I am running the Edinburgh Marathon

Edinburgh Marathon

I have finally taken the plunge and it is settled; in 2014 I am to become a marathon runner. I decided the location for my first marathon will be the historical city of Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 25th May 2014. I will be aged 29 years, 9 months and 5 days old.

I have never been to Edinburgh and I frankly know very little about it. Several friends studied there or have been up to act in or watch the fringe festival. The historical streets of Edinburgh are unknown to me, this will be a run on away turf. When I started thinking about my first marathon in my mind I had settled on London or Brighton and their familiar streets. Obviously I hadn’t taken to account not getting a ballot place and missing the Brighton deadline and generally being useless and non-committal in choosing my race.

Other reasons to choose Edinburgh include it being the last of the spring marathons, I won’t have to fundraise to take part, I get to explore a new city and it is flat, flat, flat, after my last half marathon a easier terrain was definitely on my agenda.

Weirdly I don’t feel daunted, the past 9 months of running has seen me make great strides forward including recording a 21.04 5K and completing a half marathon. I may still be the worlds least flexible person and managing a calf injury but I am running again and excited for January which is going to consist of some personal trainer sessions and lots of cross training, including stretching, spinning, cycling, swimming.

This is where I need your help! What do I need to do to smash the race? What books should I read, what training plans should I look at? What gear should I investigate, what training runs should I do? I am thinking the 10 mile Dartford race will be my first training race, I actually grew up in the town and my Mum still lives there, so it should be fun to run the streets I know well. Reading and Brighton are February half marathon considerations, anyone else running these races? It is going to be a tough journey I know that. I am lucky I have found such a supportive community of other runners online and through GoodGym I have met lots of other great runners to inspire me.

I know lots of people will also be gearing up for spring marathons, if you live in London and want someone to train with let me know, I always love running with new people.

The Edinburgh Marathon is 20 weeks,  6 days and 16 hours away. Time to dig deep, lets do this!

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Merry Christmas run and all

Image

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday. I say Merry Christmas (although I am an atheist) I suppose it is out of habit and Englishness, I like the sprit of Christmas, well the people being nice to each other side of it. Christmas is nowadays pretty corporate and far too many people judge their happiness by the gifts they receive. Having our health, family and friends is the greatest gift we can ask for and their are millions of people around the world who are not as fortunate as us. 

Despite my overall views critiques of the commercialisation of Christmas it is nice to give lovely things to the people you care about. I was lucky enough to receive a pair of Brooks Cadence Pure 2, a Nike running belt and some Nike Running tights. My new shoes are minimalist shoes, I am still transitioning to a fore/midfoot strike and hopefully the extra ankle support these shoes give me compared to my Nike Free’s will help me with this. So far they have been very comfortable and going up a half size should save me from more black toenails.

The last week has also seen me return to running after a 3 week lay off and I celebrated with a Christmas morning run. I donned my santa hat (well for the picture) then replaced by a Christmas cracker hat and set for a leisurely 5k. I sadly only spotted one other runner the opposite side of the road to me. I was expecting more people hitting the streets but I am in suburbia at the moment not Hackney. The weather was beautiful and I felt a sense of satisfaction that on the most decadent day of the year I had made time for running and being healthy. And that is kinda my life as I approach my 30th birthday health and fitness becoming increasingly a priority. There are less nights on the Kingsland Road and more early morning exercise. I can’t wait to make 2014 even more focused on adventure and fitness with friends. Did any of you make it out for a run? Did you see anyone in fancy dress?

Flexibility

Spinning
‘Flexibility’, in every sense of the word is something all runners have to master. Our running requires our constant love and attention, it demands that we work on our form, strengthen our core, be flexible with our social arrangements, stretch our muscles and push our bodies. And yet despite the occasional injuries and moments of anguish ‘running’ is a kind, benevolent hobby which gives us runners so much. For me it is the little things, the beautiful sunsets, the interaction with animals, the friendly morning greetings from dog walkers, the discovery of new areas in the place I have lived for years. And the simple satisfaction of moving my body, feeling the sweat on my brow and speeding places quickly. Put simply I love it, I am a running addict.

