The London Marathon 2017!

Before I go over the full details of the day I wanted to start with my most memorable moment from the marathon… no not the pain, which I will come on to, but the London Marathon crowd! Before the event I was told just how amazing the crowd is, but to actually experience it, it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, it was truly immense! There was of course the cheering that helps drive you forward but on top of that you had DJ’s playing music, many different styles of bands from trumpets playing to drums banging, choirs and other singers, people giving out sweets, and children giving high fives. To hear complete strangers shouting you name in encouragement, willing you to the finish line is overwhelmingly emotional, especially as you get closer to the end and you hurt so much. I can’t thank every single person who turned out to watch and cheer enough for their support because without it, I would never have completed the mighty 26.2 mile feat!

Now let’s rewind to the start to the day. As you can imagine my sleep was very broken with excitement and nerves but I managed over 6 hours which wasn’t bad considering. I rolled out of bed before 6am and once showered I got my racing kit on, which was all laid out in preparation the night before, and I did some last minute prep work on my legs with some gentle massaging with the foam roller. It was then time to start fuelling my body with my breakfast of protein Weetabix and granola and making sure I was well hydrated even before I left the hotel.

By 7am I was on the train to start my journey to Greenwich. I didn’t know if I had left too early as the journey would only take half an hour but I wasn’t the only runner on the train. The weather was looking ideal for running. It was fairly cool and cloudy and the forecast pretty much said it would stay that way throughout the day but boy did it lie! Again, I will come to that later. At Greenwich station I sat down, started sipping my Lucozade to continue fuelling and waited to meet some of the other people who were running on behalf of Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). It was good to meet the other runners for a quick photo and have somebody to talk to whilst walking to the red start area at Greenwich Park. It helped to calm the nerves a bit and thanks has to go to Alan Glynn for organising the pre-race meet up and to Colleen Carter for sticking with me in the start area after we seemed to lose everybody else!

It wasn’t long till the start area began to get busy and even though we had arrived fairly early, time seemed to speed up and before you knew it the start of the marathon was only an hour away. It was time to get more food in me with a trusty banana and make sure I had everything I needed with me (largely running gels and jelly beans) before putting my bag on the storage lorry and importantly, heading to the loo!

 

The buzz of excitement began to build especially when the elite wheelchair racers set off followed shortly after by the elite women’s runners. Feeling confident that I was ready I headed to my starting pen and began warming up. I made sure I was nearer the back of my pen so I was close to the pace setter runner for a 4.15 finish. I know I wasn’t going to achieve this finish time after the shin splint injury but it was a comfortable pace to start with. My legs felt fresh but I was a little anxious due to nerves and I was also grateful to have my training top on over my running gear and my gloves on too as I just couldn’t warm my body up. Thankfully, this soon changed once the pen began to fill up with warm bodies. You could, however, feel the tension coming off the other runners. I thought more people would be talking but it was eerily quieter than expected. Some people then started making last minute dashes to the toilet and I was caught between two minds as whether to do the same thing but I chose to just stay put. On reflection I wish I had nipped to the loo as with having my racing bum bag full of carb gels and jelly beans around my waist, as soon as I began to run it would gently bounce right in the region of my bladder making me feel like I needed to go toilet but I coped ok.

It was soon time to start and after a 10 second countdown a claxon rang out bang on 10am to get the race underway. There was a massive happy cheer from everyone and the tension seemed to lift in an instant to excitement instead. It took me about 15 minutes to finally reach the start line and begin the hardest race of my life! The first few miles were really enjoyable with soaking up the atmosphere and having my first experience of the support from the crowd. It was also fun spotting some crazy fancy dress costumes including Mr Men characters, pineapples, sunflowers, people in rhino and T-rex suits and I even saw Jesus crucified on the cross! By mile 3 all the runners from the 3 different start points converged together which increased the level of excitement further. It also meant it got very crowded and you did find yourself dodging past people as well as discarded bottles of water. There was one Lucozade fuel station after we had all converged coming out of the Woolwich dockyard area into New Charlton where the road was literally littered with bottles, which was quite a hazard. Luckily this was the only point where the bottles littered the road fully rather than along the edges.

