Some runs count triple

Its last Wednesday, just after lunch. I am having one of those days where I have tonnes to do but am getting nothing done. Sometimes it just goes like that. It’s been raining non-stop in England for what feels like forever. I genuinely can’t remember the last time that I saw the sun shining. Its grey, damp and depressing.

As I look out of my home office window onto the street the rain is coming down sideways. The wind is howling and it looks very much like there might be a bit of thunder. Another joyous winter day in England.

My motivation to do anything is virtually zero. I am moping about the house, trying to get my work done whilst figuring out if I need yet another coffee, something to eat, to do 1000 press ups or just to slack it all off and go to bed.

I am grumpy, and I am getting increasingly grumpy just about being grumpy. Fed up and I’ve just had enough. It is starting to get dark outside, but then again, it is pretty much totally dark even during the daytimes when the weather is like this.

Thinking back on my running career, I realise it is time to take action. To sort my life out. I wearily troop upstairs and dig out some running gear. Waterproof running top on, I stash a headtorch in the pocket and head out into the rain. ‘My god this weather is awful’ I think to myself as I head out the door.

Off I go on my usual 7ish km route that I regularly run. Out along the main road I plod, but quickly after I get going I start to feel better. Running can have this effect on you. Luckily, I am running with the wind, so as the rain lashes against my back I get a little boost. It is always easier running with the wind. That being said, the rain is so hard that it is stinging my calves as I make my way down the Havant road towards Langstone Harbour.

Right on queue, the thunder starts. A huge flash of light, followed very quickly by an enormous boom that sounds like the heavens are splitting in two. The storm must be right on top of me. I can only imagine what the car drivers are thinking as they see some lunatic runing down the road in a thunderstorm, their wheels sending up huge waves of water, soaking me through as they drive through the enormous puddles on the roadside. The thunder and lightening continues, flashes lighting up the dark clouds as the sky rumbles above me. Whenever I am out running and there is a thunderstorm, I always think back to the ancient people of earth. How scary it must have been for them, not knowing what is causing this apocalyptical noise. The Gods were definitely angry.

Soon I make my way through to an offroad section which leads to the harbour. I am sliding around all over the place in the mud. My road shoes have zero grip and I am forced to stop and turn on my headtorch. It is dark as hell.

The mud gives way to more tarmac, and as I turn along the harbourside, suddenly I am straight into the wind. The rain lashes at my face, stinging my eyes. My waterproof jacket is useless in this weather, having been soaked through by the car splashes, and I can feel water leaking through my shoulders and chest.

This really is the most horrendous running conditions, and I am absolutely LOVING it.

I am grinning like an idiot as I turn and make my way back across the M27 bridge and turn back for home. This is not some sort of massochistic joy, though you would not be mistaken in thinking that it was. My smile is because I know that runs like this are worth so much more than just the exercise itself.

Whilst I am always hopeful for good weather at the races that I run, good weather is far from guaranteed. Thinking back on it, I have run Beachy Head Marathon in the strongest wind I have ever been outside in. I ran the Mouth to Mouth Marathon during a horrendous hail storm, and the marathon at the end of my ironman triathlon was rain very similar to today (you can see this for yourself in this video of me and my mate Bushy crossing the finishing line). I even completed the Owler half ironman when literally half of the field had to stop on the bike leg because the rain was so hard you couldn’t see where you were going. I didn’t stop of course. Why would I? I finished last in that race, but at least I finished.

So I am no stranger to completing races in shocking conditions, and there is absolutely no guarantee that when I run London Marathon in 14 weeks time the weather will be good.

This is why these runs count triple. Firstly, you are out there running in the first place. Secondly, nobody else is mad enough to go out in these conditions and I could have easily just stayed in the house and done something else. Finally (and most importantly) Iare building up my mental reserves. These mental reserves are vital, cause if it is shocking weather on the day of your race at least I am conditioned for it. Preparation is vital, after all.

Getting home from the run, I felt great. After a quick shower I was able to focus, get on with my work and turn what would have been an unproductive day into a very productive one. This is the power that running can have, especially running in conditions that no sane person would even go outside in!

During this run I had a couple of phone calls. My wife rang me to see what I was up to, and wasn’t even slightly surprised that I was out running in the torrential rain. She is used to these sorts of antics now, and after a short conversation she just said “I’ll leave you to it, see you at home later.” No “take care, the weather is awful” or “what the hell are you doing out running in this”. This really amused me. I know that she is always worried about me when I am doing this crazy stuff, but I always make it home in the end and she knows the value of runs like this and how much I need running in my life.

I also briefly spoke to Vicky from Daisy’s Dream, the charity that I am running London Marathon for. She was substantially more shocked than my wife that I was out running in the awful weather, but when I caught up with her the next day she too understood the value of going out in all conditions.

I suppose the moral of the story is that when you are in a funk, sometimes a bit of exercise is all that you need. Not all of us are lucky enough to be fit enough to run. Every day I count my lucky stars that I am in good enough condition at the moment to do some exercise. I have spent long periods of time injured and unable to exercise as I would like. But right now I am feeling good. Fitness is improving and I am proud that I went out in the awful conditions and am even more proud to be running for Daisy’s Dream.

