In October 2020 my right knee got injured. I could not bend or straighten my right leg. I walked or attempted to run over the following months (Typical monthly mileage would be 120 – 160 Miles). I had knee surgery in February 2021 and at times I thought I would never run again. I failed couch to 5k twice but got through it the 3rd time:
October – 22 Miles
November – 11 Miles
December – 23 Miles
January – 7.5 Miles
February – 11.8 Miles
March – 3 Miles
April – 31 Miles
May – 30 Miles
June – 15 Miles
July – 16 Miles
August – 71 Miles
September – 65 Miles
October – 70 Miles
November – 103 Miles
December – 96 Miles
Just as I was starting to come back I caught covid in September, this was not too bad but it left me with a bad cough for 3 months which ended up with me hurting my ribs which stopped me from running for half of December, just as I was trying to start building up my miles to start marathon training. I completed the cross country season with Doncaster Athletic Club, I thought if I can get through cross country then I can consider myself fixed.
I did Run Every Day January and covered 200 miles with an 18 mile run and a 20 mile run in the month. I have not done many 200 mile months before.
February – 124 Miles with a 20 mile run and another 20 mile run.
March – 146 Miles, probably should have done another long run but just did shorter runs up to 12 miles.
Manchester – thaks to Alison for making all the transport and hotel arrangements, both were great.
Race day – got to the start in plenty of time, it was cold (1 or 2 degrees), dry, light wind. Good conditions really. Went with the second start for people aiming for 2:55 to 3:15.
Started too fast but at the time, the hope was there that I could hold the pace or if not, then put some time in the bank. Sub 3 would have been a dream and at half way I was on about 1:27. Its a flat marathon but the hills over the bridges killed me. Still running a decent pace until about 22 miles and sub 3 was achievable. But the pace started to slow, then really slow. I was hanging on from about 15 miles so pleased to have managed to keep the pace going for another 7 miles. The last 4 miles were terrible, my quads were killing me.
Finished with a time of 3:04:42, this should get me a Good For Age place at London Marathon 2023. I am thinking about the Yorkshire Marathon late 2022.
To have run 3:04:42 off 3 months of reasonable training is great. And other issue I have is I am 10kg heavier than before knee surgery.
The weekend was great, spotted loads of people I know from both my own club and other clubs around Doncaster and South Yorkshire.
Stopped in a nice hotel with the lovely Alison and we had some great food and drink over the weekend.
To get better – consistent running 40-45 miles a week, improve the strength of my quads and drop 10kg.
I raced to music, I have always been a big fan of drum and bass, and hard trance from the 90’s and below is my playlist for the Manchester Marathon:
You can expect traffic to be busy through Sheffield so allow extra time to get to the venue. The race starts at 6:45pm sharp.
Race Numbers – I assume I am collecting them on the night. I will be parked in the car park in my white van with the DAC Flag flying so you can find me. I am aiming to arrive before 6pm to collect the numbers. If I am not at my van then the numbers will be in a box under the van. I will write peoples initials on them. Do not fetch any money, we are not collecting money (£10) yet. Wear the number on the front of your vest.
From the A61, take the A57, pass the University and Weston Park. Turn left at the sign for Claremont Hospital. Continue on this road for 2.5 miles until you see the Sportsman pub on the left. Please do not park in the car park of the Sportsman. There is a large car public park on the left just beyond the Sportsman which can be used. Please do not park in the car park of the Three Merry Lads unless you are staying after the race for food and/or drinks. There are toilets there and there should be four portable toilets.
Ok, its about races but races always form an important part of my Marathon training. Parkruns not included but I usually race them, and I have done 4 so far this year.
First up we had the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships on 8 January. Very muddy underfoot, rained hard all day, ended up taking a tumble. Not a very good run if I am honest. Ended up running 7:51 pace. Its not the best preperation to stand around for 4 hours in the rain giving out race numbers to our runners. Doncaster AC were represented in most races.
Next up was the Frickley Frollick trail race on 23 January 2022.
A new off road race to the North of Doncaster. The lovely people at It’s Grim Up North running had various run options for us to pick from – 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, 20 miles, Marathon and Ultra Marathon. We had runners do the 5, 10 and 20 mile options. It was a multitap course, 1 lap being around 5 miles.
