Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nooooo - Injury

I'm pretty gutted at the moment. Very gutted actually.

After being on a high last weekend i rested this week only venturing out for a run last night. A nice and easy 4miles or so. Or so i thought, about 3miles in my left ankle started to hurt the way it was hurting after the Gloucester Marathon. 

I got home and it was forcing me to limp again.

Saturday morning and it felt better but not right. The best way i can describe it is that it felt like i had concrete in my ankle. It was painful and had no flexibility. I wanted to get a quick diagnosis and so found a physio open on a Saturday with a free appointment - Nicola Ellis Physiotherapy.

An evaluation confirmed a couple of things;
1. my ankle/calf is inflexible
2. i have no stability through my left side
3. my right leg does all the work
4. i wouldn't be running for a while, and certainly not at the Mayhill Massacre.

There followed some treatment using some interesting techniques including a balance board, step, swiss ball and the Wii Fit! 

The work i need to do is around core strength and using both sides of my body. I need to work both sides equally. This will include calf raises, hamstring stretches, one leg squats and ankle rotation. The issue is manifesting in my ankle but is likely linked to more problems with the leg and pelvis. Interestingly this is probably also a symptom of the tendonitis i get in my left achilles.

All in all quite depressing which in itself is depressing! That i feel so low because my running has been curtailed is as much down to the enjoyment i get from running as the benefits too. Clarity of mind, complete downtime, meditational and medical benefits in that it helps me control my diabetes much better.

All is not lost though i have trunks and a bike so hopefully will be able to use both. If i am a good pupil for my physio then hopefully recovery will be swift and i will be fit to run again very soon. 

For now i feel pretty frustrated by it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What did we do before compression socks? Gloucester Marathon 2010

The first event of the fundraising year did not start well. Actually that's not true it started fine with a nice bowl of ready brek with banana and some strong coffee. The kids then got up and we watched the highlights of the previous days Tour Down Under.

Great stuff. 

My gear was largely ready the night before and so all that remained was to get changed, carry out a last minute kit check. all done and all good. I left home just after 0945 to drive the 20minutes to the start and registration. This is where it went wrong, with at one point me sat in the car losing my temper and shouting abuse at myself - pretty funny looking back now but at the time i just kept thinking i was going to miss registration and lose my place.

A phone call home and some map reading later i registered 10minutes late (thank you organisers) then hurried to get myself ready. My heart rate and adrenaline, needless to say were through the roof. I got changed at my car and there were a couple of marshalls that were happy to chat and that helped me relax (another thankyou!)

One of the things i was not sure of was what to wear for the race. The weather was fine and dry but the temperature was barely 5C. I had every combination of clothing you could imagine in my bag from running fleeces to t-shirts, hats, gloves and tights. In the end i went for a shorts, compressions t-shirt and normal t-shirt combination with my gloves. This proved to be ideal and looking around the course was a pretty frequent combination. I also had on my 2XU calf guards and looking around the field it struck me that at least 50% of the runners were kitted out similarly, how did we survive before the advent of compression clothing!! I also had KTTaped my left Achilles to help with some tendinitis that i get a little and that really did the trick although today (a day later) my left ankle is very sore.

The runners were grouped at the staging area and then followed the pace car to the start line. On the way to the start i struck up a conversation with a fellow runner that ended up irritating me! I asked him the usual questions around his marathon experience and expected time - he waxed lyrical about his endeavours and did not ask me a single question. As soon as the hooter sounded i left him - some people do not know how to have a conversation!!

The route was an unknown to me as my preparation did not include a recce of the course! It started easy enough with a small figure of eight before we hit the course proper, it was then 3 laps with a turn to the finishing straight. The laps were marshalled at the turn point with runners wearing hair ands on their wrists to keep tally of laps.

The three laps were surprisingly interesting although the hills were unwelcome. There were plenty of spectators and the Marshalls and helpers at the water stations all genuinely great.

I made a decent start following a group of 3 club runners that were keeping a pace where they were talking to each other and that i was comfortable with. I followed them for about 5miles with the group growing to about 8 runners. Between miles 4 and 5 i wanted to push a bit harder and so moved out of the group and increased my pace. It was then that nature called! I needed a pee!! I spotted a discrete gate and well you i was doing this the pack went past me with heckles of "'ll need that later..." when i had finished a rejoined the road they had gone some way in front of me and in fact another pack had also gone past me. I resolved to keep my pace steady and catch them over the course of the next 10 or so miles rather than pushing hard for a mile and blowing up.

