Thursday, 23 December 2010

Then, Now, Tomorrow

End of the year (almost) so its time to say Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year to one and all and lets hope that 2011 is bigger and better than 2010 - not that 2010 was a bad year anyway!

2010 had its fair share of ups and downs on the running front, in more ways that one. After starting the year with the Country to Capital 45 mile Ultra I suffered a leg injury in the Thames Trot, that continued to cause issues for the next few races, and after many months of training I went to the Grand Union Canal Race in not the best frame of mind - needing a break - which I duly got, whether I liked it or not!!!

2010 saw me break into Triathlon (one to be precise), but started a spark and is something I hope to build on for 2011 (amongst other things). There are other familiar races planned, a re-visit to the GUCR and London Marathon, for the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity, and hopefully other new events including the Baxter's Loch Ness Marathon (for reasons which will become apparent).

I have to thank my sponsors for their support over 2010, namely Buff (I'm on their sponsored page), Compressport, Polaroid and Fitness Footwear, all who have supplied me with running bits, and all who have kept me going, through rain and shine (and plenty of snow too). Without them this last year would have been a whole lot tougher!

Last, but certainly not least of all, my best wishes go to Alex Flynn after a momentous year for him (see http://www.alexflynn.co.uk/ for all the details), running in not only the Grand Union Canal Race (reaching 119 miles), also doing the Europe 135 Ultra, Marathon Des Sables, London Triathlon (despite having a deep-set fear of water), Country to Capital and other races along the way, and pushing his body and commitment to raising £1M for Cure Parkinson's Trust to the max - deepest respect to the guy and I know 2011 is expected to be even bigger and better for him and the 10 Million Metre Campaign - Keep Moving Mate!!!

Update in a few weeks on a number of things in the pipeline, and how training is going, despite the um… festive traditions and here's to a good year of racing for all!!
CHEERS!!

Rich

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Best Running Reads???

Just a brief word, in response to a request i received after my last blog!

I was contacted earlier this week by Larry Dignan, who works for Onlinecollegecourses.com, who have just published a list of what they describe as "40 Exhilarating Reads for Runners", which can be found here, and he asked me, due to the nature of our shared interest, if i could post this list and ask for your comments and what your favourite running books are??

As you will see from the list there is a good selection of running guides, novels, Biographies and different running cultures around the world. One of my favourites is listed (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen), although the list was sadly missing the excellent "Just a Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes", by Rosie Swale-Pope!

Have a look at the list and drop me some feedback, and i will pass all your comments (keep it clean!!!) back to Larry

I thank you for reading this and please don't forget to sponsor me as i run for Rainbow Trust Children's Charity next year - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Rich-Merry!!!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Let it snow!!!

Not a great deal of news for this update. Last week saw first snow of this winter in the UK, so a run to work and home last Friday was a must, and the pleasure of running along empty country lanes at 6am with the temperature at -5c (cold for UK) was immense (sad person that I am). Plenty of wild animal tacks around, some being very large too, along side my elephantine footprints!!!. The run was made more enjoyable with having a Buffwear Polar Buff on and the ever present R2's from Compressport - thanks to both companies for their support.

Additionally, following a call out of the blue from Atheer at Wildfire Word of Mouth, who had been reading my blog (i KNEW someone was) Adidas sent me a pair of Swoop 2's to try out and report back on, and I have to say that the grip and feel of the shoes in the snow was immense (I wonder if I can get car tyres with the same tread???). The "radioactive" colouring may not suit everyone, but the ride and comfort certainly will, and I can see myself putting in many miles across the trails over the winter period.














Talking of trail running - I am returning to the Colchester Harriers fold and will be running in my first X-country race in 5 years on Sunday week at Halstead, and will be heading out in the Swoop 2's, as spikes wont be suitable for the whole race - will be a true test of my fitness and stamina (5.5 mile course), and will be good to get back to training and running with others ahead of next years big races. One of the Harriers runners (Sean Ketteridge) is also running the Grand Union Canal Race, so hopefully I can meet up with him and get some training done (if he can slow down enough). I intend to race the GUCR un-supported next year, so need to spend long days out running alone, providing I can find the time to get the mileage in.

In my last ramble I said that triathlons were off next year, but I have been offered a possible place at the Harwich Olympic distance Triathlon in July, so (with my planning hat on) I have looked at a swimming training schedule and will use the recovery time after the GUCR to swim and cycle, rather than run and train that way - active recovery!!!

Enough ramblings for now!!

Don’t forget I can be sponsored for both the 2011 London Marathon and the GUCR at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Rich-Merry, monies to go to the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity and Cure Parkinson's Trust!!

Stay warm, stay safe, stay seen!!!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Compressport Impress again!!

A headline that has been adapted, due to the arrival of 2 new products from Compressport. The Full Socks  and Full Leg compression clothing from Compressport, isn't just up with the best, it has to be one of the best!

The first time I used these was on Monday last week after a few weeks lay off from running and I did a 7 mile run to work and then the same home again that evening. The energy I still had in my legs was staggering, due to the support, and even though I was flagging towards the end, my legs felt like they could carry on for hours!!
 













