Prizes and Events

Its been a funny month, frantically busy at work, lots of miles in a van, but not as much training as I would like. Really pleased to receive my prize from Trail Running Magazine for the video I posted on YouTube. See my blog post for the video. The rucksack I got sent is the TNF Enduro rucsac. My immediate thought was that technology and design has come along way since I bought my last running rucsac. Even unladen the sac is stable, close fitting and super light. I decided to load it up and give it a long run whilst I was out searching for my
Its been a funny month, frantically busy at work, lots of miles in a van, but not as much training as I would like. Really pleased to receive my prize from Trail Running Magazine for the video I posted on YouTube. See my blog post for the video. The rucksack I got sent is the TNF Enduro rucsac. My immediate thought was that technology and design has come along way since I bought my last running rucsac. Even unladen the sac is stable, close fitting and super light. I decided to load it up and give it a long run whilst I was out searching for my “wall” more about that in a bit! I headed out, up through Coed y Brenin and out on to the moors by Trawsfynydd, I mixed the route up with a bit of road and a bit of trail and the sac was easily adjustable. I struggle a bit with the mesh pockets on the side of the sac, but this is my range of motion issues from kayaking, throwing and crashing bikes and not a big criticism of the sac. I’m keen to see if I can get a front pack to fit onto this as that will sort my carrying issues out for Marathon des Sable. Like my blog about the Salomon XR Crossmax trainers, the biggest compliment I can give the bag is that I didn’t notice it. I’ve been trying out various bits of nutritional stuff to try and help me out. Since Trail Marathon Wales in June, and the cramps I got after about 20 miles, I realised I’ve got to get my feeding strategy right. I’ve been trying electrolytes from Shotz – http://shotz1.com/ that I find pretty tasty and easy to glug down. They definitely get into the system quickly and I think keep me going longer. I’m trying to sort some energy gels that I find easy to get down. I’ve tried a few over the years and I don’t enjoy them but they definitely work. First of all I wanted to know where my “wall”is now I’m a bit older. The wall is effectively where all the stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles runs out and the body struggles for an energy pathway. Knowing where this point is helps inform you what your feeding strategy needs to be in longer races. I do things the simple way, to find my wall I skipped brekkie, only took a bit of water and went out running. My track is here. From 35km on I knew I was coming close to feeling the effects, and then at 37km it came at me like a steam train. My vision distorted, I started struggling with co-ordination and in my “Mary had a little lamb” voice check my speech was definitely not clear. I got home, blithered around the kitchen making some self made isotonic 50:50 Orange Juice and Water with a few tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt. Glugged this down with some crystalised Pineapple and felt normality return. I now know that when I’m relatively well prepared I can deal with 30km without extra fuelling. Hope I can stretch that out a bit! That run was the third day of the Strava Speedgoat 50km challenge. The aim was to run 50km in three days in “celebration” of the trail race in the states. I was pretty chuffed to rack up 79km and finish the challenge in 15th (out of 1282). Just heard that we’ve definitely got a place at the Original Mountain Marathon, and before then I’ve got the Helly Hansen “Beauty and the Beast” trail marathon in late September. For someone who isn’t mad keen on races its looking good. I’m also hoping this year to finish all of the Meirionydd winter series fell races for the first time. I often managed one or two but never the whole series. Finally, a quick update on 2012 miles in 2012, logged 1327 Miles so far. Starting to feel like it should be possible to get back on track. I’ve caught up from my month and a bit off so pretty chuffed. Head back down and on with life.  

