There is only one thing that I fear more than a DNS (Did Not Finish) and that is a DNS (Did Not Start), yet I am realising these fears tomorrow as I am not going to be running by first big race of the year, the Meon Valley Plod run by Portsmouth Joggers. This is a very tough 21 mile off road race. Hilly, muddy, just up my street. Alas I will not be there.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had a cold, but this cold just hasn’t gone away. It has lingered on and on, runny nose persisting, cough persisting and despite eating healthy, sleeping plenty and doing all the things you are supposed to do I just haven’t shaken it.
I am also still struggling with a bit of ankle pain, following badly spraining my ankle at the Hellrunner in January. These two things combined have meant that since the Hellrunner on the 14th January I have only run 4 times (including Havant Park Run this morning).
Obviously this is not enough training for a 21 mile hilly off road race, so I have taken the sensible decision and pulled out. I decided this mid-week last week, and am very glad I have done so. As you can see from my heart rate data from this mornings Parkrun (in the image below), I am clearly still struggling with this virus. Under normal circumstances my heart rate for a 28 minute 5km would be about 160bpm. Today it was averaging at 180 and peaked at 188! Heart is definitely having a bit of a struggle. This just wouldn’t have worked over 21 miles.
So that leaves me with the thought, how should I react to this DNS. Well below are my top 5 ideas.
1) Re-strategise and plan for my upcoming 13 marathon challenge. I need to re-think how I approach Brighton Marathon in 5 weeks time, as I have done nowhere near enough training and do not want to risk injury by trying to run Brighton to fast.
2) Concentrate on the positives – Despite not making it to the start line on my first big race of the year, I am 80% recovered from my ankle injury, my cold will eventually go and I have a big year of racing ahead of me and plenty to train for and look forward to.
3) Keep my eyes on the prize – This whole year is about running 13 marathons including 2 Ultra’s, so I need to keep reminding myself of that. There is nothing to be gained by being short-sighted,
4) Cross Train – I have a turbo trainer, a weight rack in the garage, a punch bag and plenty of space for Yoga. I should be concentrating on this and not worrying about running. I know I can run, I just need to be fit enough to do so.
5) Sleep – Sleep is the master healer, and I do not get enough of it. Must try harder to get to bed early and get my 8 hours in.
So that is that. My plan on how to come back from not starting. Let’s see how it goes shall we.
So I have a cold. I’m a bit achey. My nose if running like mad. I am sneezing a bit. My throat hurts. It isn’t life threatening. It is not “man flu”. It’s just a cold.
“WHO CARES” I can hear you shouting at your screens before promptly closing down my blog and going back to Facebook. Well please stick with me readers, I do have a point.
You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on Google before you discover that there is a wealth of information out there on exercising with a cold, and nobody can really make up their mind if it is a good idea or not. Most say “listen to your body”. Well if I listened to my body all the time I would be lying on the sofa eating Doritos. I’m not sure my body knows what it’s on about sometimes.
So if I am not going to listen to my body, what am I going to do. Listen to my head? Well my head says that I should allow myself time to recover. All well and good, but I do have a 21 mile cross country to run in only 13 days time (Meon Valley Plod – run by Portsmouth Joggers), so my head also says that I should be forgetting about this cold and getting my trainers on.
Of course, the flip side of putting my trainers on and getting out there is that I might take longer to recover from my cold if I go out training. If that is the case, I am risking not getting over the cold in the pre-requisite 13 days and then having to run 21 off road, muddy, likely chilly miles with a cold. This doesn’t sound very good either.
So what is the solution to all this? Well really it is a simple one. What you should do is procrastinate. Fill up your time with other stuff (like writing your blog, doing some meditation, looking on Wiggle etc) and that way by the time you get around to running it will be too late and you won’t be able to go.
All I need to do is follow this simple method for the next 13 days straight and I will be in perfect fettle for the Meon Valley Plod.
So it is now about 4 weeks since I got injured running the Hellrunner. Just a badly sprained ankle. It still hurts now, but I did manage to go out for a run at the weekend. I thought I would just do a couple of kilometres to ease myself in and ended up running 12. Still, I survived, and as long as I don’t try to change direction too quickly and stay on flat surfaces my ankle feels OK.
Whilst I had 4 weeks off running I thought I would concentrate on some other areas of fitness. Below are the 5 things that I have learn’t through this period.
