It’s now May. More to the point, it’s now 2013 and this is my first post. The days, weeks and months are speeding by at an alarming rate. Time flies, as they say, when you’re having fun – but the same can also be said when you are extremely busy. I spent the first couple of months of the year studying hard for my Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. After taking the exams, doing the compulsory training days and spending time doing a nutrition case study, I had my final practical assessment in London 6 weeks ago and passed with flying colours. I am now fully qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer (with only a couple of modules left to do to complete my full diploma).
I know it was 6 weeks ago because the very next day I managed to break my foot – a Jones fracture on the 5th metatarsal to be precise – while demonstrating a running drill to a client. Not a moment I’ll forget, mostly because of the way my clients face went white but also because of the sound – as if someone had snapped a piece of wood in half. My client kindly offered to drive me to A&E but for reasons borne out of professionalism (and no little amount of embarrassment) I told her we couldn’t as she hadn’t done her circuits and forgive me if I have a little sit down.
So broken bones have lead to broken dreams or something similarly overdramatic. I had planned to attempt the Ridgeway Challenge yet again this year but even though I probably would have time to train for it, I think it would be foolhardy so I’m putting it out of my mind. Honest guv’nor.
Where does that leave me? At a good point I think. I have to start slowly back and am even thinking of doing the Couch-to-5k plan or joining my clubs Start-to-run course and get back to fitness slowly. It would be good from a training point of view both to avoid injury and also know exactly what it’s involved so I can knowledgably comment on it for potential clients. I may even aim to do a 5 or 10k or two by the end of the year – as well as take part in Cross Country season (which, I remember, I didn’t do last year because of Plantar Fasciitis).
More than anything, this has given me incentive to make sure I look after my legs better otherwise this neglected blog is in danger of becoming The Traildragon Catalogue of Running Injuries (2012 onwards).
I may even start blogging again but I make no promises.
I had a dream last night that I was at the start line of the 2013 Lakeland 100 and that I hadn’t trained and wasn’t prepared. I set off anyway and went quite quickly, reasoning that I had nothing to lose and it might be the only time I’d get ahead of Terry Conway. I couldn’t remember the course (an account of being asleep) and then remembered that I hadn’t sorted my PF or ITB issues out and had forgotten my rucksack. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t have one of those “and then I realised I was naked moments too”.
The oddest thing about the dream is that I haven’t entered the race next year. I’m not even doing the 50.
I started writing this post back in August but never got around to posting it, so it’s a bit late. It’s probably for the best as I’ve now got a bit more distance from the race and some more perspective. I’ve moved on from the race – I’ve “done” the Lakeland 100, beaten it, got the medal and the t-shirt and went from a DNF in 2011 to race finisher in 2012 – and I’m focussing on new challenges, new goals. So why write this now? Because I learned a lot about myself and my training and I feel I should share that in case it helps someone else.
Shortly after my last blog post, way back in September, I ran to work one morning and by the end of the commute, a mere 8 miles along roads, I was in absolute agony. There was a dull throb in my left foot and after a few hours, I could hardly walk. I went to my GP a couple of days later who confirmed what I suspected – Plantar Fasciitis. No more running for a while – rest and recuperation. That was at the beginning of October.
I haven’t been doing a very good job of it to be honest. The reason I suspect this has come on is because of tight muscles and as I keep going on about this and about how I need to stretch and foam-roll and restore the balance to my legs, you’d think I’d have got it sorted. But I haven’t. And I don’t. And I really, really should. Bad Traildragon! So I’ve only got myself to blame and my cross-country season has been all but written off.
What surprised me on further reading was that Plantar Fasciitis is an extremely common complaint and not just in athletes and runners. Apparently 1 in 4 people will suffer it at some point. I know I’m not alone: Tom Goom, a Brighton based runner and physiotherapist wrote about treating ultrarunner Jody Raynsford’s PF. I should probably get my foot properly assessed to see if I can determine what the exact causes are – I have problems with my right leg but rarely with my left so for it to go so suddenly and without warning means something isn’t right. I suspect it’s my running shoes which are getting a little beyond their best-by date.
On a side note, when I went to my GP I said one of the reasons I went in was because I wanted to be sure it wasn’t anything more serious, like a chipped bone. His response was “How can that be? What on earth do you think can get chipped?” Reading Tom’s post, the first thing he does is to rule out “a calcaneal stress fracture (stress fracture of the heel bone)” – so I wasn’t wrong in wanting to rule out skeletal damage. I should trust my instincts more!
So, there we are – my latest diatribe about my continuing ailments. As I don’t have much running to write about at the moment, I’m going to have to think about some other topics to discuss instead. Hmmm… I wonder how long I can keep the seasonal themed titles going?
The club run on Wednesday night was my first significant run (even if it was only 8 miles) since the Lakes which means that I’ve spent two months off running, give or take. Gym visits and a mix of strength and circuit work have kept me ticking over though even if I haven’t been working to a plan and the visits have been merely to assuage any guilt I’m feeling about not running – up until I remind myself that I still feel ITB related pain in my hip, knee and foot.
Like thousands of others, I received a rejection letter yesterday that informed me that I hadn’t got a place in the London Marathon through the public ballot. I have mixed feelings about this but find myself in the position of having to decide whether to go for one of the places that my club invariably has. I think I should – while there are plenty of marathons to do, both on road and off, the London Marathon is a bucket-list race and could be quite an experience. The reasons I’m not sure I want to do it are a) it’s a road race and b) there are 36000+ other competitors.