Changing over to Strava

I've been playing around since the New Year trying to get the right way of recording all the information I want from training and fun sessions. As all the information is all over the place (MiCoach, Garmin Connect, note book) and lots of the information isn't exportable, Grrr! I'm drawing a line in the sand on the 1st July; everything will now go onto Strava. Unfortunately I can't work out whether I can import data to Strava yet. For now, my 2012 miles in 2012 log looks like 1648.4 km with 23,135m of ascent. So give or take 1030 miles. Nice to have the functionality on Strava to upload from a Garmin (with HR data) and also from an App on a mobile phone. The competitve bit of segment racing is a nice addition too. I'm trying to convince myself I'm not bothered, but I'm already trying to work out which bits of which routes have segments that I can race benchmark against. King of the Mountain (KOM), Course record (CR), Personal Record (PR) and Suffer Score, all nice training tools!!
I’ve been playing around since the New Year trying to get the right way of recording all the information I want from training and fun sessions. As all the information is all over the place (MiCoach, Garmin Connect, note book) and lots of the information isn’t exportable, Grrr! I’m drawing a line in the sand on the 1st July; everything will now go onto Strava. Unfortunately I can’t work out whether I can import data to Strava yet. For now, my 2012 miles in 2012 log looks like 1648.4 km with 23,135m of ascent. So give or take 1030 miles. Nice to have the functionality on Strava to upload from a Garmin (with HR data) and also from an App on a mobile phone. The competitve bit of segment racing is a nice addition too. I’m trying to convince myself I’m not bothered, but I’m already trying to work out which bits of which routes have segments that I can race benchmark against. King of the Mountain (KOM), Course record (CR), Personal Record (PR) and Suffer Score, all nice training tools!!

Adventure biking in the Dyfi

After riding some new routes around the area 18months ago, I was keen to get back and ride them in better weather. When Pete took me out ‘prospecting’ the weather was never a consideration, but good conditions make such a difference to riding off the beaten path.

Andy Braund, the mountain bike ranger in the Coed y Brenin area joined me for what I was sure would be a route I could remember.

We both left home in good conditions before meeting in Aberangell to faff our way on to the first climb. Unfortunately for Andy getting changed was a bit of a busmans holiday as we were asked by a bunch of off road motocyclists about where the “park” was. Illegal off road riding is a major issue in the area, partly due to the history of the forest being involved with lots of motorsport events, and partly because it is an uninhabited, attractive place to ride.

Dark clouds built as we got ready to leave, and after a few hundred metres the rain started to fall. There isn’t much chance to warm up before climbing off the valley floor and up a tarmac road that becomes a farm track that becomes open farmland. We were chatting away about heaps of stuff, so much that Andy forgot to turn his Garmin on.

At the top of the climb we joined a track that Andy recognised from the Dyfi Enduro and we went onto the first descent of the day. I picked up my first ‘off’ here as I was trying to remember the route not noticing some off camber strata that in the wet was happy to tuck my front wheel. The next section started to steepen with some riding, that in the dry would be quick and airy. A quick navovation stop to check where the bridleway went, before following a fire trail to a dead end and a puncture (mine). A quick tube change, chat about public sector mergers and the fact it stopped raining before a good half hour hunt the bridleway session. As with a lot of Rights of Way in remote areas, what is on the map isn’t what is on the ground. Eventually we decided to chase fire roads and climbed up and out of the forest on a lovely track across high moorland.

Before heading down the contours we had a quick chat about previous lives over a muesli bar. This next descent is a hidden gem, and is exactly my kind of riding. By the end of this track Andy and I were level pegging on the falling off stakes. Cross the Dulas before a short climb on tar to get back in the forest. Climbing up on fire road, I threw Pete’s gauntlet down, a technical singletrack climb that Pete hadn’t “cleaned”. Andy took a run up, but changing cross cambers and steep gradient soon claimed a bit of walking. The top of this climb resulted in another missing bridleway, but we were wise to this and span round, to meet the other end, on a fire road.

A piece of single track, no more than two tyre widths leads steeply downhill from here. This section, if you have the right head on, is the most giggles per metre of the route. Lots of offs, lots of slides, lots of axle deep ruts. After some bushwhacking and a seriously steep (unrideable for us) rock drop off at the end we regained a fire road. As we started to freewheel we started talking about the cut shins we were sporting, and how that used to be the mark of a biker in the 90’s. A bit different to todays groomed trails.

I got two recommendations-do the Dyfi Enduro, and join Strava. I’ve done one we’ll see about thenother!

A great day out, not quality mountain biking in terms of speed, but it is exactly the sort of adventurous biking that lead to the development of trail centres. We both enjoyed doing something different, getting back into to groove of navigating rather than following posts and just enjoying a ride in a stunning area.

Really, really looking forward to seeing Pete’s guidebook in print, routes like these are special, and should be shared!

Race Report Trail Marathon Wales-an excellent run!

Today was Trail Marathon Wales, held in Coed y Brenin. I was a little apprehensive about the race, my injury has meant I haven’t put in the miles I really wanted to.

