It’s good to talk?

It’s been three months since the marathon challenge ended – and it’d be a lie to say things have been rosy.

Maybe it was the elation of finishing the first marathon – or the relief – but since finishing in Derry I’ve become a slob. I’ve done little exercise, no matter what I tell myself, barely any running, and piled on well over a stone and a half.

And the worrying, scary thing is, I just don’t seem capable of sorting myself out. 

Here comes the world’s smallest violin.

I’m at the stage again where I’m embarrassed of myself. I’m embarrassed of my fat body and regularly think people are laughing at me in the street – regardless of any evidence of it or not. I’m embarrassed to see myself in the mirror, or to get changed at the gym. I tell myself that I’ll go to the gym everyday, but instead tire myself out eating crap each evening, spending endless hours on the PlayStation wasting my life, finding excuses not to go out and exercise at 5am like I used to each day.

The daft thing is I’ve done races. I did the Great North Run recently and the Dublin Rock n Roll half marathon – both with no training – meaning I couldn’t really enjoy the days as I should have as I was basically dying the whole way around – struggling to do even the basics that I used to find easy. It was only April that I ran an uninterrupted 21 miles at the Manchester marathon. I had to have a walk break after two and a bit in Dublin and both races took me at least 20 minutes longer than they should have.

This isn’t designed as a fiery “this stops now” post. I wish it was one. I’m trying, slowly but surely, to get back into it all. Going to sign up for next year’s Manchester marathon and a Tough Mudder to try to motivate me to get my shit together. I know I can do it. I just can’t figure out how.

I’m stuck in a strange place. I spend my time with my missus and little boy – my two favourite people in the whole world – but living hundreds of miles away from friends and family, with no actual friends to speak of where I live casts a shadow of loneliness over day-to-day life.

I’m certain that the majority of this would go away if I could just find a new job. Mine makes me utterly miserable and robs me of almost all family time. Me and the missus basically take turns at being out of the house due to work – or end up doing it at home – stretching working days way past 12 hours on a regular basis.

Thing is, can you ever just walk away from a job with nothing lined up when you’ve rent, daycare and daily costs to deal with? Or go work somewhere else, where the starting wage will be significantly less than what you currently earn? It’s a lesser of two evils situation, but it’s going to have to come to a head soon. It can’t go on like this.

I just want one week where I can enjoy my family. Enjoy being with them and not fucking working or worrying about working. One week where my head isn’t consumed with the thoughts of being skint when I should be sleeping. Seven days of not being encompassed by a depressing panic that I’m not a good enough dad. Or partner.

They say that the key to a healthy body is a healthy mind. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Perhaps if I could make a start on one – the other may start playing catch-up.

I don’t know why I wrote this. Maybe it was just my way of admitting that I’m struggling. I’m not sure I actually want anyone to see it… It’s good to talk? Maybe so.

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The final countdown

It’s almost time.

Sunday is nearly here – the final of the three marathon challenge.


Not going to lie – it’s probably going to be a bit of a disaster. I don’t fully know why, but I’ve really let this whole thing collapse down around me. I’ve only actually been for one run since the Belfast marathon – but hey ho.

I’ve allowed myself to pile on a load of weight too. It’s shocking really. Somehow I’ve managed to put on about 9lbs in four weeks. Which is pretty good going in anyone’s books. Turns out if you eat like you’re marathon training, but don’t actually do the training part – and throw in a lot of booze and junk food – it’s not super great for you.

Anyway. Ive done the distance before, and I think it’ll be okay. I’m just determined to enjoy the day, have a laugh, take some photos and relax. I’ve honestly no problem if it takes me five hours, I’ll just be happy to get to the finish line, see my family and be able to look back with pride at what I’ve achieved.

While Manchester marathon had me panicking like mad that is never be able to complete such a daunting distance, and Belfast marathon had me terrified that my injury would stop me from getting anywhere near the start line – never mind the finish – this time I’m injury free, if super fat and unfit.


I plan to make sure I wave at my little man every time I see him, high-five kids on the course, take my time and pictures around the course and, as I approach the finish line, grab my son out of the crowd and run the last few yards with him either by my side or on my shoulders – and let him get my medal after. If nothing else it will provide me with a decent picture at the end, which I haven’t managed so far.

