Tag Archives: routine

It comes in threes, surprise competition and I love hills…

After what can only be described as a horrendous start to 2017 I entered into my second week of training for Edinburgh Marathon feeling the most down I have felt for a long time I was however determined not to be beaten. The last few days had been a blur and I was struggling to come to terms with the hand I’d been recently dealt. I was uneasy that in the back of my mind I was wondering where the third bit of bad luck was going to come from, as they say it comes in threes! As a family we had rallied, we’ve had some fantastic support from some good friends but my wife has stood by me being the shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most. Through the past few weeks we have both taken strength from our sons exploits. Our happy, loving and generous 19 month old boy was the light in the dark times, for him we are so grateful, he is my driving force when I start to struggle.

With Monday a designated rest day I took advantage of the opportunity to put my feet up but I will admit I was itching to get out on the road. After a decent sleep, which is few and far between for me, I was ready for my first run of the week a steady 40 minute plod around the undulating streets of Bolton. Where I work is close to the place my grandma and grandad lived for 57 years, a house I spent lots of time at when my mum was ill and a place that was a safe haven for a scared little boy…me. As I plotted my run I decided I was going to incorporate a fly past of my grandmas old house.

Grandparents old place. 57 years here and a lace I have fond memories of.

As I set out I was feeling good and running well and confident today was to be a good day. 7:12 for the first mile, 7:29 for the second and 7:25 for the third but then came a sudden spike. I trotted out of the town centre onto a straight road which I was to be on for around 1.5 miles I closed in on a runner on the opposite side of the road who after a glance across the road he saw me coming. I was running strong but he decided he didn’t want me to overtake him so started to match me stride for stride…challenge accepted I thought…bring it on. As we approached a downhill he decided he was to up the pace slightly and a sprint ensued down the hill however knowing the road well I stuck to the pace I was travelling at. Now as basic science dictates what goes up must come down and vice versa so the 400 metres or so climb on the other side of the downhill was inevitable. What my friend hadn’t anticipated was my love of hills, I turned on my afterburners, lifted my knees, lengthened my stride and the 20 yards he’d made on the downhill sprint had been cancelled out, a quick glance over my shoulder he was slowing I was running strong and as we hit the next downhill section he’d given up, he was walking and I plodded on triumphant. Now I always say I compete against no one but myself but that bit of competition on that day did me good, it focused me and made me think of tactics, just like in races, to shake off the competition. That run a random fella helped me more than he’ll ever know and I would like to think his desire of me not getting past him helped him as well. As I finished my run on my grandmas old street and a selfie outside a house I have many memories of I was happy with how I’d ran and most pleasant of all was the fact my Black dog has given over growling…for now.

As I returned home that night I was greeted with a hug and kiss from my wife and son who made a good day better however the good time wasn’t to last due to another phone call, the third of three. To cut a long story short our family cat had been in hospital due to what we initially thought was an infection in his tongue however after tests it was found to be an aggressive tumour they could do nothing about. We had to make a decision, one of the toughest you can make, to let Fluff cross Rainbow Bridge and join his friends, heart breaking. That night again the tears flowed it was roles reversed and I was the one trying to be strong for my wife as she’d been my rock through the recent tough times. As we said our goodbyes I really hoped that would be the run of bad luck ending for us as a family, emotionally we were drained and needed a break.


Unfortunately the previous nights down feeling carried over into my Wednesday run. The conditions weren’t the best for running on as the wind had picked up overnight and the 50 minutes steady I had planned was abandoned due to the conditions coupled with my head mash, my discipline when out the window.

Some times you have to stop, take a minute and restock.

With the original plan abandoned that dinner time  run became a mixture of easy running, step work, threshold running and hills! Wednesday wasn’t the most productive of runs but at least I ran.

Abandon the original plan take your anger out on the steps.

Thursdays run became more important to get back on track for me I looked at Wednesdays run, there was nothing to take from it but 5.1 miles in the legs, I gave my head a shake and Thursdays speed session was much better. The easy sections I was disciplined, the threshold sections I hit hard and sustained, the steady section was as the easy, disciplined and in 42:30 minutes I was able to cover 5.7 miles. On a final note todays Instagram running picture was me with a statue of Atlas, a man with the weight of the world on his shoulder, highly appropriate for this moment in time.

