Another trip to Malta for the Vodafone Half Marathon, with a holiday thrown in for good measure…..shame not to! After missing out last year on my sub 1.30 goal by a minute, my plan was to aim for this again when originally entering.
Heel pain which started in September 2016 had progressed to me having to stop running completely for the remainder of the year and into 2017, due to the unwelcome guest of Plantar Fasciitis deciding to visit my right foot, with no intention of leaving. Podiatrist appointments, stretching, rolling, massaging and taping had left me with a brief glimmer of hope at the beginning of February that I may just get enough runs in to complete the half safely; sub 1.30 was definitely out of the question. I managed a few mid-week 3-4 milers, and built up to 7 miles a week before the run, but felt confident some winter bike and swim training would give me enough cardio fitness to get round, the unknown being whether the foot would hold out.
Karen and i arrive on the Friday evening, unfortunately without our companions Pat and Sandra. We decide to register for the half that evening, and arrive at the Meridian Hotel in St.Julians Bay to find a que about a mile long, even though it was 8.00pm! The Malta Marathon, Half Marathon and Walkathon combined have over 4000 entrants, with the UK making up the largest foreign entry of 700.
Saturday is spent chilling out around St.Julians, and the evening involving the normal race and kit prep, massaging my foot and K-Taping it.
After a good breakfast Sunday morning, Karen and i leave to catch the bus up to Medina for the start. There are runners from all nationalities which is amazing to be around. After numerous pee breaks, we are called over for the start. A quick goodbye to Karen who is doing the walkathon, and I try to get into the mass of runners. I feel nervous regarding my foot, but have little time to dwell as the race starts 5 minutes early! I have a loose plan to stick to 8 minute miles as I head out over the start line.
It’s difficult to get going at first due to the volume of runners, but I manage to settle in after a few minutes, and a nice downhill gets me to 7.55, I feel comfortable here, so decide to try and hold this pace and see what happens. It’s warm in the clear sunshine and light wind, there are 32 bands playing for 32 years of the event on the route, a right variety of music, but makes for a great atmosphere with the spectators.
5 miles in and things are going okay, I can feel the heel but nothing out of the ordinary, and I’m picking my way through the runners nicely. 9 miles in and my left Achilles has become really tight, the opposite foot has now decided to join in which may be compensating in some way, I try to put it out of my head and plough on.
Finally down to Silema seafront at 11 miles, everything is aching now due to the lack of running conditioning, it’s a flat run in to the finish, but those 2 miles seem like 5! I’m still at 7.55’s and I put my head down to try and pick up pace in the last mile but there’s no acceleration. The finish line is in sight and I push to get over in 1.43.55. Massively happy with the time, with a big slice of relief to finish as I collect a beauty of a medal.
I sit with my banana and drink and wait for Karen to finish the walkathon. I seriously have complete respect for anyone who does walking events; walking wrecks me way more than running!
Malta Half is a brilliant well organised event, coupled with a stunning island to visit. It was nice to be back running after such a long layoff, the Plantar Fasciitis is still an ongoing problem, hopefully further treatment and investigations will see the back of it in the next couple of months.
Roll up, Roll up for the fitness Myth-tery tour!!! Gyms and Fitness studios nationwide all have particular know all gym goers, who cannot help but poke their nose into your training, and off load their poor advice. Here are 5 of my top fitness myths that still widely circulate today, and the truth behind them.
1. “Do sit ups every day if you want a six pack”.
Fact. Ab-solute nonsense! Sit ups or crunches are a small part of the equation. You will never see your abdominal muscles unless you get rid of the layer of fat over them first. A routine of resistance training of all the major muscle groups and cardio exercise will go a long way to reducing body fat %, along with a balanced diet of lean protein, complex and fibrous carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The saying “Abs are made in the kitchen” is never truer! The abdominals are also a muscle group, so need rest to recover and grow.
2. “The more you sweat, the more fat you’re losing”
Fact. Sweat is your body’s way of getting rid of heat, which increases with exercise, and is your internal cooling system. An individual is born with millions of sweat glands, which is why you may see someone drenched in sweat just looking at the treadmill! Sweat is not a reliable indicator to workout intensity. Weight and fat loss will boil down to a sensible calorie reduction below your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR), consistent exercise, and a healthy diet.
3. “Women should avoid lifting weights, as it will give them big, bulky muscles”
Fact. Women are still fearful of picking up a pair of dumbells with the notion they will look like a bodybuilder. Lean muscle utilises calories just to maintain it, and is vital to change body composition, and reduce fat percentage, as muscle takes up a lot less space than fat. The only way to do this is to perform some form of resistance exercise, with your own bodyweight, bands, or weights, to achieve the toned look! Cardio alone will not achieve this, so ditch the endless hours on the treadmill, and get lifting!
4. “Eating after 6pm will make you fat”
Fact. Eating excess calories throughout the whole day will be responsible for weight and fat percentage gain. The evening is a time when people generally relax more; watch TV, with greater temptation to eat snacks such as crisps and biscuits following a meal. Planning healthy meals and snacks for the day, along with regular exercise will always be vital in weight management.
5. “You can target areas for fat loss, just train that body part more than the others”
Sorry!!! The eternal wish of many, but you cannot spot reduce fat from certain areas! Any fat burned through exercise will be utilised from stores all over the body. The most effective way to lose fat percentage is to adopt a regular exercise regime of resistance training with a whole body approach, along with cardiovascular training which progress in workload and intensity.
So there’s my top 5! What myths and old wives tales of the gym have you come across?
Please send them in!