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 ūüėČ

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

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

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.

TTFN

Snooky

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

As any regular blog readers will know, mostly I blog about training, fundraising or write ups from the races I take part in.

Ever since I stated this endurance racing adventure there has always been an elephant in the room. ¬†Lurking in the background has been an inescapable fact that I have chosen to ignore. ¬†Yes you can train hard. ¬†Yes you can train smart. ¬†Yes you can make sure to rest well and sleep 8 hours a night, but if your diet isn’t on point then you are almost certainly letting yourself down.

1)  I am an unhealthy vegan.

vegan-policeLike most people in the Western world, I probably don’t eat the best diet. ¬†Despite going 99% vegan last year (nobody is 100% vegan…………right???), I quickly found a way to eat a fairly unhealthy vegan diet.

Vegan cakes are easy to make. ¬†Chips are always vegan, and so are baked beans, lots of vegetarian sausages, many pies, take away pizza (with no cheese), etc etc. ¬†Also, almost all booze is vegan, and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of booze?

Plus, it is easy to over eat no matter what your diet is like. ¬†Simply, if you consume more calories than you burn up each day you will gain weight. ¬† And gain weight I did. ¬†Over the Christmas period I managed to gain an impressive 16lbs of weight. ¬†8kg in new money. ¬†That’s a lot to gain in 3 weeks off work.

2) Sometimes I run like the wind………other times I just have wind!

I often suffer with stomach cramps when I run.  If I get my diet wrong before I run, or I go for a run too soon after eating I will almost always suffer from a bad stomach.  This is fairly common with runners or endurance athletes; however when I generally eat badly I feel a lot more sluggish when out exercising.  This clearly does nothing to aide my training.

3) You are what you eat

This is an old saying, but is entirely true.  How can you expect to fuel a machine to its maximum performance if you feed it crap.  If you put dodgy petrol in a car then it runs worse.  Perfectly logical.  If you feed yourself on crap food you will perform worse.  Also logical.

4) 5% of the time this works, every time.

Mo Farah celebrates winning the men's 5,000m final at the European Championships in Helsinki in JuneI cannot remember where I read the following statistic, but it has stuck in my ever since I
read it. ¬†For every 5% of weight you lose you gain 5% in athletic performance with no additional training. ¬†In other words, somebody who is as fit as me but weighs 5% less will be 5% faster. ¬†This makes perfect sense. ¬†You don’t see very many overweight people on the podium at triathlons. ¬†Mo Farah doesn’t look like he is carrying a lot of extra baggage around.

Another way to think about it is this. ¬†My “racing weight”, e.g. my ideal weight for maximum athletic performance is around 168lbs (calculate your own racing weight by clicking here). ¬†This is 76kg for you Europeans. Or exactly 12 stone for us good old Brits.

I currently weigh a whopping 206lbs, 93.4kg or 14stone and 10 lbs.  In other words, I am 38lbs (17kg) overweight.

If I was lined up at the start of a marathon and somebody said to me “would you like to carry round this backpack that weighs 38lbs or not”, I think you can all guess what the answer would be. ¬†But that is essentially what I am doing. ¬†Imagine how much quicker I would be, how much easier it would be on my body if I can shed that unnecessary weight.

 

The moral of the story…..

So the moral of this story is, it is time to sort out my diet, and by proxy my weight.  I am determined to nail this missing link to my training.  I have never paid that close attention before, but this is going to change.  Somehow I feel this might be the most difficult part of any training I have ever done.

Wish me luck

TTFN

Snooky

 

Next years events are starting to take shape

I am currently in limbo.  Like most of the country who have time off work between Christmas and New Year, I am totally clueless as to what day it is, what I am supposed to be doing on any particular day or how many calories I am consuming on a day to day basis.

There has been an enforced break from training lately, partially because I fell over whilst running and badly bruised some ribs and partially because I had a minor operation a couple of weeks ago and was advised not to run or really do anything for a while.

So all in all it is the end of 2016, I haven’t exercised for ages and I am now sitting on my¬†wife new computer (Xmas present) thinking about 2017, my blog, my challenges and what I am going to do about it all.

My UltraMarathon in June

As some of you will already be aware, in 2017/2018 it is my intention to run 13 marathons in 12 months.  Starting with the Brighton Marathon in April, I will run a marathon every month until the following April when I will finish this challenge at Brighton Marathon again.  Also, just for good measure, I have decided to take on a 53 mile UltraMarathon in June.