The last few days have been really wet in South Snowdonia. The rivers have been up and kayaking has been really appealing.

Coed y Brenin is great for events, loads of parking, good facilities and a great setting. The guys and girls have obviously worked hard to get loads into the event and done lots of planning. It shows. Foresty Commission Wales did a great job of parking people, and despite registration and the safety briefing being a bit delayed, the gamekeeper loosed off a shell from his 12 bore to start the race almost exactly on time.

There had been a late route change, mainly due to the exposed slopes outside of CyB being soggy (under water). It meant a small repetition of the route for the full Marathon, but the course was so good that it made no difference. I was expecting the second lap to be pretty cut up where it had been shared with the half marathon course but, all in all, it was in good shape.

All the race numbers had first names on them; this meant that South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue and the marshalls would give a welcoming shout to people. Can’t fault the volunteers involved in providing support. The feed stations were well spaced, stocked with a variety of Electrolyte, Carbo gel, Banana’s, Jelly babies (my favourite) and water.

If there is any doubt that this isn’t a road race check out my elevation profile from today, just over 1200m of ascent meant pacing was important.

Whilst I can’t fault the feed stations, I can fault my use of them. Lack of conditioning meant that I didn’t take on enough electrolyte early on and that, with the up and down meant a brutal onset of leg cramp around mile 20. I never got my rhythm back from that but did have a nice chat with a few runners from Eryri, Cerist Tri and other clubs all struggling with the same problem.

Crossing the line was a great experience, the technology meant that nearly every runner was encouraged over the line by full name over the radio mike- iPad and data tags on the back of the numbers, great stuff.

I picked up my bottle, wooden medal and flapjack-lots of goodies at registration (T shirt, socks, energy gel, etc..) Had a natter with a few friends and then made a move to get home.

Admittedly, my drive home isn’t too far, but getting a text as soon as there was reception with my placing and time was great and I’m sure those with a longer journey would have really appreciated it.

Impressions of this as a first time running the event? Brilliant.

A massive thank you to Matt Ward and all the people involved from Forestry Commission Wales and Meirionnydd Running Club. The volunteers, the sponsors the SSMR team all did a great job and it was great to run in the inaugral event. I hope it will build and build. It should get a reputation as a very special, if tough, trail race.

Well done all, organisers, supporters and runners.

Given what could have gone wrong for me today, I’m pretty pleased with my finish. It was supposed to be a training run, and to be fair, it probably was. In amongst a field of racing whippets, as a 90kg recently injured runner, I was pretty pleased with the result.

Bring on next year!

Last long run

50 year storms rolled across the UK last night. Summer hasn't come yet, we had some warm weather but nothing long enough to call a season. I was out the door this morning for my last long run before Trail Marathon Wales. I've really enjoyed coming away from
50 year storms rolled across the UK last night. Summer hasn’t come yet, we had some warm weather but nothing long enough to call a season. I was out the door this morning for my last long run before Trail Marathon Wales. I’ve really enjoyed coming away from “the” training programme. Todays run wouldn’t have been on the schedule. I left the house just before 0545 in a bright patch between showers. I wanted to run slow and steady but somewhere new. I headed roughly NE out of Dolgellau on to the side of Rhobell Fawr. Then tracking round on a bridleway that follows the 300m contour round the West side of the hill. My one whinge with this bridleway is the fact there are ladder stiles crossing stone walls. Bridleways are usable by bicycles and horses, the latter, I suspect would find this “countryside furniture” a little tricky. Anyway, when Victor (Meldrew) quietened down in my head the run passed quite quickly. The main memory on this run was the beautiful sight of a Doe with her Fawn just short of Abergeirw before I climbed up onto mountain bike trails for the run back towards home. My legs felt good when I got back to Glasdir copper mine, so I chose to climb steeply up to the precipice walk. From here it’s a nice fast road run home, though by now the rain was heavy, the wind strong. Longer strides were the order of the day! A good stretch and foam roller relaxed my still slightly tight calf, but overall a great last long run. My new trail shoes are still brilliant, absolutely no complaints! This week will be one run. I really want to do more, but I won’t. Lots of roller work and stretching. Race report next!

