Eerie silence

I love running, you probably guessed that by now. The increased heart rate, the endorphins, the challenge of pushing myself further and faster than I ever thought I could. But right now, things are strange.

When I run, I focus outwardly, I observe nature, practice gratitude and generally turn my mind away from the pain of running and the normal negative thoughts (stop now, slow down, that’s far enough, I can’t do this etc).

Normally this means I notice a lot of activity, such as traffic levels, walkers, other runners, wildlife (some beautiful birds of prey around here!) and of course other people carrying on their life. Although I live in a small village in Oxfordshire, there is usually plenty of life around here to keep me distracted from my internal struggles on my runs.

Since this madness has all started I have only been out for 2 runs, opting more for my treadmill instead. This is mostly because we now have a 2 week old little girl to look after so I have stayed close to home. Now as life is starting to settle down somewhat I am going back outside for my runs and looking to getting back into my training programme.

It’s a bit eerie out now though!

On both runs, I have seen nobody at all. Ok, I am running early in the morning, but I usually do, it’s my way. Today I only ran for 30 minutes because I stubbed my toe badly last night (thought I had broke it, but I haven’t!) and honestly, I felt like I was a sole survivor of some virus pandemic, wait, oh, well I’m glad not all of that is true!!

It’s very strange being out and seeing nobody, hearing no human life at all. Makes me realise how much we need each other, even just for the small things, a ‘good morning’ or simply a nod from another person makes a difference.

When our scientists find the way to beat this virus and we return to some form of normality, I pray that we ‘take a breath’, give rightful recognition to the people who have been supporting us all (couriers, lorry drivers, manufacturing, nurses, doctors, firefighters, military, shop workers, midwives etc) and someone does something to improve their status in our world. Pay them more, appreciate them, improve their working conditions, give them the respect they deserve. Yes, we need the scientists, politicians, business leaders and so on, these are the groups that will deliver the vaccine. But they are not the ones keeping us alive now and keeping the wheels of society turning right now. But not only this, I pray that we learn to appreciate each other on a more basic level, that there is less hate in the world, pipe dream I guess though and probably not for a running blog!

Although, running helps to relax me and focus outward so maybe there is a tenuous link? What do you think? Does running help you in the same way?

Running in this eerie silence of lockdown, brings an acute awareness of solitude, I don’t like it!


Our new normal?

So. Exciting times eh!? I saw a post on LinkedIn recently and the author who is a highly regarded business guru was talking about ‘as mankind reaches the end of our golden age’ and I thought that it was sensationalism. Maybe, maybe not!

Either way, times are strange right now. We didn’t bulk buy, we don’t have all the toilet rolls, or all of anything else for that matter, preferring to buy what we need when we need it, as normal really. Going shopping now of course makes me a little nervous when it becomes a struggle to find the basics.

Today I ended up paying probably close to twice the amount I would have expected, not that the retailer was ripping me off, more that I ended up in a farm shop where they are just normally more expensive. Even though they are more expensive, there was a huge queue outside when I left, nice to be thanked by the staff for not stockpiling.

If you saw the government update today, the British Retail Consortium is saying that in the last 3 weeks people have spent a billion pounds on food more than normal! That is crazy, please stop it!! Anyone who has seen any apocalypse films or played the games knows it doesn’t end well for the preppers!

Anyway, running! Well, not a lot of that at the moment to be honest. With our new baby settling in and all the excitement of recent days, the most I have managed is a couple of treadmill runs.

I’m waiting to see if the ultra has been postponed or cancelled while Threshold delay their decisions. To be fair, the planned date is July and I think they are hoping everything will be calm by then. My half marathon has been postponed to September, I might defer that to next year now, I guess we have to see how this all pans out. Those are my two main runs this year, and if they are both postponed then I guess I have plenty of time to make back up my fitness losses from this passed week. I am also thinking I am going to have to get used to using the treadmill more again!

I normally use Zwift for running which is ok, I have explored some others but I think now could be a good time to review those and give you my thoughts! So over the coming few weeks I will try some platforms and write some reviews, starting with Zwift!

Talk soon, please stay safe and keep your distance from others!

No running but I’m smiling big time!

So no running for a few days (into day 6 now), I’ve had a lot of ‘restless legs’ going on but a lot more smiles having this little one to cuddle!

I’m hopeful that today I will be able to get on the treadmill for a short run. Maybe just 15 minutes to stretch the legs and then over the next couple of weeks I should be able to get back out there again and run, clearly though family comes first.

With all the news about corona virus and the amount of races being cancelled, I am hoping that The Race to the Stones will still be on this year, but if not, I will just keep repeating my plan. The exercise is never wasted as my health will just keep improving so nothing lost really as my real purpose is to stay healthy.

That’s why having a purpose to your exercise, bigger than immediate goals is so important! There are so many variables in life that it is critical to ensure your purpose is fundamental so that all of life’s distractions and complications can be handled in ways that do not create extra stresses for you.

