So race day is 9 weeks today and how time flies.
It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. There are several reasons and being too busy is not one of them. First off, some statistics. I have run 2040 miles since starting on this particular challenge and apart from during a couple of races all of them have been solo running. Most of the time I like solo running, with no headphones and music of course. I like to be out there with nature and thinking about ‘stuff’ whilst I am running. As so many runners will attest to, running is a great time to think through your problems and worries and quite often the answer will come to you, sometimes you are in so much pain you forget what the problem was in the first place. Saying that, it is a lot of miles to be running on your own, especially as at the moment it is just a case of ‘getting the miles in’ just nothing too exciting. It is so nice though when something out of the ordinary happens and just such a thing happened when a young buzzard hopped on to a post next to one of the paths I run on. It was almost tame, I stopped and took photos and talked to it and it just looked at me. It was just awesome and made so many of the runs along that path just so worth while.
So, back to why I have not blogged anything for quite a while. I can only put it down to I have lost my ego. What do I mean. Well, when I started on this particular challenge I got a bit carried away with thinking that because of my age and the level of challenge, that lots and lots of people would be really interested in what I am doing and that I would get sponsors (not charity but sports equipment/advice/gym etc.) because there are not that many people in the country doing what I am doing. The truth is, nobody wants to sponsor me and only a handful of people are really interested. Now I do not consider this a problem and I am not looking for sympathy or feeling down about it or anything. It is just the reality of it. Now I have represented GB in the past and so I know what it is like to ‘be up there’. These days I still manage to win my age group or in the top three and in the top third or quarter of all ages, which I am quite proud of. But it puts you in that area where you are not at the front or you are not at the back and you just fade into the crowd. This isn’t just me by the way it is an observation over 40 years of running. Look at the London Marathon for instance. The front runners or the back walkers get all the media. The thousands of runners that put effort in, week in and week out, run good times but just get lost in the mire. I have always run for me and never ‘looked’ for glory and never will but some days/weeks I just think it would be nice to get some credit for what I do. No problem though, please don’t think I am being negative, I am not, but again as any runner will attest to, running is so much in the head and the more happy you are the better you run. Of course is also works the other way round. Running well makes you really happy.
I have competed in a couple of events in the last few weeks as well. The first one saw me become an ultra runner. It was the Imber 33. Thirty three miles of mud, rain, wind and a little bit of sun around the Imber ranges on Salisbury Plain. I have to say as tough as it was I really enjoyed it and learnt so much about ultra running, the experience was invaluable. The second was The Malvern Hills Trail Half. As the name implies it was a trail half over and around the Malvern Hills including up and over the Worcester Beacon. Although it was only a half, it was quite tough, the mud was several inches deep and quite a few runners ended up falling. I am pleased to say I managed to stay upright, but then again I wasn’t racing as such, it was a training run/learning event for me.
So with 9 weeks to go what am I doing. Well apart from trying to sell my house I have got the Neolithic Marathon in a couple of weeks and the Ridgeway Revenge 1/2 in June. Both being used as hard training runs rather than races. Long runs at the weekends and a easy midweek 14 over to Avebury. Keeping the mileage up to between 70 and 80 a week. I have and will be taking protein shakes after most runs as well. I realised that I was not eating enough protein and being the lazy cook and not knowing where the kitchen is in my house I decided to get a protein supplement. And I have to say I do feel better after taking it after every run. So there is another lesson learnt. Eat properly when you are running 70 – 80 miles a week.
Well, if you are still reading this, thank you and I will update you all a bit nearer the time.
Well week 23 of my Race To The Stones challenge and all is well. I think.
Last weekend I raced in the Exeter Half Marathon. First of several races this year. I said to myself I wasn’t going to race hard but just gauge what my fitness level was. Of course all that changed when I was on the start line and I ended up ‘racing’ it. I managed to hold a conversation during most of it, completed it in 1.48 and won my age group. So was fairly happy with that, especially as I was in a certain amount of pain for most of the run. I think I have a long standing injury with my piriformis (my bottom) and I think I over did it on the run, in fact I could hardly walk the next day. And so I took a couple of days off from running, bought a roller and have managed to book an appointment at Swindon Sport Injury Clinic to get it checked out. I have started running again and it does not seem to give me too much of a problem if I just run at normal training pace, but still going to get it checked out as don’t want any problems when I start going over the marathon distance.
21 miles done yesterday and felt ok for saying I had not done a long run for a few weeks. So as the Imber 33 is in only 3 weeks I am going to try to get a couple of long runs in per week for the next 2 weeks. I am getting both nervous and excited about my first event over the marathon distance. It will be a new experience for me. I know I am going to do it. I just want to do it well in a respectable time.
