Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Resolutions!!!

Wow - doesn't 4 months go fast?

Well that's the last time I posted as The Fat Runner. Since the Nike 10k, the amount of running I did went down sharply. A couple of colds in October, a lot of travelling in November, and then the party season in December, coupled with the dark and cold mornings/nights gave me enough of an excuse to persuade myself that it was ok not to go running.

But now is the time for New Year's Resolutions - time to forget about all of the bad habits and to leave them behind, and think only to what you can do now!!

So, here I declare to the world (well at least the world which reads this blog) to:
a) go to the gym 100 times this year
b) on top of this, run a total of 300 miles
c) on top of this, cycle a total of 1,000 miles

This is actually quite a target to go for, and I'll keep you updated as I go.

But, in the luxury of armchair planning, this is what it might look like:

Monday morning - 7am gym
Tuesday evening - 3 mile run
Thursday morning - 7am gym
Saturday morning - 3 mile run (the Wimbledon Common Time Trial)
Sunday morning - 20 mile bike ride

So this doesn't look impossible. But then I ask myself why I haven't been able to do a schedule like this for the last 5 years or so?

Is work the reason?

No - I used to work just as many hours - perhaps more - in my mid 20's but was still able to get to the gym 3-5 times a week.

Is socialising the reason?

While it is true that I spend more time socialising now than I used to, I can't blame that on my lack of progress on my fitness goals.

Is family life the reason?

Ahhh - perhaps we're on to something here. I LOVE spending time with my wife, and given the choice of going for a run or being with her, then it's too easy to choose the latter. I was having a chat with one of my colleagues about this - his wife is just about to give birth to their second child, and yet he is able to go for a long bike ride and a short bike ride per week, and has the same job as I do. His secret was to specify "Me time" with his wife.

Me time - what's that?

It's time which they both specifically set aside for themselves as individuals - he uses his to go cycling and she uses hers to go to art galleries and museums (she works for an auction house).

So I had a similar conversation with my wife this morning and shared with her the above schedule.

The schedule starts when I get back to London (I'm in Sweden at the moment, it's -5 deg C and too cold to run). I'll let you know how I get on - let's see if I can resist the temptations of my wife!

Happy 2009!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Nike Human Race - TFR's first 10k!!

Yes, yesterday TFR entered himself into his first 10k run - the Nike Human Race based at Wembley.

I'm not sure how much you've read about the Nike Human Race, but certainly the various forumites at Runner's World were not particularly enthusiastic.

Without wanting to rehash it all here, many people were complaining about the fact that it was (a) too expensive for what it was, (b) based in Wembley, so not easy for everyone to get to, (c) a twisty track, (d) based in Wembley, which is not the prettiest run and (e) not particularly well organised to the extent that Nike were unable to give anyone a definite start time.

On the day, Nike's (dis)organisation appeared to be even worse. The poor runners in Waves 1 and 2 were herded onto the pitch, where they stood from before 6pm until around 7.30pm when the first waves headed out (while the heavens were opening up on them through the open Wembley roof). All of this came after two support acts - Pendulum and Moby - who only a portion of the runners were interested in. In my view, these acts were entirely irrelevant but even worse than that, they made the event worse by delaying the start...

Anyway, I was in Wave 4, so started running at about 8.20pm (this, despite having to be inside the stadium well before 6pm).

But once the race was underway, things were actually rather good. I worked hard to keep my heart rate down (so in other words, worked hard at not working hard, ha ha!) and other than blisters from about 7k, had a really great time. The rain probably helped to keep everything cool, and certainly kept the dust down from what is the Wembley building site. The fact that it was dark made the floodlit Wembley stadium even more dramatic (as well as hid some of the less interesting parts of the industrial estate we were running around). And the marshalls, some of which had been there since 4pm, were continually shouting encouragement and clapping - in fact the marshalls were the best part of the event.

As I'd started off relatively slowly, it meant that I was able to pass a bunch of people throughout all of the 10k, which was a very nice feeling and probably contributed to my thoroughly enjoying the race (once it had started).

And my time? 1 hour 5 mins 20 seconds - not bad for my first 10k I think... At least I was happy with it.

Will I do more 10k's? Absolutely - but will probably aim for the larger ones like this where there is more of an 'atmosphere' and more people who are my standard (or worse, hopefully!)

Will I do another Nike event? That depends. I think that the whole concept of this event was completely misguided and I'll be a little more suspect of any future Nike event. Certainly, if they can't tell me when I'll be starting (to withing 10/15 minutes) or think that locking people up in a stadium for three hours before they can run is an acceptable way of organising a race, I'll be going elsewhere...

