Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Catching up with Spring

I love this time of year; May is my favourite month of the year.  Everything is new and looking bright for the summer months ahead.  Our daylight is getting longer, temperatures are getting warmer and the garden is springing into life.

With these wonderful things there are all kinds of distractions from blogging but I just wanted to reassure you that I'm not going cold on you!

Here's a little round-up of what's going on:

I have taken things a little easy since the MK Marathon on 6th May.  I have enjoyed a few short runs of 2 or 3 miles to give my 51 year old legs a chance to recuperate a little although it has to be said, my recovery has been better than expected.

Apart from just a little stiffness in the 24 hours after the race, I have been absolutely fine apart from my sleeping pattern went up the creak for 4 or 5 nights afterwards.  I mentioned that to a running acquaintance who said that is fairly common.  As for myself, while this might be true, I have no idea why.

While there is nothing particularly remarkable about running a marathon in just under 4 hours, I'm still enjoying the memory of the event.   It's one of those things I won't need to have regrets about when I'm in my 90s - I'm sure there will be plenty of other things I'll be wishing I'd done while I had the chance.  I'm still pretty chuffed at myself.

Perhaps running a marathon is the hopeful goal of many recreational runners?  There are so many around these days and I think it's great.  Some far more capable than me, others wobbling their way along as they shed some surplus weight - I see myself in them from a few years back.  There is every reason for us all to be encouraged as there is so much to gain.  If in doubt check out my reasons to run.

We spotted an opportunity recently which was about being trained to become a running coach / leader through England Athletics.  Just so happens we are away when the next free training course will be (but live in hope of another later on).  The idea is that the Local Authority pays for ordinary people who have a passion for running, just like me, to be trained in leading a group of novice runners.  I think there's an expectation you generate a certain number of runners yourself but the powers-that-be could also put people in touch with you.  That strikes me as being a brilliant move - working strategically to get people into running shoes and out there pounding the streets and trails.  Click here for further details.

Very unscientific I know but I can feel my stress levels rising at work.  Is this because of cutting my running miles back and I'm not handling the stress, or, is there more pressure around anyway?  Could be.....

At work I have been given a corporate Twitter account and just starting to figure out how to use it.  So with this in mind, why should I have my own?  No problem apart from (at the time of writing) only having 3 followers.  So please feel welcome to follow me on https://twitter.com/TheCycleHub_net. I promise you'll get other things, apart from "ramblings".

With all this running going on, not to mention the dreadful weather we had earlier this year, my bike has been collecting a little dust.  In fact I have barely done 100 miles all year.  That's now changing as my running will be "ticking over" for the summer as I clock up plenty of more miles on two wheels.

Jeremy holding himself back
Even yesterday I went for a 7.00am blast with my friend Jeremy.  It was just for an hour and we clocked up 16 miles including a deliberately steep hill.  He tells me that it's a Category 4 hill in the world of hill climbs.  As we were out early on a Sunday morning the roads were so quiet - blissfully quiet.  It meant we could ride alongside each other and talk easily.

While it felt good being on the bike again, it has to be said my cycling muscles need some development!  Jeremy, on the other hand, has been clocking up lots of miles on his new super-dooper Trek road bike and is way ahead of me.

We were thinking about doing a C2C ride again this year.  Both of my daughters are keen to do this, although they do have different approaches to cycling and this makes it difficult for me to "herd" them along and staying together.  As much as I'd love to do this, it may have to be planned for next year as I have already taken quite a bit of annual leave from work.

Holiday - yay!
Next week we're going to France for a little holiday.  We're looking forward to it and all the holidays we've had over the years have been great when we have gone in the May half term.

We are taking an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and naturally we're taking the bikes as we head into Brittany.  Hoping for a slightly slower pace of life, some great opportunities for some runs and and bike rides in what will be an all-too-brief break in the business of a hectic life.  I have a dream that Rachel and I can find some quiet moments to put our feet up and have some more dreamy conversations.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Smoking or abortion: which is most harmful?