Salomon XR Crossmax neutral

In two other posts (here and here) I've written about the problems I've been having with my trail shoes and damage to my feet. Choosing shoes for Marathon des Sable is something that is making me think carefully about what I need. I need a comfortable shoe, that is something I can forget about. About 12 years ago I had a pair of Salomon trail shoes that I used for an approach shoe, but never as a running shoe. I remember the last being really comfortable. I had a few reservations about the width of the heel before buying as I'm used to a narrow fell shoe and the Crossmax is more like a road shoe. I picked a mixed 8 miles for my first run in the neutral version of the shoe. About 3 miles of tarmac, 2 miles of forest track and about 3 miles of singletrack. It was wet, really wet. So wet that the area made the news for evacuations due to flooding. The quicklace system tighten the sensifit system, is a quick system, There is quite a lot of lace on the system, but it all tucks away nicely into the lace pocket. I'd say on the sizing that this shoe comes up a bit smaller than I'm used to, but not to a point of being uncomfortable. I think I'd pick a metric size up next time round. Out the door and into a slow warm up on the road. The shoes feel exactly like a road shoe, Good cushining and light and it wasn't wrong before I wasn't thinking about the shoe at all. After a little climb up to the start of the fire trails, nothing really changed, the sole unit has enough protection that big rocks don;t penetrate at all, making for a comfy ride. The singletrack starts with a downhill that loses about 100m in 500m, and here I was thinking about the shoe again. The reason is that trail shoes always have a lower profile tread pattern and I was expecting to slip and slide a bit on the really wet top surface on the singletrack. Pretty quickly I built confidence in the sole and it was biting nice through and finding loads of grip. I quickly got back to picking lines and not thinking about the shoe. So first impressions- the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral trail shoe is pretty forgetable, and that is a massive compliment! I've added the shoe into my miCoach so I'll be able to keep an accurate log of the distance I do with the shoe.           
In two other posts (here and here) I’ve written about the problems I’ve been having with my trail shoes and damage to my feet. Choosing shoes for Marathon des Sable is something that is making me think carefully about what I need. I need a comfortable shoe, that is something I can forget about. About 12 years ago I had a pair of Salomon trail shoes that I used for an approach shoe, but never as a running shoe. I remember the last being really comfortable. I had a few reservations about the width of the heel before buying as I’m used to a narrow fell shoe and the Crossmax is more like a road shoe. I picked a mixed 8 miles for my first run in the neutral version of the shoe. About 3 miles of tarmac, 2 miles of forest track and about 3 miles of singletrack. It was wet, really wet. So wet that the area made the news for evacuations due to flooding. The quicklace system tighten the sensifit system, is a quick system, There is quite a lot of lace on the system, but it all tucks away nicely into the lace pocket. I’d say on the sizing that this shoe comes up a bit smaller than I’m used to, but not to a point of being uncomfortable. I think I’d pick a metric size up next time round. Out the door and into a slow warm up on the road. The shoes feel exactly like a road shoe, Good cushining and light and it wasn’t wrong before I wasn’t thinking about the shoe at all. After a little climb up to the start of the fire trails, nothing really changed, the sole unit has enough protection that big rocks don;t penetrate at all, making for a comfy ride. The singletrack starts with a downhill that loses about 100m in 500m, and here I was thinking about the shoe again. The reason is that trail shoes always have a lower profile tread pattern and I was expecting to slip and slide a bit on the really wet top surface on the singletrack. Pretty quickly I built confidence in the sole and it was biting nice through and finding loads of grip. I quickly got back to picking lines and not thinking about the shoe. So first impressions- the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral trail shoe is pretty forgetable, and that is a massive compliment! I’ve added the shoe into my miCoach so I’ll be able to keep an accurate log of the distance I do with the shoe.           

New video, work and @2012milesin2012 update

Work has been cycling up with a good bit on recently, the World Cup in Cardiff that starts tomorrow is taking everyone’s time up, but it is an amazing event to have in Wales. I had a break from my normal job, last week with the Mawddach Paddlefest. It’s really good to see so many happy faces on the water. And the weather came good, with the wind dying out on Sunday for some stand up paddleboard action.

