Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too much work and not enough exercise.

My manic phase of exercise has come to the end for the time being. I went for a cycle ride on Thursday but other than that I haven't done any training. This is mainly for two reasons, the first one is that work has got in the way of training so I have had no free time. Isn't it a pain when that happens. The second reason is that I have had a bit of a cold but being a man, I dont want to really talk about that. I mean obviously the sore throat has been terrible, and the feeling of lethargy has not been great either - but I'm not going to moan.
Hopefuly I will get back to some sort of training tomorrow now that the severe headaches and runny nose are starting to subside. (I've heard women mention in passing that child birth is an annoyance but they don't have to put up with man flu do they). Just to ensure that I am up to training again, I'm having a test tonight to see if I can tolerate a few drinks without too many ill effects and if so, I am well on the road to recovery.
I think this week (if the generalised muscle aches and shivers have settled) I will go for a longer walk of twenty miles or so. I think it is now about time to start building up the distances. There is also the Firemans run coming up on Thursday and the winter walking league next Sunday. Plenty of encouragement to get back on track!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting in touch with my feminine side.

For a man, I have taken a somewhat unhealthy interest in foot wear over the past few months. I now have a collection of footwear that would rival most women (O.K. I am exaggerating a bit!) However, I currently have on the go 3 pairs of trainers of which 2 pairs are asics 'cushioned' trainers and a pair of saucony fastwitch 'lightweight' trainers. I found out why they are light weight - they have holes in the soles so you get wet feet! There is a dazzling array of trainers out there - cushioned, stability, motion control, racing, training. I'm afraid I am no expert in this field, so far I have been lucky with my 'mmm they feel alright' approach to buying trainers. Up until now and with my maximum distance 45 miles, I have never suffered with major problems with my feet. When I do get my next blister, I will publish my guide of how to deal with blisters!

I also now have a pair of fell running shoes and a pair of cycling shoes with 'clip ons'. They have the added benefit of making you fall off your bike when you come to a stop. One bit of advice is to buy the shoes a little bigger than your natural shoe size as your feet do tend to swell when you have been on them for a few hours and also to avoid lacing them too tight. I am a size 10 and normally wear size 11 trainers for walking, however my wife keeps trying to buy me bigger and bigger trainers as she now thinks I am size 11. I am going to end up looking like a clown rather than an elite international athlete!

As far as training goes, I have been to race walking at the NSC the last couple of nights. The adult class on Tuesday is getting more and more popular with at least 20 people yesterday and a similar number last week. Last night there were complete novices, right through to the likes of Michael George (4 times finisher, P.B. 15 hours 57 mins 0s) and Sean Hands (5 times finisher AND all time fastest Parish Walker 14 hours 47 mins 36s). So get down there next week, meet at 6pm on the running track. I have also been out checking out the Manx Mountain Marathon course and did the 6.5 mile section from St John's to the Round Table yesterday morning.

I heard this weeks music on the radio yesterday and it got me thinking about the stretch of the Parish Walk from Jurby to Douglas...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

154 Days to go!

It still sounds a long way away but there are only 154 days to go till this years Parish Walk. It doesn't seem that long since entries opened but that was 55 days ago! So unless you are one of these people who just seem to be able to turn up and walk the course with little preparation, its time to get out training. Plus the added advantage of the daylight is starting to get a little bit longer.
I have been out for a run this evening and out for an eight mile walk yesterday and the day before. It was good to see Dave Mackey out training again yesterday and was rather pleased with myself when I passed him (I was going in the opposite direction). We have also finalised a team to enter for the event this year. I am not going to announce the line up as yet but the pressure is on me as I have nowhere near the walking experience of any of the other members - at least it is good motivation to train.
Don't forget the next round of the winter walking league is on Sunday 7 February at Andreas (full details at This is excellent training and speaking from experience, amateur walkers are welcome. My first attempt was 10 months ago and I covered the 10km distance in just under 80 minutes finishing in a splendid last place!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Because I'm worth it

After the fell race on Saturday, I was looking forward to a rest on Sunday. However, I received a text from Dave ‘sick note’ Mackey (Fastest first time finisher 2008, 18 hours 3 mins 17s) on Saturday evening inviting me to go for a walk with him and Vinny ‘the hitman’ Lynch (Fastest first time finisher 2009, 17 hours 5 mins 8s) on Sunday morning. I couldn’t resist the temptation of going for a walk with them, even though they were going at 8am on Sunday morning (surely elite international athletes have a lie in on Sundays). So, off we went for an 8 mile walk up to Strang, Glen Vine and back to Douglas passing Peter Kaneen (4 times p.w. finisher, P.B. 15 hours 26 mins 7s) on the way. I normally get by on very little sleep but for the first time in years I slept for a full 12 hours on Sunday night.

