The big day dawns!

Am I ready? Too late to worry now!

Training is over, nothing more can be done. So, try and relax, enjoy the build up (and eating those carbs) ready for hitting the red start and Greenwich on Sunday morning.

I had intended to update my blog every month, but as the training intensified and with work being busier than ever its just not happened but as I sit relaxing in the garden on the fabulous warm sunny afternoon what better time to reflect back on those hard months of training on what seems to have been the coldest, wettest and muddiest winter in these parts for years.

So, how was the training?

A few ups and downs but generally good. Hand on heart I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed it, even those long cold solitary long 30km runs over muddy tracks and pot holed roads. What have a learnt?

Following a training plan has helped, I used the ASICS training app. For for my first half marathon last summer I didn’t really understand what I was doing, I would tend to run nearly all runs at a similar pace, in hindsight too fast as result suffering more muscle pain and strains. This time I’ve run to a set pace on the training runs, the recovery jogs were the hardest to master, to start it felt I was barely at walking speed. Fast runs were tough allowing sufficient recovery time was important.

Technology does help, I now find my Garmin Forerunner 235 and my older Fitbit invaluable, it really has helped me, especially earlier in the training, the data insights identifying times I would push too hard or not hard enough. It’s brought much better consistency to my running, hopefully that will put me in good stead for the marathon as long as I don’t get too carried away with the atmosphere.

I like the solitude of the long run, occasionally I will listen to music or an audiobook but for the most part I just like to run, listen and take in my surroundings, I have found its gives me a great place to think, contemplate, work things through in my head, I get into a rhythm and the running almost becomes and unconscious action. That is until I start to hit my limits then its the willpower needed to keep going to reach that distance or time goal.

I love reading about running. I’m not a big reader, never have been. Maybe a book whilst on holiday, that was it. However, I thought reading others experiences would help keep me motivated through training, which it most certainly has. I started with ‘Up the smoke’ a book with twenty six inspirational stories of the London Marathon and their motivations for running, stirring stuff! I’ve since read ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Vassos Alexander, ‘Keep on running’ by Phil Hewitt and I’m currently enjoying Vassos’ second book ‘Running up that hill’. All have been excellent reads and would recommend.

My own health has improved, thats no surprise but I was keen to see how much it would help with my diabetes. Last week I had my annual review with the specialist consultant and the news was good in all areas which was fantastic.

I have learnt so much more about the impact of Brain Tumours. My motivation for running was to honour the memory of my dad who we lost to a brain tumour in 2002. As part of the team raising money for Brain Tumour Research I’ve learnt that so many of my friends and colleagues have also lost family or loved ones, I’ve learnt of the shocking statistics that surrounds this cancer, such as the few examples below.

Finally I’ve learnt that my young Labrador, Wilbur is not much of a runner, I’ve been taking him with me on some of my shorter recovery sessions, on one occasion around half way around he sat down, refused to move until he had had a good chew on a stick he had found on the path. Luckily I managed to get him moving again.

As thoughts turn to Sunday they also bring memories of my parents. Tomorrow (21st) is the forth anniversary of Mum’s death from breast cancer, she always loved watching the marathon and said she would have loved to have had a go herself. Sunday is for my Dad, my motivation. I’m not sure what he would have made of me running the London Marathon, surprised for sure but hopefully proud of what i have done and what I will achieve when I cross the finish line on the Mall.

If you would like to support me in raising vital funds for Brain Tumour Research you can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Riches

Thank you for reading and your support and the best of luck to all the other runners taking part in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Stephen

100, 99, 98, 97, tick tock, tick tock

With Christmas and New Year over for another year, back at work and busy as ever my social media timeline was awash last Thursday with posts reminding us that there was now only 100 days to go until us runners line up at the start of the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. It’s really now starting to feel real and time is ticking by very fast.