By the time I reached mile 7 where you run past Cutty Sark, the impressive British clipper ship, I was hitting a constant 9 and a half minute mile and feeling pretty good. I was conscious that I was reaching a distance where I hadn’t ran further than for quite sometime since the shin splint injury so I knew that after this point it would be interesting to see if I would feel any niggles in that area. I had used Vaseline on my feet, inside of my legs and nipples to help prevent any rubbing but still one blister was annoyingly appearing on one of my toes on my left foot.

Between mile 8 and 9 I ran past the MRF cheer squad, looking great in their purple charity t-shirts and waving their little flags. It really helped hit home what an amazing cause I was running for and the achievement of raising so much money for them. Just after the cheer squad at mile 9 near Canada Water I heard an almighty ‘SHAUN!!!!!!!’ yelled out to the left of me. I turned and saw a couple of old University friends, Amy and Vanessa cheering me on! It was great to see some friendly faces and it brought a massive grin to my face.

By mile 11 I was starting to feel a slight niggle on the side of my left knee and because of it my pace started slowing down ever so slightly. My energy levels still felt good, as by this point I had consumed a couple of carb gels and had kept well hydrated. I needed a bit of a boost though and it came with seeing my wife, her parents and my parents just before mile 12. I had spent that mile trying to keep an eye out for them and thought maybe I had missed them so it was a wonderful feeling when I spotted them and gave them a wave.

After the high of seeing my family, another high soon followed with coming round a corner to see Tower Bridge ahead of me. It was a beautiful sight to behold and also mentally told me I was close to approaching the half way mark. Unfortunately after this point my knee issue increased from a slight niggle to giving me quite a lot of discomfort. I knew it was my IT band giving me grief and that it would only get worse. This played on my mind a bit and wasn’t helped when you can see the elite runners passing us by on the other side of the road as we reached the point of the course where mile 14 and mile 22 run parallel to one another. How I wished at the time that I was on the other side of the road with only 4 miles remaining!

From mile 16-19 the marathon became a bit of a blur for me. Heading in to the Docklands I surpassed the longest distance I had ever ran before and I was in a great deal more pain than when I hit that distance in training. Approaching mile 17 I felt the blister on my toe expand, it was not a pleasant feeling and for a minute I thought it had popped! Then in the underpass on either mile 18 or 19 my bladder couldn’t hold out anymore and I stopped off at the urinal. It felt good to empty my bladder but standing still for half a minute did not do my knee any good and it was ridiculously hard to get running again. The crowds aren’t as big in this area of the course either and I found my mind closing in on itself and all I was thinking about was reaching mile 20. I knew if I made it to mile 20 it meant that there was just over 6 miles to go, which from my training was one lap of Brixworth Country Park, and that even if I had to walk the rest of the way I would make it to the finish. This physiologically really helped keeping me going and the crowds started to build again coming out of Canary Wharf and seeing that mile 20 sign was a brilliant feeling.

My next goal was reaching mile 22 and hoping I would see my family again. Between mile 20 and 22 I was feeling incredibly emotional as the crowds were so immense in their support and a lot of runners were seeing their family members and getting teary. It was at this point that the pain in my knee was too intense to continue to run. I had wanted to run the whole marathon and not walk at all but I had to be sensible and relieve some of the pain in my knee or I would end up not finishing and causing serious damage to my leg. It was also quite disheartening to see the 4.30 pace setters past me so I knew I wouldn’t make this time but hoped I would finish within 5 hours. I decided to change my strategy to running for a bit then power walking followed by slowing down to a gentle walk until the pain eased. I continued with this cycle and it seemed to help with my progress and was aided by seeing Amy and Vanessa again for the second time for an encouraging high five at around mile 21.

Come mile 22 I was on the look out for my family. I once again needed an extra boost. By this time the weather had changed to glorious sunshine and it felt ridiculously hot! I still felt well hydrated but I couldn’t stomach any more carb gels and instead I was very grateful for the jelly beans I had on me. Finally, I heard my name being called out from my wife and I hobbled over to her and gave her a kiss and a hug which felt incredible. I could see tears in both my mother and mother in law’s eyes and they gave me the added push to keep going. Even in the pain I was in I was able to run the next half mile because of seeing my family!

From mile 23 to 25 I probably heard the crowd shouting my name in reassurance more than throughout all the other miles that came before. It was largely because they could see the distress on my face and my hobbling run/walk. Around this section of the course I also saw Olympic silver medallist for 110m hurdles, Colin Jackson, and was able to shake his hand. Because I was now walking more I could take in the London scenery and landmarks. To the left of me I could see the Thames with the London Eye on the bank of it, with the Shard off in the distance. To my right I past St Paul’s Cathedral in all its glory and getting ever closer to mile 26 I was faced with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben towering over me.