On Monday I tried out my new bike again and cycled around the TT course (except coming from Ramsey to Douglas on the coast road instead of over the mountain). My only down fall was the slightly unhealthy fish and chips at Ramsey Trawlerman half way round – very tasty. I went to the children’s race walking class on Monday evening with my 8 year old son for a bit of humiliation from the expert kids!

Yesterday I went for a 5 mile walk with Sally in the morning and then went to race walking again in the evening. I think I have now hit a manic point in my training because this morning I was dragged down to the pool and swam a mile with Sally and then this evening I went for an 8 mile run. However, this manic phase has got to come to an end (fortunately) and I will be doing a bit less over the next few days.

I have got to send a little get well message out to my sister in law Judith Quane who managed to fall over in the dark whilst walking last night and is now wearing seven stitches in her leg - hope they made a neat job Judith or your stocking modelling days will be over.

I have just had a very relaxing bath and a refreshing pint of lager. The advantage of living with 3 females (4, if you count my 16 year old son) is that you are never short of hair care products. Tonight, from the vast array that I was confronted with, I went for moisture and shine shampoo with orchid and coconut extracts for dry/damaged hair and lightweight conditioner with white nectarine and pink coral flower extracts for fine/normal hair – because I’m worth it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Greeba fell race

Like a mutant mountain goat, I entered the Greeba fell race today - my first attempt at fell racing. It was over 9 miles and had an ascent of 2300 feet. I spent a bit more time preparing on this occasion getting the kit together with minutes to spare. I even looked at the route on the map until my wife gave me a bit of advice - just follow the person in front!
So, off I went running up Greeba Hill till it started to get steep and then moved onto walking up Greeba Hill, then it started to get steeper and I moved onto staggering. Now a little tip I learnt in the early stages, if you think you are catching up with the person in front, you are not. It's just that the hill is getting steeper!
Anyhow, I soon got into my stride and after about 3 miles the field was thinning out. Actually the person in front was barely visible in the distance and I couldn't see anyone behind. I had no option but to try and catch up with the person in front, otherwise I was lost! Over the next few miles, I slowly closed the gap and in a moment of stupidity overtook the guy ahead of me. I think the marshalls at the next checkpoint thought I was joking when I asked them which way it was next. Luckily, the guy behind me caught me again and I was able to follow him to the end.
Overall I was quite pleased with how it went and although a little stiff now, I will enjoy a few beers later!! I was very good when I got home and even managed to work out how to switch the washing machine on to clean the kit. I was so looking forward to a nice hot bath but after jumping enthusiatically into a nice deep bath, I found that my 16 year old son had used all the hot water doing whatever he does in the shower for half an hour. So after 2 minutes in lukewarm water I was out again. A bit more post race preparation for next time I think.
Bring on the Manx Mountain Marathon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Training going well.

Things have gone pretty well so far this week and I have done some training every day. I have been out running around Archallagan plantation on both Monday and Wednesday with my wife. Monday was bitterly cold but that made the ground hard so it was OK to run on until I hit the odd patch of ice on the slopes. Wednesday was snowing and I had trouble getting the car up the road to the plantation. Once there however, it was excellent running on the fresh snow. At the end, Sally did some stretches before getting in the car; however I put my time to some practical use by making a snowman.

On Tuesday, I went to the race walking at the NSC but it was difficult to walk in the strong winds. Last night was a trip up to Ramsey on the coast road for round four of the Fireman’s runs. I set off at a blistering pace on the first lap and regretted it on the second and third lap but managed to hang on to get a new P.B.!

It’s a rest day for me today but tomorrow I’m off to Greeba for the fell race. My wife has done a fair bit of fell running in the past and always turned up fully equipped with amongst other things, a map, compass and whistle. After about a year of fell running she asked me to teach her how to read the map and use the compass! Luckily she has a good sense of direction. I see that rain and fog is forecast so hopefully my skills with a compass and map are up to scratch, otherwise I will look a right pratt if I get lost.

I have got some time off in the days next week so I will be able to get out and do a bit more walking rather than all the running that I have been up to recently.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's all in the preparation.

