Is this the real life… training is fantasy!

fatSo I woke up one day and i’m fat!  Post London PB (2:41) excitement and a second son without a solid goal to aim for.  I enjoyed having nothing to train for, and why the hell not!  I blame the expanding waist lines of society on elastic waist bands.  ‘Normal’ trousers don’t expand, you have 2 options, buy new clothes or lose weight.  I luckily used to be a little larger so i’m back into my larger wardrobe!  Not for long though.  I weigh 81.8kg as of yesterday.  My face is round with a fat neck.  I have a belly overhang and I get out of breath running.

In 2 weeks I will be in Spain.  A fancy hired bike awaits me.  I need to be bike fit.  I have started alternately running and cycling and have even been for a swim (must be desperate)! i’m not convinced these sites help people to  seriously lose but it should be a good experiment to see how much is realistic.  fat1

Yesterday was a 25 min swim AM and 6 miles PM at 7:32 pace.  I can see why people struggle to run well, they’re too heavy!  It was a real strain on my back, (c)ankles and breathing.  Today I have managed a 39 mile bike ride over the Meon hills.  I had wobbly legs by the end and nearly dropped the baby with cramp when I stood up suddenly during the afternoon.  Tomorrow, I aim to hit the pool again and go for another jog.  I need to be able to ride that distance easily as I want to attack some big hills in Spain.

Diet is arguably more important than exercise (google it there’s many scientific arguments for/against primarily aimed at the inactive) so I’ve started using MyFitnessPal again to log food.  Whilst some of the data (especially fitness calories burnt) may be dubious it helps keep track of eating too much and eating the right thing.   For breakfast I had coffee and raspberry porridge.  Lunch was an entire Waitrose soup pot.  Today we had a Cauliflower patty from the Guardian a couple of weeks ago.  Tasty and filling.  I left some Co-op wasabi peas lying around and my wife chucked 4 in her mouth… reminded me of this funny Cars 2 clip…  I then found her necking glass after glass of water!  mater  According to today’s completed entry if I did what I did today, everyday i’d weigh 67kg in 5 weeks!  Now that’s hilarious and crazy but we can do some extrapolation.  81.8kg – 66.9kg = 14.9kg in 5 weeks so divide by 5 is 3kg a week = 75.8kg by the time I set off.  That’s basically my normal weight.


So hopefully when I get to Spain i’ll be able to hit the hills, hard.

Weight = free speed.  Same effort faster as lighter.  Or less effort to do the same.  Either way we’ll see.

If all else fails…  which sounds really healthy!


It’s been a bad week.  I could feel my throat the day after the joy of Stubbington 10k, I rested not wanting to repeat day for day last year’s Tonsillitis .  I rested and by Thursday evening I was struggling with breathing and coughing a lot.  A restless night and I think I got the worst of it out my system.  I feel better, chest much clearer.  I will not be running XC at the weekend though and will ease into the next week as P&D starts on the first Monday in February.  Remember the greater good.

So until then enjoy this cheesy video by Strava  staring Kilian Jornet and some great scenery.

100 Day Plan

100 Day Plan

If you google 100 day plan you get a myriad of exec management garb linked in this sentence (ignore unless bored)!

100 days to the London Marathon have just past.  Where am I? Where to go? I finish a race and update my training places on this site and dream of a sub 2:40 marathon, but not without hard work!

Checking Advanced Marathoning 55 miles a week with a 17 miler in last month means i’d be ready to tackle the 70-85 mpw plan.  Let’s do that!

So there’s the plan!  Less than 100 days to go fast.

Stubbington 10k 2015

There will be 3 threads to this double blog: 1. Race report review and analysis. 2.  Goal review and 3. 100 day plan (covered in next blog) .


Stubbington 10k for many in the Hampshire area is the opening race of their calendar.  For me it comes after 2 seminal XC races and a Park run win on New Year’s Day building on my Christmas training camp in Spain.  I’m not boasting just trying to show I’ve been racing myself fit.  Losing weight when others will have been traditionally gaining whilst trying to stay restrained as last year it was the week after Stubbington 10k that my early season ended in Tonsillitis and Shin Splints.16282830216_294ff209d8_o

The build up was a lighter week of only 47 miles compared to the previous two of over 55 miles.  Friday was an easy day, Saturday I did quite a bit of walking but no running.  I also conducted my standard taper nutrition plan including Beet-it in the morning.  Why?  No it isn’t an ‘A’ race but it is important.  In 2 weeks, the P&D Advanced Marathoning plan begins.  A flat, fast 10K is an ideal place to reset training paces and effort levels before the challenge of getting that marathon PB down!

Race day.

