‘Little Pat’ has completed the first five weeks of his half-marathon training schedule. How is it going?

Hi, ‘Little Pat’ here.

The training

Okay, I admit it – the last three weeks have been tough. In week 3, I continued to have problems with sore tendons and calves. Furthermore, the weather has been uninviting to say the least – first very cold, then wet and then cold again.

I must confess that, on many a morning, running has been the last thing I fancied doing. This is where it would help to have a companion – someone to drag you outside when you don’t feel like it.

It’s probably only the fact that I ‘went public’ with my attempt that has kept me hanging in there. And yet...it’s taken a while, but I am slowly beginning to feel the benefit of the training. For example, I can now run for 3 or 4 times as long as I could when I started and I also recover faster after I’ve stopped. What’s more, I’m now only a week away from completing the Runner’s World 6-week schedule.

Another plus is that I’m losing weight, although perhaps not quite so quickly as I would like.

The sore leg issue

Do you recall me saying that running shoes was one area where we shouldn’t skimp? Well, it wasn’t so much that I ignored my own advice, but rather that I didn’t follow it fully. The shoes I started with weren’t cheap (indeed, they are a well-known brand), but I didn’t do enough research. I bought them from an outlet rather than a running specialist. The sales assistant assured me that they were well-cushioned and they did feel pretty soft and comfortable when I tried them on in store.

However, after 2-3 weeks of running, my calves and tendons were still very painful, despite the fact that I’d reverted to my tried and trusted stretching routine. I couldn’t understand why this should be, so I eventually did the kind of research I should have done beforehand. I discovered that my shoes, although cushioned to a degree, were primarily designed for pronators – ie, they are support shoes.

My running action is fairly neutral, but I’m a definite heel striker and I also weigh too much, so I need a highly-cushioned shoe to soften the impact. In searching for help online, I came across a very useful website – startfitness.co.uk. The way they group their running shoes reminds me of the shoe tests in the old Running and Fitness magazine. I very quickly found what I wanted.

The shoes arrived in the post within a couple of days (thank you Start Fitness for the rapid delivery) and the improvement was immediate – I’m now running without any discomfort. In addition, the new footwear is in corporate colours (see pic below), which I’m hoping might help encourage a bit of sponsorship from FH! ;-)

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of weeks 3, 4 & 5

Week 3

Pros: completed programme, lost 2 lbs in weight

Cons: sore tendon and calves

Week 4

Pros: new running shoes have solved the sore leg problem, completed the programme

Cons: didn’t lose any weight

Week 5

Pros: completed the schedule, lost 3 lbs in weight, starting to feel the benefit of the training even though the runs are getting longer

Cons: dire weather.

‘Til next time