My next post will be all about them and my fundraising endeavours this year. London Marathon is just the start of things for me. The first in a series of events this year to raise money for some very deserving charities. Times are hard in the UK right now. Most of us are cold at home cause the heating bills are so high. We are struggling to make ends meet. I know that. But at these times charity becomes even more important. This is why I will fundraise hard this year, because charities are hit the hardest during tough times. The work that they do is so very vital and so many people rely on them, and by proxy, they rely on people like me to hopefully motivate people like you to donate some of your hard earned money to keep them running and enable them to maintain the vital services they provide to those less fortunate than us.

Anyway, its a nice sunny day today (the first one that I can remember). Blue skies are shining outside my window and the world seems like a better place for it.

Even better, I am going out for dinner tonight with the lads from my NCT crew. We met during NCT classes when our first kids were all due to be born and have remained friends since, so I am excited to see them and catch up.

Hope all is well with you guys who are reading this. For all your runners out there, next time it is awful weather and you don’t want to run, think of me grinning my way round a 7km run in a thunderstorm and perhaps put your shoes on and head out yourself. You never know, you might just enjoy yourself.

TTFN

Snooky

PS – here is the link to my fundraising page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runsnookyrun

I promise you the money goes straight to Daisy’s Dream. I will be using my own money for dinner tonight 😉

Its 2023, and it’s gonna be a big one!

So then dear reader, the Christmas period of feasting is behind us. The New Year champagne corks are all popped. Normal life has resumed again.

I have been building up to a very big year for a while. Last year was peppered with injury and illness and change and challenge and most of my goals went flying out of the window. I lacked motivation and was finding life hard going in general.

Whilst I am positive I am not alone in feeling this way about 2022, I did take the opportunity to educate myself on strategies and ideas to cope with modern life and with my ever aging body. I read books, listened to podcasts, engaged with people whose opinion I trust and slowly, during the final days of 2022, I started to see things clearly.

What I have lacked, what I have always lacked, is consistency. I am able to hyper focus a block of time on a particular goal or task, only to then either achieve or not achieve that thing, and then put it to one side and do something else afterwards.

A prime example of this is in my endurance feats of the past. I have been fit enough to complete Ironman Triathlons, ultra marathons and all sorts, but then let that fitness lapse. I have lost a quarter of my bodyweight (25kg), only to put it back on, and more. Each time I start again from scratch. Each time I take on a new challenge I start from zero, unable to run more than a couple of kilometres. Way overweight and unfit. And again and again and again. Repeat ad infinitum.

Well this year is when it all changes. This year is the year of CONSISTENCY.

I have some fairly big challenges to complete this year, the first of which is the London Marathon, raising money for Daisy’s Dream. Next we have The Isle of Wight Ultra (just one week after London) which is 66 very hilly miles round the Isle of Wight, raising money for SANDS. Later in the year I am running another ultra in Bath (only 50km this time), I am doing the London to Brighton bike ride, I am also planning on hiking the South Downs Way non-stop (100 miles) and maybe going to throw in an odd triathlon here or there towards the end of the summer.

I also have some much more personal challenges that I will share with you in due course, but I have aims and targets to progress myself personally that I am determined to make big inroads into in 2023

So the $64,000 question is, how am I going to do this. Well that will be the topic of my next post, but it involves getting up at 5am EVERY DAY as a starting point. That is right, I am going to be that person. It is worth saying that I hate getting up early and have always been a night owl, but as they say, the early bird catches the worm, and I have some big worms to catch.

More coming soon, so for the time being, if you are reading this I wish you and your loved ones a prosperoous and healthy 2023 and hope that this blog brings a bit of joy or inspiration into your life.

TTFN

Snooky

And so the story begins……..

City dweller, successful fella, thought to himself “whoops I’ve got a lot of money”……….

At this point, you have either been ear-wormed by the wonderful Country House by Blur, or you have absolutely no idea what the start of this post is all about.

Either way, my training has begun in earnest. Ran intervals yesterday. Out for a long hike early this morning with my mate Ant, and I have a 10 mile run scheduled for tomorrow. I will probably actually run about 14.5km (just over 9 miles), just because this is a nice route from my mother-in-law’s back home.

This morning’s walk – hilly!

Combining running back from places I have been with the family is one of my little tricks for getting some decent long runs in, whilst not missing out on family time at the weekend. If you have gone further afield than your run dictates, just get dropped off at the right distance from home then run on back.

As the distance in marathon training increases, you start to face the quandary of fueling and hydrating yourself. As a rule of thumb, I tend to be able to run for about 90 minutes with no food or hydration at all (depending on the temperature). When we get up towards the 10 mile region, I am likely to be running about 2 hours as I will be going at a nice slow pace. This means I am likely to require both some fuel and some hydration.

And that’s when I developed my drinking problem

Fuel is usually in the format of gels for training runs. If you are reading this and are a non-runner, these gels are essentially a thick sort of sugary paste in a handy foil pack. Nice and easy to carry and you can wedge a few in your pockets and don’t necessarily need to carry a backpack. Very good for fueling on the go.