But December has been a hard month for my running. On the 1st December I had my disappointing Ashford Half Marathon (I finished) where I pulled my calf muscle badly. This led to a 19 day lay off from running until this Friday where I finally was able to get back out there putting in a nice steady 5.3 mile run with my friend Clare and her dog Watson. This month has required me to be flexible in order to stay on top of my fitness, with Christmas around the corner it would have been easy to slip back into bad habits.

The injury has forced me to be flexible about how I keep fit. Running is my number one sport of choice which I usually top up by commuting locally on my bike. My minimal amount of cycling wasn’t going to be enough to keep me feeling great. So I decided to go swimming again. I have to be honest I find swimming  hard work, I try to space out but I find it relatively boring but I afterwards I always feel great. I am going to try and make sure I go to the pool more regularly in 2014.

I also went spinning at London Fields Fitness Studio. My only previous spinning class was 7 years ago in David Lloyd gym and it was not an enjoyable experience, very eye of the tiger music wise. The vibe at London Fields Fitness located in a railway arch was chilled the lights were low and the instructor Manya was great. I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating. I looked up after 15 minutes and I remember thinking how the hell am I going to keep going for another 30 minutes but I did and I loved it. Everyone was sweating and smiling as they left the studio and at £10 a class it offers great value and an alternative way for me to keep fit.

Today I cycled in the pouring rain to Shoreditch to take part in a dynamic stretch class at Frame with my friend and runner Sam (she has a great running blog). I first heard about Frame on Kelsey (Running on Coffee blog). I was by far the least flexible person in the class, the instructor picked up that is was my tight hamstrings holding me back. But after yesterdays run I was feeling a slight tightness in my calf and this disappeared after the class. I think increased flexibility in my body, my  training plans and my approach to running is going to be the key for staying fit and running fast in 2014.

I am also putting a lot of time into my YouTube channel, please subscribe and give me feedback on the videos. If you want me to talk about a running/nutrition related topic just let me know.

Damien x

YouTube rehabilitation

I am incredibly frustrated at the moment. My calf is still tight and improving daily but still no running. I suspect it will be at least a week before I am able to lace up again. What I find most frustrating is the thought of losing fitness and seeing my weight gradually creep up.

To try keep my fitness up this week I am making sure I am spending time on my bike and this morning I went for a 40 minute swim. I am incredibly slow at swimming these days, everything feels slightly out of sync like a computer when it is going wrong. I am going to try and get in the pool again later in the week and I am pushing on with my stretching programme given to me by my physio.

I have also been working hard on my improving the Vegan Runner YouTube channel. Please subscribe to the channel. Here I am talking about running, cycling, making vegan recipes, discussing veganism and fitness more broadly.

These are some of my recent videos. Please share and subscribe, I really want to keep making these videos the more subscribers I more inclined I will be to keep going.

Stop! you are injured: Ashford Half Marathon report

Race bling

It has taken me a few days to write this report,  the reason being that honestly because I am just a little upset with what happened to me during the Ashford Half Marathon.

Just to give you some context, about a week and a half before the race I went for a 8.6 mile run with my friend Clare. When I returned home my calf started to tighten, I tried some stretches but it knotted up and I proceeded feel it for the next couple of days. Then on Tuesday I decided to do a 4 mile run through a lovely country park by my Mum’s, during this run I managed to fall over as I exited the woodland path. My foot clipped a jagged rock, the result me feeling embarrassed and picking up a  heavily bruised knee and cut ankle; nothing major but still painful.

