Inspired by other bloggers I’ve decided to resurrect my bloggage to track my progress. It’s not through any reason to feel as if I’m contributing to the literary output of the world but it keeps me honest to myself. I have no coach, no one to hold me to account except myself and I am pretty good at “marking my own homework” *pats self on back for a job well done*. It also has nothing to do with the start of a new year but it does have everything to do with my own goals for next year; the foundations for which have already been laid. I’m typing this on the 2nd anniversary of our arrival in Australia. It’s been a fun, if tough two years, both professionally and personally. I don’t regret coming here for a couple of years but we’re looking forward to returning to blighty. The line in the sand. Self-reflection and self-pity. I’m the fastest fat man I know! *Insert picture of 23 Dec Parkrun* At 83Kg with a BMI of 26.5 my inexplicably fast legs carry my expanded middle-aged middle around faster than most would think possible. I was 89Kg back in October so some good progress has been made. My weekly mileage is up to 33 mpw although I’ve been working in kilometres – does that make it kilometrage? Spell check thinks so! I’ve run 9 miles in one go until today when 11 miles was completed easily. Where am I going? Apart from the physical return to the UK my initial ‘A’ race is the London Marathon 2018. 17 Weeks to go. I’ll follow a 12 week plan from P&D (Pfitzinger and Douglas’ Advanced Marathoning). Apart from aiming for sub 3 I’m going to delay any predictions for London until closer to the time. Intermediate goals will help me track progress and gauge fitness toward the main event. Weight – I want to get my weight below 75 as soon as possible and ideally before the 12 week plan starts. Less weight = free speed. I have a plan to get my weight down by following a whole food, plant based diet. Speed – A good marker for speed is the 5k and through the Parkrun series there are weekly, free time trials all around the world. Based on past experience I will need to get my 5K time below 18:30 at a minimum to have the speed to perform at London. Speed increases as weight decreases. Distance – Long runs not only help to lose weight but obviously are the main ingredient for marathon running success. An arbitrary rule for success which is quoted is 5 x 20 mile runs in final 12 weeks. The P&D plan only has 2 in the 12 week plans. I found being able to comfortably run over 20 miles in training really helps in the final stages of the marathon race day. The other part of distance is training load – it’s no good only doing a long run although there’s many 3 day a week programmes and many athletes who have run great times off limited running but they usually have a great aerobic base from other endurance sports, notably cycling. I have a plan to hopefully increase my weekly mileage with the aspiration of following a higher mileage plan from P&D but with 2 weeks in Vietnam over the next month dedication, luck and common sense will play a part. This week was quite a good week with some good base mileage at fairly slow speed in warm to hot conditions. Long run was 18km (11mi). Parkrun 19:07 and 1st place. Weight 81.5kg post long run.



The Basics of Chess Tournament Play

img_6502Apart from the FIDE rules of chess there are not many sources of useful information to help people make the transition from keen friendly player to taking part in a tournament.  Playing in a tournament will help you get an elusive rating which becomes a quantitative assessment of ability.  In this first picture you can see a typical set up. The boards are these strange vinyl mats, the pieces Staunton mould of decent height, I rather fancy a set myself.  The number to the left is the board number, at my recent club event there were 25 boards. Scorecards should be provided for the recording of moves.  In theory the tournament director decides the direction the clocks face and the player with black decides on which side of the table he will sit (ie. he decides whether the clock is to his right or left). I didn’t know this and placed it to my right.

scorecard  This is my scorecard. It is carbon backed, the club kept the copy and I got the original – both players record moves in algebraic notation.  I made a few errors but it worked okay when I uploaded it onto the internet.  It is useful to analyse exactly the errors in the game (and maybe the good points).

The clock is set up by black but both should check it – it is too late once the games have started.  You use one hand to move pieces and the same hand to use the clock! I got in a jam during a Queen exchange when I did the swift elaborate switch in my hand but rotated too much nearly putting my opponent’s Queen back on the board!

