Um… Help!

Hello strangers. It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Looking back through the history of this silly little blog, a couple of things are abundantly clear. Firstly, I mention zombies a lot more than is normal for a supposedly full-grown man. Secondly, it’s really quite sickening just how many of the posts are on the theme of “oh-woe-is-me-I’m-in-a-bit-of-a-slump”.

The format of these is always the same. A bit of a grumble, some stuff about eating all the cheese and then a defiant paragraph on how I’m going to rebuild myself. A few weeks later, I’ll churn out a post in which I shout “raaaah! I’m a runner again! This is brilliant!

And so it continues. Slump and high, slump and high, slump and high. Except something happened a couple of months back and I seem to be stuck with more slump than I know what to do with. I wish I knew what it was that derailed me, but it’s a mystery. There was no injury, no life-event, no shadowy figure who kept sneaking into my house and stealing my running shoes. Although the last one would have been awesome; I’ve always wanted a nemesis, and Barrington J Shoesnatcher would fit the bill quite nicely.

It was as though one day I was a runner, and then the next day I wasn’t.

The last run I really truly enjoyed was the Run Bedford 10k back in June. It was a spur-of-the-moment entry and my training had been a bit haphazard, even by my usual sorry standards. Still, I managed to score a lovely PB and I couldn’t have been happier. After coming within a whisker of achieving a long coveted sub-50, I felt like this race marked a much-needed boost for my running and left me with something fresh to focus on. I took it easy for a few days after the race to allow myself to recover properly, but I remained hungry, relishing the thought of getting back into training and pushing on to the next level.


Well I’m not entirely sure what happened, and I haven’t entirely ruled out alien abduction (although I can’t say I feel any more probed than usual), but running is hard now. I mean, it’s always been hard because… well, just look at me, but that was usually eclipsed by a sense of elation and achievement, and a general feeling that I was making progress.

Anyway, that’s enough wallowing. The purpose of this post was to ask you lovely readers for help (although, if you’re reading this blog of your own free will rather than as part of a dastardly clockwork-orange-style rehabilitation programme in a Turkish prison, then you’re clearly quite silly and I may regret asking).

Here are the nuts and bolts of it…

  • I’ve put on a bit of weight, and am currently around 8kg north of where I want to be. Carrying this extra weight makes it harder to run. The fact that it’s harder to run means that I’m running less. The fact that I’m running less means that I’m not shifting the weight. The fact that I’m not shifting the weight means that it’s harder to run etc etc etc.
  • I’m trying to be sensible about what I eat. I can do sensible, right?
  • Before, I was running 3-4 times a week. Long runs were anywhere between 8-12 miles at a pace somewhere in the region of 10 min/mile. Tempo runs were 3-4 miles at just over 8 min/mile. I could comfortably cruise at 9 min/mile.
  • Now, I’m running 2-3 times a week. Any distance greater than five miles feels like a marathon. My standard pace lurks around 10:30 min/mile. I tried to run a mile on the treadmill at 8 min/mile, and after five minutes I felt like I’d been molested by an angry gorilla.
  • I’m trying to mix things up a bit in order to build up a base fitness again. Aiming for 30 minutes a day when I can, including running, other cardio, free weights, a bit of stretching.
  • I keep thinking back to running half marathons at a sub-9 min/mile pace. It makes me feel sad.

You lot are cleverer at this sort of thing than me. Let’s face it, My Uncle Trevor’s cockatiel is cleverer at this sort thing than me, and he was stuffed in 19971.

So, I’d welcome any tips on getting back some semblance of runningness. Should I keep things slow until I’ve built up the pace? Is High Intensity Interval Training the answer?2 Should I just give up running and become a crab farmer? Do I need to be drinking Aloe Vera stuff like a fucking idiot?

Help. Just help.


1 The cockatiel, not Uncle Trevor.
2 according to the Internet, it is. In fact, according to the Internet, HIIT is the answer to everything, including world hunger, slow broadband and unruly cats.


Hello nice blog-reading person. That’s a very smart cardigan you’re wearing. Makes you look like a winner. Anyway, cards on the table, there are actually only two people who read this blog: You, and Jemimamima Horkington-Hewittt, heiress to the Horkington-Hewittt Landmine and Novelty Pencil Sharpener Company. It’d be great if you could spread the word and share some links to your favourite posts on the Facebookses or the Twitters. Or maybe you could scrawl “born to plod = ace” on a bedsheet and tie it to a busy roundabout. The Internet has promised me a basket of kittens for every million hits I get, and I’m hoping to get enough to start a farm. Ta



22 thoughts on “Um… Help!

  1. Hey, I think you’re trying to aim for too much at once. Don’t beat yourself up about the weight. Cut out crap food and start running, however slowly, 4-5 times a week. Don’t worry about speed. Once you’re up to running 8/10 miles without feeling horrific and you’ve lost some of the weight you’ll be able to think about speed. There’s only so much you can concentrate on at once!
    Oh and steer clear if Aloe Vera juice – gives you a different kind of runs 😳

    • True, but I’ve realised that I’ve only got two running shirts that still fit, so I tend to hide away on the treadmill more than I used to.

  2. Hi there – wondered where you’d gone! hang on, this isn’t a spam comment, no matter how much it sounds like one. I am in a very similar position to you, in that I’m running very little, with little enthusiasm, no speed at all and yet have all the appetite of an ultra runner. I do have an injury to blame it on though, from last year, but there’s only so long I can use the same excuse I reckon.

