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I was recently told that my banter had plumbed to hitherto unknown depths of mediocrity. I replied explaining that I had, in fact, once had such good banter that I was a league of my own, but I got relegated. My mate, agreed – to the Vauxhall Conference League. Ouch.

I think that pretty sums up this week’s endeavours in the gym. I have been to the ‘box’ as those in the know call it (it’s still a gym to me, though) 5 times since Sunday, and have had some quite good results, breaking Personal Bests or PBs as ‘crossfitters’ (making up words left, right, and centre here) call them.

The first was smashing a Clean by 15kg – that was Sunday. This bought much cheer, and made the transition into getting back in the ring easier after two weeks off.

Monday welcomed in a decent enough WoD (of Workout of the Day – something that is an integral part of each gym session), and I was quite happy with my times. The weight session had been focused on the Overhead Squat, something that I am not so good at, so I made a bit of progress there too – not a PB, but certainly not a waste of time, either!

As with success, so comes failure, and I failed at reaching a previous PB of 150kg in the Deadlift on Tuesday. This is quite agonising as you know you can do it, and yet also know that you can no longer lift the same weight. I was pretty bummed as I’d reckoned on PB-ing it as well.

Wednesday saw the Romanian Deadlift, but with a strict 3 reps of 10 sets, so there wasn’t much scope for a PB there. However, we also worked on the Press and I got my PB up to 59kg – again, agonisingly close to 60kg, which would have been a far nicer number for completeness’ sake, but I’m more than happy with this as I have been trying to get above my previous PB of 56.5kg for over a month now, and I sailed through!

Thursday, I was pretty tired not having been to the gym for a while now, and so took the day off. This was pretty cool and allowed me to focus on some work (professional) that I needed to finish up. It also provided a bit of scope and distance, and I figured that perhaps I was a bit fatigued, as I wasn’t quite recuperating as fast as I normally do.

And finally, this morning. I was psyched to be there (7am), however it shortly became apart that I was in a grouchy non-competitive, non-energised mood. Which sucked. Big. Time. I am not usually like that as a person, and don’t like to feel that way. That being said I had a good enough result with the Power Press - getting a PB of 72kg (with a bit left in the tank). By the time the WoD came around I was toast and made it through it begrudgingly and in a woeful time.

I guess that’s the nature of the beast, though, and I’ll focus next week on getting out of the relegation zone, and back to the Premiership. But for now, I’ll leave you with the Dude’s compadre, “Sometimes you eat the bar, and, much obliged, sometime the bar, well, she eats you

*part of the title may have no bearing on actual events.

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My wife is currently working in Vienna, Austria, at the NPT PrepCom for a project called ‘Reaching Critical Will‘. This has nothing to do with me or my ersatz ‘bamboobike’, and it means that I am also in beautiful Vienna looking after our daughter.

I hadn’t realised I had got my mojo back until earlier this past week, when I went out for a run. In terms of distance and time it was relatively ‘short’ at 50 minutes and around 9-10km. This is nothing like as long as the insane long-runs I’d been doing pre-marathon last year, nor as long as a random 21km I did the other week, but it was one of those monumental runs where everything just falls into place:

Light, airy steps, quick fore/mid-foot falls, and felt like I could go all day.

So after about half an hour, I decided to up the ante and mix-in some fartleks: 30, 60, 90, 120, 120, 90, 60, and 30 seconds with 60 second jogging ‘breaks’ in between them. Since then I have run two half hour negative splits – first time I have tried this, but a really good way to stay focused for a fast finish.

Culminating in today: fastest 5km ever,  25:15.3!

I put this down in large part to Crossfit, a fitness regime that I started in February. Furthermore, this is reawakening my competitive spirit, and I have found myself, running notwithstanding, doing series of skipping (1000 yesterday), push-ups (100 today, 80 the day before), sit-ups (50), and squats (50).

Orwell said, “Sport is war minus the shooting.” In running and in Crossfit, as in life, and indeed in every individual endeavour,  there is only one person who you actually have to beat: and it ain’t the person in front of you.

It has taken me years to appreciate this: if Orwell is right, then I am fighting myself. The battle is uphill, and I am coming back stronger.

