Shall we try again…..?

For those of you who remember this blog from before, or even the previous incarnation (known as Iron Snook), you will be relieved, excited and all round thrilled to learn that the blog is back.

For those of you who are reading my blog for the first time, please let me bid you a hearty welcome.

I have decided to start writing this again as we are living in rather crazy times and I wanted to provide a little oasis of sanity, and perhaps hope, as the world falls apart around us.

OK, perhaps this is a bit overly dramatic, but certainly modern Britain looks a lot different than it did a year ago. That being said, some things have not changed. Crucial to this blog, the things that have remained consistent are:

  1. I am a very very very bad runner.
  2. I still have the innate ability to gain 1 or 2kg in weight by just glancing towards a piece of cake. That’s right folks, I don’t even have to eat it any more. I just need to look at cake to absorb its calories. Rather a shit super power, but I guess you don’t get to choose your gifts.
  3. My reach still exceeds my grasp (more on this later).
  4. I am still terrified of failure.
I'm out of it a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur. - Han  Solo DOG | Meme Generator

Remember when Han Solo gets defrosted from the carbonite in Jabba’s Palace? In fact I have no idea why I am asking, of course you remember that. One of the best scenes in Star Wars. Anyway, after he is unfrozen and chucked in a prison cell Chewbacca tells him that Luke Skywalker has become a Jedi Knight. Han exclaims in disbelief “I am out of it for a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur”.

Well “delusions of grandeur” perfectly describes my current project, trying to run the South Downs Way 100 in June 2021. I have already failed twice in 2020 to complete this race. Luckily for me, Covid came to the rescue and the 2020 summer race was postponed until November, to then be postponed again to June 2021. I was not ready for either of the 2020 races and would not have made the start line.

Despite the fact that I failed to avoid injury and train up to make this race twice before, my “delusion of grandeur” allows me to think, for some unknown reason, that this summer might be different. That for some reason, though I have been physically incapable of making the start line twice before, that history will not repeat itself. That this time it will be better.

You never know though, I might just get away with it. I wrote a training plan back in December and have stuck to it so far. I am trying as hard as I can to get a bit of weight off. I am doing Yoga and mobility work 3 times a week minimum. I am lifting weights regularly to maintain core and muscle strength. I have even given up beer!

Yoda pie chart | FlowingData

So now all I have to do is train. Probably harder than I have ever trained before. I have to eat clean, look after my body, try and improve my mobility, get plenty of rest. I have to maintain a positive focus on my goal, realising that there will be slip ups along the way. I have to enjoy the journey. And as long as I do all of these things, there is a very good chance that I will arrive at the start line in Winchester on the 12th June 2021 in the best shape I have ever been in.

As Master Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, there is no Try”. So I will do the training. I will do all the other things I need to do. Then I will run from Winchester to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way. 100 miles. 30 hours to complete it.

I will succeed. Despite my doubts. Despite the fact that I am a very shit runner. Despite the fact that I have no right what so ever to be on that starting line. I will complete this race.

So here is to the journey. To running in the dark, in the rain, in the freezing wind. To running when you are tired and your body aches. To getting up at 4am at the weekend to run so you don’t impact the rest of the day with your family. To the struggle and the pain and feeling like I am never gonna make it.

I hope you will join me on this journey as I chart it here. I promise not all of the posts will be about Star Wars.

May the Force be with you.

Snooky

Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen

Only the coolest amongst you will recognise where the quote from the title of this blog post is from (hint, the image below is a big clue). For the rest of you it will mean very little, other than the fact that for once in my life, my training is going to plan.

Palpatine - Wikipedia

So far I have run 13 out of 13 of my planned training runs. That is right, I have not missed a single one yet.

“Big Woop” I here all of you runners who stick religiously to your training plans say. But for me, this is quite the achievement.

Under usual circumstances I write a detailed plan, set out with the best of intentions then after a week or so it goes right off the rails and I usually end up just writing yet another plan, to plan for where the first plan went wrong, then not sticking to the new one. Rinse and repeat and hey presto, you have pretty much summed up my approach to training over the last few years.