I knew if I could give myself 20 minutes to complete the final mile then I would complete the marathon in less than 5 hours. It was a great incentive to have. I could finally see the large signs indicating how many metres you had left to run. I knew in my mind that I was going to give every last bit of energy and fight so that I would run across the finish line! From 800 metres I began to run again. I could see Buckingham Palace ahead of me and on turning the corner I crossed the 26 mile marker and therefore only had 200 metres left to go. With Buckingham Palace now behind me and The Mall stretching out in front of me I could see the finish line! My legs suddenly felt fresh and the pain seemed to disappear as I picked up my pace and stormed towards the line. I was going to make it in under 5 hours and the relief I felt crossing the line was overwhelming. I had managed to complete all 26.2 miles of the London Marathon and considering I did pretty much half of it in pain I was chuffed to do it in 4 hours, 53 minutes and 18 seconds!

  

What followed was the realisation of just how much pain my knee was in. It felt like it was on fire, it was that intense. I then managed to hobble to collect my medal and get my official finisher picture taken. The medal was truly stunning with so much detail on it and also incredibly weighty too! It’s definitely an appropriate reward for running such a long distance!

With the race finished and medal collected by next goal was to collect my goodie bag, race kit and find my charity meet and greet point. This was a struggle as I could barely walk and it wasn’t helped by having to walk for what seemed like forever to reach the end of The Mall, dodging the thousands of other runners, in the blazing sunshine. It was a satisfying feeling, finally to meet up with the charity team and be able to stand still and get some much needed rest. At this point I met a couple of the other charity runners and we started sharing our experience and I soon learnt I was not the only person in a lot pain.

After another brief walk and wait, we were shipped by mini bus to the hotel for the charity celebration. It felt so incredibly good to walk into the room where everyone was collected to be greeted by cheering and applause. A wave of accomplishment passed over me and I was immensely proud of all that I had achieved for MRF. It was good to also finally meet in person Esther Trackman, the charity contact that had given us so much help and support in the run up to the marathon. The charity had done such an amazing job of making us feel part of the family and I was incredibly thankful for all their hard work and support. I was also very grateful to finally be able to relax and catch up with my family who were immensely proud of me. With a much needed light sports massage and shower, my incredible marathon journey had come to an end. It had been a day mixed with so many different emotions and lasting memories.

I have to say just how incredibly well organised the marathon was and to thank the volunteers for the amazing job they did. From handing out water and marshalling the crowd to the St John’s Ambulance volunteers caring and helping runners in need, it was collectively such a great effort. I pretty much thanked everyone in my last blog post so I will say a final thank you to Meningitis Research Foundation for choosing me as one of their gold bond runners and allowing me to achieve one of my dreams! It was an absolute pleasure running for the charity and I’m incredibly proud to announce that my fundraising total has reached £2,784.73!! It is possible to still donate if you haven’t done so already so check out my Just Giving page. Thank you!

I have of course been asked whether I enjoyed the marathon and would do another one. Enjoy is most definitely not the term I would use! To be in pain for pretty much half of the marathon was not enjoyable in the slightest but I did love the whole experience. Straight after the marathon I said I wouldn’t run another one. It was just too brutal, but now on reflection, I might possibly consider doing another one and it would be rude not to put my name in the hat for next year’s London Marathon ballot. I know I could beat my time if my training was injury free and if I could get the higher mileage runs in, but if next time I have problems again with my training, my mind would be plagued knowing that I would no doubt be running in a lot of pain again. I don’t think mentally I could go through that, even with the support and drive of the crowd.

