Author: Buck


Further to my latest boring running blog.

I was saying how hard it is, but at least my foot is holding up and I’ve not had any plague weakness, so I am good to train and make up the lost fitness.

Then yesterday at work I came over all weak and useless. I really thought it was the plague weakness/ Post Viral Fatigue. I was gutted. They say you have to train within the envelope of what you can do, and slowly push the boundaries. Doubling my miles in a week, whilst going faster, sounded like a perfect example of going outside of the envelope.

I was devastated. That is the end of my sub 3 attempt for an indefinite period.

I had some food and it did seem to go off a lot, but then you are looking for the symptoms. I’m sweaty, plague weakness, no concentration, plague weakness, weak, plague weakness.

I got home and did a covid test. That was clear.

Today I had an 8 mile run planned, with 10x 100m sprints. I set my alarm and got dressed, but I was expecting to call it off half a mile in. Nope, I was fine.

I was buzzing! The freezing cold 8 miles of pushing, with 10 sessions of flat out effort, were a joy and a privilege. Running to improve is such hard, and often painful, work that you forget how lucky you are to be able to do it at all. It’s not until it’s snatched from you that you really appreciate it.

I think (and fervently hope) that the weakness was an energy crash. I’ve had them all my life, long, long before the covids. I’m basing that on the fact that, in an effort to understand how I can be burning so many calories and losing so little weight, I’ve started counting calories. Because I can’t often taste much I’ve got into the habit of cheese butties and peanut butter butties for work. Nuts are energy and protein. And so, so many calories it turns out. Two rounds of light, brown bread and a good splodge of peanut butter is 600 calories. Wendy cooked me some chicken thighs in tandoori paste, so I’ve been taking them. They are about 230 calories.

I think what happened was I was running a deficit from the previous day’s 12 miler, then I had no fat or massive calorie boost, so I crashed. Today was an 8 miler, it said I burned 999 calories so I had 500 calories (cereal and a banana) before work and I was fine.

Hopefully now I’m gaining a bit of insight into calories in/ calories out, I can start to lose some decent weight in a controlled manner with no more crashes. And, *touches all the wood* remain free of the plague weakness.

The plan is still on people, and now I’m grateful.

Just thought I’d record some positive stuff for a change.



So It Begins.

I’ve been looking at training plans for my marathon attempt. The one in the Advanced Marathoning book, which I’ve been recommended on several occasions, is not 80/20. (80% very easy, 20% flat out.) That guy on Twitter who’s represents Great Britain as an age grouper, and wins the odd race outright, swears by 80/20. It’s the big thing with all the cool kids. But Advanced Marathoning is of the philosophy “Long slow runs produce long slow runners.” Their plan is push, push some more, rest, push again. To be honest, that works for me. I like challenging myself on my runs. Anyway, in the spirit of keeping with the science I spent an evening googling 80/20 training plans. There was a lot of chatter on the forums, but nothing concrete. I read “P&D” recommended a few times. The comment that summed it up seemed to be “P&D is the best plan off the peg.” Further Googling: What does P&D mean? Pfitzinger and Douglas. The authors of Advanced Marathoning. *sigh* That’s a few hours of my life I’m not getting back.

So I started the plan. The first day was a rest day/ cross training day. I decided to break out my £20 rowing machine for half an hour then do another half hour on other strength training. Today was a 7 mile “general aerobic” run with 10 x 100 meter strides in it. I think that means a run where you are not killing yourself but are pushing on a bit, with 10 sprints included. I used to aim for a steady 8 m/m when I was fit, so I thought 8.30 would still be enough to slightly tax me. Oh very dear. It was killer! I did it, and, with the sprints, managed to average 8.14 m/m, but it had no right to be that hard.

I’ve been getting a lot of wake-up calls about this sub 3 attempt. “Bare minimum is an 18 minute 5K (I’m currently 22 minutes) a 38minute 10K (no idea, never tried the distance) and a 1.25 half marathon (my PB is 1.33:37, I’m way off that now.)

I’m trying not to freak out about it. I got up this morning, hours before work, even though it was freezing and chucking it down, and pushed myself for 7 miles, before what I thought was going to be an 11 hour shift. I’m committing. And I’m going to be cycling through the training plan at least twice, even if I have to lower my expectations the first time through, or maybe just some of the way through the first round, I’m still training hard, and I’m still improving.

The huge positives to draw from it is my foot seems to be holding up. It still gets sore, but I’ve got full mobility. If the physio has fixed me, it’s just a matter of time and effort.

“Success is working out the price you have to pay and being willing to pay it.”

I’m not going to downgrade my times just yet. I’ll let my body set what it can do. Then I’ll have to work from there.

The other thing is my bike! Got it. It is, as advertised, brand new! Bargain.

I fitted the mudguards I had already bought, adjusted the seat, fitted flat pedals, just pop on my shiny new 33mm ultra grippy, low pressure, all-singing, all-dancing tyres. No.

The new bike has “tubeless ready” wheels. Like a car tyre, you can run it without inner tubes. Apparently to achieve this they make the wall of the wheel really tall so the tyre can make an airtight seal. I’ve never come across it before. I spent literally hours trying to get one tyre on. I managed, after an evening and the following morning, to get one side of one tyre on. I admitted defeat. There is no point, even if I could get the other side on, to fitting a tyre I couldn’t possibly get off again if I got a puncture. It took me hours to get it off again. I was actually thinking I might have to cut it off. The original, brand new tyre, which had seemed really awful to take off, was a doddle to put back on in comparison. I’ll see how they fare, if they’re not up to snuff I’ll hit the forums again. They said certain tyres work. Mine just didn’t.

