Saturday, 25 February 2012

Trying to get back on track

After a few weeks of just maintaining, I'm bored and feel that along with the warmer weather and with my winter bugs now behind me (hopefully) that I need to get back on track with my 2012 goal of reaching marathon distance as the year so far is flying by.

Two things have happened so far to help me to this; 
  1. I have finally purchased a new pair of shoes and
  2. I am considering entering the Yeovil Half Marathon.

Shoes - This time around I've changed from a purely cushioning pair (Asics Gel Cumulus 12) to a stability pair (Asics Gel-1160) of running shoe.  From reading the blurb, stability shoes seem better suited to my feet, running bio-mechanics, they provide a good level of support and are for runners looking to increase their mileage so it will be interesting to see whether I get on with them better once I have run them in.
Asics Gel-1160
Half Marathon - I saw the Yeovil Half Marathon advertised last week and to see whether I have a reasonable chance of getting back up to a 13 mile run in time, I pushed myself harder on my last run of the week where I managed to run a third of a half marathon relatively quickly.  This has given me some confidence that I could complete a 13 mile run using the Galloway technique i.e. with scheduled walk breaks in a months time.  Although, I'm still trying to work out whether I will be able to run it without my normal motivational music as headphones are banned at this race which is a little annoying.  The reason they gave is safety reasons...I'll just have to pray hope that the atmosphere is better than at Salisbury, especially for those towards the back of the pack and is enough to carry me through...

To that end and to get back on track with my current marathon running programme I have devised the following schedule to ease me back into my training (plant me back at week number 13 (out of 32)) and hopefully give me enough preparation for the race at the end of Week 4:

Week 1 (27 Feb - 04 Mar) - 30 min, 30 min, 6 miles,
Week 2 (05 Mar - 11 Mar) - 30 min, 30 min, 10.5 miles,
Week 3 (12 Mar - 18 Mar) - 30 min, 30 min, 6 miles,
Week 4 (19 Mar - 25 Mar) - 30 min, 30 min, 30 min, 13.1 miles (Race Day).

The test will be Week 2, if I manage the long run that week using the Galloway technique and if its not too late, I will enter the Yeovil Half Marathon.  If I get to and turn up on race day, it will be interesting to compare my time with last years although I still feel that I've got a long way to go to get up to the fitness level I was when I completed my 1st half marathon last October!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Man in Tights…..Essential Winter Running Gear!

I thought I'd better get around to finishing and publishing this Blog as if I leave it much longer, I will miss the boat as warmer weather seems to be on the horizon!

I was still quite happily wearing shorts out running up until mid January and since then on the rarer occasions that the temperature has drifted into the high single/low double Celsius figures and when the wind speed was negligible.  I did succumb early on into Winter however, and purchased some Nike lightweight Running gloves as my hands always seem worse affected by changes in temperatures.
But, now that the cold British winter weather that we are more accustomed to is in full swing, my shorts are not protecting me enough from the elements therefore my legs do not warm up and my face/head is left particularly exposed.  I haven't yet had to wear my Ron Hill running jacket as the wet weather has generally stayed away, which is a positive although I expect the wetter weather will arrive when the UK starts transitioning into Spring.

Last winter I made do with some excess fat to insulate my body and a pair of jogging trousers to keep my legs warm.  This time, I've lost nearly 4 stone of insulating fat since then and the jogging trousers are not the most practical garment for running in especially if you want free movement and they do tend to get heavier when wet to lug around in although they are nice and warm.  So, this year I have had to find a better solution....therefore I finally bought some Nike running tights!  Admittedly, I have only tried them on in the shop and on two runs as I've since been struck down with the lurgy so I can't offer any serious opinions yet on what they are like other than that they feel 'weird'! 

Other than this, the only issue that I have discovered with them is that they seriously lack storage for all my stuff that I take out running with me compared to my shorts.  To get around that problem, I now always wear my phone on my arm using an armband, I store my asthma inhaler in the single rear pocket on the tights (not as accessible though as getting it out whilst running is difficult, good excuse for a break I suppose), I place a tissue or 2 for my runny nose into my sleeves and then wear my work pass (needed to get in and out of the site unfortunately) underneath my top layers!  This will do for now…the only potential storage issue that I have identified so far will be as to where I put my gloves if my hands get too warm with them on.  

So, that's my legs sorted.  I've got plenty of running socks to keep blisters away but, I still need to get a new pair of shoes as I'm really pushing the design and wear limits of my current shoes!  

Along with my tights, I also bought a new long sleeved base layer; that brings my total of long sleeve tops to 2 in addition to a mid layer top to help trap more air in and keep me warm.  I've also got a running jacket that I received last Xmas for when the wet weather arrives; this being a certainty in the UK.  Its just of case of when, for how long and how warm will it be whilst its raining!  So, that just leaves face/head protection to sort out for when the wet windy weather arrives and my ears really start to ache!

I was given a headband for Christmas, which doesn't do anything for my street cred, and makes me look like a  throwback from the 118118 adverts...

