Pre-storm calm

I had a strange ambivalence towards running this morning.  It wasn’t a case that I didn’t want to: more a case of not being bothered about it.

This is possibly something to do with the fact that the hard work is done and the next three weeks is about comprehensively sorting out my niggly injuries and recuperating ahead of the big day.

I stretched comprehensively before I started and then again at the 5-mile mark and ran a total of 8 miles in 1.13 and 22 seconds.  It was really no bother, to the extent that I even counted up for a change rather than down.  I kept changing the pace slightly each quarter-mile, but kept within the envelope of 6 to 7.2mph.  And I stretched out again afterwards.

Of course, my ambivalence may also be something to do with the amount of running I’ve done lately.  Further my post on January 31st (in which I highlighted that I had managed to fit in 12 runs, 14 hours of running time and cover 88.1 miles in January), I have had two further bumper months.

In February I had 15 runs, lasting 18 hours 48 minutes and covering 131.9 miles.

In March I have now completed 17 runs, lasting 5 minutes short of a whole day and have covered 157.25 miles.

That means I could reach Birmingham or Yeovil on foot in twenty-four hours of running… if I were allowed to stick to the motorways, of course!  Or put another way, I covered almost exactly the distance of six complete marathons.

I have much (much) less planned in the next few weeks up to the marathon, but I already have the subsequent challenge lined up in the summer and this time it’s about running fast, rather than long, so please watch this space!

One last thing… Happy Birthday Debbie!

Another ‘other 3.25 miles’

In contrast to March 15th, the day after the last time I ran 22.95 miles, I decided to take it really easy earlier today.

I set the machine to 6mph and completed 3.25 miles in 32.17, my ankle only twinging lightly in the first half-mile.

Afterwards I marvelled at how relaxed my legs were, although not so now, alas, having been sat back at my desk for an hour!

Far too early by (way too) far

I did my level best to get up on time this morning, but failed miserably.  I knew this because it was still dark when the alarm went off.  Worse still, when I finally did make it downstairs some time later, it was 5.40am… though I still have no idea whether this was in new money or old money!

Still, it was a beautiful bright morning so I took up residence in the reading chair and continued in my current amazing tour through the French waterways with Damian & Shiv Horner’s wonderful book For Better For Worse.  They each wrote their own thoughts which are then juxtaposed, so it is sharply insightful in a ‘Men are from Mars’ way.  Really a most highly recommended read!

I was totally engrossed so time swept by and despite rising so early I ended up eating breakfast late and was consequently late out the door.  No matter… I wasn’t really looking forward to the task ahead anyway.

I guess that you could say that I picked up an injury last weekend (left ankle pain), which is what Kurt from Run predicted if I tried to mix speed work with my training programme… I think the culprit was my fast five miler on the 19th March.  I have given my ankle and lower leg a lot of massage attention this last week and I even dropped the Friday run from my tight schedule, but today was my last chance to run a long distance before I start to taper ahead of the marathon… which is now in three weeks time… so I had to at least try.

My ankle lasted roughly three miles, down from Woodingdean to Rottingdean and along to St Dunstans, before it demonstrated that it had an electric prod and was not afraid to use it.  I stopped to comprehensively stretch and massage the affected area and plodded forward to see what effect I had achieved.  It was pretty good, insofar as the pain abated completely for another two miles, whereupon I repeated the exercise.

My mind became focussed on a new pain, this time coming from my bladder, so I fixed my metaphorical gaze on the toilets along towards King Alfreds, around the 7.5 mile mark and hastened thither.  Having greatly relieved myself there, I then spent a few minutes stretching my legs for good order before continuing.

At Hove Lagoon is the turn point for 18 miles, but since I really wanted to do 20 I continued onward.  However, a combination of not having a fixed turn point for 20 miles and the lure of running just a bit further saw me continue on to the end of the Shoreham Harbour groyne, around the 11.5-mile mark, which I reached in 1.45.

Once again I carefully stretched my tired legs for a few minutes before turning and setting off for home.

