Friday, 28 September 2012

now .. and next year

Just a short post today because, as you probably know, I haven't been running for almost three weeks now. At the start of this week the right ankle was still periodically aching but with each passing day that became less and less.  Today has been the best day since the injury.

At the start of this week I began strength and core work, being careful not to do anything to further damage my ankle or hinder the recovery.  It now seems very likely that I can begin cycling on Sunday ... that's never been my favourite form of exercise but I guess at the moment it's necessary.  More fun than swimming though.

At the moment it's unlikely that I'll be able to run for at least another seven to ten days.

That hasn't stopped me planning next year's racing and training though.  Many of you will know that I had planned to enter the Barcelona 24 hr race when I arrived home from Poland.  Well ... for the second consecutive year that has had to be abandoned.  Maybe next year ... or maybe it just isn't meant to be.

So, next year.  The World Championships will be held in Steenbergen (Netherlands) in May and UK Team Management have already informally suggested that those who ran in Poland should also run in the Netherlands.  I may have trouble proving my fitness though ... we'll see.

And then, in August 2013, I plan to be in Abingdon, Oxfordshire at the British Ultra Fest.  I know that Pam Storey has long wanted to stage a six day and 48 hr race in England and it seems that she's finally succeeded by getting together with Alan Young and Abichal Sherrington.  Should be good fun.

And then, maybe, if all goes well, I'll be off to Barcelona, at last ...

Now that I've got some time out from running I can properly review what I've done over the past year or so and ask myself some serious questions.  Did my training work ?  Could I have done anything better ? What are my weaknesses ?  etc, etc

Answers please to me at the usual address ...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

injury update

Arrived home from Northern Ireland a couple of days ago but since then we've been very busy - too busy to write something here anyway.  Mainly tidying and cleaning Keir's room - wow, that was amazing, the things we found down the back of the sofa and under the chest of drawers and ...

That took two full days !!! and last night we went to a friend's retirement party and didn't get back home until  mid morning today.

Also went to see a physiotherapist about my injured ankle.  Mainly to get as accurate a diagnosis as possible so that rehab will be as effective as possible.  So, the physio's verdict:  two grade 2 sprains to my right ankle.  That's unusual in itself but to further complicate matters both sprains are of an unusual type.  The first was a high ankle sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments which connect the bones of the leg to the top of the foot.  The second, which probably occurred after the first [whilst running on an already weakened ankle no doubt] was a medial or eversion ankle sprain.

Although I'm still taking ibuprofen the swelling has now 95% disappeared and the pain has gone but there is still minor discomfort when walking more than, say, 400m (0.25 mile) or up a long flight of stairs.  I'm also now doing calf stretches three times daily and will begin lunges in three or four days followed by bodyweight jump squats in seven to ten days (hopefully).

In the meantime I'm maintaining as much fitness as possible with upper body and core work and I've started cycling short distances and will increase the time on the bike slowly of the next few weeks as the ankle allows.  Not sure when I can start running yet but I imagine it will another week at least - and then only very short distances at first.

And on top of all that I returned from Northern Ireland with a cold.  Not happy.  Big toes still painful at times too.

Friday, 14 September 2012

injury ... university ... stats

Let me begin by getting one thing straight ... for a few days after a 24 hour race my head is all over the place (always has been) and I'm prone to making silly mistakes and doing a few stupid things [please don't mention DIY to Fay].  This time the big error was in the last post and, just to correct any errors, it is my RIGHT foot and ankle that is injured, not my left.

Yesterday was the first day since arriving home that I've been able to walk unaided - still painful and slow though.  And painfully slow !!!  I'll keep using ibuprofen for at least another week but ice and rest won't be so easy to come by after tomorrow.  Three toes are still strapped up - including both big toes.

Tomorrow is the day Keir goes to university.  So Fay and I are going (with Keir) to Coleraine in Northern Ireland for a few days to help with accommodation, shopping, etc.  We'll be back (without him) on Wednesday and I'm not going to post anything until else then at the very earliest.  I'll probably be too busy anyway.

Training for my next race begins then.  Cycling, stretching and weight training ... not sure about running, we'll see how things progress whilst I'm in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words on Facebook, this blog, by email and in person.  They're much appreciated and really have helped ease the disappointment of only 231 km.  Disappointed with 231 km - that sounds ridiculous but it is exactly how I felt.

