Back on the Road…Again.

Yes, again.

3 months ago I wrote a self motivating post, one that outlined my return to running after a 3 month break… cue orchestra and stage lights.

Didn’t work out.

So lets start over. It’s been 6 months now since my wonderful wife gave birth to our very active and amazing boy. He’s in his own room now, so we feel like we’re actually getting some sleep and I’m distraught by how unfit I’ve become in such a short time frame.


I won’t ask much of myself in 2012. Despite only running in the first half of 2011 and getting my first DNF (Did Not Finish) at the Lochaber Marathon I achieve not one, but two personal bests – one for 10K and one for Half Marathon distance. So it wasn’t too bad. You can see highlights of my 2011 stats here.

This year I’ll keep it simple. No PBs and very rough and low mileage guidelines (rather than targets). I do however, intend to race at least one 5K, one 10K and one Half Marathon. Just something to aim for in training really. To keep the motivation there.

Getting back into the swing of things

My intentions in the last Back on the Road post still stand. I’ll take it easy, building up mileage slowly. I doubt my long run will regularly get past 10K, except during Half Marathon training, but we’ll see how it goes.

As always, I post my workouts on Dailymile. If you’re on there too, say hello!

Happy running folks!

The Lost Secret of Running – The New York Times

This is a great short clip by Christopher McDougall and the New York times showing you how to run more efficiently with some simple drills.

Yes, it’s that easy.

Hit the link below and think about how you can make things a little easier and more fun for your running self.

Back on the Road

It’s been 12 weeks and 3 days since my amazing wee boy was born. 2 days before that was my last proper run. Sure, I got out for one run around a month ago, but it doesn’t count.

Now that Ross is becoming more settled, my belly is getting bigger and my sanity is crumbling away, i’ve decided it’s probably as good a time as any to get back on the road running.

The Last Three Months

People take time out from running all the time. It may be self imposed, it may be through injury or it may be because of a life event. Either way, i’m not the first and i won’t be the last person that comes back to running after time off.

For me, this has been my longest break from running for years.  And because I don’t have an injury, I think that’s making me all the more eager to get back out there.

I haven’t sat on the couch the whole time though.

I’ve been making an effort to get out as often as possible. I take Ross walks up the trail I frequented (it gives me running pangs if there is such a thing) or just out round the corner and back at any opportunity.  I got out for 1 run on the 12th of August with a friend. 5 miles. 10 minute miles but I felt really good during and after.  I also started the 100pushups program through the Strength Challenge Facebook Group. I should note I’ve had to repeat a few weeks because of one thing or another. Furthest I’ve got is halfway through week five. I just demoted myself to week 4 again though – it seems it’s easier to get out running than find time for pushups!

Health Impact

I knew 3 months off would affect my health but I underestimated it a bit. I definitely feel unhealthy. And I feel slow.  As an experiment, I used the Instant Heart Rate Android app to measure my heart rate (BMP) – once on my last run, then 3 times over the last 3 months.

As you can see I had a pretty healthy resting heart rate of 49 BPM on 4 July.  Only 2 weeks later that jumped to 58 BPM (18 July).  2 months later I was really feeling it when i measured at 78 BPM (26 Sept).  Today, my BPM has dipped to 72 (4 Oct).  Hopefully that drop is down to an increase in walking activity in the last couple of weeks.  I’m pretty shocked to see how much my resting BPM has increased.  It’ll be interesting to see how it responds running again.

The Master Plan

First thing is first, I can’t rush back into running.  For a start, I think my Achilles tendons have shrunk or at least they’ve lost their vavavoom.  They might not forgive me for jumping into the Vivobarefoot Neo’s after so long.

Stage One

So, for just over a week I’ll be doing some Pose Drills, such as:



Not only will the drills help provide some strength and stability training, it’ll be a good refresher course in getting my technique right as soon as I start.

Stage Two

Let’s not set our expectations too high.  Just a few miles on the first run then I’ll cap my runs at 4 miles for a few weeks after and no more than 3 runs per week. I reckon that’s all I’ll have time for to be honest. We’ll see though.

