The road to becoming a coach

This last year has been plagued with injury for my, but due to my lack of consistent training I have spent more time on other things such as cross training and stretching. The biggest development in my running career however is becoming a licensed Coach in Running Fitness (CIRF).

I have been a Run Leader in Running Fitness (LIRF) for a couple of years and have really loved coaching. To be honest the LIRF is a brilliant course, but being only a one day course, there is only so much they can teach you.

Therefore last summer I decided to bite the bullet and enrol on the CIRF course. The course consists of 4 days with English Athletic Coaches and in-between you hone your skills and have a coach mentor checking your training plans etc and guiding you as you go along.

The course is split into a weekend of instruction (2 days), then you go away and do your homework, find a coach mentor to help you and get an athlete to be your training guinea pig. You return again 6 weeks later for another days learning and to go through how you got on with your athlete and coach mentor, go away to the prepare a training session and a training program for your athlete. You then return 8 weeks later again for your assessment day. Here is how it went

Days 1 & 2

The first 2 days are over one weekend so last September I headed of to Exeter to start my journey down the road of becoming a CIRF. On my way I was thinking what if I am surrounded by young profession fitness instructor types and I this middle aged, injured mediocre runner arrives, looking a bit out of place. Anyhow no need to worry, there was 8 of us on the course and I was not the oldest, and definitely not the youngest, but there was a really good mix of people.

We met our coaches, other prospective CIRF’s and started straight off with a bonding get to know each other session. To be honestly I normally hate these type of things but I found this OK. After a bit of a chat we discussed the different development stages of a runner, there are 5 stages and we all rated ourselves as level 3 event group level runners, well I have run loads of races so I was definitely above level 1, fundamentals and level 2, foundation. Of we went to the hall to have a quick warm up session and to put what we have talked about into practise. On the warm up we had to do some coordination drills and balance. To say I was bad is an understatement. It came to a point where Peg stopped our high knee exercise and came over to me and asked if she could use me as an example. Yes I agreed. We were doing high knees and then stopping and balancing on one leg when told. Well that was the idea but I was hopping around on one leg like Long John Silver. So after hopping around she came up to me and whispered for me to look up this time and keep upright. This time on being told to stop on one leg there was a little wobble and then I was there like a statue, well a wobbly statue but no longer Long John Silver. Wow a simple easy instruction made such a difference, Peg is my new running hero. Anyhow at the end of the session we had all demoted our running ability from Level 3 Event runner to high level 1 / base line level 2 type of runner. The rest of the weekend was a mix of theory and practical sessions and at the end of day 2 to be honest my brain was fried. I left thinking I have learnt so much, but still needed to learn so much more.

Over the next 6 weeks I put into practise what I had learnt, emailing Tracey my mentor my proposed training plans, my wife became my guinea pig as did quite a few members of my running club when I was trying out drills etc on them and seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Day 3.

I was really looking forward to going back, seeing my fellow CIRF’s to see how we were getting on and swapping ideas. We had really bonded as a group and this made such a difference. Again this was a day of theory and practical sessions, we went back over some of the previous things and went into assessing peoples running styles and where improvement can be made as well as more on training schedules and nutrition. At the end of this day again I was slightly frazzled and now as we were finishing we were being briefed on what was required for our next visit, yes our final day and the assessment day. Hopefully we will all pass on the day but if you fail on any aspect you have up to a year from your initial day to get a pass in any aspect that you fail. Peg was saying “everyone likes the assessment day the most and say, they get the most out of it” yeah right I thought, you are not going to say this will be really stressful and gruelling.  But hang on Peg is my new running hero so she wouldn’t fib, would she????????

Day 4 Assessment Day

I arrived with my session plan, mesocycle (8 week training plan for my athlete) microcycle’s (detailed weekly plans) and the actual results if there was an improvement in my athlete. We had achieved what we set out to do well nearly. I was prepared, I was raring to go, I had this. As I entered the school instead of turning right and going up the corridor to the classroom that had been our base for the last 3 days we were sent straight to the hall. On entering the hall there was a new English Athletic coach who said hi and then said that he had flown from Ireland to be here today to assess us. Mmmmm not really what I expected and my confidence was now hopping around like Long John Silver in my head. Then I saw Peg and I relaxed a bit.

