Tag Archives: Running

Getting Back to Normal

This was the first almost normal week’s worth of running since the London Marathon and it felt pretty good!

I ran some intervals around the almost mile perimeter of Sutcliffe Park on Friday morning – 4 x 400m at around 5:55, although the first one was far too fast; and then 2 x 800m at 6:40, the second was a real struggle. Normally there would have been a couple more 800m ‘reps’ but it was a start though, and no after effects, so quite pleasing.

This morning’s 9.5 mile run in the sun included Charlton and the Thames Path – I stopped briefly to look at the old gateway to Charlton House which became redundant in 1829 when Maryon-Wilson family built a new entrance and drive.

Further along the broom on the waste ground above the park named after the former owners of Charlton House was almost in full bloom.

The Thames was vey still with little of the prevailing westerly breeze and so there were some pleasant hints of reflections of both Canary Wharf and the moored boats.



The Slow Road to Recovery

It’s nearly three weeks since I last posted about my running, the recovery from the lateral collateral ligament strain picked up during the London Marathon has been slow to say the least. Until this week that is, a week ago I was considering having a complete break for two or three weeks but over the last 7 days it finally seems to have cleared up with nothing felt in 5 runs including a tempo run today round a rather soggy Sutcliffe Park where The Quaggy was rather full and one of the paths had become a temporary tributary.

During the last couple of weeks I have ‘discovered’ some more of Lewisham Natureman’s deer – one in Cressingham Road in Lewisham

The second, less than a mile away, wearing the Saxon Crown of the Borough’s badge, is on an abandoned gate in a listed wall on Blackheath, which, despite being able to walk around, has its own crown of broken glass.

London Marathon – Post Race Injury Frustrations

It has been three weeks since the race and by this stage I should have about recovered and be thinking about the next race ….. Like the last part of the training, the post race recovery hasn’t really gone to plan.

The lateral collateral ligament strain that I picked up during the race has proved reluctant to clear despite lots of ice, rest, stretching and a trip to the physio who seemed to think that the underlying problem was a bit higher up my leg. It was better than my last physio visit, for a trapped nerve, where she pummelled my back then told me, in the nicest possible way, that my upper body was puny and then charged me £50 for the privilege.

It is getting better, though – I managed a couple of miles yesterday morning before any feelings of tightness became apparent, but a bit more rest it still needed ….


The London Marathon – Mission Accomplished

Just as they had done for the Olympics in 2012, Londoners came out in their thousands to support the London Marathon athletes – in my 7 previous starts I have never seen anything like it as between 750,000 and a million crowded onto London’s pavements. The presence of double Olympic champion Mo Farah swelled the numbers considerably, as did the warm, sunny conditions. The noise in places was almost deafening as the crowds encouraged the runners – how on earth so many runners can shut out the unique atmosphere and listen to music during the race almost beggars belief.

It was a bit hot for running, temperatures were 11°C at the start to 17°C by mid afternoon, but they are the in-the-shade temperatures and, other than around Canary Wharf, there really isn’t much shade and with little breeze it felt much warmer. With most of the training having been done during the winter when it is possible to ‘get away’ with poor re-hydration on runs, Sunday’s heat will have come as a shock to some. I was somewhat taken aback by how many runners were ‘skipping’ the water stations at each mile along the course, and as a result not that surprised to see how many needing attention from the 1,200 St John Ambulance Volunteers in the final 10 kilometres or so. Sadly, there was a death too, as a runner collapsed at the finish line, which rather puts everyone else’s race into some perspective.

As for my race …..

0 to 5 km (Blackheath to Woolwich) 25:23
I was in ‘pen 2’ from the Blue Start on the ‘Heath, the widest and quickest of the three, and after a lot of waiting around at the start, I was running at just under my 3:40 target pace almost from the first 100 metres. I was probably bit too far forward at the start and had to keep resisting the temptation to follow the pace of quicker runners. I saw a friend just after the ‘Sun in the Sands’ but then ignored the crowds for this part of the race as concentration is crucial as runners weave in an out.


5 to 10 km (Woolwich to Greenwich) 25:40
I was in the groove, the pace seemed easy and sustainable but unlike one or two others resisted the temptation to speed up – a man dressed as a clown seemed to sprint past me just after the first drinks station I used in Charlton (more of him later).

10 to 15 km (Greenwich to Rotherhithe) 25:46
The Cutty Sark looked glorious in the sun as I passed early in this section as my almost metronomic running continued. The family were there in our normal spectating spot just before 8 miles, so lots of personalised encouragement. I used my first gel at Surrey Quays and running still seemed easy –as it ought to at this point.

15 to 20km (Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge) 25:53
I usually seem to slow down on the slightly upward Salter Road (named after Alfred Salter) but today it seemed easy as the crowds at the side of the road seemed set to make a party of the day – a couple of barbecues were already well underway and there was a big group of Sheffield United supporters watching before making the trip to Wembley later in the day. A big band was playing Weather Report’s ‘Birdland’ as I turned the corner into Jamaica Road and I had to resist the temptation to increase my speed to match the beat.

