Running

running-stretches1

Martin Lewis Run Challenge Quarter 1 – Running Stretches

Way back in January, I signed up to the Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis 2014 Run Challenge and made a pledge to run 700 km in 2014. Here we are at the end of the first quarter and I have currently run 97 miles (156k) which is 22% towards my target for the year.

Although I’m slightly off the pace due to a niggling pain just below my left calf, hopefully as the nice weather arrives, I can catchup over the next few months. It seems that this pain below my calf is going to be caused by foolishly ignoring the 2 golden rules by increasing my mileage too soon and by neglecting stretching.

If I’m completely honest, I don’t think I have ever stretched properly so after picking up a slight injury, it’s probably about time that I started to take things a little more seriously and anything that can help improve your flexibility and prevent injury can’t be all bad.

So for anyone who is looking for what stretches to perform after a run and help keep yourself injury free, have a look at the images below.

stretches (more…)

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis 2014 Run Challenge 9% Complete

With no races booked and a typical gloomy weather outlook for the next few months, I signed up to the Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis 2014 Run Challenge and have a target of running for 700 km in 2014.

This seems a little daunting at the moment but it’s just the motivation I need to make me go for  a quick run when I’m feeling quite lazy and just want to sit eating biscuits slumped in my armchair watching TV or playing games.

With January out of the way, I am slightly ahead of my target and Run Keeper tells me that 9% of my goal has been achieved. There might be many hours and miles of running ahead but seeing it written down makes me realise that I might just be able to achieve this target if I keep at this running malarkey.

Luckily I am currently injury free, but my shins are quite sensitive to touch so not sure if I need to be googling some stretches to avoid picking up pesky shin splints but apart from that everything is looking good at the moment and it’s been a great start to my running year in 2014

Zombies-Run

Zombies, Run! How To Motivate Yourself Past The Running Slump

As a self-confessed lazy male that would much sooner spend my spare time sat in my living room in a pair of shorts with the heating turned up whilst I play on my games console, the motivation for going out for a run will always be somewhat of a struggle in a cold dark January.

You wake up its dark, you finish work its dark and the weather seems t consist of being cold, wet and windy and you already know every lyric to every song on your running playlist so without any races booked, what could possibly motivate this ageing gamer to keep on running?

We all know the old clichés that you need to eat less and move more and that running is 99% mental/1% physical so how can we fool the mind into running in a horrible grim British winter?

Step forward the app smartphone app called Zombies, Run!  Which allows you to enter the post-apocalyptic world of Zombies and start running for your life! The story plays out through your headphones, with characters talking directly to you and directing you on your missions. Collect supplies for the other survivors as you run and use them to upgrade your base when you’re back home.

Run through your local high street from Zombies!

You simply attach your running playlist, and then start up the app on your phone as you go for a run, this is where things get interesting because you will hear at intervals in your earphones that zombies are getting closer and the only way to evade them is to run faster. Despite the fact you are running in a busy street, you are bloody running from zombies so somehow find yourself lost in the moment and look like you are running for your life!

The good news is that you are now running faster than your average pace and enjoying it, but the bad news is that to the outside world you look like an absolute nutter.

Being labelled a nutter doesn’t bother me too much and after setting myself a 700K running target for 2014, I need all the help I can get. The fact it has helped me reach 14 runs in January where I usually only manage a handful speaks volumes.

So if you are struggling for motivation after muttering the infamous words “new year, new me” don’t give up, simply try running away from zombies…

Run 700km in 2014 Challenge 2% complete

After feeling slow and sluggish after Christmas, it seemed a great idea to sign up to the Martin Lewis 2014 run challenge.

Its no secret that I am not and never will be an athlete of any form, but if I can put on a pair of trainers and listen to some music whilst having a run in the great outdoors after being couped up in an office with no windows all day then I’m a happy man.

I joined the Money Saving Expert with a 434 mile (700km) target for the year and hoped it would be the kick up the are I need to keep me running.