In any event, I'll be wearing my "I raced the world" finisher's T-shirt with pride!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Rapid weight loss

A bit of a funny week this has been... But a good one!

When TFR weighed in before the Wimbledon Common Time Trial 5k, he weighed around 100 kg (Saturday 23rd).

His WCTT run performance was dismal. Although he felt great around the whole course, and overtook a few people on each lap, when the clock finally stopped, it was very much the wrong side of 30 minutes... He was at a complete loss to understand why, although a bit of analysis on the Garmin Training Center software showed why. When compared with other (faster) runs around Wimbledon Common, it became clear that the run felt easy because it WAS easy... Basically, he didn't push himself hard enough - his heart rate was a good 5 beats per minute lower for the duration of the run...

So anyway, 100 kg on the Saturday.

Then his weight started to drop throughout the week, so that only 6 days later, he is weighing 3 kg less!!

So what might be the reasons for this?

1) Venom Hyperdrive!!! Actually, no. He hasn't been taking VH for a long time (and never really took it consistently... He has a stressful enough job without adding further anxiety with caffeine pills and other 'metabolic enhancers' in VH

2) Exercise? Well he's done a bit more this week than normally - a 1.5 hour bike ride (around 20 miles) on Monday, and a 30 minute run around Kensington Gardens on Wednesday evening

3) Diet? Not sure - although his lunch has become healthier (the Pret a Manger chicken salad rather than a big toasted sandwich) he has still been having a few drinks in the evening. In fact, yesterday's intake consisted of the salad, 1.5 bags of crisps, a few cans of diet coke, two slices of ryvita with smoked salmon, some shepherd's pie and two glasses of champagne. Not obvious diet food!!

So he's at a bit of a loss to explain why this is happening, but it has given him the motivation to watch what he eats more closely. In fact, he was in the office canteen this morning, where every friday they provide free sausage and bacon baguettes (and they're good!) but he went for the muesli instead.

The good thing is that he'll be hauling around 3kg less in this weekend's Nike 10k race.

Talking of which, I must be going so I can pick up my race pack!
Sun 99.1
Mon 98.6
Tue 98.2
Wed 97.7
Thu 97.3
Fri 97.1

Monday, 11 August 2008

Disappointment and motivation

Just a short post from The Fat Runner today.

>> Disappointment

I did the Wimbledon Common Time Trial on Saturday and came in at a disappointing 30 mins 1 second. There are no excuses - the groud was good, not too warm or too cold, no rain etc. It's simply down to the fact that I'm not training enough.

>> Motivation

So I've decided (perhaps foolhardedly) to enter the Nike Human Race - the 10k race which is hoping to attract 1 million people around the world. In London, the run will be starting off from Wembley and it's planned for 31/8/08.

Looks like I'll need to get serious about this training as I've only got three weeks to go from a slow 5k runner to a slow 10k runner...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Wish I had waited...

I wish I had waited before ordering my Maximum Momentum Sports Team tshirt.

Only a few days after I'd ordered the "Don't feed the animal" tee shirt, they produce a new one which I REALLY want for my slow performances around Wimbledon Common at the Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

Anyway, here it is:

It seems to sum up my running pretty well.

In fact, I would have really liked this tee shirt when I was younger and playing american football. I was a full back - a real power position - which meant I was never as fast as the wide receivers. This would have been a good tee shirt to have!

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Fat Runner becomes the Fat Cyclist

The Fat Runner used to be a cyclist before he was a runner. A childhood spent racing BMX bikes at regional level, and then graduating to a bit of mountain bike racing before deciding to get a road bike (as mountain biking in London can be a little pointless...)

But since he moved out of his house and into a second floor flat, his bike has hardly been used.

That was, until last weekend, when he bit the bullet and decided to give his bike an overhaul (inspired by a conversation he had with a colleague while waiting for a plane to Madrid).

Six hours later (there was quite a bit of work to do) he took his bike down to Richmond Park for a lap. The whole ride was around 20 miles, including the 7 mile lap around Richmond Park which he did in 24 mins 30 seconds. This is quite a way off what he was able to do (around 22 mins 15 seconds) and still short of what is seen as the unofficial target for Richmond Park of 20 minutes.

But he's quite happy - this being the first time he had been out on a bike for over a year. But clearly there is room for improvement!!

He'll be trying to finish work early over the next few weeks to see if he can get any more rides in while the nights are still relatively long.