Reaching Critical Will

Reaching Critical Will (RCW) is a project of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world. WILPF was founded in April 1915, in The Hague, Netherlands, by some 1300 women from Europe and North America, from countries at war against each other and neutral ones, who came together in a Congress of Women to protest the killing and destruction of the war then raging in Europe.

WILPF created Reaching Critical Will in 1999 in order to promote and facilitate engagement of non-governmental actors in UN processes related to disarmament. The project was designed to increase the quality and quantity of civil society preparation and participation in UN disarmament processes and of NGO interaction with governments and the United Nations; to provide timely and accurate reporting on all relevant conferences and initiatives so that those unable to attend can stay informed, and to maintain a comprehensive online archive of all statements, resolutions, and other primary documents on disarmament.

So this far this year, I have run around and around and around for somewhere over 1000km! Given that I haven’t really run that much in the past, I’m quite chuffed.

The big goal of the remainder of the year* is to increase speed work whilst building up to a de facto kilometrage of around 30km per week. This should also lead to a solid foundation for any marathon training next year (still undecided).

As some readers may know, my foot swelled to balloon-like proportions immediately after tearing a ligament in the marathon, and this has hampered any running ambition I may have had in the aftermath of the London Marathon, and it also means that I have had to do a fair bit of running to get back to my pre-marathon paces – recent runs, however, would imply that happily I am now there again!

This has also meant that I have had to change my running technique (post to follow).

To celebrate, the missus and I high-fived. Low-key style. Job done, good night all – catch you on the flipside – this year has been awesome!

*aside from the birth of my firstborn: due on the 24th!

Running on Empty

Over the past couple of months I have been disheartened with running, sometimes it has gone well, and other times it has been really quite sour – with mainly slow runs interspersed with a smattering of Speedy Gonzales-style training sessions.

It is only now with hindsight that I can look back and attempt to ascertain why.

The first and most obvious reason was a quite severe injury to the ligaments in my foot which happened during the London Marathon – this led me hobbling about on crutches, followed by general hobbling, and now 4 months later, I am finally able to walk without limping.

Ironically, the more I have trained since the injury, the better and speedier the recovery process has been. However, the fact that it has been so painful to run slowed this process down, but it is all almost ok again (phew)! And in fact, I’m running faster than just before the Marathon, so all-in-all a good thing, I suppose!

The Uster Triathlon (in German) near Zurich at the end of August I was signed up, ready to rock and roll, but something didn’t feel quite right, however, and I missed this due to being more than slightly overwhelmed by too much training too quickly (9 different sessions per week) coupled with angst over never having run a triathlon before (despite being quite an ok swimmer, and a passable cyclist). In the end, I just though “to hell with it” and bottled it

My diet had gone to hell (not that I was on a ‘diet’ but rather I was eating crap – not quite as bad as this, but you get the idea) and wondering why my body was feeling lethargic.

So any lessons learnt?

  1. Try not to get injured in the future
  2. Ensure that a training plan is in fact doable
  3. Never eat shit food that results in lethargy!

Plans for the future include not getting accosted by mentalists on the bus (will explain all tomorrow), watching the Rugby World Cup (Come on England, play like you mean it!) – with games like the sublime Wales vs. South Africa the other day, I’ll most likely pay more attention to the non-England matches  – they’ve been way more exciting!

That being said, the likelihood of watching any more sport is getting more and more diminished as I await the arrival of a son/daughter due on the 24th September – it’s mine and the missus’ first, and the word “excited” just doesn’t cover it!

As it happens the slump seems to have worked itself out, but if anyone has any tips on getting over a training slump, please do let me know in the comments below! Happy running

Well the marathon happened about six weeks ago, now. It was absolutely insane, I cannot describe to you the feeling of running with 37 thousand other people.

I had three main goals when I stood at the start line:

  1. Finish the Marathon. Whatever it takes. Get it done. Chalk it off. Smile.
  2. In finishing the Marathon, don’t walk. No walking. There is no ‘wall’. A Marathon is not a Marathon if you walk it.
  3. Finish in under 5 hours. There was something about finishing in under 5 hours that resonated strongly with me. I thought I could do it, and on the proviso I stuck to 9 minutes 25 seconds per mile (a far cry from Bannister or Gebrselassie, but totally ‘doable’), I would do it.