This time it seems very different. I have consistently trained through tiredness, heat, rain, niggling calves and ankles. I have gone out regardless, and I feel a lot better for it.

The idea or concept of consistency is a fascinating one. Whilst it is entirely logical that if you consistently do a thing over a long enough period you are bound to improve at it, for some reason it has taken me a VERY long time to come around to this idea.

I recently read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. In that, he talks about how he convinced James Cameron to give him the role of the Terminator (which was originally supposed to have been played by OJ Simpson, believe it or not).

Pin on The Terminator

Arnold mentions to Cameron that the Terminator is an android (cybernetic organism to be precise) and as such, would not blink when firing off pistols, shotguns or automatic rifles. To add authenticity to the part, Cameron would need an actor who can train himself not to blink when shooting weapons. An actor who can condition his body not to do a thing which it naturally does to protect itself (eg blink when a very loud and very bright weapon is discharged close to the eyes, which are very delicate at the best of times).

Arnold goes on to say that he is uniquely qualified to train himself into this position, as it is just about reps (repetitions). He has lifted tonnes upon tonnes of weights, performing rep after rep to get the physique that took him to 7 Mr Olympia titles.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Universe 1967 from Austria | Arnold ...

Firing a gun without blinking, argues Arnold, is exactly the same. So that is what he did. He went to the firing range and trained for months on end, firing all manner of different weapons until he could shoot these guns without blinking.

If you watch the Terminator movies closely, in the scenes when he is shooting weapons Arnold never blinks. It is such a subtle thing, but adds to the overall lore of the movie and helps the audience to realise just how deadly this android (cybernetic organism) really is. How unfeeling it is. How not human it is. How it cares about nothing but killing.

An actor blinking as he shot would make him look human. Arnold realised that this was no good, but also that there was only one way to train yourself to be able to shoot without blinking, and that was repetition and consistency.

Whilst I absolutely love this story (Schwarzenegger is a bit of an idol for me) it also has direct correlation to my own training journey.

Have I ever really consistently applied myself to fitness training in the past? The answer to that is no. Have I ever just repped out my training runs. Rep after rep, run after run. No matter what, gone out and completed that run. Again, the answer is no.

For the first time in my athletic endeavours, the importance of just repetition and consistency is clearly obvious to me. The penny has finally dropped.

So here is to a further 17 weeks of consistent training. No missing any sessions. At all. For any reason. Consistent running. 5 times a week, every week, for 17 more weeks.

My body will adapt to this. I will get fitter. Only consistency and repetition will cause this to happen. And who knows, perhaps I will be able to not blink when the starting pistol sounds at 6am on the 7th November.

Here is to consistent training, loving the journey and making the start line.

TTFN

Snooky

What’s the plan then Stan?

Some time ago, I blogged about the benefits of writing your own training plan, rather than just following a set one that you can get from the internet. You can see this post here if you are interested. – Why you should write your own training plan.

In a break with tradition, I have decided to follow my own advice and have created my own training plan for SDW100. Following the always brilliant advice of Jason Koop, my initial focus will be on interval work to try to increase my VO2 max and also improve my overall running speed.

I have always been a slow runner, having come from zero running background and only picking up all this exercising malarkey in my mid 30’s I was starting from a less than strong position. Whilst running 100 miles is not about running fast, increased VO2 max will allow me to run quicker at a lower overall heart rate, which is vital to being able to sustain a decent pace for the 24-30 hours it is likely to take me to complete the 100 mile race.

Tortoise v Hare | When2Pray

After a short phase of interval work (about 5 weeks) I will be moving onto “tempo” runs, where I increase pace during a normal run to a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace and for 10 minutes or longer, then drop back to normal speed. Again this is designed to improve my running speed overall and to push my body to adapt to running more quickly over longer distances.

7 or so weeks of this, then we are into the final phase where I start to piggyback two long runs together, running perhaps 2 hours on a Saturday then 3 or 4 on a Sunday to help develop the longer range stamina. At this point, I will be only training on trails similar to the South Downs Way, will have to include a decent chunk of night time work to practice running in the dark and I will also be running at some very strange times in the day (2am starts, 4am starts etc) to help me get used to running when tired.

