First week of pre-training

Leaving aside the likelihood of injuries, there are two things about training for a marathon that I think are going to be really hard – finding the time to train, and finding the motivation.  When everyone else in the office is comfortably sitting having lunch, it is hard to convince yourself to go to the unheated shower room, strip off and get into running wear, then step out into the cold, windblown rain…

So this week was an exercise in starting the training going.  As I said last week, my target was to get three runs in.

The first was scheduled to be Tuesday.  But on Monday, a friend emailed me and asked if I fancied meeting him for lunch on Tuesday… and already my plans were in trouble.

However, on Wednesday I was working from home, and got myself out at lunchtime.  I chose a route that included the Wallacestone Brae, a hill that has defeated me every time I have tried it in the past.

To my delight, I got all the way to the top without stopping!  So I guess that is the bar raised a little; I won’t be allowing myself to stop there again.  Okay, it’s only a 250 foot hill, which is nothing compared to what I’ll be facing in the Heaven and Hell half marathon, but it’s something!

That afternoon, I travelled to Stevenage for work, and on the following day (Wednesday) I went for another run.  Now, this was meant to be a long, slow five mile run.  But when I got to Chells Way, it turned out that the road was now entirely blocked by a massive building site.  There was an unlit path round the site, but by the time I followed that I had lost all sense of direction, was unable to find Chells Way again and ended up doing a solid, albeit slow, seven miles.

A rest day on Friday was followed by an early rise on Saturday to do the Falkirk Parkrun.  This is a free-to-enter, timed, 5km run round Falkirk’s Callander Park.  The route shows off the beauty of this park to its best, and was clear even though recent storms had brought down several trees that were lying to the side of the path.

I ran the route with my son, Cameron, and we came home in the respectable time of 30:04 (I forgot to stop my GPS tracker at the finish of the race).  I want to take off my hat to the core team and all the volunteers involved in the Falkirk Parkrun, and indeed other parkruns – they are a great idea and certainly help me get out of bed on a Saturday morning.

As we walked back to the car, Cameron and I had to dash to avoid being soaked by a passing heavy rainshower.  That left me feeling distinctly in need of a stretch.  So when I got home I looked at the collection of bought-but-never-used fitness DVDs we have.  The one that caught my eye was the “New York City Ballet” workout.  If there’s anybody who knows about stretching, it’s a ballet dancer!

So, I started the disc going.  I just about kept going through the gentle warmup, and then the stretching section. The stretches were actually a pleasure to perform, even though my leg was stuck in the air while the dancers on screen had pulled it way over their heads and, as they lay on the ground, were touching the ground behind their ears with their toes.

But then came the abs work… and I realised just how appallingly unfit I have become.  I lasted about thirty seconds into the routine.  So, I am determined to try to do some of these abs exercises a few times a week as part of my cross-training.

All in all, then, a fairly successful week.  As my legs get more used to being worked, I think that my knees and achilles tendons are becoming more comfortable with the idea of running.  I think that it helps that I am trying to do more stretching to give them a chance.

It slightly worries me that I feel I have achieved something by once running three days within a week.  In my head I know that I need to do that and more every week for the next four months, but I think that I’m still blocking that out a little.

As a side note, I am thinking of signing up to the marathon’s official charity. Macmillan cancer care.  What do you think?  Is this a good idea to raise funds for a good cause, or is it silly to claim that I’m doing this for charity when I’m really doing it for me?

Summary – 16-22 Jan 2012

Number of runs Three
Links Wednesday – 3.60 miles (423 cal)
Thursday – 7.08 miles (833 cal)
Saturday – 3.11 miles (366 cal)
Total mileage this week 13.79
Calories burned this week 1622
Total mileage since start 20.95
Calories burned since start 2401
Sunday morning weight 11st 11lb

Next Week

Next week I hope to do:

  • a 3.5 mile run on Tuesday lunchtime
  • a 5 or 6 mile run in Stevenage on Thursday lunchtime, and
  • the Falkirk Parkrun (5km) on Saturday

Plus the warmup, stretching and abs parts of the NYCB workout at least three times through the week,

As posted last week, my training for the marathon starts in earnest on 06-Feb.  But that still leaves three weeks to get ready for the training, to get used to the idea of going out so many days per week.