While the cycling is unlikely to improve his running directly, he's hoping that he will have increased fitness and more weight loss so that his running will at least improve indirectly...

I'll keep you updated on how he does!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

T shirts for the Fat Runner

I've just found a T-shirt designer who I think will appeal to The Fat Runner, and indeed to all of the larger runners out there. Check them out at Maximum Momentum Sports Team!

There are only a handful of designs up there at the moment, but there are a couple of good ones which I can imagine running in next time I do the Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

Here's an example:

It seems to be an American company - all of the prices are in dollars, but it doesn't seem to work out too bad for a T-shirt - $20.99 for the shirt and then $10.99 shipping to the UK (I think the US is only $6 or so). So US equals about $27, and UK equals about $32 - or £16...

Anyway, I'm going to buy one of these Maximum Momentum Sports Team tshirts for the Fat Runner and see if he likes it...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Fat Runner back from holidays

Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun sun - as the theme from Red Dwarf states. Also a pretty good description of The Fat Runner's recent holiday!!

Unfortunately he has no photos of where he was running to post here, so he'll just describe it for us in his own words:

"I step outside of the house, set on an island in Scandinavia, and breath in the fresh air - warm from the many hours of sunshine which have been blazing already this morning, and heavily laden with the scents of the nearby fields and forests.

Strapping on my Garmin 305, two quick checks to make sure it has locked on to satellites and to my heart rate monitor, I walk down the gravel track by the side of the old barn and towards the deep blue sea. Once I'm at the boat house, a sharp turn right up to the fence which marks the end of our property, a flick of the 'start' button on my forerunner, and I'm off!

The trees close in a little over the gravel track, but it is still possible to peer through the trees to my left and see a small motor boat humming its way out to sea.

The gravel track merges with the road after about two minutes of running, the trees pull back slightly, and the air feels a little less close.

Now is the time to relax and not push the speed too much - make sure that I have enough in the tank to push harder towards the end.

To the left of me is a steep bank down from the road to the sea and I see some locals getting into their boat at their small pier, almost falling into the sea itself now.

Around a right hand corner, away from the sea and a short and deceptively steep hill. I make sure I slow down even further here, as running up hill stretches the plantar fascia and risks triggering my injury again. But soon I'm past the steep part, and around the next left hand corner is the old school for the island. It is only a few rooms - I think it never had more than about 30 students or so, and closed down over 50 years ago. It's now owned by the local landowners who collectively rent it out to a lady in her seventies. It's also where the traditional midsummer activities are held.

Past the school, and eventually the road plunges downwards and I let my speed pick up naturally with gravity. One of the things I do have is gravity!!

The hill again flattens out, probably about 15 metres or so above the sea. Again, to the left is a very steep bank, covered in pine, spruce and fir trees with the odd house. I'm sure the first one has its own smoker, because the smell of strongly smoked fish comes up towards me - I really need to get my own smoker, as I've been getting better at catching (and filleting) pike this holiday.

But before I know it, the smell has gone, and the only monotonous part of the run starts - I'm about 1.5k in now, and I'm only doing 5k runs.

The few things to look at are the yellows and purples of the roadside flowers which are left to grow virtually unmolested - there is very little traffic which comes down this road. And sometimes peeking out between the flowers you can see the bright red of a wild strawberry - which looks like a normal strawberry in miniature - about the size of a large pea, and as sweet as candy. No time to stop to pick one up though, and I press on.

Once again, the trees give way, this time to farmland which is used to raise cows - dairy cows I think. Only a minute or so and then I reach the fence which marks my turning point.

Back into the trees, past the wild strawberries and the fantastic smoking smell, check the forerunner - could be a good time!

Up past the school, and now downhill back towards the sea - let the speed build up but not too much, and carry it onto the straight. Past the public pier and back down onto the old track. Again check the forerunner - this will definitely be a personal best!

Push for about 90 seconds down the gravel track and get to the fence, stop the forerunner, and yes! A personal best by about 25 seconds!

Quick stretch before walking back up to the house past the barn, and time for a well-earned shower!"

Sounds rather idyllic!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Fat Runner is dead...

...but still running...

Well that's what his Garmin Forerunner 305 is saying.

Before he bought the Forerunner, he researched a bunch of running forums, including the Runner's World forum to see what other runners were saying about the Forerunner 305.

