribbed me for years after about this (taking drugs not speaking to an older women!). But although I still found it difficult, I did manage to run bits after that and the rest of it was just a run walk to the finish.

How did I feel when I finished?  To be honest I was absolutely gutted.  I crossed the line in 4.48. I had been so fixated on a sub 4 hour marathon in the build up, I just did not have any back up goals. My family were absolutely over the moon as none of my family had completed a marathon before. I didn't really appreciate back then what I had achieved. But I certainly do now.  I think the fact that you are so knackered after it plays with your emotions too and also everything you have put into it training wise.

Would I do London again? It never really crossed my mind to do it again until this year I got inspired. My name is in the ballot for 2018. I don't think I would do a golden bond place again. Its all about how many people you know really unless you are prepared to do other ways of fundraising. I have done marathons/cycles since for charity but they were not golden bond so no pressure on amount raised.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Flashback - Great Scottish Run 2003

Just for a laugh and to get something written down to complete my blog, I am going to do a series of training build up/race reports from the pre blog era of my running.  I think its a maximum of 6 races but may combine a few depending on my memory!  Starting with my first ever race; the Great Scottish Run which took place in Glasgow in August 2003.

Firstly a bit of an introduction of how this came about.  I was in my first year at uni in 2002 and my mate Alan and I were cutting it fine to get our bus home for the day. So we had to dash across Glasgow.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time we got to the bus stop and Alan took the rip out of me (in a funny way) all the way home. Now I must add here that Alan was one of the best 400 meter runners in the country at this point so I probably should have put things into perspective. But it did make me think that I need to do more about my fitness. Then I started to go on runs quite regularly and mixed it in with gym sessions and five a side once a week.  Flash forward to April 2003 I watched the London marathon on TV. I said to myself then that I couldn't watch it next year. I had to be there. That will come in the next post though.

My immediate aim was the Great Scottish Run that year. People might think its a bit of a jump to go from having done no races to doing a half marathon. And yeah you are probably right!  But in those days the only person who I knew that ran was Alan and he did 400 metre races.  So in short I didn't really have a clue what I was doing and just learning as I went along. There wasn't really a plan at all with training apart from making sure I did 1 long run a week.  During the summer I worked in Greaves sports in the stock room.  This was a job I loved doing as it was very active especially on a Saturday when it was mega busy.  But one thing I noticed was the amount of running shoes I was sending down. I cottoned on to this and bought my first pair of running shoes which made a huge difference.

Anyway onto the race. I didn't really know how to approach the race, I had no plan, no time in mind, apart from take it easy as it is your first one!  Unlike nowadays the race started and finished in Glasgow green back then and didn't go over the Kingston bridge.  I was really excited by it and the first 6 miles I set out at an easy pace.  Then as I approached Pollok Park I realised that I was feeling really good. I had done the first half in 1 hour and 2 minutes.  Then I just upped the pace and it felt totally fine. I was overtaking like mad and loving it.  I finished in 1 hour 54 minutes so a massive negative split.  In those days as well as a medal and t-shirt, you also got a certificate too which I still have.

So that is how it all began, little did I know then, how much time I would spend in Pollok park years later.