So back to long distance training for me.
Ok so about time for another update I think. As I have not blogged for a while this covers weeks 10 to 18. I have really started to ramp up the mileage in the last few weeks. Weekly totals are as follows 64, 69, 60, 66, 52, 71, 47,71 and 70 including excellent longer runs of 21 and 22 miles along the Ridgeway at the weekends. The rest is just the 8 mile a day standard run apart from a couple of days at Lympstone in Devon, home of the Royal Marines and a good training area.
In general I am really enjoying the training. There are days when I really don’t want to go out but once I am out all is fine again. Not too many aches and pains and still got plenty of energy so must be doing something right. After saying that it is all long, slow, distance running and I have not got down to doing any speed work, I still have that pain to come!!!!
I have spent quite a bit of money on kit recently. I bought an Ultimate Direction V3 vest and I have to say it is brilliant. Having a purpose designed ultra vest is a revelation. I wear it on every run I do and it allows me to take pretty much whatever I want with me. I always carry a camera but on the longer runs I carry extra clothing, gels, food, water, maps, compass etc. and you really don’t know you are wearing it. An excellent and necessary purchase. I also spent £180 at Decathlon. I bought so much kit and love it all. Mainly compression gear and winter running wear. Another worthwhile trip.
For reasons I wont go in to I am now not running the Hereford Half and the Wye Valley Marathon. So races I am in so far are:-
Apr….Malvern Hills 1/2M
May…Sarcen Trail Neolithic Marathon
June…Ridgeway Revenge 1/2M
July…..Race To The Stones
So I think that is enough for now. I may enter something after Swindon but thinking of going to Bali or Hong Kong for a holiday and also decided to move from Swindon this year so that will take up a fair amount of time.
A question I am asking of myself at the moment is should I join a gym??? I seem to be spending a lot of time running but not really pushing myself to do any weights, stretching, isometrics etc. I realise I need to do all this ‘other’ stuff but struggling a bit to getting round to doing it !!!!
So that is it for today. Off to watch Moving To The Country to get some ideas about moving this year.
Thanks for reading.
Week 5 and it was an easy week this week. Sort of. Weeks total was 42.5. Only ran 4 miles a day to have a rest but was so nice on Thursday that did 8 instead. I then did a 14 on Saturday. Whilst it was ok, average pace was fine, I felt really tired towards the end. After jumping in the bath and falling asleep I realised that I was lacking in the old nutrition department (again). Last week I ran 60 and felt fine. The conclusion I came to was that on Thursday I ate a load of rubbish and it manifested itself on the run on Saturday. So yet another lesson learnt. Unless I go back to eating packets of biscuits all the time I need to watch the food a bit more closely. So no real problem just another thing to watch out for.
Which leads to me on to Sunday afternoon here in Swindon there was a Vegan event. I assumed it would be full of really interesting information about nutrition, proteins, carbs, tasty treats to nibble on. Well I have to say I was really disappointed. It was great if I wanted to buy makeup or talk about cruelty to animals etc but nothing for a soon to be ultra marathoner.
As part of the training schedule leading up to The Race To The Stones I have started signing up to some races. So this week I signed up for The Malvern Hills Trail Half and The Imber 33, (which will probably be my first ultra race). I am planning to but have not yet signed up for The Herford half and The Exeter half. Mainly so I can beat all the S.A.S. men that will be running the Hereford half and I can beat all the Royal Marine Commandoes that will be running the Exeter half. 🙂 🙂
Yeh right you may say. Well I have done The Fan Dance a couple of times, the first time at the age of 60 I came 2nd in the over 45’s and the second time at 61 I came 4th in the over 45’s So I don’t know if doing these races will help or hinder my training. I am still at the stage of the more miles the better. I still need to research more on a proper schedule.
I am also getting used to my new Garmin 235 Made a mess of it on one day where it said I had a heart rate of 199 !!!!! In theory I should have been having a heart attack if that were true, my hr max is 168 (in theory) Although I don’t think it is really accurate I am pleased with the readings. Average resting heart rate of 47 and it said based on my VO2 max reading I am in the top 10% of my age group in the country. !!!! And that is based on some of the slowest runs I have ever done. Not sure I fully understand it yet. However it is a very good runners watch and I am looking forward to delving a little more deeply into all of its functionality.
Overall a good positive week both running and none running so bring on week 6.
Thanks for reading.
Week 4 and all is well.