I know how you feel cocker

Friday brought a well-received rest day and also with it being Friday 13th and with my current luck it was probably best I didn’t go out on the road, who knows what could have happened!! An early night Friday to close down a hard week was in order however  I did set my alarm for 5:30am Saturday due to the fact it’s Long run day! The plan for Saturday was the same as the week before, same route, 75 minutes but see if I can be a bit quicker. I have a few goals for 2017 and one of them is beating my 26.2 PB that currently stands at 3:25:26. This has played a big part in my choices of marathons this year. I intend to give Edinburgh and Berlin my best shot and to get what I want in my head I need to be averaging between 7:20 and 7:25 minute miles, its more than doable and I am determined to do all I can to get there. As I stepped out the door on Saturday it was a colder morning so with my hat, gloves, tights, base layer and head torch all on I head out down a well-trodden route. 10 miles later and an average minute per mile of 7:25 I was home, showered and sat with a brew all before my wife and son had rose from their pits. Saturday was a good run, I enjoyed it and most of all I felt strong running at that average pace, the question is can I now carry that on to the longer long runs? They say it’s a marathon not a sprint however the reason I run is I get there quicker so will see where my training takes me and as we get a few more weeks into training I’ll have a better idea of my capabilities.


To finish the week off I was meant to be out on Sunday hill running however due to me being tired and the lack of hills around home I decided to rest and spend some time with the family. I decided I would run my Sunday session on Monday around the streets of Bolton due to you never being too far from a hill! Off to Matel Play in Liverpool we went to meet Thomas the tank engine, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam, my son loved it and so did we. To finish the week on a positive note on Sunday night I received an email from mapmyrun, which I used to track my runs when I started running in January 2014. I now however use Strava ( Matt Bowman) on the recommendation of some friends who run triathlons competitively, I only run but it works for me. When I logged on to my mapmyrun account I found a 10 mile run recorded on 11th January 2014, the same run I ran on Saturday 14th January 2017 I was pleasantly surprised. I felt really proud when I compered the two times and splits from the two runs. I knew I had made progress over the last 3 years but seeing it in black and white gave me a massive confidence boost, running is a slow burner and there are no short cuts. With hard work, persistence and determination you will see results, listen to other runners and be true to yourself you’ll improve just don’t expect it overnight. Stick at it and safe running all…Thanks for reading.

Same run 3 years apart. Progress


Recovering from the previous weeks horrors. 

After what should have been an easy run on Saturday going horribly wrong I took a few days to collect my thoughts and rest. As Saturdays run left me with more questions than answers I decided that the thing that was lacking boiled down to two things 1) Sleep and 2) Routine. Sleep has been a problem for a while for me due to the fact I have been dealing with certain stresses at work and also a hectic personal life planning a wedding. I function best when running when I have had around 8 hours sleep, this I’ve found is when my body and mind feel most rested and ready to attack whatever run I have to face. My 8 hours needed has recently been around 5 hours and the deprivation of hours asleep has caught up with me in recent weeks/months so that needs addressing. This is easier said than done for me as I struggle to shut down my active mind so any suggestions are more than welcome for how I may continue to address this issue. Another decision I have taken off the back of the last weeks runs was that over the festive period I would limit my alcohol intake to zero! I made this decision due to the fact after even a few drinks my sleep is affected and the next day after drinking I am lethargic. I am not a big drinker, I don’t drink in the house and drink only socially when on nights out however with the festive period this tends to change as ‘It’s what people do’ For me to establish a routine I need to get back to being disciplined and cutting out the alcohol for a few weeks will enable me to be refreshed and able to get out on the road when I need to, a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things!!

 I’m now onto week 3 of my training plan my week on paper looks like this



TUESDAY – Threshold run – 10 mins easy, 2 x ( 5 mins threshold, 2 mins Easy), 10 mins steady, 10 mins Easy

WEDNESDAY – Rest, Core Work

THURSDAY – 45 Mins Steady


SATURDAY – 1 hour 20 Mins Long run

SUNDAY – 10 Mins easy, 25 mins Hill Run, 10 Mins easy


Again due to circumstance this will and has changed slightly but only the organisation of the days. So as we stand today (Christmas Eve) I have completed two runs and the plan was to do my long run today after a half day at work however due to the fact I awoke to tired legs today will be a focus on core work with me heading out tomorrow (Christmas Day) for a festive leg stretch inbetween presents being opened and eating a Christmas Dinner, ideal time for it!!

