Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Update on VMLM2014 Training.......

...........COMING SOON, he said! 

6 weeks later, I finally knuckle down to begin writing it!

The last time I wrote, I'd just had a week off training after completing the Winter Fan Dance event and I had just begun Week 7 of the 16 Weeks Marathon Training Plan, which I began at Week 6, because simple maths suggested that after having a week off after the Winter Fan Dance, there was only 10 weeks left until the London Marathon! That Sunday I completed my first 'Long Run' a 13.4miler, which if truth be told wasn't really a long run, as two weeks previous I'd completed 15.5miles with 35lb bergen in treacherous conditions on the Fan, however the significance of  getting that first 'Long Run' done wasn't lost on me, it was the first major run that would set the tone for the rest of my build up to the Marathon.

Balancing home, family and work isn't easy and I've had to try and find a solution that allows me to juggle all three without dropping a bollock! That has meant that since Tuesday 28th January my alarm has woken me from my slumber at 0500, well if Charlie hasn't got there first. When I first contemplated the idea of four days a week waking at 5 to sleepily get my kit and trainers on and try and throw some chia down my neck and then embrace the cold dark mornings like an old friend, I wondered if that would be the kind of friend I'd want and need and I also doubted if I had the discipline to get myself out of my nice warm pit! 

I can't deny the first week was tough but somehow without wavering, the medicated talc was dusted on the parts that needed dusting and the laces in my trainers were tied neatly as I slipped them on my feet. The constant I've noticed with my training through the weeks is the progress, not necessarily in terms of smashing my times but the way I'm feeling. As the weeks have gone on, I enjoy waking at 5 and I enjoy my runs. Don't get me wrong some days are tough, the legs feel heavy and the niggles seem more niggly than normal, but on getting home, I smile to myself and feel proud that once again I've got myself out there and I've got the effort done. Progress is measured by small victories and to once again enjoy running, is a victory. For months I've battled with the ghost of my fitter past, believing that I have to get out there and be that freak I was 15/20 years ago, the freak that could just run and run. I've learnt through my progress in the last few weeks especially, that it's ok to just to enjoy what I'm achieving now, and that ghost is now laid to rest. 

Weeks 6 to 11 - and so it begins..........
As well as trying to get up and the get the miles done, the prep is tough too, finding the right trainers, getting nutrition and hydration right pre and during long runs, dealing with the aches, pains and strains. I don't remember it being this tough when I was younger, I'm sure I just went and run and that was it! So far I've gone through three pairs of trainers, before finding the perfect pair to suit my gait and my weight! The first pair I bought were New Balance Fresh Foam, I must admit I got suckered in, they were shiny, they were like slippers, but after nearly 200 miles running in them I knew I had to give them up, any distance over 6 miles and my feet and hips would be in bits. I took them back to Sweatshop and despite the miles on them, without quibble they exchanged them, so this time I went for Brooks Ghost 6, more cushioning and a more solid platform. I did my first 20+ in them, and they performed fantastically, no issues with my feet and hips. At the same time as exchanging the Fresh Foam for the Ghosts I also bought a pair of Asics Cumulus 15, I thought they would be perfect for my mid distance runs, the first morning I wore them for four miles they felt fantastic, then bang my hips problems returned and they got returned and exchanged for another pair of Brooks Ghost 6! So I'm now the proud owner of 2 pairs of Brooks Ghost 6, it only took 200+ miles to figure it out!! Nutrition is a different problem entirely, I'm finding now that I can run for an hour and a half fasted, that's the maximum I'll run for in the morning and I do that on nothing more than a few hundred mils of chia seeds in grapefruit juice, but on each of the long runs I've done so far, regardless of how regimented I've been with my routine I've invariably felt very different during and after the run, but thankfully I still have a bit of time to figure it out!

At the time of writing I'm at the start of Week 13, having just completed my third and final 20+ miler on the Sunday. From week to week I've tried my damnedest to push myself harder than the previous week. That is beginning to pay dividends, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be smashing any records any time soon, hell I'll be ecstatic when I reach a constant Sub 8 minute mileing on my runs, but for now I'm running strong and churning out the distance isn't a problem. To be fair, actually churning out miles isn't an issue, I'm too bloody minded to go out and get something done if I need to, it was always a question of how quickly it would get done, how crap I would feel at the end of it, and how long it would take me to recover from it. As I said, at the time of writing I'm just off the back of my third 20+ and after my prescribed rest day, I've got another 8.2 miles in the miles bank. Sundays 20 miler saw me wipe over 10 minutes off my previous half-marathon time for this phase in my life, which considering I was out doing 20 meant I couldn't see that as anything else other than progress and hardwork paying off. By the time I'd completed my run, I'd knocked the best part of 15 minutes off my previous 20 mile time. Like any normal person I suffer a bit with DOMS during the course of the night, but come Monday morning, once the achilles have woken up at least, my legs feel great and although I may be feeling my age, I'm no longer feeling double it. 

Weeks 11 to 15 - the hardwork and the countdown.......
I'm still struggling with niggles, and the muscles and joints are feeling the strain a little and I'm still not entirely convinced I've got my pre and during run prep sorted, but I do know this, that after 7 weeks solid training the doubts that I had about running 26.2 miles without the need of oxygen have disappeared. The target was to try and get around the 4hrs, I'm well on course for that, without putting additional pressure on myself, but I know at least with the effort so far I've given myself a chance of getting there. There are still 4 weeks left of which 2 will be solid effort before tapering, so I'm hopeful that in that time, I will get those lingering niggles sorted, my race prep nailed down and the knowledge that come Sunday 13th April, there's a real possibility I will achieve the aim I've set myself. Anyway there's no going back now, the registration form dropped through the letter box Saturday morning, it just got real..........

We must remember why I'm doing this in the first place and that is of course to pay tribute to my little brother Lloydy, the man he was and all that he achieved. ABF The Soldiers Charity have giving me the opportunity to do that, and for that chance I will always be very grateful, obviously I need to hit a target in terms of sponsorship raised but me it I'm honoured to be in that position and that I was chosen to represent and support them. They are an incredible charity so please spread the word, and help me raise as much as possible to support them. Check out their website below to see what they do for every soldier that needs their help.

At the time of writing I've personally hit £1022.61 and with the incredible contribution of my dear friend Gerald 'Mad Nick' McCarthy and his endeavours, the total stands at £1242.61, so £357.39 shy of the charity £1600.00 target. With four weeks to go I'm hopeful that come the day of the Marathon the target would have been reached, please continue to spread the word for me, I and the charity are and will be extremely grateful for every bit of support.

The support I constantly receive is nothing short of amazing, not just the donations to the cause, the actions of so many are immeasurable, priceless and humbling. I know I use the word a lot but I truly am humbled by the generosity of those I have around me, not just in deed but in thought too. Without my world, my beautiful and incredible wife, and our gorgeous boy (and his smiles as I return home from my runs) and the friendships I am able to enjoy, this whole challenge would have been a lot tougher. Without that support, maybe I would have lost some focus, but I am bloody minded, so maybe not, however without you all I couldn't have achieved what I have to date, so for that, from the bottom of my heart, big loves to you all xxx

However we're not there yet, so for the next four weeks I will continue to use that support to drive me on and come the day, I will use that to get me around the course, hopefully I'll hear a few of you yelling abuse at me as I'm blowing out my a***. The weekend of the event also marks what would have been Lloydys birthday, completing the London Marathon is my present to him................'s hoping for Blue Skies. Big loves little bro xxx