It’s 2016 and already lots of changes !

The new year generally tends to mean two  things for me, a reorganisation of the various projects I have in place and also some focus on my fitness and plans for racing in the coming year.

Well, lets start with the reorganisation and particularly with my photography – I took a year out last year to try a couple of new things and a bit of diversity, some of which worked some of which didn’t but that was kind of the whole reason for doing it.

All that work lead me to the creation of my new website, where I will now focus all my photographic work – Martin Holden Images – centralising and simplifying lots of the work I have done over the last couple of years. This will now be the main focus area for my images.

martin holden images website

I am also quite looking forward to getting back to taking some images at races, something that I have missed over the last 12 months and whilst I won’t bombard the site with those images, it will be nice to build a portfolio of them going forward now – there are still over 13,000 images of cycling on my Flickr page and all those will stay there too.

Now on to the not-so-good news …. unfortunately the knee problems I had back in September have flared up again, following a short run I did last week – a very gentle 5km jog really but I was in real pain the next day and the pain did not go away for the rest of the week – time to visit the physio.

I have torn my posterior capsule (cartilage at the rear of my knee) – at this point we don’t think it needs surgery, but until all the swelling and inflammation has gone that’s not 100% but it does look hopeful on that front at least. We can then start the weeks of rehab that it will need, but and this is a pretty big but, if I start running again then it will get worse and will almost certainly need an operation, which in itself is no guarantee.

Cycling is fine, no pain, no issues afterwards and no impact.

That makes is a fairly easy decision.

The running shoes are hung up for good and I have retired from triathlon, after 10 very enjoyable years and 4 Ironman finishers medals and lots of great fun.

And so now for the next couple of weeks, its time to hit the anti-inflammatories, do the physio work and get back on the bike.


Testing it Out …

It’s been a really busy week and despite a couple of attempts I haven’t been able to get an appointment with my physio, but maybe I actually don’t need to.

The additional rest has given the joint some time to calm down and it seems much better now and I think it might be ok to test it out with a gentle run.


Hopefully it will be just a little reaction to the faster pace and will have healed itself, but I guess that only time will tell. It certainly isn’t causing me any issues in my normal day to day life, so I am hoping it will react well to a easy run.

I still have the option of visiting the physio if it reacts badly but I will test it out first and see what happens …


Knowing the Signs …

The week started well for me with two good runs, both of which felt very easy and comfortable and both were done at a decent pace (5.30) and (5.44) which although by no means pacey, certainly much quicker than I have been running of late.

Both of the runs were over mixed terrain, in fact both runs were the same 4km course … a mix of tarmac, rough gravel trails, grass, mud, downhills and inclines .. pretty much everything thrown in the mix.

I started to notice something on Wednesday when I got up:


The image is probably a bit misleading as there was no real pain, more like it felt like the knee or maybe top of the calf was slightly swollen .. it didn’t look swollen but it felt that way. Also when I was sat in one place for a while as I tend to do at work, then it was stiff and achy to get moving.

Perhaps two fast paced days back to back caused the issue, but I decided to listen to my body and just back it off a little until this weekend. The knee has been fine but there is still a little twinge there at the back, more near the calf I think that the knee itself. It may also just be the muscles and tendons getting used to running again, so this will be one to watch over I think.

Back to some more positive news now, and I have just completed 3 weeks without any sugar and I have cracked that one … my coffee’s are just great as they are and that is a big achievement to have put that one to bed. One refined product out of my diet.

Next up, I have just completed 2 weeks without any white bread, which for anyone who knows my love of the stuff is quite unbelievable … there have been a couple of times where I nearly went off the rails, but I have to say I feel so much better for not having any – in fact I have pretty much avoided any bread at all … two days out of fourteen I have had a couple of slices of wholemeal brown bread, but there are certainly no cravings for it – need to keep on with this, as this will bring big results.

Today will see some mountain biking with my community cycling club first thing and then may something else a little later on depending how the knee feels after this mornings ride.

Oh, and its pouring down with rain too, which of course I absolutely LOVE !!! Bring on the autumn and winter with its rain and howling gales – the perfect training weather for me.

Making the Calculations …

As a fanatical cycling fan, then one of the most recognisable characters in the sport is Sean Kelly the ex-Irish rider and all round cycling god …. he now commentates on Eurosport and has a few stock phrases which crop up in every race.

One of those phrases is (said in a broad Waterford accent) is that the riders are “making the calculaaaaayshuns” … working out the gaps and when they need to make the efforts to strike for home.