The race shared some of the Frickley Parkrun course so check that out if you have not been to this park before.
I decided to do the 20 mile option to get one of my long runs out of the way. I faided towards the end but it was fairly tough going, I finished in 1st place and ran an averate pace of 7:57 minute miles.
The start was on the restored Frickley pit tip, this was on good undulating trail paths, then you ran along Doncaster Road for a couple of hundred meters, took a sharp left and ran along a disused railway line. This ended and after running down a steep embankment we wan along a farm track, after couple of right turns the route ran through waterlogged fields, then along a railway line for while before re-joining Frickley pit tip and its lovely hills, then through a car park and back to the start / finish area.
The weather was good and other than the waterlogged fields, road shoes were fine.
On to the Northern Counties Championships on 29 January 2022. A much better race of 13.5km. I managed to run at 7 minute miles 🙂 The wind was mad, gale force for hours. It settled down a bit for the mens race thankfully. Another day of arriving at 9am and giving out race numbers until it was time for my race at 3pm.
The course was quite runable and undulating, my sort of cross country racing.
On to the roads for a bit… The Scunthorpe Run Your Heart Out Valentines 10K on 13 February 2022.
Really wanted to break 40 minutes to get a benchmark of my fitness for Manchester Marathon. I know this is key to breaking 3 hours. Get the long steady runs in but race some races to help the speed endurance.
Conditions were ok other than the wind, although this was more of a cross wind for most of the race. Still slows you down a bit.
Mile splits were:
So just under 39 minutes at the finish.
And finally for now, the Norton 9 Mile road race. Best conditions for years, dry, no ice, no wind other than a breeze. As with all these races its great to see my team mates and training partners from Doncaster AC as will as other clubs.
Set out to try to run 6:30’s. Should this have failed, my second target was to run at my target marathon pace 6:50’s.
First 2 miles were quick, thats not unusual with fresh legs. Miles 3 and 4 were a bit of a drag. Had a drink at around mile 4 and hit the hill in mile 5 quite hard, felt ok. Come mile 6 I was starting to feel strong and I powered up the second hill. Faided a bit in mile 9, which was down hill but this was still my fastest mile in the race.
Delighted to finish with 6:29 min miles and a time of 58:34.
For my groups we will complete the following cycle over the winter months:
Week 1 – Town Fields Time Trial – more info here – Meet at the sports club on South Parade
Week 2 – Carr Hill loop – Meet at the track
1 mile easy, then 4 miles hard including going up Carr Hill, then 1 mile easy.
Week 3 – Cantley Lane > Warning Tongue Lane > Cantley Traffic Lights – Meet at the track
1 and a bit miles easy to Bawtry Road, then run hard along Bawtry Road > Cantley Lane > Warning Tongue Lane and back along Bawtry Road, finishing at Cantley Traffic Lights. Then jog back to track. Approx 9.6km of hard effort. Short cuts available check the map.
Week 4 – Leger Way > Thorne Road > Town Moor Avenue > Racecourse Roundabout – Meet at the track
Warm up to Racecourse Roundabout, then hard up Leger Way > Back along Thorne Road (near parkrun), and down Town Moor Avenue finishing at Racecourse Roundabout. BAout 4 miles of hard effort. Jog back to club.
Virtual Event this season – we are not timing or marshalling the route
The course is around the Town Fields as per normal and the standard distance is 3 laps (4.8 miles). Runners are invited to run the course anytime they like, starting in October through till March 2021. Runners will need to self time.
Each time you run the course please use this form to submit your time and a monthly report will be produced. Run it as many times as you like. You might want to run it on a club night, its up to you. You can start and finish at any point on the course, but the start and finish must be in the same place. You can run either clockwise or anticlockwise.
All welcome, it is not an official event just a training run so it is run at peoples own risk. We do have younger people taking part who may do 1, 2 or 3 laps. It is up to parents to decide if children should take part.