Motivation for this challenge is 3¬†fold. Firstly, I am intending on raising money again for the very deserving¬†Chestnut¬†Tree House and thought I¬†would need a fairly sizeable challenge to match up to my Ironman in 2015. ¬†Secondly, running has¬†always been my weakest link in triathlon, so why not get rid of those demons by running¬†my way through an entire year? ¬†And lastly (or thirdly if you prefer) I have realised I am the sort of man who needs a¬†challenge. ¬†Without something big to¬†aim for, I just don’t really bother to train. ¬†I still do a bit, but not as much as I should and I need major events looming over me to get my arse off the sofa and into some lycra!

It is a bit of a shame for me that I am this sort of person.  Why can I just not be internally motivated to exercise regularly?  Why do I need the threat of a major event?  Why can I not just be happy running a Parkrun on a Saturday morning and going to the gym like everybody else?

I do not know the answer to these questions, but what I do know is that trying to run a marathon every month for 13 months is a very different challenge to the Ironman, and one that should not be taken lightly.



Me at the end of Christmas

Speaking of lightly, there is one more thing that I need to conquer in 2017, and that is weight management. ¬†Even during the peak of my¬†Ironman training I never got my weight down. ¬†I have hovered around the 90kg mark (14 ish stone for those of us who still use old money) and no matter how much I run, cycle or swim it never goes down. ¬†This is cause I mostly eat what I want almost all of the time. ¬†Losing weight is 90% diet and the rest down to exercise. ¬†Usually I wouldn’t give a monkeys about weight, but it is so important in running and being as light as possible will help me hugely to stay injury free and recover fast. ¬†Ignoring weight and just carrying on regardless is accomplishing nothing.

So that is the plan for 2017/2018.  My events list has been updated on the tab above if you want to take a look at what events I will be doing when, but essentially it is run run run.

I am¬†determined to keep this blog up to date for 2017 and am also going to have a bash at a vlog or two. ¬†I know, exciting stuff isn’t it. ¬†I am sure you are all right on the edge of¬†your seat.

Anyway faithful readers, that is it for now.  I am up in the morning for a naked 5 miler with the Portsmouth Triathletes (not quite what you think) and assuming I survive will be back soon with a bit more information about next years challenge.

TTFN.

Snooky




What alcoholics refer to as "a moment of clarity"

On Saturday evening I arrived home from a long drive back from Sussex, having  been eating food at a BBQ all day.  Well I say food.  Mostly cake.

I was tired out. ¬†I didn’t want to do anything other than sit on the sofa and perhaps enjoy a nice cold beer. ¬†My wife and I had put our girls to bed, and we were all set for a night of doing as little as possible.

As I wandered into our bedroom to change into some trackies a strange thought came over me. ¬†“Why not go for a run…….?” ¬†As soon as it popped into my head it seemed like the obvious thing to do. ¬†I had been eating cake all day, hadn’t done any exercise for almost 2 weeks and a run would do me good. ¬†It appeared that I actually wanted to run. ¬†My brain seemed to be telling me that I would rather go for a run than sit on the sofa and drink beer.

I found myself changing into my running gear in a trance-like state.  Before I knew it I had said goodbye to my wife, had strapped my trusty Luna Sandals to my feet

and was out of the front door, running my regular 7km route. ¬†Despite having a relatively full belly and being hugely dehydrated I was running well. ¬†I wasn’t watching my pace on my running watch, I was just running. ¬†

Reaching the halfway point on the run I decided to take a different route home as I fancied running a bit further than I had planned. ¬†Quietly, in the back of my mind I could hear a voice faintly saying “What the hell is wrong with you Snooky?”. ¬†But there was nothing wrong with me. ¬†I was just running. ¬†Running for fun. ¬†And I was enjoying myself.

Now obviously I have enjoyed running in the past, but Saturday seemed to be different. ¬†I just felt good running. ¬†Comfortable. ¬†Like it wasn’t an effort anymore.

Continuing on (and getting a bit lost) I eventually found a road I recognised and headed home.  I had run almost 11km at an average speed of 6min/km.  That used to be close to my maximum speed.  Now it appears it is just my normal running speed.

This change in me, this love of running, I really hope it is here to stay.

TTFN

James




It appears I have forgotten how to swim

So we are well into May, and the Triathlon season is upon us.  Last year I had a lot to aim for, with all of my events building up into the September Ironman.  This year it is a bit different.

With no major event looming at the end of the season, my desire to train has been low.  That, combined with an ongoing ankle injury, has meant that I have been doing way less training than I should be (by way less, I of course mean none).

Determined to get back into my training, I went for a brief bike ride last week. ¬†Just over an hour on the bike and I was hooked again. ¬†It is strange how you don’t really realise how much you have missed something until you have the chance to do that thing again. ¬†Being reunited with my bike and riding through the Hampshire countryside, I couldn’t help but think back and remember how I rode this same bike 112 miles, and then ran a marathon. ¬†That seems like eons ago. ¬†I still can’t quite believe it.

