Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Road to recovery

It's 13 days post-surgery to remove my appendix and this morning I resumed running with a very slow jog, 5.6km/3.48mi, without any pain. I'll be keeping it short and at very easy effort easy for the next few days but it's great to be back running.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

London Marathon withdrawal

I've withdrawn from the 2014 London Marathon after being rushed into hospital on Thursday morning with acute appendicitis resulting in the removal of my appendix on Thursday evening.

Looking back, my body had been displaying subtle signals for about 7 days previously that all was not well. I recall having a bad stitch during a couple of runs last week, in the middle section of Sunday's Wilmslow Half Marathon and again during Tuesday's run.

My recovery after Wilmslow was very difficult. I was [unusually] extremely dehydrated on Sunday evening, Monday and for part of Tuesday. I couldn't understand why as I didn't feel particularly unwell and I always drink plenty of water before, during and after races, and on non-race days.

I first signs of what lay ahead came on Wednesday evening when I felt strange and nauseous after eating dinner. I was having trouble sleeping and at about 5am I noticed a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen. The pain worsened rapidly and by 7:30am I was experiencing excruciating pain, unable to sit or lie down and barely able to stand. I instinctively knew something was seriously wrong and asked to be driven to hospital at 9am.

Some people criticise our NHS hospitals but my own experience at Blackpool's Victoria Hospital was absolutely first class. On arrival at hospital I was triaged and subsequently admitted to a surgical ward at 10am where the Consultant Surgeon told me I would be operated on same day. I was taken to theatre at 8pm where I underwent surgery and was discharged at 3pm on Friday after receiving excellent care throughout.

It goes without saying that I am presently very sore and heavily dosed up on painkillers. I've been advised by the Consultant Surgeon not to race for at least 4-6 weeks.  I won't be doing any running for at least a week and when I do, I will have to take it easy, starting off with some light jogging.

I have deferred my London Marathon entry to 2015 and will decide in the next month, depending on my recovery, which marathon will be next. I have my eye on Cork on June 2nd, but it depends how much fitness I lose over the next 2-3 weeks and subsequently how much time it takes me to get back to into race shape. St Petersburg (Russia) at the end of June is another option should Cork be too soon for me to race.

Thanks to all clinical/nursing staff at The Vic, to Mum and Eddy for looking after me and to lots of my friends and professional colleagues who have sent me good wishes.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

2014 Wilmslow Half Marathon quick update

Google Maps
Today I ran in my first race this year. I wasn't really sure what to expect as I haven't raced since last October's Melbourne Marathon. With the London Marathon in three weeks, this race is a key part of my preparations. Whilst nowhere near my best time at this distance, I ran my fastest half in the last 18 months (1:32:39) on a windy day just south of Manchester Airport in the Cheshire countryside. 

I got a ride with Steve whom I have been (speed) training with on Tuesdays and after a getting stuck in heavy traffic we parked the car and jogged the 1km to the start line, arriving with just a minute to spare.

This is a well established race with approximately 4,000 entrants.  The course is midly undulating with a net downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.

rubiTrack3
There was plenty of crowd support as we made our way through the numerous villages that the course passes through. I was feeling ok in the early stages, no doubt helped by the course topography as I averaged 4:15 splits for the first 5km.
 
It was much the same during the next 5km although there was a tricky windy section between 6-7km which pushed the pace back to 4:22 for this split. From here onwards we would be subjected to several exposures to a fairly stiff breeze in exposed places. I passed 10km in 42:24 (position 382).

From approximately 12km onwards I could feel the effects of my recent hard training combining with the wind and some steady inclines to push the pace back to 4:24-4:30 pace. I completed 10mi in 1:09:42 (position 389). I slowed further to av 4:37 pace negotiating 15-20km although I did notice there wasn't much swapping of places suggesting others were also struggling somewhat with the course and conditions.

The crowds swelled in the latter stages and I crossed the finish line in 1:32:39 (position 386/3876). After the race it became clear that the conditions made this a tough day even for the faster guys. This was a decent workout. It's good to be back racing. My time is OK and will improve with more races, but, still, it's good to record my quickest half marathon since September 2012.

Without doubt this is an A-list race with superb organisation, volunteers, crowd support.

Chip time: 1:32:39
Place (overall): 386/3876
Place (men): 361/3345

Monday, 17 March 2014

Closing in

Greetings. from Belgrade. I'm on a short trip visiting my brother who is working here for a few months. I am now approaching the business end of this training cycle with London now less than four weeks away and my first race of the season in 6 days (Wilmslow Half Marathon).

The improved weather continued throughout most of last week with temperatures 10-13c but when I arrived in London on Thursday it was significantly warmer, 17c, and it is much the same in Serbia (with 21-22c forecast here on Monday and Tuesday).

It's been a very good training week. I ran on 5 days with two rest days. I rested for two days because the legs are feeling a little tired after the recent harder efforts. I know from experience that I am prone to injury, and the anxiety that brings, when I push too hard, too often.