20-25 km (Tower Bridge to Westferry) 25:54
The half way point was passed at 01:48:17, close to my target, although a feeling of slight tightness in my right lateral collateral ligament, noticed first in Bermondsey, had become worryingly obvious. A couple of hundred metres after the mid-point the official cars and TV motorcycles started to appear coming the other way along The Highway, nearing their 22 mile point. I hoped to see a glimpse of the white of Mo’s vest, but it was clear that his marathon debut was not going to be a winning one – it was the orange vest of the eventual winner, Wilson Kipsang, and runner up, Stanley Biwott, that appeared first, with the Mexican wave of a cheer for Mo appearing around 90 seconds later.

I had hoped to see the family as well as people from my running club on Narrow Street, but it was much more crowded than when I had run through there in the past and saw no one I knew.

25-30 km (Westferry to Canary Wharf) 26:45
Along the eastern side of the Isle of Dogs, the course narrows considerably as the right hand lane is cordoned off for emergency vehicle usage. For a couple of miles the pace dropped the route was blocked by those who had gone off far too quickly and were paying the price by walking or jogging slowly – the clown seen in Charlton was one of these. I lost nearly a minute along here and while I was still feeling full of energy, the pain on the outside of my knee wasn’t going away.

30-35 km (Canary Wharf to The Highway) 29:02
Soon after Canary Wharf the pain in my leg got much worse, I knew I had to do something about it – I tried a number of different stride lengths and paces to try to ameliorate the pain. I settled on a slightly shorter stride than normal and slowed down to around 9 minute mile pace. I saw the family at Limehouse and didn’t feel too bad at that stage. The Highway seemed to go on forever though, and my quads started to fill with lactic acid – I knew that the final 7 kilometres weren’t going to be pleasant.

35-40 km (The Highway to Westminster) 30:20
My legs started screaming at me with the lactic acid on the light slope down to Lower Thames Street from Tower Hill; some St John Ambulance volunteers darted across the road to treat someone who had collapsed and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. It seem to take an eternity to get going again and I knew then that if I stopped I would be walking the rest of the way, and would probably be struggling with that.

I tried all the psychological tricks I knew – it’s only 5 km to the finish, that should be easy – but my body wasn’t being fooled, I was in real pain – the miles that were speeding by an hour ago were going past at a snail like pace. I was hunched up with pain. People could see I was struggling and shouted out loads of encouragement – but all I wanted was to get it over with in silence, there was no chance of that….

40 km to the finish, 42.2 km (Westminster to The Mall) 13:40
The turn into Parliament Square couldn’t come quickly enough, my right leg was in agony, the left calf was giving off all of the danger signs of an imminent strain, but I knew by now that if I stopped I would never start again. Every step was hell , I kept expecting to see the 800 metres to go sign, but it was reluctant to appear, and when that was passed it seemed like an eternity before the first glimpse of Buckingham Palace to come into sight. That meant 200 metres to go and my body seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and while there was no finishing straight sprint, The Mall seemed relatively easy.

Finish Time 03:48:23

Post Race
I could barely walk down The Mall to get my bag; I was supporting myself on the temporary fencing like a drunken old man all the way down. By the end of The Mall though the pain subsided a little and I could walk unaided again, albeit extremely slowly, and I was now the proud owner of a rather pleasant engraving of London looking westwards from Tower Bridge.


The London Marathon – The Final Countdown

The training miles have been run, the wet weather has been endured, the carbs have been loaded and the number collected from the London Marathon Expo. All that remains is the small matter of tomorrow’s 26.2 miles, well probably a mile or so extra as the ‘thin blue line’ is rarely seen and a lot of extra distance covered getting around runners slowing down in the last 5 or 6 miles.

If going away for a few days before a big race, most runners would head for a break in the sun, with the last few easy runs in vest and shorts by a warm beach. So this week’s trip to Iceland wouldn’t be in the plans for many of the other 36,000 runners – but it was a fantastic stay which included a couple of runs in winter kit along the beautiful sea front in Reykjavik.


The London Marathon – A Rite of Spring

Sunday week will be the 8th time that I have lined up for my local race – the start line on Blackheath is just over a mile from home. As there isn’t much running to report on this week, I’ll do a look back on my previous London Marathons.