You might be thinking there's nothing worse than an ex-smoker going on about the horrors of smoking. Yes maybe that's true but I must tell you how almost ran my car off the road the other day while I was listening to the radio.

There was someone from NICE talking (that's the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) on the radio as I drove into work a few days ago.   It was all about the difficulties in caring for pregnant women who smoke and how they disapprove of this.   The idea is that Mums-to-be will be given a carbon monoxide test as part of their early check ups, in order to identify the smokers.  Now of course, this is all geared towards good care for the mother and baby.

This strikes me as being okay but only to a point, it would depend very much on the interaction between the midwife and the patient in how it was dealt with.  Any hint of the Nanny State sends me into a spin, as you know already.   Now I am sure that all midwives will have excellent interpersonal skills and will be able to do this well and provide considerable support in helping the woman quit smoking, or at the very least, cut down.  Surely everyone knows smoking is bad for health generally and definitely not the best start in life for a new born baby?  Everyone knows that plus it must be acknowledged giving up is not easy, after all nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug.

What really got my goat and almost sent me off the road was the NICE representative saying "the well being of the baby is the absolute priority" and on this level it makes perfect sense.

This is now coming to my point about this limp NICE comment.  If then, the baby's well being is so important, why do we have almost 200,000 abortions in the UK each year?  How many of those babies are "done away with" because of not being planned, or arriving at the wrong time in terms of careers or other features in a woman's life?

Surely as each of those babies should be developing without the presence of nicotine and other nasty chemicals, they should then have the right to life in the first place?   I know this is a sensitive area and perhaps I'll be seen as an insensitive man wading into a tricky subject but it's something many people do feel strongly about with many different points of view.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Recovering after a marathon - thoughts

There is no doubt a marathon is a hell of an endurance run, for almost every runner.  Those 26.2 miles equals 42,000 metres, 3000 - 4000 calories and perhaps 50,000 steps in just a few hours.  For ordinary runners like me, this puts an immense strain on feet, legs, joints and so on.  Our skin can rub and get blistered; it can also get sunburnt.  Our knee and ankle joints take a real pounding for the duration.

Last years' marathon I was stiff and achy for a few days.  Plus psychologically I felt very low during the day after.  I suffered a bit.

This year was different.  I was 13 minutes faster; even though I felt less well prepared.  Last year is was cold, windy and wet.  This year it was warm and sunny.

He's a few further thoughts:


Yes, obvious you might think but I have not found this to be straight forward.  In the first 3 or 4 days after the marathon I found it hard to sleep properly.  You'd think I or any other 51 year old would be shattered after a marathon and be sleeping like a lamb for ages.  

Although I was undeniably tired in the physical sense, I was restless for a few nights afterwards.  I mentioned this to Pete, a neighbour who also runs.  He seemed to recognise this and suggested it could be connected with all those hormones and endorphins still buzzing around; that sounds very plausible.


While elite runners may think little of running a marathon well under 3 hours each weekend and have a few daily runs of 10 - 20 miles in between, us ordinary runners may need some recovery time.  This is where I think it's important to get the balance right between remaining active but allowing any stiff muscles  or pounded joints to recover for a bit.  Even without running for 2 or 3 weeks is not the end of the world at all - could be a healthy thing to do, depending on where you're at.  There are numerous joints, muscles, tendons, bits of skin etc that can all be suffering a little too much 'wear and tear' - these might need some special care.

Myself I felt only slightly stiff the next day and I was following the following day.  Three days later I had a one mile slow run and then yesterday I ran a little faster for 30 minutes just to see how I felt.   All was fine and there's no reason why I can't resume normal running now.

Rejuvenating - food!

Just as getting a well balanced diet is important in the training, so too is giving some thought to what you'll eat and drink in the minutes, hours and days after a race.  