Spurred on by this re-kindling of my love of cycling, Bushy and I went out on Sunday for a sociable few hours.  We got lost, but managed to eventually find our way to a pub which sold a very nice drop of local ale.  Not having the pressure of training for a specific event and just riding the bike for the fun of it was great.  We just enjoyed a nice sunny day cycling.  What better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Now all of this talk of not having an event to train for is not exactly true, as on the 26th June I am competing at the Arundel Castle Triathlon. ¬†This is an Olympic Distance event, which means a 1500m swim, 40k bike and then 10k run. ¬†Either I am incredibly arrogant or overly self confident, but I don’t see completing this event being an issue. ¬† In fact, I reckon I could go outside right now and complete this. ¬†That being said, there is a distinct difference between completing and event and competing at it. ¬†So with about 5 weeks to go, I have embarked on a proper training plan.

This plan is simple. ¬†Train 6 days a week. ¬†2 swims, 3 bike rides and a couple of runs. ¬†Easy right? ¬†Should be around 10 hours training a week which I can fit in fairly easily without it impacting my home life too much. ¬†As usual, most of my training will either be very early in the morning or late at night, but I am used to this and it isn’t a problem. ¬†My wife is on a exercise campaign too, meaning that we can train at the same time in the evenings and I am not abandoning her to go training all the time. ¬†Plus, there is no need for the mega long distance work I was doing for the Ironman, so time is not so much of a factor.

With the plan in place, I set about training this week. ¬†Monday was a beautiful evening, so I jumped on the bike when I got home and whizzed up and down the hills which are right outside my house. ¬†Only 35 minutes of riding, but 3 decent sustained hill efforts behind me I chucked the bike into the garage and then was straight out for a run. ¬†These sessions are known as “brick” sessions, where you cycle and then run afterwards. ¬†Designed to mimic the transition between Cycle-Run in a triathlon, they are a vital part of any triathletes training plan.

I am back into my barefoot running, so without further delay it was off with my shoes and onto the pavement.  I love barefoot running, but it can be tough on your feet for a while whilst you adapt.  As I had done no barefoot running for some time, I took it easy and only did 10 minutes, managing just over a mile.  There was some gravel and broken tarmac but I handled this well and have no signs of blisters etc so my form must have been good.  Great success!

With Monday training behind me I woke up on Tuesday feeling good.  I was planning on going for a 6am sea swim with some friends from the Pompey Triathletes, but I woke up later than planned so this was out.  Instead, I swam in the evening at the local pool.  This is where the trouble began.

Starting off my swim session I felt (if you pardon the pun) like a fish out of water.  I seemingly had forgotten how to swim.  Combined with this was the fact that swimming really seemed to aggravate my injured ankle.  This left me having to swim without kicking.  This is fine in a wetsuit where your legs float, but without the buoyancy a wetsuit provides my legs sink like a stone, acting like a giant brake behind me.  As I hauled and battled my way through consecutive lengths I was absolutely exhausted.  The chap swimming in the same lane as me must have had a bath in Lynx deodorant, as I could taste this as I was swimming along.  Hardly ideal.

After about 1000m of swimming I was done.  My calf felt like it might cramp and I was fed up.  Swimming used to be my strong point.  Now it was apparent this was no longer the case.

Arriving home to cook dinner I discovered that my wife had hurt her knee running, so all in all not a great day of exercising for the Snooks.  My ankle was swollen up.  I was not happy.  Waking this morning my ankle is hurting again.  The ongoing saga of an aging triathlete.  

Still lessons learnt and on with the plan. ¬†I will not be swimming in a pool again unless I absolutely have to. ¬†I don’t enjoy the chlorine in the water, don’t like having to turn around at the end of the length, don’t like having to avoid the other people and would much rather swim in open water. ¬†So it looks like 6am sea swims are the way forward.

Perhaps see you at the beach?

TTFN

Snooky

It’s been a while…………..but I’m back……….and better (ish) than ever.


So last week marked exactly 7 months since I competed at Challenge Weymouth Ironman.  It seems a lot longer ago than that.

On Sunday 13th April I should have run the Brighton Marathon, which I trained for over the winter. ¬†Sadly I did not run. ¬†I have had a cough now for at least the last 9 weeks (perhaps longer) and decided to pull out of the marathon last week. ¬†It was a very hard decision, but I wasn’t getting enough training in and to be honest my chest hurt when I simply breathed in, let alone ran. So whilst the decision not to run was a tough one, it was most probably the right one.

