Push propelled program tinkerer and picture maker.

LINK: The Guardian: Eliud Kipchoge makes history by running sub two-hour marathon

This is insane and very hard to comprehend. That’s an average of ~2.8 mins/km. My fastest 5k works out at a pace of 4.4 mins/km. None of my routes are flat, but still.

The quickest pace I would have recorded would be when doing 200m sprint reps as part of training, the fastest of which seems to be around 3.5 mins/km; I’m hoping there is some inaccuracy in my phones ability to calculate that over such short distances, etc and I’m not quite that slow, but still.

So Eliud is running a marathon at a faster pace than I can do ~200m at. Fuck! That’s insane.

I haven’t managed it, but me running a marathon (my route) in under 4 hours is achievable. That’s 5.7 mins/km. I just need to get better so I can keep my pace up over 30k. At the moment I’m still just trying to survive the distance.

A three hour marathon is harder for me to comprehend. That’s 4.3 mins/km. My fastest 10k (not flat) was 4.8 mins/km. I can’t imagine doing faster than that pace for longer (42k). Even on the flat. But I can see how an athlete with a lot of hard work could manage that. Still amazes me though.

But a marathon in under two hours… Fuck! That’s insane.

Marathon No. 3

Marathon number three done. Marathons are very hard. It seems like everyone is doing ultras nowadays and therefore marathons must be easy. But for me marathons are still very hard. I don’t think I’ll try two in a year again. Two twelve week training plans is not enough training. I did much better than Marathon No. 2, clocking a time of 4 hrs and 43 mins for 43k so a whole 51 minutes faster than June’s effort, but still 12 minutes slower than my first marathon, which is semi-disheartening as I’d originally envisaged getting much nearer a 4 hour mark on subsequent attempts, not getting further away from it.

It actually felt like it went ok - and it probably did, this is just what I’m capable of - and it was hard towards the end, but as about as “ok” as I ever thought doing a marathon would be. My pace was really pretty consistent at “around” 6 minutes per kilometre up until 30k ish, then slowed by about a minute, but then kept that fairly consistent until the last two kilometres (which does include a hillclimb).

My first marathon I set off faster and kept a faster pace (obviously, I suppose) until half way. Then I slowed down a lot, but I think the speed in the first half was enough to get me a better time. I am generally really crap at pacing and it now seems that pacing myself actually doesn’t work out all that well for me time-wise anyway.

My pace does seem to slowed down overall over the last year. Getting older? It might be because I’ve done more slower paced runs? Probably the getting older thing though. As with the other times I did a training plan with only three to four runs per week (because life is insanely busy and weather has a tendency to be insanely shit); However, these two times I was doing some of my shorter recovery runs at a much slower pace than I otherwise would because I combined it with taking the dogs out running.

I was cautious of my knee as well this time. I didn’t think I was going slow (until the end) but I was conscious of keeping things steady/restrained.

Ah, it’s all excuses. That’s just my speed!

I do seem to have got the food and water thing nailed though. This time round I even made my own flapjacks the night before so I could have a small chunk every 30 mins (I took enough for 5 hours). This works so well that I end the run not feeling hungry at all. As per the first marathon I just had a banana for breakfast on the way down to the start. I made a slight change with water this time: Instead of picking up the bottle and then being stuck carrying it (even if in my back pocket) I ran up and down our track a bit at halfway having a drink and then left the bottle there. Much better. It helps that the climate in Scotland means I could probably get away without drinking any water at all really.

Next year I think I’ll do one marathon with a sixteen week training plan and make it an off-road based one. I will try to “tack on” one of my 10k off-road wind turbine routes with my favourite 30k run. This will be good because running offroad is easier on my legs than on-road (although there will still be large chunks of on-road) and because it’ll be a completely different route to these three marathons and so I won’t be able to compare myself as much!

Then the year after that I might see if I can manage a 50k. Although maybe I need many more marathons/years of running yet? The only reason I’m thinking that is because that will be my fifth year of running and so also five years since stopping cycling and, this past year especially, I’ve started hankering after cycling again - especially when cyclists go past me when out running! So five years off seems like enough of a break and a nice time to get back into cycling (and for pleasure this time!). But then again I’m probably kidding myself as cycling is significantly more expensive than running and even though I only want a single speed (no more fixed, want to be able to enjoy downhills) it’s probably not going to happen. I guess if it doesn’t happen I’ll inevitably be drawn to something like a 50k; My poor legs.