So, Mondays will become “track my progress” day.  I’m going to say what I managed to do last week and what I hope to do in the coming week.  
It’s sub-zero out there right now.  Even when we get through to around lunchtime, it’s still going to be very cold… so I’m hoping that the knowledge I’ll need to come back to this blog and report what I actually did each week will be enough to force me to get out there and run.  It’s like so many things – getting started is the hard part.
Glasgow’s “Squinty Bridge”

Last week I didn’t run much because my wife and I went for a weekend in Glasgow… but this week, the pre-training starts in earnest

Last Week

Number of runs two
Links Two runs – here and
Total mileage 7.16
Calories burned 779
Monday morning weight 11st 12lb

Next Week

Next week I hope to do:

  • a 3.5 mile run on Tuesday lunchtime
  • a 5 or 6 mile run in Stevenage on Thursday evening, and
  • the Falkirk Parkrun (5km) on Saturday

Let’s see how I manage…

Training Plan

Time is marching on, and I am having to start to think about a training plan.  This is something that makes the whole adventure seem a little more “real”.  My once-a-week run is no longer going to be adequate, and will no longer have the excuse of “I can’t be bothered” if I fail to go out for a run.

So, I spent a fair amount of time looking at various training plans.  In the end, I have based my training plan on this one, written by Coach Julie for the Greater Manchester Marathon.

I have two actual half marathon events during the training run – the Alloa Half Marathon on the 18th of March, and the rather frightening-sounding Heaven and Hell race two weeks later, on 8th April.  Apparently its title comes from the heavenly flat parts of the run, and the hellish three-mile climb near the end of the race!  The profile below doesn’t have distances, but it’s certainly scary!

So… after all the waffle, here is the plan:

# W/B Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Miles
1 06-Feb Rest 3 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 7 mile slow jog/walk 16
2 13-Feb Rest 3 mile easy Rest 4 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 10 mile slow jog/walk 20
3 20-Feb Rest 5 mile easy, with few faster stretches Rest 5 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 12 mile slow 22
4 27-Feb Rest 5 mile easy Rest Run to hill, 9 x 40s uphill & jog back. Run home Rest 3 mile easy 10 mile easy >15
5 05-Mar Rest 6 miles
Start slow, then 6 faster bursts between 2 lampposts, cool down jog
Rest Hill session as last week with one extra rep Rest 4 mile easy 13 miles easy >23
6 12-Mar Rest 6 miles
Start slow, build up pace
Rest 7 mile easy Rest 5 mile inc some fast 200m bursts Alloa Half Marathon 31
7 19-Mar Rest Warm up.
3 x 10 mins with faster bursts
Brisk walking between
Cool down brisk walk
Rest 6 mile easy with few surges Rest Warm up.
3 miles brisk.
Warm down
15-16 miles.  Very Easy
Take drinks!
8 26-Mar Rest 5 mile easy, with few faster stretches Rest 7 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy Heaven and Hell Half Marathon 28
9 02-Apr Rest 6 mile steady Rest 8 mile easy Rest Warm up.
3 miles brisk.
Warm down
16-18 miles.
Steady pace
10 09-Apr Rest 5 miles easy
Few fast strides
Rest 9 miles easy Rest 3 miles easy 11-13 miles easy jog/walk 29
11 16-Apr Rest Warm up.
6 x 45s fast, 3 min jog.
Warm down
Rest 6 miles.
Start slow.
Finish faster for last 10 mins
Rest 3 mile easy 18 mile jog/walk >27
12 23-Apr Rest 5 mile easy Rest 9 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 13 mile jog/walk or
Half marathon
13 30-Apr Rest 6 mile steady Rest 8 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 20mile endurance jog / walk.  Prepare drinks in advance 37
14 07-May Rest 8 miles steady Rest 6 mile easy Rest 3 mile brisk 10-12 mile jog / walk 28
15 14-May Rest 6 mile steady Rest 5 mile easy Rest 3 mile easy 10 mile easy.
Practise marathon preparation
16 21-May Rest Warm up.
1 mile fast.
Warm down
Rest 3 mile jog.
Wear racing kit
Rest 20 min jog,
inc easy strides & rest
Race Day! 30

So, we start in earnest on Tue 06-Feb – just over three weeks away.  My plan will be that I will report back every Sunday, taking a note of exactly how close – or otherwise – I have come to achieving my goals.

I am determined to be a marathon finisher!

So, yesterday my car had to go in for service.  Not terribly relevant, except that I decided I would run back from the garage to the house when I dropped it in for service.  And then, when it was time to collect the car, I would run to the garage.

The only unpleasantness is that, as the Endomondo track shows, there is an almost unreleting hill from the garage to my house.  So on the way from the garage back home there was a climb of approximately 300 feet.  To my surprise, I still felt fairly okay at the end of it.

By the time I went back to collect the car, of course, I had been sitting around all day working, there was a rush to get there and so I didn’t warm up correctly, and when I arrived at the garage I wasn’t going to stand outside for ten minutes stretching now, was I?  And so I inevitably have ended up feeling a little the worse for wear today.