Two Chestnutters

What I was not prepared for was the sense of utter disappointment I felt in myself for not being able to run.  As any regular blog readers will know, I compete in major events to raise money for Chestnut Tree House and the fact I was letting down the charity that I care for so deeply affected me a lot more than I thought.

Luckily, my grumpiness about not being able to run was fairly short lived.  Mostly this is because my wife does not tolerate any self-loathing behaviour (thank you for that Doc), but also because there are plenty more races and plenty more chances to raise money for Chestnut.  It is just deciding exactly what to do.  

Once again, as luck would have it (and as Baldrick would say), I have a cunning plan. ¬†Part 1 of this plan is simply to sign up again for Brighton Marathon. ¬†I have already done this. ¬†Because I enjoy a challenge and because my catch phrase is “how hard can it be”, I have decided to run the marathon next year barefooted. ¬†More to come on this in future updates.¬†

Part 2 of my plan is to get organised for a big event again.  I have done an Ironman and whilst I would love to do another one one day, I am fancying something a bit different.  
Enter onto the radar Ride 24, a 24 hour non stop bike ride from Newcastle to London.  This is 310 miles in total, takes on over 6,000ft of climbing on the bike and is a hell of a thing to do.  Doing anything for 24 hours is tough, but riding a bike for 24 hours non-stop is a fairly decent challenge.  

As usual, my Triathlon buddies have rallied around and Bushy, Neil, Mike and Curry are all making noises like they might join in with me. ¬†It’s not until August 2017 and after all, how hard can it be?

I am going to try and update the blog more regularly (for those of you who care), so keep your eyes peeled for future updates.

TTFN.

Snooky

So what’s next for Iron Snook……………???????

The question I have most often been asked following my Ironman exploits is “what’s next?”

This question is asked with a sort of expectation hanging over it, as if I should have already planned my next endurance event.  A huge number of people who complete an Ironman for the first time immediately sign up for another one.  The buzz that you get from Ironman, the sense of accomplishment and the exhilaration of finishing the race are so huge that you want to feel that way again.

I have not signed up for another Ironman. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I would love to do another one; however this would need to be some time in the future. ¬†My wife and family sacrificed a lot to allow me to do all the required training for Weymouth. ¬†The stress and worry I put my wife through, competing at Weymouth, is not something I wish to repeat in the near future. ¬†Likewise, with my girls being so young, I owe it to them to have a few summers together where we can enjoy ourselves without having to fit Ironman training around us. ¬†

So if not another Ironman, then what is next? ¬†One thing is certain, I will not be going back to my old lifestyle. ¬†The couch potato is long gone. ¬†I really enjoy exercising now and intend to keep it up. ¬†Also, I love a challenge. ¬†Weymouth was exactly this. ¬†I went, I competed and I conquered. ¬†Another challenge for 2016 is needed. ¬†Some people may not understand this but I need the challenge in my life. ¬†Something to aim for, strive towards. ¬†After all, a rolling stone gathers no moss……..right?

I have been running through a few ideas in my head. ¬†None of them have really cemented. ¬†The closest I have gotten is considering running a marathon every month from April to December. ¬†I already have Brighton Marathon booked up (in April), proudly competing as one of the Chestnut Tree House runners. ¬†It would be easy to book a marathon for each month until the end of the year. Bizarrely though that challenge doesn’t seem big enough. ¬†I am fairly confident I could put my trainers on in the morning and run a marathon. ¬†I am physically fit enough, the rest is just mind over matter. ¬†My experience at Weymouth has taught me that mentally I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Looking back through my blog it has become apparent to me that a little over 12 months ago I couldn’t run at all. ¬†Injury had plagued my running and I searched high and low for answers, eventually finding a solution to my problem in barefoot running.

I ran barefoot to rehabilitate myself from injury. ¬†It worked. ¬†As soon as I was healed I went back to running in shoes as I had to do fairly big mileage for the Ironman and was not going to compete at that barefooted. It made sense to run in shoes. ¬†Ever since I have neglected my barefoot beginnings, running over 800km in my trusty Brooks running shoes. ¬†Recently I got an email from Strava (the run logging app) advising me that I had run past the 800km mark and I needed to buy some more shoes. ¬†Apparently you are not supposed to run more than 800km in shoes. ¬†You need some new ones at that point to protect your feet. ¬†That has gotten me thinking…………….

