Project 80 – 133rd times a charm!

So, only one week and one day later than planned, Project 80 launches today.

Project 80 is simple. I need to weight 80kg or less by the time I get to run London Marathon. Ideally, it could do with being closer to 75kg I think, but 80 is probably more realistic.

Before we get into why this is important, I am aware that some of you cannot figure out kilograms (kg) and may prefer weight measurements to be in stone and pounds (st, lbs) or just pounds (lbs). I will do my best to do the relevant conversions for you as we go though this.

How we weigh ourselves in stones in the UK. This fella is around 1 stone!

So, a long time ago I wrote a blog post explaining why weight is particularly important in running. At the time I was training for a 100 mile ultra marathon (which I never even made the start line of) but if you want to read this you can find it here. Time to Address the Elephant in the Room

The basic premise is this.

  • When you run the ground force through your joints is 2 – 2.9 times your body weight each time your foot hits the ground
  • A marathon is 42,000 metres. Assuming I travel a metre per stride, that is 42,000 foot strikes
  • If I weight 100kg (15st 10lbs, 220lbs) then this is 100 x 2.5 (if we take the average from the first point) x 42,000 which equals 10,500,000kg of force my legs have to absorb over a marathon distance.
  • If I weigh 80 kg (12st 8lbs, 176lbs) this number reduces to 8,400,000kg of force, a reduction of 2.1 million kg of force my body has to absorb
  • The largest bull elephants weigh about 6000kg, so the reduction in impact force is around 350 elephants worth. Thats quite a lot.

Then things get even more interesting. According to a podcast I listened to a long time ago (which I now cannot find to reference) athetic performance increases roughly 5% for every 10% of bodyweight you drop, assuming that you only drop fat and maintain muscle. Now bearing in mind I want to drop about 20-25% bodyweight (I currently weight more than 100kg (220lbs or 15st 10lbs) I could be looking at a performance increase of 10% or more. This would mean that my current marathon speed of around 12.5 minute miles would improve to possibly sub 11 minute miles, which would improve my marathon finish time from 5hrs 30 minutes to around 4hrs 48 minutes.

Now all of the above is just based on weight alone. It does not factor in improvements in fitness that can be made from training. It is only taking into account my current level of fitness and my current weight vs my ideal racing weight. So if I get the training right and the weight loss right I could be closing in on 4hr 30min marathon, or perhaps less.

Whilst marathon running is not all about finishing times, believe me being out there for an hour less is a good thing. Marathons are hard. Really hard. You usually feel OK up to around mile 18-20, then you face 6-8 miles of pain and suffering to get over the line. If that pain and suffering can last a bit less time that can only be a good thing.

My knees hurt!

All things considered it is a good idea to weigh less than I do when running. Quite a lot less in fact. So, for the 133rd time of trying, I am going to have to lose weight. Something that is relatively easy to do in your 20’s, trickier in your 30’s and very hard to do in your 40’s. Combined with the fact that endurance exercise is not actually that good for weight loss (I will blog about this another time) and the fact that too much training tends to break my body anyway, basically I am just going to have to eat a lot less.

I really like food though. That is how I got into this position in the first place ūüôā

Then again, if White Goodman can succeed on his weight loss journey and almost lead the Cobras to victory against Honest Joes in the American Dodgeball Association of America International Dodgeball Competition then I am sure I can do the same, and run London at a weight substantially less than I am right now.

It’s a metaphor.

So off we go. Not only do I need to train hard and rest and recover, but I will be needing to do this on a calorie deficit. Should be fun.

Next post will be about running and not about being overweight, I promise.

To track Project 80 and see how well (or not) I am getting on please use the Project 80 page

TTFN

Snooky

I feel my epic journey has finally begun

This morning I sent out my first Facebook post to start the ball rolling on my fundraising for my 13 marathons in 12 months challenge.

It is always strangely nerve wracking trying to raise money for charity.  In 2015 I set a very ambition fundraising target and managed to hit it (see article here).  This year I am trying for even more.  To better what I achieved in 2015.

You never know whether people are going to be inspired to donate or not.  You cannot tell whether your story is interesting enough, or people will care as much as you do about the charity you support.

All I want is to do Chestnut Tree House proud. ¬†It truly is an amazing place, full of inspirational people and some of the loveliest people I have ever met work for them. ¬†The care that they provide is second to none, and without them there would be 100’s of children with life limiting illnesses that would receive nothing. ¬†No care at all, during what must be an awful time in their lives.

