1 down… 2 to go!

As I sit here writing this I’m now officially ‘a marathon runner’. Its hard to believe really considering on May 3rd of this year I lined up for my first ever half marathon having also thought that was unachievable. But I’ve managed it and got 1 out of the way. I would have posted this yesterday but to be honest I felt like I had been hit by a train.. and that’s no understatement. Anyways.. to give you a recap and perhaps make you laugh at my misfortune here’s the story.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog postings I had a wedding to attend the day I was travelling up to Hull for the first marathon. The wedding was at 2.30 so the plan was to take all our stuff with us and head straight up to Hull afterwards. The mrs applied her fake tan, the little one had a new dress and I got suited and booted.. On schedule we set off to the wedding about 1.15pm for the 45 minute journey.. plenty of time. No problems.. Now my best friend is a mate from our university days.. not many of us have stayed in touch and no one else I knew that well was attending.. So after 45 mins or so we hear the familiar “you have arrived” from the sat nav.. hang on.. where the hell are we? After double checking the post code I had been given a few times and finding it was correct we began searching for the church on google.. entered the post code on the sat nav.. and away we went.. 10 mins before we were due to be there.. not good by this point.. “you have arrived” we heard again.. We definitely hadn’t as we stayed at nothing but open road..

Fast forward an hour, stress, a few arguments (to put it lightly) and we were heading for Hull.. all dressed up but definitely with somewhere to go.. just not a wedding! Once we got to Hull.. by this point my mate was a married man and had his phone handy to take my call.. his iPhone autocorrected his postcode and switched the last two letters.. nightmare. Either that or he didn’t want us there.. I haven’t figured out which yet! So there we were in Hull and so were my mum, step dad, brother and his girlfriend. Along with my mother and father in law who were on their way. It was great to feel I had such great support and something which definitely helped me through.

So there I was the morning of the race.. walking to the start line with my wife, daughter and my brother.. when suddenly dawned on me I’d left my race number in my hotel room! No panic.. my brother ran back and grabbed it.. Phew. So after some stretching (not enough I may add on reflection) and purchasing a bottle of water (stupidly I didn’t buy any water the night before and had to keep filling up the tiny hotel room glasses!) I was off.. safe in the knowledge that Id see everyone anytime after 1pm. The race started at 9 and I was aiming for around a 4hour time.. Probably more 4.15 / 4.30..which I’d have been happy with.

The race was very difficult.. like nothing I’ve experienced in training. I didn’t take any energy gels as I normally do. I had ran out of the brand I use and didn’t want to risk feeling sick during the event. A safe option I thought but definitely something that affected me.. I found myself after about 10 miles really struggling. My legs were incredibly heavy and I felt like I was literally dragging myself to each water station.

I must say though the support from the public and anyone watching was fantastic.. the race numbers had our names on so it was really great personal vocal support and it did help massively. So did all the Jaffa cakes and jelly babies on offer! But besides that it was tough. IMG_5914-0Not being able to listen to music played a massive part in the struggle and it will be the same again this weekend with the same rule. However with all my family there with encouragement at mile 18 I persevered and got round the course.. and a nice chat with a Scottish guy who I ran with whilst crossing the Humber bridge. He did however leave me when I stopped to stretch! The most important thing is I did it though.. and all for a great cause.. however I’m only 1/3 of the way there. I do have this nice medal in my collection now though..

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A family meal followed along with the nice drive home which my wife masteredIMG_5892 as I sat in the passenger seat trying to keep my legs active. My daughter kept her self occupied in the back with her iPhone as all 13 year olds do.. and a nap too.. I jumped on the exercise bike as soon as I got in the door to try and keep the blood flowing. This was followed up yesterday with a Kneipp Arnica Muscle Bath and some ice packs which have helped take the edge off and some intense stretching but I’m still only about 60% at the moment.. which probably isn’t too surprising all things considered. With only 4 full days to go until the next marathon the pressure really is on to get myself back to a good physical condition. Any tips anyone? My plan was more ice packs, more stretching, more carbs and 30 min on the exercise bike tomorrow and Thursday and then just a short walk to take in the scenery bath has to offer on Sunday. Luckily this weekend we have rented an apartment and are heading down Friday night.. so no stress the day before! If I can get my body back right then I’m confident I can do better this weekend as I wasn’t particularly out of breath by mile 26 I just couldn’t move too good! With my other brother and my aunt and uncle heading down to support there’s again good reason to do a good job and I’m sure I will..

Ben Edwards, Marathon runner.. who ever would have thought….

Bath Two Tunnels Marathon.. I’m on my way.

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I may not be there yet..but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

I’ve written and re-written this opening paragraph twice.. With just 6 days to go until the Hull Marathon I feel like there should be so many things I want to say.. To talk about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt along the way.. the only problem being I just don’t know what it is I want to say.. which is a bit of a problem for a blog post right?