The only other couple of problems are that my hay fever has gone into absolute overdrive in the past couple of days – which means sore eyes, a streaming nose and a nasty cough – and that it’s going to be a really, really nice day in Derry on Sunday.


See training through the winter doesn’t really prepare you for running in nice weather, nor does doing all of your training runs before the milkman wakes up. The organisers have sorted out six sprinkler areas on the course – and water certainly won’t be in short supply. Take note Belfast marathon – this is how it’s done.

But hey, it’s only running – and it’s only 26.2 miles, eh? 

Two down, one to go. My bag is packed, new playlist primed and ready to go. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster this whole challenge, but it’s been worth every step – and when I cross the line on Sunday, I can be proud that I’ve gone from a non-runner to doing three marathons – raising over £800 for the wonderful Clic Sargent along the way.

Eight weeks with Lucy Locket Loves

It’s no big secret that, despite training for three marathons (saying that I’ve been training for them seems like something of a liberty given my incredible lack of physical activity in the last few weeks) I really struggle to do well with nutrition. I can’t resist the occasional chocolate biscuit or Domino’s pizza, and the more I tell myself that “today’s the day” and that I’ll excel from that day forward, the more I seem to sabotage my attempts and eat even more crap.

Honestly. I must be the only person in the world who has gone from occasional runner to doing three marathons in two months and actually got fatter. Note. Not put on weight. I understand the science in adding weight with muscle etc. Mine is fat. Plain and simple.

Even in the two weeks since the Belfast marathon I’ve put on about five pounds – and it was certainly noticeable when I got to go out for my first post-marathon run. I feel heavy, and I’d very much like it to stop.

Even if I ignore the marathon side of it, overlook the general need to want to be a better, thinner, lighter me, and not dwell on how much more stress it puts on my knees, I’m going on holiday in a couple of months, and would really like to feel a little more pride in my body when I’m on the beach. Not have boobs that will cast a shadow on everyone around me and bounce around while I’m running around the place with my little boy.

I don’t have any body dysmorphia issues or anything as serious as that, but I am ashamed that I’ve let myself get back to a state in which I have no pride in my body. A state that embarrasses me (I took my little man swimming the other day and was devastated by the way I looked in the pool), and I’m often convinced that when people see me out running, or walking down the street, then they are laughing at me for being a fat mess.

So, imagine my delight when I saw an appeal for bloggers to take part in an 8-week exercise and nutrition plan, run by Lucy Locket Loves – who was looking for someone to document their experience while taking on the course alongside many others on its launch.

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The plan features an exercise guide, with three workouts to do once per week for the first four weeks, and a second set for the second four weeks. After my first session yesterday I was pretty hot and sweaty – and that was the first session, so it’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park. All of the exercises are put together in 30-minute or so sessions, so it’s not too intrusive in the grand scheme of things, and they’ve all been designed to utilise bodyweight, so no equipment is needed, which is ideal for many people who don’t have the use of a gym or weight equipment at home. There are also explanations – with pictures – of each exercise, so there is no need to go searching Youtube to find out how to do something. That’s a great touch – as I’ve found in the past that some exercise plans will presume that you have an extensive knowledge of workouts – especially the names of some exercises – and it can be daunting trying to understand what it all means.

The nutrition plan is also pretty exciting. It breaks everything down – making it all simple enough – and has suggestions for recipes – a lot of which look tremendous. I’m looking forward to trying them. They’re also made with reasonable, everyday items, rather than some diet plans that require a trip to the supermarket that can take a real toll on the wallet.

With guides, meal planner sheets, help and advice and more available at any time on the dedicated Facebook group, and Lucy having an almost constant presence across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the motivation is really there to make the most of this plan, follow it to the tee and hopefully start to see some results.

I’ve taken all of my measurements, as well as some ‘before’ images – which I won’t force upon anyone until the end.

Lucy has put together an excellent plan, I’m excited to be a part of it and to share my experience along the way. Here’s to a beach body in eight weeks time that doesn’t leave me sobbing into my beer.

Two down

Well, I did it.


Belfast City Marathon – part two of the three marathon challenge – is in the bag.

It absolutely didn’t pan out like I’d hoped, but given that I’ve spent the past three weeks injured and didn’t run at all in that period, I think I can be pretty happy with making it to the finish line.