I’m going to end my blog post with some useful tips that might help those that wish to run a future marathon:

  • Train, train, train! An obvious one I know, but if I hadn’t put the effort and dedication in, there is no chance I would have finished and my body would be hurting a great deal more. Do follow a training plan but my advice is to start early and build miles up slowly with only a adding a maximum of 10-15 minutes to your run at a time and get comfortable at running a certain distance before upping it.
  • Strengthen your legs but also do upper body and core work too. You will be moving your arms as you run for hours so to prevent your biceps and shoulders from aching add some upper body weight work to your training schedule.
  • On race day do take a last minute toilet trip even if you are already queuing in your starting pen. You won’t be the only one doing it and as I previously stated, I wish I had done so, so that the opening few miles would have been a bit more comfortable.
  • Don’t just rely on carb gels to fuel your running. Your body will start rejecting them and you will crave something else so have jelly beans, jelly babies or some after sweets on you too or help yourself to the ones that the crowd offer out as there will be plenty.
  • Keep smiling! Not only as you never know when the camera is taking pictures of you but it also helps ease the pain and keeps you mentally strong.
  • Don’t get too disheartened if you aren’t going to hit your target time, readjust and set a new goal. Don’t push your body too hard, the aim is to finish. Also, don’t get disheartened if someone in a Womble suit overtakes you and beats you to the finish (this happened to me), it might not necessarily be a Womble but it will be someone else in a fancy dress costume!
  • Finally, just do it! If you are on the fence about doing it, get off the fence and do it. Find a charity close to your heart as knowing that you are supporting a great cause gives you the extra incentive to finish. It will easily be one of the best experiences of your life (also might be the most painful too) and the sense of achievement when you finish outweighs all the aches and pains.

That’s it! I don’t know what my next challenge will be and my mind isn’t quite ready to think about it yet. It’s time to rest and hope my knee recovers before I do Tough Mudder next month. I thank everyone who has taken time to read my blog posts and I hope you enjoyed them. Till next time… keep running!

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On your mark, get set…!

It’s nearly go time with the London Marathon only a matter of days away. I’m like a child at Christmas, literally buzzing with excitement. I can’t get the marathon out of my head and only a few days ago I had my first dream about it. The dream wasn’t a good experience. I had been running for two hours in pain and had only reached 8 miles. I’m also running in my hefty vans trainers, no wonder I’m in pain and have to stop off at my car and get my running trainers on! That’s all I remember from the dream but thankfully I’ve not had anymore since.

My training has now finished. I did my last longish run of 7 miles on Sunday and it wasn’t the greatest run either. There was thankfully no pain but I did feel quite lethargic but I’ve put that down to doing an awful lot of walking and trekking while being away on holiday in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. This included a lovely hike up Ingleborough, one of the three Yorkshire peaks, but unfortunately at the top I was surrounded by cloud so there no stunning view!

    

Because my legs have felt so tired I decided to do only one short run this week, which was an easy 30 minutes on the treadmill. I have also had a sports massage and my last personal training session which featured an awful lot of intense stretching. My legs and lower back are aching a little after the session, which is to be expected, so resting ready for Sunday is definitely the best thing I can do. Psychologically it is quite hard to not do anything else and just rest up. I feel like I need to still be doing more work but I have to keep reminding myself that I can only do too much this week and my legs need to feel fresh for Sunday.

What I’ve loved over the last few weeks is getting to know the other runners who will be taking part in the marathon for Meningitis Research Foundation. There is a group on Facebook that the charity has put together and it’s been incredibly emotional reading everyone’s story as to why they are running for the charity. I know I’ve been incredibly lucky in surviving meningitis but unfortunately for some of the other runners they have lost family members and it’s so heartening to read the hard work and dedication they have put in to help raise awareness of the cause and so much money for the charity too. I really can’t wait to meet them on the day and share the amazing experience with them.

To help trying to spot me on the TV on Sunday it is possible to track my progress through the official Virgin London Marathon app which is available on both iOS and android phones. Once you have downloaded the app, click on the menu and under favourites put my name in or my BIB number – 43923 and you will be able to see which mile I’m on, my pace and expected finish. TredFlex, my corporate sponsor, will also be sharing updates through their social media channels on Facebook and Twitter so please follow them @TredflexShoes or visit their website for more details.

 

All that is left to say is a massive thank you to my family and friends, especially my wife for having to put up with my gruelling training schedule and my moaning about my aches and pains, for their unbelievable support throughout. To everyone that has donated thank you for supporting such an important cause and helping to raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia. Special thanks to Simon and Lindsey Robertson at TredFlex for not only their donation to the charity but for providing me with a fab personal trainer and for helping to get my story out there through their social media networks and website. It’s been such a great partnership and I appreciate everything the have done for me. Last but not least, thank you to Ben Hope at Health, Fitness and Performance – @HFPBenHope on Facebook @HFPptbhope on Twitter, for his tough but enjoyable personal training sessions that have helped shape my body to be able to tackle the marathon. His knowledge and that of Rachel Perkins at Painful Locations has been invaluable, especially in supporting me through the injuries and niggles I’ve had to endure.