Through any race the chances are any of us will be a bit dehydrated.  From my observations at the MK marathon this may have applied to a number who were, sadly, close to collapse at the end, or near to it. Has to be said they were being well looked after by the race marshals and the St John's Ambulance personnel.  That could be a combination of being simply exhausted but it could also be dehydration brought about by the unusually warm weather that day.  So yes, rehydrating yourself is something to do but don't go over the top - it can be dangerous to drink too much too soon.  Gradual cooling down and rehydration is the key.

I had a banana and I had prepared a bottle of Cherry Active juice (click here for my previous review) which I believe helped my early recovery.  I made sure I had a glass of this two or three times a day for the first few days afterwards.

As usual I eat lots of fruit, making sure there was a good variety, including whole fruits and smoothies.  This supports the body deal with free radicals and the immediate damage that might be caused at cellular level.

Otherwise I ate freely and enjoyed it!  I probably consumed far more than normal but this is okay in getting the necessary proteins and carbohydrates needed to rebuild.  Even now a week later, while I know I can carry on running fine, my body is repairing itself still and perhaps deserves a little "slack" to allow that to happen.  As much as I might outwardly deny that being 51 years old is anywhere near being "middle age", the reality is things do take a little longer to heal than they did 10 years ago.

Mental health

Take a moment to check you're okay after a long endurance race; perhaps ask yourself each day and check it out with someone else too.  Easy to enjoy the natural Runner's High but not everyone will get this and it might be inter-mingled with disappointment or regret.  

In running where we push ourselves physically, in doing so we are also throwing in all kinds of endorphins and hormones and highs and lows into the mix.  There is no set reaction.  Look out for each other in the days afterwards.  Unexpectedly I felt really low in last year's marathon and this year was completely different.

In any race there are often runner's wearing tee-shirts with messages like "this is for you, Mum" or for some charity.  I remember seeing someone running in memory of their young baby.  Each person will have their own story and again it cannot be underestimated how intense those feelings can be for some. Again the support of others can be valuable, making all the difference.

A week later

I am still re-living the marathon in my mind; still enjoying it.  Yes it was tough going during the last hour but I loved it!  

I'm planning to ease off running for the summer, sort of "ticking over"  This will involve doing my favourite 7.5 hilly run each week together with an easy after-work run with one or two colleagues.  I am wanting to start clocking up some more miles on the bike (having yet to reach 100 miles for the year so far!).

Hope that helps....

.....that's my little round-up of recovering from a marathon.  Can potentially be a mixed picture for some, others may breeze through.  Take time to recover well, you deserve it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Race report - MK marathon, 6th May 2013

If you've been following my blog lately, you'll already know that because of my disjointed training my strategy was to "get around somehow", rather than be too ambitious.  In the end I was pleased and surprised with the outcome.  Here's the story....

This is the second year I have entered the Milton Keynes (MK) Marathon as it's not too far from our home.  It is also a flat course, very well organised and quite scenic.  I know that "scenic" and Milton Keynes do not always naturally go together but it goes to show what can be achieved through good planning and negotiation with the Local Authorities.

My goal, my ambition

My time last year was 4:12 and I was hoping to get somewhere near that, although it has to be said, I was not feeling too confident.  My training hadn't gone to plan with fewer-than-ideal long runs and I'd a dose of flu that knocked me out for a couple of weeks at an important time.  So I was pleased when I got my result of 3:58:45 - not only beating last year's time but coming in just under the magic 4 hours. Apologies for being a bit self indulgent here!

Warm weather

We couldn't believe how fantastic the weather was looking.  A month ago we still had some snow lying around and it was bitterly cold.  Now we were enjoying some beautiful spring sunshine at my favourite time of year - what could be better?  It was fairly cool first thing and as lovely as it was, I planned for some high temperatures.  Sunblock, my lightest running top and well hydrated from the previous day.  When I started running a few years ago, I never seemed to know quite what to wear: partly wanting to blend in and appear a "proper runner".  Nowadays I couldn't care less - I wear what I think is right for me.  That paid off.  I think many other runners were overdressed and it became apparent later on (see below).