I woke at 7 although DS had woken me up since at least 6.  A strong French press coffee kick started to wake up my body, my whole body (too much info – Ed).  I also had a glass of OJ, 2 Beet-it shots and a bagel with jam.  I still felt empty so topped up with a banana at 0745.  I got to the car park early and walked to the Community Centre.  It was cold, around 4 degrees but the air was still and rain had stopped.  I got my number and pinned it on.  I was running for my first claim club, Victory AC today and we had a strong team. I chatted to some of the people I expected to be running Sub 35 to gauge my effort.  I also met 3 friends from the Runner’s World Sub 3 Forum.  My warm up was an easy run followed by some strides. After taking my top off it wasn’t that cold which surprised me.  I know that above 3 degrees is my limit as I ran Stafford Half in a vest and it was very cold that day.         16308755435_4a1e3ee5d8_o

The Race!

I started looking at my watch a lot to get “on pace”.  It is a fairly new pace for me so although it feels the same in some ways in others it is scary.  My watch was in KM but seeing 3:2x is like seeing 5:xx to me, even my marathon pace is sub 4 min/km.  Looking at Power of 10 (already updated) it was only 3 years ago that I wasn’t able to run a sub 6 min/mile 10K.

I had a joke with Al_P from the forum to check my breathing/speech level of effort compared to my watch.  Looking good I thought after the initial mad couple of hundred meters.  The first K went by in a perfect 3:30.  The second K is a little undulating but is probably favourable so 3:25 was nothing to be worried about especially as a couple of seconds either way can be attributed to the positioning of markers.  Number 3 has a significant rise that will slow you but I managed 3:23 but I think I could have pushed harder here given my relative position to those who finished around me.  From there, mentally, it is downhill to Km 7 and splits of 3:37, 3:25, 3:27, 3:29.  I think from 3 to 4 I was running with an Aldershot runner who I wasn’t sure if I needed push to pass or if we were working well.  Apart from signage dependencies that is what I would put that poor split down to.

Seven to eight.  There’s a rise to Hill Head then on to nine and the finish.  Splits were 3:28, 3:33, and 3:19. I have no idea how I ran 3:19 for the last K!  I swapped places with another Aldershot runner who came back at me in the last K whilst all the time closing on Sean Holmes who I’d tussled with last week at the Reading XC.  I introduced my self after collapsing through the line!  My run.

Goal Achieved!

My goal for 2015 and this period was a Sub 35 10k.  34:37 officially and I am very pleased with this.  it was hard, not easy, I was ready, in shape and it has given me a massive confidence boost.

I have to thank Mark Beresford for these fantastic photos taken just after 7Km.  To quote Greg Lemond; It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster.  I think these photos show this.

I would also like to highlight that this progress has been made since joining Victory AC.  I have had a few failures and performances that have not been as i’d have hoped but I stuck at it and have brought my weight down and my XC position down from 83rd to 43rd and now knocked over a minute off my Leeds Abbey Dash 10k time from Nov 14.  As a team and club Victory have a solid group of runners challenging for silverware, this is great for the future, backed up by a depth across age groups and abilities united by the same ethos.  Well done all.  There were lots of personal victories today including some quality PBs to reward their hard work in training.

Also Andy Vernon was there cycling round the course! He looks slimmer in real life!

P.S. I forgot to mention the goody bag.  For £15 I don’t expect much.  But the gym bag with a reflective snap band thing in it was tosh.  At least the buff last year was useful and en vogue.  Plus a banana and a small 330ml bottle of water.  I guess the water on course was good being bottled (I didn’t take it).  Why not involve local companies to get some decent tat in there!  Anyway the route is great and all very easy but not impressed by the goody ‘bad’ as i’d rather have had a medal!

Menu Planning

The importance of menu planning cannot be underestimated.  From a household planning perspective it will help you budget and stick to your shopping list, avoiding those tempting impulse purchases.  The other advantage is that simple forward planning allows you to check you are eating a balanced menu and includes all the food groups rather than impulse cooking or eating to hunger or reaching for a ready meal.  Do not be fooled by the Waitrose or M&S range; it is still a ready meal!

Cooking from scratch does not take long and is not difficult but is much healthier than a ready meal.  I have previously blogged about portion control and size and this is an important when trying to lose weight.  We eat so much more than years ago.  A jam sandwich and an apple was a simple lunch used by Ron Hill!

If you can run you will knock 30 sec off your time per kilogram lost. This page has a calculator, the hard bit is losing the weight!


