*Unhappy Face Emjoi*

Another week gone, another week of no running. Shin splints continue to defeat me when it comes to getting out and pounding the pavements.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t getting me down. I’m trying to compensate in the gym. Strengthening my legs on the weight machines, almost dying during my first spin class in three years, body pump, bootcamp, x-trainers and the lot.

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But it’s not the same.

So now I’m launching an assault on the cause of my misery. I shall suffer no longer. I’ve got an ice pack to wear on my shin, to encourage recovery and stop any potential swelling. I’m munching vitamin tablets that are designed to encourage stronger bones. I’ve bought a 10kg kettlebell so that I can beast myself in the evening at home. I’m booked into a whole host of classes at the gym in the next couple of days… And I’m going to attempt a couple of slow runs on the treadmill, see how that goes.

This can’t go on. There’s not enough time left between now and the Manchester marathon for me to continue beingĀ unable to run. So it’s going to have to stop.

If the nicely-nicely approach of doing nothing about it (in some ways) didn’t work – as total rest hasn’t served me well – maybe taking a more active approach to mending it will do.

At this point – anything is worth a try.

Out of action, out of patienceĀ 

  
Things haven’t been going great since my last update. The ankle situation didn’t improve, so I bit the bullet and went to the doctor to see what was going on.

After explaining the situation, our conversation went like this:

Doc: “Does it hurt to touch at all? Any pain during the day?”

Me: “Nope. Just when running”

“What if I press here?”

*loud, embarrassing squeal*

So that’s me. Shin splints. That are getting slightly worse as even just walking has become a little uncomfortable. And frustratingly, it seems that rest is top of the list of ways to make it better. Sigh.

My lack of activity has been really getting me down. I feel like a balloon at the moment, but am fully aware that it’s just because I can’t get out there, pounding the pavements.

However, time for the moping to end. I’m going to get myself to the gym, hammer some weights and get distance in my legs on the cross trainer and bikes.

You may have slowed my progress you splinty bastards, but I refuse to let you win. A couple of weeks of intense gym sessions and I’ll be back, stronger than ever.

Silly boy

“Always listen to your body”

It’s advice that I’ve both been given and seen others give on numerous occasions. And it makes sense. For all the stats, Strava kudos and Facebook likes in the world, if you’re not right in yourself, it’s not worth pushing it and risking injury.

Hindsight is a magical thing.

Last Saturday I took myself out for a quick 5k while my little boy had a nap. I’ve really struggled with my running pace since upping my distance, so wanted to prove to myself that I could still go relatively quickly.

  
I was happy to complete it in under 25 mins. My pace has been closer to 6km/h recently, so it felt good to get it down a little.

However, and there was always going to be a but in this feel-good tale, as I was approaching the end of the run, some inconsiderate twat opened their car door directly in front of me. I had to act quickly to get out of the way and avoid pancaking against their door, and in doing so, went over on my ankle slightly.

I’ve been lucky enough on the whole since starting running to only pick up a couple of injuries, so I do my best to try to not let them beat me.

Mistake.

I set off on a longish run on Monday morning – hoping to get maybe 22 or 24 miles under my belt before work. It was a big a ask – I’ve never gone further than 18 before – but I was happy to try. 

Unfortunately, pretty much from the first 200 yards onward, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt as though I had tight bracelets around both ankles, and they hurt/badly ached each step I took.

Did I pack it in and go home? Did I realise and accept that a couple of days of rest would likely sort it out? Did I listen to my body as it screamed a little each and every time my feet hit the ground?

Nope. No I did not. Idiot.

  
Instead I dragged myself along for 30 miserable kilometres, wincing at the pain, limping in parts and feeling thoroughly fed up with myself. 

In fact, everything started to feel okay about 12km in – I thought I’d cracked it and just run through the problem. Turned out, however, that wasn’t the case, and it only lasted for about 2km, then the problem came back, with a friend. Somehow my laces on my right shoe were now also digging into my foot, enough for it to cause genuine pain, for the first time since I’d had my shoes. Problem upon problem. Brilliant.

I didn’t listen to my body at all, instead I finished my run in the worst of moods, limped my way to work and felt throughly down about the whole situation. Not only that, but I also knackered up my schedule for the rest of the week while I waited to make sure my ankle was okay.

It’s really not all that long now until Manchester. I’m setting myself a target of five runs from Saturday to Friday this week – to get back into the swing of things and get more miles in my legs. I’m on 79 for the month, so expect to easily clear 100 for the first time.

I will, however, this time around, be wise enough to stop if my legs are telling me they aren’t up to the task.

Pushing boundaries and overcoming worry

It’s been an interesting week in the world of running for me.

After starting slow, and promising both myself and my rightly concerned partner that I’d take it easy, I threw in a long run on Friday, just to prove to myself that I could still do it following the physical devastation of December. Thankfully, I can still just about manage.

  
Recently I’ve been running slower than I ever have in the past – but that’s okay. With just under three months until Manchester I’m happy to just get miles under my belt and not worry about times or pace. I’m happy to just complete the Manchester marathon – however long it takes, I won’t be beating myself up if it takes me five hours.

Today I deviated from my Asics training plan somewhat. I had something of a crisis of confidence over the weekend – mainly due to putting my love of chocolate digestives first ahead of my desire to train properly, and sleeping in on Monday morning, missing a training run and getting mad at myself for doing so.

So today, rather than the five mile jog that the app suggested, i wanted to push myself harder and further than I ever had before. It was as much an exercise in convincing myself that I’m capable of this challenge as anything, and regaining a bit of confidence after my weekend wobble.