After breezily finishing my run, I got home and instantly felt my calf pulling, I proceeded to stretch and ice the calf throughout the day but I knew my participation in the half marathon was now in doubt. Luckily for me my housemate works as a sport injury masseur and was able to treat my calf on Wednesday. She worked miracles and the tightness started to loosen. By Saturday it felt nearly there, I could feel it wasn’t 100% but it wasn’t causing me any strong pain. So this is where I went wrong, my body was telling me it wasn’t right I ignored this.

I took part in the race with my friend Nicola and her husband Tom was our mascot for the day driving us and being an epic supporter. After the usual Sunday morning TFL transport fiasco, no oveground and buses, I got to our meeting point in Brixton for 8:00 and we set off. I could feel my nerves building not really because of the race but because I knew my leg was in a pretty shoddy state.

Anyway we got the track where the race was due to start and went through a little warm up around the track and onto the start of the cross country element of the course. The race was advertised as multi terrain and it really was, I totally wasn’t prepared for so much of the race being ran over farmers land. To stay it was sticky was an understatement, my feet were being pulled off my feet fiercely. I also under estimated the hills involved in this race. My training currently rarely goes near hills, I live in an incredibly flat area but this needs to change in the future.

Anyway, I decided to take part in the race we set off and I felt fairly good, I had made a decision to not push the pace and just settle into my training pace. This would get me near where I wanted to be and my logic was that by just running my normal pace I should be able to protect my leg. Wrong! As soon as I started to hit the hills my calf started knotting and there was nothing I could do to stop it, apart from curse under my breath. Unsurprisingly this had little affect on my injury. At around mile 6 my calf pulled and tightened up, I felt so frustrated I really wanted to scream.

So at this point I had a two choices:

1) DNF- I was near the stadium for the start of the second loop I could have easily stopped there, getting the injury treated and running again another day

2) Keep going- Scott Jurek didn’t quit the Great Western States with a broken ankle, you shouldn’t quit now. Dig deep, slow stuff down but keep going.

I chose option 2, this was stupid decision driven by ego and pride, I had trained hard for the race and was in decent physical condition.

So I slowed down but the wheels seriously fell off. I couldn’t put any real power through my right leg so I was doing overtime with my left on the hills this really started have a serious impact. My body was working overtime on 50% capacity trying to haul me around, it was complaining all over. I had planned to be done at around 1:45- 1:50 so my hydration strategy was set for this. Basically go into the race light and not carry extra fluid drink around 1:30 and be done. This was a major mistake it was around 1:45 by the time I reached the last drinks point and I was seriously dehydrated. I had some sugary drink and a minute rest and slowly trotted off to the finish, the last bit over the mud was literally hell.

I finished in 2:03.13 placed 200, given the course and the injury it wasn’t the worst performance ever but still disappointing. Nicola got around in 1:43 which was amazing especially on that course.

Race splits

Race splits

Damien

On crossing the line I felt exhausted, Tom was a superstar grabbing my jackets and getting me ice. My calf was already seizing up within a few minutes. On the way home quite disgustingly I had to get Tom to pull over the car to enable me to throw up.  After this unpleasant incident  I ate one of Nicola’s bananas and I felt fine. I was basically in the red and needed sugar desperately.

Today I went to see my favourite physio, Helen at Fix she gave me acupuncture on the injured calf. The good news is that it isn’t torn, just very tight and strained nothing a bit of stretching and a few weeks rest from running won’t mend. I am not exactly sure when I will be running again but it shouldn’t be too long. In the meantime, I will be swimming and spinning and generally trying to stay in good shape. So all in all a bit of a disappointing end to my big race of the year but I have learnt some valuable lessons these are:

1) I am tough
2) I am stupid
3) Running means a lot to me
4) Drink more water on long race days
5) I need to stretch a lot more
6) Running an 3:30 marathon feels far away at the moment

Questions:

Have you ever gone into a race injured? If so, how did it go? Do you pull out if you have a niggle or grin and bear it. Tips for avoiding calf tightness also welcome.