...but, it certainly does the trick and keeps my ears lovely and warm, dry and most importantly ache free when I'm brave enough to wear it!  It also has a number of other positive benefits; they help keep my headphones in place, wind noise and headphone cable drag is reduced, my head doesn't overheat and I don't get a headache like I do when I wear hats!

The last item to complete my current winter gear ensemble is the 'Buff' which can be configured in a number of different ways and doesn't look quite as bad as a headband!  This cool Original Buffwear demo is worth a watch:

I'm currently experimenting with a freebie buff that I got given at a race last year and trying to get it into a configuration that will protect my lower face to help prevent any tooth ache/sensitivity issues and trying to keep my neck and potentially my ears warm and away from the cold wind.  

It certainly protects the neck very well as that's where it easily sits when worn in neckerchief mode, but I just can't seem to reliably get it to stay in place where I want it without having to hook it over my nose.  This wouldn't normally be a problem for normal people but I'm not normal and as a result my glasses steam up, which makes seeing where I'm going difficult and breathing more of a challenge.  

A possible solution is to laser my eyes and get rid of my asthma to make breathing control easier but, until they find a 100% reliable laser procedure and a cure for Asthma I might just try and get a 'junior' size buff in the meantime as the buff website states that it may allow for a better fit where hopefully it will stay in place where I want it for more than 30 seconds.  The downside is that the junior size might be too tight; the experiment continues….

Besides all that, I now just need to go out and run which I will try to do once my body starts sticking up for itself more, gets rid of and keeps all these damn bugs away!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Calorie Counting

I started a little over a week ago keeping track of my calorie intake using the myfitnesspal website and android app.  All daily food and drink consumption is recorded and the total daily intake can then be reduced by recording any exercise that you do each day i.e. running, walking, etc. to reach a target daily amount that is predetermined by the amount of weight you want to lose as stipulated when you set up a myfitnesspal account.

I did this partly to see what all the fuss was about, partly to see whether I could quickly shift the last few lbs required to get me down to my current target weight (under 13 stone) and partly as I was interested to see how much on average my current daily intake actually was. 

The trial for me lasted a little over a week; enough time for me to work out what my average daily intake is (approx 1800 calories) which was meeting my pre-set target to continue losing weight but, I took the decision to stop using it after a week and have since removed the app from my phone and deleted the website bookmark on my computer...

It was good fun to begin with seeing how much calories certain foods/meals contain but I had to let go in the end.  I felt that I was becoming tied to the site which is good if its 100% accurate but unfortunately it just doesn’t know enough food combinations / ingredients despite claiming it knows millions; takeaways can be difficult to accurately record and not all supermarket foods are listed.  Although, you can take the time to create recipe's for missing meals which does help to alleviate the issues but it can be time consuming.  Plus, to use it accurately you would need to weigh all your food to ensure you were correctly recording the correct serving sizes i.e. is the apple I’m eating 50g or 80g, did I eat 1/2 a packet or was it only 1/3 of a packet of Midget Gems, etc.

I was also getting to the stage of worrying what I was eating in case it pushed me over my target daily intake.  This is good I suppose as its making you think but when I've already lost 3-4 stone through just running and perhaps being a bit more sensible in what, when and how much  I eat without worrying up to this point too much about drastically changing my eating / drinking habits I had to ask myself is there any rush to lose the weight any quicker?  

Additionally, I don’t have the best smell or taste buds in the world so I didn’t want to become too accustomed to a site which warned/scared me away from foods that I can still manage to enjoy i.e. Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream or Midget Gems!

For some people, this kind of recording activity which makes you think about what your eating / drinking can certainly help with losing weight as it can help provide people with the shock needed to change their eating & drinking habits.  But, for me it’s too much and not what I need, especially as the weight is still coming off through running (when I’m not bunged up with a cold that is!) and sensible eating alone, albeit at a slower rate.  All I need is a little more patience as, I’ve come so far already!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Another set back....another damn Cold!

I just can't seem to get back into the running groove this year after my cold/chest issues in December.  I'm struggling to maintain 3 average runs, approx 10-15 miles per week at the moment when I was doing 4 runs and up to 15-25 miles a week back only in September/October last year.  Its not through lack of trying on my part to get back into a routine (I even bought 'proper' winter running gear, more on that later), but the colds keep on coming...then when I'm fit, the cold winter weather is against me...I'm cursed!  At least I won't have struggle on in this weeks cold snap week thanks to my 2nd cold this winter....
Here's hoping I'll be returning to my normal running routine sometime this year!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Winter unfortunately is finally upon us!

I can now see why running distance totals over the winter months are generally lower than the rest of the year and that people tend to concentrate on speed work as opposed to endurance at this time of they......because as soon as you step outside, you want to be back indoors ASAP!

Coupled with that and a bout of dental pain at the moment which seems to get worse progressively the longer I'm out in the cold I have no desire to run my long run of 10 miles tomorrow or until it warms up a few degrees and/or my dental woes subside.  

Therefore until either or these things happen, for the next few weeks I will not be sticking to my current training plan but instead I will be looking at just maintaining my current level of fitness and trying to keep as warm as possible!  This will nicely lead onto my next planned Blog looking at my current running Winter gear!