Most runners seemed to be complementary about its features - fast GPS lock-on to satellites, able to track satellites while running in the woods, virtual trainer feature etc. Many of the negatives seemed to be around two things. Firstly, one of the metal contacts seems to go black, stopping the forerunner connecting to a PC and also stopping it from charging. Secondly, some people felt that the Forerunner battery didn't get close to matching the 10 hours battery life promised in the specification.

TFR decided to take a risk on the first concern, and realised that the second concern would be unlikely to be a concern for him - 10 hours of exercise in one go? He's not The Fat Ironman!!

But TFR has a third issue with the forerunner 305 - and that is the life of the battery in the heart rate monitor chest strap. Garmin promises that it will last 3 years, used 1 hour per day - in other words around 1200 hours. TFR, however, has had to replace the battery three times in two years - and this is running on average (perhaps) a few hours per week. So he's getting at most 100 hours out of a battery.

Hence the title of this post. According the his Forerunner, TFR now has no heart rate...

Does anyone else find the same? Perhaps the strap "switches itself on" even when it's not being worn? I'll contact Garmin to see if they have any idea...

Monday, 9 June 2008

The Fat Runner does Fartlek

Fartlek - no sniggering in the back please...

As promised in his Friday night post, The Fat Runner got out into Kensington Gardens on Saturday morning for a 5k run (31:30 or so) and then again on Sunday morning for the same run (31:00 or so).

For the Sunday run, TFR decided to do some Fartlek - mainly because he didn't think he'd be able to keep running for the whole 5k. As regular readers know, he hasn't been able to train as consistently as he'd like given his Plantar Fasciitis injury.

So what is Fartlek? Well Fartlek is Swedish for "Speed play" and it is basically a relatively unstructured session with a mix of running speeds - from walk up to sprint.

TFR ran for around 15 mins before beginning his speed play session - probably roughly a quarter walking, a quarter slow jog, a quarter running, and then a quarter at around 400m pace...

And the interesting thing is, even with the amount of walking, the total time for the run was less than the day before.

Of course, this might just be part of TFR getting used to running again after his plantar fasciitis rehabilitation, or it could mean that this is the fastest way for him to run...

If nothing else, Fartlek certainly makes the training session more interesting, and they say that it increases fitness more quickly.

The summary - TFR is going to be building Fartlek into at least half of his training sessions going forward...

Friday, 6 June 2008

Kensington Gardens run tomorrow morning

Just a quick note to say that now The Fat Runner's plantar fasciitis has cleared up, he's going to be running a very gentle 5k around Kensington Gardens tomorrow at around 0830 to see whether he'll be able to start running the Wimbledon Common Time Trial the next weekend he's in London...

If you're around, then he'll be the one wearing all black... And running slowly...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Venom hyperdrive - starting again

While TFR was on holiday, he didn't take Venom Hyperdrive, the fat loss pill, for two key reasons:

1) He wanted to be able to sleep, and Venom Hyperdrive seems to disrupt sleep patterns quite badly - particularly if you take two tablets

2) He didn't want his wife finding out.

Now that he's back at work, the VH will start again and we'll see whether it works...

Plantar Fasciitis rehabilitation

TFR's plantar fasciitis is fixed! (He thinks...)

Last week he was on holiday, and took the opportunity to break back into running in the gradual way suggested by his physiotherapist.

Tuesday night - 30 mins of 1 min run, 2 min walk
Wednesday afternoon - 30 mins of 2 min run, 2 min walk (had to pull up early because of blisters)
Friday afternoon - 30 mins of 5 min run, 2 min walk

The plantar fasciitis did not come back at all. The only problem was the blisters, which could have been caused by one of two things (or both):

1) The fact that TFR hasn't been able to run for a while, so that his feet have become less hardy and therefore more susceptible to blisters

2) The thick foam packing which his podiatrist fixed onto the inside of his training shoes to provide more support.

In fact, those packings may not just have caused blisters, but were also rather painful at first, and he was tempted to remove them.

However, the very fact that he had decided that "he know's best" back in April, and that is what caused this problem in the first place made him heed the specialist's advice and persevere...

Anyway, good news for now. Now that he's back at work, there is less opportunity to run, but he'll try again tomorrow morning!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Building stretches into daily routine

As you know, The Fat Runner has been advised to do much more stretching to treat his plantar fasciitis. While he wasn't sure how he would have the time to do this, he has started to build stretching into his daily routine so it takes up almost no additional time at all.

1) Calf stretches (both gastro and soleus) when he's brushing his teeth - 2x15secs each muscle, each side gives 2 minutes - good to make sure he's brushing his teeth long enough!

