Monday, 17 October 2016

Week 2 of 52 weight 71.4

This past week I have been starting running and back on the boy band diet. I have been researching mental strength and controlling my internal critic/chimp/whatever you call it.

I did a Cooper test to benchmark my fitness. 2.57km in the 12 minutes. It was done on a pathway near my house instead of a race track. That might make a difference but only marginally.

This week I am getting back to basics. 10km runs each evening and a long one at the weekend.

At the end of each month I will do a progressively long run to build significant endurance. Six hours at the end of October will be the first.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Week 1 of 52

For Fermin

I am now 4 fails to 1 finish

hmm not surprising as the two other long races in 2016 ended up at a similar distances, between the 100km -120 km mark.

Each one I started well and then by 100km  I really felt I did not want to go on. I always used to struggle between 30-60km  but then get over it.  Now I go 40km longer but mentally collapse.

Mark Cockbain says this is because I am weak in the head and I need to go back to basics.

True,  but there is something else I feel.

I think i have a real problem eating,  not eating per se, because I can eat anything most of the time,  but eating the right thing at the right time.

It is more than than that though... I am too heavy to keep going during a race at the speed I want to go at.

At around 70 plus kilos I am burning around ten thousand calories in one hundred kilometers.

Last year I was 67 kilos and travelled faster. For instance in 2015 I got to halkion (112km) in daylight ~7 pm. This year at 71 kilos I got there at 9pm, way slower. I was also dead in the head,

If I want a chance of finishing I need to be  67 kilos or lighter.  I need to be faster.  Most importantly I need to be  able  to run on my own and stay positive. I tend to be  ok when I run with someone, I had good phases this year running with Iris Vromanns and a bunch of American guys ( Paul and Mosi) but left on my own I fall into depression.

So the plan

1) Lose shed loads of weight.  My public declaration is to turn up with a boy band six pack,  I reckon around 62 kilos, next year.

2) Get faster, like as fast as 2013, sub 45 minute 10kms and sub 3.30 marathons like  Mark taught me

3) Run a clever race, 4:14 marathon 8:45 to Corinth 11:00 100km.

4) Most importantly sort the head.  This has two parts...
First part items 1-3 above.
Second part work out how to sort the internal critical voice...this again has two parts. 
First part mental training. I have several books and practical tasks to do.
Second part physiologically, that is to say when I am going hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) that triggers the critical voice. so the challenge is how to get glucose into my blood stream fast enough to make  me  happy and ignore the critical voice.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

No more heroes

This was my fifth attempt at Spartathlon. I knew before hand that it would go well. People were expecting a repeat of last year and so was I. The Spartathlon photography club had put a poster of me finishing last year in the main square of Spartathlon.

I even had a guy from the Philippines called Fermin come up to me and ask to have a picture taken with me. He told me I was his inspiration and hero. I told him he needs better heroes.

After I failed...that weight of expectation was so hard to deal with. I really have let a lot of people down. I can't do that again and hold my held up with any level of self respect.


I think know what has been happening. I have been struggling weight as always and tried going low carb/high fat. But that does not work. The only two things that have worked are 

1) fasting 
2)What I shall call the teenage body builder diet.

The fasting worked last year, but I only used that because in late 2014 I had a hernia op and was not allowed to run. I went from 74 kilos down to 67 over a period of three months. Then put weight on and finally lost it down to 67 just in time for 2015 Spartathlon.

This year the weight just wouldn't shift no matter how little I ate. That little food, less than 1000k a day meant training at speed was difficult. I was waking up at three in morning soaked I sweat. I talked to three nutritionists and none of them came  up with anything  worth doing.  None of them suggested anything I din't know already. 

Eventually in early August one of my neighbour's sons gave me a diet to follow and I dropped about three kilos in six weeks. Now I am back from Spartathlon I will maintain that diet with the aim getting to a proper racing weight of low sixties. The less weight one carries equates to faster performance and less food required. It will also me a lot more positive out look in a race and less to get loow blood sugar levels.  I have called this goal the boyband abs...

What happens on races ...and it happened in three races this year is....
1) I am heavy.
2) I run slower than I want to.
3) I get pissed off by this lack of speed.
4) I try to eat to keep the low sugar demon away. 
5) I can't eat enough and I lose the desire to run. 

No matter how much time I have on a cut off or the fact I can keep going,  as I am not really injured I just don't want to do it.

It happened at Spartathlon 2013, Tortourderuhr 2014, the two 24 hours this year plus Spartathlon 2015...

I lose this desire and then as I stop , I start shivering  like a southern softy on a night out in Newcastle.

If I I am lighter, like at last years Spartathlon, then I move faster on less food.

Race - what happened

The first 20km was fine , a little  fast but ok. then my quads started to seize a little. This was annoying but easily dealt with by the simple strategy of telling them to fuck off. I knew the speed I was going was causing the pain but while should that stop me
The heat was no an issue. Mainly because I train in bin bags, but also because it was a rather cold for Spartathlon.