These longer runs will also be done carrying all the kit I will be needing on race day, again to help me adapt.

The overall idea of all of this is that I approach race day used to the terrain, used to running on tired legs, used to the darkness and the weight of the kit, whilst being able to maintain a quicker pace at a lower heart rate.

That’s the idea anyway. Am still very far from convinced that 20 weeks is enough time to get fit enough for this. Luckily I do hold a trump card. My ability to tolerate pain seems to be higher than most people and I am also extremely stubborn.

Despite breaking 3 ribs after only 6 miles of the Race to the King (which is 53 miles in total) I carried on and completed the race in a decent time. That was agony, I was only able to take in about a quarter breath and every time my foot hit the ground my ribs sent shooting pain through my chest. Admittedly I didn’t realise I had broken 3 ribs until I found myself in A&E the day after the race, but the fact remains that if I can battle through that, I should be able to battle through whatever 100 miles of the South Downs has to throw at me on November 7th.

Only time will tell I guess. Put in 20 weeks of decent training, make it to the start line with no injuries and then see how I get on.

Should be fun.

TTFN – Snooky

Guess who’s back……back again…

Snooky’s back…….tell your friends.

As Eminem once rapped “I’ve created a monster”, and it appears that I may well have done the same.

The South Downs Way 100 has been moved to November 7th (due to Covid-19). I knew this some time ago and made the executive (and probably wise) decision not to race. Since then I have done barely any training what so ever.

Fast forward a few months and with 20 weeks until the new date, I have decided that I am going to do my best to train and make the start line.

My motivation for this is 2-fold

1 – My usual running buddies of Wendy, Nicky and Freestone are all going to try to make it, so I think I probably should too.

2- The charity that I fundraise for, Chestnut Tree House, has hugely struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic as so many races have been cancelled and then rely on these races for people to fundraise just to keep them open. The SDW100 is on, I have a place, can do some fundraising, so I feel that is it only right that I do so.

And thus the monster is born. Except this monster has to fit what should really be at least 1 years dedicated training into 20 weeks, shed at least 15kg during that time and then “monster” his way across 100 miles of the South Downs in November. Could it rain? Very likely. Could it be windy? Extremely likely. Will it be cold? Definitely. Will I have to run for 14 hours in the darkness during this race. Yes.

I have spent most of my life biting off more than I can chew, then chewing like crazy. If I am honest, this technique has worked fairly well. I have a feeling this time the bite may just be that little bit too big.

Is it possible to train up to 100 mile Ultra Marathon fitness in 20 weeks. We are going to find out!

TTFN

Snooky

And so it begins – incremental gains

So, as I write this blog post it is 27 weeks until I will be lacing up my trainers and running the South Downs Way 100!

For those of who budding Carol Vorderman’s out there, you will quickly realise that this is just over half a year. This seems like a very long time. Despite this, my training plan has already begun.

As I blogged on my previous post “Why you should write your own training plan”, I have written my own training plan. Usually I would write a plan then ignore it, but this is not going to be the case this time.

The reason I know this to be the case, is that I have recently become very interested in the idea of “incremental gains”. Whilst the theory behind this is simple to understand, the ramifications are profound.

Image result for milo carrying calf
Milo and his bull

Imagine you are learning to do something, which you regularly practice, but you only get 1% better at that thing week on week. It would be logical to assume that over 27 weeks you would be 27% better at that thing, but this is not how it works. Now you are going to have to bear with me a bit here, this gets a bit mathematical, but if you read to the end I am sure it will be worth it 😉

Each 1% is compounded, meaning that rather than being 27% better, you are actually almost 30% better (trust me, the maths works out here). Where this starts to get interesting is if you improve faster than 1%. So a 2% week on week increase in fitness would mean an overall increase over 27 weeks of 67% on your overall fitness. 3% would equal a 115% increase in fitness.