The pattern for starting was the normal approach - fast runners at the front, us slow coaches towards the back.  It is always a nice opportunity to chat to other runners and I found myself listening to a man (can't quite remember his name) who was 59 and had run 70 marathons.  Now that's something to take note of!  

We're off!

By courtesy of the Mayor of Milton Keynes, the starting horn blew and we just stood there and only inched forward after a few minutes - this is perfectly normal and with individual chip timing, it's perfectly okay and you're not disadvantaged.  Many runners were pressing buttons and fiddling with smart phones and Garmins.  Me, well I just had my £20 Timex analog watch.  What took my by surprise, in the first few yards, I suddenly had two little girls running alongside.  "Daddy, Daddy, good luck Daddy!" it was Becky and Hannah, my daughters.  This made me smile as I pressed on.  

After a mile or so the pack was still fairly tight and I was aware I was running amongst lots of "heavy breathers" who were either going to be slow plodders or were saving themselves for the second half.  I picked up the pace a little and moved through them, still feeling okay.  I knew that my weak spot was my knee and ankle joints and it seemed I would take the same number of steps no matter how fast or slow I went, so I pressed on.  Needless to say when I got to the 25 minute mark, my own personal "wall" appeared and then melted away after 4 or 5 minutes.  I'm not phased by this anymore; it happens.

The early stages of the course took the runners through the commercial office area, weaving in and out of the shadows cast by the taller buildings.  Lots of dual carriage ways with so many supporters at the junctions added to the atmosphere with little kids waving their Dads (and some Mums) on their way.  There were quite a lot of keen-looking cyclists who, after a while, I started to recognise them as they cropped up again and again!  The course also double backed on itself so you could see slower runners on the other side of the road and I spotted the pack I had been in and knew I'd done the right thing to leave them behind.  I later realised this was the position of the official 4:30 pace setter.

Half way, half marathon done

Getting to the half way stage was nice, although I was starting to feel a little fatigued but nothing out of the ordinary.   I was also taking every opportunity to grab some water or Gatorade at each of the drink stations and I am sure this helped keep me fairly cool through the race.  During the second half I was definitely amongst my peers in terms of our running ability.  We would take it in turns to over take each other several times and yet we were all keeping a steady pace going.

The course itself was showing its variety which I really liked.  The earlier commercial urban areas were nicely contrasting with the semi rural villages and the tow path of the Grand Union Canal for a bit; that was nice and running through the dabbled shadows from the lovely trees was nice.  The path took us over some short but steep bridges criss-crossing across the canal.  It was here that some runners were starting to flag a bit by walking over them.  

Running through a residential area there was a man outside his house spraying his hosepipe over the runners - quite welcome and I heard a fellow runner say "thanks mate that's nice" followed by "if that buggers up my iPhone, I'm coming 'round to see you".  Talking of hosepipes and cooling water, I was delighted when I saw my family at about mile 17!  I didn't expect that at all.  Becky and Hannah were cheering me on, complete with a poster that said 'Go Daddy Go' and then they were squirting me with water.  That was nice and after I'd passed they carried on squirting other runners; apparently that went down well!  Talking of kids, those little children who dutifully hold out boxes of jelly babies are fantastic!

The home straight (nearly)

I saw the 20 mile sign go past and it gave me a mental boost - just 6.2 miles to go and somehow telling myself it was just 10k seemed to make it shorter in my mind.  I was starting to hurt at this point and I remembered my longest "long" run beforehand was just 15 miles.  For a minute a knee would hurt, then an ankle, then a minute later a part of my foot - each pain taking over from the previous one.  Then I got a stitch - I couldn't believe it!  I have only ever had a slight stitch when setting out, not 20 miles into a race.  Happily it went almost as quickly as it came.  I smiled to myself as each bit of my legs started to complain in turn and because each protest was short lived I reckoned there was nothing too serious going on.

