I love to go running.
I sometimes like to write about running too.
So, here’s a page on my website dedicated to just that…
I’m currently writing about my journey to the Manchester Marathon 2018, so scroll away through this page to read about that.
But… if you so wish, you can read all about my trials, tribulations, preparation races, blood, sweat and tears leading up to my assault on the London Marathon 2017, running for MS-UK by clicking on the link! (And for the eagle eyed ones of you around here, you’ll see by the photo that I did indeed complete the race and managed to brave a smile for at least 10 seconds while being photographed. I hope that doesn’t give too much away).
Manchester Marathon 2018
So ladies and gentlemen, here commences the Chronicles of Manchester Marathon 2018, written by Mr Tristan James Watson esq, co-written by a bulk load of training, a few tons of pasta, and the support and goodwill of the ever-wonderful running community.
My 16 week training plan kicks off on Monday 18 December (officially) but i’m definitely expecting a slight false start with that thing called Christmas getting right in the way… Anyway, I will endeavour to venture forward and clock up some quality marathon miles.
My plan between now and Sunday 8 April 2018 will be to write a post at the end of each week of training to evaluate how it all went, and hopefully enlighten the small handful of readers about what I got up to in the previous 7 days.
Expect some photos, occasional swearing and a few wise-quips that probably won’t actually be all that wise…
See you on the other side, and thanks for tuning in.
• Why – Yup, why am I running a marathon (again)?
• Chapter 1 – Let the madness commence.
• Chapter 2 – Parkin, my running super-food.
• Chapter 3 – Short and sweet, 10 things I learnt this week.
• Chapter 4 – A long run, some run tourism and a race.
• Chapter 5 – Finished like a steam-train.
Why oh why would I want to run another marathon…?!
Knowing exactly how my body began to spectacularly fall apart after mile 16 in London. The cramp I suffered up the back of my legs. The blister. The blisters. The blisters. (And a few more blisters). Not being able to walk for about three days afterwards. The (surprising) lack of appetite. Throwing up (a little) on the course. The hours of sacrifice you give to prepare for it. Giving up of nights out, that cheeky post work drink because you’ve got to squeeze in a 10 mile tempo run that evening. The extra cross training on top of all that running, because you can’t just run to prepare for a marathon. Ohhh no, that would be too easy!
See, I don’t really think I’m selling it to myself am I?
But the real reason I’m doing this all over again is because I BLOODY love it!
Running is a drug, and I’m full addicted. And I’m not just going for the light stuff, I’m addicted to that all out class A stuff.
Interestingly, I learnt in a book I’m currently reading (Running, Cheaper than Therapy – well worth checking out), that running releases the same chemicals in the brain as when you smoke cannabis! I guess that explains it. No wonder runners get the munchies, feel high and also extremely chilled out all at the same time.
I’m going in for my next big hit. All 26.2 miles of it.
Last time I ran a marathon it was to raise money for MS-UK, an incredible charity that does some amazing work to help those suffering with Multiple Sclerosis. However time round, it’s purely down to me. My choice – I’m solely to blame! There will be no charity fundraising to keep me motivated during the cold winter months. Just that shear determination to keep on training hard, log those long miles, hit the gym sessions, and try to enjoy it when my legs start to fall apart.
As I’ve said above, I’ll be checking in once a week to write a bit of a summary of the previous 7 days of training. I’m looking to break that mystical 4hr barrier, so I’ve put myself together a fairly tough training plan (by my standards at least) which will consist of a weekly speed work session (intervals, fartlek or similar), a tempo run, a Parkrun (NEVER exclude Parkrun, ever), and a long run. Like any good runner, I promise that my weekly distance won’t increase by more than 10% too, in the hope of fending off the injury gremlins. I’ll start from my weekly mileage base of just under 30 miles, and peak out in March with a week around 45-50 miles if all goes to plan. I’m sure my legs will love me for that!!
So that’s the loose plan, and a bit about why I’m marathoning again. Let’s see how the next 16 weeks pan out.
