Aches and pains

After last night's success, comes the inevitable, pain.

I've tried and tried to get my warm down and stretching right so I don't spend the next day looking like I'm walking on hot coals.

Apparently, it's caused by the soleus muscle, which runs between the two heads of the big calf muscle, taking a beating - because it acts first when you use your calf muscles.

I have no idea what that means, but it uses terminology like "soleus" and "two heads" that sounds like it could have been said by a doctor, so who am I to question it?!

It's basically caused by overuse. So to help, people recommend icing the area immediately after running.

Now I'm still a relative newbie to this running thing, but I'm confident enough to assume they don't mean I need to start decorating my leg like a wedding cake.

Much as I don't have icing sugar to hand at home, I don't have ice either - it's January!

I might have the occasional choc ice or Cornetto in the freezer, but the thought of putting them on my leg after a run seems both wasteful, and somewhat seedy.

Since prevention is better than cure, and I have an unnatural suspicion of all medication so don't do painkillers, I need to get the stretching right.

Apparently I need to do wall pushups religiously. These involve standing about three feet from a wall, feet at shoulder width and flat on the ground, with your hands on the wall with your arms straight for support. You then lean your hips forward and bend your knees slightly to stretch your calves.

Sounds good yes?

Two problems.

I warm down outside my house, which is on a fairly busy main road. I would look a right tit doing these.

Also, I live in a bungalow made mainly of windows, and don't actually have an exterior wall to lean on at the front!

So, if you happen to be in the Chertsey area, expect to see a pale northerner being laughed at by passing pedestrians/traffic as he falls through the glass on the front of his house.

But at least the multiple lacerations should detract from the calf pain.

In your face body! Mind 1, Matter 0!!

Just knocked off a five-miler and, for the first time, managed not to stop for stitches, leg pain, head falling off, or to find a projectile to aim at a passing car who can't work out how to turn off their full beams...

Listening to the chilled out pop-rock of Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American, I began at a steadier pace than normal, and managed to stick to it.

That probably sounds stupid, but it's been a real mental stumbling block for me - it's like putting a wet paint sign on a wall and wondering why there's a Phil shaped silhouette on it 10 minutes later!

Anyway, this mental discipline paid dividends, not only for longevity, but also because it was somehow synchronised to the traffic so I didn't have to stop at a single junction along the way!


After about a mile and a half there was almost an altercation with the worlds least sturdy cyclist but I deftly avoided a spokey pile up and kept plodding on.

In my head I kept saying, "just get to halfway like this and it'll be awesome!"

Then a less easily contented part of me said, "screw that - keep going you lazy t***! If you can't do it by now, you're a f****** clown*****r, who's not fit to eat the **** from a ****'s ****!"

Now, the latter part of me (lets call him Terence) doesn't come out much. So by the time I'd recovered from hearing from him, I was already on my way back.

At this point another bit of me (lets call him Montague) coughed politely and said: "Er... excuse me? Excuse me? I don't mean to interrupt, but you do know your knees and feet are in absolute agony don't you?"

At which point Terence found a metaphorical cricket bat somewhere in my subcouscious, and leathered Montague several times around the head.

I know you're probably wondering how something inside my head can itself have a head, but this was my drifting imagination, and these kinds of things happen in there.

Having both mentally defeated my bodily whinging, and gone someway towards scaring the bejesus out of myself, I was only a mile from home.

At this point, I figured, "What the hell, no point taking any energy back home with me!" and proceeded to cane it home.

The last mile was just over 5 mins - blistering pace from the pale northerner - and the overall time was alright as well, given the problems I've had this last week or so.

So I thought I'd share this feeling of "less disappointedness than normal" with you befor I jump into the shower and begin the inevitable descent into a giant lump of aching.

New poll

Now, the moment none of you have been waiting for...

Drum roll please, possibly with accompanying fanfare.

Now, following a bit of experience with this running thing, and having witnessed other people running, there is one area that I'm not, and never have been, particularly comfortable with.


Now, I'm not a shorts person.

Short - yes.

Shorts - no.

However, when I'm running around rural Surrey, they seemed the natural choice.

