December. A new start…

I spent a few minutes in the early hours of the 1st of December, joking with an American friend (Twitter acquaintance) about how we Brits, specifically the English, make such a big fuss about the snow.

Just half an inch can see schools close, businesses having to operate with just a skeleton staff and public transport services seriously affected. Of course, the light dusting of snow, approximately 1cm, that we had in Peterborough, wouldn’t affect my first 5k of December.

Wrong! I ventured outside at around 5am, my usual running time, and found that I was slipping and sliding all over the place, like a drunk Todd Carty in “Dancing on Ice”. The 1cm of snow had frozen and the roads and pavements were unrunnable (I couldn’t find “unrunnable” in the dictionary, but it seems a perfectly good word to me). Oh well, a short slide home for another coffee and I’ll try again tomorrow…

…Tomorrow, 4:55am,
Milder this morning, so snow boots, crampons, skis, flares and emergency kit packed-away for another winter, I set out for my steady 5k run. Just the usual suspects out at this time of the morning. Me, some rabbits, a couple of taxi drivers and the local fox – I think it’s the same one I see every time I’m out for an early run.

I managed to run a time of 24:56, so not bad considering that the months since April have been a combination of injury and illness, or both at the same time! It’s been a struggle over the last few months, especially as I set all of my current PBs in March, from 1k to half marathon distances, and everything in between.

Never mind. I’m going into December feeling fit and healthy and aiming to complete 60 – 70 miles, illness and injury-free, before attacking 2018 head-on.


Back On The #Tescocustardcreams.

I don’t usually write two blog posts in such quick succession, but, buoyed by the inaugural bootcamp at my local boxing gym last week, my return to Boxercise last night and parkrun on the horizon tomorrow, I’m feeling positive.

I enjoyed Bootcamp, as it was something new, and I really delighted in going back to  Boxercise after a month off. Weather permitting, I’ll put down a marker on which to build at parkrun, with the ultimate aim of beating my current PB by mid-to-end of July (And yes, I do mean July this year!). Oh, and then Bootcamp again, approximately 45 minutes after parkrun…

Photo: I imagine parkrun will be like this. Pouring sweat, red-faced, struggling to breathe and being behind someone who I should probably be ahead of.


Thursday, 11pm. Two and a half hours after Boxercise…

Man, I’m starving! I’ve got plenty of food in the fridge and in the cupboards, but I’ve got a serious craving for some custard creams. How could I have run-out of them? Running out of toilet paper is bad, but this oversight is on another level!

I’m very disappointed in myself.

Luckily, although sometimes not, for the recovering alcoholic, planet Earth’s largest, 24 hour Tesco is on my doorstep.

Going to buy custard creams sounds like a simple task, but it can present a problem.

Those people who have never worked in retail probably don’t realise the amount of planning that goes into the positioning of products on supermarket shelves, and the layout of the store. This is where Tesco have, in the past, had me by the short and curlies.

The evil management team at Tesco have positioned the biscuit aisle so that it leads me directly onto the ever-so-well-stocked, booze aisles, which, in turn, lead me to the self-harm checkouts. I’ve never been able to prove it, but I also believe that they have invested in some kind of hi-tech equipment, which creates a gravitational micro-climate that pulls me towards the alcohol, preventing me from exiting the biscuit aisle in the other direction, towards the relative sanctuary of the breakfast cereals.


The great, ancient philosopher and civil rights activist, Samuel L. Jackson, once said:

‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children.”

Too true, Sammy, and still relevant to this day.

Sammy L J


Knowing that I was going to mention Tesco and its fine custard creams more than once in this post, it occurred to me that I should probably apply to the supermarket giant to become a brand ambassador. I’ve seen plenty of people doing this on social media, and they have inspired to write a short piece, which will form a part of my application, thus:

Fuelled by #tescocustardcreams, I set-off early for my 5k run. If is wasn’t for my #tescocustardcreams, I’d have probably made it no further than my front door. I started to feel quite tired after 1km. Luckily, I’d put some #tescocustardcreams in my pocket, having anticipated this gradual decrease in energy levels. Wow, what a boost, having just eaten another two #tescocustardcreams I feel like a new athlete. Powered-on by my #tescocustardcreams, I completed my 5k run in a new PB time! Thank you, #tescocustardcreams !

What do you think? I would say that I’m a natural, but I’d be lying. I would never have been able to write this without the mental and physical energy provided by my #tescocustardcreams. 

Custard Creams                        Tesco Custard Creams. £0.45, from all larger Tesco stores.

Thanks to those of you who provided some very positive feedback on my last post. Much appreciated!

More not-so amusing musings to follow in May…


March Misery, April Mania!

Out of the frying pan, into the fire…

March was a miserable month.