At this moment in time I can't say whether they'll be a full race report.  They probably will be but it'll be a few weeks late as rehab and university are taking up all my spare time at the moment.

OK let me finish with a few stats of which I'm very proud.  I've now taken part in ten 24 hour races and what follows is a summary:

pb ... 238.286 km
average of best 2 performances ... 234.896 km
average of best 3 performances ... 233.711 km
average of best 4 performances ... 232.286 km
average of best 5 performances ... 230.381 km
average of best 6 performances ... 228.924 km
average of best 7 performances ... 227.752 km
average of best 8 performances ... 224.912 km
average of best 9 performances ... 222.439 km
average of all 10 performances ... 218.381 km

average of 2 most recent races ... 226.029 km
average of 3 most recent races ... 230.115 km
average of 4 most recent races ... 228.276 km
average of 5 most recent races ... 228.922 km
average of 6 most recent races ... 228.770 km
average of 7 most recent races ... 227.752 km
average of 8 most recent races ... 224.615 km
average of 9 most recent races ... 222.439 km

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

well, I made it (back home)

Just a brief race report for now ... more later, I'm sure.

The first ten hours went very well indeed and at that point I was still on my 245km schedule.  The eleventh hour was a struggle and my left shoulder began playing up so I went in for a massage which worked wonders.

The next few hours were also good and I managed to keep to my schedule well although it was inevitably getting harder by now.  Had another short shoulder massage at 15 hours before being told to get moving ... passed 100 miles a minute or two outside my pb but felt much stronger than when I set that time in 2010.

Towards the end of the 16th hour both my big toes began to feel badly bruised and within ten minutes or so I could barely put any weight on them.  So ... I asked the physio to sort me out.  And he worked a miracle here, both big toe nails had almost come off and both socks were quite badly blood stained.  At this point I was just on target for 245 km so I knew that a new pb was in the bag (my pb is 238.286 km).  I don't know what he did but within fifteen minutes of lying on his couch I went from having badly bruised feet to having feet that felt like new again.

Looking at the hourly splits now, it was obviously not quite as simple as that because I was slowly falling behind that schedule.  Then ... at 19 hours I suddenly had a feeling of pins and needles in the sole of my right foot - not a good sign I thought.  So, once again, physio Guy sorted me out (pointing out that the toe on my left foot was still bleeding).  For the next couple of hours I ran much as before but I was aware that it starting to become seriously hard work now.  I still expected to finish with more than 240k though.

But then, at 21 hours, tragedy struck.  My left ankle began to feel very weak and over the next lap or two got very bad indeed.  I knew this was serious so I had Guy sort me out again - lots of strapping and bruising.  And my toe was still bleeding.  When I mentioned that "I hope it isn't a stress fracture" he said:  "we'll worry about that after the race ... just get out there for three more hours."

And so I did.  The ankle was still weak but there wasn't much anyone could do about that but I decided to run for one minute then walk for one minutes, then two minutes of each, then three and so on until I reached the point which was most comfortable.  Within a couple of kilometres I had decided to go with four minutes running and two minutes walking.

Over the next hour or so I began to realise that 240k was now out or reach - I was walking two much.  I had no idea how far I had run but I didn't want to know either.  I was just trying to focus on blocking out those regular four minutes of pain.

After the race had finished Guy helped me hobble back to the crewing area where slowly everything was packed away.  For a few hours afterwards I simply didn't care about my final distance.  I knew I didn't have a pb and that was all I wanted to know.

Sleeping on Sunday night was not easy and when I finally got out of bed at 6.30am my ankle had swelled considerably and walking was difficult.  It only got worse as the day progressed.  During breakfast, the day after the race, Guy suggested I have an x-ray when I arrived home just in case ...

Getting home from Stansted was very difficult and painful and I'm deeply grateful to Eleanor Robinson for carrying my bag and physically helping me onto the Leeds train at Peterborough.

As I write this post I now know that my left ankle is just badly sprained and is probably a repetitive strain injury caused by the uneven surface on a 300m section of the circuit.  A tight left hand corner leading into that section didn't help either.  I'm not exactly happy though having to sit here with a crutch, an ice pack and some ibuprofen.

