Tag Archives: therapy

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


Seriously 2017 it’s not me it’s you…

I started this blog with the specific goal of getting my thoughts about the runs I was doing during training for Vienna Marathon on paper. This meant I was able to compartmentalize issues I had from specific runs and remove them from my head so as not to dwell on them. It also was a medium for me to help ease my own mental anguish that at times over the years has crippled me. Running has given me a release physically and mentally however please bear with my ramblings on this recent post, the spewing of words onto virtual paper for me at the moment is extremely therapeutic!!


So as of today 2017 is only 13 days old and I am not one to wish away my time but…there’s always a but! If we could rewind one period of our lives this last 10 days would be a sure fire contender to be scrubbed from the archives for us. I started 2017 on a high off the back of a very, very successful 2016 I was excited on what the New Year could bring. New countries to visit, new milestones to reach, new races to run and most importantly they are to be done as a family. However on 2nd January as I started my journey to Edinburgh Marathon with a rest day little did I know or expect how much my life would be turned upside down within the space of a few days.


Easy this marathon training…1st day=rest day


3rd January 2017 started like many others an hour commute into work through the dimly lit streets of Wigan and Bolton my precious cargo, my running gear, and a plan in mind for my dinner time run – 30 minutes easy. As I sat catching up on emails my phone rang out of the blue, it was my dad, to give me some news no one likes to receive. The lady who brought me up for a good chunk of my childhood, my grandma was in hospital. Apparently she’d been in a while and it wasn’t looking good, he advised me to head down to see her but also warned me she was in pain. As I drove to the hospital the tears were flowing and I was mentally preparing myself to walk through the doors of a place I know are a necessary evil but are places I hate, a place that scares me. Just entering a hospital is a massive challenge for me due to a deep seated fear derived from past experiences. I somehow managed to hold it together enough to get through the door and to the ward where my grandma was however when I saw her I couldn’t hold it back, the tears began to fall. After a few minutes composing myself I sat down next to my grandma, reached out and took hand, kissed her head then whispered in her ear

“Jam it’s Matthew, what on earth are you doing here?? If you aren’t careful you’re going to miss Corrie”

At that moment she opened her eyes saw it was me and smiled, so bitter sweet! After an hour by her side she became tired so I took the decision to head back to work and close things down. I was also going to make myself get out for a run, I needed my therapy, I needed my release now more than ever. After I laced my trainers and head out the door for a run I don’t remember any of the route I took! I am amazed I completed as truth be told I couldn’t see through the endless tears flowing from my eyes, the run wasn’t hurting but I was in agony. Strava tells me I ran 4 miles in 30 minutes at a pace of 7:28 minutes per mile; this was meant to be an easy run!! After this I made the decision I was going to be beside my grandmas bedside until I could no longer be. I did however promise myself breaks as I knew my mind was close to sinking towards a place I’ve been before. Somewhere I promised myself I wouldn’t go again, the dark places that have mercifully haunted me before, they frightened me. My next few days were spent in ward B1 of Royal Bolton Hospital with the occasional jaunt home for respite to see my wife and son and also I had my runs to complete to keep my sanity. Again Wednesdays and Thursdays runs I don’t really remember, they were completed averagely however they gave me the  release I massively needed.

Posting my worries elsewhere…

As I live an hour commute away from Bolton I found the days long and by Friday I was not only physically drained, emotionally I was on my knees. Not only was I dealing with watching a massive influence on my life slip away I was dealing with some other news that had come to light…disappointment, anger, resentment are just a couple of the emotions I was experiencing. Friday was a critical time I needed a break and was advised to head home for a night with my family which after some thought I reluctantly agreed was the right decisions As my wife was working on Saturday it meant I wasn’t able to head to the hospital on Saturday at all as I had to look after our son. This was I suppose a good thing however as I said what I now know to be my final goodbye to my grandma on Friday before leaving her bedside I was hurting. I asked her to tell my grandad I missed him, I told her to stay safe, that I loved her and I thanked her for all she ever did for me then I left, I didn’t look back…I couldn’t! I headed home and when I got there I hugged my wife and son and had a cry. Now they say bad luck comes in threes and I was struggling to get my head around that over the period of a few days we’d had 1 of three, I was convinced the 2nd was just around the corner. I went to bed Friday sad but determined to get up early and hit the road to leave all my thoughts out in the surrounding areas of Rainford and Skelmerdale. As I looked at my phone at 6am on Saturday morning it was empty, no messages, no missed calls the fighter was still fighting. I eventually stepped out into the fog at 7:05 am which is a bit later than I wanted and little did I know my grandma who had fought gallantly over the last few weeks was to succumb to the pain and pass onto to be with my grandad a few minutes later. 35 minutes into my Saturday morning 75 minutes LSR I received the call I was waiting for but didn’t want to receive, I was 5 miles from home. After steadying myself for a few minutes I gave out an almighty scream, gathered my thoughts and continued on my planned route, it was easier to carry on. After a few teary miles from 5-7 I arrived home covering just over 10 miles with my first 5 miles done in 36:37 and my second 5 covered in exactly the same time. At home I was greeted by a huge smile and kiss from my son but my look to my wife as I held my son told her everything she needed to know; the second of three bits of bad luck had happened. A quiet day followed and Sunday was meant to be another planned run day however I didn’t have it in me so we headed for a walk around the Dream in St Helens. Family time and precious moments with my wife and son helped me much, much more than a 45 minute run.

A decent week running through adversity

What ultimately got me through a tough week….

If you’ve made it this far I suppose it’s a thank you from me for taking the time to read my ramblings. I know this blog was set up as a running/fat to fit blog there is a reference to running here. Selfishly I write/publish this post as historically I have been a bottler of emotions which in turn have sent me to places I never want to revisit. Writing this post over the past few days has given me that release, I’ve shed some tears but I have also shed some fears, I feel better for verbalising things. The first week of marathon training hasn’t quite gone to plan, I wanted to hit it hard as I plan to challenge my PB of 3:25:26 in Edinburgh in May however running through this weeks pain I’m convinced will help my character build further. It was an emotionally trying week where I could have crumbled and also used excuses not to run but I didn’t…I did however come mighty close and more than once!!! On that note I will update week 2s training soon and with that will bring the 3rd of 3 bits of bad luck. It’s been an extremely sad time in our household recently however there is light at the end of the tunnel, the testing times make us stronger and we are still smiling…Have a great day all

91 years difference. Happy times, happy memories

“This year’s for you Jam…until we meet again. Love you”