I have, however, witnessed a strange phenomenon. Namely, men running in what appear to be tights.

I think "technically" they would say these were "leggings", but then I would try to snap their fingers off and ram them down their "throats" as I hate people who do those air speech marks.

They're tights. Thick ones perhaps. Possibly with a large or smaller dernier than normal (I don't even pretend to know what that means), but tights nonetheless.

Now don't get me wrong, I like my tackle to be well supported when I'm running as I don't want my fellahs getting mangled. But there's support, and then there's support, if you know what I mean.

So, in the interests of research, I'd like to know what people think I should wear.

Tight/legging things?

Go now, and cast your vote on my main site!

PS I reserve the right to wear what the hell I like, no matter what you vote for.

Poll results

I know you're all dying to know the results of my last poll, so, not wanting to keep you in suspenders any longer, here you go:

The question was:

How long will it take Phil to complete the London Marathon?

Less than 2 hours 13%
2-3 hours 13%
3-4 hours 13%
4-5 hours 50%
More than 5 hours 0
Other 13%

So most of you think I'm not going to hit my target of a sub 4 hours.

Thirteen per cent (well 12.5 per cent, but rounding up means there's a chance to encourage the pedants to post comments as it doesn't add up to 100 per cent!) think I will run it in world record time.

Thirteen per cent of you think I'll get in the 3-4 hour time - thats the hope!

Another 13 per cent think I'll be pushing for the UK record with between 2-3 hours, and the remaining 13 per cent I will run it in something other than these times.

Now, seeing that I listed everything possibly over an hour, that means, 13 per cent think I will run it in under an hour!

A car can't do 26.2 miles around London in an hour!

So, whoever voted for that one, think about what you've done, and for the time being, we'll put it down to accidentally clicking the wrong button.

New poll coming soon, keep checking...

New poll

Where's the last week gone?

How have I not blogged in almost a week?

Sorry chaps and chapesses! I know you're all out there hanging on my every word, so I've failed in my role of teller of tales from the road.

Anyway, what's new...

Well my feet and knees are killing, but it turns out that's not from the running, it's from the normal shoes I've been wearing. I somehow managed to kill two pairs (lost the heel on one, split the stitching on the other) so I'm wearing some casual ones a lot more.

Unfortunately, these are a bit weird and they've completely ragged my ankles, soles and knees.

Tried to get some replacements at the weekend, ubt only found two pairs, and they didn't have my size in either. Well, for one they dort of had half my size, as the display shoe was a 9. They just couldn't find the other.

Now I know some of you might think "that's ridiculous, how can you lose a shoe", but having spent a time subsidising my meagre income as a student working in a shoe shop, I fully understand how easily it can be done.

The age old "throw the shoe and whoever it hits is 'it,'" was a popular past time. As was hiding the other shoe when someone you worked with who you didn't like was serving someone.

Also, climbing around the stockroom, trying not to touch the floor could lead to boxes being toppled as you looked for a foothold, and the ensuing crash to the ground often sent shoes flying under shelves, behind boxes etc.

So the frolicks of some adolescent schoolboy, probably trying to impress one of his female co-workers in a somewhat misconceived display of bravado mean I'm in pain.

Though that's not strictly true.

My own stupidinty in signing up for this means I'm almost constantly in pain.

And what have I got to show for it?

So far - £155!!

You bunch of skinflints!

So it's really your fault I'm miserable.

I hope you're happy.

Stat porn

As well as my main site Phil runs London, I've now embedded the necessary code into this blog so I can see what's going on, thanks to the good people at StatCounter.

In other words, on the pages, there's a little invisible gizmo that logs how many people come to the page, and if they've been there before.

So, one week into this, here's the stats for the last week:

Page loads: 58
Unique visitors: 46
First time: 24
Returning: 22

Page loads: 150
Unique visitors: 50
First time: 25
Returning: 25

The cause:
Funds raised online: £125
Funds raised offline: £0
Total funds raised: £145

Page loads for the blog look healthy, but then that's updated more frequently. The rest of the figures are about the same for each.

The peak was on Friday when I blogged three times - backing up the idea that the more I write, the higher the volume of traffic.