Today I completed my final long distance training run. 10 miles in the sunshine through town and along the canal.. (nope.. still no bottle of water from the old fellas on their canal boats)..The next step is event time. 26.2 miles to not just talk about how far I’ve come but to prove it. To show everyone that all that training was worth it. That all those miles were for a reason. I have no doubt that I can complete my first ever marathon.. that’s not the hard part.. the hard part is doing it in a way I can be proud of. To truly feel that I accomplished something. Lets be honest.. I could walk the whole thing, come home and write on here about how I smashed it couldn’t I.. but what kind of sense of achievement would that give me? Not a single bit I’m sure.

With 3 marathons in 14 days shortly commencing am I ready? Like I just mentioned, the hard training miles are out of the way and all that’s left is to rest up, stay loose and get ready to tear it up. But am I ready? Am I focussed? .. I know I’m ready to make everyone proud and finish in a time I’ll be happy with but if I’m being honest.. no I’m not. I feel like I’m in a really weird place where the thought of not having something to aim for or something to train for is almost upon me.. Its mad considering I have a marathon every Sunday for the next 3 weeks and yet I’m already worrying about September 28th. I’ll be sat at home, 3 marathon medals in my hands, ice packs on my legs and a smile on my face. But what will I be thinking about? Over the past 4 months my main thoughts have been, how far am I running tomorrow and will I be able to manage it. That’s the part which worries me.. No doubt I will want to find something to do next but I should also chill out and relax.. That worries me because I’m not very good at it.

I’ve put my family through a lot whilst I’ve trained for all this.. and selfishly put it before the majority of things recently. So it does only seem fair that I should devote some time to the things that truly matter.. but I don’t really know how. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember. I don’t feel like I offer any significance to the world unless I have a reason to get up in the morning and achieve something. Yeah being a good husband and a good father are great reasons in themselves but if I’m being honest, they’re also things I’m not too good at. I think this is why I started these challenges in the first place. So that people would admire me and so that I didn’t really have to talk to anyone about anything other than “Yeah the running’s going well, yeah I did 10 miles yesterday”. I think this has worked out quite well for me so far.. however as I mentioned, what about on 28th September?

When it’s all said and done and the marathon medals are put away and the trainers get some rest what do I do? As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not built to be running 40/50/60 miles or achieving anything on this level. Yeah I can run.. but I’m not insane. That could be up for debate actually but I don’t think I could put up with just my own mind for company for anything longer than a 4/5 hour period. There’s no playlist in the world that could get me through that.

I guess I’d like to know what you did after you achieved that 26.2 mile target.. what challenge did you set yourself next? I really do want to just relax and enjoy everything that’s happened this year but I know I won’t be able to. I know that I’ll need something else.. and I just don’t know how or what that is. Running for me has been my strongest (and preferred) method of communication. Its meant that I have been able to communicate with friends and family (and anyone else reading this) simply by posting on various social media platforms about how I’m getting on. It’s given me that sense of ‘fitting in’ that I have never felt that I had/have.. and its meant a lot. To have raised a great deal of money at the same time and to have made such great improvements physically has helped me to feel good about myself.. For those that know me.. yeah I can be that jack the lad, cheeky chap who is quick off the mark with a decent joke or a witty comeback but its meaningless to me. It gets a laugh and its done with.

The real meaning comes from the everyday struggles and how you chose to tackle them. On reflection.. after 4 months I’ve come to realise I’ve been running (excuse the pun) away from a lot of my struggles.. but I feel much more equipped to face them moving forward. I guess I’ll find out on the 28th September.

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I’d like to take a minute to congratulate my good friend Martin Chandler who successfully completed a 54 mile cycle from London to Brighton today all for the charity ‘Sands’. A top bloke who has been through a lot this year with his wife and it makes me happy to know that the money I’ve also raised for ‘Sands’ for their cause will help other amazing people like the two of them. Hope Nikki has enjoyed applying the sudocream for you this evening!

To read about why Martin (or myself) started these challenges visit either of our just giving pages:

http://www.justgiving.com/Benjamin-Edwards1

https://www.justgiving.com/Martin-Elliot2015

Did I mention I’m running 3 marathons?

You’re nearly there.. all that hard work.. all that training.. all that focus.. almost time to put it to the test.. with 2 weeks to go until the first 26.2 miles are conquered means that as the training miles start to decrease, the focus and energy is transferred away from the pavement and the legs to the mind.. All those doubts start to creep in.. have I trained enough? Are my legs going to be up to the task? Will I get enough sleep the night before? And probably the most important.. Why the hell did I sign up for 3 when I’ve never completed one.. Idiot.