For example, if my purpose was to complete an ultra marathon in 2020 or to complete a marathon faster than my last one, these goals could be completely derailed by life’s changes (or a pandemic being (mis?)-managed by our government!)

But, as my purpose is to stay healthy so that I am around my family as long as possible, challenges to training become merely bumps along my journey. The (possible!) cancellation of an ‘A’ race becomes a nuisance rather than a disaster!

Again, just another short post to prove I’m still here! As my training restarts, I will post further updates on how that goes, thanks for taking a few minutes to read.


New baby!

So there may not be many blogs for a short time as my daughter was born yesterday, anyone with children will know what that is like to start with!

When I get back to running again I will give an update.

Thanks for reading.

Gotta love a treadmill run, right?

Hill repeats on a treadmill – get real!!

Todays run was hill repeats, 15 minute warm up, then 1 minute uphill, 2 mins on the flat, do this 8 times, then a 15 minute cool down, and we are all good!

Around here, that is a challenge to achieve because there are no decent hills on my doorstep, albeit there is a place nearby (Burford) which would work but I just don’t have time to drive there and back as this adds maybe another 30 minutes on and I was already up at 05:30 in order to complete my run before my first meeting of the day. So I thought, ah well, use the treadmill, that’s why I bought it! Also, considering it is just sat there in my Paincave (yes, with a capital P) staring out the window at me looking all forlorn, I thought that it doesn’t make any sense to ignore it. My Paincave is not pretty (yet!), it’s more functional, I need to tidy the cables and get some flooring down that works.

IMG 3867So, there I am at stupid ‘o clock (about 05:45) stood on my treadmill, psyching myself up for my run, feeling tired and tbh severely underwhelmed by the whole affair!



After last week being a minor disaster (well on the scale of disasters  it’s very minor) because I didn’t meet my objectives (fellow runners will recognise the self abuse this brings with it!).

I was determined to just get the run done!

Last night I felt that I had lost my ‘running mojo’ but I think it’s back today, fickle little thing that it is! My run was not fast of course (if you have read any of my other posts you will know this already!), but the focus was on climbing and in the planned 8 minutes of climbing I climbed 338 feet which again, is not dramatic, but it was enough.

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And what I found was that, I LOVED IT.

The challenge of the short bursts of climbing, much like intervals, really fires my engine up and this just got more and more fun as I went along. I had an average pace of only 13:05, but this was heavily driven by the warm up and cool down as more time was spent in those parts of the run than the hill repeats, but with a peak pace of 10:29. I enjoyed my run and I had ticked off another target for the day, all before anyone else in my house was out of bed, BOOM! Also, this week is a lower mileage week, so that should help my Running Mojo recover itself enough to take on the week!

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You can see from my fitness charts the effect of last week, but the overall picture is still good and I still have 16 weeks before the main event of The Race to The Stones, which, to be fair, is as long as many complete training plans last, I just recognised the size of the challenge and decided to get off my ass sooner!

Screenshot 2020 03 10 at 14 52 17Looking deeper into my data, there appears to be the beginnings of trends in my datasets (such as cadence, max heart rate etc) but it’s too early to claim a statistical difference yet. It’s interesting though because in order to understand the differences (if they exist) what I am more interested in is the relationship between these differences and any physiological changes. For example, is the fact that my max heart rate appears to be reducing because I am getting fitter, or only because I am running slower 80% of the time? I am certain I am getting fitter, I have lost 3.6kg since the end of January this year and my VO2 Max is improving (slowly!), so is this one or the other or, as I suspect a combination of the two? Understanding data like that might be beyond my capabilities so I might need to get some support on that if I decide to explore it.

Although most of my runs are slow now (in power zone 2), when I recently freed myself of the plan, and just ran for the fun of it, I was significantly faster, also, the pace I was at would have been pushing myself quite hard in 2018/19, but this felt comfortable, not easy, but comfortable. I could have happily kept going for a 10k or maybe longer at that pace, so I’m certain of the effects of the training. What I am having difficulty right now is separating the cause from the effects as they are somewhat circular! I will have to be patient and let the data talk!

Slow and crappy – literally!

Today was supposed to be a 15 mile run.

After yesterday, when I woke up randomly vomiting, it was always going to be an unlikely event.

My day started ok this time, I have started to try changing my ‘long run process’. So today I started by having breakfast and a coffee which is something I do not normally do but after last weeks long run not particularly going to plan, and with the ultra looming in around 16 weeks, it’s time to start dialling my process in.

So. It started well but my body had other plans and by 10am I had already needed the toilet 3 times. I ended up feeling completely drained and not wanting to be away from a toilet!

So I fired up Zwift and jumped on the treadmill.

That started off ok, I zoned out and stopped thinking about running. Then I glanced at the screen and found I had only ran about 1.5 miles. Zoned back out, glances again, 1.8 miles. This was just not happening today. I was completely sapped of energy, was not enjoying it and time was stretching itself!