As a club, through lockdown we have taken part in many excellent virtual challenges. These have been a great success from the and all abilities took part which is what its all about. It kept us motivated and active. We have done virtual miles up to half marathon and then peaking at the 30km Round Donny Run.
Anyway, the Sheffield Run, Jump and Throw series came to Doncaster on 20 August 2020 so a chance to do some real racing. I entered the 800m with the aim of running a PB, which at the time was 2:30. I was in heat 6 out of 7, the fastest heat being heat 1.
The plan was to go with the flow and kick in the last 200m, I was twice the age of the other runners in race 6. The gun fired and a couple of the other runners were fast. I got slightly carried away at first but soon slowed down as you can see on the below graph. I hit 200m in 3rd place and moved in to second. At about 450m I was chasing 1st place down and took the lead at 500m. I felt ok and cruised in to the last 100m, I could hear 2nd place chasing me down and I accelerated slightly just doing enough to take 1st place in 2:24.
This track and field meeting was a great success and the Sheffield Run, Jump and Throw series returned to Doncaster on 20 September 2020 and this time it was a toss up between having another crack at the 800m or getting a time for the 1500m. I had not got a time for the 1500m since 2018 which was 4:51. So the 1500m it was.
This time I had some Masters athletes to run against as well as lots of young people.
I had a chat with Chris Ireland, we would race together and he would take the 1st 400m and I would take the 2nd 400m. We started at the back, they young people were off at serious pace. At 150m which you can see on the below graph, Chris surged from the back to 2nd and I followed him. At 400m I passed Chris which took some effort and paced the second 400m, we went through 800m in around 2:29. Chris then took me and I tired, I tried to chase him down and my pace increased slightly in the last 100m but Chris beat me by just over a second. I finished with 4:51 which I am pleased with. Slightly quicker would have been better 🙂 Thank you to Peter Badger for filming the race, its interesting to see where a runners strengths and weakenesses are 🙂
So 2 great events at our home, Doncaster AC. Our volenteers set up the site and the event was run by Sheffield Run Jumps and Throws.
I am always modifying my training to fit in with my life and goals. No one knows me like me and I take the best bits that I see / learn from other people and put it all together in to a package for me. I mainly use HR training to run slow, running slow is harder than running fast in terms of mental discipline.
My resting HR averages 47bpm.
My maximum HR is around 180bpm (might be lower tbh).
Around 8 weeks ago my right hip started giving me pain, bit that much during running but after a run and when sleeping on that side it hurt. Running on consecutive days really set it off, but it eases right off if I don’t do anything. It does not usually hurt that much, just an annoyance, but sometimes it is quite painful.
I have tried self massage, icing, anti inflamms and some exercises. Don’t feel it is getting any better or worse.
Strategy from today:
Ice 4 times a day for 20 minutes
Take anti inflamms more regularry
Self massage the sift tissue above and below the bone where it hurts.
Stretch by laying down, pulling the knee into the chest and then over to the opposite shoulder. And Kneeling lunge stretches. Several times a day, hold for 20 seconds.
I got these in September 2019. Those that know me know I am always looking for a bargain and I could not believe my luck with these.
Lots of my running friends were telling me how good these were, people that had previously done most of their running in Asics, Mizuno, On’s etc. I had only tried Nike shoes once before and I did not want to pay £130+ to find I did not like them.
I was browsing ebay one day and I found someone selling them for £30 (delivered), advertised as brand new with all sizes available and lots of colours. Why I ordered white I will never know….
The catches were, they did not come in a box and I had to order them from a ebay seller in China. So I ordered a pair, got a tracking number and followed them across the world to Doncaster, they arrived after about 10 days. I put them on and they were too small, I was gutted, I had not ordered UK size 10, I had ordered US size 10. So I sold these to Malc at running club for £30 and I ordered two more pairs of US size 11.
After a few days the two pairs arrived and I put one pair away and started running in the cheapest running shoe I had ever owned. Were they genuine Nike or a copy? Would they fall to bits? Would they injure me?
They are the best running shoes I have ever owned, I do not track the mileage I run in shoes, I just run in them until they wear out and the first pair is still feeling good to run in. The grip / rubber has warn out on the sole but until bits start falling off I will keep going, If I had to guess I would say I have done between 400 and 500 miles in them, and many races. They are good on road and off road.