Drop me a tweet (@tristan_watson) if you’re running Manchester Marathon, or any spring marathon – we’re in this together.
So there we go. Week 1/16 out of the way – 15 more to go until the big day!!
Did the week go as planned…. hmmm well not exactly! Expected mileage was about 27 in total over five runs. I clocked in at 37 – oops! The combination of postponing my long run from the previous week, and having a week off work meant I got loads more miles in than planned. But that’s never a bad thing is it?! (Until you get an over training injury…)
Anyway, let’s start from the beginning, Monday:
We started with that key training session that all runners enjoy…. rest day *sigh*
A full day of doing very little and allowing your tired and achy muscles to recover, although it does feel odd having a day off training as the first day of a training block, but needs must! It was the last day of ‘work’ which was spent responding to a final few emails, then playing mario kart with the colleagues. Not too shabby!
This leads us to day two, and the most fun run of the week.
With some friends, we’d planned for some month (about 6) to run from the centre of Leeds down the canal to Saltaire Brewery. Finally the day had arrived. It started out with a few steady miles down to York station to catch the train in to Leeds. Perhaps the hardcore version would be to run all the way from York, but I’ll save that for another year!!
I assembled at the top of the Leeds canal with Kieran, Angus and Joel around half 10, then off we went. A lovely steady plod (for those three speed demons at least), but still a fairly easy 9 min/mile for me. It was a perfect day for running; sunny, cold and little wind – you all know how that feels! Running bliss.
12 miles later we rocked up in a sweaty heap at the Brewery. Beer drunk, snacks eaten, and we all felt a lot better for it.
After a visit to the Brudenell in Leeds to watch The Cribs for the fifth time (yup, I LOVE them), Wednesday was a slightly hungover rest day for me.
By this stage, the well detailed training schedule was well out of sync for this week, but Thursday saw me crack out some reps – 4x800m. The recovering leg injury wasn’t too keen on this, and I felt it for a few days to follow, but it was great to get some speed work in again. Perhaps I’ll try 5 reps next week….
Friday yet again messed my training plan up! (plans are there to be broken, right???). The wife had her work Christmas party in Tadcaster, and I had nobly volunteered to pick her car up so she could enjoy a few wines…. All resulting in my second long run of the week. 14 miles on Tuesday, followed by 12 on Friday. I guess it’s good to get the leg accustomed to feeling tired. It was a rather dull and uneventful trot out down the A64 with a bracing head wind for the final 10k! A large sandwich when I arrived made it all worth while.
Saturday was another great day for me! Tom and Alison came up to run parkrun in York, after I promised a large field of runners with a quick and flat course. Alison certain made full advantage of this. I know Parkrun is meant to be a friendly, no racing event, but I obviously couldn’t help myself. I tried desperately to keep up with her, but alas, she dropped the hammer at 2 miles and flew off in to the distance. Great running!! At least this acted as my tempo run as I bust a gut to try and keep up with Alison’s electric pace.
It’s been a week of eating for me, and it’s not even Christmas yet, so a few bonus miles were in order this morning. So Chris and I went out for an early morning session as the sun came up (how romantic 😉 haha), which brought up 60k for the week – several more than intended.
So there we are. A week of training down towards Manchester. Nothing really as planned, but who cares. It’s been great to share so many runs with friends.
Tomorrow is Christmas, and naturally that means a big carb-load. It’s also Monday so another rest day for me! I’ll reconvene on boxing day.
Another week down, and it’s all going swimmingly. The recovering injury doesn’t seem to be getting any worse as the mileage increases, and I’m starting to see a return to a bit of speed in my legs.
With it being New Years’ Day, perhaps this blog will be a good opportunity to reflect back on the previous 365 days.
But first let’s briefly look at what’s happened in my world over the last 7 days.
Eating and running is generally what’s happened!