Motto is: always stretch!

But at least I got a few miles in!

Endomondo Running Workout

Well, that was a really rubbish run!

Something about it just didn’t work. I make no claims to be the most elegant runner around, but in this case I had no style, no grace, no rhythm… everything just felt wrong. I was aware of my running the whole time, conscious of every jarring footfall and every inch of ground… normally I forget about that and just enjoy the scenery.

Oh well, onward and upwards! I hope…

Endomondo Running Workout

Endomondo Running Workout: was out running 4.34 miles in 37m:34s using Endomondo.

Just a short run to see how the achilles tendons were doing. They were okay, but the rest of me was lousy. Like, really rubbish! It was such a relief to see that the stretch leading up to the three mile marker was in fact up hill, because I was exhausted!
Happy New Year, everyone!

First run for a couple of weeks

In spite of all my talking about running, I’ve not actually been out almost three weeks.  The last time I ran was at the Falkirk Parkrun back on 03-Dec, where I ran okay but afterwards found my lower calves on both legs – but especially my right – quite sore.

So, I went out at lunchtime today.  Overall, the results were a mixed bag.

On the positive side, I got round in what is (for me) a fairly reasonable pace. On the other hand, there is definitely still a niggle in my lower calves / achilles tendons.

Hmm… I had planned to visit a physio before I started my marathon training.  I think this is now a “must”

Update: I’m hobbling around the office like a good ‘un now – something definitely not right.  Probably I should be moving around more, rather than sitting stationary in the office.  I’m thinking that I may not be running in the Parkrun on Saturday – which at least saves me the trouble of trying to find any fancy dress for running in the pre-Christmas run!

Photographing Running

Yesterday I would normally have taken part in the Falkirk Parkrun.

Parkruns are great – a free, 5k timed race.  To take part, you register at the web site ( and print yourself a bar code.  Then you turn up at your local event, run, and get your bar code scanned.  Later on that day, you get a text message or email with your time.

Of course, organising these races requires a lot of time, and if you regularly do a parkrun you are asked to volunteer to help out once in a while… and that’s what I was doing yesterday.

My role was “photographer” – so I arrived in Callander Park slightly after 0900 to take pictures of the runners who were out braving the weather.  Attendance was smaller than usual, probably partly because of the weather and partly because it was the morning after a huge percentage of the country was at Christmas nights out.  But they still made an impressive group as they started the race:

2011-12-17-Falkirk Parkrun_0057
Start Of The Race

A fallen tree forced the race onto a slightly different route than usual, and I was able to get this picture of the early leaders crossing in front of Callander House (this will be today’s photo of the day):

2011-12-17-Falkirk Parkrun_0060
Callander House and Parkrunners

Finally the winner came through, in a time of 18:10 – a good six minutes faster than I can possibly do!

2011-12-17-Falkirk Parkrun_0155
Brian Turner finishing in 18:10

The full set of pictures can be seen at

Congratulations to all runners, and I hope to be running next week!

And So It Begins…

Hi, and welcome to my blog.  And thank you for reading!

My name is Alan; I am a 45 year old husband and father of two living near Falkirk, in Central Scotland.  And I have set myself a challenge – I am going to try to run the Edinburgh Marathon on 27th May 2012 – the day before my 46th birthday.  This blog will chart my progress.

Nobody who knew me from school would ever think that I would do anything like this.  I was always averse to any form of exercise; I manipulated the list of subjects I took so as to avoid PE.  All the way through University and for many years after starting work, I didn’t do any exercise.

But eventually a couple of friendly colleagues – Alistair and Fiona – persuaded me to come out running with them.  Those first few runs were an embarrassment… thinking I was doing well getting to the one-mile marker without having to stop, hobbling home after a three mile run thinking I was the bee’s knees.

Alan finishing the Dunblane 7.5 mile race on May 2011.

Eventually, Alistair started talking about trying the Linlithgow 10k.  On the application form, I put my target as “finishing alive”.  I loved the excitement and the experience of the event, until I hit the hill at kilometre seven… that one finished me!  But I did complete in under 55 minutes, and was proud of myself.

Since then I have run a few 10ks, but in 2011 I completed my first ever half marathon.  This was the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, and what an event it was!  People cheering you on all the way, kind folk passing out fruit and sweeties to the runners.  Even a group of folk setting up an unofficial water station, under the banner “Sikhs In The Community”!  Wonderful.

But even as I crossed the line, in the somewhat frustrating time of 2:00:09,  I knew that this was a half marathon.  Seriously, running for thirteen miles should never be called a “half” of anything!

So… there was an obvious conclusion.  I had to run a full marathon.

And here goes…