Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...

Time is an illusion, said a great sage and writer of our times. Lunchtime doubly so.  It is also, if I recall my half-listened to science lessons at school, relative to the observers movement in space. Well, when the observer is running around Battersea Park over and over again, the observer perceives three hours as lasting approximately the same amount of time as the Byzantine Empire. Acorns grew to oaks, matured, died. Glaciers tutted impatiently. I'm pretty sure a Pinus longaeva looked pointedly at its watch. Yes, it felt like a very long run.

I wish that I could find out who the girl was who was doing the same thing, in the opposite direction. Passing her twice a lap, on a LOT of laps, she started by smilling - by a few laps in we were giving each other little cheery waves. It really boosted me. You know how it is on a very long run, when you start looking forward to the smallest things? (I distinctly remember the point during one marathon when I thought "Oh hooray! I can …

No, windy! The Big Half, big weather and big miles

When my eldest daughter was a toddler, there was an inclement week or so much like we are having now - lots of strong winds blustering and gusting. Despite being tucked up nice and warm in her buggy on the way to nursery, she took this weather as a personal affront and starting shouting "Noooo windy! NOOOO WINDY!" as if only a stern enough word would make it stop. It's become one of those phrases that stays with you as a family. Yesterday, doing the Big Half, it went round and round my head. Though possibly not as much as it did for this brave chap.

I did the race as part of a longer run, so had no time goals beyond trying to run it at marathon pace. I really struggled to get anywhere near that, so certainly not a vintage day for me. Massive kudos to anyone who PB-ed or ran a good time, because it wasn't easy to get into any kind of rhythm. There was a comedy moment going over Tower Bridge when a powerful sideways gust barrelled into us, managing to somehow tangle my …

The art of knowing when not to run

Well that was a damp squib of a weekend. Me and the kids went to Cambridge, to race the Saucony half marathon (not them - I'm not that evil a parent ... yet ...) and ended up coming home on Sunday feeling rubbish, having not run so much as a stride. I have a weird virus that seems to involve all the secondary side effects - achy, heavy legs, lack of energy - but no primary ones. A real shame as I loved this race when I did it two years ago - even got a PB at the time - and was looking forward to a bit of a test of where my fitness is at. The answer to that test was apparently "gone on holiday without you". Bloody hope it's somewhere sunny and it's going to send me a postcard ...

Sometimes, though, it's harder to know when not to run, than when to pull on the trainers. Are you really ill, or just tired? Will running make you feel better, or worse? I'm now using an HRV app every morning and actually find it really reassuring when it confirms what my brain …

Post long run happiness, pizza, and wine

After last week's failure of a long run I am delighted to report that yesterday's went just fine. Perhaps it was the glorious spring weather (anyone else fear a backlash in the form of snowstorms and howling gales coming soon?) or perhaps it was breaking the run into chunks.

It's all very well trying to do that in your head but this time I actually programmed the whole thing into my watch. 40 minutes easy, three times eight minute hill efforts with four minutes easy recovery in between, then another half hour easy, then half hour marathon pace.

It was only at that point that I gave myself permission to even look at what the mileage was - over 18 - which meant just a few to go. Hooray! I spent those last few deciding exactly what I was going to have on my post-run pizza (still working on sponsorship by Franco Manca, by the way) and whether wine, or beer, would taste better with it.  For reference, a number 3 with extra wild broccoli, and wine. Much wine.

While it was hardl…

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…