I reached the Peace Memorial around 16 miles before I stopped to stretch again, then again outside Martlet Kayak Club at 18 miles and then I made it all the way along the top of the cliffs to Rottingdean around the 21-mile mark before my ankle got painful yet again and I had to stop to stretch.  Each time I managed to resolve the pain before I ran on, but it obviously needs more work over the next few weeks to overcome it completely.

Interestingly, as I dropped down into Rottingdean I had a significant realisation… I wasn’t breathing properly.  Despite wearing a BreatheRight strip on my nose, I was not filling my lungs to any real extent at all.  It took me a while to open my lungs up fully, but the effect was dramatic.  Compared to the last few long runs, I fairly flew up the hills from Rottingdean.

One other point of note… Spring is not yet fully with us!  I wore only one long-sleeve top under my Gore jacket, but my hat and gloves only came off after the turn point when the wind was behind me and though I took my jacket off for the last two miles up the hill from Rottingdean, I got a real ice-cream head in the more exposed section around Longhill School.  It was not warm out there!

With my six stretching stops, each of more than a couple of minutes, I took longer than my last run along this route on March 14th… but since the time was only 9 minutes more I would guess that I was actually running a little faster.

The time: 3.48

The distance: 22.95

The average speed, stops included: 6.04mph

Now let the tapering begin!

PS. The run and the rather early morning resulted in my spending most of the afternoon asleep on the sofa!  Bless!

Of a cold dark dank groyne

If you are easily scared, I suggest that you might want to avoid looking at the photo of Mark and I below… though I have to say that I blame the photographer (me) rather than the subject matter!

I’d arranged to meet Mark after work so that we could run the section of the marathon route along Church Road in Hove, down Grand Avenue and out to the Power Station.

It was already dark and threatening rain when we set out, but I was still slightly overdressed for the occasion, what with the day-glo jacket from my car over my normal Gore jacket.  I tend not to run at night, in part because most of my gear is black and I wasn’t sure how visible I needed to be… m’Lud.  In retrospect I think I would have been okay in just my normal gear… built up area, street-lights etc.

By the time we reached the seafront I was already over-hot and at Hove Lagoon I HAD to stop to take a layer off… this left me wearing a t-shirt under the day-glo… not exactly an optimal combination, but at least I could tie my Gore jacket around my waist.

Despite my thinking that I would be happy to end the run at that point (even the jelly-babies came out!), we ran on down through the industrial estate and out onto the end of the groyne where I had met Matt and his friends on March 14th.

The view was somewhat different, on account of it being dark… the beach-looking thing in the foreground is the top of the wall that I was leaning on for a sharp picture and I was too scared to move the camera any further forward in case I dropped it off the other side!

The view in the other direction was…

… scaaaary!

We then ran back towards Hove and I realised that it had felt hot before because we had been running with the wind… it was now chilling my bare arms and blowing my oversized day-glo off my shoulder!  Okay, so it wasn’t bad enough to put my Gore back on, but I did don my hat and gloves to take the edge off.

Not being too familiar with the area, the end of the run appeared very suddenly and having said our goodbyes, I then managed to jump into my car just before the heavens opened with a gusto!

Distance: 8.55 (according to Mark and

Time: 1.13

Average speed: a healthy 7mph

Late post-run run

I had resigned myself to not running today, on account of a painful ankle, knackered legs and a touch of hayfever.

That is, until I spoke to Cliff this afternoon.

Despite running a 50-mile (FIFTY MILE!) race on Saturday in Paris with Pete and Daren, the lune was still seriously contemplating going to Circuit Training tonight!

In the course of trying to persuade him to be more circumspect, he persuaded me of the merits of jogging in order to be able to stretch my legs out properly.  So that is what I did earlier this evening.

3 miles took me 29.52 and whilst my ankle is still about as painful as before, my legs are a whole lot less stiff.

Spring delays posting

It was the Spring Equinox on Saturday evening and despite a rainy start to Sunday, by the afternoon it was glorious.

This meant that, despite feeling pretty knackered, I spent the afternoon moving pots and furniture back into the garden, edging the grass and generally titivating.

Which is partially why I’m writing this post a day late: the other reason being that the TV feed has gone and having spent a fruitless while trying to fix it, I have given up to do something less frustrating.

