I'll post a final update on how much was raised for the schools in Pokot later, but it looks like it will be about £2,300. There's still time (hint, hint)! In fact this blog, which I set up because I saw someone else saying that they'd had strangers donate through becoming interested, didn't have the affect of attracting any donations from strangers - but it's been fun anyway.
I benefited a lot from reading other runners' blogs and reading all the advice I could from the Internet. Of course, some of it conflicts and as ever, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so you have to be cautious. In case it helps anyone, I've uploaded the spreadsheet with my training record. Anyone can click on the HTML one, but the spreadsheet one has more comments in:
- HTML (web browser) format (anyone can read this)
- OpenDocument Spreadsheet format (Microsoft Excel users will need to download this plug-in - most other office programs will open it without extra help).
You'll see that I did about 6 months training, starting from nothing, running 4 times every week unless injured or a couple of times with an extra little jog thrown in. I didn't do any cross-training (i.e. exercise other than running), but think I should have done. It would have reduced the injury risk and made the cycling I had to do in the final weeks because of the shin splint easier! (It's not a good stage to start stressing muscles that you haven't stressed before!). I worked up to about 40 miles a week (only going over it once - 42 miles), and maintained that level for a couple of months more or less. All I can say is that it worked for me. Here are some unordered thoughts in case they come in useful for anyone:
- It took me a few weeks to realise that you can't carry on trying to increase your mileage and speed every week and every run. The body does not get much fitter if you over-do it. I needed to relax. One shorter-than-planned run does not really spoil anything. You can't skimp on doing the quota of long runs, but one shortened session is better than being injured for weeks. I didn't get my first proper injury until the last three weeks, so I didn't have the lesson of hindsight: if something starts hurting persistently and doesn't go away, stop running! It's not worth aggravating it whilst you grind out the last 5 miles!
- It took me a long time to learn to relax. But this is the key, I think. It takes a while to get a sense of the speeds you're comfortable at and where all the gears are. I'm sure that someone who does running anyway would get into it a lot quicker.
- I tried to do too many long runs too close together at first. The long runs do take a toll. You get fitter when resting in between runs as your body rebuilds, not during them as it spends its resources. Good sleep makes a great difference!
- I should have got shock absorbers earlier. I also did all my running on the roads, as there aren't any long stretches I knew of off them - but I should have probably tried harder to find them to protect myself from the impact. Looking at my second pair of running shoes, the heels are very worn, but I didn't have any injuries whilst using them.
- Running whilst holding a fluid bottle in my hand worked for me. I got so used to it it felt quite odd to not carry one.
- I never ran with a heart-rate monitor or fancy GPS thingy to track my distance and speed. If I was going to get serious and do this again, that might be interesting. But frankly as a first timer it doesn't seem worth it.
- Stretching is good. Skimping on it is bad!
- As a first timer, I was nervous that the last few weeks with reduced training load (which in my case was enforced because of the injury so I didn't have a choice) - would it cost me? By race day, I felt I could hardly remember what it was like to run. But, all such thoughts vanish pretty soon. I really felt the benefit of the freshness - much different to when in the hard parts of the training.
- Finally... I should have followed the advice I'd seen to put some vaseline on my nipples! I'd not done this on the long runs in training and I'd been fine; but on race day it really rubbed it down and left me with ongoing soreness for the next few days and a nice scab. My wife says she saw people running at the end with blood pouring down their clothes from theirs; not very nice!
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