2) hamstring stretch when he's drying his legs coming out of the shower each morning - foot on edge of bath and lean into it

3) quads - additional stretch which he hasn't yet built into anything else...

But, in the words of the immortal Meatloaf, two out of three ain't bad.

TFR is interested in hearing how you build stretches into your daily routine - let him know by commenting on this post!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Fat burning pill buzz


The Fat Runner was probably a little too eager on the diet pills... It's now 8pm, and his pulse has been up at about 90bpm since he came back from the gym. Not sure if it's the hangover from the gym (probably not)...

I guess he'll follow the instructions tomorrow!!

Gym at last

The Fat Runner got to the gym today - and feels soooooo good!

It has been a long time since he has done any exercise given his plantar fasciitis. But the pain seems to be subsiding so he decided to risk going to the gym - and everything went really well!

30 minutes on the bike
20 minutes on the elliptical trainer

Total of 630 calories burned if you believe the readouts on the machines.

And then 3x10 hamstring curls, 3x10 glute extensions (are they called donkey kicks, can't remember) and 3x10 quad extensions - all designed to build up his lower legs after so many weeks off running. Also to build up his strength because he was told that he was weak in his hamstrings and glutes by his podiatrist...

Also, the venom hyperdrive diet pills came in today. You're meant to take 1 a day initially, and then increase to 2 per day. TFR had read lots of reviews saying that people felt 'wired' on these things, but this hasn't happened, even though he took 2 the first day. Well perhaps he won't sleep tonight - we'll find out!

Finally, he's also taking green tea extract. So unfortunately it may be hard to disentangle the different effects of these things - let's just hope that there is an effect!

For those who want to keep tabs, TFR weighed in at exactly 99.0kg this morning...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Fat loss pills

As regular readers will know, The Fat Runner has not been able to run for some time. He has had plantar fasciitis and has been advised by his podiatrist and physiotherapist not to run for at least another week. By the way, if you're in London and looking for a very good sports physiotherapy service, TFR can highly recommend Pure Sports - not only do they have all of the normal medical knowledge, they also have a very good understanding of sports, how they cause injuries, and how to fix injuries as soon as possible so that people can get out and about again.

Unfortunately, however, in the time that TFR has been unable to run due to this injury, his weight has increased to over 99kg, and he feels that drastic action is required.

So, he is going to try a weight loss pill - Venom Hyperdrive 3 - from Discount Supplements.

Apparently, not only does it 'mobilise fat', whatever that means, but it also has hoodia to act as an appetite suppressant, and various other 'thermogenic' aids to raise metabolism.

Reading some of the reviews on the web suggests that this is quite powerful stuff - many users complain of sleeplessness as well as feeling 'jittery' throughout the day - there's quite a lot of caffeine in this. It can also cause headaches through dehydration.

But the results seem positive, with people taking off between 3 and 7 pounds a week.

TFR will try this out and he'll let you know how he gets on, once it arrives (hopefully tomorrow)...

Desperate times are calling for desperate measures...

Friday, 2 May 2008

Plantar fasciitis treatment

The Fat Runner's foot is feeling much better after three weeks of rest and quite a lot of care. If you also have the same kind of heel pain he has, then here are a few things you can do.

The first thing to bear in mind is that these ways of treating plantar fasciitis were recommended to him by a physiotherapist and a podiatrist who did in depth analysis of what was going wrong. Both said that plantar fasciitis is normally caused by a range of different issues which together work to stretch the plantar fascia more than it is designed to stretch.

In TFR's case, these issues included:

- Foot mechanics - overpronation throughout the stride
- Running style - midfoot foot strike rather than a heel strike (which is better for heavier runners, even though most magazines seem to say not to heel strike...)
- Weight - obviously
- Lack of flexibility in calves
- Lack of flexibility in hamstrings
- Poor core strength

What was interesting is how they both identified issues way away from the foot which were contributing to The Fat Runner's plantar fasciitis.

So what is the treatment?

Four core pillars (for now at least)

- stretching
- strengthening
- ice
- massage

And this is all underpinned by rest - no running or even cycling for a while...


A number of key stretches were suggested - all basically to loosen up the calf and the hamstring. Calf stretches are being used to target both main muscles in the calf. Up until now, TFR didn't know you had to do two different calf stretches - one to target each muscle. Because the plantar fascia is attached to the heel, and the heel is attached to the calf and so on, loosening up the back of the leg will reduce the stress on the plantar fascia.


