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Category: Progress

It’s Not My Fault

It’s Not My Fault

It’s not my fault I haven’t been training, or eating sensibly over the last couple of months.

It’s my wife’s fault for also wanting to go out training, so it is my turn to have fun with the children.

It’s the weather’s fault, for being far too cold or raining too much, so that the idea of training is not a good one.

It’s the weather’s fault again, for causing football matches to be postponed at short notice, so I lose that training opportunity when refereeing.

It’s my job’s fault for meetings or travel getting in the way of ‘runch’, and clearly there is no other time that I could go out for a run.

It’s my baby’s fault for not sleeping through the night, causing me to have disrupted sleep, and just not wanting to get out there and get it done.

It’s parkrun’s fault for getting cancelled on a Saturday morning, and of course that means I am banned from any other running that day.

It’s the fault of being invited out for meals, and that absolutely meaning I have to eat far too much at every possibility.

It’s any shop’s fault for selling chocolate, or any generally ‘bad’ stuff, which means I have to buy it and subsequently eat it all.

None of it is my fault at all.

Isn’t it?

2020 needs to be better than this.

Immediate goals:

  • Re-establish a training baseline.
  • Healthy eating and associated weight loss as a result. I’m at about 85 kg right now. My goal weight is 75 kg. So, 1.5 stone in old money.

Both of these are achievable and under way. I am quite frankly embarrassed by the results of my last couple of training runs.

And I have felt incredibly awkward recently when any friends have asked, “How’s the sub 20 5k going?”. As the honest answer is, “Absolute f*cking terribly”. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate people asking. It’s just hard.

Ironically, my recent refereeing Observation marks have been the highest all season, so make of that what you will!

2019: How did it go?

2019: How did it go?

2019 was the year that this blog came into being, although I have been running ‘properly’ for ten years or so. I covered the decade as a whole in a previous post. Now it’s time to look back on 2019, which is when I started the ‘Run 5k in 20 minutes’ challenge in earnest.

In short, it’s a real mixed bag. This has been a hard post to write.

The Positive Things!

I set a new 10 mile PB, without really training for it

Leading up to the Great South Run, I had been training a decent amount, but I never had a 10 mile race in mind for it. I entered pretty late too, inspired by loads of people from Waverley Harriers heading down together.

Everything came together on the day. I felt strong, set a new PB, and didn’t break myself in the process. That made it a good day. I wrote up the whole experience.

I had a good training and diet focus

… to start with, at least! I had a great mix of ‘normal’ running and track sessions. I made sure I incorporated hills in my training as a standard feature (a previous weak point of my training was running on flat routes pretty much all the time).

I combined this with eating well which resulted in a decent amount of weight loss, which of course only helps when trying to run faster (and more healthily!)

I had fun in races, including cross country!

I really enjoyed the races that I did in 2019. I didn’t do a huge number, but they gave me strong motivation to get better. Cross-country in particular is always really enjoyable due to the social aspects and the challenge of the terrain.

A particular highlight was ‘pushing for three’ by taking the double running buggy round the Guildford 10k with a baby and toddler in it! Naturally, that is never going to be a PB experience but just plain fun and good for building up the upper body!

I gained my Leadership in Running Fitness qualification!

Inspired by the various Leaders at my running club, I obtained my Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) qualification. It was good to learn the basic techniques of coaching in this area, and I’m looking forward to now putting the skills into practice in helping others!

The Not So Positive Things

I ‘fell off the wagon’ after the Great South Run

It’s strange. I trained so well (both in terms of running and diet!) leading up to the Great South Run, but afterwards did really badly with it.

My training volume dropped and I didn’t eat well, so regained some of the excess weight I had lost.

I don’t really have a good reason for this. Yes, baby sleeping patterns (or lack of them!) have not helped, but that’s an excuse. Nothing was really stopping me from getting out there and running other than me.

I think another reason is the weather. Getting out there when it is all a bit dark and cold is a lot harder for me than in Spring and Summer when the sun is out and it is gorgeous! I love the challenge of running when it is hot too. That was lacking a lot as 2019 was drawing to a close!

I failed to set a new 5k PB

I was never expecting to get sub-20 minutes in the 5k in 2019 (I started this challenge part-way during the year). However, I would have liked to have set a new PB at least. My best time was 21:16 against a PB (set in 2018) of 20:52.

I failed to hit a training distance of 1000 miles

I have a general target of hitting 1000 miles (approximately 1600 km) during the year. This includes football refereeing which helps! I (just) hit this in 2018 but only managed 1,361 km last year. That highlights to an extent my previous falling off the wagon comments!

However, I want to be careful when setting goals for next year that I don’t fixate on distance at the expense of quality training. For example: A hill session will always be a lower distance than a long run, but it is still very important training! Also, gym work won’t count towards this goal but has its own value.

