If you read my last blog on the Wilmslow Half, and saw the title of this, then I’m guessing you’d be guessing the injury is a knee or ankle, maybe a calf. Oh no, its my neck!!


I’m sure it was a little bit stiff over the weekend, but when I woke up on Monday, it was really uncomfortable. Every time I looked to my left or upwards, I had to move my whole body, looked like Davros!! Ended up trying to get in the doctors on Monday afternoon. When I phoned in the hope of an appointment, I assumed there wouldn’t be any as I hadn’t pre-booked my illness two weeks before, but I had a cunning plan. I asked for an appointment, and sure enough, nothing today cam the reply. I was asked what was wrong and I explained I had a sore neck, and then played my trump card by telling them it also gave me some headaches, which was true to a degree. Anyway, a slot magically appeared at ten to five so I was in.


To be fair to my GP, they’re not as bad as a number I hear about and they do actually listen and spend some time with you so I should be grateful for that. When I got there, he got me to do some movements whilst he poked and prodded around my neck and shoulder and diagnosed me as having Posterior Facet Joint Dysfunction.


The facet joints are found at every spinal level (except at the top level) and provide about 20% of the twisting stability in the neck and low back. At each given spinal level the angle of the facets varies from more parallel to more perpendicular, relative to a plane running through the body from front to back. Each facet joint is positioned at each level to provide the needed limits to motion, especially to rotation and to prevent forward slipping (spondylolisthesis) of that vertebra over the one below. In his view, one of my facet joints had become inflamed, which gave me the pain.


He prescribed me some tablets that would reduce the inflammation, but I have to take a rest from any training for at least a week, maybe two. Never thought I would say this, but that was a real gutter, to be told I cant train. Now I’ve got the HM out of the way, I really wanted to get on and concentrate on the bike and now I cant. He mentioned physio but I may leave it for the time being and see how I get on with some rest.


Might even have time to do another update to this now I’ve got some time off!!

Wilmslow Half Marathon

It’s the fifth year that I’ve done the Wilmslow Half. It was my first event I ever did, so I try to get to it each year. This year was a little different in that rather than using it as a race, I was using it as part of my training for IMUK. I still had a target I wanted to get to, but the main point was another 13 miles running that I could add to my training log.

Leading up to it, I’d done my usual training, but I just couldn’t seem to get any pace. My last few half marathons have been under 2 hours, and I wanted to keep that record. Ideally, I wanted to get to a time that started 1.40 something but looking at my training times, that might be a little hopeful.

I have the same routine each year. My two youngest go to school opposite the start so I tend to park outside the school as it’s easier to get away. Traffic is usually quite bad getting in so I’m usually parked up for 9 in the car reading the papers and eating bananas. I’ll wander down to the start about 9.45, queue for the toilet, have a mooch then walk up to the start line. There’s times along the start so you’re meant to start from where you think you’ll finish to help the flow. It ain’t difficult but there is still people who insist starting at the front then become mobile obstacles for the first half mile or so because they are so slow.

Once we’d started and turned off Kings Road, it appeared the traffic control must have failed somehow as there were a line of cars down the main road. Not dangerous in that they were all parked up but it just meant the width of the road was reduced and created more bunching for longer.

As I’ve said, this is the fifth year I’ve done this so I know the course very well and knew what was coming up. I got into my rhythm and just plodded on. After a couple of miles there is quite a large dip in the road so it’s reasonably easy to go running down it then back up as it’s early on in the race. The problem is you come back this way and have to do it again at about 12 miles, then it’s not so pleasant!!

The weather seemed to be holding up ok. It wasn’t cold like the previous year, when it was more Arctic than cold and it wasn’t hot like the year before that, when people were dropping with dehydration. I decided not to wear any long sleeve base layers or running tights as I didn’t want to overheat and that seemed to be the right decision, until we got just past the dip onto a long, open, straight road. There was no cover, and the wind just cuts across it and it decided that it was going to hale. Those hale stones hurt, but it was quite funny listening to some of the yelps as it came down.

Once that stopped, I just got into my rhythm of doing 8 to 8 1/2 minute miles. Everything felt comfy and this was my plan to keep under 2 hours but more importantly, to try and dip under 1.50. I had a bit of a wobble at about 5 miles but got through it ok. Can’t explain why as I felt fine but just managed to run through it. I had a gel at about 7 miles and that gave me a boost, just in time for the railway bridge, which is a small, sharp climb. All done then on through Mobberley. Lots of support which is always good, especially when your name is on the race number so spectators can call out your name as you plod past, gives you a nice boost.

