#3 When injuries strike

#3 When injuries strike

Injury blog

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” – Beverly Sills

OK, so I’m injured and haven’t run for six weeks.

But the last thing I expected was for my marathon training to be disrupted by a broken finger.

Initially, I picked up some runner’s knee. No dramas, some stretches will sort that out. But an operation on my finger? Really?

Typically, I broke it playing cricket. Fingers generally come off far worse than cricket balls in a fight.

Sure enough, my little finger broke and was misaligned. My GP was horrified that I had played four matches with it in that state but, in my defence, I thought it was just swollen.

I went to my GP because my knee was taking longer than expected to heal and wanted a second opinion after visiting a physio.

The finger was a second thought, but the GP took one look and said “Oh, that’s not normal. I’m referring you for an X-ray.”

With that, the beginning of my holiday, and training, was ruined. For someone that visits hospitals with an alarming regularity, I’m really not their biggest fans.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the miraculous work that goes on within them, it’s just that I associate them with pain and misery.

And sure enough, more of that was to come my way as I was told an operation was necessary. After a delay, I finally got operated on three days after the x-ray and was fixed up with a metal wire poking out of my finger.

Consequently, the training has taken a back seat. But, three weeks after the surgery I’m riding 10 miles a day on my bike and discovering new things about my body.

Firstly, it’s apparent that my conditioning hasn’t suffered too much. My legs are still strong and I’ve not put on any weight.

Also, the fitness is pretty good too. Obviously not as high as it was, but there’s definitely some latent fitness left over from late June.

This is good news, as I hope to embark on a tester run this week.

It’s under two months until the Bournemouth marathon and now, with six weeks of training down the drain, my aim is simply to get round and get used to the process of race day.

I won’t be running for any specific time, and even if I have to crawl along the route, I will finish that marathon. There have been too many sacrifices and hard work to throw it all away now.

I get the wire taken out of my finger this week and hopefully I’ll be able to begin training again as the knee feels better than it was.

With the marathon fast approaching, a few tactical changes will have to be made to my schedule.

Instead of two rest days a week, I’m going to have just one. This will help me regain 25% of my training losses.

The key is not to get injured again, so a degree of caution is needed. If my body is hurting, I need to rest it. A good time in Bournemouth is not the target now. I just need the miles in my legs.

So, it’s interesting times ahead. Training had been going so well with running at a projected three hours and 30 minute pace over a nine-mile distance, and there’s no doubt that a six-week break is a massive blow.

But it’s how you deal with it that counts. Stay positive, continue to eat right and focus on a good recovery and you will give yourself every chance.

It’s a race against time to make the start line in early October, but who said marathons were going to be easy?

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#2 Eating right, training right

#2 Eating right, training right

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Jelly beans are a surprisingly useful food for runners as they help to quickly replace sugars used by muscles during exercise.  

“Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.” – George A. Sheehan.

Ten weeks into training for the Bournemouth marathon in October and it’s difficult to imagine how it could be going better.

In fact, everything is going so well it’s beyond even my crazy expectations.

Running has given me a new direction. It has helped to cleanse negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

Then there is the physical side. I’ve never been fitter, eaten healthier or consumed so little alcohol.

Of course, it’s early days with the times but even they are giving me plenty of encouragement.

I’ve gone from an Xbox-playing, FIFA 17-addicted couch potato in February to breaking the 30-minute barrier for four miles in May.

It’s all been about grooving myself into the regime of eating, training and recovering correctly before the running steps up another gear.

The eating

Complex carbohydrates are the best thing to eat for marathon training. If you can balance them in a 4:1 ratio with lean protein (roughly speaking) then you’re sorted.

Perhaps the best thing about the food regime is that I get to eat jelly beans (#winning) plus drink Gatorade and chocolate milk straight after each run.

The idea behind it is to immediately replenish the sugars used by your muscles after running, aiding recovery. The Gatorade tops up the salts lost through sweating and the milk is packed with protein to help your muscles repair themselves after each run.