So with all those questions looming and this mornings 12 mile run you probably think that I would just be taking it easy this weekend and staying off my feet.. wrong. Did I mention I moved house this weekend? Did I also mention that my wife and daughter went away to a 3 day festival 6 hours after we got the keys? Having spent the majority of the weekend scrubbing, cleaning, hoovering and packing boxes (and that’s just the old house) followed by putting beds together, setting up the sky and internet (important) and unpacking boxes at the new one.. it really has been manic. The fact that I also attended one of my best friends stag nights last night too (just soda water and blackcurrant for me please) and then managed to get up and nail a 12 mile run in a good strong time is testament to all the hard work I have done over the past few months. I’ve already achieved things that I didn’t think I could and I’m proud of myself regardless of what my marathon times end up being.

As you’ve read these blogs posts you may have noticed that I haven’t really put too much attention on timings.. and for good reason. For me.. it doesn’t matter what the times are.. and for me to be able to motivate others I don’t want it to matter. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read other blogs and other posts that literally focus on how great the person is and how they ran a marathon in 45 minutes.. hopping, on their weaker foot.. with their eyes closed. Awesome.. Doesn’t exactly motivate me to give it a go though.. doubt you fancy it either.. For me, my journey has been about continuing to show you that you can achieve great things when you put your mind to it and challenge yourself. I don’t care how long it takes you.. what I care about is the fact that you read this, you planned a route, you got your gym gear on and you gave it a go. And more importantly you enjoyed it and did it again a few days later!

So enough about you.. this is my blog so I’m just gunna crack on talking about me.. Having completed the 12 miles this morning and then got all the housework done (hurry up and come home Jen.. its hard) I’m feeling surprisingly good.. I’m a little concerned about some pain in my knees and do find it difficult to get up the stairs a little bit, but at the same time it hasn’t had much affect on my running and means I’m just putting a little bit more focus on stretching before and after the training runs. To be honest being on the home stretch I just want it out of the way now.. Having almost left the gym completely and focused on road running and the Friday night spin sessions (at the gym).. I haven’t lifted weights for a good while.. and I’m missing it.. I almost miss the idiots in there that spend hours looking in the mirror and texting in between grunt sets… Ok maybe I don’t miss that part.. When I get past these marathons and cut down the distances I’m running I feel like I’ve got my body to a point where I can incorporate some really valuable cardio sessions in between weight sessions.. Knowing my own limitations I don’t think my next challenge could be anything above a marathon distance or a triathlon considering the fact that I hate swimming. I’ve put so much time into this I’m just looking forward to relaxing, having a holiday and leaving my trainers in a cupboard for a bit!

13th September – Hull Marathon
20th September – Bath Two Tunnels Marathon
27th September – Robin Hood Nottingham Marathon

It tires me just writing down those events! With a wedding to attend on the 12th the first marathons routine is going to be challenging.. but I’m confident. For Bath I’m going on the friday night so feel like I’ll have some valuable time to settle and relax.. No doubt my wife and daughter will be off exploring and no doubt I’ll get dragged along for a bit (I’ll pretend I dont want to).. but it should be a great experience and I’ll know what to expect having ran the week before! The challenge will then come to a conclusion in Nottingham.. then I can rest.. and eat.. a lot.

I’d like to thank all the people that have left me some amazing advice to help me through the training. You have no idea how much it has helped and how grateful I am. As a novice in this whole running thing.. its been invaluable.. so thank you!

To finish I just want to rant about something that’s been on my mind for literally my entire training.. why the hell does everybody all of a sudden want to be a cyclist? I cant believe how many middle aged men I see riding past me in full Lycra with a go pro camera attached to their helmet.. I know Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have inspired a lot of people but come on.. Every time I step out the house to run I feel like I’m interrupting the tour de’ France. I guess I just get a bit jealous that they get to sit down and I don’t…

2 weeks and counting..

It never gets easier you just get stronger..

I used to be the type of kid that would always think the sky is falling. Why am I so differently wired in my noggin? ‘Cause sporadic as my thoughts come, it’s mind boggling. ‘Cause I obsess on everything in my mind small shit bothers me…. (Eminem – Legacy)

You know when you hear something and it just makes sense? I get that from a lot of Eminem tracks Iv’e heard over the years.. and not because my mums on crack or anything.. haha. Well she might be.. I always wonder who the strange guy is that she used to meet up with outside Asda or why we had to enter that witness protection program.. never really put much thought into it. Anyway.. back to my point.. Its lyrics such as the above that I relate to.. As I’ve discussed over the past few weeks I find it really hard to focus on my training when I have a lot on my mind.. at the moment nothing is ringing truer.. I’ll be honest and say its taking quite a lot to actually stick with it and to go through with the events at the moment.. With a lot of personal things happening I need to focus on the fact that I’ve put so much into this.. I’ve given it absolutely everything and more.. I’ve put it before almost everything. I’ve planned my entire life around training on the evenings and on the weekends. My wife and daughter are sick of seeing me stretching in the middle of the kitchen or inquiring if anyone’s been drinking my isotonic drinks.. It’s things like this which make me determined not to give up. Oh and the fact that loads of people have sponsored me and would probably get pissed off if I gave up.