The shoes seam to encourage you to run fast, so I would wear something else for recovery runs now like Mizuno or On’s. I am not sure if I would do a full marathon in them or if I would stick to Mizuno, I probably would give them a try though.
Unfortunately the seller is no longer on ebay, I would have got another 5 pairs if I could.
I am a total convert to Nike now after being a Mizuno runner for 16 years, I do still run in other shoe brands but if I want to feel like putting a great shoe on for a run, I pick these. I have not yet tried the 4% or newer carbon plate shoes.
I did recently pick up some Pegasus 36 shoes for £52 delivered, and these feel good. So a years worth of running shoes (three pairs) cost me around £112.
So I am in the rather unique place to have a pair of heavily warn shoes V brand new unworn shoes to compare.
Other bands do exist such as Suunto and Polar and they make some great looking watches, but I have only ever owned Garmin watches so I am only able to write about these. Once you have used a particular brand you get locked in to their ecosystem much like the Android and Apple ecosystem and it is difficult to change if you want to keep all your historical data and future data in one place. I will write about Garmin Connect another day.
As a minimum you need a sports watch to be able to tell you how far you have run, how fast you are currently running, time elapsed and average pace. Anything else is a bonus and even the most basic sports watches will tell you a lot more.
Sports watches have to be durable and able to take hot, cold, wet weather, you might even go swimming with it on if it is waterproof. If you are in to triathlon then get a tri watch. Ultra runners need a watch that offers great battery life and the option to recharge on the run as well as mapping ideally. Runners will not go wrong with the Forerunner watches, they are brilliant. The vivoactive watches probably offer the best value for multisport and general lifestyle.
My first Garmin watch was the Forerunner 205 which I purchased on 31 July 2007 for £105 from Amazon. At the time just about everyone had this or the 305 which was red, the 305 was slightly more advanced which allowed the user to connect a Heart Rate Monitor.
The watch was very bulky but you did not really notice it, it had very similar functionality to what we have in today’s watches but without the refinement and you would not wear it to the pub.
It had to be connected to a computer using a cradle and wire, this could be very hit and miss and the contacts required frequent cleaning to get rid of sweet and dirt. You connected it to transfer the data to the Garmin website, and you could sync the Garmin website to transfer the data to 3rd party websites such as Fetch Everyone which I still use today. This was the equivalent of Strava up until around 2013 when Strava realised they should support runners a bit more.
The 205 allowed runners to view up to 4 data screens, and as you can see, the data was easily readable, it auto lapped every mile and could be programmed to do interval training or to show a virtual runner. The GPS accuracy was as good as what we have today, possibly even better. Using the watch became second nature, you could use it without looking at it, you just remembered where the buttons were. I think Garmin have always been good at making products with easy usability. I used it for five years (in all weather) before I decided to upgrade, it was still working fine and I ended up giving it away to Carl Ryde.
My second Garmin watch was the 410 which I purchased on 16 May 2012 for £140 from Amazon. My previous watch was still working well but I wanted to try a watch that looked less bulky and it came with a heart rate monitor chest strap. The watch had 2 buttons and a touch screen, this compared with the 205 which I think had 7 buttons.
The technology was not quite ready for the reduction in size, the screen became less easy to read, cluttered, low resolution and could show less data. You could set the screen to scroll between screens but that was no good for me, I wanted to see the data I needed without waiting for it to scroll.
The 410 was wireless for the transfer of data, this used a protocol called ANT+, Bluetooth was not ready for Garmin watches. You had to plug in a USB stick that looked like a memory stick which was a bit hit and miss. I was wanting to be able to upload data without having to use computer and you could do this with a USB OTG cable, the ANT stick and an Andoid phone running some dodgy software. Not an easy solution but it worked sometimes.
To charge the watch Garmin developed a new cradle but again, this was not great and the contacts required regular cleaning.
The touch screen could be temperamental, and I remember when fell racing on a very wet night at Castleton the screen went mad.