After being split up into 2 groups I was so relieved that our group was going to be assessed by Peg.  In the morning we all took turns either taking the session or being a participant for the other prospective CIRF’s. At one time as I was running as part of one of the other CIRFS session. As I ran past I heard Peg say look at Gary. Memories of  day one came back when my balance was very shaky. Self doubt arose and I thought what am I doing wrong. My running style had been commented on numerous times during the last 3 days of training, and I welcomed the advice, however today on assessment day I suddenly lost my bravado. We all stopped and gathered in around the coaches.  I was then asked to run the drill again on my own whilst everyone else assessed. As I set off I thought what am I doing wrong, oh well its all part of learning. After completing 2 laps of the drill I was summoned in. I joked to be gentle with me as I am a sensitive soul, to which one of my fellow students just laughed and said yeah right teachers pet. Apparently my upright posture was spot on. Yes another amazing moment, instead of being the one struggling with coordination or balance, now I was an shining example. (I have been practising my posture as this is what my training session was based on and I think I have really improved and this really boosted my confidence)

At lunch we had  a one on one with our assessor and they said what they still needed to see from us during the afternoon so that we could pass. The rest of the day was either running the training sessions, being the athlete or going through what you have assessed and your trying programs. At the end of the day we all passed and are now licensed running coaches.

To sum it up it is a great course and you learn so much. It has improved my running and understanding so much and I feel so much more confidant as a coach now. I am still learning and don’t get me wrong, this course will not make you a coach over night but it gives you the basics from which you can build your coaching knowledge. You learn so much from the others on the course as well as the instructors. My coach mentor Tracey was great and gave me some amazing ideas for training sessions that I now use regularly.

And to top it off my coaching hero, Peg, was right as always, the assessment day was by far the most enjoyable and informative day of the whole course.

Thanks to Peg, the rest of the EA coaching team, Tracey my mentor, Donna my athlete, RMPAC for putting me on the course and all the RMAPC coaches and runners who gave me feed back on some of my running drill sessions.

If you are thinking about doing it, then enrol, if you want more info or live in Dorset and want a coach mentor then don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy running.






Plantar Fasciitis please do one.


This is what walking with plantar feels like.

Hi everyone thought its time to share my experiences with plantar fasciitis. I have been suffering to the extent where it is effecting my ability to run since last October. I have however been suffering with the early stages of it for a lot longer. I believe it is following on from when I went over on my ankle on Christmas Eve 2016 and my ankle was a bit of a mess. Instead of resting for 6 weeks I left it just over 1 week and then carried on training with it strapped up as I had a marathon to train for. Yes I was a muppet and I have learnt the hard way. Anyhow here we are some 16 months later and I still am not injury free and to be honest it is all my own fault, well some sympathy would be nice.


I am no longer a youngster, who’s body, repairs very quickly, I am only 2 years from being a half a century old for god sake, but I do only feel like a teenager mentally so it is a bit of a battle.

Anyhow I believe that I am well on the road to recovery and thought I would share my experiences with you, as Plantar can be a right buggar to shake off.

It started with me with a dull pain in my heels when I started running and then progressed to being painful when I first got out of bed in the morning. I noticed that I had very little flexibility in my left ankle (the one I went over on) but instead of thinking I need to sort this I ploughed on with coaching, running and the likes. Added to this I was running in trainers that had covered more than 500 miles it was a recipe for disaster and disaster did strike.

The struggling to walk first thing in the morning moved on to struggling to walk full stop. I was coaching a C25K group at the time and I had to ride a bike around as it got so bad I couldn’t even run walk with the group.

I have had massage, mfr, suction cup, scraping on the soles of my feet, shoe inserts and they have all helped a bit.

I was on the assessment day of my CIRF (that is another great blog that I intend to get round to writing soon), when I was struggling with the plantar and one of the very experienced coaches was talking to me about my issue and she said to me that flexibility and stretching were in her opinion what would help and the lack of stretching in the past may be what has made this problem as bad.