1. I am very bad at losing weight through diet alone
I have been a lot more careful about what I am eating (well at least during the week I have been) and have managed to stop myself from putting on any weight. I haven’t gained any, but haven’t really lost any. I eat healthily in the week and it all goes flying out of the window at the weekend. This seems to maintain some sort of equilibrium; however I would not necessary recommend this method to anybody. Essentially I have been beating myself up about this quite a bit. Why can’t I just stay on course with a diet? Why do I sabotage myself? Why do I not care more. Luckily this moves me onto number 2
2. I should stop beating myself up so much
By way of a regular email update I receive from the superb Darin Olien website Superlife, I was directed to this article on the website of Nate Green website, simply entitled “Why is it so hard to stay consistent at the weekend?” It is well worth a quick read, but essentially says that it is easy to skip out on the healthy habits that you may have formed and be able to stick to during the week when you are out of routine at the weekend. Now I am an absolute MASTER at this, but took some comfort from the article and have subsequently adopted number 3 into my life
3. I have created myself a shortlist
This is a shortlist of things that I will endeavour to do each and every day in order to keep my healthy habits in check (as per the article above). The shortlist I have decided on is this:
Get 7-8 hours sleep every night
Do a minimum of 10 minutes meditation every day
Eat a vegan diet, with a minimum of one whole food plant based meal per day
30 minutes exercise per day
20 minutes of stretching/yoga per day
Work on your book / practice piano / updated your blog for 30 minutes per day
I should probably break these down a bit more to add a bit more context.
With two children under 4 this is not always in my control, but I will be going to bed earlier at a minimum
I have the Headspace App and this is easy to fit into even the busiest day.
I eat Vegan 99% of the time, but it is easy to eat a fairly poor vegan diet (chips, sandwiches etc). From now onwards I will make sure that one meal is whole food and plant based entirely. Nothing processed.
This can be either weights, running, cycling, swimming, whatever. Just must get my heart rate up for a minimum of 30 minutes
This will either be first thing in the morning or just before bed, but is essential as I do absolutely none of this now.
I have wanted to write a book about my Ironman exploits ever since completing it. I also have a piano and want to learn to play it, and should definitely be better at updating my blog. It’s only 30 minutes after all.
4. No more watching TV
Due to being injured I had a very good excuse to just flop on the sofa and do nothing every evening in front of the TV. I was getting really good at it too. Often I would fall asleep on the sofa and never even make it into bed. I was enjoying my lazy lifestyle far too much. So I decided no more TV. Since stopping watching it I have achieved far more every evening. So to allow the 6 things above to happen, TV has had to get out of the way. Do I miss it. Not one bit!
5. I can really achieve anything if I just go after it hard enough
You would think that somebody who has completed an Ironman would already believe this, and to a large extent I do. The difference now is that I spent time educating myself whilst I was off injured. Looking into the amazing feats of others. How do they manage them? What makes them different to me? You know what I realised? Nothing makes them different to me.
I have been hugely inspired by the stories of both David Goggins and Andrew Taylor. Goggins is an ex Navy Seal, and is widely considered the Toughest or Fittest athlete in the World. He held the world pull up record (over 4000 in 24 hours), ran a 100 mile running race with absolutely no training at all and has gone onto complete multiple ultra-marathons, triathlons, ultra-triathlons, bike races and arduous mountain ascents, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. His entire attitude is, you only fail if you don’t want it enough. The Rich Roll podcast with him on is absolutely worth a listen to if you fancy some inspiration from a truly remarkable person. The best part is, he is no different from you or I. He just wants it more!
Andrew Taylor is better known as “Spud Fit”. A genuinely fascinating antipodean who ate only potatoes for an entire year! He lost over 114lbs in weight, his health improved exponentially and most of all he survived with no adverse affects. That’s right, a diet of only potatoes for an entire year. Once again, dedication and a bit of self control and this crazy Aussie did something pretty damn amazing.
Both of these guys have reminded me that if you want extreme results, sometimes you have to go through extreme measures. I want to run 13 marathons in 12 months (including two ultra marathons now, not just one). To many this is pretty extreme, and perhaps it is. But I am going to go to extreme lengths to make it happen. I am going to train hard. I am going to focus. I am not going to beat myself up every day, but instead do something every day to move me closer to my goal. I am going to endure, through pain, through injury, through doubt, through fear, through whatever this journey throws at me and I will complete my marathon journey!
Just like Goggins and Taylor, if I want it badly enough I will be able to get it.
Now it’s off to the garage to lift some weights, then yoga, then meditation then bed!
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