I'll do my best to update put more stuff on - though my boss knows about this site so I might have to do some jiggery pokery so it looks like I haven't done them at work!

Boss, if you're reading this, that was a joke - I'm in fact incredibly busy doing whatever it is I'm paid to do (no-one has ever really made it clear!).

On the downside, the fundraising figure isn't moving, so whilst people might be reading it, they're not following through with the moolah.

You heartless dogs.

I hope you're ashamed of yourself.

And your parents are ashamed of you.

And your other halves.

And any children/pets you have are embarrassed to know you.

I'm not doing this for fun you know! I can't remember the last time I woke up not aching. And you just sit there, reading this thinking "dance monkey, dance" and laughing like a Bond villain!

Well, for your own sake I hope that whatever remains of your bitter, shrivelled heart eventually musters up the compassion to take the trouble of pointing your mouse and pressing the button on one of the gazillion links I've posted to my donating page (there's another one! Go on, click it - it will make you a better person than all your friends!).

Right, thats enough emotional blackmail, I'm off to pretend I'm working whilst mulling over the subject of my next entry. Post ideas/suggestions in the comments section (you can do this anonymously without a Blogger account, because I'm nice like that).

Eight mile - sort of

Got up nice and early this morning for my 8-miler.

Avoided the temptation to hit the coffee after the mishap last time, and with eager anticipation, donned t-shirt, shorts and trainers. Also socks and scrots, but adding them would have ruined the rhythm of the sentence.

Alas, I left my earphones at work on Friday, so had no choice but to go without the encouraging - and usefully tempoed - "Don't stop me now".

Once I got into my stride it was actually pretty ok. I wouldn't call it fun, or enjoyable, but it didn't leave me wanting to staple my head to the inside of an industrial furnace.

Made it to the turnaround spot ok, and began the return leg.

Passing back through Laleham, I started to get a weird pain in my calf so I stopped for a stretch. Now, I'm not sure if this helps or not, but I've seen it on TV so it must do something.

I then started again, but just couldn't get back to a comfortable stride and the pain kept coming back. I then stubbornly decided to just "run it off" so grimaced, tried to channel some of my hatred of the world towards the existing hatred of myself in the hope that the combined rage would have a multiplying effect, and plodded on, determined that mental toughness would overcome physical frailty.

Half a mile later I thought my leg was going to come off.

I found a bench (when I say found, I mean, "I got to a bench". It wasn't like it was lost and approached me to take see if I would help take it home!) and continued stretching things - mainly so other people on the road thought I looked like I knew what I was doing.

Tried a jog but after 3 strides I nearly fell over. So I had to hobble back the remaining mile or so.

Unfortunately, that's the bit where most traffic/people are, so I had to do arm stretches etc. as I walked so it looked like I was warming down (which it was actually quite good for), thereby ensuring that complete strangers wouldn't think I was the failure that I know I am.

I'm now taking it easy. It's still uncomfortable, but having looked at it closely, I can't see any obvious weak points where the calf could completely detach itself. I'm not a doctor though, so will keep an eye on it.

Are you mad?

Nice easy 3-miler this morning, before an 8 tomorrow. Rather stupidly, I had a coffee about 20 minutes before I set off and ended up getting a stitch for the last mile which just wouldn't go away.

Important lesson learned there!

Anyway, went to blog on it and I checked my website to see how the new poll was going and found someone thinks I'm gonna run it between 2-3 hours!

Are you off your head?

Thge current world record, set by Haile Gebrselassie (a pretty fast chap!) is 2 hours, 4 minutes and 26 seconds.

If I can do it in twice that I'll be chuffed!


Some people...

Poll results

I'm sure you've all been sat on tenterhooks awaiting the results of my first poll.

I can now officially reveal the results to the question on everyones lips:

Is Phil a dumbass for running the marathon?

Yes 50%
No: 0 %
He's a dumbass whether he runs it or not: 50%

Some would see this as a clear indication that I'm a dumbass. I, however, choose to interpret this as a hung result, therefore inconclusive.

New one asks:

How long will it take Phil to complete the London Marathon?"

