The Iberian Odyssey

From miltonic malaise to Madrid marathon in thirty weeks.

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10/10/2012 at 23:32

  Hello, I’m Perezoso and I’m going to run the Madrid marathon in April, 2013.  I’m thirty-six years old, overweight, have a slightly gammy left knee, am painfully prone to procrastination, and my wife (quite justifiably) thinks I should clean the toilet more often.  In short, I am a bloke.  A rather stubborn bloke, to be sure, and that stubbornness is currently focussed on dragging myself through a thirty week – zero to hero – training program in preparation for the Madrid marathon, 2013.  Why Madrid?  Because it’s where I live (more or less).  Why a marathon?  Because I have spent far too many years sitting on my ever-expanding arse and I want to prove to myself that I can do something difficult.  Why this forum thread?  Because I hope that by sharing my journey I may find some support and encouragement, and maybe even encourage a few others in turn.

  As I write this I am already a week and a half into my training program.  I ran 5k this evening and that makes me happy – happy that I’m doing it, happy that I can, and happy that my left knee isn’t hurting too much; oh, and happy that I stopped sweating within an hour of finishing this time(!).  I live in a little town north of Madrid – up in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama – and tonight I was treated to the most beautiful electrical storm dancing over the peaks as I ran along the edge of town.  Even the local lads up by the library, crowded around their car smoking a “special cigarette”, stopped to appreciate the view.  On down past the sports centre I ran, off the road and onto the dirt track that leads down to the industrial estate.  Note to self: don’t run here again at night – the storm was mesmerizing, Madrid was gleaming away to my left, the air was fresh and ozoneous, but! I couldn’t see jack and the darkling solitude, quite frankly, gave me the willies.  Tomorrow it’s a 3k, and then 6k on Sunday.  Tick, tick, tick – one foot in front of the other, and twenty-eight and a half weeks from now the whole shebang – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid marathon – death or glory – and maybe a free t-shirt.

  I hope you’ll join me on this Iberian Odyssey.  I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from this forum, and now I’d like to give something back.



11/10/2012 at 09:01

Brilliant. I cant wait to hear more.

11/10/2012 at 09:28

brilliant, well done!

11/10/2012 at 10:21

nice opening post!!  Good luck   

11/10/2012 at 17:37
Perezoso- Madrid was my first marathon last year. I loved it. Good luck with it!
12/10/2012 at 19:58

  Thank you all for your kind replies. But …

  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!  Disaster has struck!  Ok, ok, calm down.  Not a real disaster, just a kind of personal mental one.  I mentioned in my first post that I have a gammy knee.  Well, the thing is, I think I have IT band syndrome.  Back in 2006, largely for a drunken bet, I participated in the London Triathlon – I completed it as well, in a ground-breaking time of three hours and two minutes(!).  I am no athlete, you understand.  I trained in a half-arsed fashion for five weeks and got round the course on energy drinks and self-delusion.  My little adventure also precipitated a nasty bout of Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) – that horrible knife-in-the-side-of-the-knee-sensation that so many runners have experienced at some time or another.  I recovered, got on with my life, and totally forgot about said syndrome.

  Cut to: six years later.  I hadn’t run again at all until June this year; and not at all seriously until last week when I started the marathon training.  My life is largely sedentary and I tip the scales at something over fifteen stone.  I’ve taken on this challenge – running a marathon next April – to claw back some self-esteem, lose some weight, be a bit healthier, and all that goddam jazz; and what happens?  My knee packs up on me before I even get to the end of week two – ITBS rears its ice-pick head.  In the grander scheme of things, who gives a proverbial?  But, unfortunately, I am momentarily devastated.  I feel old, fat, useless, and disappointed in a treacherous body that won’t do what it’s told.

  Please forgive me my complaining.  I will forthwith shut my trap and man up.  I think I am so frustrated largely because of the plethora of conflicting information about ITBS that one can find with a simple Google search.  I desperately hope that my odyssey has not ended before it has even begun, but, I suppose, time will tell.  Any experiences you may have had with curing ITBS will be gratefully received.

  Yours, with a tight lipped smile and an even tighter drawn knee,


12/10/2012 at 20:13

what a pain. I don't know anything about ITBS though, so can't really help. Stretching and strengthening? Keep up some form of exercise even if it isn't running and try to lose some of the weight by diet (hard with all that lovely spanish food)

12/10/2012 at 23:37
Try asking in the health and injury forum they might be able to help more on exercises to help you out.

It sounds horrible, I've got my fingers crossed that you will get over it.
12/10/2012 at 23:48

  Thanks both of you for the advice. There is indeed a lot of stuff on the subject over on the Health + Injury forum. I was rather shocked at my body's lack of cooperation in the marathon odyssey when I wrote the post above. I'm a little more optimistic now - a good bit of rest, etc. and all will hopefully be well.

13/10/2012 at 16:56

Oh Perezoso! Like MC I know nothing about it but I do hope it's only a temporary setback.

23/10/2012 at 21:02

  Hello everyone,

  So, what with resting my ITBS afflicted left knee, I hadn't run for over a week before this evening - fantastic start to a training plan, don't you think(!). I just completed a gentle 3km, but, unfortunately, the knee is playing up again and I had to walk for almost all the second half. It's curious, the pain flares up quickly - announcing its presence like a charging lance - but then, after a few minutes, I can run a bit more before the little knight of knee pain comes wheeling back round for another tilt. My next run should be this Friday (I'm following a My Asics plan), so let's wait and see if I'm able ...