The decision was correct - i kept a steady pace, checking my Garmin frequently to make sure my pace stayed in the 14km an hour zone. By mile 8 (56minutes) i had started catching some of those that had fallen off the back of the pack. I continued the pace eating a gel on the hour. I was comfortable although was pushing it - my time at mile 13 was 01:33:00 which is only 6minutes off my PB for that distance. Lap 1 was completed without any excitement or problems, it was a little disconcerting to think that there were two to go but i just kept focused on the time.

In this respect it was unusual for me because i was very aware of the time the whole way round, at one point i actually thought i might be close to a magical three hours but that thought evaporated when my maths were found to be rubbish! At 16miles i was just under 2hrs and in my head thought great another 8miles in an hour and i've done it. It then dawned on me at the mile 18marker that actually there were 10more miles to go and so 3:15 was looking likely.

On my second lap i encountered my first back marker who was still on her first lap. She was running up one of the hills as i passed her - i offered some words of encouragement and continued. Second lap done and now it got hard. On the third lap the first hill was about 2miles in and had the first twinges of cramp in my quads. I made it to the top of the hill without having to break stride but was concerned that the cramp could do me in with a long way still to go. As i cleared the hill there were a lot of runners in front of me - those on their second laps. This was quite motivating as it was a case of aiming for the next runner regardless of what lap they were on - this kept me entertained for a couple of miles until on the next hill cramp. This time in my hamstrings that forced me to walk. I walked up the hill, started jogging again and then back to a run. My kph was dropping and at one point was a lowly 10kph. It was on the hill i saw Mick and Phil the Marathon Lads - truly amazing.

Mick and Phil (not sure who is who) looks like a father and son team where the father pushes the adult son in his wheelchair. That in itself is amazing but the father had a word of motivation or some quip for every runner in his vicinity, those that he was passing or that were passing him. People like this never cease to amaze me, the bond that they must have from being together like this is incredible. So inspirational.

In a different sort of way the runners that run at a gentle pace and finish in 5hrs+ are also motivational. It proves that everyone can do this sport and that everyone has their own motivation and reasons for being there. For some it's about winning, other about breaking 3hrs then there's those who just want to complete it with the time almost being irrelevant. The achievement is the same - they all ran a marathon on Sunday 24th January!

The final miles of the final lap seemed to go on for ever. At mile 24 i was ready to stop, the finish line loomed. Past the lap counters for the final time and a mile to the finish. I was overtaken with less than 200m to go and had nothing left counter. Essentially i was racing the clock at this time anyway. I crossed the finish in 03:15:00 exactly (official time has me at 03:15:01).

Elated that i had hit my stretch target. When i set out to do this i thought i could do sub 03:30:00 with 03:15:00 being my stretch target. To acheive that on a hilly course was awesome!

I picked up my memento (a paperweight) and then to the bus to head back to the starting zone. Thank god i took the bus rather than walking it as it was further than i thought and i would have also got lost! Back at the car a quick change then a blood test. My blood sugar was 3.1mmol which was essentially a bonk (the threshold being between 4-7mmol). No wonder i had nothing left on the run in.

I had a sandwich that i had taken with me and then set about texting and emailing the result to people!!

Driving home i was glad my car was an automatic as my calves were very stiff/sore and i had a blister on the outside of my left foot. A roast dinner was waiting for me but unusually i could not finish it! Needless to say the rest of the day was quiet.

The official results are in an i was 22nd out of 282 which i am really pleased with!! Awesome!! Looking back to my first marathon this is an improvement of 1hr 5minutes!

On checking the forums today though i saw some terribly sad news. One of the runners, who had travelled down from Oldham, had a heart attack and died on the course.... thought are with his family and running buddies.....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It all started in Shezans...

My first and, to date, only marathon was the Flora London Marathon in April 1998. I completed it in around 4hrs 20minutes.

Tomorrow (24/01) i am running the Gloucester Marathon - i am more than 10years older but am hoping to take maybe 50min-1hr off that time! (Hopefully i won't eat those words).

Thinking back where i am today started in a local curry house after a day out drinking and watching rugby with some mates. A turning point i guess you would call it - do you take the red pill or the blue pill?