I’m not going to give a mile-by-mile account of the whole venture, but there were a couple of highs and lows…

Mile 5 (or thereabouts) – reaching out for a water bottle, and having some bloke run in front of me causing me to fall. This was a terrifying feeling – the immense pain as my ankle turned over itself; fear – what if I’ve broken something; anguish – this cannot be the end of my three and a half months of training; determination – even if I can’t run, I’m going to finish; and then continuing…

Mile 11 – stopping for some relief, and losing site of 50% of our ‘running team’ – this was quite nerve-wracking – would I not see Conan, my UK running partner whom I had never run with before, again? Oi oi oi. It was at this point that I realised that if I were going to finish, it would probably be on my own. but I also gained some zen-like composure from this – a Marathon is, after all, a challenge for oneself, and not a team sport…

Mile 13 – the remaining member of the ‘running team’ decided to stop and have a walk. I continued. Definitely alone now…

Mile 15 – elation, I caught up with Conan and Em – the other running team members. This was short-lived as Em, almost immediately bounded off, and I ran with Conan for a while. Until…

Mile 16  - Conan got an insane cramp and could barely walk. We had to slow right down, and kept moving forward, and as painful as it was, had to part ways.

Miles 18-21/22 – These really felt effortless – quite difficult to describe, you run, and everything’s awesome, and you get this feeling that you could go on forever.

Mile 22-24 – and the you start to falter, and it gets tiring again, and a mantra keeps you going – “Power, honour, strength, courage” – and you look around you and London comes alive, and you feel a part of the history of this city, and all the good and all the bad that it has seen and lived through, and all the monumental figures in your country’s capital look at you, and will you along – not necessarily to finish, but to do your best, and then you realise you can do even better than that, and you’re on auto-pilot, and London is cradling you, and it’s effortless, but it’s emotionally draining and you let out some odd half-wimpers where you could either start crying or giggling, and you push through and you’re glad you did cos suddenly you’re at…

Mile 26 – and you’re of the opinion, holy shit, the Houses of Parliament? Buckingham Palace? And then you look at your time, and you realise that there are only 600 metres left, and that isn’t really that long, and it hasn’t really been that painful an experience, and so you start to run faster, and then faster, and then you begin to question how long you can keep going, and then you see that there is only another 400 metres to go, and that it’s nothing, and that you can pass out at the other side of the finish line which you still can’t see. And then you’re really tired, and you see a sign and it says 200 metres, and you figure if Usain Bolt can run 200 metres in 19.19 seconds, you should really be able to do it in 40.

Especially as you’ve just seen the clock and it’s reading 5:19:17 and you started the Marathon 20 minutes after the official start time (time it takes to walk to the start line), and that therefore if you hurry the hell up, not only can you finish, not only will you have not walked, but you also will have broken 5 hours on your first time out and that all three of your goals will be reached.

And so you run hard, real hard, and you pass people who are walking, who can’t take another step, and there are a surprising amount of people crying, or who have stopped and are talking to the crowd, and then you pass more and more people, and it literally must be about 100 to 150 people you pass in those last 200 metres, and just before you go under the finish line, you look up at the clock and it reads “5:19:57″ and you know that whatever happens you have done it. And you are triumphant. And for those seconds the three and a half months training of running in the cold, the wet, the dark, the wind, the rain, and on icy footpaths and pavements, well it all makes sense, and it’s all fine, and you are victorious, and there’s nothing in the world that can hurt you, and fuck yeah you’re gonna run a marathon again. And then later in the evening your foot looks like this:

and you realise maybe you’re not quite as invincible as you had thought…!

