The highs and lows of winter training.

Hi All,

So I’m back in the saddle after an enforced 12 day training break. Holiday? I hear you ask. I wished…

Firstly, following a pretty good training effort over New Year, our youngest son Max came down with something called Stevens Johnson Syndrome on or around the 2nd Jan (have you Googled it yet? – yeah it really is that bad). 5 days / 4 nights in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, 2 nights each for myself and Mrs F, watching Max pumped full of antibiotics and fluids (1 IV in each arm), given oral antibiotics, painkillers, mouth washes and gels, various eye drops and topical skin treatments. He bounced back pretty quickly (amazing little dude that he is) but the road to full recovery is still being travelled and it has been a traumatic road.

Quick aside here: “NHS at breaking point”?

“Humanitarian Crisis in the NHS”?


We’ve now had a couple of brushes with Stoke Mandeville over the past year or so and I can’t speak highly enough of the service they offer. Top top doctors, consultants and – the lifeblood – Nurses, all with seemingly good morale and fantastic attitudes. Plentiful pharmaceuticals. Excellent in and out patient care with some really professional and well run clinics and clinicians. Clean wards. Good food. Even reasonable wifi. I cannot, repeat cannot, see where the problem is.

Okay so my kids are kids and were maybe prioritised due to age / type of illness. Maybe the paediatric provision at Stoke is different from the rest of the country. But, as with most things, I wouldn’t quite trust statistics.

Austerity measures have of course put more strain on the NHS, I get that (the best is yet to come people, remember we’re heading back to the 1970s again…). And I’m sure if you’re elderly and have had a fall or if you’re drunk and waiting a long time for a nasty wound to be stitched or if you’re obese and waiting for a nasty swelling to be looked at you’re going to a) be deemed low priority but b) significantly affect waiting time stats and c) you’ll make for some great stories in the press.

But it’s all these people who are helping to create the perfect storm here – an ageing, more obese, more reckless society coupled with massive budget cuts is going to skew figures. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not saying I don’t sympathise with these groups – but needs must and when the good stuff is on ration then the most deserving will get to the front of the queue.

But, speaking personally, when we’ve found ourselves in massive need, when our hearts have been in our mouths with fear at our kids being sick, when these kids have needed urgent diagnosis and treatment – we’ve not been found wanting. And for those reasons I’m going to keep praising the NHS and I’m going to do my best to stay fit and healthy so that I give myself a better chance of not getting into any of those risk groups…

Anyway, sermon over, back to the story. So once Max got released it was time for me to get sick. As often happens, the adrenaline from the crisis wore off and so I then caught a cold. No training there either for a good few days.

On the plus side, once I did get back into things from the 17th onwards, I’ve made up for lost time. Although easing back into it, I’ve managed:

  • A 3mile / 5K comeback run on the 17th which despite being my first run in 12 days brought me an all time PB on the 5K. I must have been pleased to back! Just over 34 mins which is not fast, especially as I know people who are doing the same distance now in 19 mins (you know who you are!), but I’m happy.
  • Two 3mile city runs in Roermond (Netherlands, where our group head office is based and practically my second home).
  • A 7mile hill training run around Speen and environs; not fun or relaxing but necessary.
  • A 3.5 mile time bound run today (time bound as I couldn’t shift my carcass out of bed early enough.

Yes there have been some god-awful cold mornings but the cold brings great sunrises and some lovely crystalline vegetation. And that makes it all the more worth it.

Running into the sun

Ramping up now to the half marathon at the end of Feb via some long weekend runs – I’m nearly on 10 mile constant long runs now and ramping up so I’m well on target, and 13 miles is where I need to be for the end of Feb for the marathon training.

Onwards and upwards!

Peace and love,


Happy New Year / Post Christmas Training Update

Firstly wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2017 – and I really hope you all had a good Christmas!

Against all the odds, it has been a pretty good Christmas and New Year holiday period running-wise!  20 miles in the 7 final days of 2016 which included:

  • A nice 5 miler with Mrs F on boxing day.
  • A couple of smaller 3Mi filler runs.
  • A 9 miler yesterday.

I’m fully on track with both the half-marathon training plan and, importantly, the full marathon plan which is good. N.B. you’ll notice that I have moved into thinking in miles – an important change in thinking / estimating / planning when training for the 26.2 mile race.  It’s still taking a while to get over the fact that I am not running 5K runs or indeed 14K runs any more – but it’s important in terms of the ultimate goal and helps to keep things in perspective.

So, plans for January:

  • Get the holistic balance spot-on: food, carb levels, protein intake, fluids, sleep etc all contribute hugely to the balance. Basically a bit less alcohol and dead animals accompanied by cheese and carbs won’t go amiss.
  • This will lead to ongoing weight loss and an easier run (one hopes…).
  • More of the same in terms of running, keeping the plan going, upping the distances over the coming weeks – if you’re interested, you can monitor my progress on Strava here:
  • Oh and of course the usual family and business madness,  plans and goals – we’ll fit those in somewhere during what will prove to be a super busy year methinks 🙂

Final thought:  I get asked a lot if I’m enjoying this journey and the answer is, largely, a big yes.  We’ve all been to Disneyland or Legoland or Thorpe Park; I don’t recall seeing people at those places with smiles of perpetual ecstasy on their faces despite having spent potentially thousands of pounds and having travelled hundreds or even thousands of miles to get there. Indeed, I recall at one point thinking, whilst walking around Disneyworld in Florida, how hot, miserable, flustered and generally downhearted people looked as they queued hours for a ride that would last minutes. However as humans we filter this all out and we remember the golden moments – and now I remember that trip as nothing but joyous.

Running is a bit like this. I drag my carcass out of bed when it’s -3 degrees, dark and frosty. I pull on my running clothes, have a protein shake and get in my car to drive somewhere that actually allows me to run more than a mile without having to climb stupid gradients. I get my iPhone cranked up, wait for the GPS to kick in on my Garmin watch, start plodding along the footpath – and it’s normally at this point I think “this is pretty much the armpit of life…”.

However, within 20 minutes, I am warmed up, I have found my pace, it’s getting light, the music (carefully selected) is flowing nicely. I’m drifting in and out of deep thought,  planning the day, enjoying the music, enjoying the cold air on my face as the dawn starts to creep over the horizon, I’m smelling the fields and the air, I’m almost at one with nature.  It’s at these times I have had moments of epiphany – where the road almost floats beneath my feet and I can forget where I am, where the miles just melt away. Within another 20 minutes, I may have finished and I’m basking in the warmth of the endorphins and the feeling of accomplishment at another few miles under my feet towards the ultimate goal; and at this point I’m happy that my watch is synching and my run is being shared on Strava for all to see.

This is why I can safely say, yes, I am enjoying the journey and can’t see a time when I won’t be doing this.

Again, peace and love to all, wishing you a great 2017, thanks for following me and don’t forget to sponsor me at some point in the next few months – this is what it’s all about of course 🙂