Lastly, my fundraising total now sits at £2,425.45! I’ve still a couple of collection pots to collect and tally up. I’m so close to reaching £2,500 so it would be amazing to hit my new target on the day itself. If you wish to help me out in doing so then please visit my Just Giving page and leave a donation, thank you.

Expect one final blog post sometime next week to find out how it all went. I can almost hear the crowds cheering us on already. I want to wish everyone who is running on the day, for whatever reason you are running and cause you are supporting, the absolute best of luck! We are in it together and it will be an amazing experience that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Here goes nothing… wish me luck!

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Charity gig night!

For my final big fundraising push a charity gig night was held live in my living room! Local musician Gary Osborne kindly offered to perform and family and friends were invited to attend the event at £5 a ticket. The response was brilliant even with a few people having to pull out last minute there was over 25 people squeezed into my living room for what was a very enjoyable night.

  

With drinks flowing nicely and Gary mixing up the set list with some of his own songs and a couple of classic covers from The Beatles, Oasis and more, everyone joined in with singing some of their favourites which included a really lovely rendition of ‘All My Loving’.

The night wouldn’t have been a proper event without a good old raffle on offer. There was plenty of choice thanks to some very kind donations which included many bottles of bubbly, tub of sweets and chocolates, two garden/kitchen pots from West End DIY, TredFlex £25 off voucher, £10 for LA Top Nails, photo album, picture frame, hand cream and a candle. You can see all the prizes in the picture below. The funky chicken pot that you can see in the top left of the picture was a huge hit with everyone wanting to get their hands on it. My mate Dave was the lucky winner of it and generated a lot of banter of ‘chicken guy’ for the rest of the evening. The raffle alone helped raise £131 and adding that to the ticket sales the grand total that the event raised was £261!

A massive wholehearted thank you has to go to Gary for performing on the night as if it wasn’t for him the £261 would never have been raised. I received rave reviews of his performance from family and friends and of course huge thanks to them too for attending and making the evening such good fun!

On the training front it all seems to be going well. I’ve kept my running at no more than an hour so not to aggravate my shin splints. My pace has improved and is nearly back to what it was pre-injury but I will still run the marathon at a slower pace so not to run myself into the ground. I do wish I had reached at least 20 miles in my training for peace of mind but it’s not to be. With only a few weeks to go, my running now begins to taper off so that my legs are well rested for the big day. Instead of doing hour long runs in the week I’ll reduce this to 30/40 minutes and then for the final week I will probably do a 30 minute run and then a walk/easy run on the Thursday. My legs will get a little work out on the Saturday prior to the marathon when I’m in London collecting my race pack and maybe a spot of sightseeing too.

My fundraising total now sits at a very healthy £2,359.20 which is 17% over my target! It would be really great if I can reach £2,500 so hopefully I will get some more donations leading up to the marathon and on the day itself. If you haven’t donated and wish to do so please visit my Just Giving page. All proceeds go directly to the charity. Thank you!

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Progress

In my last blog post I talked about how my shin splints were persisting and my training plan was pretty much out of the window with me concentrating on my recovery.

I’m happy to report that my leg is recovering well and progress is being made with my running. After giving my leg a good amount of rest I’ve pretty much started back at the beginning with some light treadmill running, doing only 15 minutes at a much slower pace than I would normally run.

Each week I’ve slowly increased the amount of time I’m running by 5-10 minutes while keeping at the 6 mile an hour pace. As I’ve been doing shorter runs I’ve kept my general fitness up by doing a 40 minute to an hour spin bike session at the gym instead. This has really helped condition the tops of my legs and hamstrings.

I’ve now reached 50 minutes of running, three times a week and have started putting in some sessions back on the road. It’s a huge relief to not be getting any pain anymore or tenderness in the area. There is a bit of stiffness and tightness around the tendon which tells me I still need to be cautious and not do anything stupid like pushing myself to do a long run. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I won’t be getting a high mileage run in again before the marathon. If I can get to an hour of road running, 3 times a week with a bit of cycling thrown in too I will be fairly happy. It’s really not ideal and means I will no doubt feel the after effects of the marathon much more but at least I will make the start line injury free which is important.