 TuesdayThreshold run ( 10 minutes easy, 2 x(5 minutes threshold 2 minutes easy) 10 minutes steady, 10 minutes easy.

 After a couple of days rest and a decent few nights sleep I felt ready to head out on what I anticipated to be my toughest run to date in my plan. Mentally I have been struggling with a loss of pace due to not doing any serious training for a good 4 months so today was filled with slight trepidation. Again I was at work in Bolton which meant one thing, hills!! I planned a run using the route builder on Strava and no matter how I tried I couldn’t get away from the fact there would be a few inclines in my run, what goes up must come down I suppose. As I headed out of town on my first mile I felt good and with Strava kindly updating me every half mile on my progress I was pleasantly surprised to be told I was running at a 7mins 53 seconds pace, this was meant to be an easy start and as I stated previously I struggle with easy!! After 1.5 miles I was at my first threshold push which coincidently coincided with a mile of a climb up the reasonable steep hill they call Bury New Road. I shortened my stride and got the arms pumping trying to push myself but concentrating on staying consistent and strong, this seemed to be working and as the half miles passed I felt my confidence growing. All doubt I had before the run was vanishing and mentally I was winning. I was enjoying this and miles 2/3 came both clocked at under 7 minutes 40 seconds per mile, I was happy. I won’t deny when the two threshold pushes were complete I was tired however I felt strong even though I still had one steep climb left in my run. Today was working for me physically as well as mentally and I began to ease back in the run around 4.5 miles even managing a smile. All my trepidation from the previous runs had disappeared and today was a job well done. 5.5 miles in 42 minutes with an overall pace of 7 minutes 52 seconds per mile I was happy however I won’t let myself get complacent, there’s a long way to go yet. Thought from today’s run – Running helps lose the frustrations of life…

 Wednesday (45 Minutes Steady) As I had a morning meeting not far from my base I decided rather than drive I would run and get my 45 minutes planned run for the week done and dusted. This is always a choice I make if I have meetings close to my work base however with it comes new challenges. No more so than having to carry my work gear on my back as I am not sure it is professional to sit in a meeting sweating in my running gear. Before I set off I decided to weigh my gear I was to carry which I am not sure was a good thing as it came in at 5kg, maybe that doesn’t sound much but when running every extra KG hurts as my previously fat frame used to tell me every time I headed out on to the streets. As my meeting was 2 miles away and that wouldn’t satisfy my time running time I decided to extend the run in one big loop from my base to my destination, upon planning I had no choice but to incorporate my nemesis from the previous week, Chorley Old Road in Bolton. A constant climb which I would have to run over a mile on, this coupled with my bad experience the previous week and 5 kg of extra weight on my back. It’s safe to say I wasn’t at all looking forward to greeting it head on however I had no choice. In my previous training I was able to monitor my pace quite accurately mentally as I knew my body and how my pace ‘felt’ however at the moment I am struggling to recover that ability so as I headed out to start my run I had no mental idea of what pace I was running at. This played on my mind as I was battling my previous experience of the hill I was shortly going to face as well as a slight worry my pace was in my eyes ‘slow’. As it happens I had no reason to worry I focused my attentions to attacking the mile climb strong and organised and even though in conclusion I was slightly slower up the hill I was feeling stronger, as I turned the corner off Chorley Old Road onto a slighter climb towards Moss Bank Way I was chuffed, the hill that had the upper hand the week before was now in retreat and I’d climbed it with 5kg on my back, I was feeling strong, happy days. From here on in the route down Moss Bank Way was undulating and the benefit of the extra weight was It pushed me down the descents!! Always a bonus let gravity do its thing, relax the body and have a breather. Mid run I felt stronger and that showed in my splits and when I reached my destination 5.5 miles had been covered in 45 minutes 36 seconds at an average pace of 8 minutes 10 seconds per mile. I was happy with this considering the clothes and files I was carrying in my back pack so today has been a success and something to work on. I am now looking forward to my next run without the resistance of extra baggage and more importantly not in Bolton meaning no HILLS!! Brilliant. Thoughts from today’s run – it’s not how fast you get there it’s the getting there that counts!


 As I said before today is rest day from the roads and core work will be done few sets on the ab roller and planking routine will be followed as I need to get the strength back into the abs to assist the running. Back out on the roads tomorrow and Boxing day for a festive plod and who knows I may even wear a father Christmas hat!!!! Merry Christmas every one and best wishes to you and yours.