However Martin Lewis ended up with a ankle in plaster followed by gout so has fallen at the first hurdle, which had left me thinking, what have I signed up to?

A quick breakdown revealed its only 1.2 miles a day, which is only 8.2 miles a week. So as long as I remain consistent with a steady 8-10 miles a week, it should be much easier than I first thought.

Although some simple maths was enough to trick my mind into thinking this will be a walk in the park, a quick look on my goal in run keeper makes very grim reading.

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The road is long….

Despite being on target, seeing 2℅ completed is somewhat depressing and shows just how much I have to do but I’m confident that being able to look back on this journey will make it all worth while.

If I can keep this up then I won’t feel too bad about eating too many biscuits and sat in my chair playing on my Xbox

Martin Lewis Running Challenge 2014 – Target Distance 700km

Back in March 2012, I stepped on to the bathroom scales and discovered that after a lifetime of being the “skinny guy” it seemed I was now 15.5 stone and more like the fat guy and realised it was time to do something about my predicament.

Sure my biggest weaknesses in life are beer, chocolate, biscuits and cakes, but more worryingly I couldn’t even run for a bus, so what could I do and where do I start? Especially as I have a distinct hatred for gym culture.

However after reading about a new iPhone app called “Get Running” that promised to turn you from a couch potato to running 5k in 8 weeks, I thought what the hell of I got to lose? At the start of this new regime I could not run for longer than 30 seconds but by the end, I was running over 5k comfortably so no matter how unfit you are, I am living proof that it works.

For me the beauty of running, is it allows me to listen to combine my main interests of music and photography and best of all, all you need is a pair of trainers, no expensive hippy bullshit, just good old fashioned eat less and move more.

Nearly two years on and I am still amazed that I have completed two half marathons and my biggest issue now is staying motivated, so I have signed up to the Martin Lewis How Far Can You Run in 2014 challenge hoping this will keep me running

My first ever pair of running shoes were a pair of Saucony Pro Grid Ignition 2 for £25, and these will always have a special place in my heart but after 500 miles on the road they have seen better days so have purchased a new pair of Saucony Power Grid Triumph 9 that were £99 on the high street but found for £55 online.

Designed with a 8mm heel-to-toe offset that maximizes muscle power by allowing for a more efficient stride and apparently ideal for the heavier neutral runner, they will take a little getting used to but I will let you know how I get on.

I still find it hard to believe that this self confessed couch potato has now notched up 674 miles or over 1,000 kilometres since I first started this running malarkey nearly 2 years ago but hopefully I can add to these miles in 2014.

2012 Running Total 2013 Running Total
296.5 Miles (476km) 378 Miles (608km)
SAUCONY Power Grid Triumph 9 Men's Running Shoes

I will be running in the lower heeled SAUCONY Power Grid Triumph 9 for 2014…

It’s going to be tough but I will also aim for the Martin Lewis target of running a total of 434 miles (700km) in 2014. I am hoping that signing up to this challenge will be just what I need to keep me motivated for another 12 months.

So after nearly 2 years of this running malarkey, I have once again done the easy part by talking the talk and saying “I will will run for over 400 miles in 2014″ but I guess its time to stop talking about it and do some running, so I’m off to do just that.

Birmingham Half Marathon Round 2

This year’s Great Birmingham Run had a record breaking 20,000 make Birmingham’s half marathon a record breaker on Sunday 21st October.

The Great Birmingham Run 2013, formerly known as Birmingham half marathon, was started by Walsall golden girl Ellie Simmonds, so I went along for my 2nd half marathon hoping to beat last years’ time of 2 hours and 17 minutes as I’m now armed with a little more experience and slightly faster stats.

On a downside, I probably haven’t run enough miles as I have been mainly running 5-8 miles so expected dig deep and let my heart to push me over the finish line.