Injury and depression, I’m not sure which came first, are a bad combination. I spent most of the month being unable to run or cycle. Even walking was painful. I had to stop going to my Boxercise classes and spent most days having to force myself out of bed, and then the rest of the day trying to avoid speaking to people or attempting to go about a normal daily life.

In 31 days I managed to run 19.64, painful miles. I didn’t attend a single Boxercise class, which meant missing the people there, as well as the exercise itself.

The positive, and it’s a huge one, is that I had another sober month. I’ve no idea how I managed it in the circumstances, but I did, despite temptation always being just around the corner*** Well done, me!

*** A slight digression: My spectrum of friends and acquaintances goes from one extreme to the other, with everything else in between. I could be out shopping, for example, and bump into a ‘running friend’, then, five minutes later, come across an ‘addict friend’, and it’s when I come across the addict friend that temptation rears its ugly head.

Photo: Me, vaping and, therefore, looking irresistible to the opposite sex.

Vaping in Tesco

I was at the Pharmacy counter in Tesco a couple of weeks ago, stocking-up on my vaping refills, when a woman’s foot connected with my backside. It was an ‘addict friend’ of mine, who goes there most days for her methadone.

“Come and sit down”, she said.

As I did, I couldn’t help but notice the 1.5l bottle of vodka in her carrier bag. “Fancy some of this?”, she said, showing me the Red Bull can in her hand. “It’s half-full of voddy”.

Here comes the temptation. After a very long pause, during which I thought of snatching it out of her hand, having that first mouthful and then spending the rest of the day blissfully drunk, I managed to say “No, thanks”.

She’s an alcoholic and a heroin addict, so she knows how incredibly difficult abstinence can be, and that’s why she didn’t try to encourage me to take the drink. It’s not so straightforward with a ‘non-addict’, as they will usually say something like “go on, just have one, you’ll be fine”.

“I said no. Fuck off!”

Digression over***

And here comes April…

Boom! Mania! Manic, racing thoughts, a potentially critical  increase in heart rate, absolute insomnia, a sudden enthusiasm for even the most mundane of daily tasks, all over social media, on the phone to family and friends, Bootcamp on the first Saturday of the month and back on the roads, running, albeit for very short periods and despite injury.

Calm down, Dan, just try to calm down…

I can never see this mood change coming, although I have learnt to try and manage it. There doesn’t seem to be a trigger, and no signs that my mood is going to change. It just does!

Experience has taught me that periods of ultra-high mood can be dangerous, and possibly harmful to others. Not in a physical sense, but (buzz-phrase alert) ‘my ‘filter’ tends to disappear, and I verbalise or write whatever comes into my head, usually without considering the consequences. I can, at times, become the stereotype of an arrogant Yorkshireman that we all (outside of the county) like to mock.

Photo: An opinionated, flat-capped, ridiculously moustachioed Yorkshireman, with a head full of outrageously pompous, irrational opinions…and his dog.


“‘Ah ser what ah larke, and ah larke what I ser”!

(Translation, Yorkshire to English: I say what I like, and I like what I say).

That’s why I used the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’, earlier, because I’m not sure if the depression or the high mood is worse. I am certainly much more likely to upset people when I’m manic. Not that it is ever my intention to do so, but I just can’t help it.

One thing is for sure. I am currently, zealously, re-evaluating my running goals. I’m not going to consider running a 10k, HM or above for the foreseeable future. I think I will concentrate on my 5k PB, which is currently 21’03, and look to beat that within three months. This should be achievable, presuming that I stay injury-free.

That, along with Boxercise and Bootcamp are my new priorities. If I can stick to that, injury-free, then the moods, low or high, should at least be controllable, if not curable.

Okay, my head is about to explode. I apologise if you’ve taken the time to read this, only to find that it makes NO sense!

I’m mentally exhausted for the time being, so I won’t go back and proofread it!




Strong booze before the race, Sir?


Champioooonee, Champiooooonee, Ole, Ole, Ole!

This is relevant to the following post, but please allow me to set the scene…

Mid-February, 2018. It’s around this time of year that a lot of runners have their race calendars worked-out and, barring the odd variable such as injury, know where they will be running and which training plan they will be following.

I don’t really work in this way. I’m never quite sure what frame of mind I’m going to be in from week-to-week and, as a consequence of this, I’m never entirely confident that I’ll be fit enough to complete an event, even the short, 5k parkrun on a Saturday morning.

However, the one race that will always be in my calendar is the Great Eastern Run, not least because it takes place in my home city of Peterborough. Entries are now open for the event, which takes place on 14/10/2018. Seeing the ‘Entries now open’ message from GER is always great, but it does remind me of my first time running  this race…I’d had a period of very heavy drinking leading up to it.