Leading up to the 22 miles I completed on Sunday I’ve started to stray from the training plan I’ve been following. I’m not too worried about it because as previously discussed I feel its important to work to what is right for your own body. When your aching, rest up and go harder tomorrow. With a run on the agenda later I may just have to take this advice.. Resting will give me everything I need to be stronger, faster and more determined to finish the week strong.. Not listening to my body and not resting will mean the fatigue will take over and every session would be pointless. With a half marathon distance to complete on Sunday I’m determined to once again beat my quickest time.. and I’m confident I will.

I’m also starting to think I haven’t chosen the best time to move house.. but that’s another story! Whilst getting to a point where I’m counting down the days until the 3 marathons are out of the way I’m also looking forward to it all.. I know I can finish them and I’m confident I can recover in the 6 days in between each one. Does anyone have any advice on this? Obviously not many people are stupid enough to do marathons on consecutive weekends so there aren’t many plans around which say what to do exercise wise and diet on the days in between each one.. Obviously the evening after the last one will consist of just Pizza and Whisky.. standard.

Part of me wishes I’d only signed up for one.. that I could prepare and then celebrate my achievement.. however part of me knows I wouldn’t be satisfied with that.. I think I proved this by booking a half marathon the day after a 10K and a marathon the day after the half. I’m always striving for more.. I constantly feel like I have something to prove to not only others but myself.. that I always need a goal.. something to aim for.. Without this my days have no meaning and seem irrelevant. On 28th September I have no idea what that goal will evolve into.. Whilst I’m intrigued to find out I’m also concerned for my well being.. after all.. I never do anything by halves..

The body achieves what the mind believes.

If you believe in something.. you can achieve it. This was the only thing on my mind from midday on Sunday.

  
To set the scene.. preparation was good.. having spent the early afternoon at the Chinese buffet  for my wife’s birthday I resisted all the spicy temptations in front of me.. Opting for a few chips and some rice washed down with some water.. (And some olives weirdly enough)

 
I was feeling good.. but most importantly I was feeling confident. The evening brought my usual cheese pizza and an early night with the alarm firmly set for 6am. Once that alarm went off I was up and down the stairs preparing the standard long run day breakfast and its routine I have previously discussed.. (don’t worry I wont bore you with it again!).. Fast forward to 9am and I was hitting the start button on mapmyrun (which I highly recommend as an app for any keen runners) and setting off to attempt something Id never done before.. that 20+ run marker.. 22 miles.. i was firmly coming for you.. By now I know your all on the edge of your seat waiting to find out how it went.. well to do things slightly different tonight.. heres the mindset I went through:

Mile 1: I’ve got this.. only another 21 miles to go.. jesus that’s a lot.. i’ve got another 3 and a half hours of this..
Mile 2: It’s really warm today.. should probably be going a bit quicker but really dont want to tire myself out this early.. Why the hell have I got a stitch?
Mile 3: Wonder where this way goes?
Mile 4: Ah yeah.. that old fella is way ahead of me.. bet hes not going as far as me though so it doesn’t matter.
Mile 5: Right Im going to run along this canal for the next 9 miles.. then if I just turn back on I can run 8 and a bit back and then i’ll have a bit of a stretch to walk it off afterwards.
Mile 6: Another 3 hours to go at this pace I reckon..
Mile 7: Almost a 3rd of the way there now.. jesus is that all.
Mile 8. This was a lot easier last weekend..
Mile 9: There are so many canal boats out today.. I cant be bothered to wave at them all so Ill just put my head down and pretend I havent seen you..
Mile 10: Double figures.. we got this.. Nearly half way.
Mile 11: What is with all these canal boats?
Mile 12: Right.. almost time to turn around..
Mile 13: Thats half a marathon done.. on the return leg now.. wonder if ive got enough water to last..
Mile 14: This music is doing my head in..
Mile 15: Why cant I stop staring at the stats on my Adidas Micoach gps watch..(turns it off).
Mile 16: Thats better.. this music is still driving me crazy.. (turns it off)
Mile 17: Feels weird running without music on.. no mate I’m not going to wave at you..
Mile 18: Right.. anything onwards is new territory
Mile 19: Ive ran out of water..

Id just like to say.. at this point I ran past a pub and for the first time ever had decided to run with a little bit of cash in case of an emergency.. altho running by a canal id say the only emergency would have been either falling in or getting beaten up by a goose. So yeah.. I ventured into ‘The Plough’ pub.. full running gear on obviously.. ask for a bottle of water.. and the woman felt the need to ask.. “Still or Sparkling”.. yes love.. definately sparkling.. throw in ice and a slice of lemon whilst were at it yeah? Crazy! Anyway.. must crack on..