In those days i was very different as we all were i guess. Out to much, drinking too much and eating bad food. Nothing that a lot of 20year olds haven't done and will continue to do. Sat in Shezans curry house one of the guys suggested that we run marathons! Hmmm so we we were drunk, eating curry and it was, of course, a great idea! As the evening progressed the plans grew grander, start with London then travel the world running marathons! It never really happened that way...

I think there were 4 of us in the restaurant and 3 of us completed entry forms. I was the only one to get in. My red pill/blue pill moment was in front of me. Train to do the marathon alone or carry on as i was. I decided to take up the entry on the basis that it was clearly something of value with only 1 in 4 of us getting in.

I set about my training programme and considering my fitness base was rubbish picked a training plan that was to get around. Not worried about finishing time more about just finishing! 

I can remember very little about the actual run that day, even what the weather was like is gone from my memory.  I remember the finish line, some friends had come down to see me finish and my dad was there (he had been trying to get around the course all day to support me and i had not seen him once!!). My finish time was 4hrs 20minutes - nothing too great but i had finished and had set myself on a road that i am still running along! 

Lots of things have changed between then and now - marriage, kids, diabetes, career, friends all have changed. 

On the eve of my second marathon i am calm and relaxed, much more so that i imagine i was all those years ago. I am better prepared and just in better shape than i was then.

One thing for sure - it won't be another 10years before my next marathon!

My diabetes story...

I submitted the following to the Diabetes UK website today as 'my story'.......

My diabetes story starts at the end of 2001 when i was diagnised with Type 1.

At the time i was working with a group of colleagues that were very fit and motivated. We used to run together at lunchtimes and at the time i was also cycling the 12-14miles each way from Bristol to Bath for work.

My diagnosis was self administered. Rampaging thirst, repeating thrush and rapid weight loss when typed into netdoctor turned up one result. A visit to the GP confirmed the situation.

The detail of the next few weeks are a blur. I remember being on tablets and trying to control it with diet - that never worked so i started the insulin treatment.

The first injection was the hardest - it was like my arm could not move! It was locked with the needle 6 inches from my stomach! Once the first one had been done it became easier and like most diabetics i rarely consider the injection or even feel it.

The one thing that never changed was that i continued playing sport. I played football with colleagues and continued running. This was all very low key stuff during the working day as i was commuting for work and had a young family, my son being 2 at the time with a daughter arriving before he was to turn 3.

All through this period sport was about breaking up the working day and socialising as most of it was with colleagues. A couple of injuries (damaged hamstring and then a knee cartlidge) meant that i gave up playing football and concentrated on running and then latterly triathlon.

It was in 2007 that i started racing with, in the May that year the Tewkesbury Triathlon over the sprint distance of 400m swim, 22km bike and 5km run. It was a brilliant event - i loved everything about and was hooked! Later that year i did the first of 3 Windsor Triathlons that i have done at the Olympic distance of 1500m swim, 42km bike and 10km run. I have also done the Blenheim Sprint Tri, London Olympic Tri (where i broke 2hr 30mins) and the Cotswold Tri.

Training for these events is great fun and has a massive positive effect on my diabetes control.  The time i have the most consistent issue is my blood sugar first thing in the morning. When i am training this improves significantly with morning readings rarely above 9mmol. I also find that, when training, the amount of insulin i need to administer reduces with the same effect. This makes the control so much simpler as the doses are smaller and easier to predict.

Training also means that i manage to control my weight with that having been consistent at 70-72kg for the past 6 or 7 years.

What i learned from having diabetes is that it needn't stop me doing anything that i want i just need to be better prepared than my non-diabetic training buddies. So when we go on rides or runs etc i make sure that i have plenty of fuel with me in the form of glucose tablets, gels and energy bars. The last thing i need is to bonk during training or racing!

Managing blood sugar during these periods took some doing with, in the early days, my having to stop to take blood sugar readings. Now with years of experience i can manage my blood sugar in a session without the need to take readings. I know what i will need for specific types of sessions and manage with pretty much zero impact. When i with my training buddies there is no difference between us and i suppose for me that is the main point.

Aside from the fact that on any race number i have i need to write that i am diabetic there is no difference between me and any other athlete. We have all trained, prepared and are ready to race. I may have an extra gel and my omnipresent glucose tablets but there's no difference.