Now what?

I am a little bemused by 2019. I did so well at points (although not quite as well as I would have liked…) but now feel I am back where I started, to a degree.

I’m already training regularly again in terms of repairing the damage, and this time I suppose I have all of 2020 to do something wonderful!

That means I now need to set actual goals for 2020! They are forming in my head as I type. I’ll write up exactly what they are in my next post!

Week 14 Review: Not That Bad

Week 14 Review: Not That Bad

Despite the gloomy nature of yesterday’s post, things were not so bad after all in my usual Monday weigh-in. I say ‘usual’, but that’s stretching it a bit considering I have been neglecting doing it for a while! Insert the usual work / routine / children / lame excuses here, of course…

Weight change: + 1.2 kg (Remaining: 3 kg)
Training: Speed training (6 x 400m), Easy cycling 10k, Tempo 12k, Buggy parkrun 5k
Total Training Distance: 25 km running, 10k cycling

Weight loss

Just an increase of 1.2 kg after all that! Not bad considering this is after a return from holiday as well (including an obligatory blow-out at an American-themed diner, oops). At the end of the day, this leaves me with 3 kg to lose. The overall trend is very much downwards.


This was relatively low key due to being away. The speed training was cut short due to hungry children – good to blow out the cobwebs though! Plenty of walking and gentle cycling during the week, and one tempo run to explore the local forest.

My current thoughts on training:

  1. I need to do another 5k benchmark soon. I’m hovering at around 21:45 on my local parkrun but that is somewhat undulating. Can I hit 21 minutes on a flat course, or the track?
  2. I need to include more low intensity work so that the balance is right.
  3. I’m thinking ahead a bit to the upcoming Great South Run (10 miles) – what should I be doing for that?

What’s next?

The upcoming week is really about maintaining focus now that I’m back on the fitness wagon.

If I’m honest, I can trace where things went a bit awry: the refereeing came back into play. The intensity of the games can mean it is far too easy to eat excessively afterwards, and that’s not a good habit to be in!

With two games this week (albeit one as 4th official…), this week is a good opportunity to kick that one into touch.

Where’s all the updates at?

Where’s all the updates at?

My last blog post was right at the end of August, which is a good indication of how I have been neglecting this recently. So what’s going on?

While I have been keeping up the training pretty well (including weekly speed training and the ongoing football refereeing season), my discipline has not been so great in terms of diet.

I’ll do the usual official weigh-in tomorrow, but I’m hovering just under 80 kg at the moment. That’s a gain of 2 kg since August. OK, hardly horrific (given I’m still very much lower than my starting weight…) but the whole idea is to get down to 75 kg to support my goals!

What else has been happening?

I’ve now done my Leadership in Running Fitness (LIRF) course via England Athletics. I’m pending the formal qualification coming through now, and am looking forward to helping out with my local running club. This will mainly be track speed sessions. It’s been a really interesting course to do, especially the parts on structuring sessions in the right way.


After quite a few years, I’ve upgraded my running watch to the Fenix 6. I’m very happy with it so far. It’s helped shine a bit of a light on my training generally being too high-intensity focused – i.e. not enough easy runs or equivalent exercise. Ideally, this should be better balanced. More on that to come!


Finally, I joined a gym. This is really to support the last point and give myself options for easier forms of exercise when in recovery. For example: Stationary bike or cross-trainer. I should really factor in some weight training as well — when I’ve had a full-on induction I’ll post more on this topic!

In conclusion, I’ve slipped a bit, but overall the improvements are still there. I’m lower than my starting weight. My 5k times are still good. However, both of these would have been even better had I remained disciplined throughout.

I’ll keep going!

Week 13 Review: Unlucky for Scales

Week 13 Review: Unlucky for Scales

With the sickness bug from last week banished, the week started strongly with a really good bit of refereeing. However, annual leave and family visiting over the second half of the week meant this was more of a ‘holding pattern’ week.

Weight change: * NOT RECORDED *
Training: Refereeing 10k, Recovery 5k, parkrun 5k, Refereeing 10k
Total Training Distance: 29.3 km

Weight loss

Due to this being a bit of a holding week, I didn’t record my weight on the Monday. I know, two ‘dead’ weeks in a row! This wasn’t helped by my Withings scales falling off my wireless network at home (I upgraded the set-up here due to the woeful wireless performance of the router). That’s all resolved now though.

Deco M5 – lovely wireless!

So, although no progress on continued weight loss, some cursory checks during the week show that I haven’t put it back on again either!


I had two games this week. When refereeing, I will typically knock out around 10k in distance. This will be a combination of running speeds, including quite a lot of direction changes and stop/start.

This means recovery takes longer than your average bit of running about, and I am still working on getting that balance right. I’ve certainly felt signs of over-training in previous weeks due to this, so having the family over and a bit of a break was welcome.

