Towards the light

It was a conscious effort to make this a “half full” title and not the “out of the darkness”.

Training recently has been a tricky place. Little niggling injuries, stresses in life and an almighty man flu. Well ok it was a vicious little snotty nose and head cold.

Net result has been that I eased back a lot and have found it difficult to get going again. But now with 8 weeks to go to the start of Marathon des Sables I feel like my mojo is back with a vengeance.

Coming back to training in January, everything was hard work, even a 40 minute run was hard. But a month on everything is good again. I’m back to half marathons before breakfast, recovering well and also doing 6 days a week of cross training. There is a secret weapon in here, which I’ll blog about soon.

The turning point was a run in Coed y Brenin. I ditched “training” and went out for a run. Just cruising around the East side of the forest and not looking at time. Following my nose and enjoying the journey. I ran through a rattling great thunderstorm that proved less enjoyable for some hillwalkers on the nearby Arans. Although really tiring I had a great 30km and recovered quickly.

The last few mornings that I’ve been able to get out for a longer run I’ve been using the Mawddach Trail-an old railway bed. This has a massive advantage of not having a huge amount of climbing and not being on a road. Steady training is easier and a straight out and back logs about 20km. It really is a great place to run, superb views and a trip home with the wind invariably behind you – what could be better?

Better, was getting home from one run on a Saturday morning, eating breakfast and my eldest daughter, who had earlier in the week got some trail running shoes for her upcoming first season doing fun fell runs saying – “Hey Dad, it’s not raining let’s go run the Torrent Walk”. Watching her skip and jump down a footpath, trying out landing on rocks, sliding on mud before climbing back up the other side couldn’t make me more proud. Running for fun, a great reminder for me!

You win some, you lose some-dealing with disappointment

Mynydd Moel from Coed y Foel near Brithdir
Mynydd Moel from Coed y Foel near Brithdir

I’m trying to stay positive, I’d had in my head a whole load of subjects to blog about, but today’s run went not quite to plan. That’s left me trying to juggle a positive.

This weekend I wanted to average a marathon a day. I wanted to prove to myself that back to back marathons were in my grasp. All part of building the mental game up for Marathon des Sable.

Saturday started well. Out the door at 0530, run down to Barmouth, over the wooden railway bridge, up to Cregennan, up high above the A470 to Cross Foxes, down to Brithdir and then back home, 42.7 km in a shade under 4 hours. Cold to start, but a stunningly bright day being beautiful to run in. A nice day with the family and a great BBQ with friends up in Coed y Brenin – I made the most of having some calories to consume.

Sunday, out the door at 0600. A run out the Wnion valley, then back round the ride of Rhobell Fawr, through Llanfachreth and back home down the Mawddach valley. 33.4 km feeling pretty strong. Get home, do jobs, cut the grass, chill out with tired kids. All really good stuff.

This morning, I planned to run 58 km. Bed early, alarm on for 0415. Up and out the door at 0445. Tired legs, slightly heavier pack, but everything ran off well as I headed up the Tabor road out of Dolgellau. Everything feeling loose and comfortable as I ran down the Tal y Llyn pass as the light improved. Into the Dysynni valley, starting to feel like I was going to smash the long run before the weather broke. Just near the junction with Llanfihangell y Pennant a really sharp twinge in my calf slowed me. A quick stretch, then walked on it as I drink and eat. A light run and the niggle is still there. That’s it. No point in pushing. I want to run Trail Marathon Wales in 4 weekends. I tap out a text message, tuck the phone away, knowing that the message will go somewhere down near Bird Rock-no signal here.

I complete 27.5 km by the time the Pyjama Pant Patrol arrive-it’s early and everyone is in PJ’s. Katie asking me whether I’ve hurt my head. I suppose Buff’s look like bandages to a three year old.

The positive, 100+ km run in three days. Enough to slide me up the May Massive on Strava, would have been in the top ten (out of 2400) in UK had I finished today run. But the damage is in my head mainly.

My calf is fine, it’s a minor strain. I had really wanted to change my belief of being able to back to back marathons into knowledge. A really, really powerful talisman to have. But instead, I’ve grown a bit of doubt. Not lots, but enough that I’m going to have to work actively to take to pieces.