Be nice!


With a hell of a lot of miles ahead of me, and a general dislike for exercise, I obviously need a bit of motivation.

So, naturally, my mind turned to the words of Cicero and Plato on the subject of exercise.
It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.
I suspect these two didn't have satellite TV or a local Boots.

My "good condition" involves some kind of drinking establishment with the people I love and a free bar.

So I shall leave you with the words of a more inspiring man, whose thinking is closer to my own:
I believe that the Good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I'm damned if I'm going to use up mine running up and down a street.
Neil Armstrong
Well... how many Greeks/Italians have walked on the moon?

Rivers and bikes

Interesting 5-miler last night. Usual traipse down the Thames, but as I'm getting used to actually running and not just cursing and swearing about how much I hate everything (which must look like I've just escaped from a tourettes clinic*), I'm actually paying attention to what's around me a bit more.

Now, I'm not the most observant person, but it was hard to escape the fact that the boundary between river and road had been blurred so much as to be non-existent in places. There were little islands of the occasional tree that was now several feet from the bank of the river.

I tried to get some pics, but as it was dark and my phone's camera doesn't have a flash, you'll just have to believe me.

The downside of this meant I couldn't run on the path next to the river. Usually it's pretty grim anyway, but even that's better than the perils of the road in the dark, as people are rushing home for their pie and chips (or whatever people in Surrey rush home to eat).

At one point a cyclist just stopped in front of me despite there being no other traffic in either direction.

Just cycled towards me.

Then stopped.

For a moment I thought he was going to ask directions, but he just stood there as I went around him.

He may have been a mentalist, or a psycho, but I didn't think it would have been polite to ask. Not least because he was much bigger than me and my experience is that bicycles go faster than northerners on legs.

Anyway, if I suddenly stop blogging, it's probably because I've been kidnapped/killed and eaten. This would mean I don't have to do anymore training (unless it was the kidnap thing and he had a particularly strange fetich involving a treadmill) so don't worry yourself too much.

Now I'm back to mentally preparing myself for the 3 and 8 miler's I've got to do this weekend.

Hope I see that cyclist chap again...

*I know they don't exist but it was the best thing I could think of for the metaphor. I'm aching,so give me a break!

Food, glorious food!

Now I've got my training plan sorted, it's struck me that I might need to properly prepare for this marathon thing.

So, through the power of Google (if it's on the interweb it must be true!) I've been looking at what else I need to do.

The main things seem to be:
  • training plan (check)
  • good footwear (check, sort of)
  • diet (que?)
Apparently my diet should be made up of 60% complex carbohydrates (between 370-444g a day for someone of my weight) 20-30% fat, and 10-20% protein.

I don't know what that means!

What does 370g of carbohydrates look like?! It's not just 370g of pasta, as this is about 70% carbs. To get to 370, I'd need to eat about 530g of pasta a day!

Thats more than a bag every day!

Now I enjoy pasta as much as the next guy, but I think I'd get pretty sick of this, pretty quickly!

Also, who knows the proportion of how much meat they eat in a day? I'd suggest it's the same kind of person whose idea of a good night involved a damn good session with the Mr Sheen and repeatedly cleaning their toilet seat.

For the time being, I shall assume that my diet is already perfectly balanced and will somehow muster up the strength to resist the "urge" to get the abacus and scales out every time I have a biscuit.


Did a different route for last night's 4-miler as the Thames was on flood watch so the normal one could have turned into a swim.

I might as well have gone for a swim as it was heaving it down, and the combination of rain, wind, puddles and lorries spraying me made for a thoroughly damp experience. And not in a good way.

I felt like a trawlerman at some points where the giant puddles on the road were transferred onto me thanks to the traffic (a red Astra, license plate starting GE54 almost got a brick thrown at it - had a brick been to hand!).

You'd have thought once someone drove through it and the water was sent 10 feet away, there would be nothing left in there for them to get me with - but no! There was at least 3 gazillion gallons to be deposited on me!

Amazingly my plucky Sony Ericsson W910i (blatant plug in hope of support!) survived the deluge, and kept me going with the strangely-satisfying-to-run-to Queen - Greatest hits.

