Blogging kit

After my post about the appearance of the blog I thought it'd be an idea to introduce you to some of the kit I'm using to run this puppy.

First off, what am I writing this on?

Some of you might think that, being northern, I'm probably etching this onto a cave wall. Or, possible smearing my faeces onto leaves with a stick.

Oh how wrong you are!

And slightly racist.

Last time round I was using a HP tower that made so little impression on me I can't be bothered to check it's model name. Sadly, that passed away during the summer, after a popular mp3 player tried to kill me (battery went mad and blew the motherboard).

Some might say that that's a common reaction to knowing me, but I think that it should be limited to species capable of using cutlery.

So, I thought I'd be computerless for a while until I got a few quid for my birthday. One of the advantages of being this age (other than being young enough to listen to Xfm, but old enough to tut at "kids these days") is that no-one can think of what to buy you so you get cash instead.

With this I treated myself to an Acer Aspire One (Linpus edition) from Tesco (though paid more than in that link - bugger!).

It's pretty funky looking, tiny and does the basics - comes with FireFox and OpenOffice and I added Skype and the Gimp easily enough.

Only got 8Gb memory, but I'm not planning on using it for loads, and it takes a range of memory so can stick in another 8Gb or more easily enough.

Ideally I'll be using it to add pics from runs etc, but I've been using the Sony Ericsson w910i and it's fallen out with all computers for some reason, and the operating system has crashed a few times meaning I've lost loads of stuff from there.

That means I need to work out another way of getting pics on here. The Kodak Z650 I use is a bit too hefty to be lugged about on runs, so need some thought about how to resolve this.

I'm guessing it'll involve finding the funny adapting thingy for the memory card in my phone, but that will prob require looking for it, which is a pretty big ask for someone as lazy as me.

Though, thinking about it, that could be a way of changing the music I've had stuck on the phone for ages to have a bit more variety to the tracks I've been running to!

Cool, so not only is this blog a way of sharing my experience, it's a way for me to have arguments with myself that can resolve several issues I hadn't put under the same umbrella.

I don't actually have an umbrella, it's just a saying.

Don't get hung up on it.

I do not endorse running with an umbrella.

Unless, you want to.

Running blogs

Slight deviation from running for this post, as just somehow managed to publish a post I hadn't actually written anything on.

Made me realise that despite a slightly more it-literate background than a trained chimp, this is still a pretty basic set up.

After some pretty intense research, (ok, I Googled "Running blog") I found a few other examples.

Warrior Women came top and it looks pretty funky. Nice three column layout with some funky looking stuff on the side like Friendfeed (which I'm gonna have a proper look at to see if it's worth dabbling with). Nice graphics in the template too, which beats the pants off this.

I don't suppose the amazonian sounding name hurts the number of readers either, and I get the feeling there's some kind of womens empowered thing going on there, which is fair enough, but not really the kind of thing I could get away with.

A Runners Blog is, like mine, a blogger hosted one. Looks pretty simple, though for some reason it includes a review of running with a buggy (isn't it hard enough already?!) which even if got going now, wouldn't be legitimately possible before London next year.

Also, it's not updated particularly regularly, though there is a great big pic of the chap (Sean?) and lots of training programmes and updates which

Addicted to running is another not-too-often updated page, but seems well organised, and clearly (though hardly surprisingly) is more well informed about running than yours truly.

Will keep my eyes peeled for others, but I thought it'd be good to have a look at what else is going on out there.

Mostly it seems to be people who know what they're doing and who enjoy running - two categories I'm some way from falling into!

I'm not comparing this little corner of the blogosphere with anyone else, but it's good to see what others are doing.

I'm not really happy with the appearance of the blog, so I'm gonna spend a bit of time seeing what can be done. Will prob give it a splash of paint, and am considering pebbledashing the front, just to make it feel a bit more homely.

Ideas/suggestions welcomed!

Slowly, slowly...

Catchee... something.

Got out tonight for what I expcted would only be a couple of miles as I'm still erring on the side of caution, but, like the phenomenal athlete we all know I really am, managed a whole 3.3 miles!

In your face, leg! (if that's not too anatomically incorrect).

It was a bit of a spur of the moment run. Not that I was sat watching tv then suddenly found myself legging it towards the river. I was on way home and just thought "I'll just try to get a couple of miles under my belt".

Got in, got kit, got key, got running.


Alright, it wasn't the quickest time of just over 8-minute miles, but I was consciously taking it relatively easy. Unlike last year when it took me ages to realise, it's dawned on me relatively quickly that I can actually keep running for a fairish amount of time if I don't overdo it.

So my short term aim is to build up the miles, without doing myself a mischief, then can start to address the utter lack of pace.