Mile 20: This is when I started doubting myself.. and had to literally talk to myself out loud to get through it.. it was difficult but I wasnt going to give up.. the walking became more frequent but no way was I giving up.
Mile 21: Almost there.. another few minutes and its done.
Mile 22: Im done.

I really did give it everything and really surprised myself.. My time wasnt great and was much slower than the minutes per mile I did 18 miles in a few weeks ago but for me it was about completing the distance and putting in the miles on the legs rather than knackering myself out early on and not finishing it..

Im now completely confident I can run 26.2 miles.. and I will..

My legs are still incredibly heavy but tonight (tuesday) I managed the scheduled 6.1 miles and felt pretty good.. happy with that considering I put myself through 4 hours of hell only 24 hours previous.

19 days to go…….

I’ve learnt so much about myself over the past few months and achieved things I didnt think I could. I really hope reading about my journey can inspire you to achieve something yourself.. put down that second iced bun and set yourself some targets.. break them down into something manageable and focus.. Its as simple as that.

…Your focus determines your reality

Are you ready? It’s a phrase you spend your who life either asking or being asked.. When you’re younger and being shouted at by your mother who is impatiently waiting by the front door to go and do the food shopping..(who the hell wants to go food shopping at 9am on a saturday morning anyway).. when you’re a miserable teenager, again being questioned by your mother who’s on the 3rd attempt at getting you out of bed for school.. Fast forward to being asked the same question by the recruiter on the day of the interview for that job you really want.. To your best man asking you the same thing the morning of your wedding.. It really is a question we never truly get away from. I think as you take more responsibility for your own existence and actions in life its a question you often ask yourself often as self reflection.. I’m not counting the 50 times a day it gets asked as a parent here.. lets forget that side of things!

So are you ready? Whatever it is your getting ready for.. are you? I asked myself that very question yesterday evening. I’d ended the day quite successfully with a 6.5 mile run covering a new route in the rain. I love running in bad weather.. not only does it keep you really cool but it means there are less people around to get in the way.. Having taken an extra rest day after the half marathon distance at the weekend I knew my body needed to be feeling good so I could feel positive going into the weekends 22 mile session. Luckily, my focus was good and my legs were up to the task..  With another hour session tonight and my standard friday 60 minute spin bike session tomorrow.. I think Sunday will truly be make or break.. and I have no intention of it being the latter.

I am ready. I’m ready to hit 22 miles like it’s never been hit before.. to put my body through what I’m guessing will be about 3 n a half hours of hell whilst loving every second of it.. If I can get through this I know I’ll be ‘marathon ready’. Having already completed 18 miles a few weeks ago I know I have nothing to be scared of and just need to relax and have faith in my abilities. It’s been one hell of a journey so far but one I am really enjoying.. On Sunday morning my focus will well and truly define my reality. It will be the longest distance I cover as I enter the ‘3 week taper’ to the first marathon and with my best friends wedding the morning before, I’m hoping to be as relaxed as possible.. Just the small task of moving house next weekend (I don’t do anything by halves!) to get through first and aforementioned friends stag do.. (just a water for me please mate).

No matter what my marathon times end up being.. like I’ve said over and over.. I’m no elite athlete.. I’m no long term distance runner.. I’m an average guy with a desire to succeed. I want to make my family proud and I want to do it with a smile on my face. You can sit there tucking into your donut with your morning coffee whilst telling yourself that its fine to have a treat once in a while.. the same treat you allowed yourself yesterday.. but I wont be. Yeah I may be slightly judgemental and struggle not to give some comment or other.. (I mean why hold back when it comes so naturally to me?).. If your happy with the way you are then fine.. but why be content with ‘average’? I think with a little focus and commitment anyone can achieve great success.. Put it this way.. on 28th September, some idiot from the Midlands with a incredible talent for blogging is going to wake up with 3 marathon medals on the bedside table.. Whoever that guy is.. If he can do that..imagine what you are capable of.. You just have to give it a go..

Always remember, your focus determines your reality. George Lucas

Nothings wrong I’ve just got a lot on my mind…

For as long as I can remember I have always regarded running as a way of alleviating stress or a way to clear your mind of anything that’s troubling you.. Being someone that has a run a hell of a lot of miles over the past few months I believe it to be completely false.. If anything it makes it worse! I know people will say that it gives you time to mull things over and to think clearly as your running but I completely disagree.. with long distance running, if anything it makes you over think everything!

Being newly married and having a soon to be a teenage step daughter means there is often a lot of stress in our house.. admittedly most of it is caused by me! My wife and I also have quite hectic jobs and as I’ve previously mentioned she uses her spare time to complete further accountancy qualifications which leaves her quite tired most days.. I do admire her for how much she actually manages to fit into her day with me moaning added to that! So with all these stressful situations that occur both at work and at home you think I would look forward to an evening run to clear my head and just hit the pavement alone with only my music and my thoughts as company.. its these thoughts however that usually disrupt the running!

