Marathon blogs - update IV

I've been incredibly rude in not including Sam Shepherd's The Marathoner blog on my list thing.

We're both London Marathon Twitterers and I guess part of my brain thought I'd already added her as I'm used to seeing her tweets (that jsut sounds wrong).

So, have a mosey on over to her blog to check out what it's like running where there's no flat bits - I would be giggling here, but it means she'll have mean pace over London streets.

Safe, sound, and strangely ok...

Last night I was inundated by literally no messages wondering if I'd got home safely after my first stab at running home.

So I'm pleased to report for all those concerned that yes, I am alive.

I would have loved to update you all last night, but I had to go to get DIY supplies, and when I got back I couldn't be bothered to try to fix my interweb connection – it's connecting to router fine, but it can't find the web from there. I've probably buggered up a cable when I moved it during renovations last weekend – will have a stab at fixing it tonight.

In fact I got home strangely earlier than I expected, and it wasn't as demanding as I'd thought it would be.

This might be down to the weeks and weeks of training I've put in, and my body at last getting used to the demands of running, or it could be something to do with the experimenting with the various Lucozade powders yesterday. But, on the whole, for an 11 mile run, it wasn't bad.

That's not to say it was enjoyable.

I'm still picking the thorns out of my leg from having to dive out of the way of an errant Audi A3 whilst running over a bridge.

I forgot my running socks so had to improvise.

The bottle holder I've got developed an annoying habit of loosening itself, so was ditched, meaning I had to carry drink, which I hate.

I also messed up my drinking so that the last four miles were run almost cross-legged as there's a distinct lack of public conveniences in my part of the world. At one point I strongly considered diving behind some bushes in a park, but there were too many houses overlooking, and there's words for people who do that sort of thing near children's play areas - the "defendant" being the one that springs to my mind.

Running at rush hour did mean frequent stops at junctions to avoid a premature death – when did people stop looking for other road users at junctions?!

There was also a slight cock-up with the recovery drink as it turns out I was supposed to use two sachets, and I'd only bought an experimental one.

But on the whole, it went better than can be expected.

So I now know I can make this one of the regular runs as I've got a few mid-week 11-milers coming up.

I'm not sure if I should be happy with this or not as a few weeks ago the idea of running double digits during the week would have filled me with horror and I've done two this week!

Drinky poos

So how do you mentally and physically prepare for an 11 mile run home from work?

I've no idea as I've never done it before, but I'm trying to take it easy (in the sense that I'm not dashing all over the building - I'm obviously working very hard!).

I've also got me some Lucozade powders to try out as I am an athlete.


These are a "sports recovery drink - carbohydrate and protein" and "hydrate - carbohydrate and sodium drink mix".

Sounds delicious.

There'a also a "body fuel" one, but it's all terribly confusing.

I'll mix up the "hydrate" one for sipping on the way, then guzzle the "recovery" one after (that seems to make sense to me, but there's no "instructions" or recommended use stuff on there, and I am pretty dumb) to see if they make any difference.

Of course, results of my experiment will be posted here - though I can't get any interweb goodness at home at the mo for some bizarre reason.

I'll try hitting it.

Fundraising survey

After yesterday's post on fundraising, I had a few responses from other runners who were worried about hitting the target, and some recommendations of other marathons where it's easier (eg Paris - thanks Damian).

Given I'm a bona fide scientist *cough* I wanted to do further research, so I have put together a highly scientific survey.

It's only seven quick questions about how it's going, so if you're running - or know someone else who is - take a couple of minutes to fill it in.

If only to let me play with numbers and charts for a bit!

Home run

Think I've remembered all the stuff I need for my 11 mile run home tonight.

This takes an unexpected amount of planning as I know from experience I can't run with a bag, so I need to travel light as I'll be leaving stuff at work overnight (locked safely away in case there are any would be thieves with a penchant for council reports and broken biros reading this).

This is my first stab at it, so if all goes well, it will be a regular way of building up the miles.

I do have a few worries - at one point there's a bridge on a busy road with no footpath (hi viz gilet, check) and the need to cross a horrendously busy roundabout (earphones out methinks).

Other than that it's just the fact I'm still a bit sore and I'm still trying to get my diet and hydration sorted as I suspect that's behind a lot of my troubles lately.

Another slight fly in the ointment is the fact Ive got to sand all my skirting boards tonight - I imagine I'll have loads of energy left for that!

Speaking of which - time to refill the bottle...

Running out of money

I'm not sure this is going to be a popular post, but it's something I've been mulling over for a while now, so thought it only fair to share.

And I'm a big fan of airing issues to shine a bit of light on them.

The London Marathon raises millions of pounds every year for charity, which is brilliant.

Yet it also traps thousands of people into a sort of charitable serfdom, and this year, many will be worrying about how they get out.

To raise all the millions of pounds for charity, thousands of people spend hours and hours and hours (and hours), training, raising money and generally putting their lives on hold for a few months for the sake of a Sunday in April.

That's the bit most people know.

However, for the many who don't get a place in the ballot but still want to run, the choice then is for a charity place.