That’s It

Yup, that’s my master plan. Quite a departure from past days of methodically scheduling a training plan. No colour coded spreadsheets, no mileage projection graphs.  Just past experience to guide me.

I know as long as I take it easy though, I’ll be just fine.



Forgive me fellow runners, for I have sinned. It has been over 5 weeks since my last run.

I’m feeling the lack of exercise and it’s not good. Tonight though I’ll be breaking the exercise fast and running a 5 miler with a friend. Here’s hoping I make it round the route!

Lochaber Marathon – DNF


So there it is. My first ever Did Not Finish.

It’s now 2 weeks and 2 days since the Lochaber Marathon and while disappointed, I’ve moved on.  And to be fair, my DNF could’ve been worse – from both points of view.

On the run up to the marathon I felt my training was going well. I had a few hiccups in terms of off weeks due to work and a niggle in my foot at one point but otherwise all was well. I ran a personal best (1:42:09) at the balloch to Clydebank half and I secured a 22 miler plus a number of other 17, 18, 19 milers wearing huaraches. It looked like the stage was set for achieving my goal of a sub 4hr marathon (secretly 3:55) wearing huaraches.

We left for Fort William at around 6am and arrived just after 9. What a beautiful drive up. It had been cloudy with some light drizzle in the morning but the sun was burning through the clouds and blue sky appeared at a rapid rate soon after our arrival.

I felt a little nervous as I collected my number and complimentary T-shirt but I was one of the first there so it didn’t take long. It was then back to the car for a little over an hour wait.

I refueled with some sports drink and a small piece malt loaf, which I’ve been doing with success for some time now.

10:35. I warmed up.

10:45. Safety briefing.

10:55. Everyone makes their way to the start line. I felt very alone for some reason.

11:02. The klaxon sounded and away we went.

I started a little fast. The target was 9 minute miles or under. I was just above 8 for the first couple of miles but soon settled into a slow but comfortable pace (8:50 possibly).

After the first town it was a beautiful route. Loch eil to the left on the outward leg. Supporters stopped at parking areas to cheer on runners and hand out jelly beans.

At around 6 miles I started to notice it was getting warm. A high of 21 degrees (c) apparently. Once again I was running a hot marathon. This was slightly annoying as the warmest I had trained in the last 4 months was at most 10 degrees (c).

Not to worry. Although I was feeling it, I passed the half way point in 1:56. Still felt strong though and had confidence – I kept looking at my pacing band that said ‘you can do it’ at the top.   
My run time fueling had consisted of a SIS Go gel every half hour. In hindsight it may have been too frequent. At 2hrs 30 I took my 5th, which made me feel full. I didn’t feel I needed it to be honest but ‘stuck to the plan’.

It wasn’t long after I started to get a stitch. I tired to run with it but eventually had to slow to a walk, not far from the 19 mile mark , pressing my side to ease the discomfort.

It was either a mistake to stop or a blessing in disguise. I had a sudden realization that my feet were pretty sore. I had felt something a little earlier in the run, but thought I had stepped in a damp area at a water stop and maybe got a little stone stuck underfoot.

I stopped and took the huaraches off to get rid of the stone that wouldn’t shake.  Nope, the ‘stone’ was a giant blister that had formed and the ‘water’ was it bursting. Made a right mess. That wasn’t the only one, however. My left foot was effectively the kitchen area at a blister party. The right wasn’t so bad but still painful.

It’s funny that I had been so focused I blocked out what was now a very obvious pain. At that point there was ‘only’ 7 miles to go. I decided to grin and bare it.

I ran (very slowly) for a few minutes then had to walk. Ran, well, shuffled for a few minutes then had to walk again.

After what seemed like an eternity I approached the 20 mile marker. 6 more miles to go I thought. You can do it, I said to myself as I hobbled along. Almost immediately after that thought I heard a man sitting in a first aid jeep ask if I was OK… I paused for a second… no. I’m not OK.

20 miles, 3hr 10min, DNF.

I got in the 4×4 and Jim, the nice volunteer, drove me back to the first aid tent. There, another nice fellow (can’t remember his name unfortunately) proceed to treat me as best he could – rinse my feet with sterile water – then tell me it was the worst case of blisters he’d ever seen. 

