Thursday, February 25, 2010


A few people told me that the main thing with this whole running malarkey is not to get injured: if you manage that, then you can get through the training and finish the race. I had envisaged possible disasters: muscle strains, twisted ankles; and had even sustained one or two injuries out of clumsiness.

What I hadn't predicted, though, is what I've got now. It's closer to depression than anything else, in that I'm just not up to running right now. I feel strong in my legs, and I could run if I went out there, but I feel like I am out of reserves. The problem is not hitting the road, it's getting out of bed. The fact that my work situation is complicated right now doesn't help much either. I'm taking a variety of supplements and vitamins to try and help me out of it, but the main thing is to rest. How long for, I don't know, but it's really getting me down.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Overdoing it again

I'm not running today. There, I said it. I was due to run about 15km, but when I got up this morning my heart raced as I stood up, and I'm feeling completely knackered and run down. The thing is, it's really hard not to run. Firstly there's the habit of the thing, but mainly is the devotion to my programme, and a concern that if I miss a few runs then I'm in trouble.

Anyway, my glands are up, I feel it in my legs just climbing the stairs, it takes ages for small cuts to heal, and I'm finished. In The Book it describes over-training in detail, and that's what I'm doing. Not good. The question is how long to rest for - what if I never start again?!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mass appeal

Running is a very time efficient form of exercise, and also cheap. In terms of getting out there, you need some old shorts and a T shirt, some shoes, and then you step out of your front door. For the time you spend exercising, the effect on your fitness is probably the highest - something like swimming is probably also quite good, but then you have to drive to the pool. Running has a low carbon footprint too.

As far as burning calories, it certainly seems to be working for me. Several people have commented that I have lost weight. Many of them even seem to be sincere, rather than just following hairdresser protocol. (You've been to the hairdresser - "your hair looks lovely!" You've taken up running - "you've lost weight!") I'm even starting to think I may have lost weight, although I don't own any scales so can't confirm it. About a month ago I did manage to lose 4kg in as many days, simply by using two differerent sets of scales in the right order.

The thing that is nagging at the back of my mind, though, is this: I didn't think I was that porky to begin with. If everyone is noticing that I'm losing weight, then how far had I let myself go? It's a sobering thought.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Here be dragons...

In Hermanus this weekend with Ange & Charles, and north of 21km for the first time ever - unknown territory. I had planned the whole thing with great precision, printed a map, and got all my energy gels in my Camel Pack thing, much to my host's amusement. I hardly got lost at all, although I did spend a fair bit of time fiddling with the various bits & pieces. My new earphones don't fit my ears very well, so they keep sliding out, especially when they're sweaty. The sound is also pretty poor, but that's a minor consideration - I'm not buying high end headphones to ruin them with sweat.

Speaking of sweat, I'm finding it a bit disconcerting how much I can produce (sorry!). My legs are slowly getting fitter, but I have the fittest sweat glands in the world. I come back from a run looking like I've already been in the shower. I think there may be something wrong with me. I'll have to google it - I'm sure it's a recognised condition.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bicycle race

The thing with running this time of year is that there are bikes everywhere. They're OK on the uphills, but if you're cruising along downhill and one flies past you it can scare the hell out of you - the buggers are practically silent. The reason they are all out there now is that it's only a few weeks until the Argus. That's a good day to stay inside if you don't like bikes, because there are about 35,000 of them sweating around the peninsula. The Argus is the biggest timed cycle race in the world, and this year the excitement is that Lance Armstrong is doing it, at least I think he is. Last year Matt Damon did it, as he was here filming Invictus.

Anyway, bikes everywhere. A couple of weeks ago I ran with Hout Bay Harriers, and one of their fitter runners was slipstreaming a cyclist going up Chapman's Peak Drive. Must have really irritated him. I've got into the habit of bumping into a friend of mine on the top of Chapman's Peak on a Sunday morning at about 7.30. He cycles there from Rondebosch, and I run there from home. He usually wins the race back down.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

9 minutes

It has occurred to me that I am making slow progress. OK, so my jeans are getting looser, and I'm able to run further, longer and faster, but not actually by all that much. Five days after my 40th birthday, on 11th October last year, I ran the Gun Run, a half marathon, in 1 hour 51 minutes. After that I began training in earnest, following my vaunted plan. In that eighteen weeks of training, I have run more than 700km, and spent about 65 hours on the road or the trails. I'm getting perilously close to working out an hourly rate of sposnorship here...

Anyway, after that 700km, and lots of sweaty socks, I ran another half marathon ten days ago in 1 hour 42 minutes. The improvement generated by all that running is therefore - wait for it .... 9 minutes. Is that it? It doesn't seem like a lot, and it translates to about 15 on my marathon prediction (that's 15 quid for you, Shug!), but it doesn't sound like much. It suggests to me that however hard I train, there is a firm limit as to how fast I can go. Maybe there's a sudden improvement just round the corner. I've still got about 600km of training to do before the big day, so maybe there's another few minutes to be gained. Maybe I should give up the beer. Let's not get silly here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hot hot hot

The guy who tried to kill me last Saturday has done two London marathons, about 12 years ago. He remembers that for one of them, the temperature was at a record high for the running of the race: 19 degrees Celcius. N-n-n-n-nineteen! That's my teeth chattering, not a Paul Hardcastle impression. I think 19 is probably about the coldest I have run in, and that only at about 6am - I don't think I will have finished a run in anything less than 20 degrees.