Here we go with the treatment I have received and my thoughts.

Rest and anti inflammatory. Pain went quickly and after 2 weeks went for a short trial run. Worst plantar pain ever after running for about 10 minutes and the next day was the worst that I could remember when getting out of bed. I have been told this was due to scar tissue forming and in theory it makes sense.

Rolling a frozen bottle of water under the foot, great immediate relief when struggling to even walk on the foot.

Rolling a golf ball, spiky massage ball gives the same result as the frozen bottle of water.

MFR, still not sure about this, I have had some great results and some not so great, and in regards to my ankle and foot didn’t really feel the benefit this time.

Sports massage to try and free up the ankle, this eased my discomfort and helped with the motion in my ankle.

Suction cup therapy on my foot, my sports therapist had never carried it out on the foot but had heard that it can give good results. Basically one small cup was placed on my foot and then the vacuum formed. It was then slowly moved around my foot. I have never felt pain like it, biting the pillow was the only way to get through it and after 10 minutes of torture it was over. The instant relief and ease in my foot was unbelievable. As I left I though at long last I am making progress. I was so impressed with the results the next day I ordered a suction kit and carried on with the treatment myself.

Scraping the foot. This is like the reverse of suction cupping where you scrape across the foot with an blunt implement. Painful to start of with but relieves the tight feeling and some of the discomfort.

Stretching including with the use of resistance bands. No real effect in the early stages but a huge difference now that I think I am on top of this plantar.

Calf/Ankle strengthening exercises like stretching, painful to start of with but definitely making a difference now.

Reducing my running and cross training instead, a great improvement, Lately I have only run short runs and no more that a total of 10 miles a week all at a very easy pace. I have started cycling, HIIT work outs, Paddle boarding and just stretching and basic yoga and it appears to be helping not only with my plantar but all the other niggles that I have been ignoring for ages,

So here is my theory and it is only my theory but it appears to work for me.

Trainers, make sure you replace them regularly and don’t be a tight git like me and try and get 700 miles out of a pair.

As soon as you start to feel any heel pain act then, don’t delay. Stretch your calfs and hamstrings as well as all over. A good one is to clean your teeth with one foot against the wall with your toes pointing up and the other leg behind stretching your calf.

Stretch often not just after a run and get a roller. I have the back baller (other rollers are available) and do the 20 minute session on there at least twice a week in addition to other stretching exercises. This over the last few months this has made a huge difference and after rolling and stretching I can now touch my toes, 6 months ago I struggled to reach my shins.

Also I think the suction cup and the scraping really assist with breaking up the lumpy bits in my plantar. When I started using the suction cups and scraping it felt like my plantar was serrated under the skin and really rough. Now over a period of about 3 months my plantar is a lot smoother and I have one lump that I am now working on which has nearly disappeared.

I can now run short distances with no discomfort and walking very rarely hurts. When I do get a pain I stretch and after a few minutes normally this sorts out the discomfort. All the other things have helped me to get to this point but it is the stretching that elevates any pain that I now get without fail. To be honest I never used to stretch and I believe that that is a major contributor to my plantar.

I think through not being able to run 5 times a week, like I have for the last few years and having to cross train has actually benefitted me. So although plantar had been a right pain it has also taught me to look after my body, as we get older we are no longer bullet proof.

Flexibility is really important to good running and staying injury free and stretching along with good running drills are vital for this.

There you have it, stretching is in my opinion the main ingredient to long term running health. It may not appear to give instant results but over time it could and should be your best defence against injury.


One of my favourite stretches and really does help the dreaded plantar.

Happy running everyone.




Its been a year since my last blog

Just logged on and realised it has been a year since my last blog.

What a year it has been. My last blog was about my high blood pressure, injured ankle and how me getting to the start line for the Brighton Marathon was in the balance.

Well to sum it up, I am on blood pressure tablets, ankle still not in a good place and I never made it to the start line for Brighton. To be honest for a while I was angry at my injury and lost a bit of my running mo jo.