I know the long run is fine, but that is not the challenge for me in a stage race like Marathon des Sable. “It’s not a race… it’s a war!” The YouTube clip beneath is a good example of what I’m looking to do. I want to be in great mental condition to win the war.

I’ve a number of blog subjects I want to cover – Cancer, Awareness of the work of Myfanwy Melanoma Research Trust, sponsorship and loads of other random things. My goal was achievable, and it’s gutting to miss it through minor injury. But it’s one small goal in a much bigger picture. The other subjects going to have to wait for me to just find the belief again. It’s just round the corner, but it’s a really annoying corner to have to go round!

Packing it in

March training is going well, apart from this really cold weather. I’m trying to build my mileage slowly and steadily to get my leg better. That means cross training on a bike and all this snow is meaning I’m not getting as much time training as I’d like.

For my birthday I got a key bit of equipment for Marathon des Sable – my pack. I wanted to get this early on as it is the key bit of equipment, other than footwear, that can make the trip comfortable, or not. Bedding in time with this is really important.

Aarn Mountain Magic 33
Aarn Mountain Magic 33

I’d done a bit of research, I have a long back and I wanted something with easy access to front pockets so I can keep feeding easily. This is quite a unique set of requirements. The pack needs to be lightish, able to take 7 days of food, all the cooking and sleeping gear, mandatory kit (venom pump, first aid) and a few luxury items.

I’d tried a few packs from the normal contenders and one way or another there was something niggling. In the end I tried on an Aarn pack, and despite it having a fantastically complicated strap system it was really comfortable.

I’m a big fan of simplicity, especially when things can break. The idea of having to stitch, or bodge something back together in the middle of the desert isn’t massively appealing. However, being made in New Zealand I’m pretty confident that the kit will work really well, I haven’t had heaps of time with the pack yet, nor have I taken it out loaded up, but that will come pretty soon and I’ll write more.

I’ve settled for a Mountain Magic 33, probably a little bigger than I actually need, but the strapping system means that whether the sac is full or empty it carries just the same. So as I eat most of what I’m carrying I can reduce the pack size and stay comfortable.

I am a little worried about some of the cording on the front pockets, but I’ve got some time to hack it better, and that will probably involve some Sugru too. Mountain Marathon events will give me a chance, to load for multiday, run, camp, repack and generally get the pack to fit me well. I’m interested to see how the ventilation works-going to save me a really zitty back if it does!

To read more about some of the unique features of Aarn packs it’s worth having a read on their website.

60 weeks to go!

I'm day tripping to London today. Early starts. Exciting today, 420 days to go to Marathon des Sable 2014. I'm definitely in a place where the event is less overwhelming now. I'm focusing on details now. Foot preparation, kit tweaks and obviously still fitness. Next priority is to up the fundraising push. The 2013 event will help with that I hope. 8 weeks to go for those guys. I know Ben Fogle prepared for the event in a few months. But having started this campaign over a year ago, 60 weeks feels
I’m day tripping to London today. Early starts. Exciting today, 420 days to go to Marathon des Sable 2014. I’m definitely in a place where the event is less overwhelming now. I’m focusing on details now. Foot preparation, kit tweaks and obviously still fitness. Next priority is to up the fundraising push. The 2013 event will help with that I hope. 8 weeks to go for those guys. I know Ben Fogle prepared for the event in a few months. But having started this campaign over a year ago, 60 weeks feels “just round the corner”. Really, really looking forward to the start line. Back to day dreaming on the bleary-eye to London village.

Making it home-the mind games.