It turns out this was my single biggest mistake, as soon as I hit the 10 mile mark and the infamous uphill section of the half marathon, I experienced my first ever bout of crippling cramp which was so bad, I simply could not even walk and thought I would have to exit the race.

I have heard tales from people locking up with cramp but I can honestly say I have never felt pain like it, but I hobbled foe a few minutes to the top of the hill and it was time to make the choice that you don’t get too often in life as race helpers offered Jelly Babies and Vaseline for sore nipples, I opted for jelly babies for that extra boost.

I found that I could run for 2-3 minutes before the cramp began to niggle again, but knew if I took it steady, I will make it past the finish line. In hindsight, drinking Jack Daniels the night before the race combined with not running longer than 10 miles in training was never going to end in a good way, but I remembered the old mantra of running being 99% mental and 1% physical and somehow finished with a time of 02:18 and in 10388th place out of 20,000 runners.

Neil

Slow and steady might not win the race, but despite my setbacks, my time was only 1 minute slower than last year and finishing around the halfway mark is still a million miles better than 3 years ago when I couldn’t even run for a bus.

I may never be an athlete but as the old saying goes “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone sitting on the couch

My next challenge will be to stay motivated through the harsh winter weather to maintain enough fitness to start again in spring.

The plan is to try and keep up  a couple of 3-5 mile runs a week, but this will be much harder as it sounds. When the central heating gets turned up, the comfort eating begins and the next generation of consoles arrive in the shops things could get tricky but watch this space…

 

The Road Ahead…

After spending months waiting for the snow to disappear, so I could sneak in a cheeky 3 mile run to maintain my fitness, I’m happy to say that the never ending winter is finally just a distant memory and it’s time to start building up a few miles on the road again.

It’s hard to believe that it’s just over a year since my first run but the Ronhill Tracksters that I have become quite attached to are showing some wear and tear, in fact two holes have appeared on the errm under carriage so maybe it’s time I reinvested in some new kit.

My faithful he Saucony Pro Grid Ignition 2 Running Trainers are also in need of being retired to gardening and dog walking duty but to be honest, this is what I love about running. The fact you can throw on some old clothes and just hit the road, there is something quite poetic and therapeutic about it all.

The last two months has seen me gradually get back up to 9-10 runs a month with an approximate monthly mile count of around 30-35 miles. With the old motto of “Running is 90% mental, the rest is physical” in my head, I realise that I need something to aim for again to keep me running and on the healthier path.
I simply don’t have the discipline or time to commit to a full marathon, a four hour training run several times a week scares the hell out of me, so intend to keep things real by aiming for the Birmingham Half Marathon again in October.

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Over 56,000 calories bite the dust…

So I have set myself a realistic target of running 40 miles a month for May/June and if this goes to plan, then I will sign up the half marathon and maybe even the Black Country Half Marathon too but there’s a fair amount of work to do until I commit to anything like that.

A healthy runner beats an injured runner every time they say, and the sound advice over at Runners World “To avoid injury when upping your mileage, you need to take it slow and allow your body time to adapt to the increased workload. In general, you can add a mile for every run you do per week, provided you then run at least two weeks at the new level before advancing again. If you run six times a week, for example, you can up your weekly mileage by six miles. Then stay at that higher level for two weeks before adding another six.”

With this in mind, I will be slowly building the miles over the next few months and try to avoid any injuries to stop my over enthusiastic self from doing too much too soon which is ultimately the cause of most problems. This is one lesson I learned the hard way last year.

Who would have thought that one mobile app called “Get Running” could have had such an impact on this beer swilling, junk food eating gamer. Enough of my ramblings, I’m just going out for a run…

Get Running: Couch to 5K – One Year Later

Where does the time go? Exactly 12 months ago, I was measured for my wedding suit only to be told I was a 38” waist which was just the kick up the arse I needed to take immediate action. Luckily I was able to combine my love of the great outdoors and listening to music to try and get to grips with running.

