If I’m going to put myself through IMUK, I may as well do it for a good cause and let somebody benefit from it.


To be honest, there are so many charities and good causes about that it becomes almost too hard to choose one. This is the problem I had so in the end I’ve chosen two.


The first is The Christie. I doubt this one needs much introduction, but just in case, here’s a link;


They obviously have a large amount of fundraisers, but they also need a large amount of funds, so hopefully my little bit will help.


The other is a children’s charity called Wipe Your Tears. Again, here’s a link;




As it happens, the charity is based in Bolton so it is good to be able to help a charity that is so local to IMUK. The reason I have chosen this particular charity is the Chairman contacted me towards the end of last year about a watch he had been donated and was trying to find a home for it. We had a couple of chats on the phone but in the end, I couldn’t help him so I thought if I cant help with the watch, I’ll help with IMUK and raise some funds for them.


Both appeals have a Just Giving page, links below


Please feel free to donate to two very worthwhile causes.





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. 🙂

Cheshire Backmarkers Race Debut

Training is bowling along. Concentrating abit on the running side as I have the Wilmslow Half Marathon coming up at the end of March and want to try and keep my record up on that. Have been doing it for 4 years now, and have always beaten the previous year’s time. Over the years, I’ve managed to get down from 2 hours 24 minutes when I first wobbled round it to 1 hour 59 that I did last year, so a decent improvement over the years, but nothing double quick. Would really want to try and get under 1 hour 50 minutes so that why I’m trying to do more running training at the minute.


I’m still doing some swimming, did a 4 km swim last week which felt fine but swimming isn’t too much of a problem. Cycling is more of a problem, but I’m trying to do some on the Wattbike in the evenings just to build up some bike strength and then hopefully wait for some better weather, or that’s the plan.

Anyway, saw that there was a half marathon and 10k race at Oulton Park coming up so thought I’d put myself down for the 10k. Be a decent work out, it is run by xtramileevents who do the Wilmslow Tri so that should be sorted and just a novelty of running on the circuit. Completely forgot to enter until I saw a tweet to say 30 minutes before cut off, so did it with about 10 minutes to spare. It was then that I realised we had a night out planned for the Saturday, the day before so not ideal preparation.


Rolled back home at about 12.30 the morning of the race and by the time my head hit the pillow, I was getting up again, or that’s how it felt. Down at Oulton by 9.00 so I could register for the start at 10.00. Felt quite windy driving down, and when I parked up, the door of the car flew open and nearly took the car parked next to me out. Was thinking of packing some running tights and a long sleeved top but didn’t bother, cosmic!!


Got blown over to registration and began to question what I was doing, but at least there were a few hundred other idiots who’d been let out for the day as well as me. Back into the car to keep warm, quick gel and drink then wander down to where I thought the start was. Everyone was just milling about, then suddenly we all trooped onto the circuit. Bit strange as there was no loudspeaker or at least a big bloke with a shouty voice, but we all just followed. Walked up to the start, hung around for a bit getting more chilly, then there was a loud whistle, we all moved up to the start and away we went.


The start was just at the beginning of a left hand bend, and as we rounded that, it was straight into the wind. Not great, and as we were doing 3 laps, knowing we had to face that 3 times wasn’t great for moral but hey ho. At the end of the straight into the wind, we had a hairpin and my next surprise, a hill!! Didn’t even cross my mind about hills on here, and as it happened, there were 3 hills on each lap, so guess it could have been called an undulating course if it was on the road. The photographer positioned himself at the top of the second hill and snapped away as we went past. One good point about this was you were able to download the pictures for free, which a lot of the races I’ve been in previously don’t do. Not really a lot to say about the race, it was cold and windy so doubt many PB’s about but I just enjoyed it. I wasn’t lapped which I got thinking about when I saw the leaders charging off so guess that’s a small win!! Finished in 53 minutes 30 seconds, not quick but happy enough and it gave me a decent work out. And it was the debut of the “Cheshire Backmarkers” team colours, so good day all round!!






More Fitting Training in

Following on from what I wrote the other day, here’s a couple of examples of being flexible with a training plan.


On Monday, its half term and my the two youngest daughters are not well. They’ve been up all night so between them and my wife, they didn’t get much sleep. I was due at the gym that morning but to let them sleep in I cancelled my session. After lunch, they all went back to bed, so I knew I was going to have some time to kill so I got my kit on and went out for a run whilst they slept. It was quite worthwhile as I managed my first 10 mile session for a long time.