Taking it one stage further i have been looking for a longer challenge. Something over and above an olympic distance triathlon. The natural progression would have been to try an Ironman Triathlon. When i considered the training undertaking for an event such as that it is just too much, also i will confess to be a little daunted and scared by the distances involved!

As a runner first and foremost i decided to look into ultra running which is anything over marathon distance normally 50km or 50miles.

I found a race that i was interested in called the Thames Trot that was a 50miler in February 2010. I started training and since October 2009 have notched up more than 500training miles. I changed my plans at Christmas and abandoned my plans to do the Thames Trot, i changed jobs etc at this time and with Christmas training took a hit.

I plan to do one - there is a local 50km run in May and then i will go for a 50miler at the end of the season. Plan B was to do the Gloucester Marathon, i also have a couple of shorter running races already in the calender. The Mayhill Massacre in February and Cleevewold  Cross country in March. I was a runner before i stepped into triathlon and i can get my head around the training and undertaking for such an event.

From my experience the benefits of running with diabetes are so significant. My weight is under control and my blood sugar control is largley very good. There are also the benefits that everyone gets from running, improved mental and physical health and well being.

Knowing your physical reactions to the training and racing you do, understanding when to train and when not to and proper planning are essential but not insurmountable. As a diabetic the amount of information you process every meal time is considerable, being active and competitive is, in my opinion, an extension of that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

iTunes Competition

Gloucester Marathon Competition - 24th January 2010

The Shurdington Tri Club ( has nominated Sue Ryder to be their Charity for 2010. We are completing a number of events through the year and looking to raise as much as possible.

The first event of the year is the Gloucester Marathon on 24th January and I will be taking part in this. To make it a little more interesting I have decided to run a competition with the prize being a £20 iTunes voucher.

The Competition
Guess/estimate what my finishing time will be. Then complete the form below with the details. Entry cost is a donation of at least £5 to Sue Ryder via the justgiving website (

The rules of entry are simple -
1. Entry costs a minimum £5 donation to Sue Ryder.
2. All entries are to be submitted via this form.  
3. The winning time will be based on the official result of the race.
4. In the event of a tie the entry posted sooner wins.
5. In the event that no-one gets the correct time the prize will go to the closest time that is less than my finishing time.
6. No direct family or members of Shurdington Tri Club can enter this competition.
7. entry closes at 9am on Sunday 24/01/2010
8. Any questions direct to

I have been training a lot over the past few months and so to help you with your estimation you can checkout the following links which show my mileage and times: and

Thanks for reading this - please be generous and good luck!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Climate change

They call it global warming and sure the planet may be heating up but all we seem to be getting in the UK is wetter and now, in winter colder and snowier. Aside from the fact that as a nation we seem completely unprepared for this every time it happens (which must make us a laughing stock internationally) it really affects getting out there and training!

Sure school closures, road closures and abandoned cars covered in snow make headlines. Stories abound of people taking 3 days to travel 2miles in their cars but what of those that have early season races and suddenly find themselves having to run and cycle in slushy/icy conditions? I've not seen one of those stories make the news!!

Then there's the winter bugs that get passed around freely - nothing too serious just colds and coughs which again conspire to keep us indoors. When you feel a bit lousy and it's 0C outside it's not inspiring to get out there really.

I have been out running a couple of times and it completely changes the focus of the session as staying on two feet becomes the sole focus. Mentally training in the snow must be double the effort as pretty much every footstep needs to be sure and safe. It also makes you slower, naturally, as with dodgy footing you cannot run at full pace.

As an interesting experiment run on the snow for a bit then jump into the road and run along the kerb to get a feel for how much slower you are on snow.

You also need to wear the appropriate layers, hat and gloves. This makes more washing which ultimately means the use of more energy (to power our washing machines) and therefore contributes to the problem of climate change however slightly.

So what's the answer??

Preparation for early season races will always be at risk of being affected by the weather and may even be cancelled as a result of the weather. In my case I am entered into the Gloucester Marathon next Sunday (24th January). My weekly mileage has taken a hit due to weather and catching a cold and so I am feeling a little nervous about the whole thing. I should have enough in the legs to get around and complete it but my expectations around time may have to change somewhat.

Perhaps if we all washed our kit a little less that would help??