Lots of people have said
Lots of people have said “you’re daft”, “that’s crazy” or just raised a very quizical eyebrow when they’ve found out that I want to run across the desert for 6 days, averaging a marathon a day. A few people have been more helpful and asked “How are you going to do that?”- the honest answer is that I don’t actually know how, I just know that I will. I think of myself as an average runner, I haven’t got a list of 5km, 10km, half marathon or other events under my belt. I just run. I’m not going to make the cover of Men’s Health. I have ‘normal’ body fat. What I have always been quite good at is managing my mind. It doesn’t matter whether you reach your comfortable limit at 500m or 50km managing what’s going on inside your head is crititcal to getting to your goal. For me, for now, whilst I’m training that is normally getting home.  It might sound oversimplified, but I actually believe that when you get to a certain state of fitness then running just becomes about the mind. In fact whatever your fitness level running is about the mind. Think of the techniques beneath like a concertina. You might want to compress some of them, or you might want to stretch them out. If nothing else, have a tool in the back of your mind if you do ever get to that dark place where you doubt you can go on! This isn’t sports performance psychology in the true sense. I think it’s a bit more primal than that. John “Lofty” Wiseman wrote a really interesting piece about survival 25 years ago and I can’t say it any better! The human body has an amazing ability to cope with arduous situations and testing environments. People who have come through, after enduring terrible hardship under seemingly impossible conditions, are a living proof of this. Male and female, young and old, they have all had the will to live. Everyone has this basic instinct to some degree and it can be developed by training. Lofty Wiseman was a professional soldier and wrote “The SAS Survival Handbook” which I got as a Christmas present in 1986. In this book, along with specific survival techniques, it discusses layers that are important for success in surival. This had a profound effect on me, and is something that has been useful in a number of scenarios that aren’t always physical. He suggests a pyramid with the base being the will to live. The next layer up being knowledge (it breeds confidence and dispels fear). The next layer is training and the top of the pyramid is kit. So taking this out of the military context I think for running it looks like: Will to complete Training Kit  Don’t forget you can use a concertina on this. Stretch the bits that you’re not as good on, compress the bits you can breeze. For me, number one, I never doubt this. The moment I plan to go for a run, I am totally committed to it. Number two-I’m not training to be fast, I’m training to ‘enjoy’ the race. That means training hard, but not with a goal relating to time for Marathon des Sable. This mainly means training my mind, giving me knowledge and understanding as well as training my body.  Kit. I have a bit of a thing about this. I like kit, but I don’t need kit. I was brought up playing sports with equipment 25+ years old. My Dad was really strong on this, I played squash, tennis and cricket with gear he’d had as a boy. When I got good, then I got up to date equipment. When I had my own income, I rebelled against this, but the older I get the more I know where he was coming from. I always remember talking to my friends’ grandmother. In 1940, she put her family in a wheelbarrow, literally, and walked from Poland to the UK across war torn Europe. No Gore-tex, no special shoes, not even a pneumatic tyre. She pushed her two daughters when they couldn’t walk and made an extraordinary journey. Just pure, raw determination. Extraordinary actions are rarely reliant on top of the range kit.  Kit is a useful talisman for me. I don’t need the most expensive kit, I need efficient kit that I can believe in. In a way it is part of training the mind. It works, it will keep working, it lets me get on with processing the mental stuff. Kit will make you comfortable and let you stay focussed on dealing with more fundamental things. Don’t get lost on kit though, I’ve flown with balloon pilots that have to walk on to launch fields backwards, wear odd coloured socks and receive a wave from their ground crew-none of this is about their ability to pilot a balloon, but it is about relaxing themselves through familiarity. That makes them fly better. I think kit can help with this, my shoes have the Salomon Quicklace™ system. It’s quick, gets even tension and doesn’t come undone, I know all that. In itself those laces don’t make me run better. But, the process, snugging my foot in, sliding the plastic keeper up the lace, tucking the excess kevlar lace and keeper in the little pouch are all a part of my familar habit. It sounds inconsequential but it’s part of clearing my mind to deal with things when it all starts getting hard. I’ve posted before about random thoughts I have whilst running, but I realised there is a totally different way of thinking when you’re on the run home. In a way you’ve done the hard bit, it’s now just hanging in there. I nearly always have a rough idea of where halfway is in the run I’m doing, even if I don’t know where I’m going. This means, whether by time, or distance, I know when I’m heading home. Then I start thinking about different things depending on what physical condition I’m in. I’ve never finished a 3 hour plus run without some discomfort-tweaking hip flexors, a blister, a twisted ankle, bleeding bits from chafe, but I’ve never got to the point where I can’t go on. Generally, it’s about dealing with the pains you feel and making it manageable. What works for me, might not work for you, but here are my top tips: Be honest with yourself- do you really, really need to stop? Sometimes easing off is better than stopping, but you need to really know what that feels like. Chunk it-break the next part of time or distance into more manageable, achievable chunks. Even if you’re getting tunnel vision really badly then getting to the next lamp post is a step nearer to home. Think about something good- the view, family, food, sex, cars just anything that diverts your mind wholly for a few minutes. I spent a good proportion of a run recently designing my perfect garage! I have a friend who focusses on his best sexual experiences. Whatever distracts you is the thing to think about.. Lie to yourself- completely at odds with the first, but sometimes telling yourself that things aren’t that bad, not hurting, etc is a good way to get round. Self talk is a well know sports psychology technique. It really applies when you get towards your limit. Finding these in the right combination for a given situation is important. As an extreme example and not one I’d suggest reproducing, I went out to find my wall, I knew things were going to go badly wrong. It came 2 km from home. I knew the last bit of road to home well and broke them down into sections between bends, I thought alot about necking something sugary, sung bits of “Mary had a little lamb” to check how badly I was slurring AND to lie to myself that things weren’t that bad. There is one straight bit of road about 200m long, I broke that down into groups of 5 paces. I got home with more knowledge. A valuable thing to have done, though it was unpleasant! If all else fails quote Dean Karnazes always works for me-“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” Dean is THE Ultramarathon man, he’s got some other good quotes available on his website here. Don’t ever compare your limit with someone else. Know what your body is telling you, then use a technique that works for you. I saw this quote on a friends Facebook feed- “dead last is greater than did not finish, which trumps did not start”. Whatever you do, whether it is running or something else entirely. Start, acknowledge half way, hang in there and get home! And one bit I’m really, really bad at, but is really, really important-recognise that you have succeeded in what you set out to do!

