It’s a long road (trail) back!

So Dear Reader, I have been on 2 runs in the last two weeks.  First run was 20 minutes.  Second run was 25.  I was planning on more than 2 runs in 2 weeks, but I hurt my back somehow so running was not an option.  C’est la vie as the French say 🙂

run 1
Run 1 – QE Park
run 2
Run 2 – Near Home


As you can see the pace is far from breakneck, but two runs is two runs.  It feels like a 100mile ultra is a very very long way away, but you have to start somewhere.

This couple of workouts has helped remind me that running is always tough.  Sure there are a few people who are just naturals and can run and run, but for the rest of us mortals it is usually a considerable effort.

No matter if you are running 1km, 10km or 100km a lot of effort goes in.  Some people can’t even run 10metres (I was one of these not so long ago), so if you run, you run, no matter how far, or fast it may be.


The scale of the problem

All that being said, I do still need to run 100 miles.  If you have a look at the image below, this is my “heatmap” for all my running in 2017 (the year I completed Race to the King)

heat map 2017

The long blue line from near Steyning, to Winchester is the Race to the King.  53 miles along the South Downs way.  I ran this, with what I discovered after the race were 3 broken ribs following a fall at only 6 miles into the race.  I completed it fast enough to qualify for the South Downs Way 100, which is the event I am taking on in 2020.  So I can run.  I can also run a long way.  I just need to get back, and then quite a long way past, that prevous level of fitness.

The plan

The plan is simple.  I have booked Beachy Head Marathon in October.  I will get fit enough to complete this in around the 5 hour mark.  Before any of you speed demons scoff at this, it is VERY hilly 😉

I am going to use a dedicated running plan from Strava to do this.  I have never tried this before, so will report back on how it goes.  The plan doesn’t start until August as it’s only a 12 week plan, so until then I will just run a bit, slowly upping my time on my feet and taking it slow.  I am good at taking it slow. 😉

Following Beachy Head it will be a short 7 month training plan to go from marathon fit, to 100 mile fit. All over the lovely British winter.  I must be mad. I am not entirely sure how I am going to get that fit yet, but that is a problem for future James to worry about.

So I’ve got a plan, some sort of running pedigree behind me, and a bucket load of willpower.  More on willpower later, because it is the difference between completing and failing at ultra distance.  But that will have to wait for another post.


Any of you reading this who are running the London Marathon at the weekend, hope your training and your taper have gone well and you are looking forward to the race.

For those of you not running the London Marathon, you could do worse than get yourself out onto the South Downs.  I have included a few bonus pictures from a recent dog walk up there.  Simply stunning.



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It’s time to address the elephant in the room

A long time ago (over 2 years ago in fact) I wrote this post about why diet is the missing link from my training.

4 reasons why my diet is the missing link to my training.

Though a few things have changed since then, broadly speaking most of it hasn’t.  I am still around 18kg overweight for my ideal running weight, which means every time my foot hits the floor 18kg more weight is flowing down through my leg and impacting the ground.

According to this article Ground reaction forces when walking or running, as your foot strikes the ground you exert somewhere between 2.0 and 2.9 times bodyweight through that foot.  So in my case, at 90kg I am putting 180-260kg through each foot each time it hits the ground. If I was to lose 15kg, so I was running at 75kg, this would reduce the impact to 150-217kg each time my foot lands.  So a reduction of 30-47kg per foot strike.  If we take a middle figure of 40kg for each foot fall, and work out that over a marathon distance I probably have around 50,000 individual foot strikes, that is a total reduction of a whopping 2,000,000kg less weight going through my limbs.  2 MILLION KG !!!!!!

indian-elephant-264749_1280An average fully grown elephant weights 5000kg.  So due to being overweight, I am exerting the equivalent of 400 fully grown elephants through my body and into my feet for every marathon distance I run.  Staggering really.