Learning from past mistakes

In the absence of any actual running yet, I thought it'd be an idea to have a look back at how I did last time, to see how I can improve.

The first, most blindingly obvious, point is that it's not easy to run a marathon when you're leg's screwed.

To get other, less obvious lessons, needs a bit of work.

One of the cool things about the London Marathon is the training chips you attach to your trainers to get split times around the course. These start the clock when you cross the start line, which is cool if you're stuck at the back as it can take half an hour or more to get over it and it'd be a bit harsh if you were timed from when the elite's set off.

On the downside, I can't use my starting position as an excuse for why it took so long!

As you're running/hobbling around, you run over sensors in the road at 5k intervals, halfway and the end. Pretty soon after, you can log onto the website to get a breakdown of your splits at these times.

The splits start ok-ish, I guess. The 5 and 10k's include a loo stop apiece, and the 15 and 20k's (when I felt I was running well) reflect the fact that because of the stops, I was stuck in the crowds, but was getting up to decent pace.

The 25k included a stop to say hello to family, the crowded bit around London Bridge and heading towards Docklands.

After that, it all went very wrong.

If you took my first half split of 2:15.35 and projected even halves I'd have been done in about 4:30. If you take out the piss stops and the fact the crowds eased the nearer the end, there was a good chance I was gonna hit 4:15 or less, which I would have been chuffed to bits with!

Sadly, the second half took nearly 40 minutes longer than the first, and my mile pace rose from 10:21 for the first 13.1 miles, to 13:20 in the second, giving me an average of 11:51 per mile overall. That doesn't sound a lot, but when you multiply it over the many miles, it makes a big difference,

I was hoping for just shy of 10 minutes miles, so to be two minutes a mile slower than I wanted, over 26.2 miles, is pretty crap.

I didn't hit the wall last time – mainly because my knackered leg meant I couldn't run hard enough to burn up all the carbs I'd loaded up on beforehand.

That's a plus, as I now know the carb loading, and the long runs in the training, did prepare me pretty well. I also discovered that trying to run 26.2 miles through London on a knackered knee is pretty dumb.

So, the first few lessons are:

  • don't run injured
  • don't drink too much before the race
  • try to stay out of the crowds
  • build long runs into the training
  • eat a diet composed almost entirely of pasta
The second sounds easy, but at the start, you're trying to keep hydrated, there's nerves, and free tea and Lucozade. I'm from Yorkshire so it's against my genetic programming to turn down free stuff.

Especially tea!

The third could be more problematic as your starting position is dictated by your predicted time.

I'll not tell you what I put down yet, but it's based on my best pace from training last time, so with some injury-free luck and the extra weeks of training this time, that could be an underestimate, but eminently doable.

Long runs are a pain, as it means getting up early on a Sunday morning, during winter months, and running for potentially three hours. Not my idea of fun at a weekend, and visiting family and friends or stag do's can make it easy to think that you could just skip them.

So I need to be more disciplined about them, and remember that these are the ones that'll actually make it easier on the day. Though thinking that at 6am on a frosty Sunday morning when the duvet calls isn't something I relish.

As for pasts, I got sick of it last time. Yeah there are other carbs – spuds, rice etc, but it can get dull. So, please send recipes to the usual address...

I have a cunning plan...

By my reckoning, I've got 28 weeks and 2 days until it's game time.

I think last year I had about 16 weeks or so, so the extra time means I'm obviously hoping to be better prepared this time around.

The extra time also means I'll have to do a lot more running, which I'm sure some people will appreciate aint exactly my idea of fun.

But needs must, so if I want to do better this time around, and get this monkey off my back, it needs me to knuckle down and get the training going.

So, looking at my tweaked schedule I've gotta try a 6 miler on Sun, and try to get in three 5-milers and an 8 next week.

Now, this might seem a lot, but I need to be getting my body back used to regular running, so it knows when it's got to do funky stuff like make my legs work again after a 17-miler further down the line.

The basic rule is the more I run, even when legs ache, the easier it'll be later on.

Now that's not to say I need to run every day, as rest is also important to prevent injury and general self-hatred beyond the normal parameters. But it does mean that just because I ache, I can't skip it.

Sounds wonderful doesn't it?
So the first stage of my training, which I'll go into more detail later, is to just get my body used to the demands of running again.

Sadly, I know from last time that this isn't the most fun part, but I also know that once I'm used to it, it is easier.
I'm viewing it as like ripping a plaster off a hairy leg (which I also have to do at the mo!).

It's not nice, but it's necessary, so I'll crack on.

Lets get this party started

Ok, been to have the leg checked and, despite the nurse not liking it because it still looks “angry” and it giving off a lot of heat, I've been ok'd to run.