Two key strengthening exercises. Firstly, heel raises (isolated on one foot at a time to increase the pressure - the other foot in the air). Secondly, using a large rubber exercise band to strenghten the rotational strength in the foot (turning the toes of one foot in towards the other foot. These exercises should stabilise the foot more so that it collapses less on impact, again reducing the stress on the plantar fascia.


Used to reduce inflammation more quickly. The plantar fascia has very little blood supply so takes much longer to heal than a muscle - hence icing should be done for as long as possible (weeks) rather than the couple of days you normally ice muscles for.


Useful to increase bloodflow to the area around the plantar fascia and break down scar tissue in the area.

On top of this, TFR has to rest.. A lot... So no running or even cycling for now. So he is keeping up with weight training.

In a few weeks, the recovery regime is likely to move from stretching towards core strength work, something TFR has done very little of in his time. And if he's honest, he has done very little stretching as well (until now).

Looks like his oversight is now catching up with him...

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Plantar Fasciitis - a pain in the ****

Any runner who has had plantar fasciitis knows what a pain it can be - in practice, a pain under the heel.

Plantar Fasciitis is "a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia of the foot or biomechanical faults that cause abnormal pronation of the foot" (Source: Wikipedia)

The Fat Runner has had plantar fasciitis before - about three years ago when he decided to run to work and back from work the same day - far more than he'd run before - and this is what set it off. And it took a few weeks to recover from.

So what is it - basically, it feels like excruciating pain on the bottom of the heel - and can spread forwards along the botto of the foot to the end of the long bones in the foot. At its worst, it is almost impossible to walk. And it's worst in the early morning when you've been off your feet for a while.

TFR knew that he'd picked up a little plantar fasciitis a few weeks ago, but decided anyway to do the Wimbledon Common Time Trial last Saturday. 1k in and he was feeling ok. 2k in and he was feeling much better. By 3k, however, he thought he should pull out, which is what he did.

And as soon as he had got back to the car, it was clear that he should have pulled out much earlier. It's now Thursday, and TFR can just about walk - slowly, and with a hobble, but at least he can walk.

He's heard some horror stories about PF taking over 2 years to fix, so he wanted to make sure his rehab was planned immediately - so what has he been doing?

1) Stretches.

He met someone at the WCTT who had also had it (and who advised him not to run...) He said that twice-daily stretches of the foot (toes on a stair and drop the heel as far as possible) worked for him within a month or so.

2) Icing

As with most injuries, rapid icing is key. So he filled a drinks bottle with water and dropped it into the freezer. He was then able to roll the bottle under his foot to provide at least some cooling benefit to his foot.

TFR has never been so injured as he has been by running over the last 6-8 months - but please stick with him - he's hoping, once this is over, to be injury free for the rest of the year!

You can find out more about Plantar Fasciitis by clicking on the link.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Personal Best at WCTT!

TFR has set a personal best at the Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

Okay, so he still didn't prepare particularly well for it. He had drinks with a client on Friday night, and then a few glasses of wine with his wife later on.

He felt a little shaky when he woke up, and if it weren't for his friend coming around to pick him up at 0815 that morning, he might have decided not to go.

But he did so anway. The first lap went actually rather well. Lots of people overtaking him, but he stuck to his pace and felt able to push a little in the second lap. In fact, in the last 400 metres he was able to pass four people. One girl he passed literally metres from the line. The picture on the WCTT website shows that she wasn't too happy...

So, his new PB for the WCTT is 29:14. And he is very happy that finally he has broken the time he set way back last year when he first ran the WCTT.

So why does he think he did well. He thinks that a lot of it is down to the Long Slow Run. That relatively monotonous run which seems to go for ever and seems to be so sloooooowww. But it's that which builds fitness, burns calories, improves technique, and gets the body ready to run shorter distances with more effort.

So from now on, TFR is making sure that he builds a LSR into every week - and he suggests that you do the same if you're not already doing it!

TFR may not run the WCTT next week as he is likely to be in France - he's seeing whether he can take the first flight back in the morning and still get there in time...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Running on alcohol

Stupid fat runner.

He once again ran the excellent Wimbledon Common Time Trial last Saturday.

The only problem was that Friday was a bit of a big night.

Drinks with his team - 4 bottles of Becks
Pre-dinner drinks at a work recruiting event - 3 glasses of champagne
Drinks with dinner - 4 glasses of wine

He went to bed, feeling fine, and woke up feeling equally fine.

He even woke up early (after having a dream that he had woken up late and missed the run!)