1997 – I had started running just over 2 years before on the advice of my doctor, I had been suffering from dreadful post-viral fatigue and she thought that running might help me get over it. She did joke ‘no marathons to start with’ …. so I waited a year until I applied. My training was pretty much single paced and I had little clue as to how fast I was running. I found it easier than I expected and got around in 3:59 – my last mile was by far the quickest to get in under 4 hours.
2002 I got a very late charity place a couple of months before the race and I hadn’t really done enough training but took a big chunk off my PB to come home in 3:30, sadly plus a few seconds.
2003 I had run a half marathon in 1:27 three weeks before and persuaded myself that the twice your half marathon time plus 9 minutes calculation was achievable…. it wasn’t, my fitness was probably around 3:15, so my early pace meant that there was little left by the time I reached the Tower of London and struggled all the way down the Embankment to finish in 3:25.
2004 – training was plagued with minor injuries, particularly plantar fasciitis, and it was a relief to get to the start more or less in one piece – 3:24 was a reasonable result.
2005 – should have ‘my year’, I was in the form of my life ….but broke a toe and heavily bruised the top of my foot and lost 3 weeks training and could still feel the broken toe on the start line – so 3:20 was a great time.
2006 – my fitness wasn’t quite as good as 2005, but I stayed injury free and managed metronomic pacing until 25 miles when cramp hit – the last mile or so were hell, particularly the last 400 metres on The Mall but the incentive of a sub 3:15 kept me going – staggering over the ‘line’ 3:14:36.
2007– it was all going so well until early February when I had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with an out of control small dog, my Gluteus Maximus strained badly and after then I was playing catch up, running through small strains that I should have rested up for. I was ‘cut up’ by another runner at a drinks station around mile 11 and trod on a bottle in the desperation of avoiding a tumble. The net result was that my sore calf became a strained calf and while I continued until around 15 miles, my journey to The Mall was on the Docklands Light Railway. Another passenger in the carriage was Haile Gebrselassie, who had dropped out further up the road with an allergic reaction.
2014 – we’ll have to see…..

Marathon Training – The Calm Before the Storm

In two weeks time, I will hopefully have had a post race massage and be on my way home having completed the London Marathon, it all seems rather close now!

With the last of the long runs completed last week, this was the first week of the taper. My long run was only 15 miles at an average of 8:44 pace, my legs wanted to go faster and it seemed to take ages to get into evenly paced running. This week also saw my last hard speed session – a 3.5 mile tempo run.

As Is usually the case at this stage of training, my legs now feel quite leaden but, based on past experience, I know (hope) that this will all disappear once I cross the start line. Today’s run took me past Morden College, with some late daffodils in full bloom.


London Calling

Usually at some stage in my marathon training I do a run through various parks down to Tower Bridge and back home along the Thames Path. This year was to be no different, but the afternoon it was planned for was one not best suited for running – torrential rain and wind gusting up to 50 mph.

With my last long run out of the way, I caught a train to London Bridge and ran home along the Thames dodging the odd shower.

A couple of hundred metres past Tower Bridge and the crowds disappear and it is a delightful run, even if some of the views require a look back over the shoulder around the houseboats at Shad Thames

It isn’t easy running through Bermondsey and Rotherhithe due to the twists and turns and poor signposting of the Thames Path but it offers a mixture of original wharves, refurbished LCC estates and 1990s developments that have aged reasonably well, plus some interesting public art – including these two Mayflower related sculptures ….


A lot of the run is dominated to the north by Canary Wharf

There is a big gap in the Path where Convoys Wharf – other than the Olympia Warehouse, the site is a wasteland; while the proposed redevelopment will cut out the detour into Deptford, it will be at a terrible cost with an inappropriate development – the Deptford Dame’s post on this sums up the issues well.

Then it’s on towards Greenwich

… and a final look back before heading home – a good run which included 4 miles at 10k pace a decent achievement given the ‘parcours’.

Earlier in the week my last long run before the marathon didn’t go quite to plan – the plan was 22 @ 8:15, but I realised at about 10 miles that my legs were feeling really tired at a point I was expecting to be just going into cruise control. I gave it another couple of miles and then reduced my pace quite a lot – it was a struggle towards the end but I kept it going for 20 miles.

It was a bit disappointing, but not a disaster – I think my legs are still tired from last week’s long run and combine that with feeling a bit under the weather this week as well as a lot of running into a string wind – so it wasn’t that surprising. I think my body is ready for the taper ….

Palindromic Running

Yesterday’s post brought the last communication from the London Marathon organisers before I pick up my race number in just under 4 weeks. It included what the number will be – something that pleased the part of me that rather likes a bit of symmetry – 23832.

So this morning’s run attempted to reflect it with two sets of largely hilly intervals of 200m, 300m, 800m … I am sure you can work the rest out. They took me up to the hills around Horniman Gardens which is one of my favourite parks with some lovely views over London.

Then back home through Brockley and Ladywell Cemetry.

Earlier in the week, I had approached the week’s long run with a degree of trepidation after last week’s illness as I still feeling tired and a bit ‘bunged up’ – I needn’t have worried too much though, I managed a fraction under 20 miles at 8:10 pace, which included the long slog up Anerley Hill from Elmers End. I was tired come the end, but part of that was to do with a chunk of the run being part of ‘club run’ and trying to keep up with 7:35 pace for nearly 3 miles. Needless to say, there were some issues with lactic acid for a couple of days.

Marathon Training – Turning to Plan B

After last week’s trials and tribulations in terms of speed work, I tried a different tack this week – making sure I got one good long interval session in rather than 2 mediocre ones and sped up my long run a little.

It seems to have worked ……. Today I did a 4×1 mile session at a little faster than last year’s 10k pace, it was a big improvement from last week.

The long run was much better too – I did 20.2 @ 8:10 on Wednesday evening, it would have been 4-5 seconds a mile quicker had it not been for being part of a club group for 4 miles of that was averaging around 8:40.

There are a lot more early signs of Spring this week – there is a flowering cherry, at least I think it is, alongside the River Pool that is glorious for about a week, and this was the week ….