Water is not so easy, as to carry a reasonable amount you need to either carry a bottle in your hand (it tends to get warm and not very palatable if you do this), carry it on some sort of waist belt (I have never gotten on with these) or carry a backpack with water in it.

My main issue with backpacks is that I find that they warm me up, a lot. Not being able to lose heat through my back means that I tend to run a lot hotter than I would like (one for the pun fans).

So essentially, for these “shorter” long runs (in my case ones under 2 hours), there is not really a good option for me. As it happens, I don’t have any gels and am not going to go out and buy any in the morning, so will probably just run carrying a bottle of water tomorrow and see if I can hang on with no fuel. It is only 10 miles, so should be possible.

At the same time as the marathon training, I am also trying to train for the 3 Peaks Challenge. For those of you not familiar with this, The 3 Peaks Challenge involves trying to summit the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales respectively. These are Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. You have to try and do all this in 24 hours. Usually this is about 13 hours of hillwalking with 11 hours of driving in-between.

In my usual style, I have just decided to randomly do this with my mate Ant. Neither of us has any hill walking experience to speak of, but he is a fit fella and good company so we just decided to give it a go. I am far behind him on fitness, but reckon I should be able to keep up. We take on this challenge at the end of July.

I am hoping that the hiking and hill walking training for the 3 Peaks Challenge compliments the marathon training, but there is a real risk of me doing too much and getting injured if I push the training too far. On the other hand, if I do not do enough training and I get in trouble on one of these mountains due to a lack of fitness, that would also be bad.

I feel that as an endurance athlete (and it is a real stretch calling me any sort of athlete, but please just indulge me) this is the tightrope that you are always walking. You need to push hard enough so your body adapts, but if you push too hard you get injured.

The good news is that the human body is capable of some phenomenal things when needed. Training for a marathon is tough. Chucking in the 3 Peaks Challenge in the middle of this makes it tougher. Plus I have a 100KM through hike with my wife at the start of September.

If there is ever going to be a time that my body decides to be phenomenal, it needs to be over the next 14 weeks.

Wish me luck. I think I am gonna need it.

TTFN

Snooky

I have a (Daisy’s) Dream

So here we go again. Another event signed up for, but this one is a biggun and it is VERY special to me.

I have been selected for a charity place for the London Marathon in October and I will be running for the wonderful Daisy’s Dream.

Daisy’s Dream specialise in supporting children through bereavement. I was asked to run for them by a lovely friend of mine called Michelle. Daisy’s Dream supported her son through some tough times after Michelle’s husband took his own life when her son was only small.

Michelle has been a long time supporter of Daisy’s Dream, and when they asked her if she knew anybody who might want to run the London Marathon and raise some money for the charity, I was delighted when Michelle thought of me.

Running London has been a dream of mine ever since I started all this running mullarkey about 9 years ago (at the ripe old age of 34)! The chances of getting a ballot place are now very slim (even though I have tried every year) so the opportunity to take on a rare charity spot for such a great charity is one I am truly honoured to have.

I will post more about Michelle’s story and the charity themselves as my training increases towards the race on the 2nd October this year. There is plenty of time for that. I know what you are really wanting to know about dear reader, and that is “what sort of condition are you in to even run a marathon Snooky?”

Well, as you asked, let me summarise my current level of fitness and general health below.

  1. I am currently 20kg heavier than I have ever been when attempting a race like this.
  2. My right knee is not in good condition. This is caused by my right leg being a lot weaker than my left for no obvious reason.
  3. I had about 2 months off of any exercise over Christmas due to a back spasm caused by playing golf!
  4. I can’t really run more than about 5km, and even if I do run 5km it is slower than I have ever been.
  5. At the time of writing this, I am positive with Covid-19

Reading the above, you may well think to yourself that I have no right to be doing anything other than just sitting on the sofa and smashing out the Netflix documentaries. And you would probably be right. But there are a few things that you have probably not considered in all this. A few things that I should make you aware of so we can all start my new blogging journey off on the right foot.

  1. I can and will lose the 20kg extra that I am carrying before I run London (see Project 80).
  2. This right knee problem can be fixed. Losing the weight will massively help, plus I can work on strength and mobility to help with this.
  3. The problematic back can be kept in check with Yoga and mobility work and perhaps playing less golf (though this last one is never going to happen)
  4. 5km is pretty good for somebody who doesn’t run much any more. Plus, I will get quicker and my endurance will improve with trianing
  5. Covid will be gone soon.

The final thing to consider in all of this, and probably the most important one, is that my motivation to complete this race and raise money for Daisy’s Dream could not possibly be higher. With the right level of motivation, anything is possible.

I will be throwing absolutely everything into my training to get my body and mind into the best shape possible before the race in October.

It has been a long while since I have regularly blogged, so am committed to keeping this up to date once or twice a week right up to the race and beyond.

I do have some much bigger endurance racing goals for 2023 and beyond, but for the time being lets focus on the task in hand and get ready for London Marathon 2022.

Hope you are all safe and well out there in the world and managing to dodge Covid as best you can. Take care all and speak soon.

TTFN

Snooky