Author: Buck

More Of The Same. Much More.

We’ve had a few things going on.

I was worried about Wendy, she’s been having small coughing bouts every day for over a year. Then I read on Twitter that one of the after effects of Long Covid is pulmonary fibrosis, a stiffening of the lungs that reduces function until death. That is less than ideal. I nagged Wendy into going to see the doctor, who referred her for a lung x-ray. The good news is they’ve said there is no apparent issue, case closed, so she’s not going to die. The bad news is the implied “suck it up” medical advice for her ongoing cough. Meh.

We took a mini break to north Wales. It was only 4 days, and it was only 50 minutes away, but it was a complete change of scene and felt like a proper break.

I got to do some “Chariots Of Fire” running.

And we went to Bodnant Gardens again. Always lovely.

When we came back I was surprised to be back on 2 shifts a week. I thought work had picked up. I asked and they have a definite start date now. The automated sorting machinery is running in the morning and evening as they ease the new tech in, but the whole thing goes properly live on the 25th of July. Then it will be all hands to the pumps. I can enjoy the last few quiet weeks now I have a set date. I’ll be a sad panda when I’m trying to fit my training in around full time work again. Money or leisure. It’s an either/or thing.

Training is going well. Sort of. I was very bored with Camille’s plan, it was too easy and too repetitive. Get up, run 8 miles, easy, then go to work. 6 days a week. OK, it’s not quite that dull. Long run one day, specialist training (hills, sprints, etc) one day, but mainly it’s 8 miles, easy. It was boring.

Then I was talking to someone on Twitter and he said about running from one end of one of my run loops (Carr Mill Dam, St Helens) to the end of another of my run loops (Wigan, where the old canal meets the Mersey). He’d run it one end to the other. Being me, I decided to run it as a loop. 31 miles.

Basically it was all the dumb I swore I’d never do again after reading that article.

I hadn’t trained for it, was winging it, all attitude and no preparation.

I set off in my ASICS (the trainers that were rubbing so badly I ended up buying a bunch of new pairs. They have been alright on shorter runs, but you can see where this is going) wearing a running vest stuffed with 2½ litres of water and energy powder. There’s an extra 6 pounds of weight. On a hot day. I was cruising for 20 miles, (which, by no coincidence, is about the distance of my long runs on my training plan) then it started to hit me. My feet swelled with the heat, the weight, and the distance, my toenail was getting battered. By 24 miles the wheels had truly fallen off. My pace had dropped and I was trying to run on the outside of my foot because my big toenail was so painful, which used different muscles, causing my calves to cramp. I made it to 29.6 miles but then I had to quit. I limped home in a sorry state.

My toenail had gone a funny colour and was painful to even have the shower water hitting it. I asked the ultra runners on Twitter (they are always losing nails, it’s one of the joys, apparently) and someone said I had a blister under the nail. I had to stab it to release the pressure. That was a great relief. It was still bashing on everything so I’ve had to clip it back and file it flat. I’ve been for two runs since and it’s fine and dandy again.

So basically, breaking the plan to go off and half-arse a stupid long run for which I hadn’t trained wasn’t a great idea.

Some would say slightly ill judged. Possibly.

Then, as if by magic, the plan started to make sense. I noticed some of the boring 8 miles, easy, runs had times. Over the weeks the times have come down, 8.30m/m, 8.15, 8.00. Then today the plan was for my long run, but instead of boring, slow run, it was this beast:

That’s run 11 miles fast, then faster, faster, then 4 miles, when you are getting a bit tired, at sub 3 marathon pace.

That’s more like it!

I can see the point of the plan now.

This is my last week “trial period” with this plan. Next Monday I’m going to run a test half marathon. If the plan is working, and I’m considerably faster than my last half, I’ll start it again from week one. If not, I’ll switch back to the Advanced Marathoning plan. It’s brutal but effective. But after next Monday I commit to one plan, then I’ve got 16 weeks until my official sub 3 attempt. That still seems like a big ask. Focusing times.