I’ve enjoyed some negative splits (all well in control), a couple* of beers, a pacey 6-mile tempo run, about 4 large roast dinners, a lovely steady 15 miler and a spot of Parkrun – happy days. I hadn’t really set a plan for this week, with it being Christmas and all – I wasn’t exactly sure how it’d manage to fit in some decent mileage around all this excessive eating and drinking… ha! The answer: 33 miles – nice.
(*more than a couple)
One thing I did learn this week (or at least was reminded of) is that you need to fuel your longer runs despite a week of eating big meals. Who’d have actually thought, eh?! What a shock revelation.
Sunday’s long run with Chris was really really great (other than the biting wind) but after not taking on board any carbs during the run, I began to fall apart around mile 12! I had brought a bit of food with me, but naively thought it’d get away without taking it as I happily plodded my way around York. I don’t know why I thought this – I’ve trained for long distances before… And as we all know, the wheels fall off pretty quickly when your energy stores reach low, and I went from happy to crappy within about 1 mile.
BUT…. Parkin (my new running super food) to the rescue! A quick bite and I was ready to finish those final miles.
It’s something I’ve used in my long runs in the last few weeks (in an attempt to take on less gels) and it really seems to work well. Easy to chew while on the go, nice and sweet, and (probably) a good few carbs in there too. Highly recommended
It ended up being a really fun week of running. No pressures with work to get in the way, no early morning or last thing in the day sessions to squeeze in. I’ve now got one more hard week coming up, then I’m off to Vienna with the wife for a few days so I’ll use that as a cut back week (ignoring the race I’ve got booked for that Sunday, 14 Jan).
So that’s last week out of the way with, and if you’re still reading on (thank you) let’s go further back through 2017 and look at a brief overview of my year in numbers:
1x marathon in the bag! London Marathon was obviously my running highlight, not least because I was able to raise money for MS-UK.
1x Race dressed as a viking (as you do…)
1x RaceCheck visor attained! #TeamBlack
2x glorious 10 mile races (my favourite distance)
2x #FastestHouroftheWeek UKRunChat hosts
3x 10k’s – got in the RunForAll Yorkshire Triple
3x DNS’s – DAMN INJURY!
4x New PBs in 5k, 10k, 10 mile and HM
4x runs a week on average (covering a total of 1178 miles in total!!!)
6x different Parkrun tourisms
8x Epic pre-race tweet-ups (and 8 races, of course…)
1256581538651x happy memories created!
Here’s to 2018 and another fabulous year of running.
Happy New Year!
I love looking at stats.
Stats about everything.
And according to Google Analytics, the average time on my blog this week was 3 minutes 14 seconds.
So here’s a short and bulleted post that will hopefully take less than 3 minutes 14 seconds to read!!
So, let’s ask the question: “What have I learnt this week?”. Here’s 10 things…
1) Dog walkers get really confused when I wear a head touch and do 400m reps at 5:30am around a lake.
2) An easy run with Luke the day after a hard session is never going to be that easy.
3) I’m (once again) the third fastest Strava runner to do the York City Walls, anti-clockwise segment.
4) Tempo runs are great fun, but you need to watch your footing when pushing that little bit quicker.
5) (related to point 3) You can roll your ankle on a perfectly flat ground if you don’t concentrate.
6) (related to point 4) Listening to your body is important and it’s not wise to train on when your foot hurts. (Obviously….)
7) Watching Parkrun is as fun (perhaps even more fun) than running it.
8) I’m super proud of my mum for completing her first Parkrun. (She’s coming back next week apparently!)
9) Sunday’s without any running feel a bit odd!
10) Three full days off running means I’m now recharged and ready to attack next week’s training.
Not just in terms of my running (although that’s been bloody brilliant IMO), but I also had a fantastic few nights away in Vienna.
We started (not so) bright and early around 5:30am on Monday. A early alarm to get up, eat and get out the door for a long steady run. I had planned to get these 16 miles in at the weekend, but a combination of a rolled ankle from the previous week, and my cousin staying curtailed these plans. Not an issue, Monday it is!
