It's all in the head

I seem to have been giving a lot of advice about getting through long runs recently: shame I don't seem to be able to take it myself. Breaking it up into smaller parts in your head, adopting mantras to get through the tough bits ... I know all the tricks but can't seem to actually use them at the moment. Yesterday's attempted 20 miler turned into 16 when for some reason I just went out with the most negative attitude from mile one. I can't really work out why - perhaps it's because it's been a while since my last marathon and therefore since I ran these kind of distances.

Perhaps it's a kind of equivalent of a virus - once the negative seed is planted in your head, it multiplies and won't leave you alone. At any rate, by mile eight I was having something of a meltdown. I knew it was in my head, my legs felt fine, my lungs felt fine, yet somehow knowing that did nothing to stop it.

One strategy to counteract this I've used in the past is to run a rac…

Tired legs and marathon slogs

Does anyone else ever feel like long runs are a continuous con trick you play against yourself?Yesterday I set off to do something around 17/18 miles. After about 800m I though, "God my legs do not want to do this" After three miles I was mentally trying to calculate if I could sack it off, go and rest and fit in a long run today, and what repercussions that would have for the rest of the week, timing-wise. The rest was just a constant mental dialogue of "Ok, well, get to 9, that's halfway. Well, ok, 10, that's over halfway and a decent run in itself. Well, ok, half marathon distance. Ok, so just get back to Putney Bridge then you can get the tube home.. Oh well but then you might as well jog as it's about the same time as waiting for the District line...." And so on, seemingly ad infinitum. Or to just over 19 miles, anyway. I've definitely run marathons that went passed a lot quicker than that trudge.

But then that's part of the point of marat…

Wolf packs, polar bears and cold winter running

Ha, so what was I saying last week about the wonders of technology? Should have listened to my own advice and actually looked at that wonder of modern technology, the watch. I ran yesterday's Cancer Research Winter 10k without looking at it once. I like doing this: you can run entirely on feel. And the feel yesterday was "good grief this is a bit nippy". Now I know minus 2 is nothing compared to the temperatures in Chicago for the last week, or plenty of other cold spots, but minus 2 in Trafalgar Square is pretty cold for racing - and indeed for Central London generally.

So I found it a bit of a struggle to get my legs going, and by the time I was locked into a pace, there didn't seem much point checking on how much slower than I'd like it was. I did think I'd probably check at halfway, but I didn't. Then I thought I'd check at 9k, to see if I could scrape under 40 minutes, but I missed the 9k marker. The result? 40:02. Ooops. Oh well, another sub 40…

In defence of technology

Morning runners. How many of you are feeling a bit sore and tender today after a Sunday long run? I'm not, because I didn't do one. I've had a fairly minor bug for a few days - cheers small fry - and though I got some miles in over the weekend, I didn't stress out the system by slogging it round a pointlessly dispiriting 15 miler. So what's that got to do with technology? Well, coach Tom has me checking my HRV every morning. It's an app that measures your HRV using the phone camera, takes about 30 seconds and involves lying in bed breathing (I'm really quite good at that). If the resulting score is deviating strongly from baseline, it's a sign that something is amiss and the app will tell you to take it easy.

Now, I'm sure someone (or several someones) right now are rolling their eyes and saying "I don't need an app to tell me if I'm ill". Well, maybe, if you are perfectly in tune with your body. Most people, I think, aren't. …

Talk (running) amongst yourselves, kids

Morning runners. Apologies for treating you all like my children but have you done your violin practice, did you put those clothes away and... oh no sorry, I mean look - I'm really busy - talk amongst yourselves, yeah?

Having spent the entire weekend at the National Running Show, talking running and The Running Channel, I had to do my long run of 15 miles first thing this morning and now I'm off filming again. So I've no time to deal with your grazed knee, and we'll talk about packed lunch later. Play nicely, and I'll be back later to check in on you all ...

Why do I need a coach?

Good morning, and a very happy new year. I am not big on resolutions generally, but the fact that the start of January is usually the start of marathon training does mean that it's usually a time to reluctantly push aside the panettone (if I had any left to push aside, that is) and start focusing a bit more seriously on training. It's not that I ever really stop as such, but I am quite definitely a runner motivated by specific targets, and therefore tend to drift slightly when I don't have a deadline looming. 
Many will be in the same boat. (It's a boat made of kale, quinoa and spinach and the sails are made of old copies of the Guardian, and it prefers to go by a gender nuetral pronoun, ok?) and are perhaps thinking about training plans or coaching advice. A clubmate, who also coaches, was writing recently against the 'tyranny of the training plan' and essentially saying they are mostly worthless. I think I disagree with this, because it presupposes a great d…

We need to talk about dogs

Now look. Dogs. Can someone please explain this to me: aren't they supposed to have better hearing than us? I very nearly got taken out by on four separate occasions by four different canines during my long run today, and I really don't think I'm so light on my feet (I wish) that I floated up to them at sub-canine hearing levels. Who needs iPhone zombies when you've got mutts distracted by specks of dust, or making a sudden dash for that fascinating patch of mud right under where your right foot is about to land?

Of course, they are only doing what dogs do, and I'll save any actual ire for dog owners who set up a nice little trip wire with one of those extendable leads across the busy bike/walk path. Or the woman who - I swear this actually happened - once shouted at me "MY DOG GOT HUMAN RIGHTS TOO!" when I protested about it jumping all over my terrified daughter. People eh? You ought to have a licence to, err, be one.

Saturday's weather was unspeaka…