While parts of the run itself were absolute torture, and a lot of that is completely my own fault (there are lessons to be learnt, more on that later) looking back on it I can already say I very much enjoyed the whole day.

I woke up early to horrendous weather and was, in some ways, happy that it was going to be a cool day. The odd shower probably wouldn’t be too much of an issue either to be honest. Better than it being too warm and overheating… And then it got nice.

The start line at Belfast City Hall was buzzing with runners either taking on the full 26.2 or preparing to run the first leg of the relay, with many in fancy dress. Although I was too far back to hear what was happening up at the front, the atmosphere was one of real excitement, and although it took us a good four and a half minutes to actually reach the start line, I spent the first 10 miles or so running with a friend’s brother, going much quicker than I had planned, but feeling okay.


Unfortunately, the warning signs then started to show. I had to take a quick break on 10 miles to shed a pair of socks – yes, actually – and by the time we reached the course’s longest, seemingly never ending, knee-shredding, morale-shattering hill, I was struggling. I’d almost reached the end in Manchester before taking a walk break, but here I was forced to before I was even halfway. Maybe if I’d not been injured and been able to train properly, id have dealt with it better.


While coming down the hill was certainly more pleasant than going up it, the damage had been done, and from miles 16-21 or so a blinding pain and almost unbearable cramp had absolutely destroyed my legs. It was a real struggle to even walk at times, and I can happily admit that I thought about giving up more than once, but two paracetamol from the first aid tent and the thought of seeing my partner at mile 22 and my little boy at 23.5 kept me going.

Somehow I battled on. And after seeing them both – and an impromptu change of shoes, I managed to kick my race back into life for the last couple of gruelling miles, eating up the last couple of miles in a very respectable time. It was certainly a huge relief to see the finish line though, and I’m as proud that I reached it given the relative hell I had been through as I was at finishing my first marathon – even if this one did take a while longer.

I suppose that if it was easy, it wouldn’t be called a challenge. And it’s heartening to know that, even when the body didn’t want to carry on, my mind had enough to keep going.


I can’t really put into words how much of a boost seeing friends and family on the course can provide, and I was delighted to hear from my mum, and from the lovely people at Clic Sargent, that my little lad was cheering on all of the runners, constantly telling them all to “keep going”. He really enjoys watching his daddy’s runs, and it means the world to me that he’s there to support when I drag myself around these courses.

In hindsight now, as well as the obvious hindrance of not being able to train for three weeks, hydration caused my severe issues this time around. Manchester had bottles of water at their stops that I could make last until the next one. Any runner will know that cups, such as the ones they had in Belfast, are a bit of a nightmare – as most of it ends up on the floor or all over your face. Thankfully, Derry marathon in four weeks time use bottles, so that should go a little better.


It’s fair to say that my legs are in bits right now, and I fully intend to give them a week off before getting back into training for the final of my three marathons. Hopefully I can attack it injury free and enjoy it a little more than this one.

Perhaps surprisingly, I’m actually a little sad that the challenge is approaching its end, rather than the relief that everyone seems to think I’ll be experiencing, but I can say with some certainty that this is only the beginning of my marathon journey, rather than almost being the end. I fully intend to keep it up, and am already looking forward to seeing different cities with my running shoes on.

A quick thank you to everyone who has given generously as I’ve been on this journey. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough, and the money goes to a fantastic place. Here’s what the money I’m raising does to help:

£33 of your fundraising can give a family a place to stay for a night, near hospital during cancer treatment. £164 can make sure there’s always a CLIC Sargent Social Worker to meet children and young people with cancer, and their families, soon after diagnosis and help them to understand and cope with the emotional, practical and financial effects of cancer.

clicsargent611


I’ve absolutely smashed my target so far, and the money continues to roll in, which is just brilliant. Thank you so much for it all.

Onwards and upwards from here. It’s four weeks and a couple of days until I hit the streets of Derry and undertake the Walled City Marathon. Thanks for the support, and I’ll be back soon, once my legs work again, with more updates.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dansmarathons?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20151231_ 

F*ck This

Right. 
F*ck this.

F*ck that.

F*ck the lot.

Though it’s only a few days since this injury made itself known, I’ve been wallowing in utter pity. Been eating fatty foods, in huge quantities, been in a foul mood and wallowing in self pity.

So, you know what, f*ck that.