Fingers crossed this fundraising goes well.  Fingers crossed people are inspired.  Fingers crossed that me, one man, can successfully run 13 marathons in 12 months and raise a bucket load of cash for a very deserving cause.

Follow the link below to see more about my fundraising, or click here to read about it on this website.

Humbly yours.

Snooky

Visit my fundraising page on BT MyDonate

16 days to go – now to get rid of my cold!

I have a cold. ¬†I have had a cold for over a week¬†now¬†. ¬†It just doesn’t seem to be going away. ¬†I caught this cold off of my kids and we have a whole household of coughing, spluttering, snotty people. ¬†Nobody has escaped.

All logic says that when you have a cold you shouldn’t train. ¬†You should give your body time to recover from it’s illness and then resume training once you feel better. ¬†Quality, after all, is better than quantity.

Ignoring my own advice, on Sunday 24th August Bushy and I went down to Weymouth to ride the Ironman bike course, all 112 miles of it. ¬†I felt less than brilliant when he picked me up just before 6am on the Sunday. ¬†My cold was in full effect, energy levels were very low and I had slept¬†appallingly. ¬†Usually Bushy and I will banter away with each other constantly when we meet up, but on this morning he commented that I seemed to have nothing to say for myself. ¬†Clearly I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

Arriving at Weymouth

The weather forecast for Sunday morning in Weymouth was bad.  Not light rain, but heavy rain and wind.  Regular blog readers will know how much I love riding in the wind.  Unperturbed, Bushy and I trundled along down the south coast towards Weymouth.  As we got closer and closer the weather closed in and by the time we arrived it was like a monsoon.  We parked in the car park that will be the transition area on the day of the race.  As you can see from the picture, the weather was not the best.

Following a brief discussion, mostly consisting of “are we really going to do this” we got out of the car and started to get ready. ¬†The plan was to create an aid station in the boot of Bushy’s car. ¬†We would carry enough food and water to get us round one lap of the 56 mile course, stopping halfway to resupply and then go around again. ¬†Neither of us are particularly quick on the bike, so we were aiming for 4 hours for each lap. This is an average speed of 14mph, which is by no means fast but about right for our Ironman bike pace. ¬†Remember that we have to run a marathon after cycling 112 miles so we need to leave something in the tank!

You can just make out our
new friend and his bike

Getting ready to ride at the same time was a very nice chap who told us he was there to ride the bike course in preparation for his first ever Ironman. ¬†He was older than us, but whippet thin and one of those people who just looked fit. ¬†Tall and lean with a very nice beard, he clearly knew he was a better triathlete than us and we clearly knew it too. ¬†I remarked to Bushy that I often wonder what other triathletes think of us when we meet them. ¬†We looked like two blokes who woke up¬†one day¬†and said “lets do an Ironman”. ¬†He looked like a seasoned and well prepared campaigner. ¬†It is funny how accurate looks can be at times.

Chatting further with our new friend, it turned out he was going for one lap round the course as he was in his “taper”. ¬†A taper is when you reduce your training load to allow your body to maximise its strength and endurance ahead of your race. Made popular by top flight endurance athletes who train really hard and then back down to allow their body to reach peak fitness, it has slipped into the amateur ranks and many triathletes spend as much time talking about tapering as they do talking about how light their bikes are. ¬†Anyway, he was tapering 3 weeks out from the event, which is a fairly long taper. ¬†Each to their own I suppose, plus only an Ironman triathlete would consider a 56 mile bike ride to be “reducing their training”. ¬†Soon we finished chatting and he was off into the gloom and rain on his very nice looking bike. ¬†

Not long after this, after a considerable bit of messing about (I am the master of messing about), we headed off into the gloom ourselves. ¬†It was raining…….hard. ¬†The first part of the bike course is a climb up onto the “Ridgeway” and then you have about 35 miles of rolling Dorset countryside before another long gentle climb and then a drop back down into Weymouth.

One lap of the bike course

We made sure to stick to our nutrition plan (something to eat every 30 minutes) and cycled along,¬†sticking fairly closely to our target average speed. ¬†It was very very wet and we rode through numerous puddles and areas of standing water. ¬†Within about 20 minutes we were both soaked…….and we stayed that way.

In nice weather I imagine the bike course would be absolutely beautiful, but in the rain and gloom it was hard to see where you were going, let alone any sort of view.