    I remember always telling beginner runners that you can work on speed or distance, but not both at once. I’ve also told myself this and now I’ll tell you as well. Do you want to do some zoomier 5Ks to boost your ego, or would you rather get the miles in first? I’m going for slogging out some miles, but I warn you you’ll hate every footstep of them. The weight should come off by itself (something else I’m telling myself).

    To mix it up I’m going to a swimming lesson every week (brilliant – group of adults who’d never learnt to swim “properly” turning up once a week with the instructor and we basically take the p*ss out of each other whilst trying not to drown. Marvellous!) I’m also trying to get out on my bike more, but so far this mostly consists of spending lots of money in Aldi on winter kit.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that our running ability reappears sometimes soon – in my case hopefully before next Sunday when I’ve entered an 11K muddy hilly race. Why???

    • Sound advice there, and nice to know I’m not the only one. I’m definitely going to try to forget speed for now and build up a decent aerobic base again. Failing that, gin.

      Good luck for Sunday!

  3. I agree about getting off the treadmill. Go and run in the prettiest places you can get to. Try running with music, running with friends, running different times of day. Forget about speed just now, concentrate on enjoying running. Parkrun is brilliant. Cycling is nearly as brilliant as running, and swimming is too if you can avoid the whole drowning thing. Keep out of the cakes & biscuits isle of the supermarket and on no account watch Great British Bake Off. If none of this works, give up and try tiddley-winks.

    • The issue with running in the prettiest places is that, once I introduce my wobbly torso and puffing beetroot face, they immediately stop being pretty. I’ve been known to lower house prices by up to 10% 😄

  4. I’m in a very similar position – was quite happy with how my running was progressing in 2014, slipped a bit in 2015, and fell off the rails in 2016. Im also about 8-10kg heavier than I’d like, and my training hasnt been doing well.
    But I signed up for, and did, the Great Scottish Run 10k last Sunday. I really didnt think I could do it under an hour, so I set out just to have fun, and (apart from getting a blister near the end), I did. I ran it in 55mins, which isnt far off my 2014 pace, and I enjoyed it.
    I think that when I worry too much about speed, distance, how fast other people are going, etc – running is a slog. When I go out and just run, its fun. And when its fun, its faster.
    So Ive signed up for another 10k race in 4 weeks. Lets see if my theory holds.
    Good to see you back!

  5. After having been a lazy lump all my life, going to uni and becoming an even lazier and bigger lump, I started HIIT in my living room (curtains closed and all other measures to stop people seeing me). Mainly, the Insanity workout. After a year of hard work and not even particularly brilliant eating habits, I shifted 6 stone. I’d recommend HIIT to anyone. Maximum results in little time.

    Now I’m a lot less lazy and a litter bit less lumpy

  6. Did you buy a bike? I bought a bike and I’ve barely run since. I did enter a trail half marathon a week ago and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in ages. I had a flippin’ panic attack after a half mile, and I don’t even get panic attacks.

    Just take it easy would be my advice, run a bit when you can and the magic sprinkles will come back.

    Jesus! I’ve just remembered I’ve entered an ultra at the end of October – what the hell am I going to do? Don’t take my advice, I’m clearly an idiot…

    • But you’re my kind of idiot.

      I did buy a bike, about 8 years ago. Ridden it twice. It’s an awful heavy lump of a thing, but now I can never justify buying a nicer one.

  7. I went through a bit of a running slump last year where nearly every run felt like a chore but I just kept doing it and then one day it felt really good again and all of a sudden I started to enjoy it again. Think it’s one of those things that ebbs and flows a bit & I’ve always just gone with it. Bit like a friend who might be annoying a lot of the time but then they’re just bloody great other times and overall it’s brilliant to always have them there! Sorry cant offer any greater wisdom!

    • That wisdom seems pretty sound to me. Persistence and sheer bloody-mindedness. (Which, incidentally, were very nearly the names given to my twins)

  8. Wel… If running is not as fun as it used to be why don’t you do what i did? Done Lycra, get your backside on a road bike and go… Trust me. Both the speed and distance covered will quickly put you of the running limits 😉

  9. Find a running buddy, someone irl or someone virtual. Make appointments to run together, then sit afterwards and bitch and whine about how bloody hard it was and how bloody tough you are to have survived it. Be realistic about distance and pace. In fact, (contentious suggestion here), get rid of your watch for a while, run because it’s fun and because your buddy is going to kick your arse if you don’t.

    Or maybe take a break and try something new; cycling, swimming, *whispers* the gym, maybe you really are tired and need a break.

  10. Oh mate – I feel your pain, I am in a running slump too. I read an article in the paper a couple of weeks ago that said that walking was actually just as good as running and that was it – running shoes out, waterproof walking shoes in… and I’ve not run a step since… In the back of my mind I am thinking that I will give it another go in the spring, as I do have that nagging feeling bad feeling now that I was so happy and smug to lose when I was running.

    It was just that it was always so bloody hard. And I was making so little progress and when I did have a good run, then the next one would inevitably be awful. Ebbs and flows I suppose. But yeah, anyway, not much advice I am afraid but commiseration at least!

    Your running times and speeds now still sound heaps better than my pathetic slightly faster than walking trot that I managed on my best days! Hang in there buddy!

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