Just gotta keep it dressed so it doesn't get full of muck, making the infection worse and then leaving me with the prospect of having to try to get a place in the wheelchair event.

Not that that would be a bad thing as it looks awesome, is quicker, and you get to sit down - which is one of my all time favourite things.

Was asked to go back Mon/Tues to check it again, but it turns out they don't have any appointments at all next week, so will try a walk in clinic and just hope no-one else suffers a similar hot-water-bottle-related injury in the local area in the next week or so, as it would appear they'd be screwed trying seeing anyone about it.

Aside from the fact I'm not entirely comfortable having anything that looks angry attached to me (face excepted), it looks like I'm all set to get rocking on this running lark again.

Oh bugger.

The calm before the storm

It's been 10 days since I found out I've got my place, and I've only managed to get one poxey 3 miler under my belt.

My leg's still giving me jip, and I can't even comfortable walk on it let alone run. Thankfully it's not a muscular thing, so it should get sorted soon and I can get going.

I've got some cream stuff to stop it hurting (it doesn't, but I've paid £14.20 in prescription charges so I'm using the whole f***ing tube, even when it's healed) and I'm on antibiotics that make me wanna chunder for about an hour after taking them.

Hardly the ideal start for an elite athlete such as myself.


In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of planning for my training, working out some non-running exercise things that should help with fitness and injury prevention, and I've even planned some interesting ideas for blogging about as the training progresses.

I know, I am one super-organised Phil!

Just a bit worried I'm gonna turn into one of those people who spends more time on thinking about doing things, than actually doing them.

You know the sort.

Like someone who'll spend more time arranging their pens, than actually writing the report/essay they're supposed to be doing.

Hopefully not, and by acknowledging that it could be an issue should nip it in the bud. I also know from last year that you actually need to get the mileage done, so once the legs feeling better, I should be ready to rock.

I'm hoping to get a couple of runs in this week, but that depends on the leg. If I do, I'd like to get three or four in next week, just to get going, then will get into the training programme I'm still tinkering with.

It'll be a thing of beauty by the time I've finished buggering about with it. Specifically tailored to meet my running needs and designed to get me around as fast as possible.

Yes, you read that right.

I'm gonna try to get around as quick as I can.

As well as trying to find some satisfaction in knowing that once I've finished it, I'll know I've done the best I can, running it as quick as poss means it'll be over quicker!

You see the beauty of it?

Five hours of uncomfortableness is not nice.

So, imagine if it was only four hours? Or three and a half?

I'm not saying I can do it, but by the power of Greyskull, I'm gonna give it a whirl!

In the meantime, I'm gonna chill out.


Relaxin' all cool.

Were there a school around, I way well partake in some b'ball outside of it*.

So, keep checking in, as not only will you get to read about how much I still hate running, but you could actually learn something!

No promises though.

* If you don't understand the reference, ask your slightly older siblings or cousins.

Not the best start

Regular Philwatchers will know that given I've known about my place for a week, I'd already have a strict training regime in place, changed my diet to optimise performance and have done a series of gruelling runs to get the base mileage up.

Or not.

That was the plan. I do have an outline training plan, which I'll post about later, and I am looking at improving diet and nutrition to compliment it.

However, even as I ease back into this running lark, things aren't going to plan. Last weekend in Yorkshire, I suffered an horrific burn on my left calf.

I say "horrific" because it looked minging. and there was a ginormous blister.

I wish I could tell you I got it running into a burning orphanage saving crying children from a certain death. Sadly, it wasn't quite that dramatic, though it was still alarming.

I've been trying for a while now, but have realised there's no way to big it up so I'll just come out and say it.

I burnt my leg on a hot water bottle.

I'll let you have a giggle for a mo, then carry on.


Ok. Well having driven the 200 odd miles home, I landed at the folks' about 10, so sat up for a bit chatting before going to rest my weary head.

Now I'm not sure why, but my ma seems to think that because I live down south now, I've become a bit of a softy. She thought it'd be nice idea to prevent her only son dying of exposure in bed by slipping in a hot water bottle.

Two things:
  1. I was sleeping in a bed. With a duvet. In a house. With central heating and double glazing. I don't have double glazing here, and am too tight to have the heating on most of the time, and I've yet to die of cold.
  2. I think she filled the bottle with liquid that had just passed through a volcano. Not filtered by the volcanic rock, or any of that marketing bollocks. Actually heated to nova-like temperatures.
I didn't notice it at first, and when I did, it was just the that warm glow you get when your legs are near. I fell asleep, as one does in bed, and thought no more of it. Indeed I was asleep so not really consciously thinking about anything.

I vaguely remember feeling uncomfortable lying on my leg in certain positions in the night, but generally slept as well as I ever do.