He set the virtual trainer on his Garmin Forerunner to match the pace he ran last time.

He set off, although very rapidly found that he was working very hard to keep up with the pace he ran last time, despite the fact that the last time he ran, the first lap was at a very slow and comfortable pace.

So he gave up.

And has promised he will never be drinking that much on the night before a race.

He was very annoyed, particularly since he had trained during the week as well as at the weekend and was feeling that he could have gone for a PB.

Oh well, there's always next week!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Fooled by Garmin

The Fat Runner was running around a park in Paris this morning in the drizzle.

There is something about Paris that simply doesn't exist in any other city I've been to - it's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

There is a sense of style almost everywhere you look - in the buildings, the parks, the way people dress. But above all, there is a sense of harmony, and of calm purposefulness. Something I only really feel in London very early in the morning before about 6am...

So Paris was a very nice place for TFR to run - he managed to fit in 30 minutes between his morning meeting and the cab to take him back to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar.

For those who have read this blog a few times, you'll know that TFR's pace is around the 9-10 mins a mile area. So when his garmin forerunner (set to autolap every half mile - I recommend this strongly) started showing I was getting through half miles in around 4 mins he was feeling rather chuffed!

Until he got back and looked at the map on the garmin. It was very spikey and not like the clean ovals he ran in the park, so it was clearly over-counting the distance he ran...

Oh well, at least he ran twice this week!!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Win some, lose some

As you know, The Fat Runner had a surprise last week - that his heart rate when running was able to get up to 196bpm - much higher than predicted by the many maximum heart rate formulae. This appears to prove one thing - that the maximum heart rate formulae are entirely useless when trying to understand the level at which you should be exercising.

So armed with this new information, as well as a quick look at the Runners World website to understand the ranges he should be working in, TFR headed out for the weekly Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

The Runners World website suggested that someone with a resting heart rate of 60bpm, and a maximum of 196bpm, should be running a 10k at 176-182bpm.

This seemed rather rapid, so TFR backed off a little from these figures, aiming for a heart rate of around 170-175bpm on the first lap and 175-180bpm on the second lap.

Well it seems to have gone rather well! He ran what felt like a very comfortable first lap and then was able to push a bit harder in the second lap (instead of hanging on desperately which is what he normally does).

He'll definitely be following these heart rate guides into his next race.

Now, the final sprint....

Again, his heart rate peaked in the mid 190s (so proving that the result last week was not spurious), but unfortunately when he tried to put in a second kick for the line, one of the muscles in his hamstring gave way (an obvious rip) so we'll have to see if he turns out next week or not.

Next time you hear from TFR, he'll tell you all about hamstring strain repair!!!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Maximum heart rate research

I've oone a little research into maximum heart rates (given TFR's recent run), but the overall conclusion is that these maximum heart rate calculators are entirely useless.

So let's go through them:

Basic formula: 200-age
Londeree and Moeschberger (1982): 206.3-(0.711 x age)
Miller et al (1993): 217-(0.85 x age)
USA researchers (2007): 206.9-(0.67 x age)
UK reseachers (2007): 202-(0.55 x age) for male athletes

Now applying each of these formulae for maximum heart rate to TFR's age gives a maximum heart rate of 182 (Londeree and Moeschberger) to 188 (Miller et al). Nothing like the 196 that TFR recorded on his latest run.

By the way, TFR has downloaded his heart rate from his Garmin Forerunner 305 to check whether this was a spike reading or not. The sad reading is that it wasn't a spike - his heart rate gradually crept up to this level as he sprinted for the finish...

In some ways, however, this is good news!

Now that TFR knows that his maximum heart rate is very different to that predicted by a formula, he can work out what his real heart rate training areas should be! More on that in the next post

Can his heart rate really be so high?

TFR ran again last Saturday for the ever-excellent Wimbledon Common time trial.

He also took a friend along with him - a friend who is much fitter than TFR and runs marathons in 3hrs 15, so he wanted to put on a good show, and hopefully beat his previous record of 29mins 40 seconds.

He had been running relatively hard throughout most of the race - running between 170 and 180 beats per minute, which is rather high against most of the normal criteria using the calculated maximum heart rate for a 34 year old of 186 beats per minute (the normal calculation is 220 minus age).

For the last 200-300 metres, however, TFR sprinted as hard as he could. When he got to look at his Garmin Forerunner after the race, he was surprised to see that his heart rate had reached 196bpm - way above his theoretical maximum.

This is going to have implications on how he trains - more on this in the next post!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Fat Runner breaks records!

