The Virgin Money London Marathon Training.....

.....and the announcement of a 'little' challenge!


Truth be told when I rocked up to the start line of the Winter Fan Dance it was a decision I knew I was likely to regret, not because of the event and how tough it can be, but because I knew I was taking a chance with my knees. I was only three weeks into a physio rehab programme and had only just been given the go ahead to 'return to running'. Not too mention I had cancelled my appointment on the Wednesday prior to the Fan Dance, just in case my physio tried to talk me out of it, which she would have been in her right to have done. 

When I finished the Fan Dance I wasn't thinking of the repercussions of the potential damage or the set back I was facing, I was too ecstatic at smashing my previous times on the Fan by some considerable margin, which considering I hadn't trained with a pack since Point to Point, meant the endorphin's lasted well into the Monday after.

Monday during the course of the day I was beginning to feel the affects, the problem knee was beginning to stiffen severely, and the 'clicking patella' was grating far more noisily and sorely than it had done previously. By Tuesday morning the knee was nearly immobile and it was taking considerable effort to move with any real conviction, once mobile I walked fine, but the moment I tried to force the pace a little even to a fast walk, I was struggling and I was beginning to panic. The London Marathon was only 14 weeks away, and I'd already lost 3 weeks, and the reality was beginning to sink in that I wouldn't be fit enough to take the marathon on, I was kicking myself (well I would have done, if I could have done)! 

A few heavy sessions with Zoe my physio and reverting back to 'bike only' training saw some improvement in the knee, but after a couple of weeks, the issue seemed to take a turn for the worse and began to get more painful than it had after the Fan. At the first session after the soreness worsened Zoe manipulated my muscles and joints as she always did, put me through the tests to determine my mobility and stability, then started sticking acupuncture needles in my 'not quite as bad as my bad knee' knee, suggesting that it would send signals to the nerves and 'spread' the discomfort I was experiencing. She gave me some new stretches and strengthening exercises to try and sent me on my way. That was on the Saturday, Sunday morning I woke feeling like a new man, no discomfort.......I resisted the urge to run, and just concentrated on strengthening my knees and the quads for the next week. 

The following Monday I attempted my first run and kept everything crossed (not during the run obviously), by the end of the week I'd clocked up 30 miles including a half marathon on the Sunday, and had been given the all clear from Zoe. It was now Marathon training proper and time to send Strava in to meltdown!

VMLM2015 - Training Plan Weeks 7 to 12
When I looked at my programme from last years Marathon, I realised I was at the same start point as I had been last year, I was at the start of week 7 and had 10 weeks to go, that filled me with a huge amount of hope (despite the fact I'd lost 6 weeks) that I'd be able to crack this and run a half decent Marathon, even though it meant there was no way now I would hit my original target time of 3:30. That said it doesn't mean I wont try and bust a gut to get close, now that I have confidence that the knee has pretty much recovered. And when I look at my plans side by side, this years and lasts, even with the injury issues I've had, I'm ahead of where I was last year and with another four 'solid' weeks of training, I should be in decent nick come 26th April.........fingers crossed!

Talking of targets thanks to so many incredible donations I'm already 68% of the way there, with £1090.00 of my £1600.00 target raised so far. I can't thank all who have supported me enough, but with 6 weeks to go, like my training I need to push on, so please if you can share my page and help me get there, I and ABF the Soldiers Charity will be so very grateful. 


VMLM2014 - Training Plan Weeks 7 to 12
Last Monday (9th March) I was finally able to 'release' details of a challenge I've been bouncing around the grey matter for a while.....Since September 2012, I (along with some fantastic friends) have made it a bit of a mission to try to raise as much money as we can for military charities, foremost the Parachute Regiment Charity (now Support our Paras) and ABF the Soldiers Charity.

The events we've taken part in has also meant that we've been able to support Help for Heroes, the Afghan Trust and my Nieces Trust. Lloydy was KIA 16th June 2011 and ever since we've used the events as a means of trying to deal with losing him in a positive way. However, since losing Lloydy my wife has given birth to our son Charlie and before he gets much older, I would like to bring our fundraising efforts to an 'epic' conclusion!

Since that September I personally have completed 5 Paras'10 P COY Challenges (10 miles in full military kit with 35lb), 4 Fan Dances (2 Summer, 2 Winter – 15 miles in full military kit with 35lb minimum), Point to Point Test March (25 miles in full military kit, self-navigated with 40lbs minimum), the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2014 and (obviously again) this year, as well as my 5th Fan Dance and 6th Paras'10.

The events I've taken part in have all been 'tabbed' events (except the London Marathon) and to bring my efforts to the conclusion I've spoken about, the challenge I have in mind will be conducted in the same vein! Only, on a larger scale.

Our intention is to 'tab' 100 peaks above 610m (2000ft) in the UK - approx. 70 in Scotland, 4 in England, 1 on the Isle of Man, 19 in Eire and 6 in Wales.

We plan to take on this challenge beginning on 23rd May 2017, finishing atop Pen Y Fan on 16th June 2017 (a duration of 25 days – the period of time Lloydy deployed on his last tour of Afghanistan, before he was KIA).

The challenge will begin in Scotland on 23rd May, before heading south to the Penines/Lakes across to the IoM, crossing the Irish Sea in Kayaks, from the IoM to Eire, then crossing the Irish Sea for a third time to Holyhead, with the final leg finishing as said at Pen Y Fan on 16th June. The reason being, the Fan is very synonymous with Lloydys life in the military and the various selection courses (PF and SAS especially) he completed. Obviously, in the time since losing Lloydy and completing the events I have taken part in, the Brecon Beacons have become very dear to me and somewhere I feel close to him.

Pen Y Fan - Challenge End - 16/06/2017
The plan for Scottish Peaks Leg is still to be resolved; however, the plan for the rest of the challenge is beginning to fall in to place…

The Challenge Logo
There is quite obviously a lot of planning required to ensure we get to the start line on 23rd May 2017; however, I believe we have a fantastic chance of creating an epic journey and one that will captivate all who are part of it, support it and witness it. As I have said I will not be taking on this challenge alone, I have some fantastic friends that have a record of accomplishment for competing in and completing the same events as I do, and in some cases, much tougher events than I have. They share the same goal as I do, to share in something epic, creating a legacy in memory of an incredible man, my little brother.

The challenge project will be controlled by a core management team, with the aim of delivering the project at the beginning of 2016. This allows a full 16 months of preparation ahead of the Challenge on 23rd May 2017. The vast majority of the operational roles have been identified and we are actively recruiting dedicated, driven and qualified individuals to ensure we deliver this project successfully. 

As well as a core management team we are seeking a support team to aid the challenge on the ground during the challenge itself and during the preparation for the challenge. The challenge cannot be successful without such a team in place and already we are receiving wonderful offers of support.

It has always been our aim to be as inclusive as possible.  We would love that many of the 453 families left bereaved by the Afghan conflict were involved in this challenge somehow. On a personal level this challenge was conceived as a means to pay tribute to Lloyd Newell, my little brother, but he as we know was one of many wonderful men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Therefore if you are fit enough or plan to be to take this challenge on in full or part, are willing to go always a little further and beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow in helping us raise £100,000.00 for Support our Paras and ABF the Soldiers Charity, then we want you standing shoulder to shoulder with us in 2017.

Please visit the Challenge Facebook Page for keeping up to date with all the latest details. There is also a Twitter Account please follow us. Hopefully the website will be live soon, please keep visiting and get in touch if you wish to be involved.

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