My schedule for yesterday said 14 miles, but I thought I would add on a couple for good order by running up the Ovingdean valley as far as the top of the narrow road… for those who know it.  So I ran down to Rottingdean, once again shedding layers as I went, along the coast and up to my designated turn point… where my testosterone pushed me on up to the very top of the steep hill before I actually turned around.

Once back at the coast I didn’t fancy shattering the Ovingdean peace by running along the roadside, so instead I dropped down onto the undercliff walk.

The chalk cliff has really fallen away over the winter, but I suspect that the council has used this as a bit of an excuse to drive walking traffic through the marina, as they have closed both the part of the undercliff walk behind the marina and also the path that ascends to Roedean.  This didn’t bother me as it was a good excuse to have a look at the boats, flats, people etc in the marina.

Sport Relief was omnipresent in Madeira Drive, although the marshal I asked at the marina end actually had no idea what event it was… her friend thought it might be running and when I had run down to the other end I saw that she was correct.

I must have got used to the seafront being cold and empty as it seemed to be thronging with people as I made my way down past the piers to the Peace Memorial.  Here I paused to stretch, my legs being unusually stiff, before I headed back past the piers again and along Marine Parade to avoid the worst of the throng below.

There were still a plethora of runners coming steadily towards me and as I neared the top of Dukes Mound, one of them stopped in front of me and bowed in a lavish way.  It was Mark Johnson and rather than run on past, or stand and get cold while we chatted, I turned around and ran back to the Palace Pier with him.

At the pier I turned once again and headed for home, noting that my left ankle was now quite painful, as if I had twisted it.  I found myself running alongside another runner, neither gaining nor losing and after a while I asked if he minded me tagging along.

His name turned out to be Gary and he was running to Telscombe, so we ran together as far as my turn off at Rottingdean.  The simultaneous upside and downside of this was that I had to keep running, despite my ankle slowly becoming more and more painful.

As he ran on, I paused to stretch and for a short while thereafter it was a lot better.  But as I really got stuck into the final two-mile uphill section, my legs and ankles began to stiffen and by the time I reached the Downs Hotel I was moving like a 95-year-old.  I couldn’t even manage a jog back down the hill, instead waddling gently like I had a beach-ball between my legs.

Despite this photo being taken after only five miles, it accurately portrays how I felt at the end!  It also serves to remind me to mention the anti-snoring device I’m wearing… although I’ve temporarily forgotten the brand name, it works really very well indeed (for running) by increasing air-flow and I highly recommend trying it at least a couple of times to see if it works for you too.

Time: 3.03

Distance 18.8 miles (remember, I had intended to do 14)

Average speed: 6.16mph, which reflects the stoppages as much as the snail-pace of the final climb.

The results of my afternoon recovery in the garden:

Fast Friday Five-miler

Earlier this morning I climbed aboard the magic carpet to do my weekly Friday-five-miler.

I started at 7mph and increased the speed by 0.2mph for each quarter mile until I reached 9mph.

Then I reduced the speed by the same amount until I reached 8mph, where I stuck it out until the end.

My heart rate was only in the low 170’s even running at 9mph, but then it didn’t drop down again as the speed decreased, which suggested that I had had a tough workout.  Even as I was running I knew that I could have run faster, but this still turned out to be a personal best.

Distance: 5 miles

Time: 37.23

Average speed 8.02mph, narrowly beating my time on the 3rd February

Unremarkable ten

The downside of having a training program is having to stick to it, whether or not you feel like it.

This morning I did not feel like it.

However, I still jumped on the machine and set to with the specified task of running 10 miles.  After a brief warm-up, I varied the speed every quarter-mile within the range 7 to 8.5mph, but more towards the bottom end if the truth be known.

I had no radio on so only my thoughts for company and I forgot to ask Kim to open the door so after 30 minutes I jumped off to open it and got straight back on again.

With 2.5 miles to go I set the speed to a constant 7.6mph, but with a mile to go I realised I was going too slow to come in underneath 80 minutes, so I increased to 8mph.

So ten miles in 79.44, average 7.5mph.

The other 3.25 miles

As per the last few Mondays, I did a short run this morning to take the edge off yesterday’s long one.