Yes, the Fat Runner has broken a record! Well a personal one only, but PB's are better than no PB's.

He decided not to run in the Wimbledon Common Time Trial this weekend. It has been raining heavily in London, and the tracks which the race are held on would surely be water-logged.

So instead, after a lie-in to let the sun warm the parks up a little, TFR headed out to run his standard Kensington Gardens route. The fastest that TFR has ever run this route is 28:57. The last time he ran this route, however, he was almost two minutes slower at 30:52. And only two weeks separated the two runs - it was rather deflating to say the least.

So anyway, the time that TFR posted today was......... (wait for it) ............. 28:43 - a full 16 seconds off his PB!!

So, again, TFR being a novice (and fat) runner, is learning a lot about how this running lark works. The only thing he can think about why the previous run was so slow (and his last run in the Wimbledon Common Time Trial too) is that he had a cold. What was surprising to him was that it could have such an obvious negative impact on his running speed.

Of course, one always hears stories of top end professional athletes who decide not to compete because they've got a cold. I never really understood it until now - it would simply knock too much off their performance and even with the best will in the world they would end up dead last.

Anyway, TFR's spirits are back up with his PB!

Even after he read one of the articles in the last issue of Runner's World which stated that it was impossible to improve by only running once a week. Take a quick look on the right hand side at TFR's latest runs section, and you'll see that that is all he has been able to do. Work has been hectic. Monday - 8am to 2am. Tuesday - 8am to 10pm. Wednesday - 8am to 9pm. Thursday - 8am to 11pm. Friday - 8am to 8pm. And he's about to start work again on Saturday afternoon for at least a few hours.

So when most running magazines say "you can always find time for more running" then perhaps they don't work the same hours as TFR. Running, while enjoyable, will always come second to his wife, and will mostly come second to work too.

That said, you might see him out tomorrow morning doing one of those "Long Slow Runs" you hear are the bedrock of training....

Anyway, TFR would love to hear from you about your experiences of running while ill. Perhaps with a cold or flu, or an upset stomach or something similar. How has it affected your performance?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Fat Runner has High Cholesterol

Yes, the Fat Runner has high cholesterol.

Under pressure from his wife, he had a full blood screen just after Christmas. Apparently everything was fine (the doctor has promised to put the results into the post) other than Cholesterol, with a reading of 5.7.

Now the healthy level is, I'm told, 5.0. So there is a gap which TFR will need to make up. But TFR has done a little web research on cholesterol levels.

Firstly, the average UK cholesterol level is 5.5-5.7 (depending who you believe) meaning that the average man or woman in the street has unhealthy cholesterol levels. Equally, two thirds of UK adults have cholesterol levels over 5.0.

So the Fat Runner is a little less concerned than he was when he first found out. Although that doesn't mean he won't be doing anything about it.

So, he will be running more (how many times have we heard that) which increases the amount of 'good' cholesterol (HDL) and decreases the amount of 'bad' cholesterol (LDL).

Also, he will be paying more attention to his diet than he has over the last few months. Far more fruit, vegetables and nuts, as well as oat bran, which are apparently full of plant sterols and are key to reducing cholesterol.

We'll see!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Cross country running in Wimbledon

The Fat Runner has completed his first 5k race of the year - once again, the very well organised Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

I really do urge all of you who run in London to try one of these events - they are very friendly and low key races, but so well organised! Within a few hours of finishing, you can log onto the WCTT website to get your 5k time, the time of everyone else, your age-graded performance and also photos of you and the other runners. And this is all for free! I have no idea how they manage to do this - of course they rely on some runners deciding to volunteer now and again, but that doesn't account for some of the basics like web-hosting charges etc. Anyway, TFR for one, is extremely grateful!

TFR was rather disappointed with his performance on Saturday though. He was about 1:30 slower than he was last time he did this event. And he can't put it down to the amount of mud on the course either. There is a reasonably clear 3 minute gap between him and the people he really should be running against. The only runners to finish anywhere near him were either young teenagers, or people almost (or in some cases over) twice TFR's age.

So what caused this poor performance? Perhaps it was the fact that he is still getting over a cold which has lasted for 3 weeks. Or it could be that he has only run a few times in the last month (mostly down to him having a cold). One thing is for certain. If he doesn't start training more regularly, then he will always be at the very back of the pack.

He's hoping that his cold is fixed, so (work permitting) he'll try to run a few mornings next week and then have another go at WCTT.

Watch this space to see how he does!