I hit the marathon point at 4:20. 15 minutes slower than last year but still 25minutes inside the cutoffs. Not an issue. Russell Tullet said to me that this second marathon was mine as he gave me something to eat.

Unfortunately the Speed kept dropping and I went into run-walk mode. I realised that was definitely due to not training fast enough.

But I wanted  to finish for Fermin and that is what kept me going.

Met I met a rather good runner called Iris Vromans and my mood started to improve. Helping her and getting us to maintain the time on the cutoffs gave me a goal. Iris was very entertaining as well and we chatted about all sorts of stuff. She has done quite a few races that I have done so that was nice.

Unfortunately I lost her at Corinth, as I had to have a dump. By this time I still had 20 minutes on cutoffs. Still fine really, even if I was now an hour and twenty minutes slower than last year.

Just after cp 29 I found a bunch of Americans and ran with them Paul and Moss are two of the names that stick out. It was getting dark and my head lamp was at cp 30, so I had to draft in their shadow to stay up with them and see where I was going.

I got to cp 30, picked up my torch and a rice pudding and notice how cold I was getting. I borrow a shirt from Moss and carried on. but not before his crew complained about a speck of rice pudding on his car. 

About this time Rusty Rusk marched past me going faster than I could run. 

I got to the hill before cp 32 Halkion and walked up. Constantly having a battle with myself 
about whether to stop on not. 

  • I had to keep going for Fermin.
  • I should been here in daylight. 
  • Mark Cockbain will kill me for quitting so easily
  • Not two hours later in the dark. 
  • It is only a hundred and twelve km in don't be such a wuss

I got there and the Americans where gathered around the cp board arguing about the time to the next cp. I pointed out the next big cp was at Nemea about 10km away and they had  two hours to do it in. That is a piece of piss.

They went off and I saw Sarah Dryden and Russ Bestley in their crew car with their runner Paul Rowlinson. 

That did it for me. 
Sarah tried to get me to go on. 
I could have done so physically. 
But mentally I was done. 
When I am in that state nothing can get me going.
I hesitated over signing the quit form...but no long and I was out.

Later I went to the lavatory and was pissing blood for the first time. It is entertaining to say the least to see a bright red stream spewing forth from whence white normally comes.  It was as if I opened a bottle of Chablis only to find the contents had been replaced with a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

The next day it was good seeing the other runner's in. Especially Mich Hardy who finished right on 36 hours.

If I could only sort this head issue out...I would have been there as well...
It really does annoy me. More experiments are needed. to fix the head.

Still I also got to see Nik Petalas who reminded me  of the phenomena of the second time  failure.  The person who finishes Spartathlon  on year fails the next...that's me  folks

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Not so bad really

Now I have calmed down and got over my hissy fit it is time to write a detailed blog about the this race.

I was quite heavy going into it, 73kg, but feeling very strong physically and mentally. I was hoping to do 210km at least. The aim was to run 6min kms as long as possible.

To do this I prepared a food plan. Essentially it was 

1*500ml of Sisgo or Tailwind with a gel in the hour.
I bought my 20 of my favorite powerade bottles, labelled them 1-24,pre filled the odd numbered ones with tailwind and the even with sisgo.
2 chocolate biscuits on the quarter hour
1 mini Mars/snicker on the half hour
A few Pringles and cubes of cheese on the three quarter hour.
Ever four hours had a rice pudding with magnesium granules. 
For the evening between 12 and 6am I had a can of redbull and some caffeine tablets. 

Thanks to James Elson for the idea of a regular plan. 

All this took up quiet a bit of space. So I was scrimping on kit. I took two pairs of ascics GT 2100, a couple of running shirts, my Care keep warm  top, a long sleeved shirt a couple of pairs of double skinned socks and a couple of pairs of shorts and two rain jackets.

This was my first big mistake. Too many shoe,  too much food and not enough clothes...

I traveled to the race from Frankfurt via train. First class...I thought that would be comfy...but then my back spasmed and it was very painful. I had some volteren forte gel in my bag so I spread that on to ease the discomfort and reminded myself not to moan as some people I know can't feel a thing below the chest.

I got to the hotel checked in and had a long soak in a lovely hot bath. The hotel came courtesy of Andrew Ferguson. He was planning on crewing Izzy Wykes at the race but unfortunately she was injured. Chiz chap it was a back saver.

The next I wrote a few people's names in my body over the locations they are injured to remind me of how lucky I am to be able to run

Left ankle Nicky
Right ankle Izzy
Mark Cockbain on my knees... Too low down though. I wanted his name facing me as I ran and it wasn't.
Dwarf on my chest and Jo on my back.

The organizers did a good job. A nice flat 1.1 km course with gazebos down one side for kit/ food and  benches and tables to put it all on. The benches became vital later.