It was only the second time I've run in the wet, as it were, so can't really complain. I got it done in respectable time and may even have helped break the trainers in a bit better!

Clouds/silver lining - doesn't sound like me does it?

Think this running lark is messing with my mental state. Back to work now, so the bitterness should return soon!

Half marathon?

I was supposed to book a place in the Reading Half marathon as preparation for the main event, so I was ready for the atmosphere/confusion of a race.

Sadly, it's now full. Bum.

I have managed to find the Wokingham half marathon, which isn't a million miles from me, and comes on a training day when I'm supposed to be doing 12 miles anyway.

Should I go for it?

In the "yes" column is the fact I need the experience, and it'd be a good goal for me to aim for.

In the "no" column is the inescapable fact that I'm not very good at this running wheeze.

Would finishing in the last group of stragglers really do much for my morale? Or, even worse, what if I end up being picked up by the sweeper coach because I'm not going fast enough? Could I take that kind of humiliation?

I'm not sure.

Will keep pondering my options and make a decision by the end of the week. By saying that on here I've now forced myself to make a decision either way! Any thoughts?

++ UPDATE ++

The damn thing's full anyway! That decision's made for me then!


As I can't embed the widget at the side, here it is. I'll probably repost this every now and then to make sure it's prominent.

Any web minded peeps have any better ideas?

Training Plan

Following on from the revelation that I need a training plan, I've now got one. I spent all of some time putting this together, so no doubt it'll have me leaving Radcliffe et al eating my dust.

It's a Google spreadsheet, so you may need a Google Account to open it. I don't know. I've got one and it works for me.

I've hyperlinked most of the commonly recurring distances (5, 6, 7 and 8 miles) to the routes I'm doing at the mo. Some of the later ones may change as I get bored avoiding geese.

Anyway, having completed this, I began to think that I've now got nothing left to procrastinate over so just need to get out there and run this thing.

Then I did the weekly total.

Then, stupidly, I did the overall total!

372 miles!!!!

Thats the distance from my house to Roberton in the Scottish Borders!

When I started this, one of the comforts I afforded myself was the idea that if I hit my fundraising target of £2,000, that'd work out at £76.34 per mile of the marathon. Pretty respectable.

Now, adding to that the 372 miles of training, it means each mile I grudgingly traipse is only worth £5.03!

That's hardly inspiring, so that leaves me with 3 options:
  1. Don't do any training
  2. Increase my fundraising target to £30,383.32
  3. Chill out about it.
Now, the 1st is tempting, but probably not wise; the 2nd would rock, though I'm dubious as to it's likely success; and, the 3rd is the most obvious choice, but the fact I've written so much about it already indicates it'd be difficult.


Geese and greetings

After a disappointing attempt on fri, I nailed my 6-miler this morning, which felt good. Still having a little bit of a prob with the bleeding toe, and rubbing by new trainers, but thought I'd spare you the pics this time!

Instead, seeing as it was one of the few occasions when it was light when I was out, I took some pics!

Here are some gooses on the river. This is wonky because I couldn't be bothered to rotate it. And, at the end of the day, it's geese. They've got feathers, don't have as good PR as swans, they make a funny noise and they all look pretty much the same.

And here's the muddy path I repeatedly slip on, nearly falling into the river!

As the churned up path would suggest, I'm not the only one who uses this stretch. There were quite a few joggers out this morning. Thankfully they were all going the opposite way to me so I didn't have to endure the embarassment of being overtaken by a 50 year-old man who weighs less then my leg.

Now as I'm new to this whole exercise/running thing, I'm not quite sure of the ettiquette involved. One chap nodded to me in a manly way (which I cheerfully returned). A couple of people said hello. But because I was plugged into my phone enjoying the inspiring guitar breaks of Matt Bellamy, I didn't really hear, so either grunted or ended up saying "hello" a bit louder than is probably considered polite. They probably think I'm a mentalist.

So, if you see me out there, I'm gonna go with the manly nod, so don't be offended if I don't return your cheery greetings.

It's not because I don't like you!