After my training on Thursday, I was a bit stiff on Friday and also busy with work so decided to have a rest day on the assumption that the winter walking league would be cancelled this weekend so I could do some exercise on Saturday. However, the roads around Ronaldsway industrial estate were clear and so the race was due to go ahead, hence Saturday became a rest day too in preparation for the race.
Now my pre-race preparation probably needs a little fine tuning but generally follows a similar pattern. The day before the race is a rest day so I don't do any exercise. The night before the race, I usually head to Douglas for a couple of pints and then return home for some food and a nice bottle of wine. To calm the nerves before bed, a little whisky usually helps although this week, I tried without the whisky. On the morning of the race, I wake up late and head off in a rush, usually forgetting various items (on this occasion it was a drink and race number).
Despite the cold weather, there was an excellent turnout for the race. As always, the race was well organised thanks to all the judges, marshall's and helpers both on the day and prior to the event who had been out checking out the course. For me the race went well and I got a new p.b. time for a 10k race so something must be going right with my training! With my new found speed, I hope to walk each day for the next couple of days and then if possible, head up to Ramsey on Thursday for the rearranged fireman's run.
Mention of salads in my last entry got me thinking. If anybody has decided to lose some weight as a New Years Resolution, can I recommend Greens restaurant in Douglas by the railway for a lunchtime meal. I believe that if you order a salad bowl, its possible to actually burn more calories chewing the food than is consumed during the meal.
Only 166 days to go now till the big day. It still seems a long way away but time is ticking on - take my advice, preparation is the key.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back on track.

I decided to weigh myself a couple of days ago and identified the reason why all my clothes had started to get smaller. Enough of this binge eating and drinking over the festive period, my days of salad dodging are behind me. Despite the weather, I have started to put in some serious training to get my plans of turning myself into an elite international athlete back on track. Having checked out the weather forecast, I realised that the snow and ice is going to be around for some time, so I went for an eight mile run yesterday.
During the run, I learnt quite a bit about running in the snow so I will pass on my wisdom for anyone planning on walking or running in the next few days. There are basically two types of snow, white crunchy snow which is actually reasonably grippy and then there's clear, shiny, reflective stuff that resembles the surface of the sure skate rink - this is ice and is especially good for making you fall over (there is a third type - yellow snow but your mum will have warned you about that). Ice 'hot spots' can be found on the prom, at the bottom of Broadway and down Royal Avenue.
At lunchtime today, I went for my first off road run in my sparkling new fell shoes. I drove up to the Clypse reservoir and ran up to the Creg ny Baa back road and then round the Conrhenny plantation and back. The scenery was fantastic with the snow but I never thought of taking my camera. The running was good too, a particular highlight was when my feet plunged into ice cold water after penetrating the sheet ice on top. I now know what I have been missing out on. My wife, who is a reasonably experienced fell runner came along too. Although I don't profess to be an expert after my first 'fell run', I like to think towards the end of the run that I gave her a few useful pointers as to how she could improve.
Not one to rest on my laurels and with time on my hands I went out for a walk this evening. It's the first walk that I have done for a couple of weeks so it was good to get back to it. I think with all this excellent training I'm off for a couple of beers and a salad.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back on the rock.

We returned back from the holidays yesterday. Unfortunately, I haven't done a great deal of training. I went for a couple more runs of about 4 or 5 miles each. The first one was on a freezing cold morning when I didn't feel like going, Sally had to really shout at me to get out of bed. I sneaked back under the covers for warmth whilst Sally performed her daily bathroom ritual prior to the run.

The second one was in the dark on the ice with a torch so I'm not sure how much benefit I gained from that. I think now with the turn of the New Year, I plan to increase my training. However, my plans of going for a 10 mile walk today have been thwarted by the snow - Ahhh the best laid plans....!

I am planning to run the Ramsey Firemans run on Thursday but I think that will be dependent on the weather as will the Winter Walking league on Sunday as I think that the cold weather is forecast to stay.
My New Year resolution is to finish the Parish Walk this year. I have got plenty of things to motivate me to train and get round this year. Firstly, there's the disappointment of not getting further on the Parish Walk last year. Then there is this Blog to keep me motivated (more time training and less time writing about training might be usefull!). I am also going to enter the team event (we are 3 quarters of the way to getting the team together - myself and 2 legends of the sport!) so the responsibilty of finishing will weigh heavily on my shoulders. There will be other things to motivate me too.
I need to have a go at running off road in the next few days if I'm going to enter the Manx Mountain Marathon but right now, I'm off for a snowball fight.