Also this is a very good indication as to why marathons are so tough.  You have to condition your body to take all of this weight through your feet.  Luckily for us, we are Born to Run (if you haven’t read that book and you run, or even if you don’t run, then you really should), I passionately believe in running in minimalist shoes (I actually prefer sandals) and I know I can condition myself to complete marathons at almost any weight,

But my challenge is not a marathon.  My challenge is an Ultra Marathon.  100 miles of Ultra Marathon in fact.  So carrying even 1kg of extra weight is simply not an option.

So it is time to lose weight.  I have a plan for this, but that can wait for another blog post.  So in the interim, if you are a keen runner and are looking to increase your performance or endurance, addressing the elephant in the room could be a good place for you to start.





The blog is back

After a two year hiatus, I have decided to start blogging again.

The short reason why I stopped, is during my challenge to complete 13 marathons in 12 months, I sustained a very bad rib injury running the Race to the King.

I couldn’t train, the challenge was over.  So I quit.  I am not proud of this, but I did.  I quit running, quit blogging, and around the same time quit living.

I was diagnosed with depression late in the summer of 2017, but really I had probably had it for some time before that.

My journey through depression has been an absolutely horrible one.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was close to suicide on more than one occasion.  If it hadn’t been for some key interventions from some close family and friends, I probably would not be writing this now.  The irony of depression is that these people probably didn’t even realise they were intervening at the time.  Just a phone call here, or a text message there would bring me back from the edge.

pill-1884775_1280I was taking anti-depressants.  Little pills that stop you feeling.  They stopped me feeling low.  They stopped me feeling high.  They stopped me feeling everything.

I have been for counselling.  I have seen a total of 3 counselors.  All were excellent and helped in their own way but none got me all the way out of my slump.  I didn’t want to exercise.  Didn’t want to take care of myself.  Didn’t want to engage with my loved ones.  Didn’t want to do anything.

I read countless books on depression.  Listened to podcasts.  Practiced mindfulness.  Tried yoga.  Nothing would stick.  For 2 years I was like this. 2 bloody years!

A few weeks ago I made a decision, which was against all medical advice, and I just quit my anti-depressants.  Cold turkey.  No weaning myself off of them.  Just stopped.  It felt like the right thing to do.  I had tried to quit them before but this time felt different. Instantly I felt better.  I started going to the gym again.  Went back to my old triathlon club (where I was welcomed with open arms despite being missing for 2 years).  I started to message my friends again.  Friends I had neglected for far too long.  Started to go out again.  Started to feel myself.  My old self.  The one who had been missing for 2 years.  Two very very dark years.


Tonight, whilst sitting in a hotel room in Munich, I made the decision to start up the blog again.  Made the decision to commit to completing a 100 mile ultra marathon.  Made the decision to push my body again.  Probably further than I have ever done so before.  At the ripe old age of 40, it is time to make a comeback.  Like a phoenix from the ashes, Snooky will be reborn.

This is going to be a hard journey.  I know it is.  But I need to feel it.  Feel the pain of getting fit again.  Feel the burn of 1000’s of miles of running.  It is hard to describe, but it is like a calling.  Any of you who regularly run may well know this feeling.  For me it was lost for a very long time.  Now it is back.

I invite you all to follow me on this journey.  I will be blogging about running.  But I am also going to blog about my depression.  Blog about the things that I did and the things that I have learnt that hopefully will help others suffering from this horrible disease.  Cause it is a disease.  You can’t see it, but my God you can feel it.

So welcome to the new blog.  The new me.  Better, wiser and hopefully one day fitter than the old me.

It feels good to be back!


PS – I am in no way advocating that anybody out there who is taking anti-depressants should do what I did and quit without consulting with their GP.  What I did was dangerous.  Please, if you are taking anti-depressants and want to stop speak to your GP.  Don’t be stupid like I was.  It could have easily gone the other way for me and been a disaster.  In fact, I quit once before and it was a disaster, so please be careful.