These are usually called something like “Golden Bonds” and involve you having to promise to raise a specific minimum amount - usually £1,500 to £2,000 – in exchange for a guaranteed place.

As I understand it, the charities pay the organisers for these places. These are then "sold" to wannabe marathoners, who pledge to raise a specific sum to cover the cost of the place - plus any extras like pasta parties etc - and to guarantee a profit for the charity.

From checking a few forums it seems that if you don't raise this figure you'd have to top it up yourself if you don't raise it.

The fact is, it's hard to raise money too far in advance, and Jan and Feb are out as people are skint and race day is too far ahead. Add in the crunchiness of the economy, and the prospect of raising a couple of grand over seven or eight weeks becomes incredibly daunting.

That's probably why this year I'm still seeing lots of charities advertising they have places left – even with only two and a half months to go.

This year there's also the shadow of Lenny Henry looming over fundraising proceedings, so people who might haev been willing to donate might be feeling a bit tapped.

I understand the argument that if you can't raise the money you shouldn't agree to do it - and clearly a lot of people aren't given the number of spaces left - but in the late summer, with months to go before the big day, it seems an easily attainable target.

With a bit of of effort.

I consider myself lucky I don't have a charity place this time around as on top of the training, and working so I can pay for kit, I wouldn't want the added pressure of worrying about how I was going to raise up to £2,000 from cash-strapped friends, family and work mates.

I am running for a charity, but it's my own choice, and everything I raise is a bonus for them as it's not costing them anything.

I'm not railing against the charity places, just highlighting the fact that this year will be tough for those who volunteered to run - I'm glad I''m not one.

Anyone out there with a bond place worrying about this?

Marathon blogs - update III

I had a tweet from a chap called Ulen Neale last night. I only found it this morning as I didn't get in from work til 10.

Understandably, trying to get my wireless to work wasn't high on my list of priorities.

Anyway, he too is running the London Marathon in April, and also blogs.

I'm starting to get a decent collection of London marathon bloggers going. If you know any good ones I've missed (interesting, honest, funny and regularly updated) let me know and I'll see how many I can collect.

It's like I'm running a group therapy session for people who want to make sure the universe knows how much effort it takes to run 26.2 miles!


Why do I do this?

“Hello, is that Phil's brain?”


“It's your body here – I just wanted to say that I hate you, and what you're doing to me with this stupid idea of yours to run the marathon. You know from last time that I don't like it, so to discourage you, I'm going to cause you a world of discomfort and pain.”


This is a word-for-word transcription of the conversation that went on with when I woke up this morning* and, sure enough, my body is sticking to its promise.

My right ankle hurts, my right knee hurts, all the muscles in my legs hurt, and even my toenails hurt.

I meant to put my knee strap on to help alleviate the pain, but like the idiot I am, I forgot.

I suspect some of the aches may be down to the fact my usual post-run regime was hampered last night. I warmed down alright, but I “like”** to also add to my suffering by taking the first minute of my shower at arctic temperatures.

It's something I know cricketers do, so I gave it a try a while back, and it seemed to ease the aching the next day.

Unfortunately, yesterday I had the unheard of problem of being unable to get the water sufficiently cold. To compensate I tried for a bit longer at “lukewarm”, but as the aching in my legs will attest, it doesn't work quite so well.

So today will mainly be spent walking oddly, and cursing my feeble body.

Another high self esteem day for Phil.

*expletives removed.
** Please take with strong dose of irony four or five times a week.

I'm not made for this running lark

Just got back from 10 mile run (and shower!) before work meeting at 7pm. Am scoffing pasta and a banana as I type - rude I know, but I'm multi-tasking!

I know 10 miles is long, but I don't think my body was helping itself by repeatedly making me stop for various stitches/twinges/stabbing pains along the way.

It wasn't until mile 9 that I managed to run a full mile loop without stopping - so I only managed 2 miles of non-stop running!

That is, in a word, pants.

I'm just really struggling to get a decent rhythm going at the mo.

When I think I find it, after a few minutes my body just goes weird on me.

Stupid untrained body.

Just because I completely neglected it for more than a decade, it thinks it shouldn't do exactly what I tell it!

At least this time I found some of that stubborness that makes us northerners so special. I'm going to show my body that it can whinge all it wants, but it is going to do this thing, whether it likes it or not.

Now, must dash as I have to read 228 pages of meeting reports in 10 mins*.

*Boss, if you're reading this, that's obviously a joke...

I want a Pixel Pete!

Just read a post by Jim about his "race" against an imaginary competitor who's running a steady pace!

How ace did does that look?!

I want one of those, if only to set it really slow so I look slightly good!

Preparation underway

So I've got to try to squeeze a 10-miler in tonight before a meeting at 7pm.

I think I've remembered all my stuff - trainers and socks are the usual things left behind.

I also remembered to bring hair stuff so I don't have a repeat of last time, then I remembered I'd shaved most of it off last week so that's not an issue.

I've filled a bottle of water to sip through the day to keep hydrated, and have grub planned for before and after. My music thingy's charging and I've memorised the shower code.

Don't think I've forgot anything, but only time will tell...