The slopes seemed to get a bit harder for everyone.  None of them are too steep or long but they did seem a struggle with many runners walking them.  As with last year I refused to walk - it did come down to a jog once or twice but I refused to walk no matter how much it hurt.

I remembered last year catching a glimpse of the MK stadium about half a mile or so before the finish and that gave me a wonderful boost.  The gradient was very slightly down hill and I enjoyed coasting in.  Going down the slope into the stadium building was painful on the soles of my feet - all my weight landing with extra force with each step.  Coming into the stadium was so uplifting and spotting my family in the crowd was fantastic - thanks Rachel, Becky and Hannah - you're wonderful!


And so I crossed the finish line, all a bit of a blur and I walked passed the 'results table' where you could pick up your exact time without having to wait any longer.  Last year my ambition was to come in under 4 hours.  My training this year was aimed at (sort of) matching last year's.  More recently my aim was to survive regardless of the time.  And so the chip time result is 3:58:45.

Delighted!  Even my colleagues gave me a little round of applause when I went into work yesterday (before they suggested it must be my turn to buy them all cakes).  Thanks guys.

I enjoyed it so much, even now a couple of days later I'm still on a high and recovering a lot better than I did last year (other blog post to follow).

I'm just so thankful, so blessed, more than I could imagine.  Thank you.

St John's Ambulance crew getting ready

Easing sore muscles for some runners

Longed for finish line

Not selling much junk food today

After my race, being reflective

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Can you recommend some good running blogs, websites etc?

I am wanting to create a new 'Resources' page, alongside the other tabs above.  I think I'd like to include some sources of help for fellow runners such as the Runner's World website, Couch to 5k etc.

This is where I could do with your help.  If you run a website, or blog or can simply recommend another useful site for me to include, please leave me a comment below and I'll follow it up.  Here's my shopping list and I'm open to suggestions.....

  • blogs by runners - for new runners through to ultra marathon runners
  • tips about good food, wholesome diets, staying healthy
  • inspirational, personal blogs
Thanks in advance!

MK Marathon weather forecast

If you're running tomorrow in the MK Marathon, those helpful organisers have pointed runners to some useful advice.

The advice is based on the warm weather which is forecast for Milton Keynes with temperatures ranging from 13C to 17C with bright / sunny conditions.  Sounds great but there is a risk we runners could over heat as we are definitely not used to these conditions (a month ago there was snow on the ground).  Even sunblock could be a considerations for some.

Here's their helpful link through to the Runner's Medical Resource - http://www.runnersmedicalresource.com/drinking.html

Mind you, I doubt if I am the only runner who remembers the horrible conditions last year; these were quite the opposite!  Why not take a look at my account of last year's marathon - Click here - and for those not there, this photo might give you the idea

Here's sending best wishes to all other runners taking part on Monday - good luck, stay safe and enjoy all 26.2 miles!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

What is tapering anyway?


Tapering is an important part of a training plan with long distance endurance distances in mind i.e. half marathons, full marathons, ultras etc.  The idea is that you steadily increase your distances in the months ahead of the race and then, with 3 or 4 weeks before the race, ease off the distance training.

An example could be in training for a marathon and the long runs (most people have one long run each week) peak at about 20 miles about 4 weeks before the big day.  In the 4 weeks tapering period, long runs might then be 17, 12, 10 miles.

For other weekday runs, these too can be ease back but it's important to keep the balance right.  If you find mixing interval training with gentle slow runs, ordinary runs, tempo runs works for you, keep these up but step back on the intensities or distances a bit.

But why?

The logic is that you build up your base fitness and strength gradually which is then part of your natural capability.  Long runs do place a real strain on anyone's body and this can easily lead to an injury.  So by peaking a few weeks ahead of the race, you then have some time for recovery, consolidation etc.

