The Iberian Odyssey

  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.





  • Brilliant. I cant wait to hear more.image

  • brilliant, well done!

  • nice opening post!!  Good luck   image

  • Perezoso- Madrid was my first marathon last year. I loved it. Good luck with it!
  •   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,


  • 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)

  • 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.
  •   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.

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

  •   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 ...



  • 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.

  •   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.



  • good luck for Sundayimage

  • Good look, hope the knee holds up
  •   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.



  •   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.



  • 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
  •   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.

  • well done perezosoimage

  •   Hello everyone,

      So here I am at week four and I'm still running. So far, so good. Last Sunday's run upped the ante somewhat by pushing the distance to 7 km. After the run I was extraordinarily pleased with myself for several reasons: the run itself took place in the Cotswolds as I was back in Blighty for the weekend; I completed the run feeling pretty comfortable; that I completed the run at all was a miracle given that the reason for my being back in the green and pleasant land was a lads weekend (oh, how I hate that term!). One of my friends is about to become a father, so a weekend of debauchery was thought to be in order. Suffice to say my friends were suitably impressed that I disappeared for a run for the best part of an hour. I'd forgotten how green England smells - especially after a good bit of rain - and I spent the entire run filling my lungs with the beautiful earthy scent in an attempt to fix the memory before returning to Spain.

      Todays's run - 7.5 km - was, on the other hand, a complete nightmare. I decided to give my knees a rest by running off-road. All well and good except for the fact that, where I live, it's impossible to run very far without encountering an almighty hill. After 1.5 km I was positively dying. My lungs were burning, my left calf was complaining bitterly and I'd trod heavily on a sharp rock in my Merrell barefoot's - ouch! I plowed on, chiding myself for being a moaning minnie, but the general feeling of approaching unconsciousness never left me. I managed the distance through sheer stubbornness, but by kilometre four I just wanted to sit down and cry. Now, I'm a big bloke and not much prone to crying, but there it is - that's how I felt. Today was bloody awful. But at least it's done and chalked up on the training schedule. Friday will be a gentle 5k, before Sunday's push up to 9 km. I hope that there won't be too many more days like today. Here's to hope!



  • well done on sticking with it when it was hardimage

  •   Thanks, mathschick! Your encouragement means a lot image

  • Runners are determined! You are a runner perezoso
  •   Hi everyone,

      And a very Merry Christmas to all! Well, well, well, it's been over a month since my last post, but here I am again. I picked up a nasty calf injury shortly after my last post - a calf injury that came almost immediately after recovering from a knee injury. Have you ever had that sensation where your body just will not do what you're asking of it? I'm only thirty-six, not old at all, but nevertheless I don't think I've ever felt more fat, old, apathetic and generally short-changed by my own flesh as I have during the last month. I'm whining quite a lot here, I realise. Keep reading - it gets better later.

      But not just yet. I took myself and my strained calf down to the local physiotherapist, where I experienced the most agonizing hour long massage/treatment I've ever had. Have you heard of dry needling? Mmm, fun stuff. It certainly helped in the days following the treatment, but by Jove it was nauseatingly weird. The massage itself left me bruised and limping, but I'm told that's OK and to be expected.

      So that was me done for the next few weeks. I sank gently into an apathetic phage of epic proportions - eating too much, wasting time on my computer and generally vexing my wife to the point of tears. A deep breath and a self-prescribed kick up the proverbial was in order. I am and have for many years been prone to bouts of apathy, but thankfully I have a wonderful wife who provides support and inspiration simply by smiling at me each morning. Anyway, the point is I've started training again, my knee and calf are bearing the strain, and the cloud of apathy is slowly lifting once more.

       I ran 5k this evening; 5k on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week; and 10k last Sunday; and barring further injury and mental paralysis, I'm on track for the Madrid marathon at the end of April.

      Let's see how it goes. I wonder what's the bigger challenge - the mind or the body? If I find the answer, I'll be sure to tell you.

      Cheers, Happy Holidays, and ¡Saludos!


  •   Hi everyone,

      Still here, still running. Did 14km today in 1hr 34mins. The last 3km were awful, but then, they always are - my village is on a hill.

      The sky today was particularly awesome - dark, broody and generally big and impressive.

      That's it, really. Still here, still running ...



  •   Hi everyone,

      Yesterday I ran the Barcelona Half Marathon in 2hrs 8mins. I am over the moon (even though my legs feel like lumps of wood today!). The whole experience was magnificent and I feel thoroughly motivated for the full marathon in ten weeks time.

      It was my first experience of racing and I feel like I've learnt a huge amount about pacing, running in a crowd, keeping warm on the start line, and how to navigate an aid station without running into a dozen different people.

      The worst part was running past a McDonald's three kilometres from the finish and getting a face-full of Big-Mac smell while running up a hill. I almost vomited. The best part was everything else. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to get out there and run some more.

      Happy trails, everyone.



  • Well done Perezoso, thats great. I'm running my first half marathon this year. I had made really strong progress but seem to have hit a bit of a wall in my training schedule. Fingers crossed I can keep going. Good luck for the marathon

  • Well done, keep it up - 2H08 is a great first time half.  The time will drop as you keep on running and the weight comes off.

    Well done! 

  •   Thanks for your comments, Rebecca and Running!

      Rebecca, I hope you manage to push past that wall. If you can, you'll feel amazing when you cross the finish line at your first half marathon. Slow and steady worked for me. Maybe that's good advice for you too?

      Running, the weight is slowly coming off, and I'm obviously getting fitter. The problem is that I like to eat! He ho. Little steps, little steps ...

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