On a positive note ... I now know without doubt that I can run 150 miles (241.4 km) in 24 hours and I would have do so but for a sprained ankle.

The results for the UK runners were:

Pat Robbins ... 246.071 km
Steve Holyoak ... 240.377 km
Emily Gelder ... 238.875 km (3rd woman)
me ... 231.339 km
Debbie Martin-Consani ... 217.180 km
Sharon Law ... 210.404 km
John Pares ... 180.838 km
Karen Hathaway ... 179.956 km
Jen Salter ... 145.217 km

To finish I'd just like to thank EVERYONE who was there for Team UK (athletes and helpers) - they all made the weekend a memorable experience and I hope to get another chance next year at 150 miles.

Lots of photos here from Rory Coleman and from the IAU here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

last post

Well, that's it for now.  A short while ago I completed my last training session before leaving for Poland tomorrow.  It was 7 x 200m in 42.7s each with a 200m jog recovery.  Except that my time was about 40s each.

This morning was my last session of strength work - core mainly but also a bit of work on the legs.  Right now I feel better prepared than for any of my previous 24 hr races.  I'm also very aware that in long ultra races fitness is not necessarily a good indicator of performance ... there are so many other factors to consider such as nutrition, hydration, weather, crew, blisters, electrolytes, etc.  I believe I've got them all covered but if I've missed anything I'm sure some other member of team GB will be able to help out.

Between the strength work early this morning and the running this afternoon I spent the time making sure everything had been packed ... especially kit and food.  And then I did some more baking.  Fay and Keir's favourite desserts for the weekend.  Elderflower cheesecake and rose flavoured ice cream.  Shame it'll be all gone by the time I return.

This will be my last post before the race but you will be able to follow the action at and at

Thanks to everyone for wishing me well.  I'll write again next week.

Monday, 3 September 2012

making preparations

Spent much of today getting things organised for the trip to Poland at the end of the week.  We fly out on Thursday afternoon, race on Saturday and Sunday before flying home on Monday afternoon.  I'll be leaving home at 9.30am on Thursday and arrive back at about 7.30pm on Monday.

As well as getting all the kit, food and gear ready to pack tomorrow I also made a 1kg batch of flapjack.  I think homemade flapjack is ideal for ultras ... oats, golden syrup, sugar and whatever else you care to add.  I've added extra vitamins and minerals to this batch ... iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D

It doesn't taste too bad, it's definitely better than you would expect.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

what's going on here ...

This morning I took part in another 5k parkrun.  Hyde Park, Leeds again ... mainly because, if I'm not running to and/or from, it's the easiest one for me to get to.  The others in the locality are at Bradford Lister Park, Leeds Roundhay Park and Harrogate.

I was looking forward to this race as, unlike last week, I was racing without the effects of the previous day's hard training still in my legs.  As last week I was aiming for 18:20 for the 5k (3:40 per km).  After a few miles warm up jog I was ready to go and, although the first 400m or so are uphill, the first kilometre overall is downhill and so it is easy to get carried away and run too quickly.  My 1k split was 3:30 and I was a bit worried that it was too fast.

The second kilometre is slightly uphill and my time at this point was 7:13 (3:43 for that kilometre).  Pleased with that split as it showed I wasn't slowing too much after a quick start.  The third kilometre took me 3:40 (10:53 at 3k) and I was happily still 7 seconds ahead of schedule.  The third and fourth kilometres have a couple of very small hills to climb but overall are slightly downhill.

The fourth kilometre took me 3:44 but at this point I was more interested in my overall time which was 14:37 - 3 seconds ahead of schedule.  I knew now that I would have a very good chance of achieving my target as I had enough in reserve to run a marginally quicker final kilometre (even if it was slightly uphill).

That final kilometre took 3:37 which meant that my final time was 18:14


My second fastest ever 5k.  My pb is 17:53 on a hilly course in Bradford way back in 1998.
So that makes it an age category pb beating the 18:17 I ran just before the Perth 24 hr race in 2010.
The age graded time of 16:08 is also a pb.

At my age you're not supposed to be only 21 seconds adrift of your 5k pb ... especially when it was set 15 years ago.

You'll have to wait until next weekend for the conclusion to this story ... I feel sure it'll be a happy ending though.