At about 2.5 miles I was thinking I would aim for 10, this quickly went to 5, then when I approached 3, I decided to speed the treadmill up and finish at 5k instead, feeling completely exhausted.

Not a great week all round for my running, but hey ho, I can’t get time back so just need to pick it back up next week.

On a happier note, I weighed myself today to find I have lost 8 pounds since January which is encouraging! Only (ha!) 11 more to my target weight. Need to keep working on it!

My plan is to focus back in on the training again but of course I have to be mindful of the fact my wife is due our second baby this Friday(!) so, maybe not worry about it too much, priorities right!

Sometimes it’s a slog

This week has been tough. After slowly building my weekly mileage up, life decided I have not had enough challenges!

Work has been more demanding, home life has too, neither for negative reasons so I can’t complain but today started off with me running to the toilet at 5am to randomly throw up!

And that is where I start to think that this was not my best week for training!

I had already missed two training runs due to work and home life demands so this morning I was determined to run anyway, with the thinking that if I was going to be sick again, at least I could just do it at the side of the road and carry on running. Lovely.

As you may recall, I’m a bit of data junkie so I hate missing my plan, although the bigger picture data trend is great, you can see the impact even a slight hiccup has on the numbers for my TrainingPeaks fitness report, it’s such a ‘hard won’ number, I hate to see it slip!

Horses and ice

The only good thing this week related to running was an unplanned run yesterday, which was supposed to be a rest day. I ran without paying attention to pace or power, or much of anything really, just that I had to be back to see my little girl before she goes to school. So this run, I did a 5k, not fast by other people’s standards at a 10:25 per mile pace, but for me, that’s the fastest I have run in quite a while, what was interesting is that my perceived effort during this run was relaxed, demonstrating to me how much my trainings paying off.

Part of the view on my rest day run

My own wellbeing

Back to today’s run, a slow jaunt around the Cotswolds with a good friend for just 4 miles, thankfully I didn’t have to utilise the side of the road, but it was very slow that’s for sure and uneventful. Always nice to spend time with my friend Mark though. I find this social run to be cathartic, allowing me to exhale the pressures of the week with a likeminded friend, I no longer consider this run to be training for my body, but for my mental wellbeing. The run is now a lot slower than I need for my training plan but I really value it.

I have a 15 miles run planned for tomorrow, not sure yet if that will happen but we will see!

If tomorrow’s run happens, I expect it to be exceptionally slow, but I’m not going to worry about that.

And not a run in sight!

No running today, family life more important.

Sometimes it’s important to ensure your family knows you value them more than your obsession! Without even mentioning the fact your legs are screaming at you to run! Tomorrow may not be a running day either but we will see, maybe instead I might get a little time on the treadmill or the turbo trainer.

I’ve started listening to ‘Still not Bionic’ by Ira Rainey, seems an interesting listen but it’s early yet, the focus seems to revolve around his battle with mental health issues along with his ultra running journey. I will let you know what I think. Also bought a copy of Dean Karnazes ‘ultramarathon man’ which inspired Ira Rainey, will let you know my thoughts on that too!

Not much to talk about today so going to leave this here just so you don’t think I’ve forgotten!

Longest run in 3 years

Today’s run was long, for me anyway!

A 14 mile run, twice around a 7 mile loop which takes me passed my house. Going passed my house was hard, starting the second loop was a little emotional to be honest!

The run was a power zone 2 run so was intentionally slow, which from a power perspective is ok but oh lord it took so long at nearly 3 hours, it seemed a very long time to be running so slowly. You can see below I had regular stops for water and Trail-butter which I love, along with a couple of extra traffic stops as this was all road running.

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I have also blasted my weekly mileage goal, which is set at 20 miles a week in order to hit 1000 miles in 2020, this week having hit over 33 miles, putting me 34 miles ahead at this point for the year. Bearing in mind my wife is due our second baby in 12 days, I need to get ahead if I want to ensure I meet that target, obviously, it is far more important that I support my wife than meeting the goal, but it would be nice to do both.

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So as you can see above, slow, but done! Whore hey (Jorge) was kind to me and it stayed dry, if a bit windy. At around 9.5 miles, I nearly bailed, strangely, I started feely fuzzy headed and could not focus for some reason. I was not sure what was happening as I have run further than this before with no problems and had been taking plenty of fluids and nutrition. I decided to carry on running and see what happened, knowing my wife would be unlikely to come and pick me up anyway as she was out (also with baby 12 days away, I wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to come searching for me lol). So I trudged on and if you look carefully at the charts from Stryd you will see that my power output went all over the place at around 10 miles, which was me basically battling this fuzzy headedness. At around 11.5 miles I started feeling fine, but it was a real battle during this time. This is something I am going to have to investigate because, it felt like I was bonking, so maybe my nutrition was not at the right levels for a run of this length on an empty stomach.