24/10/2012 at 09:36

HI Perezoso - Just been having a read on ITBS in Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors excellent book - 'running well - run smarter, run faster, avoid injury and enjoy it more'. It has good info on what causes injuries, how to prevent them, and what to do if you get them.

For ITBS it can be caused by bow legs, over pronation or a leg length difference all of which lead to an increased load on the outside of the leg. It could also be running on cambered roads or tracks. Fatigue can lead to hip drop as the tired leg stabilisers are unable to keep the pelvis level during running.

Any of these sound likely? If you over pronate do you have suitable shoes?

Ice can help settle the inflamation or some anti-inflamatories. A tennis ball can work well as a massage tool or try a foam roller. In the book she has various exercises to help strengthen the area as well as other areas that may also down the line be causing the problem.

Might be worth seeing a physio or getting on a treadmill to have your gait checked.

Having had problems with sciatica in the past, I found that the problems were being caused by compensating in other areas. Flat feet led to knees going inwards, led to hip alignment issues led to back issues. (I was turning in to a corkscrew) Got everything straightened out and now I have not had a problem for over a year and have been able to get back to running.

26/10/2012 at 19:09

  Hi everyone,

  Just a quickie as I've got all manner of domesticity calling for my attention.

  Thanks HalfRunnerHalfBiscuit for your sage advice - much appreciated. I've rested, iced, stretched (gingerly) and generally prayed to the gods of knees - and it seems (cross fingers, cross fingers cross fingers) that all is well for the time being. I ran 3k this evening in just over nineteen minutes with not the slightest ITBS-ish twinge. Hope for the marathon odyssey is rekindled!

  Sunday's my first 5k. I'm nervously looking forward to it.



26/10/2012 at 20:14

good luck for Sunday

26/10/2012 at 20:42
Good look, hope the knee holds up
30/10/2012 at 11:54

  Hi everyone,

  Today I am a happy little Perezoso. I've managed two 5k runs with minimal knee pain. Sunday's run was horrible but ultimately successful - I went off far too fast for the first half and then struggled through my own personal wall of pain to complete the second half, which is all up hill, I might add!

  This morning's run, by comparison, was great. I felt comfortable and even a little like a proper runner.  It was bucketing down but beautifully peaceful - Spanish people don't tend to go out much when it's raining, which is fair enough given that it's usually dry as a bone here (my wife thinks I'm mad running in the rain). All these things conspired to produce my first truly satisfying training run so far.

  I have one question for those of you that know about these things. I'm doing a My Asics training plan but I find that I'm running much faster than the plan suggests - it's says I should be running at 8'31"/km for the first few weeks, but I'm doing closer to 6'50"/km. Is this horrendously bad for me or does it indicate that I should recalculate the plan?

  Cheers folks.



04/11/2012 at 12:45

  Morning all,

  I've just completed my first two weeks of proper training (the first two having been scuppered by injury) and all seems more or less well. This morning's run was a 5k and I decided - stupidly, I'm sure - to push for 30 mins. The last quarter was lung-burstingly unpleasant, but I came in at 29 minutes and thirty-five seconds - I am delighted! Now that that pointless personal barrier has been broken I can slow down and concentrate on extending the distance. I've completed six runs in total and covered a distance of 24km. My weight is still hovering somewhere over fifteen stone, but hey, the diet thing can come with time(!).

  The weather this morning was overcast and drizzly, but I actually quite like that. The fields are all a rich green, which makes a pleasant change to the yellows and browns of central Spain's 40 degree summers. Autumn is lovely here if for no other reason than it reminds me (if I squint a bit) of England. I ran a new route this morning - mostly flat and mostly straight. My wife kindly sat in the car at the start/finish waiting for me with a towel and a bottle of water. Just after the half way mark I ran past the village cemetery - usually a dreary, desolate place, with too much graffiti - and I had to smile at the riot of colour around the graves today. All Saints Day - the first of November - is a big deal here and everybody lays flowers on the graves of there lost loved-ones. It's a beautiful thing, especially on a gray day such as today. Decaying red-brick church, rainbow of flowers, ozone smell of fresh rain, and cloud-brushed mountains framing the picture. You know, I'm starting to really love this running lark.

  As I said above, the last quarter was challenging, to say the least. The little woman with the tinny voice who lives in my phone told me that I was running at just over six minutes per kilometre. Arse! I thought. Faster! I thought. The Holy Grail of sub-thirty minutes awaits. Run Perezoso! Run! And run I did. The church bells were ringing to cheer me over the finish (!), my wife was waiting with a big smile on her sultry Spanish face, and my legs were still responding to commands from my brain. All in all a pretty good morning. I really do feel like a runner now - a fat man in tights who runs, but a runner nonetheless.



Edited: 04/11/2012 at 12:58
04/11/2012 at 12:56
Fab report perezoso! I really enjoy reading these. It brings back memories of me starting out. I think I need to rediscover the joy of running
04/11/2012 at 13:14

  Thanks, by 'eck! The joy is in the world around you I think - all those little things that you just don't see/hear/smell when you're rushing through the world in car. I'm sure you'll find that joy again - I think it's right there waiting to be found.

Edited: 04/11/2012 at 13:15
04/11/2012 at 14:18

well done perezoso

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