What was instantly surprising was that, beyond a slight initial stiffness in the legs, I felt no other after-effects and happily increased the speed, varying from 6mph initially to between 7 and 8.5mph.  In fact, I whizzed along very comfortably, the only negative sensation being one of hunger that developed after about 2 miles.

For the sake of balanced reporting, I should mention that yesterday afternoon and evening I had a series of temporary headaches and backache and was very pleased to finally turn my lights out at bedtime!

I am also glad to report that Spring took another step forward and that the door was open from the off this morning… although  we do have the benefit of a secluded South facing aspect!

So 3.25 miles in 26.40 which equates to an average of 7.3mph.


This has been a really sociable weekend, at least by our recent standards!

Friday night we met Dai, Kath, Daren and Claire at Noori’s in Brighton for great conversation and delicious curry.

Last night we were treated to an adventurous dinner party by Grant & Karen… the food from all three courses was amazing, the portions generous and the Chateauneuf-du-Pape as rewarding as I remember when I could still afford it!  And with 9 of us to cater for, Grant did a genuinely superb job, cocktails and all!

Of course, as with all good dinner parties, we ate late and when I finally made it to bed towards one o’clock, for the second night running, I rolled in rather like a barrel.  And continued to roll around for some time on account of the diverse tastes and sheer quantity eaten.

Fortunately the food digested into weird dreams overnight and seven o’clock dawned bright and sunny, making it easy to arise, though it took a quadspresso to render me more fully awake.

I started my run just after nine, easing into the initial downhill section from Woodingdean with a view to a potentially huge training run.  As I neared Rottingdean I stowed my gloves and almost stripped off a layer or two, but my decision to wait until I had felt the seafront temperature was validated when it was decidedly chilly.  Spring is en-route, but had clearly not yet arrived.

Ahead I could see the distant chimney that was my halfway target…

… whilst the day was visually stunning.

At 54 minutes, I was a little slower than normal to the Palace Pier and it was 1.01 when I passed the Peace Memorial and continued Westwards.

1.20 saw me passing the point where I had turned round by Hove Lagoon on Valentine’s Day and then I was in to virgin territory, heading out onto the lower spit of Shoreham Harbour.

It’s quite a way along that last bit and when the road ahead was finally barred, it seemed rude not to join the back of another group of runners in running to the very end of the tiny breakwater.  If for no other reason than to see how far I had to run back again!

The runners turned out to be really lovely and also in training for the Brighton Marathon.

I gently pulled ahead of the group coming back along the spit and was once more running on my own as I came back East…

… reaching the Peace Memorial at the 2.20 mark.

Further East I ran along Madeira Drive past the pre-1940’s motorcycle rally and then on past a vast collection of more modern bikes in the car-park, many probably capitalising on a fine and dry, Spring-like day.  I stopped for five minutes at Martlet Kayak Club to chat to Graham, drink water and then briefly chat to Pete Graves on the phone about Table B’hote.  This latter comes with a ‘highly recommended’ tag from me… they’re delicious and now you can even order them online for home delivery, all the way from gorgeous Cornwall!

My legs were starting to feel the distance by now, but I pressed on past the Marina along the top of the cliffs even as the clouds started to roll in.

At Rottingdean, with less than 3 miles to go, the power in my legs really was starting to fade and the cloud cover had dropped the temperature by a noticeable amount.  This is where the mental muscle really carries you onward, in this case up the long hill of Falmer Road, placing one foot in front of the other, each step one nearer to the end.

As I rounded the last corner before the Downs Hotel the traffic was stationary to my left, backed up from the lights at the crossroad ahead and racing a Jenson Interceptor and a Police Car gave me a final goal to focus on.  I beat both to the lights and jogged back lightly to my parents house.

The time: 3.39

The distance: 22.95 miles

The average speed, which felt terminally slow, was actually a respectable 6.29mph.  Although this doesn’t quite get me to my marathon goal, it’s the same average speed as the Valentine Day run, which was only 18.35 miles long.  And whilst my effort at the moment is in building muscle, on the big day I will have no qualms about being swept along with the flow and using every ounce of muscle available!

One final thing, courtesy of two young boys along by Hove Lagoon… they say a picture says a thousand words!