Marathon blog - update II

For some reason thought I'd already listed James Barnards Sir Jog A Lot blog as one I read, but just checked after tinkering with my feedreader, and I hadn't - oops!

Annoyingly, he's covering the important issues I had been planning to blog about - running with headphones and chafing being but two recent ones - so I now need to think even harder about how I can contribute to these important debates.

I also forgot to congratulate Leigh over at 3 Chickens for coming 44th in the Wyre Forest 8 - he's a proper runner, unlike my amateur efforts, so don't expect any similar success here!

As ever, if you know of good blogs about the London marathon, let me know!

Phone/music issues

I like listening to music as I plod along, but am having a few issues of late.

For the last year, my w910i has seen me through - acting as a Walkman, and a lifeline in case I get attacked by wolves/killer herons/veloceraptors and need picking up.

It's now coming to the end of it's life as it only plays the one album it recognises, despite there being several on there.

Now I do like Jimmy Eat World, but listening to it a squillion times a week is getting a bit tedious and I don't want to end up hating it.

I've got a Creative Zen Stone thing, but I'm due an upgrade and want a phone that acts as music player too - any recommendations I should pester Vodaphone for?

Crisis of confidence, crawling under floors and kicking self up the bum

Last week was one of those weeks where it seems there's been some kind of disruption to space time and you never seem to have as long as you think to get things done.

As my job is vaguely linked to education, half term is a good time for me to take some time off – you don' miss much happening, and with everyone else off, things tend to grind to a halt. So, last week I took time out to do some bits and bobs around the house.

Now 'bits and bobs' was the original plan, but it quickly evolved into massive building works.

I've been dismantling and making furniture, squeezing the contents of my largest room into my smallest room, stripping decades old wallpaper, rewiring sockets, demolishing a fireplace surround, crawling under the floors (which is always good fun), making too many trips to well known Swedish furniture retailers, travelling to Dorset, making tea for a plasterer, travelling to Kent, taking down shelves, entertaining visiting friends, carrying sofas the long way to the garage, scrubbing plaster off skirting boards, and generally not having anything resembling a rest.

The upshot of all this is that my training's suffered – I've missed a couple of good size runs.

Now, if I'm honest, I knew that'd happen. It's easy to think that solely by being so busy I've just not had chance to keep on top of it.

But, I had a really bad run early in the week, and had something of a crisis of confidence.

I seriously started to think about just jacking it in.

I couldn't get a decent rhythm, kept getting a stitch, and generally couldn't get to that calm headspace where you just get through the miles. It can feel incredibly lonely doing this, and I think the work, life and training balance thing just got a bit overwhelmed.

Also, with all the stuff going on at home, I've been disconnected from the interweb, so haven't been able to use this blog as my usual venting mechanism.

Now, after a gruelling week, I think I'm getting back to a good place.

Hopefully I'll be going to see my charity people soon so I can confirm everything properly with them - that gives me the emotional blackmail I need to make myself do this.

Also, I'm working more on planning my runs. For example, I've got a 7pm meeting tomorrow night, and a 10 mile run. So I'm gonna bring in my gear to do it before the meeting, eat lunch at desk so can get going earlyish, and am planning food for before and after.

I'm also trying to work out how to tweak leaving times at work now I'm hitting 5 runs a week. I was leaving early on Tuesday and Thursday, but now the latter is becoming a rest day so I need to see what wiggle room I have.

I want to get as much pre-planned as I can, to help if not overcome lifes obstacles, at least make them feel more manageable, and not feel so overwhelmed.

So, with the proverbial kick up the bum, it's all cliches about new leaves, and laser-beam focus from here on in!

Gone quiet

Morning all.

For those worried I'd suffered from some kind of wolf attack, fear not. I'm alright.

Got this week off work so have been hitting the DIY hard.

Had mad couple of days with running (on which I'll post more later) and a drawer-related incident which has further increased my hatred of Homebase.

Anyway, got a load of stripping (of the wallpaper kind) to get on with today so might be a bit light again - not least because this wireless connection is somewhat tempremental at the mo.

I'll reassure it lots, make it tea etc to try to soothe its feelings.

Illness update

Since I posted last week about how sick I was of getting ill, I secretly (well, I hadn't mentioned it here) started taking vitamin C supplements.

I can now exclusively reveal that vitamin C prevents all illness as I've now been healthy for an entire week.

That's pretty conclusive in my book!

It's all part of the service here at Phil Runs London

Run-run, run, run, run!

In my head that title sounds like the bit from "Run run reindeer".

I don't know why that's in my head, beyon the fact I've realised I've got five runs this week!


No longer do I get Wednesdays off to rest.

I like rest...


At least it's only four miles this week, which seems weirdly easy in my addled brain.

Do they have the interweb in Bournemouth?

I'm off down to visit some relatives near Bournemouth tonight until Sunday.

Nice to get away and all that, not least because I've got next week off, but I've never been there so have no idea if they'll have the interweb.

If not, it might be quiet times here - unless I work out how to post by phone again...

Of tweets and men

Surely, by now, you've all heard of Twitter.

It's even been in the Daily Mail, and they hate change.

For those who don't understand, the easiest way to describe it is as like your status in Facebook - only quicker, and more interactive.

