Miles's North Pole Marathon Training Updates

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Last update :- 1st April 2007

1825 miles completed since training began at the start of June 2006.

Link to training plot :- Training plot.htm

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1st April 2007  ..... the training is over after a last, gentle 12 miler in the forest with friends.  On Tuesday 3rd April I fly out of the UK to Spitsbergen via Oslo, and then up to the North Pole itself on Friday 6th before the marathon the next day.  The exact start day and time will depend on the conditions and weather forecast.  It is light 24 hours a day, so we could be running soon after we land.  In addition to all the clothing, equipment and normal marathon energy drinks / gels, we need to take up our own food and water.  The Russian camp is a bit unpredictable, and a greasy stew washed down with salty water from melted ice ahead of the race is not the best idea.

31st March 2007 .... 183 miles for the month - 59 of which were snowshoe miles - so running fitness wise I am as ready as I can be.  These last two weeks have been demanding on the work front, including a quick trip to Algeria last weekend, and rest is now a priority.

18th March 2007 .... back from northern Sweden after a quite superb trip to the Icehotel at Jukkasarvi to celebrate Sarah's birthday, and get some cold weather training in 200km north of the Acrtic Circle.  I got in three snowshoe runs on snowmobile trails on the Torne River - very scenic.  The longest and coldest run was 14 miles at an average temperature of -10 deg C which provided  excellent lessons in clothing to keep warm.  The flat terrain made the runs easier than Oslo, and my average pace was nearly 6 miles an hour.  It will be slower at the North Pole.  Sarah also enjoyed the trip immensely.  Link to training in Sweden :- Sweden.htm

11th March 2007 .... return from Oslo after a fantastic 3 days snowhoe training on cross country trails with Patrick.  The 10 miles on Friday, 13.5 miles on Saturday and 8.5 miles this morning went very well, if slowly at an average speed of about 5 miles an hour.  The ski trails were hilly, with around 1500 to 2500 feet of ascent and descent for each of these three runs.  Unsurprisingly this was exhausting !  The good news is the equipment worked really well, and we have come back with no injuries or muscle strains.  Link to Oslo training :- Oslo.htm

4th March 2007 ...  back from seeing my parents and brother at his house in Nottingham.  They are being very supportive, and like many have been incredibly generous sponsors.  The total donated or pledged is now at 4500 - stunning.  The first 4 days of March have been hard, a 90 min half marathon on a treadmill (not recommended !), some easier runs and then a 20 miler today on tired legs in very wet conditions making 50 miles. Running with cold legs definitely slows you down.  Some good mental training though - the rowing lake at the National Watersports Centre is an arrow straight 2000m course which plays on the mind a bit if you are doing laps.  On today's long run I had the enjoyment of listening to Doug Lipman's farewell concert - he is a superb American story teller and this recording is a 2-1/2 hour gem.

28th February 2007 ... 216 miles in the month, a better total than expected given tapering for the half marathon.  I ended the month with two rest days to knock a potential cold on the head and let a slight calf twinge recover.

25th February 2007 ..... after reading that snow and ice at -20C has the consistency of sand (as it is too cold to coalesce), I decided to do a 16 miler on the Windsor Great Park sandy horse tracks in my oversized North Pole trail shoes with extra socks.  This was surprisingly hard, putting extra strain of different muscles ... and is something I will need to repeat.

18th February 2007 ....I am blown away by the generosity of my colleagues who have sponsored me.  I launched my fund raising efforts a week ago, and about 2500 has now been either donated or pledged which is simply fantastic.  Training has been tough this week as it took several days to recover after the half marathon race.  Most the mileage was at the end of the week to hit the 60+ mile target yesterday, making today's scheduled 21 mile long run on tired legs challenging.

11th February 2007 .... Wokingham half marathon (www.wokinghamhalfmarathon.co.uk), a very popular local event with over 2000 entrants.  I cut back my mileage a lot in the days leading up to this (only 31 for the week), and was delighted to secure a new personal best of 1:24:44, a reduction of 20 seconds versus my previous fastest - which was at this event in 2003.  I ran the first 8 miles with a faster colleague who I knew I could not keep up with, and so my first 5 miles were at 6:16 min/mile pace versus the last 5 miles at 6:46 min/mile pace ... so work to do there !