Now looking at what we actually eat.  This is no Paleo, Vegan, Veggie, raw, Gluten-Free rant as everyone will have an opinion, each has a benefit or consequence and it is largely personal choice and I am not going to stop you or try to force my ideals on you!  I caveat this by saying that you should buy the best product available for the budget you have.  It may come as a surprise but meat is far more expensive than veg and this should be considered when looking at your menu.  It also has a bigger environmental footprint and has some health implications not to mention the ease with which you will gain weight by eating too much!

Start with Veg on the menu. Then fruit.  I recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s Marathon Nutrition book which has lots of good advice.  Be careful with eating lots of fruit as it has a high sugar content but it’s better than sweets or chocolate!  if you run enough it won’t matter anyway.

So do you need pasta/rice with every meal with a healthy portion of veg too?  Perhaps not.  Ditch the pasta and keep the Veg.  LCHF or HCLF is not an argument I care for but I have noticed my weight drop since eating fewer refined grains (eg. white pasta).  We are back in portion control territory again now!

Nuts and seeds are also mentioned in his book and I am annoyed they cost so much but if you think they replace meat then it’s not so bad.  I love this Frank Horwill article that has some useful advice.  Avocado = L-carnitine and Black pepper = Chromium.  Watch the pounds fly off!

I am at 72.5kg having lost 2.5kg in a month (over Christmas too)! Plan that menu, lose the weight!

Hampshire XC League

IMG_5804Back in October riding on a wave of post Berlin enthusiasm I planned my “get fast plan” towards 2015.  This included regular cross country to improve my mental toughness, leg strength and core stability.  To race Cross Country in the Hampshire League or the Southern Cross Country League I needed to join a club.  There was an obvious choice being the closest club but I had no contact to help me integrate which is one of the key aspects of a running club.  If you don’t want to be there you won’t want to run.  I discounted others on the basis of distance and settled upon Victory AC, I knew a few people who who welcome me and challenge me.

So in unseasonably and unusually warm weather for Cross Country I started the season in October.  It was 2 weeks after Berlin, I felt tired and lethargic.  A couple of weeks of relaxing, barely running and eating poorly resulted in lost fitness and on the day of reckoning, it showed.  Recovery periods between competition are important to reset the mind and refocus on new goals.  Going from one goal to another can lead to burnout, injury or just a lack of motivation and enjoyment.  It is usually not deliberate but a set of circumstances that lead to the choice to train.  Check out Aly Dixon’s self realisation of her overtraining.

There would be no GB Selection letter for me though as I struggled to 83rd place at Farley Mount. I missed the November event so on to Popham Airfield in December and a few months of training with a speed focus had obviously helped as I achieved a far better 63rd place finishing just behind a Victory AC runner.  After the Hants XC Champs, the first league race of 2015 in Reading was windy but dry.  Louise Damen gave an exhibition of her talents in the Ladies race before we completed our complicated 2 laps which turned out to be only 5 miles rather than the advertised 10k around the playing fields and woods of central Reading.  xcread

At the gun I set off conservatively although noted the pace was still sub 5:30m/m and probably would calm down soon enough.  After a mile, I spotted that a break was forming just ahead and made sure I bridged it to work my way through the field.  Although not as crucial as in cycling, being in a bunch is easier mentally when running.  I worked my way to a position behind 2 Bournemouth Athletes at the back of the lead train I couldn’t close any further and settled in for lap 2.  A couple of athletes came past me during this lap but there were big enough gaps that I didn’t have too much to worry about and they were just better runners than me.  43rd Place, second counter.  A great start to 2015 and a linear progression (83rd, 63rd, 43rd) that I only spotted writing this!  I would love 23rd place in Feb but that’d be special.

From a team point of view Victory are looking good at the top of Div 3 with one match to go.

Weight loss, consistency (especially over Christmas), and training at pace are what I attribute these improvements.  #betterneverstops ;-)

Flexible body hearing

fetchRunning to work, New Year training plan?  Be flexible!  My 2014 early season ended in disaster by blindly pushing on, doing too much too soon: Don’t make the same mistake!

Last year I had dreams above my station and this year I feel the urge seeing people running 70, 80 mile weeks and thinking “I could do that”.  I probably could, once, at the moment.

The key is consistency.  Consistency over time beats an oscillating sinusoidal build up of mileage.  There is a 10% rule where you should never increase mileage by more than 10% at a time.  Some notable exceptions have but most of us would just get injured very quickly.

This brings me on to the importance of listening to your body.  I have made 2 changes to my plan this week without havingfetch plan an injury or real cause to do so, it just feels right.  The marathon build up is long and intense, treat it with respect and this means listening to your body, cutting back where necessary.  55 miles over 14 weeks is not much different to 60 miles over the same period or but compared to 12 weeks with 2 weeks lower due to illness or injury i’d prefer 14 happy, healthy weeks and probably get a better result.

