Consistent Week

This week I resumed The Cool Impossible training plan. I am almost at the end of the second part. It is more about speed training and less about long runs and this week really killed me.

It started with an easy run on Monday. 10km at 4:32 min/km. Nothing special, just quite cold.

Tuesday was more of a challenge. After 2km warm up I ran 7km at the 139-153bmp heart rate zone which ended up being a run at a 4:03 pace. I then ran another 1k to cool down. It was more like freeze down, it was almost -3!

Wednesday was the interval training day. After the usual warm up I did five 3′ at 3:30 with 3′ rest in between and then cool down. A total of 13km. I was dead tired at the end but strangely found the fourth and fifth easier than the first 3.

Thursday was easier, 11km of recovery at 4:28 min/km. Nothing special, while Friday was a blast. I really enjoyed it. I did my usual warm up, but slightly longer, 4km. Then I run for 30 minutes (8km) keeping my heart rate at 160bmp which turned up being 3:47 min/km. I found myself following a guy that was going as fast as me (which is rare at 6am), I managed to overtake him but then we split up for a bit and when our route met again he was too fast to catch. Really impressive. 1km cool down and I was home, happy. It was a fun day, but my hip started complaining again in the afternoon. Not good, I am starting to see a pattern there, I need to do something to solve this issue.

Saturday I went for the long run, but as the hip was a bit strange I decided to do a bit less than usual and went for a 27km run. 2 hours in total between Bushy Park, Hampton Court and the whole counter clockwise route around Richmond Park. It was a beautiful sunny day. I ran in shorts.

All in all it was a very good week. 6 runs for a total of 84km. If the hip goes back to normal next week I will try to do at least 40k on Saturday.

Have fun!


Recovery week

After the epicness (at least for me) of last week I had to rest a bit and take it easy. It took me three days to recover from the marathon. I think the pain in the legs I felt on Sunday was mostly due to the mud. I really had to use muscles I rarely use. So Monday I rested. I had a couple of celebratory beers in the evening:

beerTuesday I had planned to go for an easy run but still felt very stiff, so I stayed in bed. Wednesday I finally went for a run and it felt so good. Three days with no running is now too much for me. I did 10 easy km at 4:25 min/km. It was quite warm, surprisingly so.

Thursday, as an experiment, I did the exact same route as the day before but did the final 5km at a 4 min/km or faster pace with a cool down km at the end. I struggled a bit. Too warm for what I was wearing and I still had tired legs.

Then Friday I decided I recovered enough and it was time to up the game so I went for a 15k run. More than the usual week-day 10k. Nothing really special, but I felt the legs were almost back to normal.

Saturday I felt good enough to go for a long run, grabbed my trusty handheld bottle, one gel (I should have taken 2) and went out in the freezing cold. It was between -2 and 0 all the time. It went really well: Bushy Park, Hampton Court to Kingston, Richmond Park and then into Wimbledon Common. I know so little of Wimbledon Common and it is so wild in places that I got lost running in the woods and mud. By the time I was out and back to Richmond Park I was already at around 20k so I decided to head home the way I came, instead of all the way around the park. I got home after exactly 30k. I was starving, but very happy. I was not expecting to be able to run so much a week after the marathon. Beautiful run, started on icy trails, caught some snow, rain and finished in the sunshine.

So all in all a good easy week, ran a total of 65k and, I think, recovered well. Next week I will resume The Cool Impossible training plan. I managed to get the heart rate monitor working again, by buying a new one. 🙂

Stay tuned for more, the next marathon is one month away!


A muddy emotional rollercoaster

What an epic week it has been.

I had to do a bit of tapering before my very first marathon on Saturday so I decided to only run 3 days of the week and not for longer than 10k each time. So Monday I did an easy 10k run and pushed a bit only the last 2k. Tuesday I was meant to go running but instead overslept, but bought a new pair of socks. Wednesday I did 9k to try the socks and then Thursday did another 7.5k easy with the Brooks Cascadia I was going to wear at the race, just to “prepare” them. Disaster struck! My left hip got stuck. It happens sometimes, I just kick in the air a bit and it goes “click” and everything is fine. It did not happen. Thursday afternoon I was limping and crying inside as I saw my race Saturday turning into a disaster or a no show. In the evening I did every possible stretching I could find in Bob Anderson’s book, copied tens of youtube videos to try everything possible to get the hip to click in place. Nothing. Friday I was limping even more. I tried running for the train in the evening and it seemed like running was less painful than walking so I decided to go to the race anyway. I tried to forget all the little niggles, the hip and how scared I was of running my first marathon and prepared everything for the day after and tried to go to bed early.

