Many friends are aware that I am ‘up to something’ but, before I reveal all, I think it is necessary to explain some background information. This is also my first blog in a while, and will hopefully go some way to explaining my absence.

I first ran because I wanted to complete the London Marathon. I hadn’t previously been a fan of running, but was drawn by the challenge. To overcome the premise that life would be boring if it were easy, I strive on setting myself such challenges.

And 2010 was proving to be a great year for me. I finally achieved an, apparently elusive, sub 3-hour marathon and had also been promoted at work. I was on a high and everything was going well.

But the second half of the year proved to be more difficult. My Mother went into hospital for treatment to prevent cancer – she ended up being in and out of hospital for six months. The stress was clear on the family – who were involved in four car accidents within the space of one month. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, but all were probably a result of trying to do too much. And with a new job to contend with, I was struggling to train, let alone continue to chair the running club and be secretary for the County road running committee. My mileage was reduced to about 10% of where it had been previously.

I had to surrender my entry into the Jungfrau Marathon, finishing at the foot of the North face of the Eiger. And I also had to let a friend down whom I had offered to run with on the Original Mountain Marathon – an overnight affair where I would have had to carry enough kit for two days on difficult terrain over a distance of almost two marathons.

Then, just as it felt like things couldn’t get any worse, on Monday 15th November, my Grandmother died. Mum already had enough to contend with but, as an only child, she now needed our support more than ever. She pained herself to deal with the ‘necessities’ and the funeral was held two days later. While grieving, a phonecall was received on the Saturday to indicate that my Grandfather had suffered a heart attack. Then, on 22nd November, almost exactly one week to the hour after Grandma’s passing, my Grandfather died. They were both 91 years old and had lived good lives; they were married for 61 of them and apart for just one week.

It felt like the world was falling apart. I had been tremendously close to my grandparents and I was at an all-time low. I needed to do something to regain my focus.

2010 annual report

These images represent my year of running in 2010.

I have never used a Garmin, so they have both been produced from my training log. And as such, they were created using only Excel.

The graphics were formatted using Excel formulae, so that only the stars and the weekly mileage overlay were added manually.

The inclusion of the annual average speed allows each image to stand alone. However combining (and comparing) them gives the details of every single one of my runs in 2010.

It should be noted that the distances are often estimates based on judgement and the feeling in my legs.

Marathon training schedule

Having run a number of marathons, I was asked earlier in the year to devise a marathon training plan based on the Ryston Runners AC training sessions for Spring 2011. It was ready in August 2010 but, for one reason and another, I have not had time to upload it. With many people now talking about their spring marathons, now seems like an appropriate time to share it.

Feel free to use it, abuse it, adapt it, question it, criticise it, advise me how it could be better or simply ignore it. Either way, I take no responsibility for anyone’s failure to perform other than my own. Enjoy.

I will, however, leave you with one rule of thumb which was given to me before my first marathon: To get to the finish, first you must get to the start. Good luck.

Pain is temporary

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

Lance Armstrong’s is my favourite take on an old quote, encapsulated by today’s New York City Marathon. Congratulations to Edison Peña who overcame adversity and completed it in less than 6 hours – a true inspiration to many.

Meanwhile, another running legend, Haile Gebrselassie, who said earlier this week “Why should I retire? Why should I say I will retire in three or four years? You retire the very moment you utter those words … I still think about doing more” appears to have spoken too soon.

Which brings me onto another quote: think before you speak.

Update 15th November 2010. Thankfully, Haile Gebrselassie appears to have changed his mind – opting to run the Tokyo Marathon in February 2011.

For Sale

Although this space is usually occupied by blog, I am selling my car, so please contact me if you are interested or have any questions.


VOLKSWAGEN Polo 1.2 E 55 3dr Hatchback
2005 (55 reg), 32724 miles, Red, Petrol, Manual, Power assisted steering, ABS, 3 x 3-point rear seat belts, Rear headrests, Cloth seat trim, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Radio/CD
Full service history with main VW dealer, 8 months MOT – plus service plan (covering MOT and Service) until May 2012, 6 months tax. Excellent condition, £4000.