I sold one of my pushbikes today (Sunday), so that was good. I think I’m going to have to list the other one on thrice damned eBay, as it’s XS, (extra small) I now realise. I’ll need a bigger audience to sell it.

I’m waiting until tomorrow to post this. I want to see how I get on with my first big challenge of my training plan. 12 miles at target marathon pace +10 – 20%.

I was only up to 8 miles on my own (I’ve only been back running 3½ weeks after 2 months off) and the plan had me do 9 miles general aerobic (8.30 m/m) a few days ago. Tomorrow is a third further and 20 seconds per mile faster. I really have no idea how it’s going to go. If I can hold the pace, I’m good for this plan. If not I may have to adjust. Fingers crossed.

I am trying not to freak out too much about how hard it is right now. It’s not even a full week into my training plan, it’s the start of January, so I’ve got time, and I’m 1½ stone overweight, so when I’ve lost a ninth of my weight I’m going to be faster anyway.

Talking of, Smashrun (run data storage app) says I’ve burned 5,000 calories running so far this year. I’ve cut out sweets and butter/ marg, and limited my food intake. I’ve lost a pound in a week. Wendy, who has strolled to the car, has lost 5lb! How is that fair? Grrrrrr.

OK, the thrilling reveal!

Not terrible. Thinking about it, I upped my miles by 50% from the end of last week. I wasn’t even sure I was good for the 12 miles, let alone keeping to the pace. The plan said the minimum pace I should get was 8.12 m/m, but I wanted to do 8.10 to give myself a tiny buffer. I managed on the way out, but then I turned around into the wind and it got so hard. I just couldn’t hold the pace for the last few miles, so I averaged 3 seconds per mile too slow.

But it wasn’t from lack of trying.

I could beat myself up over how far I’ve fallen, I did a half marathon (13.1 miles) 7 minutes faster than that, but I’m choosing to look on the positives. I’m just starting the training plan, I’m close enough to minimum pace that I can keep training and wait for my fitness to catch up, nearly 4 weeks and 114 miles of running and my foot is holding up, and (touch wood) no plague weakness!

A bit of Twitter to relieve the tedium of *another* boring running blog, then I’m out of here.



Made It!

I don’t want to speak too soon, one hour and fifty four minutes to go, but I think we’ve survived 2021. I’m taking that as a win.

I tried and tried with my pushbike thing, but in the end, inevitably, I’ve ended up getting a new bike. Three sets of mudguards, new tyres, on two different bikes, and still can’t get a winter bike out of them. In the end I researched Decathlon (store) for a new bike. Decathlon is always a good benchmark as they make their own kit and manage to fit a really good standard of parts for the money. They regularly win “Best Bike Under X amount”, reviews in bike magazines. They have exactly what I want. Takes up to 33mm (quite wide) tyres, with enough frame clearance and mounting points for the (fitted) mudguards. Perfect. But it’s £849. For a pushbike that is just for riding my 5 miles a day round trip to work and keeping me from being sprayed and soaked in winter. Once I knew what I was after I went looking for second hand. Sadly the bike has only been in production for a few years so there aren’t many and they’ve kept their price.

Then, through a random google search, I found someone trying to sell one “ridden 5 miles”, for £510. He’d been trying to sell it since May. On a site for people selling record players and amps. Target audience, mate. I joined the stupid site to make an offer but he didn’t get back to me. Then I saw he’d just posted it on Preloved (another not obvious site) for £495 or offers. I offered £450 ( I would have paid the £495, or a haggle in the middle) and he said yes! Bargain! It’s the same frame and such as the kitted out winter bike, but without the mudguards and fat tyres. I’ve already bought them, trying to fit to my other bikes, so job’s a good ‘un! I’m picking it up on Sunday.

I’ve just looked back over 2021. Started with a broken shoulder, and no running. Bike training with my arm strapped to my chest. Putting up that beast of a shed on my own. Bought a big, tourer motorbike, not the Triumph Daytona I really wanted. Realised I don’t need a big tourer motorbike, sold it, bought the Triumph Daytona I really wanted. Got the kit I needed to ride like a racer. Found out I was still an untrained, clueless, fool, but one with a nice bike and kit. Bought us recorders. And a Sax. And a clarinet. Playing none of them. Read that a shopping addiction was a symptom of my Borderline Personality Disorder. Got a grip. Bought a boat. Had a nightmare getting it to the lake. Nearly drowned. Still can’t sail. Fixated on buying a car for the boat, prevaricated until the obsession passed. Ran the Loch Ness Marathon, blew up and failed 20 miles in to the Manchester marathon, the week after. I went to the physio about my lame hoof, and, after years of suffering, he said it’s a trapped/ damaged nerve, not my foot. I’m back to running again. And I may have got a proper bargain pushbike.

Wendy went loony, faced it, and dragged herself back to sanity. Incredible bravery. And got rammed and ended up with a new side for her Mini.

My new year’s resolution is to get a sub 3 hour marathon. If my foot holds up I reckon I can do it. It means dedication and consistency. The last week every time my alarm has gone off, well before I have to get up for a long shift (10 and 11 hours), I’ve had to win the mental fight to get out of bed before I even start running. It’s going to be very, very tough. But if it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge. I’ve signed up for a flat, fast marathon in Newport, Wales, for the end of October. That is in 42 weeks. I’ll start the training plan from the Advanced Marathoning book from next week. If I’m not up to speed by then I’ll look for others, and if necessary, just run a flat solo run at the end of December. It’s not official, but it will do. Once I’ve got the pace I can do it an official race and qualify for a bucketlist marathon or two, Berlin springs to mind.

Talk is cheap, but I’m determined to give it my best shot.

Watch this space.