Sunday, 15 January 2012

Why, if you have a stomach, to't, monsieur!

When I first started blogging last year I launched into full explanations of why I was doing the events I'd chosen. Might as well do it again then...

So, up first in the year is the Shakespeare Marathon, a 2 circuit route round, through and about Stratford-on-Avon, and of course a fantastic excuse to use a load of bard quotations for the titles of various posts between now and the event. Today's of course comes from All's Well That Ends Well, though the levels of cultivation and sophistication are so high among my readership that I know you knew that already, and didn't have to go anywhere near an online Shakespeare quotation engine, unlike your philistine correspondent.

I've basically decided to run in Jan, Feb, March and April this year, and ride my bike in May, June, July and August. Why? Any number of reasons. The running first: having started a new job which keeps me in London most of the time, it fits the rest of my life well first off. Second, I love targets, and having temporarily run out of realistic ones in cycling, doing a marathon in 3:30 is a genuine ambition. Next, and I can't believe I'm writing this, but the house needs quite a lot of decorating and maintenance doing on it, and I could do with getting stuck into that in the next couple of months - a 2 hour run can be accommodated around that, a half-day ride can't. And finally, on weekends like this one, all crisp and frosty and sunny, running is pretty safe compared to bowling around slippy back roads on 23mm of rubber.  However, the cycling, ahh the cycling - I won't launch  into an ode to its joy and beauty, but when push came to shove I couldn't go a year without doing something interesting. I fear I'm a conditional lover though - the joy and beauty only really make themselves known to me in foreign climes these days; cycling on many British roads is too much an exercise in self-preservation for my liking. If the source of the danger is a swooping hairpin that I'm trying to negotiate at 30 mph, fantastic, but if it's a dozy punter checking their texts behind the wheel, count me out thanks.

So running it is for the moment. I've managed a fairly modest 30 miles this week, but that's ok for this far out from the event; I'm just reminding the joints, ligaments and tendons what it's like to take the strain. I'm going to have to do something different in training this year to shave the 10% off last year's marathon time that I need to, on the basis of that hoary old management aphorism that if you do what you always did you'll get what you always got. I think it boils down to 3 things at the moment:
- more mileage: I'd only run a total of 300 miles last when I ran the marathon; that's just not enough really
- more speed work: to get used to going faster
- sort out the ITB (muscle/tendon group between the knee and thigh, illotibial band to give it its full name) down my right hand side. I've come to the conclusion that was the source of the searing pain in last year's marathon, and which caused me to have to walk a couple of times.

I'm off to my low-cost, high-tech (entry by finger print only) London gym tomorrow for the first time. Normally I can't bear treadmills, as 1 minute running outside feels more like 10 on one of those, but hey ho, needs must. I can't complain - the run in the forest this morning, before there were too many other souls around, looking down on a white and still Cheshire, reminded me of a Paul Simon line (not sure if he nicked it off someone else), "these are the days of miracle and wonder" - it was a joy to be out there, and the contrast was so huge with both what are folk are experiencing in the world now (Syria, Afghanistan et al), and have done in the past (went to see War Horse at Mrs Monmonduman's request yesterday; terrible schmaltz, but no-holds-barred depiction of First World War trenches and their horrors) was humbling. Enough already, before I test your tolerance of piousness too far.

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