So the £64,000 question is, can you realistically improve 3% on your fitness week after week after week? The answer to this is a definite no (as you will see below), but it is also not needed. 1% is good enough. If we were to break this down to something everybody could relate to, lets say your 5km time, it starts to makes sense.

If on week one I am capable of a 30 minute 5km (which in my case I am), then 1% week on week improvement would mean that at the end of 27 weeks I should be able to run 5km in 23 minutes and 10 seconds. This is a simply huge improvement, but is spread out over 27 weeks, so possibly achievable.

On the contrary, if I improved by 3% week on week, then I would be running a 13minute 55 second 5km after 27 weeks. Now I think we can all agree this is impossible. So 3% improvement not likely, but 1% possible? I am not sure, but lets carry on theorising regardless.

But I am not running 5km. I am running 100 miles, with a 30 hour cut off period. So lets look at the same numbers for a marathon

As things stand, my marathon PB is 5 hours. Improving 1% on my marathon pace week on week over 27 weeks would see me theoretically capable of a 3 hour 51 minute marathon at the end of that 27 week period. Now this is much more like it. Even a half of a percentage improvement week on week would see me cutting 40 minutes off of my marathon time over 27 weeks.

Now I would hope that the 1% improvement is achievable. Get the exercise right, stay injury free and eat clean and I should be OK. So that is my plan. Try to get 1% better week on week for the next 27 weeks. If I can hit this, I can finish 100 miles. I have no doubt.

I told you, it is all about incremental gains.

TTFN

Snooky

The little things are what makes the difference

This blog post is a bit about sadness, a bit about happiness and a bit about running. Please bear with me, the running comes at the end, but I hope (if you do stick with me) it is worthwhile.

So then dear blog enthusiast, as I write this my life has almost completely fallen apart. Whilst I don’t want to go into the detail of why on here, suffice to say that in my desperation to keep everybody happy, do the right thing (or what I thought the right thing was) and spin a lot of plates I have spectacularly failed on all fronts. The metaphorical pot is well and truly bubbling over. The fat lady is singing.

This has lead to an inevitable slump in my mental health. For those of you who have suffered from depression, or know somebody who has, you will be all to aware that whilst you can occasionally get the “black dog” of depression under control, he is always waiting just round the corner to bite you on the arse.

Image result for black dog depression

Luckily for me, I can feel the black dog approaching these days and can do the things I need to do to keep him at a distance, to stay out of his shadow. Trying to exercise, reach out to friends, mindfulness, eat well, that sort of thing. Never the less, and despite doing all these things, I am still struggling to get out of bed on some days.

This morning was one of those days. As I lay in bed trying desperately to motivate myself to get up and go to the gym (which incidentally I did not manage to do) I received a WhatsApp message. The message was from an old running buddy, and simply said:

“Today I have realised how much of a positive influence you have had on my life. Thanks to music. Happy Friday :-)”

A very lovely message to receive, I am sure you will all agree. But it was the timing of this message that was so poingnant. The sender had no idea how tough I am finding my life right now. No idea that on this particular morning I needed a little boost. They just sent me the message because they were thinking of me, remembering a shared experience we had and the music they were listening to reminded them of that experience. It took the sender probably about 5 seconds to send that message, but it has had a MASSIVE positive impact on me.

I got the little boost I needed. I instantly felt so much better about everything. Out of bed I jumped, ready to face the day.

Image result for limp bizkit chocolate starfish and the hot dog flavored water
This is the music that reminded them of me. One of the best albums of all time!

This experience got me thinking about life and about focussing on the little things rather than the big ones. About setting goals. About striving for the best. I have been guilty, my entire life, of setting myself huge goals. Below is just a short list of some of these.

  • Complete an Ironman (when I had not done any exercise for the preceeding 15 years. None at all).
  • Be a good Dad – not happy with just being a good Dad, I must be the BEST Dad ever or I am failing.
  • 4 hour marathon target for my first marathon (failed abysmally).
  • Must be successful in career or business – I have no idea how I even measure this, but I know that even Alan Sugar levels of success will likely not be enough for me.
  • Run a 100 mile ultra marathon in sub 24 hours

There is nothing wrong with any of these goals; however I have a tendency to obsess on the big target and lose sight of the little things. To be good at running, you just need to consistely run over a period of time. That is it. Consistency is the key. Don’t skip sessions when it is raining. Stick to your training plan. Lots of little bits of effort add up to a big change in ability. I am AWFUL at doing this. Simply terrible.