Won't I lose my fitness in that time?

No, you won't.  Your fitness has been built up through all of those training miles - probably several hundred miles of specific marathon training miles.  Much better to taper and stay injury free.  Just as it does take a long time to build up your aerobic fitness - your body's ability to be efficient in breathing, pumping blood around to your muscles etc - it takes a long time for this to be lost.

During this time your body will be benefitting from good, wholesome food that will help repair any damage from those miles in the build up to your training peak.  Sometimes it takes a while for some repairs to take place.  

It can be argued that we need to mentally taper as well.  Intensive training does undoubtedly have its benefits but also there is a case for easing off, relaxing with confidence and anticipate the enjoyment of the race.

And me?

Yes it works and I can testify this from my own experience.  In a way it almost seems counter-productive and it is very tempting to do too much in those last few days and weeks.  I know my limits quite well and I really can vouch for tapering.

However, this has not happening this time.  It wasn't planned to turn out like this but it just has.  Tapering is something I should have been starting a few weeks ago, instead of now - can you believe that?  "Now" being two days before the race!  Flippin' 'eck, crikes, eeeek.

This is where I might start to feel like a hypocrite as I'm not exactly "practising what I preach" and yes, you have a good point.  The excuse is that I was, in all truthfulness, a little behind with my training and then I got FLU!  That knocked me out for two weeks at the critical part of my training when I was building the miles up.  So now the situation is that I have had to regard my training as still working up to my peak and yes, the peak is the race itself.  So no tapering at all this time (other than this week and these last couple of days!).  Such is life sometimes.

Cold, flu interrupts training

Friday, 3 May 2013

A reminder of why I run

Today I have taken a days' leave from work and early this morning I went for a run; my regular 7.5 mile hilly run.

I didn't "need" to run in terms of training for the marathon on Monday.  No amount of training now will improve my performance or endurance in the race, although perhaps a couple of easy runs will help keep me supple.

No, this run was simply about enjoying going for a run.  No Mr Endomondo tracking my performance and I didn't even bother to time myself.  This was a run to enjoy and on a morning that was perfect.

This reminds me of why it is important for keen runners and cyclists (myself included here) to keep things in perspective.  It is all too easy to get caught up in going further, faster with better kit, flashier technology.  This applies to runners and, I believe, even more so with cyclists.  Each day I am bombarded with emails from the likes of Wiggle, Evans etc urging me to consider buying this or that piece of kit or clothing.  It is so easy to get drawn into this with the belief that the more money I spend on my sport, the better I will be. That is simply not true.  I could suggest that if anyone becomes preoccupied with having the latest gizmo, they have lost the basic enjoyment or raison d'ĂȘtre of why then became a runner or a cyclist.  Worth thinking about?

Let me tell you about this morning's run

I left home at 5.45am while it was still very quiet outside, hardly any cars on the roads.  I ran through the town and up a hill which had stunning views today.  The sky was clear, not a cloud anywhere.  The temperature was nice and cool, just right and I even came across a cold dip where there was still a little frost.  The air was crisp, clean and still.  Perfect.

It was an easy run.  I didn't push myself at all other than one 10 metre sprint for the fun of hit at the half way point.  I could feel my heart beating nicely and my lungs were panting as I ran up a couple of hills.  Back home I did a few stretches before I went inside.

I feel so blessed and grateful for the run.  I appreciate the surroundings, the weather at this time of year, the peace and stability we have in the UK.  I cannot underestimate the benefits I gain from runs like this - keeping me in good health, both physically and mentally.  There is something about the simplicity of running that I like - it's just me, a pair of running shoes and the road in front of me.  That's it.  No punctures, no mechanical issues: just me, the road in front and nothing else.  Perfect.

