5 Miles, 52.11 Minutes

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It’s been a strange old day. Last night’s dreadful news has hung heavy in the air, occasionally punctuating the general feeling of gloom with sharp shocks as more sad developments emerged, to the point where anything else feels a bit trivial.

I was in two minds as to whether it might be a bit crass to post an update on something so banal as how my run went and how I’m feeling about my running progress. In the end the idea that we should carry on living our lives as normal, no matter how much other people want us to live in fear is what won out.

So I’ll go no deeper than that into what has happened in Manchester other than to offer my unwavering empathy and solidarity to its people, because I’m not clever enough or sensitive enough to say any more. Besides, you’re obviously here to read about a fat bloke and his battle with ropey knees rather than nuanced insights into the human condition.

For what it’s worth, I guess we can officially say I’m on a roll with my running now. I’d been looking forward to getting out again for the first time since Friday, and tonight was enjoyable. It’s looking unlikely I’ll do the three runs I’d hoped for this week, but if I can get out on Friday and do another 4 to 5 mile stretch, that’ll still be a decent outcome.

My legs have been feeling really strong this week, and I’m putting it down to being a bit more disciplined with my protein intake. I’ve been meticulously troughing two shakes a day, and I think it’s making a difference – I could definitely feel the benefit as I was striding out.

I got to three miles in less than half an hour (which is very quick indeed by my standards), and while I took two short walking breaks, 52 minutes is still a really good time for five miles for me. I realised when I was done that I’ve surpassed 1000 miles of running since I took it up three and  half years ago, which is a nice milestone. As such, I finished the run with a hell of a feeling of well-being, which was a timely reminder of why I do this.

Do what you love and be kind to people.

Music: Manic Street Preachers – National Treasures

2 Miles, 20.06 Minutes

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Following on from the posi vibes of last night’s good strong run, I thought I might as well get myself out for a nice short leg-stretcher from work to the Scotswood Bridge and back.

I never intended to get beyond two miles, but my aim was to do it at a good swift pace, and ideally (if possible) without any walking breaks.

Mission accomplished! I did a pretty good job of zoning my brain out from my legs (the fact I was listening to one of my go-to power albums definitely helped). I couldn’t quite complete the distance inside 20 minutes which would’ve been nice but my pace was reasonably consistent throughout.

This feels like it might be the start of a bit of much-needed momentum but next week will be key. Between now and next Friday I want to do at least three runs, with at least one of those a five miler. Wish me luck, pals.

Music: Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out

4 Miles, 43.01 Minutes

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With my momentum having resolutely slowed since the fun of the North Tyneside 10k a few weeks ago, and an event which is really important to me (the Blaydon Race) creeping up soon, I really need to up my game.

Motivation has been in fairly short supply since my slog of a run last week, so in spite of my running kit having been in my bag under my desk since Tuesday, it was only tonight that I was able to haul my old bones out.

Knowing I really need to get a decent session under my belt, I resorted to my go-to running spot down on the Newcastle Quayside, a spot I find as pleasing on the eye as I do on the legs. It didn’t bode well when the heavens opened just as I stepped out of my car, but to be honest the rain was quite refreshing and it didn’t feel like too much of a hardship once I get myself moving.

As it turns out, it was a pretty fun work-out. I accidentally slipped into a reasonably swift pace from the off, in spite of having told myself I was going to take it really leisurely. I didn’t really feel myself burn out though – I naturally slowed a bit as it went on, but even though I was mega-sweaty and my legs felt weary, there was a strange degree of comfort to tonight’s run.

I feel so good after tonight, in fact, that I’m actually considering heading out again tomorrow (I hardly EVER do two nights in a row).

That’s worth a sponsor, right?

Music: Pulp – Different Class

2.5 Miles, 26.04 Minutes

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Some nights (thankfully rare these days), my legs really aren’t feeling it. That happened tonight. I knew I wasn’t going to get far after about five minutes, so I just tried to string out a reasonably quick pace for a short distance and I guess the result was vaguely respectable if far from impressive.

I can’t see for sure what the cause of my lethargy was really – I’m guessing it’s a bit of a cocktail of factors – General tiredness will have played a part – both my kids have colds, so sleep has been sporadic at best this week. I’m also still feeling the after-effects of a rambunctious kids party at the weekend (Soft plays may sound harmless, but those places are like Lord of the Flies sometimes). The heat felt pretty draining too.

I’m not exactly an obsessive observer of my nutrition, and perhaps I should be better in that respect. I’ve tried those ‘track your diet’ apps several times, but always just give up ‘cos I usually can’t be arsed to monitor everything for very long. I’m conscious, though, that I’ve been a bit slack with my protein intake (and as a vegetarian, it’s probably even more important I keep those reserves topped up with shakes), so maybe my muscles haven’t been recovering from stresses and strains, and tonight’s damp squib might be a reflection of that.

Still, I guess I need these sucky runs to make the good ones feel even better. Historically I tend to follow up bad runs with super-cathartic ones, so maybe I should be looking forward to my next one.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint and all that…

Music – Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love


4 Miles, 43.34 Minutes

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After the triumph of Event #3, I promised myself a little rest. I intended to take a week or so off running to let my legs recover from a fairly intense couple of weeks.

Nearly three weeks later, I was still ‘resting’. It turns out the longer the gap in training, the harder it is to motivate myself to get back out. Who knew?!

As such, I knew this one was going to hurt. Chuck in a bit of unusual North-East sunshine, and you’ve got a recipe for a slog. And so it proved.

My legs are really feeling the burn after that, and I’m going to need a couple of days to recover (note to self, NOT three weeks) but I feel absolutely great for finally having got back out there. It’s been a bit of a monkey on my back for the last week or so, and it would have been so easy to just say ‘screw it, it’s Friday, I’ll get back into it next week’. I’m pretty proud to have shouted down that voice in my head, and particularly to have stretched myself out to four miles rather than just doing an easy two or so.

Anyway, given the latest challenge I’ve decided to take on, I need to do all the training I can. It’s probably very foolhardy, given that my knees are on borrowed time anyway, but I’m going to try and get into the London Marathon next year. And if I can’t get in for London (I’m making my case to Bloodwise, and I’ll enter the ballot), then I’ll try and do another marathon. Basically, I’d love to be able to say I’ve done a marathon, and if I’m ever gonna do it, then pretty much the only chance I’ll probably ever have of physically handling it is going to be next year.

So, since I’ve gotta sell the benefit of me doing the Marathon to Bloodwise to get one of their scarce places, you’re more than welcome to increase my current sponsorship pot so they think I’m a fundraising machine – Link here.

Music – Ash – 1977