The chart above shows the big dip in hours spent training since tearing my calf muscle. I’ve taken my eye off the challenge of 2012 miles in 2012. So I thought that as the end of a month has passed, I should have a quick check of how far behind I am. Whilst I’ve been doing my rehab, I haven’t been logging my miles too diligently, but I’m at 493miles so far. That means I need to fire some miles out over the next few months, while the weather is good to stand any chance of getting there.

Silly things like minor injuries are a real annoyance, but the don’t stop me getting out. 

Got to do something about my old, badly fitting trail shoes!

I’ve had a another go at putting some running footage together, definitely got some things right, but also got more to learn. On the plus side, I like the fade across big areas, and I like that I’ve cut the time down. On the bad side, I don’t like that the render changes the frame size when panning and zooming. Also hadn’t realised that the copyright on some music tracks means that YouTube won’t deliver the clip to mobile devices.

However the clip looks, it was a nice day to be in the hills, first day of the year for me when a vest and shorts was plenty all the way to the top and back. It was actually much harder to get the footage on the hill as it was, in effect, a really long, hard, set of hill intervals.

Looking forwards to Trail Marathon Wales in 3 weeks.

The real cost of a good playground.

In a previous post I said that I think about random stuff when I run; well, not today. I had decided last week that I wanted to get some more clips of running around the Dolgellau area and decided to head up on to Rhobell Fawr after work. Such a nice day, and my first chance to run in just shorts and a vest this year. Lovely. I'll get round to editing it into a short clip soon.   So why no random stuff channeling? Well, yesterday I went to a meeting about the branding of outdoor activity in North Wales.
In a previous post I said that I think about random stuff when I run; well, not today. I had decided last week that I wanted to get some more clips of running around the Dolgellau area and decided to head up on to Rhobell Fawr after work. Such a nice day, and my first chance to run in just shorts and a vest this year. Lovely. I’ll get round to editing it into a short clip soon.   So why no random stuff channeling? Well, yesterday I went to a meeting about the branding of outdoor activity in North Wales. “Play” was a word that was suggested alongside lots of other concepts. It resonates with some people, but also has connotations that others were less comfortable with. As I headed out of Llanfachreth on my run, I was thinking about what a privilege it is to live where I do. I was thinking back to the times I came to North Wales as a 14 year old, and why I ended up where I did. From the South of England, North Wales represented so many things to me. It was a place to escape, a place with a different language and culture and a place to “play”. Whether it was in the hills, on the water, in the woods, or as part of a community the whole of North Wales offers such a beautiful location and experience. So, there I was thinking about the branding of “Play”. And then, I suppose I did my random flit. I punted into work. I’ve been involved in “access to inland water” now for over ten years, seven of which as part of my paid job. As time goes along it is becoming less about just access to water and more about access to the wider natural resources in Wales. Access to the countryside has always been a political beast in England and Wales always bouncing between two agendas; the needs of the population and the landowning lobby not wanting people to be there by right. This lack of right doesn’t confer the need for responsibility, which is something most outdoor people advocate for. Sure, 10 years ago the so called “right to roam” was introduced, but it has largely been unsuccessful in addressing the areas where the population wants to go or already goes. The areas up high and in remote places (Mountain and Moorland) were mapped, and now can be used by right. In terms of what Benny Rothman tried to achieve with the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932, it is a step in the right direction. However, there was a need for the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW or Right to Roam) to be extended to other areas, the coast, the inland waters and the woodlands. In Wales, the state owned Forestry Commission land was dedicated for public access in 2005, using CRoW. The Welsh Government could do this as the land owner, and there was a hope other landowners would follow suit. They didn’t. Don’t even mention swimming, bikes, boats, paragliders, caving or horses. Walking is the limit of the Act. Access to the coast has been done in a linear manner with a footpath, but whilst you can now almost parallel the coast around Wales you can’t get to the water by right. In some places the “coast path” is not in sight of the sea!  The lowlands are a mess, non state owned woods fenced off, and inland water is just a myriad of disconnected arguments at the moment too. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that the CRoW act, 10 years on, is already out of date. Society is evolving, the health agenda is evolving, the Publics’ spending patterns are changing. The CRoW act is quite restricted in what it can do. The result-100% Adventure-50% Welcome, nice brand eh? And my brain went to numbers. The mapping exercise for CRoW was nearly £80 million pounds. No promotional or educational time in this, just process. So for that small percentage of the population who already wanted to go high in the mountains £80 million was spent. Then I was thinking about the cost per capita of “playing”. The childrens playground in Dolgellau was nearly £100,000. Based on the numbers at school. there are about 800 kids a year that could use this.  Scotland, in 2003 had watched CRoW, decided it didn’t work and addressed all places in the countryside with the Land Reform Act. Everywhere a certain distance from private dwellings is accessible for non motorised recreation as long as behaviour is responsible. This means that where the Public want to take healthy recreation, they can. The whole of the Scottish landscape is available for healthy recreation for every member of the public, resident, or tourist. The legal cost was less than £200,000. There has been television campaigns and education, which might come to about £3 million. Comparing this to a structured play area for the same cost as 30 playgrounds in rural areas for 24,000 kids, and the opportunity it creates seems a “no brainer”. Take a comparative snapshot of numbers for outdoor recreation-each year there are 150,000 visitors in Coed y Brenin, 400,000 people up Snowdon, 120,000 people at the National White Water Centre. That is just three centres, all those people re-invest in Wales, and yet an investment in promoting greater, responsible use of the whole countryside isn’t on the agenda of Government. For Wales to be a healthy nation, a successful sporting nation, don’t we need our natural resources available for “play”? Don’t we need to be able to instil those values in our children? Shouldn’t we be an active nation. I couldn’t even begin to explain the Right to Roam legislation to an 8 year old and how it fits into the Rights of Way network. But I can the Scottish Land Reform Act, the Scandinavians do it for their kids, the Kiwi’s do it at primary school. In fact most of Europe does it. Teaching kids how to play, responsibly and sustainably in the countryside isn’t impossible. in Wales, it might be a long term goal. It’s not something that will happen overnight. But in a generation, what would the impact be? What is the real cost of a proper National playground? Might there actually be a short term measurable tangible return? Sport Wales want every child hooked on sport for life. A new leisure centre costs upwards of £5million pounds. I wonder how much impact the cost of a capital investment the scale of one leisure centre development would have for Wales. If that money were put towards a piece of legislation and its promotion. Not localised benefit, National benefit. Not just sporting benefit, but business benefit, health benefit, community benefit, environmental benefit. I wonder whether, if Greece had CRoW, this aging programme of work would survive the cuts; not that they need CRoW, they have exisitng rights to their natural resources. But it does strike me that cost/benefit or some solid analysis of the real cost of natural playgrounds might just show the need for a completely different approach? It would be a bold step for Wales, but not one without precedent. Perhaps, I might watch my Grandkids and their friends grow up using the wonderful playground of Wales that our generation use so surreptitiously only once we are committed enthusiasts.

