Thursday, 11 May 2017

Feeling much better

AIt has been almost a week since I withdrew from Spartathlon and it is a real weight lifted from my shoulders. It has not only affected me mentally but also physically. I have started sleeping better with longer periods of deep sleep. I walk taller, no mean feat for a short arse like me. And my weight is better.

Most importantly I have started enjoying running again. I went out three days on the trot. All of them runs around my local lake in Langendreer West, the Umminger See. It was a joy to go out and just run for the sheer pleasure of it. To see everything around me with new eyes instead of obstacles to running fast enough. This time of year the geese are sheparding their goslings, squirrels, red ones, are scampering around and there are masses of people around enjoying the sun.

There was was quite a lot of reaction to my last blog on Facebook. People not quite believing that having gone to Spartathlon for the last five years that I had really quit. Greeks stunned and giving me a chance to reconsider.   That race really does mean a lot to me and it was the hardest decision related to run I have made. I really will miss going. That race deserves respect and a chance to run it. I really could not justify going and spending all that money to fail and for it to turn into a jolly again. Besides I have opened up a place for other people who have more desire than me at the moment. I am so pleased that Tarique is first off the waiting list. After chatting to him in numerous occasions I know he wants it more than me at the moment.

A short word about my beloved Chrissy. She is going to hate this bit, sorry baby, but you expressed it so much better than I did. Those of you that know both of us will have spotted she is the sensible sophisticated one, I am just a zero, to paraphrase the  Stereo MCs. Hence her reaction was quite out of character.
She read all  the comments about me having time to get fit and was quite annoyed. 

"I just want to tell them all to F Off. I want my husband back. I want him enjoying running and not hating it."

That amused me, when Chrissy resorts to actually saying an F, you better watch out. Also the fact everyone wants me to go but do not understand the cost implications. As a contractor every day not at work costs me a shed load. Shelling out close to a thousand euros and not getting anything at the end is just plain daft.

And that's it. The point of my running is a cheap way to stay fit mentally and physically and not enjoying it or spending money and not running hardly​ achieves those goals.

On a positive note I received several very kind offers of coaching. Chrissy was rather dismayed, but I explained that someone telling me what to do was a lot less stressful than me trying to meet my own goals, so we agreed to try explore the offer.

I took some time to think about it and took one of them up on it. I was pleasantly surprised that the plan they offered was a lot easier than what I target to do myself.

So I am going to give that a go. I have six weeks to get fit for a twenty four hour race. The original idea was to get an Spartathlon autoqualifier, but now it is to enjoy running in circles and getting lost in myself for a day. No watch,  no worrying about the distance covered. Just enjoy running and having fun with my crew, Russell and Sandra. It will be a blast.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Commit or quit

Another race another failure.
The fact of the matter is that am not committed enough to make the grade. It is hard to admit but it is the ultimate truth. My performances over the last last few years have got worse and worse. I used to aim for an average of ten kilometres a day so that my year's total would be 3650km. But in the last year it has not been above 2700.

Over the past few years, I have read loads on training, both mental and physical and nothing really works. Nothing gets deep down inside me that gets me up to the level of training that got me that marvelous finish at Spartathlon.

I have tried to kid myself in lots of ways. So many ways.

The list of stuff I have read is endless
The chimp paradox
The inner critic
The obesity code
The lore of  running
Ultramarathon man
Running and stuff​
Burn the fat feed the muscle
Our natural diet
Buddhism
Mindfulness

I have kept a daily dairy and written blogs.
I have contributed to running magazines such as Like the wind and Ultra and the odd book. I have starred in a film on Spartathlon and given talks on running.

I have been an active participant on the Ultra Running Community Facebook page. I have  assisted the British Spartathlon Team in bringing them together and sorting their kit out in for the last two years and will do so again this year. I even assisted Alex KM on his trans Europe run.

I know several race directors and top ultra runners on a personal level. I have chatted endlessly with them trying to find that missing  je ne sais quoi.

I have read stuff on diets, paelo, low fat high carb, high fat low carb, vegetarianism. I have talked to more  nutritionist​s then I care to admit...they are an odd bunch. I think more bollox is written about nutrition than any other subject than is saying something from a guy interested in politics, philosophy and economics.