To be a successful businessman you just need to do a little bit every day to drive your business or career forward. Not ignore it for months, then go bonkers for a day or two, then back to ignoring it. Small improvements or movement forward each day.

To be a good Dad, you need to do little things every day for yor kids. Even if there is not a tangible and immediate benefit to them, lots of small things add up to something very big.

To change somebodys day, even though you might not even know they need their day changing, all you have to do is send them a simple message when you are thinking of them. A small gesture, can have a huge impact.

I guess the moral of the story is that in life, in running, and in general, try not to sweat the big stuff. Take care of the little things each day and the big things will happen. Set yourself goals, but do not consider them a Sword of Damocles, hanging over your head ready to chop it off as soon as you fail.

Finally, to the person who sent me that message this morning, if you are reading this, then thank you. You have genuinely changed my day today and altered my outlook on life. Amazing how much a small thing can make a massive difference.

For the rest of you, why not try to be this person for somebody today? Why not send somebody a message when you are thinking of them? You never know, it might just make their day.

Time to turn things up a notch or three!

So this is a blog about running. But on the 12th August 2019 it is also going to become a blog about something else.

I have taken the decision to take on a secondary challenge alongside training up for the South Downs Way 100. There is a man from Belfast called Neil McTeggert that I have follwed on social media for some time. Neil runs TeamDILF, a little project designed to help guys like me shed their Dad bods and become chiseled out of stone.

I chatted with him this morning about my goal to complete the South Downs Way 100 in June 2020, but also how much I would like to change my body in other ways.

It is not just aesthetic to me. I am getting older. My birthday was at the weekend and I am 41 years old. My 41 year old body lets me down. I don’t feel as strong as I did when I was younger. I am by no means agile. My mobility is shocking. Yes I have a certain amount of pedigree in running/swimming/cycling a long way, but that is about it.

To add to this, and as I have blogged numerous times in the past, weight management has been a constant issue for me during all my endurance endeavours. I am just not very good at managing food intake, energy expenditure etc.

I am sure that Neil holding me to account will be the push I need to shred the unwanted fat, get strong in ways that running doesn’t promote, help me to make my body and my mind harder and give me a psychological boost when it comes to the endurance stuff.

So watch this space (or more specifically this one) for regular updates on how I am getting on with my 16 week body transformation. Fair warning to you all, there will likely be photos of me with my top off. It appears from Neil’s website that he seems to enjoy that sort of thing, so in for a penny in for a pound I say.

TTFN – Snooky

Why you should write your own training plan

If you are anything like me, you have probably browsed for and downloaded a few different training plans in your time.

Whether you are trying to run a fast 5km, thinking about your first half marathon, or considering a marathon or beyond, the internet is awash with articles and information about how to train.

Also, if you are anything like me, you download these plans, make a nice spreadsheet, plan all of your runs, then something happens and the plan gets derailed. In my case, I usually ditch that plan, spend ages finding a new one and then go again, only to repeat the same old thing.

Training plans that you find online also tend to be fairly generic. If you want to run faster, you include a lot of tempo and interval work into the plan. If you want to run long, you include a lot of long runs. This is perfectly logical, but does not suit everybody. Also, by the nature of generic training plans, they are geneneric. Sounds like an obvious thing to say, but if you really think about it, are any of us actually generic?

You may have a background in swimming, or cycling, or have run when you were younger but not for years. You may have never run at all, or be a seasoned runner looking for that extra edge. You may be overweight, underweight, tall, short, wide, narrow. You may be an over-pronator or an under-pronator. You may run in trainers, or perhaps running sandals, or barefoot. You may prefer trails, or like the road. You may recover fast from training, or slowly. You may want to run 2 times a week, 3 times a week, 4 times a week (you get the idea). More than likely you are a combination of these things, meaning that no two runners are alike. So why do we all follow similar training regimes? It doesn’t make sense.