Cool map showing the topography of the course

Towards the end of the ride I started to feel bad. ¬†Just lacking in energy. ¬†Slow and lethargic. It was obvious that my cold had caught up to me. ¬†I was pleased to have gotten as far as I had before feeling poor. Bushy whizzed off into the distance and I was playing catch up. ¬†I had very little in the tank, was freezing cold and my wet clothing had rubbed my skin in a few places that you don’t want rubbed. Approaching the end of the first lap there was no way I was going out for a second. Competing in weather like this is fair enough. Riding for “fun” in awful conditions is¬†something¬†quite different. ¬†

When we got back to the car for the end of lap one I told Bushy that I was done. ¬†When it came to calling it a day, he didn’t take much convincing and soon we were into our dry clothes and on the way home to Pompey.

Despite not making the full 112 miles, 56 miles had been ridden in awful conditions.  The best part about it is that we had completed one lap of the course in just over 3hrs 35mins, which was 25 minutes faster than planned.  We had also averaged 15mph, 1mph faster than planned and allowing for the awful weather this was a great result.

On the day, in decent weather and when I do not have a cold (hopefully) then I think the bike course will be great.  112 miles is a very different beast than 56; however as soon as I start lap 2 of my bike ride on the 13th September I will know that all I have left is 56 miles of cycling and a marathon.

Whilst to most this sounds like a lot, to me I am half way done and only have half way to go. I will be half way to being an Ironman!

Before I go, a very quick update on my fundraising. I am absolutely delighted to say that I am 60% of my way towards my fundraising target of paying for a day’s care at Chestnut Tree House. ¬†The generosity that people have shown towards my endeavour is astounding, with well over ¬£4000 raised so far. ¬†A brilliant total, so to those of you reading this who have donated thank you from the bottom of my heart. ¬†You have been with me every step of the way during my training. ¬†Every time I go for a swim, ride or run I think about those kids at Chestnut and all of the kind people who have donated to my cause.

It sounds like a cliche, but at some of my lowest points during training the kind words and donations that my supporters have given me have picked me back up again. ¬†I cannot lie about it, training for this Ironman has been tough, but it has also been the greatest journey of my life so far. ¬†In 16 days time that journey comes to its end. ¬†I will have covered 10’s of 1000’s of miles in training. ¬†I will have only 140.6 miles to go. ¬†Nothing to it……………….right?

TTFN

Snooky









Fundraising and abject terror (not necessarily in that order)

As my wife posted on Facebook this morning, today marks one month until my Ironman race.

30 days to be precise.  I have reacted to this information with abject terror.  A chill ran down my spine when I read her post.  It really actually is 30 days.  There is no way around it.  30 days from now at 6.30am I will be dressed in a wetsuit, swim hat and goggles.  Along with my friends Mike and Bushy I will run into the sea at Weymouth to start 16 hours of non stop exercising. I am genuinely shaking at the thought.

Yesterday I felt fine.  My training has been going OK, I managed the Half Ironman reasonably well and my confidence was fairly high.  Today I am panicking.  I think that self doubt is inevitable when it comes to undertaking such a huge challenge; however I have never felt as nervous as this before.  God only knows what I am going to be like in 30 days time.

Anyway enough of me being a Nervous Nigel.  I have a some people to thank.  

4 weeks ago now a group of people got together for a party. ¬†The party was a garden games party, hosted by Jean and Vince who are soon to become my sister’s in-laws. ¬†They have held summer games parties for a while; however this year they decided to raise some money for Chestnut Tree House.

Fantastic Gardens
They were inspired by the same thing I was, the story of Louise, Steve, their daughter Amber and the amazing support that Chestnut Tree House provided to them. ¬†If it hadn’t been for my sister telling Jean and Vince about the Ironman and Chestnut this fundraising event would not have happened, but boy am I glad it did.

It was an amazing sunny day in the simply beautiful gardens of Jean and Vince’s Sussex home. ¬†Their friends had come to play games and raffle off some amazingly generous prizes that had been donated. ¬†All proceeds to go to Chestnut Tree House.

Ball flinging game.
Jean and Vince were amazing hosts.  Vince had done an amazing job building all the games and Jean was on simply superb form entertaining everybody.  My parents were also on hand to help with the games, make a few sandwiches etc.  Louise and Steve came along with their son Owen and Steve gave a simply beautiful speech about Amber, Chestnut Tree House and the wonderful work that they do.  It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.  If I can harness 1% of the strength that Steve and Louise have shown since the loss of their little daughter I will have no trouble at the Ironman at all.  