Saying that, despite having had an account in one form or another for 18 months, it's only today when I've started to follow the 2nd person I actually know in "real" life.

I don't know if that's because I'm mainly friends with technophobes (I work with a few, but that's a different story) but that still seems a bit lame.

I usually tweet* my latest blogposts, so it's another option for anyone stalking me - and actually seems a bit quicker that my RSS feed.

Also, you can link it to your Facebook account so it synchs your updates.

In the eyes of the media, it's 2009's Facebook, which was 2008's MySpace.

Wonder what 2010's new Twitter will be?

* Noun, to update twitter profile

On footpaths, getting lost, and the wetness of rivers

I've said it before, and I'll say it again – running does weird things to you.

Not just the bizarre pains and injuries from hours and hours of training, but it messes with your mind.

Last night's 11-miler, from the safety and warmth of the next morning, isn't an unpleasant memory.

But, at the time, I know that I really wasn't enjoying it at all.

Unlike Tuesday, I didn't start off feeling great, and I struggled to get into a comfortable stride. I put this partly down to the fact my phone's music player refuses to play anything but one album, and I'm getting a bit tired of that now.

A couple of miles in, when it was still light, I was faced with the sight of the river coming over the banks, and in places, being on the road.

This wasn't too bad as it wasn't totally submerged, but still had to wait for traffic to pass so I could run in the middle, using it's camber to find the dry stuff (good use of “camber”!).

It wasn't quite the same story a bit further up, as the below pic shows, but there is a way around this one, so it thankfully didn't mean me swimming.

To get to 11 miles I have to run my normal there and back route for about four miles, then do a loop round to get the miles in.

I hadn't done this since last year and the mist of time had obviously descended as I'd completely forgotten that my part of the world hates pedestrians, so discourages them by refusing to include footpaths on wide stretches where there is clearly room.

I'd cross over to be on the right side for a turning, but then have to cross back as I was faced with oncoming traffic that refused to believe their cars weren't as wide as a house so must be close to the kerb.

This became irksome.

I also got a bit lost as I thought I'd missed my turn on the loop back, as it felt like I was a million miles from where I should be. A quick check of where I was on GoogleMaps via the phone showed I was ok, but I really need to learn these things.

It was dark by the time I rejoined my usual route by the river and as it had risen onto the riverside path I had to run in the road more than usual.

Despite the hi-viz I was wearing, people still seemed to strugle to see me - with a few late swerves by oncoming cars adding a bit of excitement.

As I got back to where the top pic was taken, I realised that rivers carry on rising, even when you're not there.

It was now covering the road completely.

Now this stretch has a couple of hundred metres of path on the non-river side so I figured I'd just wait for cars to go past so I wouldn't get drenched, then take that.

However, when there are no cars, there are also no car lights, and what I hadn't noticed when watching the spray from traffic passing through, was that the path was flooded too.

Not just "wet" or "a few puddles", it was past my ankles.

Blissfully unaware, I waited for a gap in the traffic and got a good pace up to avoid being caught out by a speeding car.

This meant I hit the water hard and got absolutely soaked.

I don't know if you've ever tried to run through ankel deep water in the dark when you had no idea it's there, but I can assure you it's not pleasant.

My initial reaction was to stop, but then I immediately thought to try to run on the side of the path where the verge was a bit higher.

It was also a lot muddier.

And slippier.

So I bit the bullet, found the tarmac again and ran through.

Once at the other side I stopped to try to get the excess water out of my trainers as it was somewhat "squelchy".

I didn't want passing cars to think I was shirking on my run, so tried to compose myself in such a way that my body language made it clear that I didn't really want to stop, but had shoesfull of scanky riverwater I needed to get rid of.

This involved wagging my legs in a fashion not dissimilar to a dog, and I think I pulled it off so I don't have the spectre of judgemental motorists hanging over me.

So, on reflection, it wasn't much fun at all.

Mid week shenanigans

Another mental milestone looms tonight – an 11 mile mid-week run.

That's the furthest I've attempted so far outside the warm embrace of a weekend.

As if to demonstrate my awesome progress as an athlete *cough* I was having another look at where I was at the equivalent time last year.

Eleven weeks out, 11 miles was my long run – and Thursday was but five little miles.

Am I wrong to find the recurance of 11 while writing this a little bit Number 23?

I need to plot where I'll run as I'm getting a bit bored of my route – I am a bit restricted by geography and lack of footpaths though, but I'll have a play today.

Also need to plot a 13 miler for Sunday in Bournemouth when I'm visiting relatives. Never been there before, so don't know the local roads.

I imagine them to be lined with pensioners, but that might just be me being small-minded...

Man mind racing

Last night's 8 miler saw possibly the most exciting experience of my training so far.

I overtook someone.

Someone who was running!

On the way back, along the river, I rounded a bend and saw a shadow disappear beyond the weak light thrown down from a streetlamp some way ahead of me.

As I plodded along, I kept my eyes fixed on the next light, and soon the unmistakeable figure of someone running passed beneath it, before disappearing into the darness again.

