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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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Merry Christmas runners everywhere!

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There is nothing like an old friend and the Shorne Woods in north west Kent between Gravesend and Rochester are a bit of a love of mine. I tend to visit more when it’s winter as the ground is cut up, usually flooded and full of crap to give yourself a good going over with. But now with my new found love of cycling I decided that I’d grab my road bike (my beloved Decathlon Triban 3) and cycle up to the  wood. It was a delightfully hilly ride and with the wind whipping in my hair and around my knuckles I hadn’t felt so good in ages. I drifted down to excellent cycle rack, locked up the iron horse, tweeted a few pictures and strapped my pack onto my back – I was going trail running.

I always forget how much I love trail running until I’m doing it. Hills, mud, wet,  slipping and sliding – there is nothing like it, well not unless you’re a pig I guess. I raced up Cardiac Hill, I raced down it and then around it, I kept getting lost and following signs taking me round in circles, what fun I cried. I growled provocatively at passing walkers and dogs and threw myself with gay abandon into every inch of water I could find.

Oh the glory!

After an hour of fooling round in the mud I descended on the cafe, stood at the door not wanting to make the floor dirty and requested one of their delicious bacon sandwiches and a cup of steamingly delightful coffees.

My feet, legs, arms, back and head were wet with sweat, mud and tears but with a bacon sandwich in my tummy and a ABBA in my head I grabbed my bike and hurtled home – downhill almost all the way to the cries of WEEEEHEEEEEWOOHOOOOOOO.

Oh what fun!

It has been my pleasure for much of the last few years to be running on a very regular basis but the addition of cycling just adds a great new dynamic and I highly recommend it to anybody. Additionally I will also recommend the Shorne Wood to any trail runner who fancies a few hills and guaranteed mouthful of crap (you will  fall over 🙂 ).

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I’ve been feeling a bit shit for a few days, no running, busy at work and a stinker of a migraine that I thought might be on it’s way out but this sunny evening or perhaps that should be rainy, having decided to get the tube for a change, I managed to pass out just before I got to the station. Feeling faint and needing to sit down, I actually managed to crash out near Bond Street, it’s been near the surface all day but the idea of standing and walking clearly irritated my already fucked body.

Still many thanks to the two lovely people who came to my aid , a young Canadian couple, Jacqueline and I didn’t catch her partners name but without their assistance things might have been much worse. Some liquid and a bit of Dairy Milk made me feel well enough to stop them calling for medical attention.

Having now managed to pull myself together I’m now at the station and feeling really shaky but okay. Let’s hope nothing else happens today.

Why though my fellow bloggers am I telling you about this? The answer is simple, what the hell would you do if you were 25miles into an ultra and this happened? No signal on your phone and even if you could get signal your brain is mashed? And with just a few weeks to C2C this is a bit worrying.

Hmmm, wish me luck runners!

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I’m loving the look and feel of my Salomon S-Lab trail shoes but are they comfortable enough to run in? For me I’m having some doubts, but this morning I’m going to walk across London in them and see how they go and then hit the road in them for a short 3 or 4 miles tonight and see wants cooking. Wish me luck and enjoy Friday Running.

Let me start off by explaining that the fear of FAT is not some sort of joke, the fear of FAT is my fear that there are certain factors in life that might overtake running. Family, Age and Time are the three things that send a bit of a chill down my spine and already I can hear the counter arguments that family make you richer in terms of heritage, immortality, etc and with age comes wisdom and that we must simply make time for the things we want to achieve. I believe all the counter arguments to the things I fear, however, fear of these things I have.

At 36 I’ve just acquired my second puppy and it’s exhausting – my family has grown by one (I already have one big puppy) and in the near future I am aware that my partner and her already stated ‘ticking biological clock’ are likely to want to start a family with a slightly less canine tint and more of a baby tint. This is fine in the grand scheme of things but the question it raises as a runner is how will this affect me? I’m already witnessing lots of tweets talking about the lack of training because of no babysitter or no energy or… well the reasons are many and varied. My ultra running often means I’m away from the house for relatively long periods of time when I run, it’s not like taking a half hour jog around the block or the 20 minutes I need to whip around the Parkrun course. A child might take away from the running and my key dreams of running the UTMB, UTMF and MdS (maybe WS100). Don’t get me wrong, extending my family is a lovely idea and I’m keen to do it but those centurion belt buckles are important to me and if I don’t start earning them now then being a good ultra runner might just pass me by – all of which leads me seamlessly into my second fear …

Age.

36 I’m fully aware is not old but I’m a few months from 37, I try to look after myself but I’m older, weight doesn’t shift as quickly, I spend more time stretching and keeping myself on the road as I do spend time on the road. On a bad week when knee, back, ankle and hip pain is bad I can be found languishing in a pit of my own making from years of overtraining and not looking after myself. If I could go back and tell the young UltraBoy what a difference looking after himself might make to his chances of running longevity then I would take that opportunity in a heartbeat. I’d tell him that running will become the thing that means the most to him and that actually ally that other crap, or life as some people call it, will carry on regardless of whether he runs. However, age has also given me appreciation for what I do have, it does make me grateful for the ability I have and it makes me savour it. I was at the Folkestone Coastal 10k a last year and there was a man running his final competitive race, he was 80 years old – I want to still be doing that, the only difference is that I don’t want to walk it, I would want to run it. So I guess I’m mindful of age because time can pass us by and I’m doubly conscious that my ability to even contemplate 100 mile ultra marathons is not infinite.