Ever since I was younger my mum always used to say, “Never go to bed on an argument”.. and its something that’s stayed with me all my life so far. It does mean that on occasion I follow my wife round the house ‘attempting’ to sort the row.. which annoys the hell out of her as shes a “walk round in silence for 2 days” kind of person.. I get her methods though as my way usually makes things 10 times worse! So when these scenarios occur and I’m scheduled to run it puts me off completely..Yeah it gives me chance to work out why I’ve been an idiot and how I can sort it out but it also makes me just want to go home and do it.. which doesn’t help when im 10 minutes into a 2 hour run.. If its work related its slightly easier since I have no choice but to wait until the next morning but it still isn’t helpful. My ideal scenario is.. music on and a smile on my face (if you know me your probably shocked that I smile occasionally!)  and this is what brings my eagerness to succeed in that particular session. I have to get myself completely in the zone otherwise I’m constantly staring at my current distance and times or shuffling through songs after they’ve played for about 10 seconds.. Without getting to this zone it just doesn’t work. That coupled with getting my routines completely right mean there is high potential for disaster.. I know what your saying.. “Just stop being a douche bag Ben”.. but that’s easier said than done! I’ve never been great at communicating out loud (which I guess is proven by my obvious writing talents!) and having come from a broken home never really understood the mechanics of a ‘happy family’.. Yeah I was never unhappy and my family have done a hell of a lot for me over the years but at the same time we’ve also never been that ‘picturesque family setup’.. It’s made me who I am today so in some respects I’m glad things worked out the way they did as it makes me strive to achieve things on my own..

I guess my incredible desire to succeed in these marathon attempts is down to my need to prove to not only myself but everyone else that I’m capable of achieving great things and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I also want to be inspiration to anyone else who’s spent their life feeling like they’re average and only capable of mediocre successes. Your only limiting your own potential if you think that way and that’s something I’ve only recently come to realise.. you waste so much time stuck in this mindset when you could just be getting on with it.

I’d be interested to hear from other marathon trainers about how their frame of mind at the time affects their training. I know it can be slightly easier on the shorter runs but what about the longer ones?

People do always say my wife deserves a medal for putting up with me so maybe I should give her one of my marathon ones? Does that count?

Social Media… Good or Bad?

Lets be honest.. everyone loves social media. I hear so many people slating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.. myself included.. yet everybody loves attention in some shape or form and loves to know what everyone else is up to. We cant help ourselves.. It’s literally become a staple part of everyone’s daily routine. Whether it be waking up and checking Facebook literally the second you open your eyes.. or checking Instagram every time you get a few spare minutes at work.. I know Facebook is a lot more personal and a lot more friend/family based so yeah its a great tool for keeping up with people you hardly see.. It’s also become the norm that you could see someone for the first time in years and them be able to tell you how great you looked on your recent holiday and that you and your new partner make a great couple. We’ve all just come to accept it.

Personally, living far away from my family and lots of my friends means Facebook is a great tool to stay ‘in the loop’. It also means my mum can see what I’m up to without me having to call her regularly.. (bonus!…sorry mum). I think the ‘birthday Facebook’ message has also become a staple part of society too.. you could send expensive flowers and a fantastic card but unless you’ve written it on Facebook you will be in the bad books..

Instagram is a strange outlet.. I love it. Second only to my new found love of WordPress of course. The fact that it engages over 300 million active monthly users (Yes I Googled that) is insane.. It’s a great way to also connect with friends and family but on a much more impersonal level.. It’s essentially a platform for you to see pictures of people better looking than you, living lives far better than your own.. yet it will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.. Its like that dodgy soap opera you’ll never admit to liking.. we as a society just cant get enough!

Since I started my marathon training I’ve predominantly used it as a way of people to see how I’m getting on, and also post motivational images I may find across the internet. Yeah I don’t have thousands of followers or own a Ferrari.. but I enjoy posting on it and enjoy the level of engagement I get from it. To be honest what inspired this post is quite amusing actually.. in my blog post on Sunday I posted an image of the Pizza I made, as part of my ‘night before’ long run regime.. This picture is currently my ‘most liked’ photo on Instagram.. surpassing all of my motivational imagery and training photos! Its instances like this that make you realise just how superficial social media can be at times.. especially Instagram. Scanning through the comments section of a famous persons Instagram posts can be as amusing as watching any top comedian.. Like I’ve highlighted above.. unless you look like Zac Efron, The Rock, are a member of One Direction or have the surname Kardashian people simply aren’t interested.. This doesn’t mean whatever your posting isn’t interesting or isn’t relevant to someone.. or that your any less of a person to those mentioned above.. It just means your not attracting the right audience.. and maybe your correct audience isn’t even on social media.. To be honest the amount of things being posted every second of the day, your lucky to be seen by any one of any relevance..