I was is pretty good running shape at the time, as I hadn’t touched a drink for three months and I’d been looking after myself. Despite this, I decided to follow a 12-week training plan, and stick to it, so there were no complications on the day of the race. This began well, and for the first four weeks I stuck to the plan and I felt marvellous. My general mood was good, I was sober and I felt fitter than ever, boosted by the fact that I was cycling sixty miles per week to work and back.

That’s when ‘disaster’ struck. I use inverted commas, because for most people being knocked-off of your bike by a lorry driver opening his door, whilst travelling at speed, and not being able to run for a couple of weeks would be a bit of an annoyance, a minor setback to their training, but not the end of the world.

Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t work like that, and this was, to me, a ‘disaster’. My mood plummeted, I took two weeks off work and, the real catastrophe, had a drink…just one…and that, inevitably snowballed into a 3-week, every-waking-hour, booze-binge.

The morning of the race…

I’d stopped the main boozing rot, but I was still drinking, up until a couple of days prior to the Great Eastern Run. I was awake all night, and around 5am I started to think about how I was going to get through this race. I didn’t have full-on DTs**, but I was certainly shaky, and empty, as I hadn’t eaten much for a few days.


Above: An alcoholic man with delirium tremens on his deathbed, surrounded by his terrified family. The writing on the bottom of the image says “alcohol kills”.

I knew I needed to lose this shakiness, and I needed to eat, but I had no appetite. Tesco wasn’t open until 10am, so a ‘quick’, 7.3% Champion Ale was out of the question. The local One Stop opens at 6:30, though, I thought. I can’t get anything strong there, but if I have two ‘weak’ beers I should be okay, and they will help to give me an appetite.

Two bottles of Brown Ale, a bowl of Ready Brek and an apple oat bar later, the shakes had long gone, and I waited for my Dad, who was dropping me off at the race. I got into the passenger seat of the car:

Dad: (Sniff), Blimey, have you been drinking?

Me: (My usual response to this question), I just had a couple, last night. I’m fine.

My original goals for the race had gone out of the window. By now I just wanted to complete the course, and if I could do it in under two hours it would be a miracle!

I did it, in just over 1 hour 58 minutes, largely because of the immense support from spectators all around the course. Mentally, it felt like the support was all for me, personally, and physically, well, I’m just so grateful to all of the kids who were handing-out sweets every step of the way.

Shattered, but proud of my achievement, I sat down to rehydrate and admire my medal for a few minutes… Shit, those shakes are beginning to make a comeback.

Never again…


**Delirium tremens (DTs) is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days. Physical effects may include shaking, shivering, irregular heart rate, and sweating. People may also see or hear things other people do not. Occasionally, a very high body temperature or seizures may result in death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs from which to withdraw.
Delirium tremens typically only occurs in people with a high intake of alcohol for more than a month. A similar syndrome may occur with benzodiazepine and barbiturate withdrawal. Withdrawal from stimulants such as cocaine does not have major medical complications. In a person with delirium tremens it is important to rule out other associated problems such as electrolyte abnormalities, pancreatitis, and alcoholic hepatitis.



#fitFeb – Just A Short One…

Just a short post today, as I would like to post again at the end of what will, hopefully, be a successful February.

January fizzled-out for me, really. I managed some road miles and a couple of half-decent parkruns, but I didn’t feel well around the middle of the month, missed some workouts and lost some motivation. Never mind – on to February.

I’d heard of #fitfeb after reading one of Kelly Holmes’ tweets. It consists of doing a minimum of five good workouts per week (so, five for me), which can be whatever you choose: running, cycling, swimming, weights and any fitness classes that you enjoy. You should also engage twice per week in ‘mind and body maintenance’, which could be more classes, such as Yoga or Pilates, or simply stretching, foam rolling and…rest days!

The idea is also to try something new. At some point during February I’ll add another fitness class into my routine- probably a spin session, although I am also contemplating attending a second Boxercise class.

Meanwhile, I’m quite happy with my start to February. I already cycle everywhere in my home town, and I am running at least four times a week. Shorter runs at the moment, but I am pleased with just over twenty miles from 1st to the 8th of this month and another two Boxercise classes, so far.

Some of the Thursday night Boxercise crew, below, including me, second left, looking like I’m about to receive a left hook!

Tuesday Boxercise

I’m really enjoying these classes. I had initially intended to attend for three or four sessions to try it out, then move-on to something different, but I have since decided to make it a regular session on a Thursday evening. Our instructor, Chloe, is more enthusiastic about what she does than David Attenborough is about the natural world, and that enthusiasm permeates the whole class. I also think that the fact the class is run at a boxing gym, rather than a standard gym, means that everyone, male and female, feels comfortable there. People go for a solid workout and to sweat – you won’t find anyone standing in front of a mirror, posing, or making outrageous grunting noises when they have 1kg of weight on each end of a bar and looking around to see who’s watching.

