Thank you for reading my running blog.

The big day will soon be here. Just two weeks and one day to go until my first marathon! It’s been a fantastic journey. The weather may not have been kind, but my efforts have been going well and the whole experience has been unforgettable. One of the highlights has to be 20 miles in driving sleet a couple of weeks ago.The support I’ve received from friends, colleagues and readers of this blog has been incredible.

I am running for Mencap, to which I have a strong personal attachment, as my uncle Roy was born with severe learning difficulties. I spent a lot of time with him as a child and my life would have been very much the poorer without the contact I had with him. Last month a disturbing article about vulnerable people who suffer from learning difficulties reminded me once again why I chose this charity, and I feel incredibly proud to be running for them and for Roy. It’s not too late to sponsor me, and any support you feel able to offer, however small, will really spur me on the day, and will be going to a fantastic cause. My sponsorship page is at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulDCollins.

I would like to mention the recent death of Mabel Cooper, a truly inspirational and kind woman who worked tirelessly in raising the issue of bullying and discrimination against people with learning difficulties.

During the last few days, I’ve been tapering. As a marathon first-timer, this period has caused me some anxiety – will I be able to run the distance when the big day arrives? Thankfully, I’m not the only one to have experienced this and there are many helpful articles out there to provide some comfort. The Guardian’s Running Blog offers some useful advice. Then, there’s the post-marathon recovery – rehydration, refuelling, ice baths. What should my next challenge be – a quicker marathon, perhaps do an ultra-marathon? What I’m rapidly becoming aware of is that, having put my heart and soul into training for the marathon, I need a plan for the days after it – another part of the overall marathon strategy.

So, training has been fairly gentle this week with more rest built in – 7 miles on Wednesday, 5 miles on Friday. Saturday I ran the Serpentine Running Club handicap and managed to achieve a personal best!

Have a great week!

Best wishes,

Paul

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8 (Snowdonian) miles completed!

8 (Snowdonian) miles completed!

On the mountain road

Easter day - my final long run behind me. Hooray!

Easter day – my final long run behind me. Hooray!

 

Hello and welcome to my running blog.

After last Sunday’s wet and windy 20 miles in Hyde Park, I was looking forward to the Easter break and a change of scene, hopefully with some much-missed sunshine. Tuesday, Juliet and I drove up to North Wales (Snowdonia). Anticipating ice and snow drifts, the journey was one of the most spectacular we’ve ever experienced. Once we left London, our journey was one of bright sunshine and snow-covered mountains – stunning all the way!

After Wednesday’s day of walking along the coast and taking in some refreshing sea air, Thursday was my first run of the week – around 8 miles (flat) around the village of Beddgelert. Friday was 30 minutes of gentle running, followed by a walk along the route of an old copper mine. Spectacular weather again. Some brave souls were running up the mountains – r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

Saturday was another coastal walk and discovering more of the beauty of North Wales.

Today (Sunday) started with an uplifting service at the local church and then the moment that I had been waiting for/slightly dreading – my 20 mile run. Juliet and I had been trying to work out a route that would not be too hilly or cause too much strain. In the end, I ran for nearly 3 hours – some parts fairly hilly but generally flat. It was a run surrounded by stunning scenery and wonderful weather – the ideal tonic. This will be my final long run before I start tapering in time for the London Marathon on 21 April.

Have a great week!

Paul

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for Mencap. Please have a look at my sponsorship page!

The wintry weather we’ve been experiencing in London this week has made training runs quite trying at times. I started the week on Monday with a 4 mile recovery run. Tuesday’s yoga session sorted out a big of leg stiffness and cleared my head. Wednesday afternoon’s run was 8 miles, marathon pace in hail, snow and an icy wind. Friday was another gentle run, 4 miles (snow).

Last night (Saturday) I attended the birthday party of one of the most inspiring members of the Serpentine Running Club – Edwina Brocklesby. It was held at an incredible venue – the Churchill War Rooms. The band (Jacque Rabbit) were brilliant and we all had a good dance! Eddie is a real inspiration to us all and she has recently launched a charity that will inspire many others – Silverfit.