8th February 2007 .... amid much fanfare of doom and chaos from the Met office, three inches of snow fall and I have the chance to try out the snowshoes for the first time.  I got up around 5am and, after a slow drive to work, was able to start running just after dawn around the Meadhurst sportsground next to our Sunbury office.  The snowshoes were fantastic, and I was able to get in a steady 3 miles in the time available.  The snowshoes gave the body a slight twisting motion at first, and I found the (slight) weight of the shoe tugged at the quads as I brought each leg forward, but overall the snowshoes were very comfortable.  I was able to run at 9-1/2 min per mile which was around 2 min/mile slower than normal for the effort level as indicated by heart rate.  The differential will clearly be larger at the North Pole.  I was also able to try out my outer layer running trousers which are insulating, wind resistent and slightly stretchy - again very comfortable.

6th February 2007 .... wonderful news, the itinerary is confirmed.  We will be flying a week earlier than planned via Spitsbergen instead of Moscow.  This is much better logistically, and running the marathon on April 7th gives two weeks to recover before the London marathon instead of the original one week.

2nd February 2007 .... a cold, boring 21 mile slog along the Galveston seawall on tired legs after several days training.  The seawall is all concrete - the hardest surface to run on for the legs and joints.  I had to start at 6am to enable me to finish in time to travel to the airport to fly home, and as I started the moon was still out ... but this quickly clouded over.  Douglas Adams's Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy kept me company, and the miles soon ticked away.  10 C is not cold if you are dressed properly, but in a stiff breeze, I could have done with leggings and a full jacket instead of a gillet.  After two hours I pulled into McDonalds to have a coffee and warm up a bit, before finishing in a slow 2 hr 55 min.  This was a good lesson in dressing properly for the conditions, and will be important "up north".

31st January 2007 ..... 235 miles under the belt for the month in a solid set of runs, with the final miles along the seawall in Galveston as dawn broke over a cold Gulf of Mexico.  The month included two more 60 mile weeks, and two sets of 20 mile runs - so progress !

28th January 2007 .... I landed in Houston in a glorious cool, sunny afternoon (14 C) and after checking into the hotel, headed straight out to the Terry Hershey trail (www.pct3.hctx.net/PTerry).   This is a wonderful, tree lined path alongside Buffalo Bayou which is traffic free, goes under the freeways and is surprisingly peaceful.  My plan for a post flight stretch out changed as I warmed up, and I raised the pace to circa 6:50 min miling to compete 8.5 miles in the hour.  Many people do not know of the trail which is very close to the our Westlake office ... and as I was stretching after the run, a Houstonian approached me to ask about the path and where it went - and was amazed to hear it is over 7 miles long.

17th January 2007 ..... starting work again after the break and maintaining the training has taken a bit of getting used to, but today I managed a strong Yasso 800s session with 12 x 800m in 3 min each with 3 min jog recovery in between on the treadmill.  This is good endurance speedwork, but I will have to try them outside one day !

31st December 2006 .... 207 miles for the month, and it is great to be getting the second wave of training for the North Pole underway.

30th December 2006 ..... in the lake district, and have completed my first 70 mile week ever by taking advantage of the Christmas break to get some good runs under the belt.  The weather has been foul the last couple of days, but it gave a chance yesterday to try out my North Pole running jacket and training shoes on rough hill tracks in the teeth of a winter's gale at 4 C.  The equipment was fantastic, with the benefit of a good hood becoming clear.  The goretex running trainers are oversized to allow 3 pairs of socks to be worn (liner, insulating wool and a windproof outer), and were very comfortable which is good news as I was concerned about blisters developing.

9th December 2006 .... clearly too much too soon again and I go down with a heavy cold doing the rounds, and have to turn back part way through our normal club run.

6th December 2006 .... I am pleased to return to 45 mile weeks, and managed to keep it going whilst staying at the Hilton Hotel in Algiers for a few days.  There is a small jogging loop (circa 1100m) next to the hotel which goes through some trees, but there was only enought daylight to use for a short period after work, and the rest of my runs have to be finished by looping round the large car park.  The taxi drivers and securtiy men gave lots of support as I kept on going by !

30th November 2006 .... I take nearly a week off to recover after Gosport to give the body a chance to recover meaning only 124 miles for the month.  I now have a place for the London marathon as well under the "good for age" scheme, but as it is only a week after the North Pole, I will run it for fun - or possibly pace a colleague to help them meet their goals.

19th November 2006, Gosport half marathon (www.gosportroadrunners.org.uk), a popular local event along the sea front.  Five miles in, I realised it was too soon to be racing again - especially after 13 days work without a break due to the Sahara trip, and it turned into a survival job.  1hr 29min 34sec was disappointing for the high heart rate, and only 2 min faster than my half way point at Abingdon.  