Raffle – Jean and Vince standing up
The whole day was brilliant.  Once the raffle was completed and the dust had settled, between everybody who attended we had raised £630 (or £787.50 if you include Gift Aid) which is simply phenomenal.

A massive and heart felt thank you to all those who attended and raised such a brilliant total for Chestnut Tree House.  Especially big thank you to Jean and Vince and everybody who helped them out to make the day go so perfectly.

Basketball game.
Chestnut Tree House is the¬†ONLY¬†children’s hospice in Sussex and South East Hampshire. ¬†Without the support of charity fundraisers and private donations they would not run. ¬†Without Chestnut, there would be¬†NO¬†help for life limited children and their¬†families throughout the entire of Sussex and South East Hampshire.¬†NONE!

My aim through these Ironman endeavours is to pay for a days care at Chestnut.  It costs them £6850 to stay open for just one day.  As I write this I have raised £3,381.80, which is 49% of my target.  If you would like to donate please visit my Just Giving page and give what you can.  It simply means the world to me and the families that Chestnut Tree House supports.


Thanks All.

James



Chestnut Tree House – Pasta Party

Last night (Thursday 9th April) my wife and I were invited to Chestnut Tree House to attend a pasta party.  Chesnut Tree House throw these events to say thank you to their charity runners ahead of the Brighton Marathon.  The party also gives the runners a chance to look around the hospice and be reminded of what they are running for, whilst eating plenty of carbs to fuel their upcoming run.

It is fair to say that I am slightly nervous about running the marathon. ¬†Like all events, I feel under prepared. ¬†Should I have done more training……….. definitely YES. ¬†Is it too late to rectify this situation………..absolutely. ¬†

As we drove into the driveway at Chestnut I was thinking about the other runners I would meet.  How much training have they done?  Will they all be a lot fitter than me (and probably a lot slimmer)?  

Jumping out of the car and grabbing Mia (our 7 week old) my wife and I wandered into the hospice. ¬†We quickly got chatting to the Chestnut staff that were there and also to a few of my fellow runners. ¬†Soon it was time for the pizza and pasta to be served, so we got stuck in to some delicious grub prepared by Chestnut’s resident chef Jez.

A few things struck me whist speaking to the other runners.  Firstly everybody seemed to be at least a bit nervous.  This was very reassuring and it felt good to be in the same boat as the others.  Secondly, the Chestnut staff that we met were so very appreciative of us all running the marathon for the hospice.  The reason why quickly became apparent.

Adult hospice care in the UK is funded by the Government. ¬†If you have a life limiting condition and require a hospice place it is likely that the hospice you go to will receive a very large chunk of funding from the Government. ¬†Children’s hospice care either receive NO Government funding, or in some cases a tiny amount.

I was absolutely stunned to find out this information. ¬†How can this be right? ¬†Why would the Government not fund children’s hospice care? ¬†The answer to this question is unknown, but what is known is that Chestnut Tree House rely on over ¬£3 million of charitable donations to keep open. ¬†They care for 300 children and their families. ¬†Remember that these children all have life limiting conditions. ¬†Some are handicapped, many are oncology patients and they all receive their care from Chestnut absolutely free of charge. ¬†

After our pasta we went on a tour. ¬†To say this was emotional would be an understatement. ¬†We were shown the soft play area, the messy play area (complete with it’s own drain in the middle of the room for clean up) and a great cinema room where the kids can go and watch movies, play Xbox etc. ¬†I was blown away by the swimming pool, which has it’s own projection equipment and a sophisticated hoist that allows children who are too heavy to be carried to be lifted into and out of the pool. ¬†The water is kept at 34 degrees, meaning that children who cannot move normally can enjoy the weightless environment of the pool and jump and walk like their more able bodied friends. ¬†

The tour went on, showing us the music room complete with a piano that lights up and plays itself.  We then moved to a remembrance area, which serves as a multi-faith prayer room and also has 4 large bound books on a table.  These books contain a page for every child that has died whilst being cared for at the hospice.  There are four massive books of children who have passed.  One of those pages will be dedicate to Amber, the little girl who has inspired my whole Ironman journey.  Having two beautiful daughters of my own, I simply could not contemplate what it must be like to have a child die and have a page in this book.  Words just cannot describe what it must be like.