Looking at my times, the sub 1.50 was on so I tried to keep it going. Got onto the back road past Mobberley Golf Club where it had haled before and the wheels came off abit. My pace dropped and it became a real struggle, especially doing that dip that I’ve mentioned, the uphill was a proper shuffle.

Soon got round the last bend and could see the finish. Not sure how or why everyone can speed up at this point, obviously bad pacing as they have too much left in reserve!! I just kept my pace going and got over the line in 1.52.08. Happy to do a Wilmslow PB by over 5 minutes but a little but gutted that I missed the sub 1.50. Those last 2 miles cost me as they were both 9 minutes plus as opposed to the 8-8 1/2 minute miles I had been doing.

After collecting my t shirt and goofy bag, carried on to the car and continued my own Wilmslow tradition. There’s always an ice cream van parked up so I had the biggest 99 I could get while I walked back to the car.

Looking back, more than happy with my time and it gives me something to go at next year. And now it’s out of the way, I can concentrate on my cycling for IMUK.

Bad Week

Guess we all get these, but I’ve not had one for so long just didn’t see it coming.


Not the best start from a healthy eating point of view, as my wife had booked me a table at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray as a Christmas present. Absolutely my kind of thing, but absolutely not hers so as I wolfed down my Red Cabbage Gazpacho, Snail Porridge and Umbles to name a few, she sat there and watched. To be fair, she made up for it the next day at his pub, The Hinds Head as that was more her thing but a good solid couple of days on good food and wine took me out of the training zone. Couple that with a fall down the stairs at the cottage where we stayed, probably not the best few days I’ll have training for IMUK. In my defence, the stairs were very narrow and steep but once I slipped, that was it. Left most of my skin off the left cheek of my arse on the stairs, and as I hit the fall at the bottom and catapulted into the kitchen, I managed to hurt my elbow and neck.


Still, got home on the Saturday and the following day went round the Bike and Tri show at Manchester. Really enjoyed it and for £6 entrance, thought it was fine. Walking a little strange as I had some chaffing issues having no skin on my arse but got round it.


On the Monday, I thought I’d better get a good run in as the Wilmslow Half Marathon is looming so off I went. All was fine if a little slow and I did 14 miles with no great problems. I know there is no proven medical research to show that compression socks or calf guards work, but all I will say is I forgot my calf guards on the run, and the following day my legs were quite sore so hopefully I wont be making that mistake again.


Wednesday is normally a big training day for me, but today I was off to watch City in Barcelona. If you’d have told me a few years ago that I’d be doing that in a competitive match, I’d have had you locked up but here we were, on the way to the Nou Camp. I was just on a day trip, so it was up at 4 in the morning to get on the flight, a day in Barcelona then straight home. Thoroughly enjoyed the day, but again, there was a lot of good food and wine so that put me back again. I know nobody force-feeds it me, but I enjoy my food and wine, and I’m hardly a professional athlete so I just enjoyed myself. Eventually got home at 3.30 on Thursday morning so double tired, but it could have been a lot worse. Some of the flights had to divert to Newcastle because of the fog that was about and by the time they got coached back, it was about 11.00 so I was one of the lucky ones!!


Thursday didn’t really happen so off to the gym on Friday. Again, this is one of my big days, but I just couldn’t get into it. Did a 50 minute pyramid interval on the bike followed by a 6km run but it was a struggle. Managed a 1500m swim in the afternoon but my mind just wasn’t into it, probably my body saying “enough for one week, you cant burn the candle at both ends.”


Saturday just chilled and woke up Sunday so much better. Didn’t want to risk too much as Wilmslow HM is next weekend so just went out for a 10k run, with calf guards on!! That felt good so back in the gym on Monday for some core work. Again, felt miles better so I thought I was back on it only for my knee to swell up. Not sure why it has but was gutted that I may have to pull out of Wilmslow. When I woke up this morning, first thing I did was move my knee, and I didn’t get a pain. I’ve given it more rest today and feels ok, going to try the gym in the morning and see how it goes. If its all ok, will have a swim after it as need to catch up on that.


Fingers crossed for the morning. 🙂