The intensity has been pretty high as I've tried to balance volume with speed and elevation this week, all the necessary components when peaking for a race where I am seeking to lower my times. I am in slightly unknown territory this year after spending a year in Thailand. As much as it was enjoyable in SE Asia, it was difficult for me to train effectively, resulting in a year of zero improvement; it feels this year that it is necessary to press the re-set button.

It was a sunny day on Monday and after setting off for 17.72km/11mi, I ran the early stages at a fairly easy pace but then picked-up the tempo between 5-15km, before easing off for the final 3km. Tuesday in now intervals day so in the evening so I jogged to/from the local park to join the group I have been training with for the last 3 weeks.

Last week I got carried away and ran too fast for most of the session so I made a point of keeping the effort level as close to 85% max as possible, certainly not more than 90%. This week's session included 2km tempo, 2 x 600m, 2 x 400m, 800m, 1km tempo (with 2 min recoveries). I am usually fearful of what lies ahead when I go to these sessions, but afterwards I am always glad I have been. Hard effort built on a solid endurance foundation will always increase the possibility of making progress.

I wasn't feeling too sore the following morning but decided to rest as I had one eye on Thursday's session where I would have to navigate Primrose Hill (twice) Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath running on a variety of surfaces (pavement, trails, mud, gravel). The plan was to run the hills in the middle section (8-16 km) hard and then pick-up the pace between 16-24km.

It was noticeably warmer (17c) and I had to think about hydration for the first time this year (apart from during my 20+ mile runs). This was always going to be a key session so I was pleased to hit all my targets during this run averaging 5:02 pace and hitting 4:50 pace in the latter stages on [pleasantly] tired legs. I ran a very easy 10.3km on Friday and rested on Saturday.

Sunday it was time for a final 20-miler of this training cycle. The plan was to run this at an even tempo pace from start to finish. I headed for Ada Lake in Belgrade which is surrounded by an 8km track. I encountered a very stiff breeze when running along one side of the lake which pegged-back the pace a little, but I was able to pick-up with the wind behind me whilst maintaining a 4:48/7:43 pace lap pace throughout (out 1:17:12/back 1:17:10).

So, training has been good so far. Now it's time to start gradually reducing the volume but I'll keep on doing speed work until the final taper week. I can't attend intervals this week because I am in Belgrade until Wednesday but I am planning to do a Kenyan fartlek session at Ada Lake instead. I am feeling in decent shape but we'll get a much better idea of my form and fitness after next week's Wilmslow Half Marathon.

Mon: 17.21/11mi @ av 5:03/8:07 pace (5-15km @ 4:52/7:51 pace)
Tues: 13.31km/8.27mi incl. intervals (2km, 2 x 600m, 2 x 400m, 800m, 1km tempo (2 min recoveries)
Thu: 25.76km/16mi hills @ av 5:02/8:06 pace (16-24km tempo run)
Fri: 10.30km/6.40mi easy @ 5:20/8:35 pace
Sun: 32.2km/20mi in 2:34:22 @ 4:48/7:43 pace (out 1:34:12/back 1:34:10)

Week: 99.29km/61.67mi

Friday, 14 March 2014

Hope for cancer patients



I just want to tell you about my only fundraising attempt in 2014. I’m running the London Marathon for The Christie on April 13th 2014.

Previously, I have raised money for British Heart Foundation (2009, in memory of my late father) and Cancer Research UK (2011-12 in memory of Uncle Geoff). This year, however, I want to focus helping a North West institution – The Christie.

The Christie Charity and the Christie Hospital offer hope to cancer patients through its pioneering cancer treatments. I was born a stone's throw from the Christie Hospital in Withington, Manchester, and know many people (relatives and friends) who have received treatment at this centre of excellence, so this charity has a special significance for them and for me personally.

The Christie Charity raises funds to help provide additional services and undertake vital research for cancer patients. As one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, treating more than 40,000 patients a year, funds are always required.

I realise that you will asked by your friends, family and work colleagues to support equally deserving causes, but if you are able to offer a donation of any amount via my JustGiving page to The Christie, you would be giving hope to cancer patients and helping improve their survival chances.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they won’t sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

http://www.justgiving.com/MartinLeverMarathon

Thanks for reading this and for any support you can give

Martin

Monday, 10 March 2014

Looking ok

It's been another decent training week with the emphasis very much on quality rather than quantity. Whilst this week's total is OK - 82.65km/51.36mi - my confidence is the big beneficiary having been strengthened by two key workouts, Tuesday's interval session and Saturday's long run.

The weather has been much kinder this week with signs that Spring is just around the corner. The sun has shone for much of this week. My main concern at this stage of my training cycle is not to aggravate my nemesis, posterior tibialis. I am making sure that I recover properly after harder sessions. This week that meant 2 days off instead of one.

After Monday's easy session 11.6km @ 5:17 pace it was time on Tuesday to significantly up the ante. I joined a talented group at the park for more intervals in a tough but necessary session. In total I ran 12km inc w/up and c/down including 2 x 1 mile followed by 2 x 1km around the perimeter of the park. My splits revealed a few surprises.  I have no idea how this will translate into my race on 23/2 in Wilmslow (21.1km).