On Wednesday I was meant to run 10 miles but after a solid run on Tuesday (3 x 1 mile @ 5:22 ave), some advice and the realisation that there’s a long way to go I just did an Easy 40 min (5.5 miles).

Today I have woken up with DOMS from yesterday’s cross training session despite it being fairly light.  It was my first such session and something i’d like to build into my programme once or twice a week to stay healthy and improve core stability.  I sleep on my right and have always carried things on one side, the result is a lack of abs on my right side and a tendency to collapse to that side when running.  Inefficient.  Last night was another quality session of 10 x 400m @ 75s off 60s rest.   So my plan to run today is on hold.  If I feel better this afternoon I may go out very easy but there’s not point in getting the miles in at the expense of rest.  I have Cross Country this weekend in great conditions (for me, wetter windier, muddier the better , I say)!

Running to work – Top tips!

Some tips to help you commute to work based on my experience.
1. Plan ahead. Can you manage the distances involved? If not consider riding in and running back or catching the train half the way. How does this fit with your training? I want to run on the track Tue/Thu evenings so commuting home these days would ruin the quality of these sessions (3×1 mile @ 5:22 ave).
2. Plan your route. Will it be dark? Is it lit? Is it a footpath, cycle path, road or other?
3. Think about your clothing. Check the forecast for both legs. The weather can change a lot in a day! Be seen by others. Wear bright clothes. Do you need a head torch? I use the Alpkit Gamma’s low light to be seen even though the path is lit. I can boost it up to max power if I need to see down any unlit sections too. It also has a red light/flasher on back of head to illuminate you for those overtaking.
4. Consider your breakfast/fuelling strategy. I had jam on toast this morning followed by a Chia Charge original flapjack bar with a coffee once at work. 370Kcal, oaty so they fill you up, sea salt flakes and Chia seeds help your body recover. Also for the way home if you have had lunch at 12 running home at 5 might be a tough proposition without a boost mid afternoon. Consider fruit. It’s hungry work!



5. Shower/changing facilities. Ron Hill used to birdbath daily, even at home only having a tin bath once a week! How precious we have become about hygiene. Shame. It puts people off exercise. Everyone used to walk, run or cycle to work. That said maybe you can ask your employer or is there a leisure centre or similar nearby to change before walking the last bit in to work?

So there’s many options. Why not give it a go?

The run commute

Have you started commuting by running too? I did it during Ironman training but got lazy. Ironman (such a cool name for a sport) gives you a real attitude to get shit done, get out of bed and work, why? Because race day’s hard enough so you need to be ready.

More people (% and actual numbers) fail to finish a standard marathon than an Ironman. It has a low failure rate. Why? Respect. Training. Hard work.

I drove into work today, left car there, ran home 6 miles. Tomorrow I’ll reverse it but driving to the track thus setting up the double easy/session day nicely. Keeps the mileage high and there’s no excuse; if the car’s at work you got to run!

I also flip-flopped with the bike during IM training. Others use a shorter train route. Just a thought!


Christmas Goals Review

Two weeks ago i started Christmas with the following goals:

1. Lose 2kg… 3 Jan weigh <73kg.
2. Race 28/12 & 30/12 of 7k/4.5k.
3. Rapha 500 – ride long.

1. Well the scales have given me 72.9kg and dropping :-)
2. Raced, for better and worse 4 times over the last week whilst clocking 56 miles (90k).
3. Nope and yes.  I cracked some great rides; long and high but not 500k in 8 days.  It was just too hilly for me.

photo 2

Way ahead:

Am I happy with the situation?  Yes and am well placed to attack the Spring marathon training in February.  In running and life there are no quick fixes.  Everything takes time.  Prepare in advance, build the foundations for a successful campaign.

With mileage now at 56 miles I hope to gently build on this.  Running to work will be key to get the sessions in.  I can drive in on Monday and run home, run in Tuesday but drive to track from work and do session thus maintaining structure of the week whilst building.

This week has been: 56 miles total, long run 16 miles and Sun to Sun 4 races (Cullar, Motril, Parkrun and Hants XC).

Mon 29 – 4 Miles w/ hill climb and Strava CR in Spain
Tue 30 – AM 4 miles w/ (different) hill climb and Strava CR in Spain PM Motril night race
Wed 31 – PM 8 Aerobic
The 1 – Parkrun 18:21 Win!
Fri 2 – AM Easy 4 30 min.
Sat –  Hants XC 39th place overall and 2nd Victory AC counter.
Sun – Long run 16 miles 2hrs

A quality week.  Now back to the track and back to work and hope to keep the weight off.