I have this thing for small cars. I love the Fiat 500, the original Mini, the 2 seater Smart car, etc.

Saw this on a film and loved it!

But then I looked it up. It’s no aircon, windows don’t open, no airbags, 1 star safety rating, 216cc and 13bhp. OK, maybe not.

Then I read about of class of Japanese mini cars (Kei cars) that are limited to tiny dimensions and 660cc engines.

I nearly talked myself into this:

But again, the reality is abysmal. 50mph flat out and screaming. Won’t go up hills. And, being a novelty import, £8K! Again, maybe not.

Right, catch up the Twitterverse and I’m out of here.

Some commuting advice

A brilliant thread on some geezer in some TV show.

Chum had a moment.

And on that sour note,



Sub 3 June

I’ve been following Camille’s plan and it’s starting to make sense. 6 days a week running, loads of tedious “8 miles, easy” nothing much challenging. But as I’m getting into the plan (6 weeks) I’m noticing the “8 miles easy at 8.30” are changing to “easy at 8.15” and shortly “easy at 8.00”. If I do every 8 mile at the suggested pace for that week, I can see how that would work. It’s still not very challenging, but this week my long run, instead of being a tedious “18 miles, super easy” is 18 miles; 11 at 7.45, then 7.00, 6.55, 6.50, 6.45, 6.45, finishing with an 8.00 for a cool down. 18 miles with 3 of the last 4 at sub 3 pace. That’s more like it!

Next week will be the test. It’s my 7th week of this plan, and ends with me having to commit to one plan or the other for the final cycle of training. Instead of my long run next week I’m going to do a flat-out half marathon. See if this plan has made me faster.

I was getting very bored with this plan. Get up, run 8 miles easy, go to work, repeat. I broke the plan and fell back into all the bad habits from before reading that article “why women are kicking arse at ultra events/ what men do wrong.”

I did a 19 mile run up to Carr Mill dam. Someone on twitter was up there later that day so I said about it, he replied that he’d run from Carr Mill dam (the end of one of my run loops) to Wigan down the canal (the end of another of my loops). I fancied it. Instead of doing end to end I tried to do it as a loop. 31 miles. I’m only up to 19 miles in my training, and the plan said to do 18 that day. I was wearing my vest with bottles and bladder to support myself for the distance, it was well hot so my feet swelled with the heat and weight, and I was wearing my (tight) ASICS.

It was basically as dumb as it’s possible to be.

My nail got so bashed it blistered underneath and swelled up. I ran out of mojo at about 20 miles, was limping by 24, and quit at 29.6, had to shuffle home.

Toe was very poorly.

I tried another run but it was awful.

Someone on twitter told me it was a blister under my nail, and best to pop it.

That was a load better. I ended up clipping the nail back as far as I could and filing it smooth so it wouldn’t snag.

I’ve just been for a fast 7 mile with 5x 100m sprints and it’s not swelled up and was fine on the run, so I’m hoping that’s that. The ultra runner on twitter said I was going to lose the nail, but that’s no big.

The main thing is I can run again.

See how next week goes. Then commit to one plan or the other. It’s all getting a bit real now. That will be the final cycle. 16 weeks until my sub 3 attempt. Oh dear. 26.2 miles at 6.50, that still seems a *HUGE* ask.

Definitive Answers.

I’ve been in two minds about a bunch of things to do with my running lately.

My main concern was with my knees. You always hear people saying running inevitably smashes your knees, and I was wondering if I was going that way. I overheard talk about two other drivers who had to have replacement knees and were in a right state. My mam has had it done and, after the pain of the operation and recovery, seems to be fine with it. But either way, you don’t want to be thinking you are hastening your knee destruction. Then there’s the stretching and cross training I’ve been doing on the rowing machine. Is that good or further stressing my knee? Should I rest until it’s completely better? I can see arguments for and against everything.

Today I went to see my physio. He had a look at my knees and stretched and pulled me in every direction to pinpoint the problem. He said it was just inflamed tendons. Huge relief. While I was there I asked all the questions.