And now there just remains to thank everyone who sponsored me:

Beatrice Fihn, Ed Ramsay, Nick & Hilde, Martin “Smoothy” Booth, Thomas Evans, Seyda, Dr. Awesome, Sarah Harvey, Carina, Neil “GoatBoy” Hepburn, IronMikeWild, The Jan, Goat Goat, Vic @Sumo, Ms. Hilary Khawam, James Ramsay, The Clark-Monks, Lady Angie Kretzmeier, Sumeet Dhillon, The Fish, Rich, Kiz, and my Goddaughter, Iz, Mr. Burchett-Chambers, Benjamin “Netinyahoo” Jenkins, Sally Dinwiddie, Nick Joyce, Spyirdon Leoussis, Glenn Macstravic & Raegan Boler, Susi ‘Q’ Snyder, Atcern & the Duchess, Robert “Mad Dog” Vaughansy, Lee Neville, Rebecka Fihn, Alun Watkins, The Ruggs, Marc Travaglini, Sandy Williams, Ed Moyse, Nirav Shah, The Hat, Terri Salter, Charlotte Ford @LastExittoNowhere, Tomas Byhlin, Jaroslav Tymrak, Dave Buchanan, Amanda Thomas, Crazy Gary, Rhys Houghton-Jones, Mandy Spencer, Gill Parker & Ben Gunneberg, Christian Kämmer, Lucy Upward, Sarah Price, Richard Cousins, Sarah Bruce, and Katherine Harrison..

When you are running for such a long time, and can’t find the motivation to keep going, knowing that you guys were there, and were somewhere willing me to keep going, really really really helped!

Finally, the training crew, whose support when you just cannot be bothered to go outside and tread the same bit of pavement for the fiftieth time, guys you fucking rock:

Vaughany

&

The Doctor

And last, but by no means least, my wife, Beatrice, your support has been phenomenal from going on little 5km runs two years ago to accompanying me on your bike on 30km runs around Geneva on cold Sunday afternoons, thank you, darling!

So, I’ve now been running ike a ninja-pirate all year

…and if you feel like it, it would be really nice to run with some of you before the end of this insane training period. There aren’t many runs left (as you will see below – in fact there are only 6 – and they are ALL slow runs, so anyone who fancies meeting up please send me an email/facebook/twitter, and I’ll send you the relevant starting location:

//

Together, we’ve raised over £1653 for PhabKids!, only another £347 to go to reach £2000 – please dig deep – last little bit people!

It has now been a week since last posting. Much has happened. I have broken in my new shoes – same make and model as the old shoes.* I have covered about 72km or 44miles (perhaps a tad more) in 7 days. And you have generously sponsored me  over 333 quid, so THANK YOU!

Thank you Susi!

Run Number 1 – Saturday- ran 10-12km in little over an hour – tramped all over St.Jean, Jonction, and Lancy. It was pretty gnarly, due to Saturday being relatively hot, and also as I chose to run a hilly route.

Thank you Nathalie and Atcern!

Run Number 2 – Sunday – ran 33km – first 27k went very well, last 6 did not – I put this down to moronic exertions the day before (see ‘Run Number 1′). On a serious note, I never in my life, thought that I would say anything like “the first 27km went very well”.

Thank you Robert ‘Mad Dog’ Vaughansy!

Run Number 3 – Tuesday – ran 10km – first half was run at a blistering pace (24 minutes) – I was very happy with this. Second half took about half an hour. I noted a twinge in my left leg that seemed to be of a muscular nature, hence the slowing down in the second half.

Thank you Raegan and Glenn!

Run Number 4 – Wednesday – slow 10km – in anticipation of tapering (slowing down 2 weeks prior to the Marathon) had a leisurely run with the Doctor – went along the Rhone, over the Rhone/Arve, to the petting zoo, along to Bout-de Monde and then back. Doctor provided great chat whilst running, and I’m much obliged for his support throughout this daft venture, for keeping me company, and for sponsoring me.

Thank you Doctor!

Finally, Bea, my darling wife, thank you very much for putting up with all the moaning and whingeing about how running sucks, and thank you for getting me ‘over that wall’ – now I’m tapering, and then I have the big day.

I’m proudly going through all this pain and torment for PHABKids, so if you have a couple of quid spare, please go to Justgiving and donate what you can!

One love

 

* You wouldn’t have thought it, but you can really tell the difference between running in an old pair of shoes and by ‘old’ I mean less than a year, and running in a new pair. Gotta love the Asics Gel Nimbus 12s…

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