1mi - 6:15 (3:53 pace) HR171
1mi - 5:59 (3:43 pace) HR168
1km - 3:44 (6:00 pace) HR169
1km - 3:42 (5:57 pace) HR170
  
Not wanting to tempt (ill)fate, I rested on Wednesday despite feeling OK. On Thursday I wasn't feeling too great (dodgy stomach), evidenced by both higher than normal resting heart rate (RHR) and HR during my fairly easy paced run. I rested again on Friday after noticing that my RHR was still elevated.

The second key session of the week was on Saturday. I decided to run into the wind during the first half of a planned 34km/21mi run. I took an entirely different route than normal when I headed to Lytham along back roads before turning around and heading back to Blackpool via a very scenic route along the promenade and sand dunes.  I went out at a very comfortable ~5:15-5:20 pace but between 20-33km I picked up the pace to ~5:04 pace before easing off for the final stages  [Av HR 135].

Sunday called for a quick 5mi at easy effort bringing the weekly total to 82.65km/51.36mi. It all seems to be coming together nicely but I am not going to become complacent. I'll continue with the speed work this week with one intervals and one fartlek session. I'm also planning to go long again at the weekend. London is t-minus 5 weeks.

Mon: 11.6km/7.21mi easy @ 5:17/8:30 pace HR131 [11c]
Tue:12km/7.46mi intervals 2 x 1 mi [6:15(3:53)/5:59(3:43)] plus 2 x 1km (3:44(6:00)/3:42(5:57) HR (intervals) 168-171 [6c]
Thu: 17km/10.56mi @ 5:17/8:30 pace HR137 [8c]
Sat: 34km/21.12mi @ 5:11/8:20 pace (20-32km @ av 5:04 pace) HR135 [10c, windy]
Sun: 8.05km/5mi recovery @ 5:27/8:47 pace [13c]

Week: 82.65km/51:36mi

Next Races:
23/3 Wilmslow Half Marathon
13/4 London Marathon

Monday, 3 March 2014

Some speed work and some races added

Greetings. It's just 6 weeks until London and I'm significantly ramping-up the training effort. Last week I ran 87km/54mi and whilst the volume was nothing special, there was much more quality than of late.

Monday's regulation 14.2km run turned out to be a tough resistance session as I had to compete with a fierce headwind during the final 5km, during which I deliberately sought out any available inclines and bridges.

On Tuesday I joined a group interval session run by a good friend and his father, both whom I've known since junior school. The group comprises some very capable juniors (from U14s) up to seniors. In order to improve I need to challenge myself and I feel that running with people more capable/presently faster than I am will only benefit me, in theory at least. I ran a total of 14km/8.7mi on Tuesday night including a 3km jog to the group then 1km steady then - 800/1200/400/600/1000m reps - 1 km steady and then I ran 3km back home. I'll stay with this group for the next 5 weeks.

After a rest day on Wednesday, on Thursday I ran to Stanley Park which is undulating around its 3.5km perimeter. In total I ran 10.30km/6.40mi which included a 3.5km warm-up, then I turned the legs over a bit faster by running 5km @ 4:17/7:02 pace, followed by 2.7km easy effort back home.

Friday and Saturday were both easy days as I planned to do a basic Kenyan fartlek session on Sunday. We have been blessed with some mild, sunny weather over the last 3-4 days. On Friday I ran 12mi at 5:17/8:30 pace, no gloves, hat or even long sleeves. On Saturday, I ran with a good friend, Jeff, whom I ran My first marathon with in Loch Ness in 2009. We kept the effort very easy as Jeff has just started building-up to longer distances. We've both signed-up to run the Chester Marathon in October.

On Sunday I ran 13km/8.08mi including a 2.75km w/up followed by 10 x 1min pick-ups (to max 85% HR)/1min recoveries. The splits were encouraging: 4:06/4:19/4:05/4:02/3:57/4:01/4:02/3:56/3:58/3:57, followed by a 6km jog back home. The plan going forward is to increase the pick-ups to 12-14 at 2 minutes, but keeping the recoveries to 1 minute.

All in all it was a decent week's training and I'll continue with the speed work for the next few weeks. I've also added some races to help me sharpen for London:

Sun 23.3.2104 - Wilmslow Half Marathon
Sun 13.4.2014 - London Marathon
Sun 5.10.2014 - Chester Marathon 

Mon: 14.2km/8.82mi @ 5:05/8:11 pace [hills/bridges final 5km] windy
Tues: 14km/8.7mi incl 3km jog then, 1km steady then - 800/1200/400/600/1000m reps - 1 km steady, 3km cool down
Wed: rest day
Thu: 10.30km/6.40mi incl 3.5km warm-up, then 5km @ 4:17/7:02 pace, 2.7km easy.
Fri: 19:32/12mi @ 5:17/8:30 pace
Sat: 16.35km/10.16mi with a friend @ 5:39/9:06 pace
Sun: 13km/8.08mi incl 2.75km w/up, 10 x 1min pick-ups/1min recoveries.
4:06/4:19/4:05/4:02/3:57/4:01/4:02/3:56/3:58/3:57, 6km c/down.

Week: 87km/54mi