Running smashes your knees? Exactly the opposite. The cartilage has no blood supply. The only way you can build and strengthen it is through movement and exercise.

I said I was worried I was going to end up needing new knees. “If you stop running, and put on a lot of weight, you might need new knees in about 20 years. Maybe.”

I asked about the stretching and he said it was fine. And he advised cross training (such as rowing, cycling or swimming) as it is low impact. Maybe not to close the angle of my knees as much on the rowing machine (stop before my heels meet my bum, sort of thing) but basically it’s all good.

What about total rest? Absolutely not. It’s tendon damage and inflammation. Tendons have poor blood supply, so massage them and exercise them to stimulate blood flow to aid recovery. Also tendons fray when they are damaged. If you just rest they eventually repair, but messily. If you exercise they knit together tidily.

So many good answers.

He also had me doing eyes-shut one leg balancing. Then he was stretching my about. He said I had the responses of a 20 year old man. Apparently we old dodders are only able to hold 5 or 6 seconds, knee up, balancing on one foot with our eyes closed. A good 20 year can last 20 seconds. I do it every day (with my eyes open) as part of my post run stretching, so I aced that. More wobble getting settled on my right though, which is the worst knee, so it exposed the problem. Also the leg raises are supposed to be a problem past 70 degrees. I swing to head height daily as part of my warm down.

He was well made up with me.

He’s given me a bunch of stretches and exercises to add to my regime and told me to crack on. Don’t add any more miles until my discomfort level drops (I’m on 55 or so miles a week now, that’s not a problem!) but apart from that, have at it. Brilliant!

While I was there I remembered about my shoulder. Since breaking it if it’s proper cold on a run it really hurts. I mean seriously painful. I used to get a stiff, painful shoulder if I was in drafts and such beforehand so I didn’t hold out much hope. He gave me the once over and said it’s another trapped nerve. Seems you’ve got one that runs from your neck, under your shoulder blade/ over your top rib and down to under your armpit. Odd routing, but I don’t make the rules. Anywho, seems my lumpy shoulder bone is pressing down, the cold is making my chest and shoulder muscles bunch up, pulling the rib up and trapping the nerve. Genius. He said to lay on my back, interlace my fingers, then stretch my arms right back, arms brushing ears. Do that daily and bob’s your uncle. And later to put a tennis ball between my shoulder blades while doing it.

Amazing fix. So great to meet an expert and take all the guesswork and second guessing out of it.

Talking of, I wanted to test whether this plan is doing any good. I tried in the week to do a flat out 5K race (4 mile out, to warm up, flat out 3.1 miles back, jog home). My method, it being such a short distance, was to flat out sprint, then hold on as it all went south. I’d start out at 5 minute mile pace, within half a mile I was 5.30, scrape in the mile just under 6, then hang on for dear life. It occurred to me this might be counterproductive as if you go too fast you flood your muscles with lactic acid, which naturally slows you down as your muscles can’t process oxygen fast enough. Or something. Anyway, I asked that guy who represents GB as an age grouper at short distance triathlon. He recently ran a 16.40 5K, which is mighty impressive, so he’s doing something right.

As usual, I’m exactly wrong. He said start (relatively) slow, then go faster in the second half.

I tried again today. My 5K PB was 19.34, first mile 5.58, then died. I set off today at 6.15, which oddly felt quite do-able, I slipped slightly with the second mile (6.17) then went for it with a 6.12, and a sprint finish at 5.53 pace.

New PB of 19.19!

I’d only ever broke 20 minutes once and that near killed me. Just knocked another 15 seconds off it. I am very happy with that. More so because I now think I’ve got a plan of attack. I don’t think I’m any faster yet, I just think that was the correct way to pace it.

Also it was Wendy’s birthday yesterday so I made a meal for her and her brother and sister in law and I ate a load, so I had tons of fuel for the run. Dieting is not conducive to PBs.

Another boring running blog, but it’s been a great day for me, so I wanted to record it.