9th November 2006 .... it is great to be back in the Sahara desert again, and the chance to run in some warmth in the evening light.  The ankle I sprained a week ago by coming off a kerb at night in Camberley is still recovering.  One day of rest, ice, strapping and Ibuprofen was not really the best healing plan before restarting training - including a hilly 15 miler two days after the twist.  The desert is not ideal for recovery as it has a very hard base which can give the legs quite a pounding, especially where the sand has been scraped away to make a track.

30th October 2006 .... a lowly 139 miles for the month in an attempt to recover between the marathons, it feels good to be back in shape.

22nd October 2006 .... Abingdon Marathon (www.abingdonamblers.co.uk), one of the larger UK autumn events with 681 finishers on a flat route.  My race went well and I was delighted to secure a new personal best of 3hr 11min 52 sec.  I ran the first part of the race with a quicker club colleague at a steady 7 minute miling up to 16 miles before I had to slow - New Hampshire was still in the legs and my heart rate was a lot higher.  

30th September 2006 .... New Hampshire Marathon, USA (www.nhmarathon.com) .  This stunning event is held at the start of the fall in technicolour New England countryside, and takes a big undulating loop around Newfound Lake (circa 300m elevation gain / loss).  With only 230 finishers, there were as many supporters and volunteers as runners, with a very friendly atmosphere.  After a week in Boston (what a fabulous city!), I was feeling good and was delighted to finish 15th in just under 3hr 20min with a comfortable heart rate.  With the pre race taper, it meant only 154 miles for the month ... but next week, business takes me to New York and a chance for recovery runs around Central Park which will be awesome.

11th Sept 2006 .... a glorious if cold 21 miler at Aviemore from Loch Morlich whilst on holiday ... the West Coast beckons next week.  Completing the run in 2:45 is a  big confidence boost.

3rd Sept 2006 .... a tough 15 mile run near Arundel in rain and strong winds.  Heading 3 miles along a shingle beach into a 25 kt wind to reach the half way turnround was a character test, but thoughts of the North Pole meant turning back earlier was not an option mentally.

31st August 2006 .... 216 miles completed for the month, and two solid races.  The fitness is now back, and 3 days ago I completed 21.5 miles round Bracknell Forest in about 3 hours - this is a hilly place for long runs (over 300m climb and descent on my route), and great for building strength.  I can also now complete full Yasso 800 sessions once more.  For me, this involves running 800 m in 3 min, then jog recovering for 3 min ..... and then repeating the exercise for 10 repititions.  I use a treadmill for this as it is easier to judge distance / pace, although I am not brave enough yet to put it on a slight incline.

20th August 2006 ..... Burnham Beeches half marathon (www.burnhamjoggers.org.uk), a glorious undulating race in lovely countryside and on quiet roads north of Slough.  After the first 20 miler of the year the week before, this was also on tired legs, but I managed a respectable 1:29:48.  Game on.

6th August 2006 .... Miland Valley Trail race (www.liss-runners.org.uk) .... a fearsome off road and hilly 21 km event which a number of my running colleagues had entered.  24 C was pretty hot, and coming straight after a 53 mile week I ran out of energy about half way and completed the last miles in survival mode.  A super day in the stunning Hampshire countryside near Petersfield, and strongly recommended.  Yesterday, I also entered the New Hampshire marathon in the USA which is at the end of September and fits well with my work travel diary.

31st July 2006 .... 199 miles completed in July, and I am delighted to have a solid month under the belt with two runs in the 17 - 18 mile range.  Quite warm on many days at 20 - 25 C, well above the North Pole !

9th July 2006  ... my entry for the Abingdon marathon is now in.  This race in October is flat and has a great reputation, and will provide a wonderful target to build up fitness again.

30th June 2006 ... one month of training under the belt, and I am back up to my regular marathon mileage of circa 45 miles a week.  Running round the lake district on holiday was a fantastic, if tough start - and a work trip to Norway gave the opportunity to run round lakes near Stavanger.

22nd June 2006  .... I commit to entering the North Pole Marathon by sending my deposit through to Richard Donovan, the race organiser and one of the world's top ultra runners.  Patrick Waller, one of my running club colleagues, has already entered the event and I have been mulling over the idea for several weeks.  The Arctic and Antarctic have always held a  fascination for me - so remote, so cold, so extreme and so hard to get to.  The marathon represents a very rare opportunity to go to the North Pole ... and at the same time take part in my main sport, and raise significant funds for charity.  I will pay my own travel, and all donated funds will go to the charity.  I  started training properly again at the beginning of June.... since my last marathon in April 2005, my mileage has dropped to around 20 miles per week, and weight crept up.