Sunday, 28 December 2008

Withnail and I

I hope you’re all enjoying a great Christmas.

Training is back on track after last week’s sniffle. Sixteen miles today, which is the furthest so far in preparing for Barcelona – so far, so good. Luckily, I’m not having any difficulty in finding the motivation to get out and run. At this time of year, the scenery in the Lake District is fantastic, which helps to divert your mind from the job in hand. To illustrate the point, today I took some photos of the training run from my house (see below).

I live between Wet Sleddale and Haweswater, which are the reservoirs that supply Manchester. Fans of the film “Withnail and I” (see will know Wet Sleddale: Uncle Monty’s cottage is located just above the reservoir (see and many of the film’s key sequences were filmed in the surrounding area.

Wet Sleddale (looking towards Uncle Monty's cottage)

Construction of the Haweswater reservoir began in 1929, when the Manchester Corporation dammed the Mardale Valley. The construction of the reservoir was, and remains, controversial. By flooding the Mardale Valley, the villages of Measand and Mardale Green were destroyed. Having said that, the dam has had some unexpected benefits for marathon preparation: to supply workers and materials for the works, a 10 mile concrete road was driven through the hills from Wet Sleddale to Haweswater; the road is now largely deserted and perfect for traffic-free long training runs.

The Rigg, Haweswater

Dawn over Haweswater

With the longer runs come carb supplements. The body only stores sufficient glycogen for about 15 miles – this is why many runners “hit the wall” at around 18 miles: their glycogen stores have been exhausted. For longer runs, I take carbohydrate gels – 3 an hour, which is tough going on your stomach. Having worked so hard to shed unnecessary weight, I’m now carrying an extra 2 kilos of water and carb gels to keep me going!

Christmas Day brought me some compression running bottoms which, I’m assured, will help to keep my legs in good shape as the longer runs begin. Paula Radcliffe pioneered the use of compression clothing for marathons – you may have seen the long socks she wears on race day. The idea is that the compression clothing supports your leg muscles, and reduces unnecessary muscle wobble, which doesn’t help your running, but does tire your muscles. I’ve trained twice with them now, and I’ve been impressed. Anything which can help get me over the finishing line in one piece is worth considering!

I wish you all a very happy and successful 2009. Just two months until Barcelona – bring it on!

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 29 December 2008 Rest
Tuesday, 30 December 2008 6 miles steady
New Year’s Eve 6 miles steady, including 10 x 1 min fast, 2 mins slow
New Year’s Day 2 miles easy, then 2 miles brisk, 2 miles easy
Friday, 2 January 2009 Rest
Saturday, 3 January 2009 25 mins easy
Sunday, 4 January 2009 10km race or 6 miles fast

Christies is the charity which provides funds and supports the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004