Racing nutrition and support from Shotz UK

What an exciting couple of weeks; work is busy busy, home is frantic too. A reasonably grotty, snotty cold has stopped me from running heaps, but I’m feeling back to a point where I can go out and run the cold off.

I’m really excited to see an actual physical copy of Pete Bursnall’s 2nd Edition of Mountain Bike Guide-North Wales. It’s a great legacy though one heavily shadowed with sadness. That said, it’s time that proper Mountain Biking was back on the agenda, trail riding from centres is great fun, but nothing competes, in my opinion, with a good ride out over the mountains. Pete was such a great advocate for the Welsh countryside, I hope this inspires more people to explore their OS map.

My main bit of exciting news comes from a chance discussion with Steve Raven at Shotz Sports Nutrition at Trail Marathon Wales this year. It turns out a lot of the staff at ShotzUK are paddlers and I’m really hopeful that in my day job with Canoe Wales we’re going to build a strong partnership.

For me though, the excitiement is that Shotz have come on board to support my Marathon des Sable campaign in 2014. Sports nutrition is going to be important for me, especially in the heat. As we sweat we all lose vital electrolytes that rapidly impact the bodies ability to keep up a high work rate. Little fizzy tablets can be dropped into water, and this disolves to put vital bits back into our system. Water is great, but if you’re sweating at all on a 5k run or in the gym, then getting these electrolytes back stops cramps and also helps the body recover quicker.

I’m going to be running the Helly Hansen “Beauty and the Beast” trail marathon on the 22nd of September and I’ll be using the Shotz Energy Gel and Shotz Electrolyte to fuel me round. I wrote a while back about finding my wall and I’m now convinced that having an energy gel every 45 minutes and some electrolyte every 20 minutes keeps fatigue at bay for a lot longer.

This translates to energy gel every 6 miles, so as the Beauty and the Beast is laps I’m going to take a get every lap. I’ll post a full write up on the race and the Shotz after the weekend.

You can have a read about Shotz at their website www.shotzuk.com

Can’t say thank you enough for their confidence in me and the support to get this race done.

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.           

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.  

Sweat, no tears

A week of rest and rehab has paid off. After following advice from Matt I’m back on the low impact cardio.

After 10 very frustrating days before talking to a physio, perhaps there is some science I should get to know.