Now, those among you who are ladies might not understand this, but there is a well-know male tendancy to race as you go about your day.

It's an inbuild thing where you mentally compete against others around you. "I'll be the first to get to the crossing,"and "If I take the inside line on this path, I'll get to that letterbox first" are commom thoughts for men.

Outwardly, there's no sign of this, but inside, we're finding people to race against, setting finishing lines, and looking for shortcuts.

When you get to my level, you even memorise the sequences of traffic lights on everyday routes so you can get the best start.

So, here I was, about 400 metres back, mentally challenging a shadowy figure to a race.

I set the "finishing line" as where the river road meets with the main road - about a mile away.

Now, I must point out that this is unlike normal man racing, as we were both already running - that's not allowed unless you misjudge a crossing and need to avoid being run over.

I stalked my prey silently, and every time they passed under a streetlight, or they were illuminated by the lights of a passing car, I could see I was gaining on them.

When I was about 100 metres behind them, they looked around and saw me.

This was when I knew it was another man and they were racing too.

They obviously didn't want to be caught and the next time I saw them they were further ahead then I expected, so I quickened my pace to close the gap again.

It was surprising how quickly I managed to reel them in once I opened up my strides - another benefit of new, lighter, Phil!

When they next turned around I was only about 20 metres behind. They knew they were being caught, but didn't want to make it easy so they were running bang in the middle of the path - a perfectly acceptable tactic in man mind racing!

It was a battle of wills now as we both saw the junction approaching. This was where our fates would be decided.

One would go home a winner, the other face the humiliation of defeat.

A flurry of traffic meant I had to pick my moment to get out into the road, and when it came, I eased out, dropped a gear, and whisked past.

I must point out I did try to run past them as politely as I could - it's bad form to gloat in man mind-racing!

But, boy, did the crowds go wild as I crossed the finish line (in my head!).

Back to it

After my illness-forced break I got out last night for the first time in a week,

Eight miles was the target, which I was didn't make, but I didn't want to risk it as I'm still not 100 per cent.

Main thing of note was that for the first time I'm noticing the benefits of being lighter. I'm naturally quite stocky so whilst not overweight (I hope!) I'm not exactly light.

It's now getting to the stage where my clothes are starting to feel quite big, and I feel like a kid whose mom has bought him stuff to grow into!

It happened last year too. At least this time I won't have to get alterations to my suit for a wedding where I was an usher – I had to lose two inches off the chest of the jacket!

When I set off I just felt lighter - my strides seemed easier, and it just felt less effort.


The river had obviously been over it's banks during the day as the paths were impossible to run on, and the roads had a weird sludge which wled to a few "bambi on ice" moments.

I did take some pics, but my cameraphone doesn't have a flash, so I've got a selection of screenshots of black to peruse at my leisure now.

Next step, 11 miles on Thursday

To run, or not to run...?

I'm down for a 9 miler tomorrow.

Bearing in mind I've been out of action, and am still feeling a bit weird, should I go the whole hog?

Would a shorter run be more realistic?

These few weeks are supposed to be about increasing my mileage, so I need to get a decent base of good length runs, but will I do more harm than good?

Something to ponder...

Stalk me more

I've been having fun crunching numbers in my visitors logs and seem to be detecting a pattern.

I have a good chunk of readers who are regulars – read most posts, most days, and generally seem happy to chart the progress of my inevitable torture.

Thanks guys.

Another chunk appear to be, what I'm calling “semi-regulars”. They pop in every so often – once or twice a week, read back on a few that they've missed, just checking I'm doing alright. Like your mom when you leave home.

Then there are those who visit occasionally, and only for certain bits – these are the discerning readers, looking for something specific. They pop in for a quick gnaw on me, before disappearing off, waiting for it to grow back.

The last group are the one-offs – one visit is enough. I like to imagine these are people wondering what it's like to do a marathon, find me, then are put off for life. If true, then this is my target audience!

For the rest, you can still stalk me a variety of ways.
  • Facebook - add me as a friend or join the Phil Runs London group
  • Twitter - follow me on twitter (profile id is philrunslondon) where I tweet regularly.
  • Email subscription - simply enter your email into the box on the right of this blog, verify it's you, then you can get regular updates in your inbox.
  • RSS - for those with readers like Google Reader, My Yahoo, Newsfire etc or use Firefox live bookmarks.
Peace out.

I want to beat an MP

Well, who doesn't?

Sadly, this isn't in the therapeutic way, but in the more conventional - and on topic - running way.

Edward Timpson MP will be running his fifth London Marathon this year.

If you recognise the name (and aren't a political geek like me) he was the fellah who won the Crewe and Nantwich by-election last year.

Crewe and Nantwich?

Northern town where Labour were expected to win?

Massive shock?



Anyway, the story in the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian doesn't make mention of his previous times, so I'm not sure how well I'll do comparatively.

Since it's his fifth, he's obvioulsy done tonnes more running than me, but is beating an MP a realistic target?

Musings on illness

3 chickens has an interesting post on keeping healthy while running.

I have to say I seems to have got everything going this winter, but have roughly been following the advice that if it's just sniffles, tickly cough, you're fine to train.