It's because I'm probably in pain and not enjoying myself.

Peace out


Set out for a 6 miler last night but new shoe probs made me shorten it to a 3. it was my first "bad" run, so was a bit miffed.

I'm still not quite used to the support my new shoes have, but the chap in the shop said I needed it for running long distances. He had a name badge and everything so who am I to question his widom?!

Just signed up to PollDaddy and put a poll on the Phil Runs London site. It's open for a week so will see how it goes as to whether I try to make a feature of it.

As it's the first one, I thought "
Is Phil a dumbass for running the marathon?" was a good place to start!

Donations page

Busy morning today - just updated my bumf on the Just Giving site and added a bit more about why I'm doing this.

It's never been clearer than a last week when Laura had her first attack of the winter.

We're not sure what caused it - we never are - but the weather went from cold and crisp to wet and it's these kinds of changes that she struggles with. Thankfully this time we had some steroids for the nebuliser so we were able to keep her out of hospital, but you still spend the night wide awake listening to any changes in her breathing, with the phone next to you.

Every six hours someone in the UK dies from Asthma.

The idea that a few puffs on an inhaler will sort it out is convenient for people who don't want to think about it, but is sadly wrong.

I know this isn't my usual upbeat posting style, but it's important for me to write it to make sure you, and I, don't forget what this is all about.

Stat porn

Just quick update on the last week or so's traffic and fundraising.

Because of xmas etc I'm looking at the last couple of weeks, with the first week's figs in brackets:

Page loads: 65 (76)
Unique visitors: 47 (46)
Returning: 12 (17)
Funds raised online: £25
Funds raised offline: £0
Total funds raised: £145

That's a sobering wake up call.

I did take the foot off the gas for fundraising after chrimbo as it's January and everyone's skint, so that's hopefully not too big a problem. I do need to think about how to generate more traffic and how to make sure I can turn that into donations.

The set up at the mo is this blog as an update, and the main site for more info. I need to think more about how this works.

I've currently got a feedreader streaming the RSS feed from here onto my homepage - the theory being that this keeps is fresh and updated so people see something new when/if they come back.

But if they're landing on the homepage and the feed is sending them to this blog, then they've moved away from the site where the info is about donating/helping etc. Not sure I can get widgets embedded in Blogger, but I guess I'm going to have to find out!

Ideas/suggestions/donations/expertise welcomed!

Rigorous training programme???

The good people in the web team at work have kindly put a link my site on our intranet. All well and good you might say, but I think there may be some over-egging of the pudding going on:
Corporate communications office Phillip Sutcliffe will be running the 26.2 miles for Asthma UK. If you would like to sponsor him or keep up todate with his rigorous training programme visit his Phil Runs London website.
"Rigorous training programme"?! Blimey. Methinks I need to sit and work out one of them!

I've had example ones sent from friends and the good people at Asthma UK but they all seem to be different. Should be doing 3 times a week? 4? 5?

They're all based on what time I want to achieve (keeping the hours in single figures would be good I guess).

The male section of my brain seems determined to overpower the sensible part of my brain. I know that it'd be an achievement to just get round without my legs falling off or rupturing my nipples, but I'm discovering a competitive side to me that I didn't realise was there. I support Halifax Town for gods sake - surely that's crushed any sense of hope or achievement out of me!

Plus there's the added motivation of embarrassment avoidance. Now I've done some stupid things in my time, but I'm not easily embarrassed. If you know her, ask my friend Liv about the incident in the beer garden of the Crown and Anchor!

But the prospect of being beaten by an 80 year-old dressed as a rhino would have a somewhat negative impact on any blossoming male pride I have.

So this weekend I'll be doing a few runs and sitting down to get a definitive training schedule together. Because as we all know, preparing to do something is just as good as actually doing it!

Prickly bush

Ok, so I've been away - combination of xmas, new year and family visits meant I've been a bit crap.

Got going again now though and did the 4-miler to Laleham and back. Still dark and lacking paths, but it's nice on the river and I didn't fall in!

Did have an incident with a bush though - wish I could say it fared worse!

Hey ho, it's all in a good cause!

Peace out