This was the menu for the day, before, during and after the race:

I got up at 5, had my usual pre-race breakfast of tea/toasts and made sure my belly was ready. I got into the car and drove to Ashurst, in Kent, even if most of the race was taking place in East Sussex, in the Winnie the Pooh forest.
I got there quite early, registered and waited drinking my water, had a banana and a power bar. The marathon was starting an hour or so earlier than the half marathon and 10k race, so there was not a lot of people around. Around 40 runners or so. After the briefing I hardly had time to get the GPS to lock and we were already running. No time for warm up! So I had no idea if the hip was fine or not, but completely forgot about it.
The very first thing that we all noticed was how much wet the terrain was. Mud everywhere, it was worth going off the beaten track most of the time to find some solid ground. After a couple of kms I was in the group of the top 5 and we ran together for a while. Nice guys, we chatted a bit and I started thinking, well if I do not do anything silly and stay with these guys at this pace the worst I can do is finish 5th (as no one else was behind us close enough to be seen). I kept on telling myself, try to stay behind the first guy, or lead for a bit but always stay with the group.


But then the silly novice in me made me do the opposite. After the first check point, around the 12th km there was a small climb and I felt good and did not slow down and found myself gaining terrain and I just kept on going. Big mistake. For the next 2 hours I ran alone, I kept on looking behind me and could not see anyone. I could not believe no one was catching up. I felt good at first. It started raining, I got to the steepest climb and power hiked in the mud and started telling myself how cool a guy I was etc. I was talking to myself aloud, like a crazy person. I felt heroic.

Things changed dramatically around the 30th km. I was supposed to get to the third checkpoint (which was the same as the second) but it never seemed to arrive. The trail was always the same mud with some bushes, mud, bushes, mud, bushes. I started to feel like I was lost and was going around in circles. The signs on the side of the track told me I was on course, but maybe I had been there before or was I going back? There were some dog walkers around and I was sure I had seen them before. I started panicking, I could not see anyone behind me either. Finally I got to the third checkpoint and the nice marshal lady there said something like “I was not expecting to see you here so early!” and I thought, well I am kicking ass here and got a bit of a boost. It did not last long. All of a sudden someone caught up with me and overtook me around the thirty-second km. That was a massive blow to my confidence. I ate my final gel and tried to stay with him but I could not, cramps were around the corner. As soon as I tried accelerating my legs stiffened. That was something I was not prepared for. I started seeing all the other runners behind me and all of a sudden I was 8th. I was so upset with myself. How could have I thought that I could just run at that pace all the time in that mud and be faster than all those more experienced guys? And now I still had 8 very hard km to do in the mud and I might lose even more positions. Running half marathons does not prepare you for psychological situations like that. In a way I was happy I had decided to do 3 marathons before the NDW50, I need these kind of lessons. These kicks in the teeth.

Luckily at the last checkpoint they had Jaffa Cakes! That really gave me a boost. I could not eat any more gels but the Jaffa Cakes were miraculous. I started running with a better pace and started catching up with some guys.
Then everything became confused. The half marathoners and 10k runners were finishing their race too and we all mixed. I did not know who I was supposed to try to catch up with or whether I was losing positions or not. I raced with a guy I then discovered was finishing his half marathon. Anyway it helped as I must have overtaken some marathoners too as I got to the end and I was 5th.

What a relief! At least I did not do worse than I had planned before the first check point. I still managed to finish with the 4 people I was running with at the start. I wonder if things would have been different. Probably not as they would have probably had more energy than me anyway at the end. You can see the final results here and how I managed to lose a 5 minutes advantage and finish 5 minutes after the first finisher.

So, I finished in the top 5, in 4:11 on a course I believe was quite tough. Not much ascending, but the mud was really relentless. Even running downhill was hard as it was so slippery. Good experience, next time I will be smarter.


The race was very well organised. The marshals were super friendly, the atmosphere was good and I cannot wait to taking part in the next race in the series.

Once I got over the fact I made it harder for me from the start and I realised I finally managed to run a marathon (and a trail one) I was very happy. I still am, I am a marathoner now! I’d like to thanks all the friends and family who sent me messages before and after the race. I like to feel people care about my adventure and you are all helpful.