I know from my barefoot running that you do not need running shoes to protect your feet, especially when running on tarmac. ¬†Our feet are strong, and have 1000’s of receptors in them that constantly feed back to our brain in a beautiful subconscious loop. ¬†Just like our fingers and hands, our feet and toes are sensitive. ¬†To perfect the art of running, to truly understand my body mechanics and how it works, I need to run barefooted. ¬†To become better at playing the guitar or making a clay pot you would never dream of wearing gloves. It would dull your senses and make it harder for your brain to receive the feedback that it wants to. ¬†Wearing shoes and socks does the same for our feet.

Now obviously I am not going to try playing guitar or making a clay pot with my feet. ¬†These are both artistic endeavours, requiring the dexterity that your fingers have. ¬†You would not necessarily think of running as an art form, but in a lot of ways it is. ¬†Similar to many things in life, running (done badly) is doing nobody any favours. If you run with poor form, you will get injured. ¬†If you don’t listen to your body, you will over train and hurt yourself. ¬†Our feet are the number one way that our body has to tell us if we are over training when running. ¬†They will hurt before we injure ourselves, forcing us to stop. ¬†Encasing them in shoes and socks can stop this feedback loop, leading to running with poor form and injury. ¬†This happened to me once before. ¬†I have no intention on letting it happen again.

As such, Iron Snook will be reborn as Barefoot Snook.  It is my intention to set myself the challenge of completing a major running race barefooted before the end of 2016.  Depending on how I get on, this may be an autumn marathon.  Alternatively I might make it an autumn half marathon, or perhaps a 10 mile race (like the Great South Run).

Compared to an Ironman this may seem like small beer; however teaching myself to undo all of the bad habits that years of wearing shoes have taught me will not be easy.  Wearing shoes with raised heels (as almost all shoes have) has shortened my achilles tendons, shortened my calf muscles and weakened the bridge of my foot.  I will need to take it slowly to allow my body time to adapt to that of a barefooter. I also need to build up the foot and leg strength required for barefoot running.  Finally I need to make my running form as close to perfect as I can get.  Barefooting will allow me to do this.

Of course there will be more info to come from me over the next few weeks as I re-start my barefoot journey.  For the time being Iron Snook is having a rest and Barefoot Snook is rising from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix.  

TTFN

Snooky





Sometimes you have to look backwards to go forwards

As a triathlete, or any sort of endurance sport enthusiast you are almost constantly looking forwards.  You strive to beat previous times, run quicker, swim faster, cycle better.  This is fueled by websites such as Strava or Garmin Connect, which allow you to record your workouts and then compare them to previous efforts or to other athletes.

It is very easy to become obsessed with this. ¬†“Last time I rode up Portsdown hill in 5min 11 seconds and today it has taken me 6 minutes……..I must be getting slower” or “I am the 112th fastest person who has run along that section of road, but only 116 have ever run it. ¬†I am shockingly bad at running”.


Click on the link to the right of this post
to follow me on Strava

Thoughts like these will often pass through my mind as I am reviewing my workouts.  Of course I tell myself that this sort of analysis is essentially pointless.  The only way you can really compare two workouts is if the conditions during those workouts are exactly identical.  Same weather, same time of day, same amount of sleep the night before, same nutrition, same gear worn, same everything.  Naturally some days you feel faster and some slower, depending on training load, nutrition and sleep.  I know all of this, but never the less I still pour over the data and run myself down for not being quicker.

Every once in a while somebody reminds me of where I have come from and why I should feel hugely proud of myself.  Usually this is one of my mates who I regularly exercise with.  I will moan and groan about how I am still slow or unfit, and the guys retort by reminding me of just how far I have come. 

In the constant pursuit of becoming fitter, leaner, more muscly or whatever else you might be training for it is only too easy to lose sight of where you came from. In August 2013 I couldn’t run to the end of my road. ¬†I would get out of breath walking up the stairs. In August 2015 I can cycle over 100 miles with relative ease, have completed a marathon and can swim for pretty much as long as I like. ¬†To be honest I am barely recognisable from the man I was two years ago. ¬†Broadly speaking I look the same on the outside (other than being bit thinner) but inside beats the heart of a proper endurance athlete. ¬†OK I’m not the fastest. ¬†Agreed, I may consistently finish in the bottom 3rd of my races, but who cares. ¬†

It is an interesting feeling being only 29 days away from the Ironman, what will be without a doubt the biggest challenge of my life so far.  I am hugely excited to be racing and massively proud to be representing and raising money for Chestnut Tree House.  Coupled with that is the fear of what I have signed myself up for (as mentioned in the previous blog post).  Fear of the unknown.  

One thing that I know for certain is the man I was in 2013 would have had absolutely no chance at all of finishing an Ironman.  As for the man I am today, well I guess in 29 days we will find out.

TTFN

Snooky