Since my last blog I’ve now officially started training, after much deliberation I’ve chosen to follow an ASICS training plan. So far so good, have found the app easy to use and I’m now three weeks and nine runs in. As a relative novice to running I had never really understood the difference between a jog, comfortable, tempo or fast run, whilst I would attempt to adjust my pace depending on the distance I intended to run, all my runs tended to end with me averaging between 5 – 5:20 min per km. The app sets your training schedule based on a target marathon time and the number of days you wish to run per week, I plumped for a four hour target based on my last half marathon time if 1:52:26. The training starts slow, builds pace and then distance before tapering down as the big day approaches. My first training run in my plan was a 5 km jog, pace 6:45 per km, for me this felt like I was barely moving faster than I walk, I really struggled to go so slow and missed my time finishing significantly quicker than the target time, however three runs in and a lot of checking pace on my watch I was hitting my marks…. and feeling better for it. Training for my first half marathon last summer I would often have lots of aches and pains, in hindsight I was pushing too hard.

I’m now nine runs in, well into the ‘going faster’ phase which consists of two 9km fast runs and a longer comfortable run per week, target fast pace 5:05 per km, over a variety of terrain and trails I’ve done 5:07, 5:01 and a 4:54 pace with consistent time splits so pleased with my progress. After my last run the ASICS app has re-profiled my target times, quickening each slightly with a new Marathon target time of 3:40 but there’s a long way to go and I will be more than happy with getting close to 4 hours.

So, training is on plan, fundraising still work to do but making good progress towards my target. December and January are particularly poignant months for me and my family, Christmas obviously, but December were also mum and dads birthdays, mum on 28th and dad on 22nd. I lost both parents to cancer, mum breast cancer in 2014 and my dad to a brain tumour in 2002 and this year would have been his 75th birthday, the anniversary of his death is 26th January, I really can’t believe it’s 16 years. I’m running the marathon in his honour and to others that have suffered from a brain tumour. I am raising money for the fabulous Brain Tumour Research who are undertaking vital research into finding new treatments and ultimately a cure for this horrible disease. If you have enjoyed this blog please donate whatever you can to help the fight against this cancer by following the link to my JustGiving page below.

http://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Riches

If you’re in and around the Cambridgeshire countryside over the next few months you may spot me on a training run, possibly with my training partner Wilbur, me kitted our in my new training shirt I received for Christmas, Wilbur is still a youngster so only comes on my short runs, he also likes to chew everything as such a had to buy myself a new running jacket last week, just hope he doesn’t get my new running shoes!

I need a plan!

Since getting the news I would be running the London Marathon I must admit there have not been many moments in my day when I haven’t felt the pang of excitement or the feeling of butterflies in the belly at the thought of joining 40,000 runners on Sunday 22nd April. I’ve spent the past three weeks enjoying my running with a renewed spring in my step, have spend hours looking at marathon training plans and running gear online, but have yet to really formulate a strategy for my training or for raising the funds to get me to the start line.

However, watching the Channel four stand-up to cancer Googlebox and The Last Leg specials on TV on Friday evening brought things back into focus as to why I am determined to be on the start line. For those that did not see either show both contained heart breaking personnel stories of families and their loved ones as they battled through the final stages of this horrid disease, all with a tragic end and all reminded me of my own experience of losing both parents to cancer.

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My late parents John & Pamela Riches

I will be running to raise money for Brain Tumour Research UK, they are the only national charity in the UK that is purely dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours and they are a leading voice calling for greater support and action for research into what scientists are calling the last battleground against cancer. Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer… yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

My aim is to raise £3500 for the charity and any support given will be highly appreciated, to donate please visit my just giving page http://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Riches

Back to the running…..

As I said, I have a renewed spring in my step but remain unsure of the best plan to get me prepared for my first marathon. Most online programmes seem to be over 16 weeks starting at new year so at the moment I am trying to step my running back up to three runs per week alternating between 5 and 10K in distance. I’ve recently completed two 10k events, one on country trails the other the Town & Gown event around historic Cambridge city centre, both went well getting personnel best times but if I’m honest at Cambridge I set off way too fast and struggled towards the end and getting my pacing right is a concern so any hints and tips in this area would be great.

One  other development is that as a diabetic runner I will hopefully be joining the core team of a new diabetic friendly parkrun that is planned for launch in spring 2018. A great opportunity to share my experience and help others gain some of the benefits that I have seen in my own health and wellbeing since taking up running just over twelve months ago.

Hopefully by the time of my next blog I will have my plans in place and I will be well on my way to achieving my goals.

thanks for reading

Stephen

 

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