12 weeks to go. Training by Snakes & Ladders

There is a reason why I haven’t blogged my progress in six weeks, and the reason is that although I have sat down to write many times, the outcome has always been “How the hell do I write this?”

Today is the anniversary of my first-ever DNF. The Eccup-10, staged (by my kind permission) on my local Sunday trails, and the day last year when my marathon goal shattered in a painful relapse of my nemesis the old calf-injury.

Today is also 12 weeks to the Robin Hood Marathon, when I would seriously start logging and obsessing with the target runs, miles, longest. They have published the route this week too, which has caused a flurry of exchanges on twitter.

So today, according to my plan, I should be relishing the fact that with 12 weeks to go I am well ahead of my targets, building my miles, cruising my long weekend runs, and protecting my calf with each gentle cautious increment.

Ladders & Snakes

Busy trail… ?

I can say that because four weeks ago I cruised a 17-mile trail run. Cruised it at a steady pace with no effort at all. I can say that because I checked my heart-rate around halfway and it was around 125; and then well over an hour later after the long climb to the finish it was still only sub-130. This was one of those runs on a favourite course which you do with your spirit as much as your body and is the perfect illustration about why you do it. In my log I noted “Brilliant run; marathon run.”

The following week I saw the doctor again about something completely non-running and was given some pills which made me feel awful and every attempt to run was like the worst possible trudge. The week after, I managed a couple of runs but found that I only SnakesLaddershad 1st-gear. Two weeks ago (in the face of some family events and handovers before moving to a new job) I didn’t even try to run at all.  

That Friday, I tried a couple of circuits of Mal’s Field… and it didn’t feel so awful. By the Saturday it seemed that somehow I might have found a 2nd gear; and on the Sunday, running a little longer, I found myself calculating whether I might still make the Robin Hood start line despite the three lost weeks. Last weekend should have been the Humber Bridge Half Marathon: instead, I managed just over half that distance but nevertheless felt encouraged that I had at least managed some distance and without hurting myself.

 12 Weeks to……? The start line?

So here I am, Eccup10 day and 12 weeks to Robin Hood. I was supposed to be sitting here with a beer having laid to rest that DNF ghost , with the Humber Half comfortably in the bank, and telling myself not to over-do things, to stick to the programme. T-A-R-S and Pace-not-Race to protect myself.

Instead, I am looking at the next four weeks and facing a challenge to even stay within reach of the start-line. I am looking at the newly released full-marathon course and thinking “Well, that certainly is flat…!”


This year started out with me wanting to try again for a full marathon, but uncertain as to whether that journey would end at the start-line or with an injury which would in effect mean the end of my full-26.2 running. But I had assumed if the latter, then it would at least be a running or training problem and not something completely out of left field.

And another thing…

… which aggravates me is that I was just about to get serious with pushing the fundraising for my charities: now, as well as missing two events which would have given me a “hook” for some promotion, I feel I need to pause that until I know I am back on track and going ahead for the full Marathon (or maybe Plan-B and go for the pity-me donations). Despite that, I will still ask you to donate a couple of minutes and tell your friends and family about b-eat and Grief Encounter. Just in case someone you know ever needs them.


Resetting the compass from “Here”

I have said all along that this would not be easy. That running a marathon is not just about the day but the journey to the start-line. That there would be difficult times and days of doubt. That is what makes us; that is why marathon-runners have a very special spirit. Because if things change and get harder we don’t give up, but simply re-set our compass to re-start from our new “here”. There is a parallel here for life in general – work (or lack of) issues, illness, money worries to name but a few – but that may be a topic for another blog.


How annoying though, that I got injured by a packet of pills rather than a twisted ankle on the trail, or revenge of the nemesis-calf.

 Four weeks to see if it’s still possible; twelve weeks left to train.

* Pops dice into cup, shakes, rolls….. *



Week 20 (-17 to RHM)

Runs 2; Total 26.25; Long 12; Other 1

Week 21 (-16 to RHM)

Runs 4; Total 33; Long 17; Other 1

Week 22 (-15 to RHM)

Runs 4; Total 15.1; Long 5; Other 0

Week 23 (-14 to RHM)

Runs 3; Total 8; Long 3.7; Other 0

Week 24 (-13 to RHM)

Runs 3; Total 14; Long 7.5; Other 0

Week 25 (-12 to RHM)

Runs 4; Total 20.2; Long 9.5; Other 1

Body: I’ll let you know…

Spirits: Less than 50/50, but I don’t give up.


About johntleeds

In amongst the perpetual juggling of work, family and things on my mind, this is MY time, MY escape. Any this is what my mind comes up with when it has time to wonder, as I wander on the trails... twitter @johntleeds
This entry was posted in Fundraising, Injury, Life in general, Marathon, Training. Bookmark the permalink.

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