Schoolboy error, Racing your Training

A favourite picture of mine taken on a trip out to Grassholm, and island of Pembrokeshire I try to work on things harder when I make a mistake, especially frustratng ones. Trying to work out why I injured my calf is something that has been under my skin for a few weeks..  I was so sure that in order to race Trail Marathon Wales I needed a programme. What I forgot is that I need to enjoy running. So when I plugged myself into a phone based MiCoach training programme and ran with that voice in my ear phones saying
A favourite picture of mine taken on a trip out to Grassholm, and island of Pembrokeshire I try to work on things harder when I make a mistake, especially frustratng ones. Trying to work out why I injured my calf is something that has been under my skin for a few weeks..  I was so sure that in order to race Trail Marathon Wales I needed a programme. What I forgot is that I need to enjoy running. So when I plugged myself into a phone based MiCoach training programme and ran with that voice in my ear phones saying “Speed up to yellow zone”, or “Slow down to blue zone” I was compromising. I wasn’t enjoying the reason I run. I like running outdoors, I like music. MiCoach seemed to address both these things. I had never exercised with ear phones in, but that was a definite appeal during the winter months. I overlooked that it takes one of your senses away. I like hearing my breathing, I like hearing the birds, I like hearing a squirrel firing off into the woods, rustling through the dry leaves. It was like gagging one of my most important senses when I ran. It also fired up my competitive streak. I was trying to beat that voice. I wasn’t content to ‘just’ do the session, just complete it, I wanted to BEAT the session. This goes along way in identifying why I got injured. So for Trail Marathon Wales, I’ve taken personal goals of times away. I’m going to treat the run as training. Part of a bigger things. I run purely to enjoy; with a specfic race time in mind, I would definitely need a race programme. But the big challenge- Marathon des Sable is about getting to the end. I’m never going to race it. I’m going to get through each day. As I said in a previous blog, I want to get to those last ten steps. To do that I need to keep active, I need to run in the hills, in wild places. I need to mix it up with some mountain biking, some open water swimming, some kayaking, some sets on a rowing machine or just riding into work and back. Since reading about Pavel Tsatsouline a couple of years agi, I love a good session with a Kettlebell-I want to get my 200 in the Secret Service Snatch Test before the race. I can’t do that range of things whilst running 6 sessions a week, “on programme”. I know a programme means keeping focus is easier, but the dedication to train is about doing it. Like brushing your teeth, putting a schedule into habit. But listening to feedback that your body and brain gives. Not sweating the small stuff, one session missed isn’t going to ruin a weeks training. The game for me is mental. I need to train my mind too. I can’t do that effectively when “on programme”. I need the balance. My Dad tried to train my brain when I was a teenager with “De Bono’s Thinking Course”. I didn’t respond well! I hope I won’t be proved wrong, but volume of training is important for a long race. Sustaining that volume needs mental fortitude. To have that means being mentally relaxed. I believe that as long as I remember not to race my training, don’t break myself physically or mentally, those last ten steps will be mine.  