Whether it is a good idea or not, sheer pig-headed single-mindedness will get me to the Belfast marathon start line. And if it takes me six hours or six days, it’ll get me to the finish line too.

From this moment I’ll be eating like a legend, spending all of my time on my exercise bike, swinging kettlebells and hitting the gym.

No more moaning, sulking, comfort eating, cryarseing or more.

Fuck that. 

Belfast marathon, I’m coming for you.

Running out of fight…

Though this whole experience hasn’t always been easy, especially through a difficult December and then January’s shin splints, I’ve tried to stay positive. I attacked the gym throughout that month, worked on making my legs strong and did all that I could to solve the issues that my shins were creating.

When things got tough at the Manchester marathon, i gritted my teeth, forced a smile to the people offering supportive comments from the side of the road, and visualised the finish line. Staying positive when my knees were burning helped me finish the race at a decent pace, and filled me with renewed confidence for the remainder of the challenge.

There were plenty of positives the few days after Manchester. After easing back into things with a slow and steady 5k on the treadmill, I went out for two runs, both of decent length, and felt good keeping a pace I’ve not run at for a good while. To be honest, at that stage, Belfast marathon (May 2nd) couldn’t come quickly enough. I felt strong and was still riding a high from finishing my first ever marathon just a few days earlier.

Then, out of the blue, following a couple of rest days, I got a small, niggling pain across the front of my foot. Right on the ‘crease’ between leg and foot. It didn’t feel like anything particularly serious, and I presumed I’d just been sat funny.

I was wrong. The next day it felt much worse, and although I tried to go out for a little run, it quickly became clear something was actually properly wrong. Running was absolutely off the cards, and walking was becoming a struggle. The steps I was taking were now marred by a limp. *sigh*

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So, a trip to the doctor later and I’m on double strength naproxen for tendonitis in my foot. I’m not to run for at least a week, preferably 10 days, and fuck me it’s a kick in the swingers…

There’s no guarantee that the 10 days will sort the issue, and with Belfast marathon only 13 days away, even if I can run by then, I’ll have done none in two and a half weeks prior to the start line at City Hall.

I don’t know what to do with myself now. I’ve been struck down with the incredible disappointment that I may no longer be able to run the second marathon of the challenge. I’ve built it up for so long and raised so much money that it’s hit me harder than it really should have.

Honestly, feels like I’ve just got the worst luck in the world. Should have forwarded that chain email all those years ago…

Maybe it will all turn out okay. I’ll recover faster than expected and be okay to do the marathon.

Or maybe I won’t. And then the search will commence for a new part three to the challenge, and Derry will have to become part two.

Basically, things aren’t going great. Not great at all. More soon…

Becoming part of the 1%

April 10. Manchester. Marathon one. Done.
 So I did it. My first marathon. 26.2 miles in the bag.

I got up early on what was a bright and crisp morning before driving over to Manchester with my parents and little boy. Although we got there in plenty of time, the road to our car park seemed to have been closed, and after being sent around in circles at least twice, we had to leave the car in a pub car park and hot foot it to the start line, only really making it there with about 15 minutes to spare. Though it wasn’t the stress-free morning that is hoped for, we got there in enough time to take in the scene before I got going from starting gate F.

The start of the race was a little odd actually, there was no arch to cross under, and just a timing mat on the floor, but I quickly hit my stride and let my worries fade away.

I had a plan to use my watch to keep my pace throughout. I was hoping to run at 10:35 throughout the whole race – which would hopefully see me home in about 4 hours 37, though, as anyone who has been keeping up with this blog will know, I’ve struggled with injury and was happy with any time at all.

Things started really well. I was enjoying running in a crowd, with spectators cheering from both sides of the road. We passed the Coronation Street studios and I got a huge boost when I saw my parents and little boy at the side of the road around three miles in, before we headed up towards Old Trafford.


Although I had my plan, I really found a rhythm and was going along nicely at around 10:26 per mile. I now know, for the next run, that with a little more preparation, that I can probably keep that throughout.

There was a lot of great support around the course. Choirs, bands, a care home’s residents all out on the pavements cheering runners, and it was great to see considering that we would have been so far behind those at the front. At one stage I ran under a bridge, and a huge group, having seen my name on my vest, chanted “Dan, Dan, Dan”. It echoed all around the bridge, and was amazing to hear the whole section of the run filled with my name.