Oh no you say this is going to be a depressing blog, worthy of having the title of “Moaning runner”. However no it is not, Ok I didn’t make Brighton, ankle blew up after my 21 mile long run (last one and all) but in the end, common sense prevailed and I decided to pull out. The ankle is still playing up now to a degree and the whole of 2017 and now the start of 2018 has been shit in regards to training.

However I have learnt so much from this and also gone on to do amazing things, well in my mind amazing things. I look at running slightly different now, I think I was obsessed with it, this time last year. OK my blood pressure is again being controlled by medication, so what, if all I have to take is one pill a day, then really why did I let it get to me so much. There are a lot worse things that could be happening.

My training has dropped off and I am no where near as fit, as 18 months ago. This does pee me off a bit. I used to love running around the coastal path either on my own or on a Saturday with Matt and a few others from the club. Haven’t really done it due to my ankle. But I will soon.

However due to injury I have thrown myself into coaching a bit more. I went back to running school and am now a licensed coach in running fitness and yes I have the badge to prove it. I learnt so much from this course and met some great like minded people whilst completing the course.

We have held a few more C25K courses and again this has been such an amazing experience. Honestly if you can ever help out at or participate in a C25K course run via Run Together or your local running club just do it. If sharing this experience with new runners doesn’t bring a smile to your face then please take my blogging name of Moaning Runner as you are obviously more of a miserable git than me.

I have also been a pacer at my local Park Run, my pacing didn’t go quite to plan, but 2 PB’s is a success, this is a story for another blog to follow soon.

So there you have it, I am back in blog word, a bit heavier, not as fit, but more positive and hopefully a bit more consistent with my posts.

Until the next one happy running.



Twisted ankle, hypertension, the marathon is in the balance.

This post has sat in my draft box for weeks. A quick update is that I have deferred the marathon but have decided to post this still .
The old post from a few weeks ago.
Well I am still struggling with the ankle a bit. Its ok as long as I don’t pick up the pace, turn sharply, run down steep hills, run up hill or run on really uneven ground. Apart from that everything is fantastic.

Well sort of fantastic, to add to my poor old ankle my old enemy, hypertension has returned to join in the fun on this rollercoaster ride of training for the Brighton Marathon. Yes I have high bloody blood pressure again. For those of you who have read my early blogs will have read that I really started running in earnest to beat my dependancy on Ramipril and to get fit, loose weight and stop having to take a pill every day. Well that was a success story, well for a few years until now.

I had a check up last week and the nurse took my blood pressure, I suffer from white coat syndrome and sat there like a naughty school boy, out side the headmasters office waiting for the cane, feeling sweaty and nervous. As she wrapped the dreaded blood pressure sleeve thing around my arm I was not feeling that calm and collected. As she started to pump the thing up, I tried to say something funny but it didn’t calm me and the nurse actually said please be quiet as she looked sternly at the gauge. MMMMMMmmmmmmmm was the next thing she said, we will take another reading in a minute, just sit there and relax. Oh yeah thats easy to say to a bloke with white coat syndrome, a sore ankle and a marathon to train for. Reading number 2 was taken, at one point I thought she may need to get a foot pump to get enough pressure in the arm cuff to overcome the pressure running through my veins. Then it was over, the relief of air from the cuff, followed by the exhale from the nurse. Your reading was quite high was her reply, 166 over 95 I think was the reading, not really too sure as I sat there deflated just like the blood pressure arm cuff laying on the table. I was advised to monitor at home for 2 weeks and then return with the results, however if I get a few more readings of 160 plus over 90 plus to come back quicker.

Well after home monitoring for a week my blood pressure was not great. Not excessively high but I had a few high readings mixed in with a few just acceptable readings. After licking my wounds for a few days I realised that yes my blood pressure was high, get over it, I eat healthily, well not too bad, don’t smoke, well not for the last 4 years and exercise regularly, well when my ankle wants to play. So off I went back to the doctors with my spreadsheet of readings ready to surrender to going back on the pill. Well not the pill as I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, but you know what I mean.

My results were inspected, I explained that I have not really trained for 2 weeks due to my ankle,

whereas normally I train 5 times a week, raised my concerns about the medication effecting my marathon training and running ability and sat waiting for the dreaded prescription to be handed out.