First game of the week!

The positive takeaway I am having in the games is that in terms of fitness, the games are not testing me. My heart rate is always lower than in any of my training sessions. Of course, this is nothing to be complacent over, and I will keep up the training throughout the season — I just need to consider the recovery aspects more.

As a result of all of the above, there was no dedicated speed training session during the week. This was deliberate. With two games featuring, it was going to be a big ask to shoehorn that in and for it to be worthwhile (i.e. no point during a speed training session if absolutely broken!)

However, I did record my fastest time at my local parkrun this year (21:45). It’s not the flattest parkrun in the world, so I was happy with that!

Thanks, parkrun!

What’s next?

‘Just the one’ game this week, so my intention for this week is for it to be a strong training week. This should entail:

  • Tempo run (including hills in it)
  • The game itself
  • Speed training
  • parkrun (with the running buggy)
  • Appropriate recovery!

Oh, and I should actually weight myself at the end of it this time…

Cross Country: 58 days of training later…

Cross Country: 58 days of training later…

I took part in the MABAC Wimbledon Common cross-country race this week. It was a perfect opportunity to assess how my fitness has improved over the 58 days since the last MABAC event (which was near the start of this blog kicking off).

Cross-country races are great fun and each course has its own challenges. This was my first time doing the Wimbledon course, although I checked it out on Strava beforehand: Straight out, two loops round the woods, then back again. Oh, and with a hill climb in the woods, but ‘nothing too bad’ according to those I spoke to within Waverley Harriers.


I felt strong in this race, although I really worked hard from the second loop onwards. I was determined not to end up walking up the hill (which 58 days ago, I can pretty much guarantee would have happened) and then I was determined not to lose my placing all the way back to the finish. It was evident as I re-entered the large field near the start that there was a large group of runners right behind me, so it was ‘engage afterburners’ at that point and I somehow (SOMEHOW) had a sprint finish right at the end.

Performance analysis

OK, so I felt strong, but how did it rack up in comparison to the last race?

I ran at a pace of 4:33/km, compared to the previous pace of 4:55/km. So, a clear 20 seconds faster per km overall. In addition to that, my heart was less stressed: a Heart Rate Stress Score of 46 – last time, 57. In summary: I ran faster with my body not having to struggle as much as it did when running more slowly 58 days previously.

This is a good confidence booster going forward!

Wombles absent.

However, much as my recent hill training has helped, I still feel that hills are a weak point for me. In this race, I’d typically see people pull ahead on the hill, only for me to catch them on the downhill afterwards. I want to work on this more. Historically, this has been due to my training routes being flat, so I am needing to make a conscious effort to get climbing!

One thing is for sure: I’m looking forward to the next race!

My Race to 1000 Miles

My Race to 1000 Miles

For the last few years, I’ve set myself a target to run 1000 miles each year. I’ve succeeded each time but this year has been a little more challenging…

I generated the above graph by bulk downloading all of my data from Strava and plugging it into Excel. This was partly made easy in that Strava give you a single CSV file with a summary of all your activities, but some fiddling is needed to cope with the date format they use and to plot the ‘ideal target’ line.

(If anyone is interested in the exact method I used, then give me a shout and I’ll write it up!)

You can spot the exact moment that the baby arrived! However, I was definitely lazy in getting back to regular training, and even when I did the effort put in was clearly not enough.

This blog started at the tail-end of May. Now that I’m putting a much better shift in, my progress is picking up speed and I am on target to be aligned again in October.

Training volume is really important in any plan. However, I need to balance this with avoiding injury, plus ensuring it is the right sort of training to both hit my 5k goal and deliver the performances required when refereeing.

Week 11 Review: Slim Fit

Week 11 Review: Slim Fit

I’m back to losing weight again, and pulled in a PB on my main London tempo route – boom!

Weight change: LOST 0.4 kg (Remaining: 2.9 kg)
Training: Tempo 8.5k, Tempo 10k, Speed training, Buggy 6.5k, Buggy parkrun 5k, Referee 10k
Total Training Distance: 45.2 km

Weight loss

Phew – it’s actually coming off again, after getting a bit stuck last week.

That said, it’s worthwhile that I mention that in the day prior to weigh-in day, my weight was 76.8 kg! Damn that fluctuation. Never mind – this will hopefully carry on to the next weigh-in and help things look even better!

A nice aside to mention: I’m having to change out t-shirts now for ‘slim fit’ ones, as the regular sized medium t-shirts are starting to look a bit sack-like. This is a good problem to be having.


The training volume, in terms of mileage, was pretty much the same as last week.