Today, I’ve not been able to get my swimming session in as I was needed at home to look after my youngest. No probs, she’s having her afternoon sleep so get an hour in on the Wattbike.


Both might not be planned sessions, but at least I was getting something done rather than nothing by being a bit flexible, and I’m sure something is better than nothing.

Fitting training in

From what I read, this seems to be a common question and worry, “How do I fit training in”. Most people are going to have work, and probably a family to fit in with the training plan, so how can you please your boss and family, yet still fit a decent amount of training in?


I can only say how I manage, and I’m quite lucky in that work isn’t really an issue for me. Having said that, 5 kids is, so I try my best to work around family life, and Manchester City. 🙂


I have 3 sessions with a PT each week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9.30-10.30. These are set in stone and I’m generally doing core and weights to build up my strength. On a Wednesday and a Friday, my wife is also at the gym, and as we don’t pick our youngest up from Nursery until 12.30, we tend to stay there and pick her up straight from the gym, so that leaves me another 90 minutes after my sessions. I would prefer to do my swimming drills both days but there is now a swimming lesson going on that involves the whole pool for some reason, so that takes that session out. So I have two spare 90 minute sessions. One I use for my swimming, the other I usually do a gym based brick session, with the bike usually having some kind of interval session. On the day I don’t do my swimming, my daughter has a swimming lesson at the gym, so we pick her up from nursery, and she has her swimming lesson in the afternoon. This has now given me a 45 minute slot where I can fit another swimming session in.


At home, my wife always watches the soaps. These are pretty much on every night, but twice a week they’re on for 90 minutes an evening, so during this time, I’ll either go for a run or more likely, go on the turbo. I don’t have any interest in watching them, so I’m not missed.


Weekends are a little bit more difficult, but at least one morning, I’ll try and get up early and go for a run. Whilst its not too light early on, and the weather is like it is, then I’ll leave the bike but when the mornings start to get lighter, then I’ll try to introduce more and longer bike rides into my weekends. Ideally, I’m back for about 9.30 so I’ve not eaten into anyone else’s day and we have time to do something as a family if we choose.


Some of the training does have to be reactive. If you spot a gap and you can do something, then go for it. I’m sure even half an hour of something is better than nothing at all. I once had 20 minutes to kill so I just sat on the turbo practicing clipping in and out of the pedals. Might not be a huge benefit in the long run but I had the time and managed to do something constructive, every little helps I’m sure.


You also need an understanding family as you will be out at daft o’clock in the morning, you will come back covered in shit and you will be absent for some time, so make sure they buy into what you’re doing, it’ll make it so much easier, though I have been told if you’re not arguing about how much time you’ve spent training with your partner, then you’re not going enough training.

Week 1 is here!!

I guess it’s all got a little bit more real this week, the first week of my IronMan training course. It’s one I’ve got from trilife through the IMUK website, a 26 week course specifically aimed at the IMUK course apparently.


First day was Monday, and I woke up feeling like shit. Came down with a really bad cold on Sunday so first email I saw on Monday was my training plan for the day. Great, first day and I’m already behind. Opened it up and result, today is a rest and preparation day!! Then the rest of the week has just been drills and easing into the 3 disciplines.


Like I’ve said, the swimming isn’t really a problem, I can do the distance now so its just a case of trying to knock some time off it. The first swim session was some drills, and I have to say, I found the drill doing catch ups quite difficult. Not so much the doing it, more the coordination I think. Anyway, all done, certainly felt it across my shoulders more than a normal swim, so presume it must have done some good.


The running was easy enough. A gentle 40 minute run one day, followed by an hour a day or two later. I did the hour one yesterday first thing, and felt really good. There’s something about running first thing, really enjoy it, no matter what the weather. It was cold and windy yesterday but just got on with it and when I got back, felt like I could take the world on, or at least my 2 little girls anyway!! Think the hardest part was waking up and getting out of my pit as I could hear the wind outside, but once out, it was fine.


And the cycling. Not great to be honest. I’ve buggered up my bike on the turbo and not had chance to get it into the local shop to have it looked at, hopefully tomorrows job. There is a solution on the way to force me to improve, but that’s another story, so for the time being I’m just doing my biking on the wattbike, which is great bit of kit.


Here’s to week 2!!