Facebook has definitely helped me during my training. Its been great to get good luck messages if I’ve posted about an up and coming ‘long run’ or well done messages after posting how I got on.. Using ‘MapmyRun’ gives the option to link with Facebook and I find it really handy.. I posted about the half marathon distance I was running on Sunday and got lots of well wishes beforehand.. It really did spur me on as I didn’t want to let these people down or have to go through the task of letting them know I hadn’t achieved my goal.. (I was 34 seconds out ok just let it go!!)

I’m still incredibly undecided how I truly feel about social media but it definitely wont stop me continuing to post as I lead up to my 3 marathons. Even if deep down people only want to see me post pictures of pizza! I’d be interested to hear about the part it plays in motivating you and links in with your fitness/training goals. Let me know!

Id also like to take the opportunity to clarify that my wife hasn’t ever given me a ‘left hook’.. that she’s lovely and would never beat me. (shes made me write this, call for help).

As always, cheer for reading!

Warning – Do not Approach!

Over the years I’ve come to realise that despite being incredibly helpful, and always there for the people who need me to be (and did I mention modest?) that I’m also pretty unapproachable at times.. (ok a lot of the time!).. During my training I’ve also learnt that this is multiplied by 10 the day after a long run.

Over the past 3+ months as I’ve improved my running capabilities and physical fitness I’ve pushed both my body and my mind further than my previously perceived limitations. Its important that you develop both at the same time because as I previously found out.. if your mind doesn’t think you can do it then it doesn’t mean a thing if your legs think they can.. It becomes irrelevant.. You won’t get there.

So as I was saying.. by pushing myself to the limit yesterday meant that my mind as well as my body was obviously going to fatigued.. and no matter how much food you consume to replenish what you’ve burnt (damn that pick and mix yesterday was good.. ok and the 10 biscuits.. and the malt loaf).. I don’t believe anyone can wake up feeling ready to do it all over again without some level of mental fatigue.. yes if your an elite athlete you’ll manage a lot better but if we say I worked at 95% of my capability yesterday.. then if an elite athlete worked at the same level of theirs would they still be walking with a spring in their step this morning? I’m not so sure..

Whilst I’m not aching as much as I would have expected I’m mentally fatigued.. its a hard feeling to comprehend because whilst I’m not feeling ‘tired’ or ‘worn out’ I just feel completely on edge.. I feel like if anybody wants to test me then there is definitely a diving headbutt coming their way.. or if they’re bigger than me ‘a strong APPROACH-WITH-CAUTIONworded letter’. Its a weird head space to be in to be honest because I know im in it.. usually when people are in a bad mood they will deny it and just think everyone else is being unreasonable.. I’m definitely one of these people. However I know my own current thought processes are unreasonable and that it isn’t the norm for me.. Does anyone else experience this? Many of you may not have even thought about it and simply thought they didn’t get enough sleep.. but I’m sure everyone has felt it in some shape or form during their own training regimes.

To be honest I’m glad its happening for the simple fact that in completing 3 consecutive marathons over 14 days I’m obviously going to be fatigued in every way possible. I have no doubts that for 3 weeks Monday mornings are going to be an absolute nightmare. That’s why I’m hoping I can learn a few things from this experience as I come to the end of my training..

What probably doesn’t help is that I thought considering next Sunday is a 22 mile training session that this week would be pretty easy on the build up to the run.. how wrong I was.. the next 5 days training are some of the longest ‘warm up’ runs I’ve done! Your feeling sorry for me right? Oh your not? … Fine.

I know that tomorrow is a new day and that after a good rest this evening I’ll be ready to press on and prepare myself for Sunday. That however doesn’t help the here and now.. what methods do you use to overcome this kind of fatigue (other than destroying every single human being you come into contact with).. I’ve read my company handbook and I think that’s frowned upon unfortunately. It doesn’t however say that smiling is obligatory..

Don’t worry.. I’ll be friendly tomorrow 🙂

Looking forward to getting your thoughts based on your own experiences.

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So what’s made you smile this weekend?

I remember when weekends used to be about ‘relaxing’ and ‘ taking it easy’ after a hard slog at the office all week.. since the marathon training began however, weeekends became the place where the hard miles truly take place. Training sessions Tuesday – Friday being all about shorter distances and getting more hours in on the legs and Saturday about preperation for the ‘long run’ Sunday session.

Today was half marathon distance.. 13.1 miles. Having ran 2 event half marathons this year with times of 2hrs1min and 2hrs4mins I was confident I could better these times even if it was only by a second.. Id broken the 2 hour mark once before during training for these half events.. so knew I was capable.. Id decided that if I couldnt after all the training and being only 4 weeks from my first marathon then I may have a slight problem!