To my surprise there was to be no prescription at the moment, my readings were explained and that 50% of the readings were only just in the high zone but with my low heart rate and looking at the whole picture it was nothing really to be concerned about now. With only 8 weeks to go till Brighton, I was advised keep the training up, measure my blood pressure daily and as long as it doesn’t go any higher and my heart rate at rest is low then carry on. What I said no need for medication? “I will prescribe a really low dose if you insist but I think your readings are nothing to worry about at the moment taking into consideration the heathy lifestyle and amount of exercise that you do, but keep monitoring it and come and see me again after your marathon. Good luck with the training and see you in April” was his reply.

So the next day I strapped up my ankle and went for a long run, 17 miles to be exact and all went well. When I say well, my ankle held up with the strapping, my heart held up and my legs just about held up. Since Fridays visit to the quacks I have measured the old blood pressure and all readings have been OK just, but lower than before. After my long run yesterday I decided to see what the reading was some 2 hours after finishing the run and I actually thought that the machine had broke as instead of the little pump labouring for a minute to inflate the cuff the reading was taken in 30 seconds. Yes my reading was good at 119 over 75.

So at the moments its two fingers up to high blood pressure, although I think as this body gets a bit older and worn out the prescription will be needed, I am training for the Brighton Marathon with a new zest, and as long as the ankle holds up then I should make that starting line.


Oooppps a slight blip in the marathon training

Well as I write this blog I am sat with my left leg raised, ice on ankle feeling a bit sorry for myself. Yes exactly the same as Xmas eve, went over on it and game over. Yesterday I was participating in an off road Half marathon around Portland. Not even 3 miles in and it was all over. To make it worse I had started really well and where I pulled up lame I was a mile from the nearest pick up point unless I wanted to try and get back up the goat path against the flow of runners. Feeling p$%#ed off I chose to hobble on along the flat old railway line with my thoughts that the marathon training was over. However my self pity lifted as virtually every runner passing me asking if I was ok and do I need any help. No word of a lie I must have been asked at least 50 times if people could help, offers of support bandages, being told to stay where I was and they would come back with help for me. In the end it almost got too much but I hobbled on to get to a road where I could be picked up. One of the runners said only “That looks like game over, at least you will be in the pub before me” which made me chuckle. The railway line was longer that I thought and as I assured the marshal that I would be fine as I left the route to walk up to the road to be picked up I realised how cold I felt. Luckily I was carrying a foil blanket.

Anyhow my wife picked me up on the side of the road, wrapped in a foil blanket feeling sad. She dropped of at the St Johns Event Ambulance and thankfully after an examination they didn’t think there was anything serious , just soft tissue and ligament damage. As I was in the Ambulance they had a call for a suspected broken leg so I thanked them and made a swift exit so the could go off and treat this unfortunate person.

So there you go hopefully this will only set me back for a week or so and the marathon will still be a go, as up to now training has been going great.

On a really positive note! since my last blog, we have started a C25K course and this is  a great experience. We hade 25 joined up and a couple have dropped out but the camaraderie between the others after only 3 weeks is amazing. I am one of the coaches for my running club and absolutely love it and doing this course with absolute beginners is great and the rate of improvement with them is outstanding. I may or may not make the marathon but one thing for sure is I will complete the C25K with this amazing bunch of people.

Perhaps with my glass left ankle this will be my last Marathon but hopefully my coaching will continue and sharing my running nerdness will continue for years to come.

Happy running

1st race of the year, serious business.

Today saw me partake in my 1st race of 2017. It was a midday start so a bit more time to get prepared and get all my kit available. Todays distance was 15K ish, a 3 lap affair with other runners doing 5K and 10K. There was a big field estimated over 800 and this was to be a tough off road course.

I set my gear out early,

  • Salomon trail shoes
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep the mud out of my  shoes
  • Ankle support as left ankle still not 100%
  • Running Tights
  • Club Vest with number attached
  • Buff
  • Day glow pink ankle warmers
  • Matching day glow pink top
  • Tu tu
  • Garmin (other brand timing devices are available).
  • Dry robe

Yes I was ready, so off we set for the 35 minute drive to the venue. As we reached the race we were greeted by marshals holding guns and massive hands all dancing about and telling us where to park. As I said this was a very serious race.