I’ll wait a couple of days and they I’ll start preparing for the next one. More hills work and at least one run over 35km.

See you on the trails (in the mud maybe).


End of 2014

This week has been great (apart from the never ending cold and light flue). Being on holiday meant I could go running whenever I wanted and not in the dark. I wanted to put some kms in my legs before the tapering week before the marathon (on the 10th Jan) and I ended up running a total of 103km in 5 runs, which is my weekly record.

Monday I did 20km going around Bushy Park and then to Kingston via Hampton Court. Beautiful frozen sunny morning. The park was at its best. White grass, a little fog, the yellow sun coming up behind the trees and lots of deer. Very poetic. I did the first 15km at an easy 4:20/4:30 pace and then did the last 5k at around 4:00. Very nice. The heart rate monitor did not work. I spent an hour trying old ones and different straps with no luck. I need to get a replacement.

On Tuesday I did another easy run. This time 15km long. Again in freezing conditions, around zero degrees. When I entered Bushy Park it felt more like -5, running through a wall of freezing fog.

On Thursday, being the last day of the year, I decided to go for a long run and maybe aim for the marathon distance. I did not manage to. I did 40km, but I could not do more. I have to respect the distance a bit more and start running slower at the beginning. It was a good lesson for next week. I ran with an average pace of 4:53 min/km which I think is a fine pace to aim for, but I should not do the first part at 4:30 and then end up doing the last kms at 5:30. Anyway it was a good run. I went through all the nearby parks, Bushy, Richmond and for the first time in ages Wimbledon Common. This last one is a lot of fun, I randomly took paths to see where they took me. There is quite a lot of up and downs there, it is a good training ground, I should go there more often.
I used this run as a test for next week and went out with the Ultimate Direction AK race vest carrying one bottle of water, 3 gels and all the required kit for the next marathon (jacket, first aid kit, thermal blanket etc). I had no problem at all. Apart from the socks which ended up with a hole in them I am now 100% sure of what I am going to wear next week, including which pants!

Thursday I rested and then on Friday did a slow recovery run (17km at 4:40 min/km). After the long run earlier in the week this one felt too short and when I got to 12km and was supposed to turn for home I decided to run a bit more to the Teddington Lock.

On Friday even if it was raining and cold and I was still a bit ill I had to go out and run. I was too close to the 100km week not to go. So I went out for an easy 11km run but then I decided to push a bit on the last kms. As I have not done any speed work for the last 2 weeks I decided to run a bit faster and did the last 4 kms the way I like it (4:02, 4:00, 3:46, 3:39). I felt good. Actually I have never been in such a good shape, even doing warm ups and stretching I feel strangely athletic, different. I could not be more ready for next week’s trail marathon!

So this ends my week, but also marks the end of the year. I wanted to do a post to close 2014 with some goals for 2015, but I was too lazy, so here is just a quick recap of last year:

To sum it up, it has been the best running year ever. I started with the plan to run more during the week (from 3 to 4 times a week) and to run more half marathons. I ended up running 6 times a week and preparing for an ultra. I wanted to do PBs on 5k, 10k and 21.1 km and did them multiple times and I wanted to aim for a marathon. In 6 days I will have achieved that too, hopefully.

I have run a total of 2765 km in 2014 and ran the following races:

Half Marathons:

  • Hampton Court Half Marathon
  • Bracknell Half Marathon
  • Richmond Half Marathon
  • Wimbledon Common Half Marathon
  • Burnham Beeches Half Marathon
  • The Dirt Half Challenge


  • Whole Foods Market Breakfast Run (16 miles)
  • Harry Hawkes (10 miles)
  • Garmin Kingston Run Challenge (16 miles)

And 3 Bushy Park Runs.


But the best part is the new found love for trail running and setting crazy new goals like doing 3 marathons in the next 3 months and my first 50 miles ultra in May. This has basically changed my life and I cannot wait to see where this leads me. I still have to decide what to do the rest of the year after the NDW50.

For all the fun and “successes” of 2014 I have to thank the support of my family that has not got bored of hearing me talking about running every second (yet) and my running friends Marco R., Davide G. and Manu. I am looking forward to running with you guys in 2015.

Have a wonderful 2015 and I hope you can all reach your goals, whatever they are.