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Chocolate milk

I’ve found some recipes like kedgeree, some stir fries, chilli con carne and jambalaya that have all been adapted to include complex carbs over the normal simple ones like white rice and pasta.

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Turkey stir fry

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Chilli con carne

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Jambalaya

And, for someone with a severe sweet tooth who used to mix unhealthy and healthy foods, it has been challenging cutting out the sugary snacks, cakes and treats.

To lighten the strict diet plan I do afford myself a cheat night once a week to get my sweet fix – within moderation, though.

Finding ways to make mealtime exciting has been the key and when the training distance increases there are more tasty recipes to try – but more on that in a future blog.

The training

As the weeks of training progress it’s easy to forget just how tough the running was in the first week.

My body massively disagreed with going from couch to three miles in a day, but once the first few runs were over and recovery completed – including some horrific ice baths – the fitness has steadily improved.

Recording all my runs on Strava is great for motivation and to compare against more experienced runners. It’s really surprised me that I’m not hugely off the pace of some established local names, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

After 37 runs, my personal best (PB) for two miles is 14 minutes; three miles is under 21 minutes; four miles under 30 minutes and five miles is 39 minutes.

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Four-mile PB

As you can see, the shorter distances are much quicker than the five and that’s the next target to aim for – taking seven-minute mile pace into distances of four, five and six miles before competing in my first 10k (six mile) race.

At the moment, I’m setting at least one PB per week which is great for morale – the trick is to keep improving and the times will look after themselves.

So, running a three-hour marathon might sound like madness (it did to me) but the training is going to plan so far. Can I dare to dream of London in 2019?

  • You can follow all my marathon training updates via WordPress: neilwalton089
#1 Training for a three-hour marathon

#1 Training for a three-hour marathon

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The London Marathon attracts over 35,000 runners each year.

“My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.” – John Bryant. 

Running the London Marathon has always been on my bucket list. The trouble is, I’m not the greatest running fan – so why run one?

Firstly, I love a challenge. Plus, if I can raise money for charity along the way that’s even better.

To make things a little more difficult, I’m aiming to qualify for the 2019 London Marathon through the ‘Good for Age’ classification.

This means achieving a time of three hours and five minutes or faster at any marathon in the world from the 1st January 2017.

Running such a speedy time has its advantages. I’ll be fitter, stronger and I’ll spend less time in training and running the 26.2 miles distance itself. I’ll also begin the London event in a specially designated pen, which means I can avoid the dreaded 30-minute walk to the start line with the masses – reducing the risk of getting cold, wasting energy and running a slow time.

So, do I need my sanity tested? Some may argue yes, but I’m lucky to have stumbled across a comprehensive training plan which should help me run a sub three-hour time in London.

Ideally, it takes six months to train for your marathon of choice, but running one quickly takes at least two years of preparation.

It’s this preparation which has thrown me massively. I had hoped to start training in October but, after a good deal of research, it became clear I couldn’t just start training when I wanted.

As a running rookie, I never realised how detailed the planning would have to be.

However, after setting training and meal plans, choosing running locations, seeing my GP and a physio to get the green light to train, I can now get started.

The planning

An initial 5-week training plan will lead into a fresh 24-week scheme, taking me into my first full 26.2 miler – the Bournemouth Marathon in October.

From there, six-month cycles of training – each culminating in a marathon – will begin. I’ll aim to run my second in April 2018, sneaking in another before the cut-off in June if I haven’t yet run under 3hr05m.

Provided I’ve got the qualification time in the bag, I’ll run the next marathon in October 2018 before London in April 2019.

The progress
In writing a blog through my training, I hope to give an insight into how much of a challenge it will be.

I’ll be posting pictures of my Strava times, nutritious recipes, route plans, motivational quotes, running facts/stats and handy tips along the way – roughly once every two weeks.

So stay tuned for all the stumbles, falls, pains and gains as I embark on what could be an immensely rewarding journey.