A common friendly rule is that a move doesn’t count as a move until you let go. Strictly it is when the clock is pressed but it a piece is touched to be moved it must be moved. If an opponent’s piece is  touched first you must take it if a legal move exists. There are some very complicated rules about castling and if you touch and opponent’s piece and own at the same time but just plan ahead and you shouldn’t need them!

img_6501  You can adjust pieces out of turn by saying “I adjust” or “J’adoube”.  You shouldn’t record the moves before you make it and actually it means you record in the other person’s time!  Not sure people get that hung up on this one if it is write, move, clock or move, clock, write or possibly even move, write, clock!  Only thing you can’t do it play more than one of your own moves without recording it.  You may respond to an opponent’s move without recording until after that move and during my match I looked blankly at my scoresheet trying to remember what had just been played and tried to catch a glimpse of my opponent’s 9 year old neat handwriting which was far better than mine!

Remember the pleasantries, shake hands before and after, maybe analyse the game between yourselves but outside of the room (there are other battles still in play).  No talking should be obvious – you don’t need to say “check” every move! No conferring or discussion by other players.  Finally, no mobiles! The mobile rule was relaxed this year from expulsion if found in the room to must not make a noise and a penalty of first and final warning although local rules may be in force.  I just turn it off – it won’t help me and I love that this is my time: me, the 64 black and white squares and my nemesis (meant in the nicest possible way) seated opposite.

I have not covered everything. My current experience is of 70 min games with plus 30sec per move known as Fischer timing.  In this timing you record moves until the end.  In other formats there is a “5 minute rule” ie. once within 5 minutes you can cease recording moves.  There was also so much time left that clock management was not a issue for me.  I lost very quickly!

Perth Metropolitan Club Championships Round 1

img_6502I didn’t feel like playing Chess this evening, feeling tired after work but I dragged myself along to the first round of the Perth Metro Chess Club tournament. I faced a 9 year old who I have since discovered had won a few local titles, unrated but has beaten 1700+ pt players before. 


In the end a pair of silly mistakes cost me dearly. His confidence was belittling as he lounged in his chair and walked around the other boards, it was clear my slow unimaginative play – always in retreat, scared to attack – was clearly boring him! He knew what to do with the clock which I gave up on near the end after my errors.


He opened with Queen’s Gambit Declined: Chigorin variation, I know I didn’t know it by name but it’s fairly basic development towards move 10 so I blagged it! I was donated a Knight at 13 but only 6 moves later retreating I allowed him to restore parity, taking my knight via a pin on my Q and then I chose the wrong escape route exchange to allow a computed forced mate in 12. 


I was quite confident when he opened with QGD as I’d played a solid losing game on Tue to a 1714 rated player. Unfortunately, despite being a piece up I failed to be aggressive enough or commit which is not my usual style. Anyway it was an enjoyable and I look forward to my next flogging!  I am sure he will go far as he has a lot of talent! 


A positive: every good thought I had in the game was in the post game analysis so it appears the ideas are there I just need to pick the right one.


This seems appropriate:


If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 

And treat those two impostors just the same;   


Is this the real life… training is fantasy!

fatSo I woke up one day and i’m fat!  Post London PB (2:41) excitement and a second son without a solid goal to aim for.  I enjoyed having nothing to train for, and why the hell not!  I blame the expanding waist lines of society on elastic waist bands.  ‘Normal’ trousers don’t expand, you have 2 options, buy new clothes or lose weight.  I luckily used to be a little larger so i’m back into my larger wardrobe!  Not for long though.  I weigh 81.8kg as of yesterday.  My face is round with a fat neck.  I have a belly overhang and I get out of breath running.

In 2 weeks I will be in Spain.  A fancy hired bike awaits me.  I need to be bike fit.  I have started alternately running and cycling and have even been for a swim (must be desperate)! i’m not convinced these sites help people to  seriously lose but it should be a good experiment to see how much is realistic.  fat1

Yesterday was a 25 min swim AM and 6 miles PM at 7:32 pace.  I can see why people struggle to run well, they’re too heavy!  It was a real strain on my back, (c)ankles and breathing.  Today I have managed a 39 mile bike ride over the Meon hills.  I had wobbly legs by the end and nearly dropped the baby with cramp when I stood up suddenly during the afternoon.  Tomorrow, I aim to hit the pool again and go for another jog.  I need to be able to ride that distance easily as I want to attack some big hills in Spain.