Tiny Review Of Einhell Gc Hm 30 Manual Lawnmower

Tiny Review Of Einhell Gc Hm 30 Manual Lawnmower

The cheap and crappy (but mostly robust) electric lawnmower I got from B&Q finally gave up the ghost. I have no compliants (well, apart from that it was crap) as I think I spent less than £40 on it, it’s lasted about nine years and been fairly abused during that time. We have a petrol lawnmower, but that is also pretty broken from being abused to cut fields (yes fields) and plus it needs petrol. So I decided to get a push lawnmower for about the same price as the cheapest electric lawnmower because there would be no more hassle of cables and no more running out of petrol; Cables are actually a big hassle - we don’t really have an outside power point so it means threading cables through windows either end of the house and plugging and unplugging to go around concrete washing line posts. I got a Einhill GC-HM 30 Manual Push Lawnmower. Unfortunately as it is it’s simply not fit for purpose, but can be fixed quickly and simply with a couple of bolts.

It relies on a plastic roller to set the cutting height and it has to impart a force on this - there is no way around this (unless you are mowing the most gentle of lawns - that doesn’t need mowing). The two screw stops and plastic adjusters are just not enough to hold things in place and no matter how much you tighten them the leverage will be too great (on a single point) and the roller will twist and the plastic shoulders start to deform. All you need to do to fix this is pick one cutting height “to rule them all” and use a couple of bolts to lock it out.

It’s simple mechanics. Imagine trying to hold a stick between thumb and forefinger and stop someone from rotating the end of the stick - doesn’t really matter how hard you grip it’s going to rotate. Now hold the stick with thumb and forefinger of both hands, a bit apart - much more resistance. So that’s all I did per the photo. Using shorter bolts with some washers onto the plastic would have been better, but I literally just used what I had lying about (not even matching either side). It works great since doing that; The 40 version might not suffer from this as it doesn’t have the crappy “infinite” adjustment although I’ve not seen on in real life to confirm.

  • Pros
    • Really lightweight, no problem carrying it around
    • No cables, no petrol
    • Comes in a pretty small box
    • Easy to put together
    • Pretty speedy
  • Cons
    • Give up any idea of grass collection. Grass flies everywhere. If you can just come to terms with not collecting cuttings you can be in a happy place
    • Not fit for purpose as designed, but easy to remedy
    • Can’t cut long grass, weeds, twigs, etc. If used regularly on a lawn it’s fine (i.e. can’t abuse it like I used to the electric lawn mower). Maybe the sweet spot is mowing twice a week before the grass gets too long (it grows ridiculously quickly here)
    • Can’t cut right to the edge - there’s quite a gap between the blades and the outside of the wheel

We’ll see how it goes. I doubt it’ll last as long as the crappy electric one did, but maybe.

Well, it’s most definitely “push” so why not blog about a lawnmower?

LINK: Running Your First Marathon - The Ultimate Beginner's Guide | Hobby Help

Jen from Hobby Help kindly got in touch to point me at this article. If you want to prepare better for a marathon than I do then this is a good guide. The key difference is I’m not running marathon races/events, I’m just running out by myself so you are unlikely to want to copy my technique. For my last marathon I:

  • Didn’t eat any more or less than normal before hand
  • Just took a bag of apricots and ate three apricots every 30 mins
  • Had a single 500ml bottle of water at half way

I definitely agree with some bits: Having headphones and music is necessary for when you need a bit of a distraction and/or motivation; I save it until I need it. And I one hundred percent agree with “Share Your Experience and Reflect on Your Race”, which is, after-all, why I’ve written blog posts about it.

It’s pretty rare I get anyone emailing as a result of my website so when they do make an effort to it’s nice to acknowledge it.

Second Marathon

Managed a second marathon. Just. My plan this year was to do two. Because of daylight/weather issues this meant a shorter training plan of twelve weeks instead of the nineteen I did last year; However, I was running 30k offroad (harder) before I started so thought I’d be ok with a shorter training plan. Things did not go so well.