I reached the half marathon point feeling pretty good. And it wasn’t until shortly after that the 4:30 pacer overtook me. However, doing well, I kept up with or ran slightly in front of the group for the next six miles or so.


I really surprised myself as, even in my training runs, I can’t run that far without having a break. I’ll often be forced to have a walk break after 5 miles or so, but, buoyed on by the crowd and the runners around me, I managed to do a full 22 miles of running.

Things were, of course, by then becoming a little difficult. Although until that stage I’d done well with water, making a bottle last exactly from one water point to the next, it was getting hot and everything was becoming a struggle. While most of me was happy to continue running, and I didn’t feel conventionally drained, my legs didn’t get the memo, and it felt as though I had a ring of pure fire surrounding both knees. With my left calf doing its best to cramp at the same time, I had to take a walk break, and that’s probably what killed the rest of the run as a spectacle.

From there on in a walked, limped and shuffled as fast as I possibly could, thinking of nothing other than seeing my little boy, my fiancée and my parents at the finish line. Impressed comments from supporters morphed into “it’s nearly over, you’ll definitely make it to the end” and “keep pushing, you’re almost there”. I was offered more jelly babies than I even knew existed. Bassetts must have done a roaring trade in Manchester over the weekend.

  
I must admit to feeling a little emotional as I passed the 25-mile marker. I was telling myself from 23 miles onwards that it was ‘only a parkrun’ and that I could do it. And, sure enough, as soon as I could see the finish line, way, way off in the distance, I got a little boost of energy, as did many round me, as we all pushed to finish strong (and look good on the official photos, no doubt).

I walked through the post-race village in a bit of a daze, collecting my medal and goodie bag, and have to admit to letting a few tears escape as my parents, fianceé and little boy met me outside Old Trafford cricket ground. Whether it was the relief or elation of finishing, I don’t know, but it felt good, and it felt good to just let it go.

 
Overall I really enjoyed the experience, and am delighted to now be able to call myself a marathon runner. Joining the 1% of the population who have gone the distance and run 26.2 miles. While 4 hours 44 certainly isn’t the quickest marathon time, it’s my quickest marathon time.

  
There are lessons to be learned for mission two: Belfast. I shouldn’t let myself get carried away in the middle of the race, and should instead try to keep my pace consistent throughout the run. I think, if I can do that, it will keep the legs a little stronger in the final stretch. But, at the end of the day, this was my first marathon. It’s there to teach me things, and no matter how long it took me, it was always going to be a personal best.

  
A big thanks goes out to everyone who supported me. From donations to Clic Sargent to encouraging messages on the day, before, during and after my run. And, of course, anyone reading this who lined the streets of Manchester to cheer me on. Each and every one of you got me over that line and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Onwards and upwards now. It’s only 20 days until the Belfast marathon, and I’m going to train hard now in the hope of beating my Manchester time. Please, if you can, continue to support the charity, and I’ll keep up my end of the bargain by pushing myself harder and harder each day.

   
 A sentimental note to finish. Four words have made this whole experience worthwhile. I’ve been a bit of a fuck up for big parts of my life. I’ve messed things up, given up easily and generally been a bit of a bum. But the words that I’ve had in messages from friends and been told in person by the people there in Manchester really meant the world to me. They simply said “I’m proud of you”.

  

It’s almost here

At this moment in a week’s time, I’ll be somewhere in Manchester, dragging myself around the streets, trying not to cry or be sick.

That’s right. It’s less than seven days until the Manchester marathon. It’s gone quickly.

Am I ready? Am I bollocks. A combination of Christmas, injury and illness has obliterated my training schedule to the extent that any run I do at the moment is still being classed as a ‘recovery’ run.

It’s almost here…

Good news first. It feels like all injuries, niggling or substantial, have now been and gone. As long as I can stay healthy (and for me, that’s quite the relative term) between now and next Sunday, I reckon I’ll be about okay. If anyone has a cold, flu, TB, bubonic plague or anything else even remotely contagious, feel free to stay the hell away from me for at least another week or so. Strike me down now, and, unlike some people in popular culture, I almost certainly won’t be more powerful than ever.

So that’s the good news.

The bad? Well, it’s all self-inflicted.

I’ve been really struggling recently – not with motivation, but with the literal act of getting my shit together.