I recently read a book that totally changed my thoughts on run training. Admittedly it is aimed at ultra running, but I think that the principles apply to all run training. The book (in case you are interested) is Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop

What is most interesting about the book is that there are no training plans included in it, for the reasons I have set out above. We are all different, so Koop gives you his opinion on how to train and then you make your own plan.

Essentially it is split into three main components. These are:
1) VO2 max training
2) Tempo training
3) Endurance training (long runs)

The logic is that you work on the thing you are worst at first, so if you are not quick (like me) you work on your VO2 max to help you run faster. This then means that when you perform your Tempo runs, you are running further at a faster pace. This then has a knock on effect on the long runs (which are slower runs by nature), as you are reaping the benefits from a higher VO2 max and you can run further at a faster pace with the same effort, due to the increase in the volume of oxygen you can process in a given time-frame.

So I built my own training plan. 3 weeks of VO2 max training (flat out hill interval work) followed by a easier week then 5 weeks of tempo work, then about 4 weeks of endurance training. Then repeat.

Now admittedly I am only a few weeks into this plan, but as you can see from my previous post, I am running better than I ever have already. I have no doubt this is down to the interval work that I have been doing, meaning that I can run further and faster on less effort, making the runs more enjoyable and making me want to train more.

The other massive benefit is that because I have written this plan myself, I feel that I am letting myself down if I do not stick with it. When I am following a plan written by somebody else, I don’t seem to have the same emotional investment in it. But I haven’t missed a single session in 3 weeks so far (despite them being very hard) and I am improving fast, so there must be something in it.

So why not give writing your own plan a try. Or (if you like), send me some details about your goals and what your current strenghts/weaknesses are and I will write one for you. Don’t worry though, I do appreciate the irony in me writing a post about you writing your own plan, then offering to write one for you.

Hope you are all enjoying the heat, and if anybody is at Queen Elizabeth Park this evening and sees a fella in a Chestnut Tree House vest running what looks like horrible hill intervals, that’s me, so stop and say hi.

TTFN – Snooky

Ever wonder why people run?……..this is why

Just over a couple of weeks ago, whilst sitting on my sofa, I was thinking about my upcoming races this year. I am running the brilliant Ragnar Relay with 4 good friends, but this won’t require me to run more than 7-8 miles in one go. My usual level of bravado figured this will be fairly easy at any level of fitness (completely untrue) and despite the fact that I haven’t really run properly all year, I wasn’t worried. There was 12 weeks to go till the envent. Plenty of time.

Then my mind slowly turned to the next event after that, the Beachy Head Marathon. Slightly different kettle of fish this, but I have run it before, it was 16 weeks or so away and with my usual level of misguided bravado I figured it would be alright.

That brings me on very nicely to the next event, the Wendover Woods 50 (WW50). This is 50 miles, not 50km. So its an ultra. And it was (at the time) 18 weeks away. It is now 16 weeks away!

Now bearing in mind I had hardly run all year, have put on almost 10kg in weight compared to when I was running regularly, this is clearly a slightly bigger fish to fry. For some unknown reason, I thought that this course was fairly flat. I even tweeted as such. You can read the fairly worrying responses to this tweet here.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the WW50 is hilly. Sorry did I say hilly. I should have said HILLY. Sorry did I say HILLY. I meant HILLY. Apparently, it has approximately 10,000ft of elevation gain over 50 miles. If you consider that the South Downs Way 100 (twice the distance) has approximately 12,000ft of elevation change, this should give you an idea of just how hilly the WW50 is.

Rapidly I felt my previous bravado leaching away from me. In place of this bravado was abject panic. “Is it possible to train up from virtually nothing to 50 miles in 18 weeks” I thought to myself. Well there was only one way to find out.