To give you an insight into my preperation (whether it be right or wrong for you I dont know).. all I know is it works for me. If you couldnt care less what my prep is and just enjoy my witty jottings then scroll down a bit further.. Id understand as like i said theres nothing I hate more than a blog which details someones entire workout regime and not a great deal else.. I’ll try to keep this brief:

Night before:

  • No fizzy drinks consumed the day before a long run. I only drink coke zero anyway but I avoid these and stick to water the night before.
  • My dinner is aways a homemade cheese pizza with light mozerella topping and a few vegetables. I avoid any meat or spices. (the other one is the wifes!) IMG_5415
  • Filter coffee with dinner. (without going into too much detail this helps me with my stomach during my morning routine on ‘race day’!)
  • Sip water during the majority of the evening.
  • Plan your route! It really does help to try a new route for those longer runs so you dont get bored and continue to push yourself.

Run day:

I’ll try to replicate the timings of an actual race as best I can. I really recomend this for your own training. For example most races start between 9-10am.. with this in mind I’ll get up at 6.30am to prepare my breakfast (no sunday lie ins in this dojo im affraid!).

  • Breakfast consists of 3 poached eggs, 2 slices of white bread and brown sauce (love it, dont judge me).
  • 1 filter coffee with creamIMG_5027
  • Keep sipping water
  • Stretch
  • Take energy gels with you
  • Vaseline! I use Carmex which I definately recommend

Consuming this by 7am means my body has 2 hours to digest the food and also means theres enough time to ensure Im not caught short during my run and so I dont have to take the andrex puppy along with me.

Anyways.. thats an insight into my routine and if you found it shit then fair enough! If any of it was helpful then feel free to incorporate it into your own routine and let me know if it works for you. I’m also open to any suggestions if you think my routine could be adjusted to my advantage!

So the prep was back on track, I felt I’d got it spot on and followed it the best I could. I didnt let the disappointment of ‘Match of the Day’ not having recorded get to me and to my luck, all the goals were on sky sports news as I ate my eggs. Lovely.. Coupled with the knowledge that Arsenal v Crystal Palace and Man City v Chelsea were on the agenda later in the day, the day had definately started off well.. I usually get ready half hour before I intend to run after an hour on my Xbox to relax. This gives me a good 20 minutes of stretching, listening to music and getting in the zone for the hours ahead. This time I decided to post on facebook my aim, which was to achieve a half marathon time of 1hr 55. With my marathon pace being 9 minute miles this would ensure that I was running pretty much on track with this (slightly quicker) heading into the next few weeks. My thinking behind this was that during my run I wouldnt want to write on facebook that Id failed.. so this spurred me on.. It definately helped in the last few minutes so Id definately recommend setting youself some goals.

Fast forward 2 hours and Id completed the run.. I definately messed up with the ammount of hills in the last couple of miles but I’d done it. This is the part where I will say that because youve all read my journey so far (and no doubt see me as a friend now).. that your going to let me off the 34 seconds.. My half marathon personal best is now 1hr 55 mins, 34 seconds.. A time im incredibly proud of..and let me just say I dont care if your reading this as an elite runner whos completing them closer to an  hour than 2.. I started this blog for the average guy, looking to better themselves.. so if your laughing at that time.. jog on.. literally. To be honest Im sure your not.. Ive had some great comments from guys achieving amazing marathon times and it’s much appreciated..

IMG_5442-0Stretching, a few sports drinks and a shower later and I was ready to watch Arsenal with my favourite post run treat.. a pick n mix.. (obviously after id had something more substantial)..

I had a smile on my face as the clock struck midday and I thought about all the people who were probably only just waking up or tucking into their fry ups..  I promised myself I’d achieve big things this year.. and that hasnt changed..  Everything is on track and that negative blip is a thing of the past now.. (I hope).

So.. 4 weeks to go.. what next? Well next sunday is 22 miles training distance.. and that will be the longest distance I’ll cover before I line up on race day ready to compete. It probably doesnt help that Saturday is my wifes birthday.. and I dont think she would appreciate a night in with a homemade pizza again! (remember that left hook I told you about!!)..Luckily she’s had her present early so no last minute rushing around.. (Iwatch incase you wondered!)..  As I sit here aching massively I find it hard to work out how Im feeling about next weeks distance.. but thats natural after today. Completing long distances leaves you mentally as well as physically drained and I’m also certain its a feeling I’ll revisit the days in between my consecutive marathons.. and I’m ready for it.. rest day tomorrow and 5 days training and I’ll be ready to achieve another personal achievement in completing my longest ever distance (the current being 18 miles).. any Idea what kind of time I should be aiming for?? Let me know.

The final test I have to face this evening is struggling my way down the stairs to go get the biscuits.. Hard work PAYS off.. put in the work and treat yourself.. Or do fuck all and just feel sorry for yourself and eat the whole packet.. something tells me that if your following this blog you wont take that option.. Ive read some great blogs since I joined this site and I look forward to hearing how your own journeys are going..

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Shout out to everyone reading my journey from countries I never imagined would give a shit about some idiot from the UK running 3 marathons.. Thanks for your support!