Diet is arguably more important than exercise (google it there’s many scientific arguments for/against primarily aimed at the inactive) so I’ve started using MyFitnessPal again to log food.  Whilst some of the data (especially fitness calories burnt) may be dubious it helps keep track of eating too much and eating the right thing.   For breakfast I had coffee and raspberry porridge.  Lunch was an entire Waitrose soup pot.  Today we had a Cauliflower patty from the Guardian a couple of weeks ago.  Tasty and filling.  I left some Co-op wasabi peas lying around and my wife chucked 4 in her mouth… reminded me of this funny Cars 2 clip…  I then found her necking glass after glass of water!  mater  According to today’s completed entry if I did what I did today, everyday i’d weigh 67kg in 5 weeks!  Now that’s hilarious and crazy but we can do some extrapolation.  81.8kg – 66.9kg = 14.9kg in 5 weeks so divide by 5 is 3kg a week = 75.8kg by the time I set off.  That’s basically my normal weight.


So hopefully when I get to Spain i’ll be able to hit the hills, hard.

Weight = free speed.  Same effort faster as lighter.  Or less effort to do the same.  Either way we’ll see.

If all else fails…  which sounds really healthy!


It’s been a bad week.  I could feel my throat the day after the joy of Stubbington 10k, I rested not wanting to repeat day for day last year’s Tonsillitis .  I rested and by Thursday evening I was struggling with breathing and coughing a lot.  A restless night and I think I got the worst of it out my system.  I feel better, chest much clearer.  I will not be running XC at the weekend though and will ease into the next week as P&D starts on the first Monday in February.  Remember the greater good.

So until then enjoy this cheesy video by Strava  staring Kilian Jornet and some great scenery.

100 Day Plan

100 Day Plan

If you google 100 day plan you get a myriad of exec management garb linked in this sentence (ignore unless bored)!

100 days to the London Marathon have just past.  Where am I? Where to go? I finish a race and update my training places on this site and dream of a sub 2:40 marathon, but not without hard work!

Checking Advanced Marathoning 55 miles a week with a 17 miler in last month means i’d be ready to tackle the 70-85 mpw plan.  Let’s do that!

So there’s the plan!  Less than 100 days to go fast.

Stubbington 10k 2015

There will be 3 threads to this double blog: 1. Race report review and analysis. 2.  Goal review and 3. 100 day plan (covered in next blog) .


Stubbington 10k for many in the Hampshire area is the opening race of their calendar.  For me it comes after 2 seminal XC races and a Park run win on New Year’s Day building on my Christmas training camp in Spain.  I’m not boasting just trying to show I’ve been racing myself fit.  Losing weight when others will have been traditionally gaining whilst trying to stay restrained as last year it was the week after Stubbington 10k that my early season ended in Tonsillitis and Shin Splints.16282830216_294ff209d8_o

The build up was a lighter week of only 47 miles compared to the previous two of over 55 miles.  Friday was an easy day, Saturday I did quite a bit of walking but no running.  I also conducted my standard taper nutrition plan including Beet-it in the morning.  Why?  No it isn’t an ‘A’ race but it is important.  In 2 weeks, the P&D Advanced Marathoning plan begins.  A flat, fast 10K is an ideal place to reset training paces and effort levels before the challenge of getting that marathon PB down!

Race day.

I woke at 7 although DS had woken me up since at least 6.  A strong French press coffee kick started to wake up my body, my whole body (too much info – Ed).  I also had a glass of OJ, 2 Beet-it shots and a bagel with jam.  I still felt empty so topped up with a banana at 0745.  I got to the car park early and walked to the Community Centre.  It was cold, around 4 degrees but the air was still and rain had stopped.  I got my number and pinned it on.  I was running for my first claim club, Victory AC today and we had a strong team. I chatted to some of the people I expected to be running Sub 35 to gauge my effort.  I also met 3 friends from the Runner’s World Sub 3 Forum.  My warm up was an easy run followed by some strides. After taking my top off it wasn’t that cold which surprised me.  I know that above 3 degrees is my limit as I ran Stafford Half in a vest and it was very cold that day.         16308755435_4a1e3ee5d8_o

The Race!

I started looking at my watch a lot to get “on pace”.  It is a fairly new pace for me so although it feels the same in some ways in others it is scary.  My watch was in KM but seeing 3:2x is like seeing 5:xx to me, even my marathon pace is sub 4 min/km.  Looking at Power of 10 (already updated) it was only 3 years ago that I wasn’t able to run a sub 6 min/mile 10K.