The foam roller is definitely still breaking down some weird muscle damage in my right calf, but stretches are definitely looser than 3 weeks ago.

The rowing machine is absolutely not my favourite way if getting a sweat on. The sound the fan makes reminds me of the 3 hour sessions I did prior to rowing a little boat from Lands End up to Wales. But, it feels so nice to extend my lungs. I know I’m supposed to ease into it but that little voice on my shoulder doesn’t like slacking -8017m in 30 mins. The yoof would say “boom”, I think.

I’m sure the family are chuffed to have reeking kit back in the wash bin!

I still want to be running the hills above the inversions we’ve been having in Meirionydd since Saturday, but I can beat that little voice, at least for now.

A big fat Zero for the last fortnight on 2012 miles in 2012! I’m back!

My wife says I go at everything like I can do it, without even considering I might not. Marathon training-I can do that, I used to be able to run a fairly respectable 3hr15 marathon... 12 years ago. So 2012 has seen me getting back in the groove for Trail Marathon Wales in June and asr a milestone on the way to Marathon des Salble. It seemed easy.
My wife says I go at everything like I can do it, without even considering I might not. Marathon training-I can do that, I used to be able to run a fairly respectable 3hr15 marathon… 12 years ago. So 2012 has seen me getting back in the groove for Trail Marathon Wales in June and asr a milestone on the way to Marathon des Salble. It seemed easy. “Just start banging the miles in on a programme” I thought. A quick 44 mile round trip cycle to work on a rest day, got to be good for you! A jarring pain 3 weeks ago in my calf stopped a run, go on the rest, ice, compression, elevate. Some gentle walks and tthen last Saturday headed out for a gentle, 20 minutes later, my right calf twanged again. My wife and the two girls came to pick me up in the car, with Katie (2) saying “pwore diddy, sore leeg” on the way home. Living in rural Wales is great but access to things like physio’s isn’t so easy. Monday night, Matt from The Physio Clinic Bristol came to the rescue with a SKYPE consultation. Matt explained about Myofacial release using a foam roller, talked me through calf guards-I think they’ll make me look like a drag act pulling off Britney in her bald phase, but if it stops the pain then great! Then he talked me through poor biomechanical allignment- how to identify it and eradicate it. Add some dynamic warm ups and reassuring me that the rest of my proprioception and stretching is probably ok was a great comfort. Now, I’ve always been a a fan of putting my shoes on and going running. Nothing fancy. Turns out I need to be a bit more sophisticated to get this body back to where it was. So Matt gave me a plan to get my body sorted- it’s definitely working. The foam roller, though sore in some places is defitnitely working, started on gentle explosive drives this evening and there is no pain. I’m going to get on the rowing maching soon and give that an easy try. I’m missing my cardio. I’m sure it’ll come  But my brain turned downhill massively. I don’t quit. But, my head just lost motivation, doubt, loss of belief. All really crappy. I think mixed with a lack of exercise it was just the right recipe. But on Wednesday morning when I work up my email said someone had donated £150. One hundred and fifty pounds! Initially I thought it was a scam, but checking into JustGiving revealed that an old uni friend, Jon Bauer, had made a donation. Now knowing, Jon he probably planned it, but it really helped. This guy, marketeer turned author, now living in Oz showed me a spark of belief. That was enough. Negativity went and I decided, training could be rehab too, it doesn’t have to be pounding the pavement. Matt said 1 week in 6 should be a rest week at high intensity, well rehab is my training until I’m fixed. I’m really going to try and get a copy of Jon’s book “Rocks in the Belly” for one of my weeks of- the Guardian thought it was quite good! A massive thank you to those two guys for keeping me going early days; I’m sure there are tough times ahead, but getting me back on track is a good foundation for the dark days to come. So my 2012 miles in 2012 is on pause, no pressure to get the miles back. I’m going to do it. Thats just it. In North Wales today, it was warm, time to get the little boat out and get some flatwater work in. Katie had her first trip up to one of my local spots with deepwater and a slight flow. At two she is showing some adventurous streaks, and takes after me wanting to strip off whenever possible. Not a bad fortnight really.