Not really mentioned my training much. Since Christmas, been concentrating on just getting my strength and stamina back and hopefully that’s worked. Feel a lot better and fitter so everything seems to be going in the right direction. Whilst I’ve not had a training plan as such, I’ve followed some different routines and sessions with the view to getting my fitness back up to what it should have been.


Swimming is the one that I don’t have a problem with. I’ve done the full 3.8 km distance this month without a problem, so I’ve just been doing some interval training to try and get my speed up. Depending on time, I’ll do 10 x 100m and try to keep them at the same time ish. Usually works, and I’ve been lucky in that I seem to have the pool to myself most days when I go in. My youngest daughter has a swimming lesson on a Friday afternoon, so while she is doing that, I can get a quick 45 minute swim in as well which keep things ticking over.


Running has been fine, although most of my runs have been on the treadmill in the gym as the weather has been shite. The most I have done is 10 km but that was fine and I’m gradually building that up.


The bike, not great!! My plan was to be hitting the turbo over the Winter a lot more than I have. I’ve had mechanical issues with the turbo in that I keep getting flats, so thought I’d be clever and go and get a wheel, cassette and turbo tyre so I would have a dedicated turbo back wheel. Great idea in theory but with my mechanical ability, it all turned to shit and I’m going to be phoning the local bike shop to give the bike a service as I’m not convinced I’ve put everything back together ok!! In the end, I’ve decided to dive in for a Wattbike. I’ve sold it on the fact that we all can use it, but I’m hoping that this will give me more use by having a dedicated exercise bike there. I need to put in some serious miles on the bike, but with the weather, I’ve only been out on the mountain bike, and even then, not too far. If I have my bike all serviced and ready to go, then I know I’ll be able to hop on it when the weather improves and get some proper road use, but in the meantime, its going to be indoor stuff.


I’ve also been doing some brick sessions in the gym after my PT sessions. Friday I did 30 km on the bike, followed up by a 6 km run, and it felt fine. Have to admit, the first time I ever went from a bike straight onto a run, it was a strange feeling, but now it doesn’t seem to bother me which hopefully is the training working.


And talking of training, in my inbox this morning was an email from giving me my first day of IMUK training plan, so its starting to get real now!! Hope this isn’t an omen, but I feel like shit, got a really bad cold so thought that its day 1 and I’m already going to be behind!! Fortunately, day 1 is a rest day, preparing you for what will be happening over next 6 months so all being well, will be feeling better tomorrow and I’ll be able to start it properly.




Probably one of those things that nobody thinks of too much in a training plan, but its entered my head more and more over the past couple of months.


Without going into too many details, I’ve been really suffering with my sleep, particularly the past few months. We have a bed that is so uncomfortable that I feel like I’ve done a triathlon when I wake up. Everywhere is achy and it takes me a while to get moving. Its a horrible feeling, and one that started making me not want to go to bed. I’d put it off as long as I could, go to bed when I was almost asleep stood up and just literally flop onto the bed. The problem then was if one of my youngest woke up in the night, then there was no way I was getting back off, and I’d end up coming downstairs, maybe grabbing another couple of hours on the settee but it wasn’t great. Most of these months I was getting by on between 3 and 6 hours a night, and I didn’t feel great for it. I’d still do my bits in the day, bit of training as well but I just didn’t feel great.


Why didn’t I change the bed? Or why did I buy it in the first place??!! The second one is easier, it felt comfy in the shop, we needed a bed so that was the one we got. Looking back, it was on a different base than the one we eventually put the new mattress on so this will have had an effect on it, but it feels like sleeping on a bag of rocks.


The problem is, you need sleep. Forget the idiot who bellows out he can get by on 3 hours a night. When you sleep your heart rate drops, your blood pressure drops and the body repairs and recovers from the previous day. This is the important thing for anyone involved in any sort of athletic pursuit. You have to have a sufficient amount of sleep to recover from your racing or training otherwise your performance will suffer. That is why in all the training plans that are about, there is a rest day included each week, and it should be taken. But sleep should be included as part of your training program.


So how am I doing now? I have a new mattress on the way so I’m still on the old sack of spuds. However, the shop we bought this from went through all sorts with us, from bases to pillows and spent a long time letting us try different beds out. It was actually an enjoyable experience, which for shopping, is saying something. In the end, while I’m waiting on the new mattress to turn up, they suggested I change pillows, and what a difference. Just by changing something that simple and relatively inexpensive, it has made a huge difference. The bed still ain’t great, and its going soon, but I now sleep better, and for longer and feel so much better for it.