These are brilliant reminders of why I run and why it's important to me.  Without running (or cycling) I think I would be a complete stressed out and overweight wreck.  As much as I am looking forward to the marathon on Monday, and I hope to do okay, the outcome doesn't matter too much in the grand scheme of things.  Even if something goes wrong and I don't complete, while I would be very disappointed, it doesn't matter.  The important thing is to enjoy simply being a runner who loves running.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Guest blog - small fitness feats for frequent flyers

I was delighted when fellow blogger Mike got in touch with me.  Do you spend time away from home - business trips, long haul flights?  Here's his informative guest post which will help us healthy living types with some useful tips:

Even if you travel frequently, you know there are many things to do in preparation for any trip. Don’t forget to plan for fitness before you leave so you can successfully navigate through your journey without losing the momentum you built toward physical fitness at home. Being mindful of fitness, and taking a few steps toward maintaining a workout routine while traveling will help you minimize many of the health hazards experienced by frequent travelers. 

Every successful trip begins before you leave home. Take the time to prepare before you leave so you can take advantage of fitness and health options during your trip. On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a great gym all because I found a site that listed all the Maui hotels and I could scroll through and see which ones had the best gyms.

  • If you book your own accommodations, find a hotel that offers fitness amenities to suit your lifestyle and preferences.
  • Book travel and flights during daytime hours to help you maintain healthy sleeping rhythms.
  • Pack comfortable workout clothes and athletic shoes.
  • If you belong to a health club, find out if you can gain access to a local gym at your destination.
  • Bring along a refillable water bottle no matter where you go.

In transit to your destination, be sure to get what exercise you can while in the plane, car or train. Doing simple leg lifts, ankle rolls, shoulder shrugs and other exercises will help eliminate cramping and other discomfort experienced by many travelers. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages will also help as you travel to your destination.

When you arrive at your hotel, take time to become oriented to your surroundings. Locate fitness facilities and other amenities. Before rushing to meetings or other activities, spend some time in your room doing a little basic yoga or simply stretching to remove travel kinks.

During your stay, be aware that you probably won’t be able to participate as fully in personal fitness as you do at home. Instead, take the opportunities that arise, and make the most of each one. Rise early, if possible, to take a morning run or swim. Take advantage of in-room fitness videos, if your hotel provides them, to do a quick workout during downtime. If your schedule is chock full, step aside during a brief afternoon break to do some crunches, pushups, lunges and jumping jacks in the restroom or other secluded spot. These little things will help you reap great benefits for your overall health and fitness.

Why not take a look at Mike's blog http://mikemanningmusings.blogspot.co.uk

Race day preparation

After all the winter training that's been done with all those miles when you've been wet, cold, exhausted and knackered we're nearly there at the start line!  Don't go spoiling the big day for the sake of a few preparations.  Here's a few things for runners to remember in the last couple of days before the big race.

  • get a good night's sleep before
  • gentle jogging to warm up before the race, just for 5 mins or so
  • checking the weather forecast it looks like warm temperatures = cool clothing.  Singlet (i.e. vest) and shorts
  • safety pins x4 for race number
  • check emergency contact details are correct
  • chip time strip onto running shoe
  • blister plasters onto any vulnerable areas of feet
  • vaseline for tops of legs if there is any chance of damp conditions (last year I suffered)
  • some male runners put a plaster over their nipples
  • trim toes nails
  • clean soft socks
  • some runners take their favourite energy gels or sports drinks with them
  • baggage label onto bag for bag storage facility
  • something to wear after the race?
  • camera, for blog photos (bag in storage)
  • phone - either my simple cheap phone in stored bag or Rachel's iPhone so I can be tracked - the latest is my family might join the spectators and can work out where I am, where I'll be etc
  • car parking
  • do I need sunglasses?
  • do I need sunblock?
  • some cash
  • something to eat and/or eat afterwards
And some things to consider from work
  • humbly take advice from colleagues saying "remember to take it easy Doug, don't set off too quickly" and so on.  All very well meaning but unlikely they have marathon experience!
  • express disapproval at proposed sweepstake about my finishing time