I had a joke with Al_P from the forum to check my breathing/speech level of effort compared to my watch.  Looking good I thought after the initial mad couple of hundred meters.  The first K went by in a perfect 3:30.  The second K is a little undulating but is probably favourable so 3:25 was nothing to be worried about especially as a couple of seconds either way can be attributed to the positioning of markers.  Number 3 has a significant rise that will slow you but I managed 3:23 but I think I could have pushed harder here given my relative position to those who finished around me.  From there, mentally, it is downhill to Km 7 and splits of 3:37, 3:25, 3:27, 3:29.  I think from 3 to 4 I was running with an Aldershot runner who I wasn’t sure if I needed push to pass or if we were working well.  Apart from signage dependencies that is what I would put that poor split down to.

Seven to eight.  There’s a rise to Hill Head then on to nine and the finish.  Splits were 3:28, 3:33, and 3:19. I have no idea how I ran 3:19 for the last K!  I swapped places with another Aldershot runner who came back at me in the last K whilst all the time closing on Sean Holmes who I’d tussled with last week at the Reading XC.  I introduced my self after collapsing through the line!  My run.

Goal Achieved!

My goal for 2015 and this period was a Sub 35 10k.  34:37 officially and I am very pleased with this.  it was hard, not easy, I was ready, in shape and it has given me a massive confidence boost.

I have to thank Mark Beresford for these fantastic photos taken just after 7Km.  To quote Greg Lemond; It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster.  I think these photos show this.

I would also like to highlight that this progress has been made since joining Victory AC.  I have had a few failures and performances that have not been as i’d have hoped but I stuck at it and have brought my weight down and my XC position down from 83rd to 43rd and now knocked over a minute off my Leeds Abbey Dash 10k time from Nov 14.  As a team and club Victory have a solid group of runners challenging for silverware, this is great for the future, backed up by a depth across age groups and abilities united by the same ethos.  Well done all.  There were lots of personal victories today including some quality PBs to reward their hard work in training.

Also Andy Vernon was there cycling round the course! He looks slimmer in real life!

P.S. I forgot to mention the goody bag.  For £15 I don’t expect much.  But the gym bag with a reflective snap band thing in it was tosh.  At least the buff last year was useful and en vogue.  Plus a banana and a small 330ml bottle of water.  I guess the water on course was good being bottled (I didn’t take it).  Why not involve local companies to get some decent tat in there!  Anyway the route is great and all very easy but not impressed by the goody ‘bad’ as i’d rather have had a medal!

Menu Planning

The importance of menu planning cannot be underestimated.  From a household planning perspective it will help you budget and stick to your shopping list, avoiding those tempting impulse purchases.  The other advantage is that simple forward planning allows you to check you are eating a balanced menu and includes all the food groups rather than impulse cooking or eating to hunger or reaching for a ready meal.  Do not be fooled by the Waitrose or M&S range; it is still a ready meal!

Cooking from scratch does not take long and is not difficult but is much healthier than a ready meal.  I have previously blogged about portion control and size and this is an important when trying to lose weight.  We eat so much more than years ago.  A jam sandwich and an apple was a simple lunch used by Ron Hill!

If you can run you will knock 30 sec off your time per kilogram lost. This page has a calculator, the hard bit is losing the weight!


Now looking at what we actually eat.  This is no Paleo, Vegan, Veggie, raw, Gluten-Free rant as everyone will have an opinion, each has a benefit or consequence and it is largely personal choice and I am not going to stop you or try to force my ideals on you!  I caveat this by saying that you should buy the best product available for the budget you have.  It may come as a surprise but meat is far more expensive than veg and this should be considered when looking at your menu.  It also has a bigger environmental footprint and has some health implications not to mention the ease with which you will gain weight by eating too much!

Start with Veg on the menu. Then fruit.  I recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s Marathon Nutrition book which has lots of good advice.  Be careful with eating lots of fruit as it has a high sugar content but it’s better than sweets or chocolate!  if you run enough it won’t matter anyway.

So do you need pasta/rice with every meal with a healthy portion of veg too?  Perhaps not.  Ditch the pasta and keep the Veg.  LCHF or HCLF is not an argument I care for but I have noticed my weight drop since eating fewer refined grains (eg. white pasta).  We are back in portion control territory again now!

Nuts and seeds are also mentioned in his book and I am annoyed they cost so much but if you think they replace meat then it’s not so bad.  I love this Frank Horwill article that has some useful advice.  Avocado = L-carnitine and Black pepper = Chromium.  Watch the pounds fly off!

I am at 72.5kg having lost 2.5kg in a month (over Christmas too)! Plan that menu, lose the weight!