I used to try to remember to take vitamin C, but I am rubbish at things like that - I barely remember to dress in the morning.

Will try to remember to remember to give it a try if I remember to get some vitamin C supplements.

Food glorious food

Not having eaten what could be called a proper meal in five days (toast doesn't count) my thoughts are naturally drifting towards food.

My stomach thing has set me back a few days on the training, but on the plus side, I've lost an other half a stone in a short space of time.

I say “plus side” as a large factor in performance is weight – the more you've got to carry round, the more energy you need to carry you.

There is a downside too – my clothes are starting to hang off me again, and if it's anything like last year, it won't be long til I can do the thing from the slimming ads where I can hold out my trousers out miles in front of me.

I've now got people nagging at me that I'm not eating properly/enough given the amount of training.

They may have a point.

Unfortunately, the idea of pasta at the moment makes me want to retch, so I need to brush up on my training nutrition so I can try to get back on track.

Any thoughts?

Shop review

Last week I asked for some feedback on running shops.

I won't say the response was overwhelming (it's hard to breach my whelm) but there was enough for me to go on about for a bit.

The most popular suggestion was Sweatshop by a long way. Price, range and staff expertise were the main reasons people recommended it.

also got a mention – with their gait analysis and staff knowledge. On the downside, they've only got a few stores, and I don't know if it was my browser (FireFox 3.0.5) but there website was a nightmare.

I was the lone voice for JJB, but that's mainly on convenience and price – or at least my perception of price.

To check the price angle a bit more, I thought I'd do a simple little test – look at how much could you get kitted out for with the essentials (trainers, shorts, t-shirt) at each store?

Since I want some, the trainers I've gone for are Asics Nimbus IX's. The shorts and vest are just the cheapest non-cotton types.

Asics Nimbus IX

Wicking t-shirt



  • JJB: £98.99
  • SS: £82.03
  • Dec: n/a
So, my perception about JJB was complete and utter tosh!

They were more expensive overall as the trainers are significantly cheaper in Sweatshop (I know where I'm going next payday!), and the t-shirt was more than twice the price.

Frustratingly, Decathlon were cheaper on the other items, but I can't include them in the totals as their website was, frankly, pants*.

Their frames were all over the place so I couldn't read the product list in search results – I may even have not found the cheapest items, I just got bored looking!

* Yeah, this isn't exactly the best site in the world, but I'm not a shop.

Glamour model update - sore feet

Having been out of action for a few days, I'm now trying to catch up with the blogs.

I know many of you will have been worrying that there's been little news from the Katie Price camp lately, so I'm delighted to ease your worries.

Our Katie has been having foot problems so has had a trip to the podiatrist.

I can sympathise.

Though, I have to point out I was more manly about it. I took pictures and whacked a plaster on there, rather than paying for someone to look at it (who would probably have told me to put a plaster on it).

Sicknote from Phil's Mom

Dear blogreader,

I'm sorry Phil hasn't been blogging recently but he has not been very well.

It started at 4 o'clock on Thursday morning when he woke up and complained of a funny tummy.

Shortly afterwards he went to the bathroom for quite some time and when he came back said that "that wasn't fun", before collapsing into bed.

At first I thought he was being over dramatic, but when he did the same again shortly after, I realised something was amiss.

After letting school know he wouldn't be in, he spent much of the day expelling his bodyweight from himself in every way imaginable.

This went on for a few days, during which time any attempt to eat resulted in seeing it again shortly afterwards.

We got him some medicine from the doctor to help him keep food down and stop himself from dehydrating and this began to take effect yesterday.

It isn't just school he missed. He's also missed out on a trip to the coast for one of his best friends birthday parties, and therefore hasn't been able to enjoy the jelly and ice-cream he was looking forward to.

He did offer to do some of his classwork from home, but unfortunately, the wireless doesn't work in the bathroom, where he's spent most of the last few days.

He seems better today, though still can't eat very much.

He promises to catch up on his homework, but given he's lost 7lb in four days, he might not be back on track for a few days.

Yours sincerely,

Phil's mom*

*Obviously this isn't you mom, but in my still slightly woosy head, this sounded funny.

Faster pasta

I'm running the real risk of getting sick of pasta pretty soon.

Had pepper pasta thingy for lunch, canneloni with ricotta and spinach the other day, and some simple fusili thing the day before that.

Also had lots of spag bol and lasagne.

Any new recipes out there I can try?

Email me, tweet me, or comment below!

Red noses and moral dilemmas

I wanted to describe my new feelings at having got a place in the London Marathon via the ballot as “glad”, but there's no escaping the fact that that would be something of an overstatement.

I still hate running, only this time, I also have the experience of last years race, so I know with absolute certainty it will be horrible.

With this in mind, my emotions headed in the direction of gladness, before turning down the familiar and well worn road of self-loathing and despair.

Why so almost glad? I hear you ask...

Well, I've realised that this year coincides with Red Nose Day.

It's only about a month before the marathon, so people will already feel well and truly tapped for what little money we have left in this country, without me trying to squeeze more out of them to reach an astronomical target for a gold bond charity place.