A 4.10am alarm wasn’t what I really wanted to hear this morning, but I got up and out of the door and am delighted I did so. I’ve never managed a run further than 14 miles in the past, and was hoping to better that on a cold, yet thankfully relatively dry Belfast morning.

  

As I reached 14 miles I got a spring in my otherwise laboured step, and although once I reached 15 miles I strongly considered packing it in and taking the win, I knew in my head that each and every step was taking me further than I’d ever gone before. It’s a good feeling, bettering yourself, and I thrived on it for another mile or so.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. I was having a few pains in my left calf at times, and considered stopping to prevent injury, but they worked themselves out – and I carried on – determined to break my own records.

If I was having serious doubts over my ability to complete a marathon on Sunday night, I think I’ve banished them now. As I’ve said before, a lot of people emphasise how important mental strength is in marathon running, and after completing 30km this morning (18.6miles) – I’m quietly confident that I can find those extra miles in the next three months and drag myself across the finish line at Old Trafford.

  

Running isn’t meant to be easy. Neither are marathons. That’s why a fair few people would never even consider doing one, never mind three, so I need to realise that it won’t always be plain sailing, and doubts and worries are just going to be par for the course now. As long as I can keep pushing my limits, and teaching myself, over and over, that I’m stronger than I think, I’ll be fine.

And so it begins

So here’s the plan.
Dan – aka me – is going to go from running novice to marathon regular in the space of a few gruelling months in aid of Clic Sargant. Though, while I’ll certainly be doing it to hopefully raise a decent amount of money for a wonderful charity – it’s also hopefully going to whip me into the shape of my life, push me to my limits and see me reach levels I, until recently, never thought possible.
A bit of background first, perhaps.
I’ve been ‘the fat kid’ for as long as I can remember. Other lads at school used to call me ‘Top Heavy’ and I’d always try to avoid having to go in the shower after PE as I was pretty ashamed of my body.
Then university happened. Years of takeaways, enough beer to kill an elephant and a dreadfully unhealthy lifestyle put me in arguably the worst shape of my life.
As with anyone who is now in their 30s, I’ve had past failed attempts at getting fit. I got a bike and enjoyed it for a month or two until a flat tyre spelled the end of that. I joined a gym and went twice before realising it was a lot of hard work. I decided to take up running but got tired walking to the park.

Three years of living in France, with its cheap bread, delicious pizza and even cheaper lager left me with blood pressure that doctors were getting pretty concerned about.

 


In November, 2013 my little boy was born. He’s my pride and joy, he lights up my life, but a chronic lack of sleep and eating takeaways whenever the opportunity to actually eat arose saw me balloon to my all-time heaviest. I tipped the scales at over 14.5st – I was exhausted all of the time – and was terrified that my boy would grow up with a dad unable to run around after him (at this stage my moons wobbled when I brushed my teeth).
I decided to do something about it and joined a bootcamp class. It was a revelation for me. Three times a week at 6am and I quickly lost a stone and a half – completed a number of obstacle course races and – somehow – two half marathons. The first was horrendous. Two hours and 22 minutes of hell. I couldn’t walk properly for three days afterward. I managed the second in two hours two seconds. A massive improvement.

 


However, I struggled with motivation for the sessions a little this summer, and work commitments later in the year mean that, unfortunately, bootcamp is now a thing of the past.
In November I decided that running would be my way of keeping fit. I’d been getting out on and off throughout the year, but upped my distance in November, managing to run 75 miles in a month, three times as much as I’d ever managed before.

Unfortunately though, work commitments through December took their toll, and I only got out for two or three runs.
Which brings us into the present.
As I’m sure many people have in the past, I watched a little bit of the London Marathon on TV this year and decided that – if I put my mind to it – I could do that.

However, I’ve let my brain get ahead of me, and after not winning a place in the London ballot, have signed up to run the Manchester, Belfast and Derry marathons instead.
Three marathons.
78.6 miles.
Three cities.
Three months.
On April 10 I’ll be in Manchester, attempting to complete the first marathon of my life. On May 2 I’ll do it all over again on the streets of Belfast, and on June 5 I’ll run 26.2 miles for the third time in three months in Derry.
Im going to use this blog to chart my progress. I’m aware that this isn’t a challenge that should be taken lightly. It’s going to take a whole world of commitment and dedication. Running is going to have to cease to be a hobby and become a way of life. But I’m doing it to raise money for a wonderful cause, to prove to myself that I’m stronger than I think, and, honestly, to make my little boy proud of me.

 

 

 

If you had told me two years ago that I’d run two miles I’d have laughed for a week. When I tell people who I haven’t seen for a while what I’m doing they are genuinely completely shocked. They can’t believe it could ever be possible. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. They say that running a marathon is a lot about mental strength, as much as physical, and this blog is as much about charting that progress is as it is about uploads from running apps and pictures of my aching legs. I’ll also never be referring to the marathons as races. In my mind they are endurance challenges. I couldn’t care less how long they take, as long as I reach the end. Finish lines over finish times.
After over indulging at Christmas I feel like I’m as good as starting my running ‘career’ from scratch – though got out today to rack up a slow 8k – slightly more than the 5 the Asics app asked of me.


I hope one or two people will be interested in following my progress. I appreciate any support along the way – and – here’s the begging part – if you’ve a pound or two that you could possibly spare, then it’s going to a magnificent cause.

https://www.justgiving.com/Dansmarathons/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Dansmarathons&utm_campaign=pfp-share