I’ve had to be so disciplined to not rush my recovery. It’s tough running at a much slower pace than I’m used to. I’m hoping if I stick to a slower pace while doing the marathon I should find it not as exhausting and more comfortable. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking! I’ve been speaking to a few other people either through work or at the gym who are also doing the marathon. I’m not alone with my niggles and injuries as they are also having their own issues but it’s still frustrating to hear of their long runs which is giving them the confidence to know they will manage the marathon well. I know I reached 17 miles but it feels an awful long time ago. I have to keep telling myself that my fitness is great, my legs feel strong and well conditioned through the personal training sessions and cycling and that I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically before and succeeded.

With less than 4 weeks to go it’s all starting to feel so very real, especially now that I have received my race number! The excitement is building and fingers crossed I will continue to progress well with my recovery and running. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and well wishes with my recovery. There is still plenty of time to support me with a donation if you haven’t done so already. Please visit my Just Giving page if you wish to donate. All proceeds go directly to the charity. Thank you!

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Fundraising target reached!!

I’m incredibly pleased to announce that I have not only reached but surpassed 100% of my London Marathon fundraising target for Meningitis Research Foundation! I’m over the moon with happiness and there is still 7 weeks before the marathon so I have plenty of time to smash the target even more! At the end of the month I’m holding a charity gig night at my house for friends to enjoy which will be my final big fundraising push and act as a little celebration event too.

target100I really want to say a massive thank you to everyone that has donated to the cause, baked cakes, donated raffle prizes, allowed a collection pot to be in your store, and generally supported me through the last 10 months of fundraising! I’m touched by the generosity of so many people and I couldn’t have reached my target without you all. The tiredness and pain that I will be feeling near the end of the marathon will be eased by knowing that I have helped raise such a great amount for a fantastic charity!

I wish my running was going as great as my fundraising but unfortunately the shin splints are still persisting. Running has been pretty much out for the last couple of weeks but I’m slowly trying to ease back with a couple of miles on the treadmill to test if I’m fully recovered. It’s going to be a slow but steady process of working my miles back up. I’m spending a lot of time on the spin bike instead, still doing my personal training sessions and upper body conditioning work so my general fitness is great and my legs feel supper strong. What it does mean is that I won’t be doing the Silverstone Half Marathon this weekend. It’s a real shame as I was looking forward to my first half marathon but I have to be sensible and focus just on the London Marathon. There would be no point in pushing myself to complete the half marathon and irritating my shin splints again with only 6 weeks till the big event. It’s really not worth the risk and instead I just need to concentrate on reaching the marathon start line pain free and in the best shape possible.

Thank you again to everyone for helping me reach my target and if anyone who hasn’t donated yet and wishes to support this great cause then please donate by texting the code SSLM84 and the amount e.g. £5 to 70070 or alternatively donate on my Just Giving page. All proceeds go directly to the charity. Thank you!

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Minor set back

I managed my longest distance of 16-17 miles a couple of Sundays ago when I was out for a good 2 and a half hour run. It felt good to reach this distance and I felt quite comfortable for 2 hours but the last half hour was tough going.

Since this run I’ve had a slight niggle on the inside of my right leg around the ankle area. I’ve managed a couple of small runs on it since but the pain is coming on around the 20 minute mark. I therefore went to see Rachel Perkins at Painful Locations for a good sports massage treatment and she also taped it to support and compress the area. Unfortunately, the pain still persists and the injury has pretty much been confirmed as shin splints due to overuse.

It’s an incredibly frustrating set back and I’m trying to remain positive as there is still plenty of time till the marathon. When looking at the beginners 16 week marathon training programme I am way ahead of schedule with my mileage but it is hard not to get a little down about it as it hasn’t been that long since my last niggle with the ligament strain in my left foot. I guess it’s only natural to get issues when increasing the mileage.

So the set back means I’m off the running for at least a couple of weeks to give the area plenty of rest while giving it some TLC by keeping it taped up, well stretched and slapping on the magnesium oil to aid recovery. The potential difficulty is I don’t get noticeable discomfort when walking so it will be tricky to tell when it’s suitably healed and I can start running on it again but I will follow the advice of Rachel and my personal trainer Ben.