I kept the watch until around March 2015, the watch was still going fine and it had got me through my first 3 marathons but I had seen a new watch that looked like a watch you could wear as a normal watch all the time so i decided to upgrade. We actually had 2, 405 watches (Rose also had one) and these were given away to Wayne Martison and Joe Wade and I am happy to see they are both still going strong.
I left the Forerunner series when I got my third Garmin watch, the Fenix 3 from Gooutdoors (the day it was released) for £400. The first 50 people to get this watch got a free backpack worth over £50 which is a great piece of kit. At first I thought the watch was amazing but not for long.
I had a nightmare with the watch, Garmin had moved to a MTK GPS chip from some other manufacturer. I am not sure if this was the cause of the errors I kept getting but the GPS tracks were not as accurate, in addition sometimes when I ran past mobile phone masts my Garmin would teleport me a few hundred meters away and then back, which had the result of crazy inaccurate data. I had expected better from a £400 investment.
I contacted Garmin and after a couple of emails they agreed to replace it. Brilliant service from Garmin but i was dismayed to see the new watch did exactly the same. I probably persevered with it for 6 months, waiting for software updates etc but they did not fix it. I reached out to Garmin again, and they agreed to replace it again. I was pleased to find my 3rd Fenix 3 worked well and did not give me GPS errors, finally I could enjoy the watch. I had been running with my 410 and Fenix 3 at the same time as I could rely on the data from the 410. I was very pleased that Garmin had replaced the watch, I can not fault their customer service.
The watch connected to by phone via bluetooth, and it connected to my home network. Brilliant. I could install different watch faces, different data screens and widgets to get weather forecast and control music on my phone. The watched tracked my activity levels, it had a step counter, it knew when I went up stairs, it tracked my sleep. I never took it off. The battery was incredible, I could get a week out of it at a time, the screen was good and colour.
No question, it is a big watch but it never bothered me when running. It does not have an optical HR sensor, the Fenix 3HR came later.
I was starting to do ultra races and I was able to produce my own GPX routes and get them on the screen for me to navigate.
Garmin had designed another cradle for the watch, mainly used for charging but also for data transfer to a PC. The designs were getting better and you could wear the cradle whilst running to charge the watch which I did.
I did feel the watch could have had a better processor in it, at times it was quite slow particularly when using it on long navigation races. With regards to Garmin putting out software updates, I still get them today, not bad for a 5 year old watch.
It died when I went open water swimming, it was ok in the water but when I got out the watch started randomly switching between screens and the buttons stopped working. I was gutted and took the watch to bits to try to see if I could dry it out. The buttons did not start working again unfortunately.
Fenix 5s plus
My fourth Garmin watch was the Fenix 5S plus from CeX for £299. I had been without a garmin for a couple of weeks and after a bit of research I decided to stick with the Fenix series. I had always wanted a watch that had internal memory for the storage of music. The watch was used but condition looked good.
It had the same button layout as the Fenix 3 and it was operated in a very similar method so I had no problem getting use to it. It has a more intuitive menu system, better screen and optical HR sensor.
I went for my first run with the watch and noticed one of the data screens showed a map, I was blown away, I have not loaded any maps on to the watch but as you can see below the detail of mapping is brilliant.
Unfortunately the battery is quite poor, I need to charge it every 2 or 3 days and if I use Bluetooth earphones with it the battery drains very quickly, not sure if I would get 3 hours out of a full charge. It may be that the watch needs a replacement battery and I will change it at some point if I can find a new one.
I am very pleased to see Garmin have adopted a standard charging cable for their watches now, hopefully they will stick with it, it seams to work well.
Garmin make amazing watches although I do think the high end prices are getting a bit silly. You do occasionally find amazing discounts so keep your eyes open.
Fenix 3 resurrection
After trying to fix the Fenix 3 many times over the last 6 months I did it! I had been taking it to bits and spraying the switches with contact cleaner. This would get them working again for a day or two before they packed in working again. As a last ditch attempt I just sprayed some standard WD 40 on the switches and 2 weeks later the watch seems to be working fine.
The family of Garmin watches
From left to right – Fenix 5S Plus, Forerunner 245 Music (daughters), Vivoactive 3 (Roses) and the Fenix 3.