Aside from enjoying the class with a friendly group of people, I’ve found it a great compliment to my running, as I don’t really work my legs too much. The emphasis is on the core, upper body, muscle toning and cardio, so I’m still able to run the following day, albeit without the use of my arms. When you struggle to push the handle down on your front door when you get home, you know you’ve had a good workout!

(Below, a ‘before and after’ shot. We all like these, as they are a reminder of how well our training is paying-off).

Left: Me, just before Christmas.

Right: Me, post-shower, after a few weeks of Boxercise.



Pretty good progress, I think you’ll agree!

Finally, back to Dame Kell. She recently sent a general message out on Twitter, updating people on how her #fitFeb had started and asking how others were doing, so far. I told her about my running, cycling and Boxercise, and she took the time to return my message, congratulating me on a good start to the month and encouraging me to keep at it.

That’s motivational. If you can’t be inspired by a British, double-Olympic champion sending you encouragement, you may as well give-up and do something else…

Well done to Dame Kelly Holmes for engaging with ‘her public’ on social media.

Kelly Holmes

Until the end of #fitFeb…


Ooh Matron! New Year, Boxercise, Coffee And Shortbread

Costa Card

I’m not wealthy, certainly not in a financial sense, so the most important piece of plastic in my wallet is my Costa gift card. My Uncle buys me one for Christmas every year, and this year I would appreciate it even more, as I sat back and relaxed with my cappuccino and caramel shortbread, reflecting on the start of 2018.

I’d laid-down 2018’s running foundations with an injury-free, two weeks of gentle running and a couple of 24’30 – 25’00 minute parkruns. This meant that after a quiet New Year’s Eve, I arrived at the New Year’s Day parkrun sober, feeling healthy in every sense and ready to put-down a marker for the coming year’s running.

24’37 – perfect, in spite of the water obstacle that mother nature had decided to set for us on this temporary, steeplechase course! Not that my time was particularly fast, but it was reasonable enough that I wasn’t disappointed, whilst leaving me plenty of room for improvement over the coming weeks and working towards my goal of running a sub- 20’30 5k. I have also set myself an achievable target of 800 miles for the year, which may increase, some 10k races and at least three half marathons. All being well, I’ll be in good enough shape to start planning a marathon in 2019.

Cross training and “the Haters”…

Ooh Matron

I’ve decided to add what training plans for running events call “cross-training”, which is, basically, anything that doesn’t involve running. I do still intend to run 4 times a week, although I may reduce this to three to accommodate some extra fitness classes, depending on how beneficial I feel they are.

“What’s Kenneth Williams got to do with this?”, I hear you cry. I’ll tell you.

One of my best mates, if not my best mate, called me to wish me a happy birthday on Thursday (the 4th of January – my birthday was on the 2nd), and during the course of the conversation I announced that I would be attending the first of my fitness classes, Boxercise, that evening.

“You what? Boxercise? Have you turned into a girl? Only women do that! No, wait, I have heard of some blokes doing it: Kenneth Williams, Graham Norton, Louis Spence…”. You get the picture!

The suggestion that it’s only gay men who partake in these kind of classes is ludicrous, and to show that the views of my “hater” friend (hater – one who sits around criticising others for getting involved in exercise, saying it’s pointless, and at the same time moaning and whining that they’re overweight, unfit, can’t pull a bird, etc.) are not views that I share, here’s a photo that I’ve taken from my phone, which provides evidence of my clear understanding of what “LGBT” represents.


My first Boxercise class…

Vic’s Gym, Thursday, 7:20pm.

I was slightly apprehensive. Assuming I’m not injured, I’m quite happy running in a straight line, and my leg muscles have become conditioned to this over the past couple of years. However, I haven’t really done any sustained exercise that works any other muscle groups during this time.

That’s why I was somewhat concerned when just the day before attending Boxercise, I had been introduced to the acronym, DOMS, which, as someone who is not a regular gym-goer, is a term that I hadn’t previously heard of. For those who don’t know, this stands for “delayed onset muscle soreness”. Basically, this means that I should be aching, quite badly, for a period of 24 to 48 hours after this “foreign” workout, meaning that my parkrun of 36 hours later could become a  parkwaddle™ (copyright @photogirlruns), rather than a run!

Costa, Friday, 10:00am…(continued)


So, here I am, about to indulge in a coffee and a cake. My upper body aches, in particular my arms, and there is slight tightness in my calf muscles. Notwithstanding these minor twinges (let’s hope they remain minor), I feel good, mentally and physically, and I’m looking forward to the next session of skipping, burpees, press-ups, gloves and pads, heavy bags, crunches, and plenty of sweating!

We’re only five days into 2018 as I write this, but things have started positively. I’m looking forward to the year ahead in running, and I will soon be taking-on some other fitness classes in order to sustain this positivity and, hopefully, to encourage other people to do the same.

Oh…, the 0.90 mile run home that I’d planned after Boxercise? I walked!