It was the perfect morning for running. No wind, clear skies and a crisp chill in the air. After polishing off a bowl of muesli, I donned my head-torch and got out the door and smashed out 16 very enjoyable and comfortable miles as the sun came up.
This run was directly followed by a sports massage with my physio – inflicting a little more pain in my now tired legs. No pain, no gain yeh??
We flew to Vienna that evening and enjoyed some sightseeing, Weiner Schnitzel, chocolate cake and a couple of beers. Naturally I was able to squeeze in a quick bit of run tourism down by the river. Vienna is a beautiful city with loads of culture and things to do – highly recommended!
Now on to the weekend (this is where the running gets REALLY good).
Obviously Saturday = Parkrun. I paced 27 minutes for the fine folk of York, as York Parkrun celebrated their 6th birthday. This was a nice comfortable pace for me, and helped prepare me for Sunday’s race…
The Brass Monkey Half Marathon. It seems to have a bit of a legendary status about it, and I’ve finally had the chance to see it for myself.
The race itself is VERY flat and therefore has the potential for quick times (I captialised on this…). Pacing myself evenly to half way, I began to ramp up the speed, fuelled by Jelly Babies. The final 7 miles of the race were the perfect negative split, and for the final 5 miles i wasn’t overtaken by another runner (check me out). I guess this is a good lesson to me in the importance of pacing. It all came together for me today, and I clocked in with a chip time of 1:47:06, PBing by over two minutes. Bang tidy.
This is a super well planned out event with a great grass roots feel. There are spaces in my running calander for the big marquee 10k and HM events with 10,000+ runners, but I think it’s also important to book in these small events. No charities, no fancy dress fun runners. Just a load of people with a love for running in its simplest form giving their all on a fast course. Full marks – i’ll be back next year (if I remember to set my alarm early enough). (You can read my full race review on RaceCheck.com)
Well, this has been an interesting week.
Coming in to it off the back of a solid week of training, a few days of R&R, and a stellar racing performance, the expectation was rather high for me. And when you set your hopes so high, it can often lead to a rather spectacular fall…
What goes up, must come down
And down to earth we came with one almighty bang.
It’s left me thinking about why we actually bother putting ourselves through it all.
Now, before I begin, this certainly isn’t a despondent and self loathing blog post – rather it’s just an honest look in to why we do put ourselves through the massive highs and deep lows of running, and in particular training for big races.
After Sunday’s awesome racing, which saw me PB in glorious style (described by none other than Martin Yelling as “finished like a steam-train” on his Marathon Talk podcast), my body was left feeling somewhat tender. Nothing more than you’d expect from a good solid bit of racing.
I gave the physio a ring, and was told to take it easy. Take it easy I did. A few days at a slower pace and low mileage. All felt better on Thursday. So I went out and smashed a decent speed session down the Leeds canal.
Saturday came, and sadly, the icy conditions put a halt to all local parkruns, so I enjoyed a muddy few miles around the ings instead – my own ‘parkrun’.
Finally, we get to Sunday. Still feeling a little tight, I set an early alarm and get out the door ready to clock up some decent mileage. Out we go – a couple of miles round the outskirts of York and I meet up with Chris, my now regular long running buddy, and we head off.
I get to 7 miles and can’t go any further. My back is in pieces, and the tightness feels like a vice is clamping around the base of my spine – it’s the runner’s walk of shame for me. A 2 mile walk home wearing shorts in freezing conditions.
I’m now sat here, still in pain looking at another spell on the side lines as my marathon creeps closer and closer…
And back to that question, why do we put ourselves through it all.
Is it actually worth the agro?
The hours of training?
The hours of stretching?
The hours in the gym?
The millions of quid spent on new trainers?
Getting up at 6am on a Sunday to log a long training run?
I do like to think I train hard, but sensibly within the confines of my own body. I do regular strength work, stretching, rolling, and take cut back weeks once a month or so. Last year I spent a couple of months out after smashing my leg on our bed frame WHILST VACUUMING (of all things… I kid you not). The impact caused a haematoma in my quad, and forced me to miss two months of running, including three races. It took another month of rehab after that to get back to some sort of regular routine. An injury sustained that was nothing to do with overtraining, or falling whilst running, or anything else connected to running.