Hampshire XC League

IMG_5804Back in October riding on a wave of post Berlin enthusiasm I planned my “get fast plan” towards 2015.  This included regular cross country to improve my mental toughness, leg strength and core stability.  To race Cross Country in the Hampshire League or the Southern Cross Country League I needed to join a club.  There was an obvious choice being the closest club but I had no contact to help me integrate which is one of the key aspects of a running club.  If you don’t want to be there you won’t want to run.  I discounted others on the basis of distance and settled upon Victory AC, I knew a few people who who welcome me and challenge me.

So in unseasonably and unusually warm weather for Cross Country I started the season in October.  It was 2 weeks after Berlin, I felt tired and lethargic.  A couple of weeks of relaxing, barely running and eating poorly resulted in lost fitness and on the day of reckoning, it showed.  Recovery periods between competition are important to reset the mind and refocus on new goals.  Going from one goal to another can lead to burnout, injury or just a lack of motivation and enjoyment.  It is usually not deliberate but a set of circumstances that lead to the choice to train.  Check out Aly Dixon’s self realisation of her overtraining.

There would be no GB Selection letter for me though as I struggled to 83rd place at Farley Mount. I missed the November event so on to Popham Airfield in December and a few months of training with a speed focus had obviously helped as I achieved a far better 63rd place finishing just behind a Victory AC runner.  After the Hants XC Champs, the first league race of 2015 in Reading was windy but dry.  Louise Damen gave an exhibition of her talents in the Ladies race before we completed our complicated 2 laps which turned out to be only 5 miles rather than the advertised 10k around the playing fields and woods of central Reading.  xcread

At the gun I set off conservatively although noted the pace was still sub 5:30m/m and probably would calm down soon enough.  After a mile, I spotted that a break was forming just ahead and made sure I bridged it to work my way through the field.  Although not as crucial as in cycling, being in a bunch is easier mentally when running.  I worked my way to a position behind 2 Bournemouth Athletes at the back of the lead train I couldn’t close any further and settled in for lap 2.  A couple of athletes came past me during this lap but there were big enough gaps that I didn’t have too much to worry about and they were just better runners than me.  43rd Place, second counter.  A great start to 2015 and a linear progression (83rd, 63rd, 43rd) that I only spotted writing this!  I would love 23rd place in Feb but that’d be special.

From a team point of view Victory are looking good at the top of Div 3 with one match to go.

Weight loss, consistency (especially over Christmas), and training at pace are what I attribute these improvements.  #betterneverstops 😉

Flexible body hearing

fetchRunning to work, New Year training plan?  Be flexible!  My 2014 early season ended in disaster by blindly pushing on, doing too much too soon: Don’t make the same mistake!

Last year I had dreams above my station and this year I feel the urge seeing people running 70, 80 mile weeks and thinking “I could do that”.  I probably could, once, at the moment.

The key is consistency.  Consistency over time beats an oscillating sinusoidal build up of mileage.  There is a 10% rule where you should never increase mileage by more than 10% at a time.  Some notable exceptions have but most of us would just get injured very quickly.

This brings me on to the importance of listening to your body.  I have made 2 changes to my plan this week without havingfetch plan an injury or real cause to do so, it just feels right.  The marathon build up is long and intense, treat it with respect and this means listening to your body, cutting back where necessary.  55 miles over 14 weeks is not much different to 60 miles over the same period or but compared to 12 weeks with 2 weeks lower due to illness or injury i’d prefer 14 happy, healthy weeks and probably get a better result.

On Wednesday I was meant to run 10 miles but after a solid run on Tuesday (3 x 1 mile @ 5:22 ave), some advice and the realisation that there’s a long way to go I just did an Easy 40 min (5.5 miles).

Today I have woken up with DOMS from yesterday’s cross training session despite it being fairly light.  It was my first such session and something i’d like to build into my programme once or twice a week to stay healthy and improve core stability.  I sleep on my right and have always carried things on one side, the result is a lack of abs on my right side and a tendency to collapse to that side when running.  Inefficient.  Last night was another quality session of 10 x 400m @ 75s off 60s rest.   So my plan to run today is on hold.  If I feel better this afternoon I may go out very easy but there’s not point in getting the miles in at the expense of rest.  I have Cross Country this weekend in great conditions (for me, wetter windier, muddier the better , I say)!