Too many mornings I’ve turned off my alarm, more than half asleep, and before I know what’s happened the opportunity to run has gone. 

Nutrition wise, I’ve been a nightmare. Each passing day has me swearing that ‘today’s the day’ – no more sandwiches, treats, fizzy drinks and such. Last week I had a dominos pizza, today a creme egg and a can of pop. Chocolate bars, crisps, scotch eggs, milkshakes… I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know where a Ginsters’ Cornish pastie lays on the lean protein scale, but I imagine it’s somewhere between turkey breast and sea bass. Fuck sake. s soon as I tell myself I’m determined to get my shit together I end up eating anything and everything I can get my hands on. It feels like I’m subconsciously hitting some kind of self-destruct button. Some twisted, dick part of my brain keeps saying ‘you’ll have it sorted by the Belfast marathon – you get yourself that Twix mate’ and I happily listen, squeezing said Twix into my face, if it can get past the crisps that are blocking its route.

So, no more of that please. Tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to knock silly vices on the head with such little time to go. If you know me and see me in a shop in the sweets aisle, you have my permission to punt me out of the front door. Honest.
Infact, I read a story about a lad who lost a load of weight as his friend text him calling him a fat mess every day for two and a half years. If anyone would like to volunteer for that role with me, that’d be great. All the chocolate recently has left me wondering whether I should be buying a sports bra ahead of Manchester.

Just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind donations. I set myself a target of raising £250 for the wonderful people at Clic Sergant and with your wonderful support I’ve reached £300, with another £200 promised if I complete all three marathons. I’m blown away by your kindness – and it will go a long way to helping people who need the kind of support I can only imagine.

Got a few more runs planned before the big day. Nothing too fast or strenuous, would be devastated to get injured at this point, just slow and steady to get the legs up to speed and try to nail my proposed race pace, make sure I know what running at that pace feels like. 

I’m pretty confident in my ability to get around the course, despite everything written above, and have decided that I’ll be starting slow. Pretty slow. Slow enough for it to be borderline boring slow. I’d much rather run the last six miles quickly than the first six. Hopefully, as long as I don’t allow myself to get carried away at the start, I’ll be able to retain something in the tank for the end.

No more negativity from here on in. It really serves no purpose. If you know me and we are talking about the marathons, keep it motivational eh? I’ve heard enough of: “oh god it’s such a long way” – “it’s going to hurt so much ” and “you must be mad. It’ll be horrible” for a lifetime. A simple “good luck” would be far more appreciated.

With two of the three race numbers having arrived, everything is getting very real, it’s just up to me now to justify your support, get myself over those finish lines and make the people who matter to me most proud.

Mission improbable to mission impossible?

I always knew that taking on three marathons, having never done one in the past, was going to be a tremendous challenge – but I wasn’t prepared for my training to sabotage itself so dramatically.

It’s November. My work commitments are growing, but I’m still getting out there. Hitting the streets, running at 4.30am at times, to make sure I’m putting some distance in my legs. I’m happy enough with my progress. Things aren’t looking too bad.

December – work is taking over, but still, I’m running once or twice a week. Though things are getting a little more tough, and finding the time is becoming an increasing challenge, I’m still managing – and that’s enough to keep me smiling at this stage.

2016 begins. This is it. Let’s do this. Let’s absolutely nail this training. I’m back in business. I’ve ramped up my training. I’m doing 30k runs before work, which starts at 8am. I’m feeling better than ever about everything. I’m filled with optimism, and I’m getting to be confident that I can attack the Manchester Marathon and complete it in (about) 4 hours 15. My training has geared towards that kind of time, and I’m quietly confident that, actually, I’ll have enough in the tank to take a fair few minutes off that target time too…

End of January. I’m in real trouble. Something’s seriously not right. I feel like someone is squeezing my ankles in a vice-like grip every time I take a step while running. I try to ignore it… It doesn’t work. A trip to the doctor confirms my shin-splints fears, and that’s me out of action for the best part of a month.

Things aren’t looking great, are they?

Fast forward a month. A combination of rest, ice packs, sports massage and KT Tape has my shins feeling strong and ready to hit the roads again. I manage one run and – boom – I’m struck down by a horrendous sinus infection. Lifting my head off the pillow results in such pressure in my head that I’m not convinced my eyes aren’t going to pop out. Fun times. Another week down the pan, marathon training plan in tatters. Manchester is looking bleak.