Next to this room was the Stars room. ¬†Steve and Louise (Amber’s parents) had told me about this room, but nothing can quite prepare you for entering it. ¬†The room is a self contained suite with sofa beds, table and chairs, a kitchenette, a bathroom and a bedroom. ¬†The only difference from a normal bedroom is that the bed is a “cold bed”. ¬†This is the room where the children are first laid to rest after they pass away. ¬†Steve told me about how lovely it was to be able to have Amber in this room after she died, so him and Louise could grieve for her and come to terms with her passing. ¬†I was fighting back the tears to think of them in that room having just lost their daughter. ¬†What a simply amazing thing it is that Chestnut can offer this service to children and their families. ¬†

We wandered back into the main room where we started and the tour was concluded.  I was simply in awe of this stunning and amazing place where these life limited children can enjoy their days, some of them their final days, with the care and respect that they deserve.  Chestnut also provide brilliant family care and offer rooms upstairs for families to stay in so they are always close to their children, no matter how ill they become.

We left the hospice and Cat and I had a long chat on the way home about what we had seen and what a privilege it is for me to run for and raise money for such a brilliant charity.

Please remember that Chestnut Tree House is the only hospice covering East and West Sussex and South East Hampshire.  The ONLY one.  It has such a large catchment area and provides such great care that if I had the money I would give them £3 million a year myself.  What an amazing place, with amazing staff.

I hope this blog update has given you a little more insight as to why I am running the marathon and then going on to the Ironman all in aide of Chestnut Tree House.

For those of you who have already donated to my fundraising, a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.  It means a huge amount to me and even more to the families and children that the hospice care for.

Anybody who would like to donate can find my Just Giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/Iron-Snook/

Please donate what you can; however small as every penny will go to helping this beautiful and amazing hospice continue the great work that it does.

Next blog update will be on Sunday evening after the Marathon.  GULP!

TTFN

Snooky


I Fink, therefore I am

It’s all been a bit quiet on www.ironsnook.co.uk¬†of late. ¬†I haven’t updated the blog for over a month.

To be honest I have a good excuse.  On the 17th February my second child was born, a beautiful baby girl we have called Mia.  Naturally training went on hold whilst I helped my wife recover from the birth and look after our 2 year old.  I went back to work this week and my training restarted.

Don Fink – handsome isn’t he?

Challenge Weymouth is a mere 190 days away as I write this and I have started my Ironman training plan.  Well I say my plan, but I have done nothing to create it.  The honour of writing my plan goes to Mr Don Fink.

Fink wrote a book called “Be Iron Fit – Time Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness”. ¬†The training plans held within this book are designed to get the fastest improvements on fitness possible over a 30 week period. ¬†Your fitness is designed to peak for your big race day and countless Triathletes before me have followed the plans to Ironman success.

I have had to start the plan on week 3, as week 1 and 2 were during my paternity leave and I was otherwise occupied.  You start with a mere 8 hours a week training, ramping up to over 20 hours a week by the end.  

This may sound like a lot to some of you and if I am honest it sounds like a lot to me.  That being said I am almost at the end of my first week of training and I feel great.  I have actually done a little bit more than the plan stipulates so far but am ache and injury free.  To top it all I have just got back from a swim session which was by far the most enjoyable training session I have ever had.  I felt strong and like I could have carried on swimming forever.

There are a few minor hiccups to following the Fink plan. ¬†Firstly he stipulates specific dates when you should compete in an Olympic distance and then later a Half Ironman in preparation. ¬†I have already booked an Olympic distance race and it doesn’t match the date Fink suggests. ¬†Hopefully this won’t make much difference.

Secondly I am running the Brighton Marathon for Chestnut Tree House  on Sunday 12th April so I am currently doing one long run a week ramping up for this. Fink does suggest long runs; however they are not as long as what I am currently doing at this stage of his plan.  

The marathon is likely to take it out of me and normal people take a fair bit of time off of training following a marathon as it is quite a task in itself.  Triathletes are not normal people. I am treating the Brighton Marathon as a training run and will be back to my Ironman training plan as quickly as possible afterwards (though I might have a couple of days off as reward). 

Just a very quick update for tonight as I am intending on blogging weekly for a while as there is a fair amount to discuss.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

Snooky