Max’s Marathon WEEK 2: “Don’t fall over out there, will you…”

Thank you for your kind comments about my Marathon training blogging so far (Week 1 is here if you missed it). Those who’ve known me a long time will know that I’ve blogged just about every significant event of my adult life. The rare events that are too private to put online seem all the more significant for it. There’s a thinkpiece in there somewhere but let’s not, shall we?


This post’s title comes from the thing most frequently said to me this week, besides “You’re mad.” Yes, thank you, I am trying not to fall over out there.

Without wishing to sound like the world’s smuggest pain in the arse, running in the cold is actually pretty pleasant, as long as you layer right, do it during whatever daylight you can grab, and run at a fairy steady pace (fast enough to keep you warm but not so fast that you overheat in your winter kit). You want tops that’ll keep you warm whilst wicking sweat away from you, that are light but well-lined, and don’t chafe or ride up around your middle as you’re running. At the moment, my cold-weather kit is a choice of two well-made running jackets, running gloves and a Helly Hansen thermal top I’ve palmed off my mum (currently in South Africa sending me daily beach photos), plus my warmest running leggings (from Gap – which make my legs look like they’re invading a Mediterranean country…), and a hat.

As for falling over: when I know a surface is likely to be slippery, I take extra care so am safer. To be honest, I’m more likely to fall over in my bedroom than on ice. Most of the bruises and bumps I get come from accidental injuries I can only vaguely remember occurring, which can make for some mildly awkward work meetings (“No, really, it’s OK, I have dyspraxia, not a violent husband…”). That said, I had a couple of near-misses this week along the same stretch of pavement, where I managed to steady myself from tripping up just in time. I thought I knew every bump and ridge along that road by now; apparently not.

Once again, the weekend long run was my favourite of the three. My weekday morning runs became lunchtime runs because I was too tired, because I went to bed an hour late (this is A Bad Thing – afternoon runs screw up my working day, which is annoying, even when my working day largely consists of admin, payment-chasing and waiting for repairmen. However, the runs themselves were fine…). My Pilates teacher recommended doing four runs a week instead of three. My half-Marathon training plan had four – I rarely actually ended up doing all four because the Saturday run often got squeezed out for something else, and when I did do four I was too tired to function, so I’m sticking with three for now.

Things I learned from this week’s running…

  • I am self-aware enough to move a long run to the day I’m not going to be tired and hungover.
  • …But not enough to actually get to bed early. For God-knows-what reason I still didn’t manage to fall sleep until 3am the night before and lay awake composing running playlists in my head and then downloading songs from iTunes onto my phone (it’s an extremely good thing these facilities didn’t exist when I was 16).
  • Cold weather makes you look like a newbie even when you’ve been running for a year. Fiddling with Runkeeper’s startup screen and then putting your glove on quickly enough not to lose half an hour to it is practically harder than the run. My leggings have a handy key pocket sewn inside the back at the top. Slightly less handy when you miss the pocket and end up having to fish them out of your crotch mid-pavement….
  • I’m still as ropey at data entry as I was when it was 90% of my job. I entered one of my workouts wrong. It didn’t matter, but still.
  • Hot showers might not be terribly good for my leg muscles. But it’s January and freezing, so nerr, quite frankly.
  • Adding new songs to my running playlist was an awesome decision: Love Is The Drug by Grace Jones and Money For Nothing by Dire Straits (because, yes, I am actually a 46-year-old man. I hide it quite well sometimes…).
  • Putting Love In A Void by Siouxsie and the Banshees back onto it was also an awesome decision. I took it off a while ago because I got bored with it, but re-instated it this week and it came on during the open-road stretch. Marvellous. Ditto Elaine Paige. Regular readers will know I get a bit more emosh at I Know Him So Well than is generally socially acceptable for anyone.
  • Another running music tip: Hole’s grunge-tastic cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman, (from the soundtrack to The Crow’s sequel)Thank you, red-lipsticked-lesbian-Courtney-Love-fan-who I-met-at-a-conference, for reminding me.
  • This week, I had a dream about vegetarian sausage and bean stew (I made it, it was good, as was my butter bean and halloumi cous cous). And a dream about going to the Marathon Store to buy a sports bra and then worrying it was too expensive. Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me…
  • I can never, ever make pasta without inadvertently making enough to feed the Chinese Army. I’ve known this for about thirteen years. BUT, I can freeze it and eat in March when I have to run 16-20 miles and will probably barely be able to remember my own name, let alone how to cook from scratch, so that’s all dandy. I wrote this freezer note to myself by way of a reminder…


I had three more lovely sponsors this week: THANK YOU Michelle, Chrissie and David. And thanks to David for this message:

“I read in Wiki that people with dyspraxia have problems with coordination and prefer structured environments, so you being a marathon runner and journalist make me think that you are slightly bonkers and also makes me admire your courage and determination.”

Awww. Yes, David, I think I’m slightly bonkers too. About once an hour…

Next week, I am doing a presentation on Mind and mental health at the local boys’ grammar school who have very kindly agreed to fundraise for me. Also on a mental health theme, I’m off to see Ruby Wax’s Sane New World with one of my besties on Tuesday evening. Excited for this; her shows are supposed to be very good. I’ll report back…


3 thoughts on “Max’s Marathon WEEK 2: “Don’t fall over out there, will you…”

  1. You’re inspiring me, not to run a marathon. But keep on going when I lack motivation. I saw Ruby Wax at Latitude last summer and she was brilliant!

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