I have been tested this way and that. I had bloods taken. Had  more than a few endoscopy and colonoscopies done and let me tell you evacuating your digestive system and have camera rammed up your arse and down your throat is not as much fun as you might think.

I have been to a heart specialist and had heart ultrasounds, ecgs and even done running tests in laboratory conditions.

No one has found anything remarkable about me other than my low resting heart rate, which is under forty beats minute, and low iron levels. They have no clue why the iron level is so low which is more than a little worrying.

I have even focused on friends who can no longer run and tried to use that as a motivational thing. I owe them more of an apology for this self pitying drivel than I can express in words on a written page.

Nothing seems to work anymore. I keep searching for a magic pill that does not exist.

I can't in all honesty say that I will be ready for spartathlon or any other race this year. So I have withdrawn.

I have one more commitment this year and then that's it for a while. I would like to say it has been fun, but it stopped being that a while ago.

I am just tired of training and failing. Of spending time away from my family at races that never deliver the results I want.

Time for a break.

PS this is not a plea for help, so don't try. I have to fix this myself.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Alek K M fun run

Friday evening I met with Alek Barefoot who is running the length of Europe north to south. We struggled to get his trolley into my flat and he had to remove the wheels. 

After a pizza we went off to the Bochum Christmas market. The idea was to show him it quickly and get some rest before heading out the next morning for Cologne. As we got back to the station instead of waiting for the next train we supped a cheeky one and got talking to a couple of German lads. Two to three hours later I managed to drag him away.

He spent most of the evening on my bathroom floor talking on the Great White Telephone to Huey and Erik.

He was still at it the next morning...that didn't stop the run though. We set off a little late and headed for the Kemmande See. Less than ten km in and he needed a sit down..."you have too much of a racing mentality...you need to chill Rob" he said in face of my disgust at resting so early.

We headed on and got some breakfast in Witten and then headed for Sprockhövel. What a great place name. The route was very hilly and mainly climbing, about 300m by the time we got to the outskirts of Wuppertal. That doesn't seem much but when you have to push a big three wheeled trolley containing all of Aleks kit plus my heavy laptop it makes a lot of difference. 

I wanted to reach Wuppertal by 13:00 and we were a little late but not enough to panic. I had been eating my homemade energy bars all morning so the opportunity to have some proper food was welcome. This was two cheese burgers and half portion of fries. Half a portion? Yeah because that thieving barefoot runner knicked the other half.

We arrange to meet another barefoot runner, Basty and Aleks' logistics man Guido on the old Nordbahn track.This is a disused railway line that is now tarmaced and used for walking running cycling and biking.

The two new guys were very fresh and set off at quick pace that took a bit of effort for me to keep up with. Aleks was fine though. He had fully recovered from the previous evening and was running well. On the frozen tarmac he managed to slide great distances as his sandals have very little grip.

We stopped and took pictures at the start of Guido's 100km race. After this diversion we headed west and then south and then picked up the river Wupper. The idea was to follow this to the Rhine and then south to Cologne.

Most of this time I was running ahead alone to test how I was feeling and how the head was coped with the idea of not reaching Cologne in time

I knew I could keep going and be happy. At some point the other three hatched a plan to curtail our adventure early. Guido had a injury and Aleks' was concerned about getting me on a train

We decided to head to Solingen station and get a bite to eat. After that Basti and I could get a train to Cologne and the other headed back to Guido's place in Wuppertal.

All in all a fun day out. About 70km done. No injuries, no tiredness, head all good

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Week 8 of 52

It has been a while. Lost interest I suppose. Started the marcothon today. That should motivate me.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Week 4 of 52 Weight 71.9

I did the six hour run which has given me a  confidence boost. Covering a slow 52km eight laps of the circuit plus a bit extra followed by a fast one km and a marching one km.

Fueled by strong mix of 500ml of  tailwind and a low caffeine gel per lap.

The next test is to see if I can continue to train this week. Then on Saturday get up at six am and do a Rory at 5:45 pace.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Week 3 of 52 Weight DNM

The week was OK training starting to build up with the back to basics 10km several times a week.

I am aiming to run continuously for six hours on Saturday.  This will be ten times my six km loop at a steady easy pace.  The idea is to put easy endurance into my legs and build the determination again.

I am also rereading the chimp paradox to strengthen my mind.

On a positive note the premiere of the Road to Sparta was fun.  Great big thank you to the film makers.

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.