I can see why 3 chickens is wondering whether it's worth running for a charity with a ballot place. He's raised tonnes for charity in the past from lots of runs, so he's earned the right to a break.

It's a bit of a moral dilema, but I think I'm happy with my own decisions.

Even though I've got the chance to do the same I'm not going to.

I see the ballot as a chance to do something for a little charity, that normally wouldn't get a look-in for a massive event like this.

A charity where even a few hundred quid would make a difference.

I'm still going to do a few things to try to raise money, but not with the pressure I had last year. Sod's law I'll raise more than I did then, but that's the universe's way of keeping me on my toes.

Snow running – will it catch on?

Was down for eight miles tonight, but the rubbishness of path clearing and the fast-falling temperature meant I only made about six and a half.

Now, I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, and I'd carefully surveyed much of the route on the way home. Strangely, there was a lot of places where one path had been cleared, but the other hadn't – I guess old women with bags of shopping were expected to zig-zag across the road on their way home.

Down by the river, the “path” isn't the best example of modern engineering. No perfectly laid paving, with a gradual camber to allow water to run off. Instead, there's grass, which when wet, is mud, when it snows, it's slush, and when it's cold, it's ice.

There are a few wider parts where the snow had settled nicely, and you could run through it, though when you're wearing a pair of ordinary road trainers, it's pretty heavy work – as my weary legs will testify.

At one point I thought I was going to be attacked by a flock of killer geese – they had menace in their eyes, and I'm sure blood on their beaks. I managed to swiftly evade them, and I think a few got scared by my hi-viz and manly demeanour.

I was going to try to get onto the road for “dead swan bend” (it's still there, though seems to have moved – very macabre), but there was too much traffic, and the edges were too icy.

This left me facing running along the icy path of death that is where the path narrows, with the road raised slightly on one side, and the very cold looking river on the other.

Thanks to years of Arctic combat training* I was able to successfully emerge from the other end, unscathed. Had their been a crowd, it was at this point they would have burst into rapturous applause.

But there wasn't, so their praise, like so many things, was purely in my head.

This route seems me rejoin the main road and pass through a nice little village, where thankfully most of the paths had been cleared.

After I was through it it was a lot patchier, and the slush had started to turn to ice. Eventually I was just stumbling across sheets of refrozen slush, and looking down the straight stretch of road, there was no sign of any respite so I had to make the choice whether to go on or not.

I took the cowards route, as I'm still uber-paranoid about injuring myself, and lets be honest, I did an inadvertent few miles yesterday.

Saying that though, my time was well down, but my legs feel like they've really been through the wringer. I could really feel my calves working through the snow, so perhaps I've had a better workout than I thought.

I reckon I'm still ahead after losing a mile and a bit today, but that's not really the point as I'm still building up the miles at the mo.

Hopefully current weather reports for Thursday are as wrong as they were about more heavy snow last night, as that's a nine miler I need to nail.

*Snowball fights in Yorkshire as a child 2cm

London marathon most competitive of the year - now I'm in it!

Apparently this years London Marathon will be the most competitive marathon of the year.

No idea who most of the people in the article are, but they sound good.

I'm not sure they're properly prepared for this pasty northerner to open up a can of whup ass on them!

Or not...

I can see the appeal of running a marathon in c. 2 hours 11. It'd mean a lot less running was necessary on the day, which is a bonus in my eyes.

The downside is the fact you'd have to run squillions of miles beforehand to get that good, so it's swings and roundabouts really...

I'll say this now, if I'm within an hour of 2 hr 11, I'll eat the unwashed vest I'd run it in!

Glamour model in self-image worry shocker

Like you, when I woke up this morning, my first thought wasn't about if I was snowed in, or the road was too icy to get to work.

In fact, it I was wondering how Jordan is feeling about getting into shape for the marathon.

Thankfully, now I know.

She's worried she'll be looking too beefy and butch because of her training.

I have only one question - what the hell kind of training is she doing?

I've already lost half a stone in a couple of weeks, and last year I was described as painfully skinny!

It's not like you should be doing weights or anything, and marathon runners aren't exactly gonna be the first ones you call when you want a piano moving!

Snow interruption

Complaining about how southerners deal with snow is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Shock, the roads are screwed, and no-one knows how to drive in the white stuff.

So, as this is my blog, lets make it about me.

Yesterday, I set off early to get to work, dug out the car, and began tootling off. Got all of a mile, to the bridge over the Thames by me, when I hit the first obstacle.

Someone had slowed down too much to get up the bridge, so they were just spinning and going nowhere. Now, I'm from the north, so I found it weird people were just sat in their cars watching. In my head, I can't get anywhere til he's out of the way, so pure self-interest dictates I need to get him moving.

Basic common humanity too, but I'm perfectly aware there are a lot of southerners reading this.

So, I got out of the car, walked to the back of his car and my gesture shamed a couple more guys in the queue to do the same. After a bit of swerving, we got him over, then it was the next guys turn. Same happened, though we were ready this time, and we got him over too.

Then it was my turn.

I will admit a shadow of doubt did cross my mind as I feared my time down south had numbed my northern skills.