The reason I mention this is that last night on my comeback run, I too had to make the calculations and last night I made them sensibly. I was happy to get back running, it was a good night for it, nice and sunny and I was feeling great from the off – no signs of any niggles, aches or pains and the breathing was good.

I deliberately picked a 4km loop route which was half on road and half off road .. a good challenge but nothing too stupid for the first run back.

data running

The stats above summarise the run, and I am delighted with them as they are exactly what I would have hoped for … they clearly show progression from the start of my plan back in August when I was struggling to run sub 6.00/km comfortably.

But at the 3km mark I had to make the calculation …. there was a fork in the pathway where I could have branched off and done a further loop – it would have taken me to around 5-6km for the total run and I was really really tempted to push it. Then the “sensible” head kicked in and I made the right calculation … first run back, lets finish feeling good and nice and strong.

I took the right fork and completed my loop … walked back to the front of the house and completed my short stretching regime which again is something new for me and something I need to keep going with.

A nice little start to the week !

The Next Phase …

I have to say that I am really pleased that I took the time to rest over the last weekend … the remnants of the cold were still flushing about my system and it would have been easy to be tempted to go out …. I feel so much better today and that has to come down to the rest that I took.

Now that I am feeling more like myself, I can start the next phase of the conditioning work … I have spent a month just getting back to running, building up the distances and frequencies to a state that I am happy with.

My real running training starts on the 1st December with my marathon plan although at this stage, I am starting to wonder if I should just make it little easier on myself and enter a road marathon instead, but then again, I will always have the Gin Pit on my back …. maybe I could do both ?

bright shoes

That will be something to look at and contemplate I think for now …. but onwards to the next phase which will be a month of trying to do at least 20-30 mins every day wherever possible. This next phase will also see a return to the gym now that all my bike crash injuries have sorted themselves out.

So that means 20-30 mins running every day with a longer effort at the weekend … I realise that I won’t achieve this every day, there will be days when work and life get in the way but having that to focus on will help with the weight loss that is happening now … I will also factor in the opportunity to replace a run with a bike ride every week if I am feeling it …. it will also help to keep the variety there.

Tonight will see a very gentle return to my running and that will kick off this next phase very nicely.

Slightly Run Down …

Well it seems that my week away in the sunshine, relaxing and partying has left me feeling a bit run down and open to attack. We got back from our trip and within a day or two I started to feel congested and had a sore throat. Over the next couple of days, this has developed into a head cold which has now left me a little wheezy too … typical signs of burning the candle at both ends I think.

I have needed quite a few of these over the last 48hrs to be able to function and carry on:


At this stage I would have to say that running the Wigan 10km on Sunday isn’t going to happen – I won’t be in any state to do so and to try would just be silly really – it would have been nice to do it, but in the longer term plan it really isn’t that important.

Hopefully a few more early nights, hot baths and good food will help me recover and then I can start to run again.

But for now, I will keep up the meds ….

Tackling the Demons …

On my last post I mentioned the mental training that needs to be looked at when you are doing the physical work and this for me is sometimes a bigger challenge than the actual running Рif you are not mentally ready, then you  are pretty much doomed to failure. So, as part of my training I will be looking to tackle those mental demons head on and take control back.

My biggest demon is running in the sunshine, I can’t even say heat because it isn’t that hot, but sunshine and warm weather absolutely destroy me … so how do you go about getting round that – well for me the first thing to do was to get out there and get on the start line:

Running Man

But rather than just plough on aimlessly, I needed a plan. Today was a warm and humid day with the sun poking its head out to say hello – it’s the perfect morning to sit on the decking with a nice cup of coffee and watch the world go by, it’s not a morning to be out running. I suppose most runners would think its the perfect day to be out running, but I have always been a rain, wind and cold weather man … always love to go out in those conditions, that is where I feel my strongest. But that has to change and today was the first small step to making those changes.

The plan was – to knock back the pace and not really worry about it, and to run a route of 12km with a good chunk off road and uphill … keep the HR under total control and get the distance in my legs and to start to “feel” how to run in the warm weather.

I pretty much nailed the session, but it still felt uncomfortable, but this time not in an energy sapping way … just hot and sweaty and I was happy to get it over – it never is enjoyable for me to run in the sun, but its a demon that needs to be taken down and I feel much better about it now, I feel more capable of going that bit further in the warm now … I feel like I might able to control my body a little bit more now.

Overall the pace was around 6.24/km which is still more than acceptable for me at this point in time over that distance and with 151m of climbing too it was a good session.