I quite literally started out with an old pair of trainers, a Spotify running play list and the Get Running C25K App. It was bloody hard work and was horrified to discover that I couldn’t run for more than a couple of minutes without gasping for breath. However the app gradually builds you up with a combination of walking and running until it finally installs the running bug deep into your soul and within 2 months I was running for 3 miles without any problems at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no athlete and never will be, but by making a few adjustments I was able to lose 2 stone, squeeze back into a 34” waist and even completed the Birmingham Half Marathon but the craziest part of all of this and I can’t believe that I am writing this down but I actually love it!

It is very easy to see why they call it the running bug because if I am stressed out after a bad day at work, had a heavy night on the beer or over indulged on food, a quick 30 minute run makes me feel me so much better and clears my head. The weird thing is when the snow settles, I’m actually gutted about not being able to get out there and I am the least likely person to ever say that.

#c25k

So a year on and my biggest battle is motivation but looking at my runkeeper, I have enjoyed over 100 runs, ran for over 370 miles and burnt a whopping 56,000 calories. So if you are reading this thinking of starting out, if a self confessed gaming couch potato like me can do it then anyone can.

You don’t need fancy clothes, £100 trainers or expensive gym memberships; it’s just you and the open road. My best advice to you all is ALWAYS remember the old adage of “Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical.” Despite this advice, people tend to spend much more time preparing physically than they do mentally. It really is that simple.

As for myself, its time to look at booking a race on the horizon to keep me motivated and something to aim and push for, although I completed the half marathon in October it seems a lifetime ago and running for more than 5 miles fills me with dread, but once again its all about the very powerful contraption in your head. The mind is a very powerful tool that just requires a few Jedi mind tricks to trick it into getting your arse in gear.

Enough of my ramblings, spring is officially here, so if you were thinking of starting to run, now is the perfect time to start.

 

 

Gait Assessment – The Search For New Running Shoes

gaitDespite my previous post being a little cynical towards gait analysis, I was given a little push by fate to maybe reconsider my preconceptions. After a 4 mile run, I was suddenly crippled with a pain on the outside of my left knee, which left me hobbling for a few days.

As I shuffled past the Up & Running shop in Birmingham, there was a poster advertising “Free Gait Assessment and Physio Advice” so after nearly a year of running, it seemed like I was experiencing a push in the direction of some good old fashioned professional advice.

After my old school wet feet test revealed that I am a “normal pronator”, I was interested to see what the latest technology would say about my running style and confirm exactly what shoes I should be running in.

I hopped onto the treadmill for the first time in my life, and it felt quite strange as I have only ever run in the great outdoors. After only a few minutes I was shown my running style on camera and it appears that I am a “neutral runner” which should make life quite easy when choosing new shoes.

Typically the store would charge for the use of the gait analysis service if you do not purchase a pair of shoes from them, so I was glad that I visited on their open day because £115 for a pair is a little out of my price range.

There is a balance to be made here and I think it is important to use a little common sense, it’s sensible to get your gait checked to determine how you run and what shoes you should run in. (more…)

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Running: Take the Wet Feet Test and Learn Your Foot Type

Just under a year ago, I purchased my first ever pair of running shoes that were reduced from £65 down to a very modest £20. The Saucony Pro Grid Ignition 2 Running Trainers have now notched up over 400 miles of running and many miles of walking over the Olympic Park in the summer of 2012 so maybe the time has come for them to be relegated for walks or very wet days

In a weird sort of way, I have become quite attached to these trainers, but after displaying a few signs of wear and tear and I have picked up a few little twinges so maybe it is time to look for my next pair of shoes that will be hitting the streets for my next 500 miles.

Maybe its time to visit a local running shop for some gait analysis to see exactly what kind of running shoes I need, but I have a cynical side that thinks running on a treadmill in a shop, which is completely different to running in the street is not really analysis at all but it’s actually an opportunity for a sales pitch for an overpriced running shoe that you will be tempted to Google when you get home only to find it was £30 cheaper on-line or along. (more…)