Guilty pleasure. Music and Pizza.

I woke up exhausted this morning. 1400miles driven this week and a couple of big issues at work have left me pooped. I had wanted to get a long run in today but I just couldn't find the va-va-voom.   A quick mission round town this morning to get the motorbike trailer tyre fixed, pick up some compost for the pots and plant them up with youngest daughter... A 2 year old planting things is like a pig in muck. I guess thats why I still enjoy it! Eldest daughter has her dance exam tomorrow so she has to head to a practise today. This means I get 3 hours in the house, a quiet house. On with my old manky headphones that the foam has gone on, hit shuffle on one playlist and let James, Eminem, Metallica, Linkin Park and the Fray flood into my ears whilst I enjoy an olfactory assault. My guilty pleasure as a foody is really good pizza, ideally from the amazing Pizzeria behind the Wynnstay Hotel in Machynlleth, but as I'm sat here to my right I have a bowl of pizza dough proving and to my left a pan with tomato sauce reducing down. Eldest daughter was quite specific about her toppings, Salami, Mozzarella and Pineapple. I can suffer that. A quiet house means that moving from the fridge to the stove, or from the chopping board to the sink takes on slightly more movement than the rest of the family thinks is normal. Head bobbing, foot tapping, arm waving, the occasional spin, stirring, tasting, wiping down. Wiping down the worktop but wiping down the week too. Maybe it’s that man provider thing, but making a meal that gets someone to say “Yum” is a great feeling. Given the Italian theme-esegui domani!  
I woke up exhausted this morning. 1400miles driven this week and a couple of big issues at work have left me pooped. I had wanted to get a long run in today but I just couldn’t find the va-va-voom.   A quick mission round town this morning to get the motorbike trailer tyre fixed, pick up some compost for the pots and plant them up with youngest daughter… A 2 year old planting things is like a pig in muck. I guess thats why I still enjoy it! Eldest daughter has her dance exam tomorrow so she has to head to a practise today. This means I get 3 hours in the house, a quiet house. On with my old manky headphones that the foam has gone on, hit shuffle on one playlist and let James, Eminem, Metallica, Linkin Park and the Fray flood into my ears whilst I enjoy an olfactory assault. My guilty pleasure as a foody is really good pizza, ideally from the amazing Pizzeria behind the Wynnstay Hotel in Machynlleth, but as I’m sat here to my right I have a bowl of pizza dough proving and to my left a pan with tomato sauce reducing down. Eldest daughter was quite specific about her toppings, Salami, Mozzarella and Pineapple. I can suffer that. A quiet house means that moving from the fridge to the stove, or from the chopping board to the sink takes on slightly more movement than the rest of the family thinks is normal. Head bobbing, foot tapping, arm waving, the occasional spin, stirring, tasting, wiping down. Wiping down the worktop but wiping down the week too. Maybe it’s that man provider thing, but making a meal that gets someone to say “Yum” is a great feeling. Given the Italian theme-esegui domani!