But, with the eyes of a thousand Yorkshire ancestors watching me, I found my biting point and released the handbrake.

Treacherous - there's no other way to describe the road surface than that.

Yet, despite the weight of expectation a row of traffic, I skilfully manoeuvred the yellow Mini over the bridge using the tried-and-tested "wiggly sideways steering" technique.

I could tell everyone was impressed as no-one came over the bridge after me. I'm guessing they were in awe.

Anyway, got to the bit where I get out for the bus, and I jumped out.

Though it wasn't a proper jump, as it was pretty slippery.

After walking to the bus stop I then remembered that I'd just heard all the buses were cancelled.


So, I hitched up my bag, and strode manfully towards work – a mere 5 miles away.

It was weird as at several points I was tempted to break into a run.

I obviously didn't as it was several inches deep with snow and I'd just have fallen and hurt myself.

So, whilst tomorrows run might be postponed unless the ice has melted, I've at least added a bit to my weekly total already!

Marathon blog - update

Keen to grow my fave blogs, I've added a new one to my reading list - 3 Chickens and a runner.

I'm not entirely sure if he's got chickens, wants chickens, or just really likes chickens, but he seems fun, which is the important thing when you're subjecting your body to running a marathon.

Dead swans and eating glue

Got up way too early this morning, to get the run done.

I'd foolishly agreed to go to Ikea, and since I hate the place, I wanted to get there before it got too full of idiots who don't know how to walk in a straight line.

As it was a bit chilly, and my hair is a state, I decided to don a baseball cap. For those that don't know me, let me explain that this is strange on a couple of levels.
  1. I'm not sporty, and think they look ridiculous
  2. My head is abnormally large and hats tend not to fit me - this one doens't either, but it's the best I've been able to do.
So, I got going, and fell into a comfy pace pretty quickly, which I was pleasantly surprised with as that hasn't happened before in this marathon bid.

Unlike most of my other runs, the Sunday morning one is less like running the gauntlet as the pathless roads have little traffic. The roads with paths have little traffic too, but I don't have the luxury of many of them. I just didn't want you thinking people round here don't drive on roads on Sunday mornings unless they have paths.

I digress..

So I got plodding away nicely, and as the ground was frozen, I was able to run right next to the river, which would normally be lovely, but for the fact the wind was freezing.

After a couple of miles, the wide riverbank narrows on a bend, and you're funneled along a normally treacherous couple of hundred yards where the path is about a foot wide, and composed mainly of mud.

Confident the frosty conditions would mean it was at least solid, I decided to give it a whirl instead of jumping onto the road.

As I was approaching the narrowing part, I saw what I thought was a small pile of detrius from the river.

It wasn't.

It was the decomposing body of a swan.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've never seen that before, but I'm confident it was a swan as despite all the feathers, and most of it's flesh having gone, there was clearly a large body, long neck, and beak.

I thought about taking a pic to share with you, but I think a fair few people would have got cross with me...

Anyway, I passed the swan, and carried on along the river. After another mile or so, there's a choice - follow the road to get up to the main road, or carry on along the river and see what happens.

As you can probably tell by the end of that last bit, I normally follow the road. For some reason I was feeling a bit adventurous and plodded along the unknown road.

Now, I'd like to say I found a magical world where everyone is happy, and poverty has been relegated to the history books, but it was pretty much just the same as the other bit I'd been running along. Just the road veered off a bit later and joined the same stretch I was heading to anyway.

There was an exiting looking footpath that carried on - heading somewhere magical, no doubt - but I'll save that adventure for another day.

I may have mentioned that I hate Ikea - it was the shadow looming over my run.

I had to get back, showered etc and ready to head off by a certain time, so I'd told myself that I'd run for so long, then turn round.

I also knew I'd be out for a while, so on an impulse I'd bought a sachet of weird energy gel, to try after an hour to see if it helped.

Well, I thought I'd give it a try, and tentatively opened the foil wrapper, wondering how tropical this could possibly taste.

In it's defence, it did have a tropical flavour.

However, no amount of pineapples and mangoes could hide the fact that it had the consistency of glue.

After my initial reaction I thought it best to be a man and just see it all off, so, still running, I chugged the whole thing down, responsibly disposed of the wrapper in a bin I'd seen approaching, and nearly threw up.


Might need a bit more practice with these things.

Anyway, after almost heaving last nights tea overs the streets of Surrey, I carried on until my self imposed turning around point, and headed for home.

The only incident on the way back was a slow-hitting stitch that was threatening most of the way, but only decided to get me with only about half a mile from home.

To spite my body, I decided to run flat out home, which was horrible, but I think I made my point - stupid body.

After warm down, and shower, I then headed off to Ikea only to realise that when I'd been assured it opened at 10, they'd actually meant "I think it's 10". So, when we rocked into the car park at 9:40 and saw it actually opened at 11, I was not a happy bunny.

At least they did the nice thing and let people in at 10, but you couldn't pay for owt for an hour.

It was like being trapped in hell.

In Scandanavia.

So I'd truncated my run (not a lot, but still annoying) for no reason other than to spend time in a large blue and yellow warehouse off the north circular.

I can see Sunday's not being my fave day.