The Red Cross is sending me a running vest for the big day. I may need leggings and a jersey too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Back on the mountain

Up on the mountain running again tonight, and feeling much stronger. Saw a couople of interesting things. As the world knows, today is the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release from prison. There were police parked at strategic intervals along the road on my commute home, ready to stop the traffic for him when he left parliament. From the mountain above Kirstenbosch, I saw the aerobatic display team pootling around the skies over the southern suburbs. I think they were Pilatus trainers, for the airheads amongst you.

The other thing, which nearly caused a pile up as I stopped to examine it, was a wasp and a spider. The wasp was dragging a spider, which it had paralysed, across the path. It looked just like the photo at that link. I've seen one before, and it hid the spider, then flew around checking if it was visible before flying off. What the wasp does is to lay its eggs on the spider, and when it's babies are born, their first meal is the still alive spider. Ain't nature grand!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Overdoing it again

Once again, I seem to have pushed it a bit. I'm either over-training or under-sleeping, I'm not sure which - probably a bit of both. Having surpassed myself in the half marathon on Saturday, I've collapsed physically. It's taken me until today to feel like I've got the energy to run properly again, and I've got a persistent sore throat that doesn't seem to be going away. My left knee is also achy, but I'm not sure if that's a bruise, wear & tear, or some kind of referred pain from my back.

Anyway, I'm going to drag my sorry, sore legs out of the door later for a few kilometres to see how it goes. Looks like I may be missing a few targets this week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Half measures

Another weekend, another half marathon. This one was a lot flatter, conditions were beautiful, and I had a pacemaker. Mike was keen to break 100 minutes, and was busy at the start trying to convince me that I could too. I, on the other hand, had been feeling knackered all week - even more so than usual - and hadn't slept well for 2 or 3 nights. Anyway, Mike missed his 100 minutes by 3 seconds - although I pointed out to him it took 20 or 30 to cross the line - and I did it in 1:41.58, a new record for me. Since I'm fitter than I've ever been since I started running this kind of distance, I keep improving on my own times, which is quite satisfying.

I have still never run more than 21.1km, so the next few weeks is uncharted territory, but I'm starting to feel like it might be possible.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bruno's in!

My faithful running partner has got a place in the marathon too! He managed to get a place via the St John Ambulance. He's an easy sell to them, as he has run marathons before, is already in training, and is a marketing whizz, so will have no trouble raising the cash. His target is lower than mine, so it's a good job I've got a head start.

I'm not sure if we will be running together though. Apparently there is some form of seeding in the race based on your predicted finish time, so they put the faster funners at the front to minimise congestion. I don't remember putting a time on my application, but if I did it would have been about 4 hours. Bruno has put something more than that, so he'll just have to catch me up. More speed training - we need to hit the hills!

In other news, 7km tonight with no nasty incidents, or need for further Immodium. A relief to everyone I'm sure.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two bob bits

Can you believe it - I'm on a new project (woo!) and I've spent the first day at work feeling pretty ropey. Dodgy guts you see. Must have eaten something yesterday. Tonight I had a run planned: nearly 14km - over an hour of running. I felt great. At least, I felt great as far as the running was concerned. Then about half way round I started to feel not so great, and pretty glad that nobody was running behind me. Half way along the beach I had to stop to clench my buttocks. Luckily Dunes is at the end of the beach, so I dived in there and used their facilities. Since their tables are mostly outside, the toilets are easily accessible from outside, so I could get in and out with no embarassing explanations.

All the while this is going on, on the psychic iPod is Whole Lotta Love: "... I wanna be your backdoor man". Hmmm

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kloof Nek

Yesterday, stepping up the weekend long run, I did the Kloof Nek Classic half marathon, which took my weekly mileage (kilometreage?) over 60 for the first time, and my total since I started this whole thing over 600km. This is getting serious!

The run starts down at Camps Bay High School, then goes up (UP) to Kloof Nek, then up some more and along past the calbe station. It then turns for the first time, and you pass anyone who is behind you as you come back to Kloof Nek, then up again to the top of Signal Hill, and a great view of the new stadium at Greenpoint. You then turn again, back to Kloof Nek, and back down to Camps Bay High. It's a punishing course, and the last 4km or so, which is a steep down hill is probably much loved by Cape Town's knee specialists, as one friend remarked. My heel tends to get sore, as well as the knee, but hopefully it won't get worse as I increase the distance. Kudos to Bruno who was at the J&B Met (horserace / party) on Saturday, ran on Sunday morning, and played golf on Sunday afternoon. I think he went to bed early last night.

As for me, I ran 1:54, which isn't bad given the hills. I don't seem to be getting any faster, but I can run for longer, which is probably a good thing. At least I get today off.