And so to time … ‘Time is a predator that stalks us all captain’ Star Trek Generations.

I’ve been working exceptionally long hours the last 6 months or so (well the last 15 years actually), coupled with the strain of being in a job I don’t like, the hours of this job killed my training and my attempt to complete the TG100 – I went into that ultra more exhausted than I have been in a very long time. I’m sat on a train this morning exhausted and as writing this I’m thinking that my hour long journey to London Bridge would be better used by getting some sleep. The arrival of a new puppy is adding an interesting dynamic with some through the night howling and all in all I wonder how I’ve fitted running into my daily routine. We all have our crosses to bear, I am fully aware of this but I’m keen to understand how the hell people manage to fit in running for ultra training. I already get up just after 5am, I never get home much before 8pm – I do tend to RunCommute where possible, I often need to start work again soon after arriving home and rarely get to bed before midnight or 1am and tend to be a crappy sleeper anyway. I have the upmost respect for the people who run before work, I see them tweeting and think ‘wow’ and the RunCommuters who push out 10 miles before most normal people are awake. RUNchers, mothers, fathers, Parkrunners, racers, jobbers, walkers, running clubbers you guys amaze me.

Solutions?
Ah, you didn’t think I’d write all this negative stuff and not have some solutions did you? Hmmm

1. New job, closer to home
This means that I’d have more time for a family, see more of the family I have, perhaps even have time to join a running club. My current daily commuting time (without running) is over 4hrs, often closer to 5hrs and those 5hrs could be better used.

2. Less hours
Over the summer I was working every possible second, laptops on the train, emails as I walked, at one point I didn’t sleep at all for 5 days in order that work was completed on time and to the correct standard.

3. Less rigid training
Go with the flow, find the time around things, look for opportunities and don’t let opportunity wait to find me

4. Eat better
Slow down the signs of ageing with an improved diet

5. Listen to advice
My partner, my physio, my body, etc. I can be stubborn and a bit of a fuckwit by listening to the advice of the people who care, or who know I might well benefit from some excellent pearls of wisdom.

6. Don’t give up
Nothing is impossible and everything can be reached by finding small compromises, especially for a fun runner like me. By remembering I do this because I love it I can break the shackles of my slightly creaky and worn body, I can find the time and I can have a family who appreciate me.

7. CaniX and a baby buggy with bloody big wheels
Take the family with you.

So there we go, I might fear FAT but FAT can be faced and with a reasonably sensible plan the future doesn’t have to mean the end of my running career just as it’s about to get into full swing.

It’s Christmas I hear you cry, it’s that time of year when the whole world kicks back and takes a bit of a break – well not if you are a runner. For me Christmas Day itself is being moved to Boxing Day because of the logistics involved and because my other half is on call that day and I see no sense in trying to have the traditional quiet day when I could be out running. So my festive morning will be spent motoring through the back roads of Kent before taking my new puppy on her first walk outside – exciting times, but enough about my festive plans there are a couple of more exciting things to talk about.

The first is a brief point, as some of you are aware I used to blog under a different name but gave up the blogging after I’d had some unpleasant experiences, in that time one of my very excellent running friends set up the UltraBoyRuns twitter account and also the UltraBoyRuns WordPress blog and for the first few posts he was blogging as me but after a little nudge and a promise that I would maintain a much lower profile I started contributing again, I’ve now taken over both accounts full time now as my very good friend tells me that he’s had enough of pretending to be me (all the superhero business was a bit much). I am in the process of setting up an archive of the older material as I hopefully made some useful points and interesting posts. Anyway basically I just wanted to say thanks for continuing to read my general witterings and it shall be full steam ahead into 2014 as I look to further improve on my race tally.

The second thing is my overview of 2013.

It’s been a really weird year of running – firstly because it didn’t properly get going until my first race of the year which was the White Cliffs 50 in March and finished rather suddenly at the Snowdonia Marathon in October and while there was a huge amount of training involved during the year it felt like a bit of a failure. I failed to run 3000miles, I failed to qualify for the UTMB, I failed to complete the TG100, I failed to put in a sub40 10k this year, I failed to get into the London Marathon. I felt like a year of failure if I look at it like that. However, there is a flip side. I did complete The Wall and the WC50 both in UTMB qualifying times, I did become an outdoor swimmer and complete both the Great North and Great London Swims, I did record another 3 marathon races and added more than 20 medals to my ever growing collection and I did earn enough qualifying points to make an attempt at qualifying for the CCC, the little sister of the UTMB.

It has also been a year of injuries, there was a broken foot, there have been general feet problems, plantar fasciitis, ITB problems of epic proportions and now an ongoing hip and lower back problem – some of which has been caused by over training and continuing to train while I have been injured.

My favourite medal of the year was the Kent Roadrunner Marathon and my favourite race was probably too difficult to choose but The Great North Swim was amazing and so was Rat Races Trailblazer but for sheer determination it would have been the White Cliffs 50. There is something about crossing the line after 54 official miles and nearly 60 not so official miles with a broken foot  having just sprinted the last kilometre in your Vibram FiveFingers

Next year is a year of ultra marathoning and very little else (well maybe a triathlon and a few other smaller bits) but I’m hoping that I’ve learnt from my 2013 experiences and will use these to power myself forward. My new found love of cycling and swimming will surely only enhance my prospects of keeping middle age at bay and there is a positive feeling in the air that next year might be my year.

Good luck for 2014 runners and keep running, keep blogging.

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