The Sound of Drums – there’s hope on the horizon


It’s been a month since my last blog, where I put my heart on my sleeve and let you, the running public, know that I wasn’t finding things easy but that I knew I wasn’t the only person feeling that way. I am honest about it, it took me a while to press publish on it as I was worried about exposing myself. No, not in a pulling off my runderwear type way (I’m not Magic Mike, more of a Manky Marko), but worse than that, putting myself in the line of fire of the keyboard warriors. All I can say is I was genuinely gobsmacked by the reactions to it. There aren’t many of the writings that I put out there that attract thousands of readers but this one did. Scottish Athletics picked it up and a huge thanks to them for doing so, and a thanks to the numerous people, clubs, pages that also shared. Thank you to every one of you who sent me a message over all forms of media both to check I was OK, and also to tell me that it had helped them to know they weren’t alone. So yes, I’m glad I spoke out, and I’m glad I didn’t bottle things up, we have a great community out there that look out for each other, so don’t be afraid to open up. Once again a sincere thank you.

I won’t and can’t pretend it made everything alright though. I took a few days off to reset my mind and body with niggles getting too bad to carry on. I started back my training easily and decided to do the Scottish Athletics 30 minutes time trial. I could write a blog alone about this one, as I got everything wrong. Oh aye Mr Irritating returned and in style.  I genuinely did think I could get over 5 miles for this and planned out my route. There is nowhere flat here so I would have to do a hill. Do it near the start then finish off with a mile downhill. I’ll fly the last bit like a gazelle hitching a lift on a mighty eagle, the Team Baldy equivalent of a golden god. Paces all planned out. Would do it early before it got busy.

Woke up.


Easy couple of miles jog down to start.

In a vest as sun scorching.


And off I started.

Straight away I was struggling to hit the pace I wanted but no stress, I’d get there. I’d just work into the run. Got to the Bullfrog hill and got up though a little slower than expected, but it’s ok, remember the gazelle section to come. I did forget it’s about a mile slow steady climb after it and I couldn’t hit my paces at all. I was roasting. I had to stop twice to let cars across the road and when I restarted my legs were like lead and I just couldn’t up the pace. The words I exclaimed as I stopped and chucked it are not for repeating in a public blog. I’m lucky I was in Wishaw and my language was acceptable there. I had nothing. The legs were empty.


Not the wisest start to be fair…

I was slow, finished and even worse still 4 miles from my house. That was a jog of shame that seemed to take an eternity. A couple of months ago I was doing 35 minute 10ks and here I was struggling to hit a 19 minute 5k. You really do lose it quickly, that’s for sure. It was a bad day at the office, but also a harsh indicator of where I was and where I was currently going and with nothing on the horizon a decision had to be made. It would be easy to curl into a ball and just chuck it but I decided to fight with myself and try and get in reasonable shape again. Manchester marathon, which I really don’t expect to happen is 19weeks away. Let’s start the 18 week plan and at least get myself in shape again, at least give myself some structure. The week prior to it I started hitting reps again and a decent mileage. Week 1 in the bag and a 55 mile week, and a good tempo run with a 5k split in 18.36, so coming back down again. Reintroduced my pyramid rep session and although way off the pace from last year and earlier this year I enjoyed the pain. Ah the masochistic tendencies of a St Mirren supporter. I needed that to blow away some cobwebs. Had a few chats with David of Pitreavie who is absolutely flying just now and committed to trying to go sub 18 again by the end of June. Targets are good if treated in the right way, I think maybe I need them. If I keep working hard then I think I can do it. Weight stabilising again after having the working from home biscuit rubber ring and I am enjoying training again. I have been able to run with Ewen and John though obviously at different times and keeping distancing. That was soooo good!!

This is all positive.

So this week the British Masters doing their virtual 5k to replace the usual BMAF relays. It’s a good marker. Aye it’s not a race and I thrive on race atmosphere (when it isn’t crippling my nerves) so I’m not going to break any world records but let’s see how far off the 18 I am. Better route planned, again an out and back but the first and last 1.5k would be flat with 1k of a gradual climb followed by a 1 k gradual descent. The best I was going to get. It’s a home working day so would do at lunchtime, working in my loft “office” in my shorts raring for 12 o’clock to come. I was actually looking forward to it. 2 miles warm up to the start, some striding. Although warm there was no wind and I couldn’t ask for better conditions to give it a blast. 3.36 ks to trouble the 18 and I’m off, and what a difference to two weeks before. I got into my groove quickly and that groove was inside the 3.36. the first k was 3.32, the second would see me start the climb but I do that k in 3.27. Up the top of the gradual climb and I am on target but aye the legs are burning. Can I maintain? I’m through 3k with a 3.35 but the legs are burning. I’m lucky with the traffic in the couple of areas I feared. 2k to go and despite my head and legs yelling at me to chuck it, a sub 18 is actually a real achievable aim here. I can’t and won’t lie, the last 2 k hurt. I had worked out my start and finish too to be the same place but got it slightly wrong and despite hammering to where I thought the finish was there was still 60 metres or so to go. Aaaaarrrggghhh. I was knackered and the legs were really protesting. But I got there despite the usual missing the stop button scenario. The jog back home this time was one with a massive smile, though like a burst baw.

And when I uploaded it my time was 17.27.


Knackered and soaking in sweat Marko, but happy Marko

Yes I know, its 30 seconds down on my PB, I’ve run faster than that 4 times but I was really delighted. Genuinely chuffed to bits. I felt like me out there again for the first time in ages. I had set myself a wee target and had beaten it, and with 2 weeks to spare. And that’s what this one is all about for me. That’s what I need to help get me through this. To try and give myself those little targets, nothing crazy, nothing mad, but enough to keep me interested, give me a wee bit of focus and a wee bit of structure. For years I couldn’t buy a sub 18, now I can run sub 17.30 on my own. Do you know something you old baldy eejit? That’s pretty damn good for you. Maybe there are lights at the end of the tunnel, we can run with others now, parkrun is restarting in New Zealand (not sure if they need pacers though…). So that’s where I leave this one. Not on a world beating extravaganza but steps in the right direction, positives, and hope. Take care x.

Your wee song, Kula Shaker and the Sound of Drums. It makes sense to me why this one is here. A cracking wee hammond in this one. Please also find a picture of Sid James smoking a pipe on a chopper, just because.