Fuelled with porridge and strong coffee, Sunday morning was time for the Hyde Park 20 – the perfect preparation for the London Marathon. It was another trudge in sleety conditions (warmer gloves for this one!) – 5 laps of familiar territory. Overall it was a satisfying run in foul conditions, although the pacemakers were a little off-pace! A relaxing afternoon awaits and, later, a night out with friends at Ronnie Scotts for the monthly Tap Jam.

Really looking forward to next week’s relaxation and wonderous walks in Snowdonia.

Have a great week and keep safe.

Paul

Thank you for reading my running blog.

I’ve decided to post mid-week in an attempt to raise this important issue – “Over 1200 people with a learning disability die needlessly every year in NHS care Mencap research reveals“.

I’m running the London Marathon on 21 April for Mencap. Please visit my sponsorship page and help make a difference.

Paul

Thank you for reading my running blog. Thanks also to those who have kindly sent me comments about my blog and words of support – I really appreciate it.

It’s 35 days to go to the London Marathon and my training is continuing to build (I’m already getting anxious about how I’ll cope with the tapering in a few weeks). After last Sunday’s fabulous pasta-fuelled recovery meal, this week’s working days training schedule comprised a gentle 4 miles on Monday, a steady 8 miles in hail and snow on Wednesday and 3 miles of sunny delight on Thursday. All run around Green Park, Hyde Park and St James’s Park. It’s been a tiring week, with much on at work and fighting the various colds and sniffles that seem to constantly surround me.

Today (Saturday) I ran 19 miles (mainly in the pouring rain), circuits of the same parks as earlier in the week. My new Nathan running belt feels good during my runs and I’ve been practising my drinking/bottle replacing technique.

It’s “Weezo”!

Over the last few days I’ve been receiving emails from the London Marathon organisers and the charity I’m running for, Mencap. It’s all getting very exciting, with the promise of a free massage and welcoming drink after crossing the finishing line. I can even choose the name I want printed on my running vest. I’ve decided on “Weezo” (it’s a long story some readers may know about but it’s more interesting than “Paul”).

Warning – amateur self-analysis ahead!

One of the best things I’ve discovered about training for the marathon is the time and impetus it’s given me to reflect. This reflection (which often takes the form of daydreaming – which is good for you!) has been not only about my fitness (and at times the lack of it), increasing strength and mental resilience but also about my physical surroundings, the people I run with and the encouragement I’ve received from many friends, family and work colleagues. During these times, I’ve asked myself “Is all this making me a better person?” I suspect it’s a question I shouldn’t be trying to answer; it’s probably one better left to those closest to me to answer. Well, my rather amateur and simplistic self-analysis suggests that the answer is “definitely, maybe”.

Here are some areas where I think I’ve improved as a person (leaving aside the physical changes):

  • Socialising with a much more diverse range of people.
  • I’m even happier than before.
  • Feeling less stressed.
  • Better at keeping things in perspective.
  • Being kinder to myself.
  • Exceeding my own expectations.
  • Fully appreciating the moment for what it is.
  • Less anxious (including about taking a proper lunch break at work, for a midday run).
  • Accepting I will get injuries that will require rest, treatment and patience.
  • I think I look healthier.
  • Eating more healthily (generally).
  • Consuming less caffeine.

And here are some things that I’ve become less “good” at:

  • Tolerating obnoxious and rude behaviour (why should I?).
  • Not feeling slightly “twitchy” if I’m unable to run (but I have mileage targets!)
  • Accepting some people are faster runners than me (but why should I control my competitive instinct?)
  • Water conservation – I have a lot more hot baths.
  • Tolerating daft “jokes” when I’m warming up (but I keep my thoughts to myself!).

I’m sure the lists could be longer and I’ve probably missed some really important things but they might serve some purpose when I look back post-marathon and wonder what it was all about.

Heading off now for a night at the theatre for some wonderful Alan Bennett.

Have a great week!

Paul

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for Mencap.  Please have a look at my sponsorship page!

Thank you for reading my running blog.