The main plus point was that I felt ‘on fire’ during my London tempo run, pulling in a PB, feeling strong throughout the 10k. I was very happy with that! It is feeling really good to be back at the fitness levels I have had previously. When I first started this blog, my body was by default trying to run at its ‘fit’ speeds, and it was frustrating that my average pace was comparatively so low. That has now changed for the better.

I followed that up the next day with a 300m-oriented speed training session, but in retrospect this wasn’t really the best idea. Where was the easy session?! Exactly. Hence I couldn’t go as hard as a speed training needs. It was still useful from an endurance perspective, however, but I would not have got the full benefit.

Listening to my body, the next day was a toddler / buggy run (although did feature a big hill…). Saturday featured ‘The Beast’ – the running buggy which takes both the toddler and baby! A very enjoyable run at parkrun in under 27 minutes.

‘Choo choo’ sightseeing on a toddler / running buggy adventure!

I had my final pre-season friendly in terms of refereeing on Saturday. A warm day and the fitness checks out. The intention has always been to train hard so that the games are easy…

What’s next?

I need to structure my training this week around a mid-week cross-country race, and refereeing on Saturday. I can take the race as my hard tempo session.

And edge that bit closer towards my goal weight…

Week 10 Review: A Mixed Bag

Week 10 Review: A Mixed Bag

Some good training results from the week, including a 21:16 parkrun! Sadly, I can’t report as positively on the continued weight loss!

Weight change: No change (Remaining: 3.3 kg)
Training: Buggy 7k, Referee 10k, Recovery 5k, Tempo 10k, parkrun 5k, Buggy 7.5k
Total Training Distance: 45.5 km

Weight loss

NONE! Well, at least it hasn’t gone up…

What’s going on? Well, I could claim that the loss of fat is being balanced out by STRONG RUNNING MUSCLES building, but realistically I don’t think I can sell that one.

I know that I had a couple of ‘off’ days in terms of food during the week, and perhaps some degree of plateauing (again!). Hmph.

Too much of this? Cake c/o cafe at California Country Park!



  • Overall volume is up, hitting 45 km.
  • I was refereeing on Tuesday on a large pitch, with one of the teams being from Football League level. This meant a fast paced game and I’m happy that I felt very comfortable in terms of fitness. Especially since it had been such a hot day!
  • One of my local training routes has two large hills in it. This was the first time in a while I’ve got up the second hill during the run without needing to walk any of it.
  • Achieved 21:16 when visiting California Country parkrun. That’s my fastest parkrun this year, and only 20 seconds off my PB. Compare this to me struggling to hit 22:30 when starting up this blog 10 weeks ago.
  • Mixed in recovery runs (being sensible!)


  • No speed training session!
Not a bad pitch to referee on…

Reflection is an interesting thing. Before I started typing this up, I was feeling a bit disappointed with last week, but looking back at it, I should be pretty happy overall!

What’s next?

‘Business as usual’ in the most part, although of course I should be being a bit more careful with food.

I have my final pre-season game on Saturday. That’s on the same pitch as before so it will be more good experience. I already feel I’m at the point where my fitness won’t be tested on most games, but that’s the whole point: Train hard to make the games easy! At least in terms of fitness….

Week 9 Review: Pre-Season Begins!

Week 9 Review: Pre-Season Begins!

A special week as this featured my first game of pre-season!

Weight change: LOST 0.3 kg (Remaining: 3.3 kg)
Training: Tempo 7k, Speed training, Steady 10k, Referee 10k
Total Training Distance: 34 km

Weight loss

A slower week for weight loss, but I was expecting that…

Firstly, I was away with work to Brussels at the beginning of the week. Although I did fairly well with diet for most of that time, a hellish return journey on the train resulted in me eating too much, to be blunt.

Following my first game of pre-season on the Saturday, I demolished ALL the chips in the local are as part of a takeaway, and then a few drinks at a party later on. It all adds up.

However, as the rest of the week was ‘well behaved’, the trend is still downwards!

There is also a bit of plateauing going on, based on the readings I’ve had on subsequent days – i.e. an immediate significant drop! The proof of that will be in next week’s official weigh-in…


I was hoping to get in a session before jumping on the Eurostar to Brussels on the Monday morning, but this didn’t happen!

I managed to put in a mixture of training sessions for the rest of the week, and it was a good balance:

  • Got in a tempo run, including hills.
  • Got in a Speed Training session.
  • Got in a steady / gentle 10k around London.
  • My first pre-season game in terms of refereeing!

I’ve been working a lot on running fitness, but match fitness is a whole different thing. It always takes a while to adjust, and the hot weather had an impact as well. Hence an ice cream was definitely needed afterwards…

Flake devoured as a priority before the photo…

What’s next?

My focus now is to ensure the variety of training mixed in with any more pre-season games as it happens. In addition, watch my diet on match days as it can be easy to slip into eating too much due (e.g. food after the game, and more food when back home!)