There are as talk or a storm in the evening but the race started at midday in sunshine.
Just before the race a couple of people commented on my Sparta tattoo. One of the Germans said he saw my finish with the martini. This cheered me up loads.

I started running smoothly and on pace. The food was working wonders nothing could go wrong surely?

I had the usual wobble between 30 and 60km that I put down to all the glycogen being used up and moving to fat burning. I was running really well. I even had time to watch the footie being played on the pitches in the middle ground. 

My back tried to spasm at around to 35km but I just shouted Jo at it and it went away.

The wind picked up in the mid afternoon and blew the gazebos over. The organisers had this covered and soon set things right again pretty quickly.Then the rain started at six pm. I threw on my montane minimus and carried on. I was still on target. Slowing a little but on target.

it would have been handy to have some crew to help but as laid my food out neatly I was not losing too much time  picking up stuff.

I notice that a few Spartathlon winners were there Stu Thomas and Jens Lukas..Bloody hell they were fast. Also fast was a Swedish lady Maria Jansson  who had admired my tat. She said that Sparta was too hot for her.  Seeing the speed she was running I thought it wouldn't be enough of a challenge.. She finished with over 240km. Turns out she is  European ladies champion.

By 10ish I was cold and slowing to 6:30- 7 min/km. Still good  enough for my target. The rain had not let up and I was soaked to the skin. I  changed to the last pair of dry tops that I had and carried on. I had started moving up the rankings and very happy. I was think how much fun it was going to be to tell Mark Cockbain that I had beat his pb in the pouring rain.

By midnight the dry clothes were soaked again and I begged a top and plastic pack a mac from Jen Vieler race director of t He is an excellent chap and I hope to see him again at the Spartathlon.

By two am I was now 24th overall and 5th in my age category. Considering the quality of fields I was well happy.

Then I made the second and fatal mistake. I took my red bull and decided to sit down.


How many times before have I been told that? What a stupid idiot.

I started shivering so much that I could prepare enough milkshakes for MacDonald's a month. 

for all their branches


I was told to have a hot shower to warn up and wrap up in a space blanket. I took some rest I tried to go out again at four am only to be advised not to as my shaking was letting up. 

I ended up returning to the hotel and then putting all my dry clothes on and returning home .

I ended up with 123km in  14 hours 

Disappointing yes. But look at how consistent I was compared to last year. The big spike is the toilet break I needed. I think that is a sign of improvement.

I know I can do plus 210 maybe even more. 

I am going to try again in June or July but really need some crew.
Probably here
 Any volunteers?

Sunday, 1 May 2016


The race was going well.
Food...including my first trial of Tailwind worked. Even at 2:00am I was successfully moving up the field and felt great mentally.
But ultimately lack of preparation for the weather failed me.

The weather forecast for the race said it would rain. It did, a lot. My rain jacket was not water proof. Even switching to another method ...basically a large rain poncho didn't help. I got colder and colder but I focused on the time left and to keep moving to stay warm. I was on for a massive pb. I was going to reach 210km, a bit tight admittedly but it was doable.

I  withdrew, however, as I became so cold that matter how much boullion and cheese I consumed they didn't make a difference.

Lesson learned....
Take loads of clothes.  You can never be prepared enough.

Make sure that they are the right clothes for the weather.


Monday, 25 April 2016

Pre race blog

I know I have to start slow and stay slow.

I know I can maintain  6 minutes per km for at least 120km.

I know I can extend that by using the  run 3/4 fast walk 1/4 when I am slowing down.

I know the course has four sides so it is easy to implement the above.

I know I have to eat.

I know what I will eat.

I know that I am running on 1km  track and can pick stuff up when I want. 

I know I will pick up according to my eating plan. 

I know I won't fuck about selecting food.

I know I can run through the night.

I know I need motivation.

I know I will split into into 40km chunks.

I know each chunk represents a station on  Sparta.

I know each chunk will be  done  in four hours.

I know I will write M on one knee and C on the other.

I know I will write Dwarf on my heart.

I know I will write Ugly on my foot.

I know I will stay focused.

I know how to change the negatives to positives.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

January Review

Slowly I am getting more focused.
In the last week of January I hit all my targets.  not only running, but swimming and core work as well.
I also had my first week of eating absolutely no crap.
My input from  Tuesday to Friday was two apples a day, a homemade soup and a fish salad.
This resulted in a weight loss of 2kg.

I am still well over weight though at just under 74 kg.  

I truly believe that I can stay strong now on and keep shedding the weight.  

It really does have an impact.

This time  last year I was 72kg and completed the Rodgau 50km in 4:18.  
This year I was 74 kg and finished in 4:40.

I had also done 3 roys by this time  last year and I eat a gel every 5km.  This year only one Rory and a gel every 10km. 

I was ok until around 30km  resulting a big drop off in performance as can be seen from the graph below.

Lessons learnt.
Weight - lose it!
Gels - one every 5km
Rory's - do them 

Next race Marburg 50km  27th February