So what went wrong?

I don’t know is the straight answer. I’ve tried to determine what differences there were between on the day and previous training runs and the only thing appears to be the weather.  It was suggested that my feet may have been sweating too much?! I’m not sure.

I said at the start it could’ve been worse from two points. Firstly, I got to 20 miles before quiting. It could’ve been worse if it was 8 miles I guess. And secondly, I’m lucky it didn’t turn serious, i.e. my feet didn’t get infected, and have been healing well.

Either way though, I’m not dwelling on it.

Future marathons

There probably won’t be any. I won’t consider it for 3 or 4 years at least. I’ll never say never though. I can see myself doing long training runs, almost marathon distance but as for a marathon race itself, I just don’t seem to have much luck.

I’ll stick to half marathons, 10ks and… 5ks from now on I think. I don’t have a 5k PB yet so it might be fun getting fast for that.


I still like my huaraches but I’ll admit I’ve lost a bit of confidence in them. I couldn’t run in them just now anyway and not for a while yet either. When I do don them again though I’ll keep the runs short. 4 miles or so.

I still want to keep the minimal thing going but I just couldn’t go back to chunky Asics,  so I indulged in a pair of Tera Planna Neo. First impressions are good! I really like them but I’ll leave the write up to a post of its own.

There we have it. My first DNF. I think I’ve been quite mature about. I think anyway.

Have you ever DNFd? What happened after, did it spur you on, deflate you or did you accept it?

Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon 2011

Better late than never, here’s my race report from the Balloch to Clydebank half back in March…

This was my 3rd year running this event and I think I like it a little more each time.  It’s a great course, not very scenic, but has a decent mix of flat and undulating terrain.

This year hinged on the question of whether the race would be postponed due to snowy conditions. Thankfully it got the go ahead and Myself, Doogs and Ewan were able to make our way with the other 400+ runners to the slushy starting line.  There I met fellow Twitterer @ChloeMcA at the starting line. She’s training for the Edinburgh Marathon this year – the Balloch Half being a well timed race to fit in with any marathon schedules.

The race started and I shot off ahead of the other 3. I had a target of 1:45 to aim for, 10 mins faster than the others’ targets so I had to be a little selfish and drive ahead.

I kept a good steady pace to begin with.  Once past the first mile marker I saw I was running at around 7:30 pace, 30 seconds a mile faster than target.  My initial thoughts were slow down but then I thought f**k it, I’ll keep that pace for as long as possible. I did pretty well I think.  It wasn’t until around 8 or 9 miles that I felt the faster pace catch up on me. Well, that’s if the mile markers were in the right places. A couple were missing and at mile 6 marker, i hit the lap button and apparently i did the previous mile in 6:09.  I don’t believe that for a second!  A misplaced mile marker is more likely!

Around mile 10 I hit the second and final water station, took my gel and a few minutes later got my second wind. That left me within a mile and a half.  The 12 mile marker came around. The longest mile of the course was ahead. I got my third wind just as I came out into the industrial park and finished the last section strong.


A new Personal Best and 3 minutes faster than target. Chuffed to bits!

While waiting for the others at the finish line I bumped into fellow blogger Lorn Pearson, who I also saw again at the Lochaber Marathon in April.

Ewan, Chloe and Doogs came in under 2 hours and all got PB’s too! Happy days!

The Balloch to Clydebank Half is a cracking event. Well organised and a decent course. I think I’ll definitely be making this one an annual tradition.

I looked out for everyone at the finish but only managed to get a snap of Doogs as he crossed the line…

A kind fellow runner took this snap of the four of us at the finish area…

They’ve Arrived!


I’ve had my eye on Terra Plana footwear for a while but now I’ve finally got my hands on a pair!

They’re a little more suitable than huaraches, which I’ve lost a little confidence in after the Lochaber DNF a few weeks ago (race report to follow, I promise!). I’ll still wear the huaraches, but only on short runs.

I wore the Neos into town earlier and first impressions are they’re very comfortable! I have really wide feet and these are the first shoes I’ve worn in a long time that feel really roomy, particularly in the toe box. That’s to be expected though I guess. Anyway, can’t wait to get out for a run in them!

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