My total for this week is 60 miles, which I am quite pleased with. Six days of 8 mile runs and one run of 12 miles. The 12 mile run felt a bit slow but based on my time it was pretty much the same pace as every other run, so it may have felt a bit of a struggle on the hills it wasn’t actually any slower. Next week (5) I am going to have an easy week. When I was in my twenties I used to average 90 plus miles a week. I even went over the 100 a couple of times but I really don’t think it is wise for me to aim for that sort of mileage again. It would be nice and I have the time to do it as well but I just think my body would not cope with it anymore. It will be interesting to see what I do average a week over the next few months though. I am old school in that I want to ‘get the miles in’ but realistically I am not sure if that is the best thing to do anymore. My runs this week were lovely. All done in that lovely autumnal weather that is warm enough and sunny enough to really enjoy just being out there. And on Wednesday I was just cooling down on my drive after my run and my lovely 85 year old Italian lady from next door brought me a Espresso out. It was absolutely delicious a real Italian Espresso, it went down a dream.
What has also been nice this week is that a few people have stopped me and wished me luck. They had seen my article in the Adver and were ‘well impressed’. One guy an (an ex runner) even offered to take me up on to The Ridgeway and pick me up after when I am doing my long long training runs.
I also bought myself a new Garmin watch. I could not resist treating myself and so I bought the Garmin 235 which is probably far to good for what I need, but the more I read the instruction book the more I am impressed with it and I am sure it will improve my performance. At worst it will tell me I am having a heart attack 🙂
I think I am starting to get a handle on the nutrition as well, With the help of a good friend from Malvern. Apart from I fell off the wagon on one of the days and ate a packet of custard creams it seems to be working. I have not eaten processed food or meat for a month now and I feel like I have more energy than I have for a long long time. I do believe I am starting to eat the right things but what I am not doing yet is making a delicious balanced meal. I just eat the healthy food as and when rather than cooking up a meal. Hopefully by the end of this challenge I might be able to put a proper meal together !!!!!
So that is it for week 4 lets see what week 5 brings.
Many thanks for reading my blog post.
Week 3 and feeling really good. 56 miles under my belt this week and no aches and pains. The only thing I am concerned about is my Brooks road shoes. Now I have been wearing Brooks for a few years now and I have never had a problem (ie. blisters etc.). They are really good shoes. However I bought a new pair a couple of months ago and I have already lost one toe nail and probably about to loose another one, big toe this time which is quite annoying. They don’t appear to be ‘relaxing’ after use of a few weeks like previous models I have used. Quite annoying as now starting to do a decent amount of miles per week and really don’t want to have to put up with sore toes. I will have to have a chat with the guys at Run Swindon to see if anybody else is experiencing the same thing.
Nutrition is going really well, although I think my portion size is a little on the large size and so need to cut down on the amount but feeling full of energy. I have not eaten any processed food or meat for quite a while now and am feeling really good and dare I say it full of energy. I had a really good chat with a lovely friend on Sunday and she has given me a lot of good advice on what I should and shouldn’t be eating so should be bouncing with energy and running even more miles a week soon.
The same friend introduced me to The 5 Tibetans and if you don’t know what that is then check it out it is worth it. She like myself didn’t want to spend hours at yoga class and suggested it and so I am going to give it a go. Sort of thing you can do in the house in front of the telly. Unless somebody is going to sponsor me to go to a gym or classes then I would much prefer to spend my time outside, running in the fresh air and not stuck in a gym. Which brings me to my training schedule. As I have said before I am old school and believe I should just be out there knocking out the miles. I am still not sure if this is the right thing to do. Anybody out there have a clue if there is a better way than just running as much and as often as I can (which is 7 days a week)? I really would appreciate any advice.
Well, I am now going off for a run, 8 miles for the first day of week 4, it is lovely and sunny out there but a bit windy.
Have a good week everybody.
62@62 Week 2
So week 2 of my training for the Race To The Stones has come and gone. I increased my mileage from last week and apart from the Saturday I have felt ok all week. 54 miles this week, some of it slow (just under or just over 10 mpm) so nothing strenuous at all. Except for Saturday. It was not an easy run and felt quite tired. After the run I was just exhausted. Sat on a chair on the patio in the sun when I got home and fell asleep. Absolutely no energy at all. So I put some clothes on and walked up to the Co Op and bought two bottles of sport drink a packet of jelly babies and a pack of 5 mini jam donuts and ate the lot sat on the bench outside the shop. It was like having an injection. Within minutes I felt better and had the energy to walk home again. So what have I learnt from that little mistake. I have cut out all processed food from my diet and trying to eat ‘healthy’ food. I think the problem is not that I am not eating lots of sugary rubbish but I am not eating enough (quantity) of healthy food. So I fell off the wagon yesterday but not going to worry about it. I learnt a lesson and that is the positive thing that came out of it.