So… Here we are. It’s the start of March, and in my eyes, there’s two ways to look at the situation I find myself in.

  1. Bemoan my bad luck. Cry about it. Pull out of the marathons as I’m basically doing it on a five-week preparation.
  2. Ignore all the bad luck I’ve had up to this point. Smile, work hard, and carry on regardless. See, it doesn’t matter how long Manchester Marathon takes me. I just have to rid myself of a target time, enjoy the day and make sure I get to the end. If that’s my only goal, and I don’t put too much pressure on myself, I’m confident I can do it.

We’ll go with option 2.

It was always going to be hard work to run my first, second and third marathons within a couple of months of each other. My preparation has, admittedly, left me incredibly worried about my ability to get to the end, but I’ll manage. The only way forward from here, in my eyes, is to not look at Manchester being a five-week plan away. I’ll ignore Belfast in the same way.

So now, I’m looking at a 13-week training plan until the Derry marathon. It just so happens that two of my long training runs will be actual marathons.

Get through those alive, register a time at each, smash it to pieces by the beginning of June.

Here goes nothing…

A light at the end…

Having a look through my previous posts I can see it’s been 25 days since I conceded defeat and realised I was properly injured. In all honesty, I should have probably admitted it sooner than that. 

However, that was then, and this is now.

After a couple of weeks of weight training in the gym, kettle bells and spin classes for cardio, I managed to run 10k yesterday. It was a gentle pace, just to make sure that nothing was going to blow up, but it all went okay.

Step one: done.

This morning’s session was designed to push things a little harder to see how that went. 

Step two: done.

I really pushed the pace this morning, so much so that, if I’d not had a 30-second break in the middle of the run just to again be fully sure that everything was behaving as it should, it would have been the fastest 5k I’ve ever run.

I can’t really explain how happy I am to have done these two runs with no pain. The frustration of not running has been driving me half mad, balanced against constant worries about the impending marathons and my ridiculous lack of preparation.

All of a sudden, things are looking brighter and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow I’m going to try road running, to see how that goes, and then hopefully I can get back on board with my training.

Admittedly, there isn’t now a lot of time between today’s date and April 10, when I hit the streets of Manchester. I may not have time to gradually build up my distance as I’d like, but concentrating on not suffering another injury is top of my list of priorities.

Being injured – and the consequent panic it’s had me in – has made me reasses Manchester, I think I need to make some new, realistic goals. Originally I was looking to run it in around 4 hours 15, justifiably in my opinion as I’d completed a couple of 18-mile training runs in a quicker pace than I’d need to be going to achieve that time, but, due to being out of action for almost a month so close to the big day, I’m changing the parameters, and will happily accept something around the five-hour mark. If I can sneak in at a time that begins with a four, I’ll be more than happy.

It’s been something of a learning experience, being injured, but the ease of today’s run has me determined to keep fitting gym time into my training regime.

I’ve invested in some KT Tape – and whether it’s working or whether I’m fully recovered I’m not sure, but even if it just provides a placebo effect, I’ll happily keep applying it.

  
I also want to mention a new way of fuelling my exercise that I’ve tried this week. In the past, I’ve used pre-workout powders. However, while they clearly provide a buzz, especially on cold mornings after a poor night’s sleep, I tried to move away from them as I wasn’t always keen on the tingly, hot feeling they cause, and I think daily use had started to dilute the benefits somewhat.

Having seen a post by a company called TrueStart online, I was intrigued by their ‘performance coffee’ – which they claim is designed for athletes, and does in a number of ways the same thing.

After ordering myself a sample, I can say that I’ve found it excellent. It certainly had me working harder for longer at the gym, especially this morning as I didn’t sleep great last night. I’ll certainly be ordering some soon as I can, and look forward to using it more in the future (this isn’t a sponsored post in any way, I’m just discussing my experience of trying it).

  
Until next time, when hopefully I’ll have a successful outdoor run in the bag.

PS I got some new trainers recently, deciding it would be good to have some for short runs and my current Asics for long runs. However, I’ve already discovered these new ones aren’t great. If anyone wants to contribute to the success of my challenge, please please buy me some Nike Pegasus +30s (£37.99 on eBay) and I’ll dedicate the Derry marathon to you.