And now this… back pains, and more injury woes! Wahhhh
Maybe I need take a step back from it all for a little while without the pressures of a marathon hanging over me… a little bit of a running detox where I can take it easy, not worry about having to complete a specific session because it’s ‘speed-work Tuesday’ or ‘tempo Thursday’… I’ve worked super hard since September to get back to it, and I feel so much stronger than I did pre-vacuuming injury. Little things like this don’t half piss me off, and leave me questioning why we do it to ourselves.
Any one else feeling like this? Drop me a tweet @tristan_watson! #UKRunChat
Next week I’ll try and be more upbeat, promise.
Schubert’s 8th Symphony
Da Vinci’s The Last Supper
My Manchester Marathon plans for 2018
A odd list you may ask yourself, perhaps? But what is it that links them all?
Well, they’re all unfinished! Three great masterpieces from recent centuries. Three incredible pieces of art. And three journeys that came to an early finish.
I shan’t bore you with great historical analysis of them all (although the Schubert is a great piece of music I must add). However, the third great masterpiece on my list is something i’ll talk about briefly…
It’s a great shame, 6 weeks in to my 16 week journey, that I’ve pulled the plug on the Manchester marathon for this year.
Coming back from a pretty crappy injury in the autumn, I was only starting to log some decent mileage from mid-December, around when this journey began. Before then, it had been low mileage weeks, and my pace was kept right down. But I fought back and started to find some form again. I kind of knew (back in October) that it might be a big ask to get marathon ready, but was willing to hit the gym and give it a good go.
14 Jan, I smashed out an awesome run at the Brass Monkey half marathon. However, little did I know at the time, that the small twinge in my glute was going to develop in to a right royal pain in the arse. QUITE LITERALLY.
The Sunday before last I ended up doing the runner’s walk of shame back to my house after terminating my long run with some pretty awful back pain. A trip to the physio resulted in a diagnosis for the pain, and we decided to leave it a week before getting back to it. Sadly, however, things have only really got worse over the past 7 days. Still now there’s no let up in the glute pains and I’m often struggling to walk, let alone think of going for a run.
Deep down, I know I could probably leave this along for 2/3 weeks and still make the start line of the marathon. The good folk of Manchester would power me through the 26.2 miles, no doubt.
But also deep down, I know that I’d be weeks behind in my training, and it would leave my race performance far down on where i’d want it to be. I love the community atmosphere at big running events – it’s like nothing else you’ll ever experience as an amateur athlete. Big races are there to celebrate running, meet up with friends, and to revel in our achievements.
And for me, on top of all this, I like to enter (most of) my races to run hard and strong, and to give my absolute all. They’re the reward that comes after a hard burst of training. Especially in the case of a marathon where the distance is long enough as it is without adding an extra hour or so on to your finish time – I wanted to turn up to Manchester knowing that my sub-4hr goal time was achievable. And realistically, missing a month (or maybe more?) of good training wasn’t going to work out for me.
A friend was looking to enter the marathon, and before the 31 Jan deadline, I was able to transfer my entry to him. It all made sense, and I feel a hell of a lot better now knowing that I don’t have the dark and heavy clouds of MARATHON TRAINNG hanging over me, whilst I simultaneously try and recover from yet another injury.
So we can now look forward to some good gym work, and a steady return to form (again) and perhaps a bit of time to focus on my shorter running, away from marathons.
I’ve not got a race booked now until the Round Sheffield Run in mid-June, and then the Yorkshire Marathon in October. Plenty of time to get strong, fit, and running some good mileage when my body feels ready to do it.
If you’ve made it this far in my post, then I salute you – no doubt it’s a long old slog of a read. A bit like a marathon you could say 😉
So that’s all I’ve got for you for now, and I guess this marks an end of my marathon journey until later in the year when I prepare for York!