What else has happened. On Tuesday I met Tom the photographer from the Swindon Advertiser (who I know quite well anyway from all the photography I have done for them). It was fun as I had already done my run for the day so could just enjoy it. Especially as it was a really sunny afternoon. Lots of photographs taken, lots of curious looks from people walking past. Hopefully the article will be in the paper this week.
After lots and lots of research I have decided not to update my Garmin GPS watch just yet. The only real advantage I could see was having a HR monitor and to be honest at the moment at least I am running on feel not HR zones (do ultra runners run on hr zones)?? The watch I have got gives me time, distance and pace so don’t really need to spend the money just yet.
Also I think I am going to go for calf guards rather than compression socks. The only reason is that my big toe goes through my socks and shoes really quickly and I don’t want to be spending lots of money (they are certainly not cheap) on lots and lots of socks and end up with lots of right leg socks and no left leg socks !!!!!! I have got a draw full of right foot socks 😦
Lastly, for the first time in about 10 years I am going to loose a toe nail. Now in the good old days in the 70’s it was par for the course to regularly loose them. I am pleased to say with the technology and design of running shoes these days it very very rarely happens. So I was a bit disappointed when I noticed that one of my toes was blistered and the nail was black. Hey Ho only a minor issue so I am not going to worry about it.
So a good second weeks training and looking forward to week 3.
If I haven’t bored you and you have got all the way to the end of this post, then thank you for reading it.
62@62 Week 1 is over and I am feeling really positive, long may it last.
So what has happened. Firstly despite storm Aileen doing her worst a couple of times and absolutely drenched me, I ran a weeks total of 46 miles. Not a huge amount you would say. And you would be right but these first few weeks are going to be about running my 7.6 mile course everyday of the week, really just to get used to going out everyday again and when I am feeling tired or sore.
I also got interviewed this week by The Swindon Advertiser. They are going to publish an article about me as they think it is quite unusual for somebody of my age to take on the challenge that I am. I thought it would only last 20 minutes or so but we chatted for and hour and a half. Having photos taken on Tuesday so it will be really interesting to see what it ends up like. For me I know there are lots of people out there like me running Ultra’s but if I can get some PR and some sponsors out of it then I will be well pleased.
The other thing this week is I did a bit of shopping (which I don’t like doing) and bought myself a wok and a load of Tupperware so I was quite pleased with myself. I have given up eating processed food but still need to either teach myself how to prepare proper nutrition/food or get somebody to teach me. It is not a problem at the moment of course as there is still plenty of time to go but I want to be prepared for when I am running 70 – 100 miles a week.
Which reminds me I still need to carry out much more research on a training plan. Should I be doing heavy mileage which is the way I have always trained or should I have a much more structured training plan. Should I be running on heart rate zones or on feel? Makes a big difference, not least on should I buy a new gps watch with heart rate monitor. Again if anybody out there can offer me advice I would really appreciate it.
Well that was week 1 and I am now off to get my kit and shoes washed and dried ready for week 2.
Thanks for reading.
So what is 62 @ 62
Well it is my next challenge. It is at the age of 62 to run a 62 mile Ultramarathon known as The Race To The Stones which is 62 miles along the Ridgeway Path starting in Oxfordshire and ending at The Avebury Stones and all it one day. Why on earth am I doing it you may ask. I like a challenge and believe we all have to push and challenge ourselves just to see really how far we can go. I have competed in Ironman triathlons, I have represented GB in Duathlon a few times and ran quite a few marathons. I have never run more than 26.2 miles though and I consider this a huge challenge that I am not taking lightly. Especially at my age. Well you are already fit and healthy so it shouldn’t be a problem you might say. Well no, I have been off training for a year after a foot operation and suffering some sort of ‘virus’. The good thing about being ill was I have had all the heart tests done and it is all perfectly fine, in fact it seems to be pretty dam good, so that I know I am not going to have a heart attack whilst doing it. I do know that I will go through a host of other pain though during training and race day !!!!! However I WILL do it, I have never failed in a challenge yet and do not intend to start now.
So, today is day 1 of a 10 month journey to get to race day and I hope to blog/photograph/video the next 10 months for anybody that is interested in my journey. Here is a list I have thought about of what I need to do, or think about. If anybody can think of anything else that will help me along the way I would really appreciate your input.
Training schedule including interim races.
Kit, clothing, shoes, watch, GoPro etc.
Yoga/Bike/weight training/core strength other stuff.
PR and sponsors (not charity but help with kit/nutrition etc).
So if anybody can think of anything else fire away.
For now I am going to go for a run 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to read this.