If I’m not running I still need to keep my fitness up which means plenty of cycling on the spin bike in the gym. I would road cycle but for a start I don’t have a bike and I’ve never been confident with cycling on the road so I’m not going to risk starting now. I do find cycling in the gym incredibly boring and tedious but I don’t really have a choice. I will have to ensure I have a good audio book or album to listen to which will help me through it.

On a more positive note my personal training sessions with Ben are going really well. Not only are we focussing on strengthening my legs but also upper body areas too, which will all support my running especially at long distance. We were going to move on to some ankle stability and strengthening activities but that will have to be put on hold until my leg is better.

I’ve also got some awesome new training tees, kindly supplied by TredFlex to wear while I’m in the gym and out about on my runs. They are really useful at helping to spread the word of my charity fundraising as they have the Meningitis Research Foundation logo on them as well as stating London Marathon and the date, so people know what I’m up to. You can also now get 10% off on the TredFlex website when you enter the code ‘shaun10’ at checkout so it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some new shoes!

tredflex-tee1    tredflex-tee2

Another positive is that my total is now at 97%!! I’m delighted that I’m so close to reaching my target and the fab support I’ve been getting. It definitely helps encourage me through the tough training and especially the injuries too. I just hope my recovery will be swift as of course when you are fundraising there is the added pressure of not wanting to let people down. Even if the niggles persist I will complete the marathon. It might mean throwing my target time out the window and running slow or walking sections of it, but I will do it! What I have to try and remember is that my fitness is very good and hopefully my muscle memory will kick in and I will get back on pace in no time. It’s all about positivity and listening to my body!

Thank you again for all the support so far and if you would like to help me reach my target for Meningitis Research Foundation you can donate by texting the code SSLM84 and the amount e.g. £5 to 70070 or through my Just Giving page. All proceeds go directly to the charity 🙂

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Another work cake sale!

After the Christmas festivities I knew a lot of my work colleagues were either on a diet of some sort or getting fit for the New Year. Rather than trying to deter them from achieving their goals I decided to wait till the start of February and advertise my cake sale as a treat for all the hard work and effort they have put in to getting in to shape.

The last work cake sale was such a huge success with lots of people donating cakes to the cause I really didn’t expect as many this time round. How wrong was I?! Again, I was overwhelmed with the generosity of my work colleagues and as you can see in the pictures there was another huge selection of tasty cakes and biscuits on offer. The full list is as follows:

  • Chocolate cake from Jane Stanhope
  • Chocolate traybake from Linda Jones
  • Salted caramel cake from Laura Jackson
  • Carrot cake (and alternative healthy option of grated carrot and humus) from Joe Bailey
  • Coffee and walnut cake from Ian Fletcher
  • Chocolate Guinness cupcakes from Kirsty Squires
  • Fruit cake from Angela Hook
  • Honey glazed cake and Portuguese custard tarts from Su Davies
  • Coconut cake from Louise Morfitt’s mother

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I of course couldn’t expect my colleagues to do all the baking and got my clean hands dirty by producing some cherry and smarties fairy cakes while my wife produced some cherry swirl biscuits and chocolate chip cookies. I even decorated the cherry fairy cakes with some golden edible glitter but I admit I had to pass this job over to my wife as the glitter was literally floating about in the air, getting absolutely everywhere, and therefore setting off my glitter phobia!

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I have to say a massive thank you to Libby Ryan for producing a magnificent fruit cake for a ‘guess the number of cherries in the cake’ competition. A grid was produced with numbers ranging from 11-60 for my colleagues to put their name next to the number they think is the correct one. The competition was a huge success with the grid getting completely full and thus raised £25 towards the cake sale total. Congratulations to Keri Watson for guessing the correct number of cherries in the cake which was 21. I admit I was a little sad to hand the cake over to Keri as it smelt mouth-wateringly beautiful and I wish I could have tucked into it myself!

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I’m incredibly happy to say that a total of £221 was raised by the cake sale. That is a superb amount and takes my total to 87% of my target! That means I’m only just over £250 away from reaching my target so with a few months still to go hopefully I will not only reach my target of £2,000 but smash it!

If you would like to help me reach my target for Meningitis Research Foundation you can donate by texting the code SSLM84 and the amount e.g. £5 to 70070 or through my Just Giving page. All proceeds go directly to the charity, thank you!

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