What They Didn’t Tell Me About Foam Rollers

Seriously, just look at her:


Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying it? It almost looks like a fun game. Now my mileage is on the up, i thought it prudent to try some rolling; also to use words like prudent to sound more authoritative about such things. A couple of years back I had two or three months with a recurring calf strain and I’m determined that it’s not going to return to spoil my marathon party.

On Googling ‘foam rolling of calf muscles’ I was confronted with images similar to that above which only implied that the whole experience would be a pleasure. I couldn’t wait to get started.

This is it:


It looks fairly inoffensive doesn’t it? I don’t think I’ve felt so misled since I found out Lassie wasn’t real. Granted, it works as a perfect ‘donker’ on an unsuspecting wife’s head but then you have to actually use it to help your muscles recover!

You’ve seen the picture at the top; Miss Smugface. I set myself up, lay back and propped myself up with my arms, as demonstrated by our guide above, then lifted my calf on to the foam roller. It even sounds playful: foam roller! All that remained was to lower myself to allow my calf to slide along the roller.

Imagine, if you will, what it would look like if you saw someone lowering themselves into a bath of hot oil. Or if that same person stepped out of the bath, barefoot, straight on to a plug. A ‘prongs up’ plug too. Now imagine they have my face. That is what I tend to look like.  That is not what she looks like.

I only roll my calf along the roller 6 or 7 times for each leg, then the same on the side of my thigh to help the IT band* but that is enough.  The premise is that rolling realigns the muscle fibres, allowing them to rebuild and recover more quickly.  I honestly think I felt every individual fibre being aligned.

Do you know, I may not look particularly aesthetically pleasing, fairly monstrous in fact, but it bloomin’ works. The next morning I genuinely feel like I’ve got new legs. Better legs too, stolen from someone who didn’t punish theirs the previous day with unforgiving runs.

There are hundreds of youtube videos to plough through with tried and tested techniques so I’m not going to try and talk you through any. However, I can’t recommend them enough. Just don’t try it first in public.

*dangerously technical territory now as I teeter on the edge of my knowledge limits


Week 3 – Love/Hate Relationship with Intervals

For much of this week, this just about sums up how I was treated during my runs:


Everything was going nicely to plan.  It was absolute bliss.  OK, I needed gloves but when the sun is out who cares?  There are often doubts that the sun even exists in England in January so when you get weather like this, all runs seem a little bit easier.  I was beginning to think that even my interval run might not be the usual willpower-draining hell session.  Obviously, I should have known better.  This is what my week 3 looked like:

Strava account for week 3 – in case you think I’m making it up


For those of you not familiar with intervals, they are the running session that I dread beforehand but feel like an absolute superstar afterwards.  This week involved a warm up jog (4k) with 4 lots of 1 mile sprints, with 2 minutes of slow jogging in between.  And I mean slow.  Sometimes you can barely call it jogging as it’s amazing how quickly those 2 minutes can go.  I’ve said before that I’m a numbers geek so looking at the pace traces after each run is right up my street.  To help explain how an intervals run works, looking at the pace trace helps:

Intervals run – 21/1/16


You can pick out the 4 stints of fast pace I did.  What I find more amusing is how much slower the recovery gets between them as my soul slowly dies (scientifically pointed out with my handy red circles – I promise that is as near to a science lecture as this gets.)  What is more, a busy morning beforehand meant I’d adhered to the highly-recommended hydration routine of one coffee.  Anyway, back to the weather.  It goes without saying that it was intervals day where the sunshine vanished and the drizzle returned.  Still the draw of intervals is that, once you get through it all, it is one of the single most satisfying feelings that you can do.  That feeling carried me through to the weekend long run which would be one of the longest runs I’ve done for quite some time.


A combination of an early Sunday morning start, inherent thickheadedness and an inability to convert miles to km meant my long run of an intended 15 miles actually became 16.4.  Since Silverstone is pretty rural, there are so many different single track roads to choose from when I’m out and about on a long run.  The trouble is, when it’s dark, it really is dark – can’t see your hand in front of your face dark.  I know what you’re thinking, these are the perfect conditions to choose a route that you’ve never been on, about which you’ve not studied Google maps for long enough and one that you’ll do the first time in the pitch black dark.  So a couple of wrong turns here and there meant I extended my long run a little more.  Finally after about 19k, it got light enough to see where I was (and how much further than planned I was going to have to run!):

Long run 16m – 24/1/16


All in all, this week hasn’t gone badly at all and I’ve not done an 80k week for months and months.  I even got to wear my camelbak on my long run this morning which at least makes me feel the part.  Even if my face gives a quite different impression.  Anyway, bring on week 4:


Thanks for the support again this week. The charity pot is slowly filling and I’m massively appreciative of the donations I’ve had so far.  It certainly made it feel worth it at 5:45 this morning

Tom’s Justgiving Page

Let’s Get it Started

It’s zero degrees, it got dark about an hour ago and it’s only 5pm.  We’ve just got back from a family weekend away and they have just settled down in the cosy lounge with hot chocolates in front of ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ on telly.  It sounds like the perfect Sunday evening.  So I’ll just nip outside for an hour and half long run.  At least it’s stopped snowing now.  It’s not all bad though – I’ve had my fair share of early runs and am often greeted by some amazing sunrises before anyone is up and about.  More than just the predictable romance of this is the fact that I feel like a bit of a superhero.  This was last Sunday morning for example:


Sun 10th Jan – SilverstoneBlog-1-sunrise

Let’s make no mistake, I’m only two weeks in and this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. As my better half recently pointed out, there’s a reason the word ‘grunt’ is so prominent in the middle of this blog’s name.  If I’m totally honest, I’m a numbers geek and starting a training plan for a big event brings back memories of a beautifully colour-coordinated revision timetable before exams at school.  Just getting the timetable done is half the battle right?  Somehow I think that’s not the case.


This blog is all about the highs and the lows of this challenge and I’ll lay out the training plan each week so you can see what I’m up to.  if you really want to pay close attention you can keep track of my strava log, otherwise you’ll have to make do with here.  The first two weeks have gone pretty much to plan:


The only blip was this Sunday just gone when I didn’t quite have time to do a full 13miles and promised I’d be back by bathtime. Life sometimes takes over though and I can’t let this worry me.  I have to make sure I do as much as possible and if a run gets missed or not fully completed then so be it.  It’s easy to say that when I’m 14 weeks away from the big day!  All in all, it’s a good start and although the distances involved are not huge yet, this has got to be the darkest, coldest time to get my runs in.  Most of them at the moment are as pleasant as this:

Mon 5th Jan – AbthorpeBlog-post-1-rainy

It’s difficult to emphasise quite how hard it was raining during this run.  It’s also difficult to emphasise how concerned the look on the farmer’s face was as he chugged past on his tractor while I took this picture.  I still felt like Rocky being out in the rain.


That’s about it for an introductory post so, to sum up, you get it – there are going to be a lot of runs.  I suspect at some points I’m going to be pretty fed up and my legs are going to be pretty tired.  So bear with me as just occasionally you have runs where everything just feels great.  Just occasionally these days coincide with sunny, cold, windless days and you realise this might just be amazing

Tues 19th Jan – MixburyBlog-1-icy-sunny

Finally, the usual reminder.  If you wish to know more about the fantastic charity that I’ll be running the London marathon for, then please check out my justgiving page