Work has been mental (and still is this whole first half of the year). Chores around home seemed to increase. I injured myself: First my knee which affected two weeks of training (because I ran on my injured knee rather than rest which meant recovery was longer) and then towards then end my foot (At a gig! Sober! For fucks sake!). With a twelve week schedule there is not a lot of room for picking up slack. The weather also didn’t cooperate towards the end so my last ditch effort to catch up on a backlog of missed long runs by getting up at 4:30am everyday and running halfs was thwarted after the first run by subsequent days of rain; Although to be fair I was knackered from getting up so early so it was doubtful I’d have been able to repeat it three or four days in a row.

In the end I got to the last week of the training and had missed three long runs (a 33k, 25.5k and a 23K) and two tempos (a 6.5k and a 6k). But I had a weather and time window so decided to just chance it.

The majority of the first half of the marathon actually went ok. I was off last year’s pace, but not by too much and everything felt good and comfortable with some sections where everything was just flowing. But then just before half way my knee went. I had to stop and put my knee support on (which I carried with me “just in case”). And things just didn’t get any better after that, sadly. I thought about quitting at half way as I was back near home, but decided I’d give it longer to see if it cleared up. Soldiered all the way on, getting slower and slower until I finally cracked at about 36k and stopped for a good bit. At that point I should have finished based on last year’s time and could either go about 3k home or the planned route and finish it. Thanks VERY much to my wife who gave me the encouragement I needed (who I’d messaged when I stopped) I managed to continue. I walked for a good bit to stretch things out and then decided to walk a song (needed music by that point to motivate me) and run a song. It worked and took me a whole other hour, but I made it to the end.

I’d really hoped I’d be able to get last year’s 4.5hrs time for 43k much nearer to 4 hours, but in the end I took 5 hours 34 mins to do 42.5k.

One more attempt nearer the end of the year to see if I can do better. I was thinking about doing the second one as a more offroad based one, but now I’m not so sure as I kind of feel beaten by the road route and want to see if I can beat it again.

Training for fitness or injury?

Kicked off this year’s marathon training a few weeks back. Same idea (only 3 to 4 runs a week because “life”), but a much shorter cycle of 12 weeks instead of 18. The plan being that I can fit two in this year; I still respect (am scared of) marathons enough that I want to do a full training build up for one; In contrast I have no respect for 20k to 30k which is why I’m dead on my arse at the end of a long run sometimes, oh well.

I want to do training because it forces me to do things I wouldn’t normally do: Namely sprints and tempo runs. And so I hope it will get me fitter (I’m “ok” at plodding on on long runs). But the downside of sprint training is doing it on concrete and it fucks my knees. Made the mistake a couple of weeks ago of doing 800m sprint reps followed by a long run the day after. My knee was already a bit iffy before. On the long run I thought, “it’s ok, this is good practice for running on tired legs”, but I wasn’t running on tired legs I was running on injured legs. Doh.

Has taken me two weeks to recover which is iffy in a short training plan, but I’m going to see if I can pick things up and continue (this weekend on-call isn’t helping though). I’ve gone from “Woe is me, I’ll never run again” to 200m sprints yesterday so I don’t think things were as bad as I thought; Never google symptoms.

LINK: The Guardian: Seven Marathons in seven days

Adding to my list of names for running inspiration. I now have:

  • Nicky Spinks
  • Jasmin Paris
  • Susannah Gill

LINK: Read January

On a very related note read this this month. I’d describe it as “a book (cleverly disguised as) about running for the rest of us”.

It’s good.

I feel the same about running as I did about cycling.

LINK: Red January

Breaking my rules of going near “family” topics with this.

Only heard about this last year and I was amazed then that people would run every day in January (what about the weather?!!). This year my wife (not me) decided to do it. Of course I joined her. We didn’t run New Year’s day (what kind of sick person isn’t curled up on the sofa with a hangover from hell?), but aside from that we ran every day outside come snow, ice, rain and wind; We’ve been remarkably lucky with the weather though. I’ve been clocking 100km per month pretty regularly… if you include the two short runs we did on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve Eve (to make up for not running New Year’s Day) then my wife actually did 100km “in” January. Which is amazing going. Well done.

LINK: The Guardian: Jasmin Paris becomes first woman to win 268-mile Montane Spine Race

Not only did she win it, she smashed the previous record (set by a man) and expressed breast milk for her baby at the aid stations along the way.

I don’t really know what else to say. Mind blown. She’s amazing.

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