All posts by bentipping

Brokeback dad

It’s 11.30pm on Monday night and I’m lying on the lounge floor trying not to move and debating whether to have a drink of water, knowing that if I do then the trip to the toilet will come sooner rather than later.

Then I begin surveying the pint glass I’m drinking out of, perhaps I can use that instead of going to the toilet? Anything to avoid having to move, let alone try to stand up.

But no, I NEED to go to the toilet and knowing how long it will take to get there, I need to go NOW. So it begins, the slow and tortuous crawl from the lounge through the dining room and kitchen to the toilet. The dog watching me the whole way with a look to say ‘has he gone mental or what?’.

It takes 5 minutes to make the trip of no more than 30 metres,  5 minutes of puffing, panting, moans and groans. But the worst is yet to come. Now I need to somehow get off the floor and onto the toilet. Arms on the toilet seat, gradually lift one leg off the floor and slowly push up. Hands quickly grab the radiator and I’m up. A bit of swaying, a little breather and I’m ready to try lowering back down again. A considerable amount of pain later I’m done and begin the process in reverse to get back to my spot on the lounge floor.

And this is pretty much how I spent the 24 hours after putting my back out on Monday evening. Disappointingly no alcohol or sex involved in obtaining the injury, but rather what turned out to be the very dangerous activity of playing with the dog. I’ve never known pain like it, shooting through my back with one wrong movement or another spasm from holding a position too long. The strongest pain killers available off the shelf didn’t touch it, so it was with much anticipation that I awaited a home visit from the Doctor on Tuesday (which took much persuasion – ‘you’re 29 and you want a home visit?’). He obliged and some strong drugs were mine. 3 days later and I am now able to walk around the house, even if it is a bit of a hobble sometimes.

But I need to recover and recover quite quickly, at the end of August I’m flying to California for a week for work. Then the following week we go to New Zealand for 3 weeks and on return from that trip I have another California trip for work in mid October. An achy back is not what I need and I shall be visiting the doctor next week to start getting some treatment whatever that consists of.

Bracken did make up for it though by keeping me company in my spot on the floor.

The running dad – it’s all in the planning

If you’re a bit OCD like me and enjoy planning things almost as much as doing them, then this post is for you. If you don’t ever plan and do ‘what feels right’ then this post is also for you, even if you don’t know it, you do need it.

If you have a particular race (or series of races in my case) that you are training for then you need a training plan. Without one you’ll train a lot less than you need to and without the variety of training needed to really be succesful. It keeps you motivated to train as you don’t want to miss sessions and makes sure you build in some speed sessions and hills etc into your routine. The vast majority of my training is done on my own, so I like to keep a record of exactly how much I have done and when (you see I told you I was OCD). This can also help you see the progress you have made if you tend to run the same routes fairly regularly.

I recently bought some running shoes from Sweatshop (who are thoroughly recommended by the way) and with it came a voucher for a free customised training plan from Full potential so I’ve been trying to follow that. Always good to get a new approach to training, but no matter what plan you follow I think there are a couple of key things that all training plans should have;

  • Hills and speed sessions; this either involve various lengths of hill sprints for the hills session or a training session where you run at a number of different speeds. Both of these help train your body to run faster and also builds strength for any hills you may have during your race.
  • Variety; there needs to be a real mix of sessions, even in a marathon training plan where mileage is important. Also make sure for any long runs that you have a variety of routes planned. It’s also worth trying to do these longer runs at roughly the same time of day as your race wherever possible.
  • Not just running; I’d suggest getting at least one cross training session (cycling or swimming for example) into each week. Also never underestimate the importance of stretching.

This week I have been taking my own advice and I’ve managed the following:

  • Monday – 4.5 mile easy pace run – 36
  • Wednesday – 4x6mins at threshold pace with 2 mins race in between
  • Friday – 25 min trail run with Bracken
  • Saturday – 26 min trail run with Bracken

The only thing I need to do now is a few longer runs once a week and also a bit more stretching/cross training. Running with Bracken is great because it kills 2 birds with 1 stone and he NEVER runs out of energy which is useful in a training partner. Although it can make you feel very slow and unfit watching him trot by you.

The running dad

It’s time for me to come clean and lift this weight from my shoulders; I have an addiction, an addiction that needs feeding each week, one that makes my legs ache if I don’t get my fix, one that can make me a social outcast and a weirdo. But also one that keeps me sane, relieves all my stresses, gives me a whole new perspective on a place and one that makes me feel positive. You see dear reader I am addicted to running.

I love it, I love the feeling of satisfaction that a good run gives, the release of those fabulous endorphins, the tired and aching legs the day after a long run, the look in people’s eyes when you tell them about the crazy run you just did for fun. If you don’t run you don’t understand the mentality, people will ask what you are training for or what charity you are running for, if your answer is for fun they look at you though you are just a little bit mental. We probably are, but after each race you want the next one to be longer, tougher, more exotic, with obstacles the list is endless.

In recent years I’ve shunned road running in favour of trails, much better to get out in the ‘wild’ than be choked by exhaust fumes. I also began taking part in some adventure races which are a kind of off road triathlon. The races involve Mountain biking, trail running and kayaking in a small team with some orienteering thrown in for good measure. Great fun and most participants take it much less seriously than road races meaning some good banter along the way.

I’ve also run in some amazing places over the past few years. Whenever I travel for work I always pack my running shoes. Running along the piers in San Francisco bay at 6am is one of my particular favourites, such amazing views looking out at Alcatraz and the Golden gate bridge before turning to race one of the streetcars up the hill back to the hotel. Closer to home the coastal path near Padstow is great, finding all the little coves and beaches that no one visits and almost coming to a standstill when you turn the corner and the sea wind hits you.

However inevitably work life eventually encroaches on your running time; particularly if it involves commuting 60 miles a day. Plus of course the arrival of Matilda means the motivation for running rather than having a nap is pretty low and arranging to take part in races becomes much more challenging.. As I wrote here for Kate’s fitness Thursday series I managed to fit running into my daily commute in order to keep some exercise going. But a gentle and relatively short run each day really isn’t satisfying and my fitness quickly plateaued.

So I now find myself stuck somewhat in a rut and needing a new challenge. I don’t feel entirely happy in my body and can feel myself slowly developing an office workers middle. This culminated last week with a colleague who I hadn’t seen for a while telling me I was ‘more round’ than last time he saw me. But I know all too well that to keep motivated with my running I need something to aim for. I need something exciting, something that will confirm people’s suspicion that I am a little crazy. This post is the first step in that process, if I document here my challenge then the sheer embarrassment of not achieving it should be enough to keep me on track.

There is a trail series run by Endurance Life with a number of different races in different coastal locations. Attached to the series is a little side challenge to take part in 7 races of the same distance. Requiring you to stay both fit and motivated for 6 months or so and in true runners style the reward for completing this challenge is simply the sheer satisfaction. While I’m not crazy enough or have enough time to train for off road marathons there is a 10k at each leg and this is what I’m going to try and run.

So there you have it, the challenge and my objective. The first race should be in October so plenty of time to work on my fitness. I’ve already started making some changes, but I’ll share more of that later. For now if at least one person reads this then someone else knows about my challenge and I can’t possibly not do it right?!

P.S. if you’ve set a running or fitness challenge I’d love to hear about it and share in your experience.