If I don’t do the VLM, I have to decide what else I do want to do. That’s very much up in the air because, aside from revisiting the Ridgeway Run, I wasn’t planning to do any ultras and stick to shorter distances. Potentially much shorter distances… remember that pie-in-the-sky thinking about doing the British Masters Track and Field champs? Yeah, well… that. But people keep talking about events and I keep thinking “Hey, yeah, that sounds good!” (The latest is the Norman Conquest 100 in May and my wife suggested a 100 mile ultra in Brittany – the Raid Golfe du Morbihan – which would mean relearning my extremely rusty spoken French. That would be a sacrifice I could live with I suppose.
But that’s next year. This year isn’t over yet – I have my PT course that I need to concentrate on and get done and Cross Country season officially starts on the 20th October. Holiday’s over and it’s back to the grindstone. How’s everyone else doing?
Blood. Sweat. Tears.
As I sit here typing this I have my Lakeland 100 UTLD Finisher 2012 medal nearby and I look at it and I think “Yes, you literally are the result of my blood, sweat and tears.” No, not literally as in it’s made from my viscera and bodily fluids because that would be weird and gross. And improbable. But, oh my, tears have been shed, blood has been spilt and so much sweat has been, err, sweated. There was also copious amounts of mud, rain, sun, jelly babies and, importantly, smiles.
Now I come to try and write about my experience and how the event panned out and I’m stuck. I’ve given away the ending already so there’s no suspense wondering whether I made it and no drama in wondering if I’d make it before the cut-off. I suppose it’s a little like the film “Titanic” in that you know what’s going to happen at the end – except in this case there are less icebergs, no bands playing and I didn’t get to paint a picture of a naked posh bird. Yeah, actually it was nothing like Titanic at all.
So all that’s left is for me to tell you how it all played out. Unfortunately I can’t promise it won’t be a little bit mundane.
The weekend was an unqualified success. I finished the course 32 hours, 45 minutes and 11 seconds and I’m delighted with that. I’m still processing everything that happened so expect several pages of write-up before long.
The Other 90% is a series of posts referring to the common saying that exercise is 10% physical and 90% mental.
It’s been a while since my last Other 90% post, which prompted Sam to ask “What’s your usual way of dealing with the mental aspect of ultrarunning?”. Sam then went and ran a storming race at the South Downs Way 100, finishing in 2nd place with a time of 17hours and 23 minutes so I think he’s in a far better position to be talking about this than I am. Not only that but I can’t claim to have a “usual” way of dealing with ultrarunning as, while I have some experience with endurance events, I’m relatively inexperienced when it comes to ultramarathons.
Now I find myself with two days to go and I’ve been spending most of the last two weeks with an eye on the goal and what it will take to acheive it. This post is (the last) part of that mental training and may seem a little random but it’s a snapshot of where I’m at right now.
I started prepping my gear this weekend, making sure I had all the gear on the required kit list and planning my race nutrition. Out of curiosity, I also weighed everything to see how much extra weight I’d be carrying. Here’s the list:
|Pack (OMM Ultra 15L)
|Base Layer (top)
|Base Layer (bottom)
|Hat and gloves
|First aid kit
Other essentials that I will be taking as well:
Then I have some optional extras – luxuries if you will – that I may take with me.
If I take everything, my pack will weigh roughly 4kg (assuming I take 2 bottles of water on most sections) or 3.5kg if I don’t take the optional extras.
Why would I take the luxuries if they’re going to add half a kilo of weight? Because of the mental aspect. If the weather is adverse (as it’s currently looking to be) then fresh socks/top can help give a sense of comfort. The camera I’m already in two minds; I want to be able to take pictures but I’m not sure I can be arsed to (and if it is going to be raining, I may not take it with me). Music? Some people may not like running with it, I like the option. Last year I found that I got a huge lift going around Blencathra with my music on and I flew from Dockray to Dalemain. (This year I might save that inspiration for the second half of the race.)
I know it would be possible to save more weight from the required kit list – up to as much as another 500g if I really put time, money and effort into it. If I were in the running for a top-10 spot then I’d be probably be more dedicated to saving every ounce that I could but I’m not. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, I don’t know how much my performance will be affected overall if I carry an extra ~400-500g. Obviously I’m going to move slower with a pack than nothing at all but in my favour, I’ve been training with a heavier pack, it’s still much lighter than a full mountain marathon pack (no tent or sleeping bag for a start!) and hey, even at the end of May I weighed 4kg heavier than I do now.
How much does your pack weigh?
I came home from a few days away with the family to find out that an alternative event to the Olympic Torch relay had received coverage from some of the major media outlets including the BBC, the Telegraph, ITV News and the Independent. Inspired by the official Olympic Torch relay, the Real Relay is an attempt to get a single baton around the country, on foot, following the course of the official torch in, well, a relay; a relay run by real runners over 9 to 12 mile stretches, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Oh, and to see if money could be raised for a good cause too, with donations being made to CHICKS, provides free, week long respite breaks for disadvantaged children from across the UK.
I feel very lucky, proud and privileged that I was able to take part in this event. It turned out to be quite an adventure.
I want to show you something:
That’s the t-shirt I got last year at the Lakeland 100 registration. It’s a competitors t-shirt, worn by those who took part.
I’ve never worn it.
I made that decision when I pulled out of the race last year because I didn’t feel I deserved to wear it. So it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, teasing me. Taunting me. Challenging me.
John Kynaston has posted a list of his three goals for the Lakeland 100 – bronze, silver and gold targets that he’s aiming for. It’s a good way of spreading bets on a result but also a good mental support for runners. Setting a time goal alone is tricky because there’s always the chance that if your pace slows and you get it into your head that you won’t make the target and the thought of giving up becomes very, very tempting. Stu recently found that in the SDW100. I found it last year, after a fashion, because my head was not on the race but on the idea of not getting too tired to see my friend. Big mistake – my focus should have been on the race.
So this year I’ve already set up some targets and now, with two weeks to go, it’s time to share them.