Saturday, 21 March 2009

Keep on keeping on

First, some fantastic news: last Friday, my new nephew, Monty, was born in Drogheda. While he gets his good looks from his uncle, he obviously has an alternative supplier for his generous head of hair. I know that my sister, Jilly, wants to come over for the London Marathon, so it may be Monty's first major sporting event. I'm sure he would have preferred the final of the FA Cup or the Champions' League, but he'll just have to make do with me grimacing my way around 26.2 miles of London's unforgiving streets.


Last week, I visited Josh Cheng at Harris and Ross' Wilmslow clinic. After filming me running at a steady 11 kph, Josh and I were able to computer analyse my running gait to identify any issues. While my running style was generally sound, it was obvious that I was bending my back slightly when my left foot strikes the ground. This is almost certainly a sub-conscious attempt to stop my niggling piriformis muscle from hurting as I run. The problem with this kind of imbalance is that it can put more pressure on other parts of the body as it tries to cope with the unusual foot strike pattern. For example, Paula Radcliffe recently had to pull out of the 2009 London Marathon with a broken toe. At the root of the problem was a bunion on her foot which was causing her to change her foot strike pattern in an attempt to stop the bunion hurting. This altered strike pattern increased the strain on her toe and she suffered the stress fracture which has ruled her out of this year's race.

The tightness in my piriformis also appears to be making me over-pronate slightly on my left foot. The tight piriformis muscle is causing my foot to point outwards ever so slightly. It's a little like pulling the string to a marionette's leg – the direction of the foot is bound to be affected. I ran in three different sets of trainers: my favourite New Balance 1024s, the newer 1062s and some high stability 1224s. The video clearly showed that my back was straighter, and the over-pronation less pronounced, with the 1224s, so I'm running in those now. All in all, the video analysis was positive, and while we'll keep things under regular review, there's no need for any orthotic insoles at this stage. Josh was also able to give feedback to Harris and Ross' Alan Raw, who is using Josh's data to formulate a suitable programme of physio and sports therapy to rectify the issues detected via the video analysis. An integral part of Alan's treatment is a series of tailored exercises to strengthen my core stability muscles, specifically my lateral rotator muscles, of which the piriformis is one.

On Wednesday, I start work with Harris and Ross' sports massage therapist, Jessie Danuser.
Jessie joined the Harris and Ross team from Australia, where she worked as a soft tissue therapist with various national and international sporting teams, such as Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club and Essendon Bombers AFL Club. Since arriving in the UK, Jesse has worked with Wigan Warriors, Sale Sharks and is currently the massage therapist for the Great Britain Rugby League Team. Using a variety of techniques which I won't even pretend to understand, such as deep tissue massage, myofascial release and cupping, Jessie will seek to keep me in good shape for the remaining four marathons.

With Angie and Martin on Walna Scar Road

I spent last weekend in Coniston, guiding a group through the mountains with TEAM fivemarathons' Martin. Long days on Dow Crag, The Old Man of Coniston, Sca Fell Pike, Lingmell and Helm Crag may hopefully help the conditioning in my legs. On Monday morning, Martin and I took a training run around the route of next Saturday's Coniston 14 race. The views across the lake are fantastic and should take my mind off some of the steep hills on the course. Confidence in the fivemarathons camp is high and Amanda, Lucy, Martin and I can't wait for the starting gun.

After the Coniston 14, the team's next outing will be the Great Manchester Run on 17 May 2009. The greatest distance runner the world has ever seen, Haile Gebrselassie, has just confirmed his place in the race, which is great – I like a challenge. Anyway, before I can focus on teaching Haile a thing or two, there's the small matter of 26.2 miles in London to consider.

Finally, I'd like to mention Christies' campaign to secure the return of the £6.5 million it lost in the collapse of the UK regulated bank, Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander. Christies is asking supporters to sign up to the Manchester Evening News' ‘Cash Back for Christie Campaign’ which is calling for the government to help secure the return of the money lost in the Icelandic banking collapse.

As you may have seen in the news, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme turned down Christies' claim and the charity is fighting this decision through the High Court. The Manchester Evening News is planning to take their petition to the Prime Minister which demands that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme reimburses The Christie. You can sign the petition online at,
(if you would like to support the newspaper's campiagn in any other way, please visit where petition forms are available).

Caroline Shaw, Chief Executive of The Christie said “We are very disappointed that our application has been rejected. We must now move on to the next stage which is a judicial review aimed at overturning the decision and getting our money returned”. The good news is that all of The Christie approved development plans remain in place and no jobs are affected, nor does it have any impact on services. It does however put under threat future research developments and new buildings.

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 23 March 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 6 miles easy
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 Warm up, then 4 x 1 mile timed, with 4 minute recoveries, then warm down
Thursday, 26 March 2009 15 minutes easy
Friday, 27 March 2009 Rest
Saturday, 28 March 2009 Coniston 14 Race
Sunday, 29 March 2009 Rest

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, 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

Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at:

Visit us at

Join the Facebook fivemarathons group

Come to the fivemarathons "Road to London" party on 21 April 2009 at The Press Club, 2-10 St. Johns House, Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5JB.

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004