When I woke up in the morning, my leg felt a bit weird. I went to rub it and got that familiar graze-like feel. At first I thought I'd done my famous cutting/injuring myself in some unknown way and not realising until later. Possibly I'd been mauled by a lion on the drive up.

When I looked, I could see the beginning of a blister, a couple of inches long, and about an inch across, on the bit if my leg where my calf sort of joins the shin (not sure what it's called. It's below my knee).

Then I realised that my other leg was unduly warm still and the hot water bottle was still at a decent temperature, despite the ensuing hours since it was drawn from it's fiery source.

My ma brought me a tea, and thought it was funny (she prodded it!! hardly the act of a woman who supposedly loves me as only a mother can!).

As the blister came up over the weekend she became more sympathetic (I may have been pushing the child abuse angle a bit) but I didn't think much of it, as I'm used to bumps and scrapes.

Normally I burst blisters, but this was a big one, and I didn't fancy getting several gallons of blister juice all over the place, so decided my body knew what it was doing so I'd leave it.

By Thursday, it was killing, so I checked it and it'd burst and gone a bit scabby. I gave it a wash with the Savlon, and thought it'd be right. I gave my run a miss as I couldn't walk well on it, never mind run.

On Fri, it'd got a weird red tinge, and on Sat I noticed a slight yellow tinge to the edge, so I thought it was time to call the pros.

So I'm currently sat on my bed, waiting for the Dr's to open so I can call for an appointment to see if it's got infected. Hopefully it's right, and worse case scenario will mean some anti-biotics are called for.

I just want it to stop hurting as there's now only 28 weeks til kick off, and I know how much work there is ahead. Will also check a few other niggles when I'm in there.

This means I need to revisit my outline training plan, as I was hoping to be up to about a total of about 20 miles by the end of this week, but I've only done 3 so far.

Not worrying too much yet,. Hopefully this will be the bit of bad luck over with, and I have a clear run for the rest of the training.

That's rather optimistic of me!

A journey of 26.2 miles begins...

...with several steps.

Got back in the training tonight with a three-miler. Was meant to be four, but if there was one thing I learned last time, it was that when it hurts, don't push it.

The dodgy left knee started to twitch, and the back of my right thing felt a bit odd, so got to a spot I knew was one-and-a-half miles away and turned round.

Wasn't brilliant, but wasn't too bad.

Tried attacking a hill, which sounds awesome, but actually means just running at it flat out. Apparently that helps with speed and gets you working all your legs properly.

B***** me, it was hard!

Got home, stretched out, showered, had some lovely macaroni cheese and can feel the beginning of the oh-so familiar aching calves.

Three down...

Guess who's back...?

On return from a weekend in Yorkshire on Sunday, the post had been kindly left neatly piled up by friends who took care of the furry member of casa del Sutcliffe.

There were a couple of bills, people trying to sell stuff, and two plastic wrapped mags.

My long-suffering other half got to them first and opened hers which announced she hadn't got a ballot place for the Flora London Marathon in 2009.

Shame, I thought, until I realised that the one addressed to me looked different.

It was from the marathon people, but in a different wrapper.

Squeaky bum time...

With a mixture of trepidation, excitement and my usual sense of not really knowing what's going on, I split open the wrapper to see the word "Congratulations" emblazoned across the front of the official mag for those who get a ballot place.

My mind began to race and all sorts of things raced through my head:

I'm in.

I'm doing it again.

I'm completely screwed.

Did I put the kettle on?

As those who followed my progress last time will know, it didn't end well. It was painful, exhausting and demanding - and that's just the training.

I got around last time. Just. But it wasn't a win, it was a score draw. So I had already told myself that if - on the microscopic chance chance I did get in the ballot - I was going to do it, I wanted to do it well. I want to run the whole thing, and to do it as well as I possibly can.

Now, last time taught me a lot - about myself, about training, about geese - but the main thing was that you have to be commited to putting the work in during the months leading up to the day itself.

This year's ballot results are six months before the race, not the four months I had last year, so the prospect of committing half a year to getting ready for a few hours running through London is daunting.

I talked it over with my better half, who I don't think I see enough of anyway, because I need her support if I'm going to do this. She said she was happy if it was something I wanted to do, and I feel selfish because I think it really is.

And I've no idea why.

It was f***ing horrible after mile 17, running in the hail with unimaginable pain in each knee every time my foot hit the surface of the road (which happened a lot over the remaining 9 miles!).

Slipping out of bed early on a frosty Sunday morning to run 12, 13, 16 or 18 miles is also not my idea of fun.

But I'm from Yorkshire, we're a stubborn breed, and we do things reet!

This time I'll better prepared mentally. I know what to expect, and I know I can physically get round.

Oh ******* **** otters. What am I doing...