On parking up a considerable distance from the start I decided to get ready now and then walk to the starting area (we were there 90 minutes before the start). This is where unbelievably I realised that I had left my day glow pink top at home. How I do not know as it is that bright it hurts your eyes. Anyhow I got everything else on and substituted my pink top for a boring black one and we went to the start area. The time went quickly, I socialised with the other 13 RMPAC runners there running this event.

Then it was the safety brief and this was the normal light hearted, funny brief, warning us about not straying into minefields, don’t pick up shiny metal objects etc. Then we had the quality warm up with  Mel and Kim of Dorset Carpool Karaoke fame. Then onto the start. On came “Jump around” on the tannoy so the warm up continued with 100’s of runners all jumping around, an amazing experience.

Then we were off, for the 3 laps in my case. The race is over Bovington tank ranges so its hilly, muddy, wet, very wet in the means of deep puddles thigh deep in places, scramble net and most of all a great atmosphere and fun. Yes I was running “The Dirty Stampede” a Bustinskins event. It was great, great marshals, great course, great competitors, well all apart for the one who told me to “F&*k off” as I gave a bit of encouragement to him as we were nearly at the end. Mind you a panting bloke, with snot on his face wearing a tutu and day glow pink leg warmers giving you encouragement is not to everyones taste. I did however save Nemo, well I picked an inflatable Nemo up out of one of the larger puddles, ran 1 mileish to the knife edge hill, got to the top of the hill with him and then launched him back down the hill again. Running over terrain like this, going under scramble nets, not being able to use your arms properly was not my best idea, but it was fun until I realised how chin strapped I was carrying my inflatable friend.

I am not going to go into any more detail, it a great race, look it up on Google and Facebook, there are load of photos being uploaded so you will get the picture.

Would I return next year, most definitely, however I am thinking 10K, a large group of us all in fancy dress having a blast. See you next year Dirty Stampede.

Happy running.

Caveman feet



At last I have virtually beaten off the man flu, my ankle is nearly back to normal and my training can recommence.

The last 2 weeks haven’t been great with my long run, last Sunday, being my worst long run in ages, but I completed it and its another one in the bag. I ran for 1 hour 45 off road to see how the ankle was and if I should pull out of the Dirty Stampede race that i am competing in the following week. At the end of the run ankle preformed pretty well, just the rest of me was pants. It felt like I had no energy after about 5 miles so I am blaming the  man flu and the fact that I am now trying to loose the extra weight that I gained at Christmas.

Went out yesterday for a bit of threshold and as it was so bloody cold and windy I was grateful to do hills down Underhill to keep warm and shelter from the wind a bit. My long run this week is being delayed till Monday as tomorrow (Sunday) I am running around Bovington Tank Ranges for the Bustinskins Dirty Stampede.


Look it up it is a great day if you are anywhere near Dorset and one to put in the diary for next year. As long as I survive this and don’t catch pneumonia my training will continue to ramp up.



One thing I have had to do though is admit that I have too fat feet to wear my Solomon speed cross 3. They are a great shoe and the grip in mud is great. However I wore these at an off road half just before Christmas and my feet were very sore to say the least at the end. I then bought some fancy insoles for them but I now think this contributed to me going over on my ankle on Christmas Eve. Therefore I am now looking for a new pair of trail shoes suitable for the wider caveman foot (sorry Mr’s H, yes another pair of trainers will be coming soon) as I have the Grizzly coming up. The moral of this story is if the trainers don’t feel right after a few runs they’re probably not. I think I knew from the second I tried them on that they were too tight (and I bought them a size larger than my normal shoe). But as they were shiny and I was impatient I went out in them. The grip is amazing, the shoe is amazing but it is on the marrow side for me and after 8 – 10 miles I start to really feel it. You can’t beat going to a running shop and trying them on. They may be a bit cheaper online but if you don’t know that they will fit, they may end up an expensive pair of running shoes as I have now had to admit.

Until the next time happy running.