Jump forward two weeks to the present day, and I have two weeks of training behind me. Two gruelling, punishing weeks where my body had to learn to run again. Even 30 minutes was hard. How was I ever going to run for upwards of 15 hours? Then it all came together in one beautiful moment, and I remembered why I love running so much.

Sunday was my “long run” day, so I headed up to the South Downs just north of where I live in Portsmouth, ready for a nice gentle 70 minute run on the trails. It was evening time, about 8pm. The light was perfect when I parked my car. It was still, quiet and beautiful.

The run started in the Sustainability Centre car park near East Meon. I was straight onto the South Downs Way and immediately heading uphill. For those of you who have not run on the South Downs Way, it is almost always either uphill or downhill. As I ran up the first hill I felt OK. In fact I felt a bit better than OK, I felt good. I reached the top of the hill and remember thinking “well you couldn’t have done that two weeks ago”.

As I plodded on, down single track running trails and descending a super steep rocky path, I felt good. I was running well. No aches and pains. Not feeling like I couldn’t breathe. It felt good.

Meon Springs

Running past Meon Springs fishing and campsite, I realised that I hadn’t passed a single other person. I hadn’t even seen a car, or heard a plane in the sky. No tractors or agricultural vehicles. Nothing. I was all alone on the South Downs with just cows, sheep and goats for company. The sun was dropping in the sky, bathing the countryside in a beautiful orange glow. I raised my hands up to the sky and was thankful. Just to be able to run in such a stunning place, to be able to do this, is magical in its own rights.

Reaching the bottom of Old Winchester Hill, I turned around and headed back the way I came. It is amazing how running the opposite direction always seems shorter to me, despite the fact that I had a very steep incline to walk up and it actually took me a little bit longer to get back.

Arriving back at the car park, I posed in the classic style of the wonderful @RunningDads on twitter (who is the master of this strange open mouth pose) and my run was complete. A total of a hilly 10km in just over 70 minutes. I’ll take that any day of the week.

So that is why I love running. All alone, sun setting in one of the most beautiful places on earth I was reminded that with training, you can condition your body to enable you to enjoy a 10km run. If you run in the right places, at the right times, you get a connection to nature and the outdoors which is second to none.

Hope you are all out there enjoying your running as much as I am.

TTFN – Snooky

It’s time to Po-ta-go

Have you heard the story about the Australian fella who only ate potatoes for a year?  Yes that is right.  Just potatoes.  Only potatoes.  For one year.

He is called Andrew Taylor and his story is an amazing one.  A chronic overeater (even though he was a vegan) he decided to cure his food addiction by eating only potatatos for a year.  He was perfectly healthy for this year, lost a shed load of weight (about 50kg) and now runs https://spudfit.com/, where he helps others do do the same thing.

Now I am not a chronic overeater, but I am prone to making very bad food choices and I am terrible at sticking to any sort of diet.  I also need to lose weight (all be it no more than about 15kg (I currently weight 95kg).  I found Andrew’s story hugely inspirational when I first heard it on the outstanding Rich Roll Podcast.

spudfit and roll
Left – Andrew “Spudfit” Taylor  Right – Rich Roll.  Two heroes of mine.

So hear is the plan Batman.  I am going to base my diet almost entirely on potatoes until I lose 15kg and get under the 80kg mark.  This is about the right weight for my height in terms of race fitness, and as I mentioned in my previous blog post It’s time to address the elephant in the room, carrying too much weight is not a good idea when running.

I am not doing pure potatoes like Andrew did.  I will still munch an occasional salad when out and about and I cannot get my hands on a potato, but if I am at home, or heaven forbid at a friends house (where I will asking for potatoes) then I am sticking with good old spuds.

If I stand any chance of completing a 100mile Ultra not only do I need to be at the best possible weight I can be, but I also need to be at that weight quick so the impact on my body is less during training.  As the miles ramp up, carrying round 15kg of extra baggage is just not an option.

So if you see me at the greengrocers with a big sack of potatoes, you know what I am up to.

TTFN

Snooky

PS – if you are interested in finding out your idea weight for running, you should check out the Racing Weight website.  A brilliant resource and well worth a look.  They have a book too 🙂