Avoiding the dark mass of despair

If you read last week’s blog you may have spotted that I had arranged for Mark Rowlands (of Running with the Pack fame) to talk to Serpentine Running Club members on Monday (4 March) about his new book. It was an enjoyable and fascinating evening at a brilliant venue (Waterstone’s Piccadilly) and it was good to see so many Serpies there. Mark talked about the ideas in his book and the role philosophy can play during the experiences of running, including how to overcome the “dark mass of despair” when that final mile seems never-ending. Many thanks to Mark, his publishers (Granta) and Waterstone’s.

A natural high

After Sunday’s (3 March) Bath Half marathon, my week started on a high. My Achilles problem seems to have survived the (major) undulations of walking in Bristol and the (less major) undulations of running in Bath, though I’m still applying the ice and my patience. It makes such a difference running in a crowd of people. I don’t necessarily think it’s a better thing, it’s just a very different experience – fun, all the same.

Mobile tranquility

Tuesday was a day off from work, so with the sun shining in London, I bounced on out to a morning yoga session for a good stretch and calming. Thankfully, the sun continued to shine as I jogged around the local park for 4 miles of recovery running. It was fantastic to feel the sun on my face and hear the birds chirping away. Running is a wonderful way of connecting with the natural environment. Although most of my running to date has been in city parks (which the exception of the Marlowe half marathon – a.k.a. “the great flood”!), I still experience a real sense of the change in seasons – new tree blossom, daffodils raising their heads, the colour and glistening of the water in the Serpentine lake.

It was while I was running on Tuesday and experiencing the positive effect the environment was having on me that I thought about the Bath Half, with all those thousands of runners and spectators, and what the environmental impact of running is. As someone with an interest in environmental issues, I looked this up and found an interesting blog article on the environmental impact of the London marathon.

If you’re interested in what the impact of other sports has on the environment, you might want to listen to a Radio 4 programme I planned and contributed to a few years ago – “Come on you greens”.

Back to the training…

Wednesday evening was 40 minutes of spin. Thursday afternoon was a steady 4 miles in drizzly, and slightly steamy, Green Park.

Which brings me to today (Saturday) and completing 17.25 miles in the Royal Parks of central London. It was a fairly misty day but the rain stayed away. The running went well, I felt a real sense of feeling the heartbeat of the run. It was a little chilly though and my hands were too cold to open the energy gel, so ended up running the final 2 miles on empty (humph!) A lavender soak set me up nicely for an afternoon of recovery and relaxation. Juliet has bought me a lovely Nathan running belt, so I’m looking forward to trying that out on my next long run. My race pack for the Hyde Park 20 arrived yesterday, I’m enjoying collecting the race numbers!

Tomorrow, we’re being treated to a fabulous lunchtime feast at friends – can’t wait!

Have a great week!

Paul

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for Mencap. Please have a look at my sponsorship page!

Hello and welcome to my running blog.

Well, it’s the start of the working week and the livin’ is easy. Perhaps not quite but it’s close enough.

Last week was one where I played it gingerly. I had a slight twinge in my achilles heel but some rest, ice and patience seems to have done the trick. So, it was just a slow 4 miles on Wednesday and 30 minutes of interval spin on Friday.

The weekend was spent in a gloriously sunny Bristol . It’s a fantastic city. Congratulations to the organisers of Bristol’s International Jazz and Blues Festival – it was a ball! It was really good to visit a new and original venue in Bristol – The Birdcage – it’s well worth a visit.

Sunday was the Bath Half. A misty and chilly day but a great course and encouraging support. I was pleased with my time of 1hr51 – I was aiming for a slightly quicker time but, as so often the case, the first 4 miles were quite crowded and difficult to make any decent progress early on. Juliet ran really well, my brave one. Thanks to Clare and the thousands of spectators for providing the motivation and joy.

This evening (Monday) I’m hosting a talk by Mark Rowlands and the launch of his new book Running with the Pack, at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. I’m really looking forward to it – it’s sold out and should be a great event!. I’ll let you know how it goes, next week.

Have a great week!

Paul

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for Mencap. Please have a look at my sponsorship page!