Update 5th November 2010. It’s been sold.

Love and Hate

As a young child, I was brought up on porridge for breakfast. Particularly throughout the winter months. My Grandmother had a recipe that has remained with me as I have grown older, but everyone who has encountered the it cannot understand why I like it so much. As I have become a marathon runner, it has also become my staple pre-run breakfast. It is quick to cook and has enough in it to keep me going for hours. Yet, I struggle to find people outside of the family who appreciate it.

That is until Nigella (Lawson) recently referred to an Anna del Conté recipe for spaghetti and marmite. These links may not work for long, but or show the program and recipe respectively.

And here is the original ‘Armi’ Semel recipe:

Half a cup of porridge

A cup and a half of water (more or less according to preference of thickness)

Marmite to taste (I suggest a tablespoon)

Place all contents in a saucepan on a high temperature for about five minutes. Serve in a bowl. Eat with a spoon. Straight away. Go for a run.

Poor response


I recently received this email from my mobile phone operator and have two problems with it. I find their apparent lack of wanting to help me by sending me to their automated online troubleshooter frustrating.

I was equally frustrated to discover their inability to correctly spell the word “response”. The email is clearly a standard templated response, arriving from an email address ““, while I presume the subject line has to be typed manually.

Poor spelling very quickly sends out negative messages and I doubt this is what was intended from the email. I have been a customer for a number of years and responses like this can quite easily turn people off.

And I wonder, still I wonder…

I run marathons because they’re easy. There is lots of time to think about your strategy and make fine adjustments accordingly, and I often feel like I could go on forever at a steady pace. The distance doesn’t bother me.

So when a friend recently instigated an online discussion regarding the Wroxham 5k (the Norfolk County Championships), followed by some fighting talk from his rivals, I didn’t like the sound of it, but wanted a piece of the action. Despite maintaining a reasonable level of fitness, I hadn’t done any targeted training for a number of months but, when it became clear that some of the running club’s ‘new boys’ wanted a chance to put their recent training efforts into practice, I (reluctantly) figured I had to give it a go.

As race day approached, everyone was getting their excuses ready – with some even going so far as to spend time in hospital. The preparation for those involved was mixed, and evening races can be quite awkward to judge. What should I eat? When should I eat it? When should I stop eating? How much ‘work’ should I do during the day? Weekend races, on the other hand, are simple affairs where you just get up, have your breakfast and go; they utilise tried and tested regimes that have been perfected over time.

So as we were stuck in traffic en route to the race, the rainclouds started to gather, talking to us during our preparations and distracting us from our pre-race routine. We arrived at the race HQ soaked from the walk from the car, but had to get ready to race, so warmed up on the soggy grass track, while becoming wetter with every stride.

We were called to the start line, about 10 minutes before the start, as the rain continued, and as we became more cold and miserable, at least our minds were being taken off the task in hand. But eventually the race started. I executed my start plan perfectly – sprint to the sharp corner 30m from the line to avoid the hordes and settle in from there. That was the easy part.

I passed through 1k in 3.30 and felt surprisingly good. Doing the maths on the run would give me 17.30. I had only been expecting to sneak under 19, so I thought that I may as well continue and see how things unfolded. I went through 2k in 7.02, which was good, but when 3k approached in 10.38, I was hurting. I was now slowing and it was becoming difficult. I eyed up the runners further along the road and used them to help me. It was hard work, but I went through 4k in 14.18 and by now, my mind had focussed on sub-18. I couldn’t slow down any more, but it would have to be painful. This was worse than a marathon; much worse. There was no time to think about the effort, to be tired, or to crunch numbers. It was just a case of keeping going. And finally I crossed the line in 17.55, my third pb on the road on the bounce.

And my reward when I arrived home was to discover my cheque had been banked (confirming my entry) for the London Marathon. Roll on next Spring.

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