The feeling once they are on is instant graduated pressure, rather than complete "squeeze it all together" pressure of other products. The Full Leg offers the combined benefits of the R2 and Quad products from Compressport by reducing the build up of lactic acid in the muscles and helping blood flow, and thus getting more oxygen to the muscles, helping them to not only work hard, but recover quicker (also ideal to wear after exercise to help aid recovery). They are ideal for those hard evening runs, worn under running legging and with the very cold mornings adds extra warmth, without over heating to the whole leg.

The Full socks are without question the best I have ever used. Again the pressure supports the calf, and reduces muscle vibration, which in turn reduces the energy used and keeps the calves feeling fresh and full of go!! Funky little 3D.Dots on the soles are there to keep the feet cool, by allowing air in and the arch support is compressed enough to help the blood flow to keep the calves working, without feeling restrictive.
















These items are now a permanent fixture in my kit bag, and when Compressport extend their range into clothing for the upper body next year, you can guarantee that those products will be just as good and push the other compression companies into second place.

Cant wait for my next training session later today!!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

On The Road Again

Well its been a while since I updated my blog as the 2 months since the 7Oaks triathlon have been mixed and quite difficult. Work has been busy, busy, busy culminating in a visit from the Queen (all good, but energy sapping), and hours at work have changed, causing a change of routine and restrictions on running. Add to that a bit of illness and I have decided not to do the Salomon Turbo X on November 21st, and concentrate on base-building for the next 6 weeks before I start training for the London Marathon (Running for Rainbow Trust Childrens Charity)


My goals for next year have also changed, mainly due to the work hours changing for both my wife and myself, which means that family time is premium and therefore swimming has taken a hit, so no triathlons next year (nuts!!). However I intend to cycle to work once a week, adding a X-training element to my training, and allowing me to do Duathlons next year (first one is Dunmow on March 6th), but it looks like a 3 day running week, so I will be using the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) marathon training program. This training program has produced good results with runners doing three key workouts in any order throughout the week (Interval session, Tempo run and LSD run), leaving at least one day between the key workouts and either cross-train or complete easy runs on other days of the week - sounds perfect!!

After the London Marathon training will be ramped up, as I have just gained a place in the Grand Union Canal Race in May 2011. This is the race that I had problems in this year (blood-diversion caused issues at 70 miles forcing me to retire), but my approach to training and to the race will be different this time and food intake will be better, as last time I felt I wasn’t burning enough off and didn’t replace as I should have - stupid!! Training plans have been drawn up, to accommodate the extra training (days off work, early starts etc) after the marathon, and in fact the marathon itself will almost be a training run, with 33,000 team-mates!!

Other races next year are currently planned as follows, but subject to change as sees fit!

Gt Bentley ½ Marathon - Feb
Dunmow Duathlon - March
Halstead Marathon - May (GUCR Training run)
Grimsthorpe 70 Mile Ultra - Aug
Shotley 55 Mile Challenge - Sept

I am hoping to add a new post next week, as I am expecting some new CompresSport goodies, and will be getting out and reviewing them for all to benefit. If they are as good as previous items (R2's & Quad's) then I'm in for a treat!!

Until then
Be safe - be seen

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Rainbow Trust - Virgin London Marathon

Recently i had it confirmed that i had been accepted into next years Virgin London Marathon, after 5 years of being rejected via the ballot system.

As is usual for this event and the publicity surrounding such a large occasion, fundraising for charity becomes a must, and although i am currently in the middle of raising money for Cure Parkinson's Trust, i consider the London Marathon to be something very special in the running calender and therefore want to us this as a chance to involve another charity!

As my wife was hoping to get in and failed via the ballot, she wanted it to be a children's charity, and once the magazine arrived we immediately set our minds on the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity!

But why choose them?? Having a daughter of our own is a precious thing, and the thought of her being seriously ill, possibly terminally ill, is something we dare not think about, however others aren't so fortunate, and we want to do what we can to make life a bit easier for them in their time of need (please don't think i am being condescending with that statement)

Rainbow Trust Children's Charity provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. Rainbow Trust's Family Support Workers join the family in their own home and are there to provide practical support.

Rainbow relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and through the generosity of their supporters they are able to help around 1,000 families a year.

Please help me to help them by donating what you can via one of the below "giving sites"

http://www.justgiving.com/rich-merry
or
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Rich-Merry

Thank you for your support
Rich

Monday, 4 October 2010

Run 10k - a Wander in the Park

3rd October 2010

Last Sunday i went for a rather nice amble through Hylands Park on the outskirts of Chelmsford, although when i say nice my wife would not be one to agree.

This was the Cancer Research "Race for Life" 10k, one of their races that include men, rather than the 5k, which are women only. Mandy had already done the 5k earlier in the year and this was her attempt to go longer, however after a week of feeling rough and low on energy she wasn't expecting to fly around the course. So at 11am Mandy and myself lined up for the race, towards the back of the 1500 strong field, mostly clad in light blue t-shirts, although there was a smattering of Bobby Moore Trust red ones to boot!

As this was her first 10k race i decided that i want to keep her company and do the course with her, and we set off at her pace, with me encouraging her to stay clam and "tick over", rather than go out fast!

The route itself wound snake-like round the estate twice, and was all off-road, which caused her immense problems. Only having run on roads and paths and not having any trail shoes, she was slipping and sliding everywhere, as the ground was sodden and had been churned up by the runners in front. I was fine in my Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity shoes, but it was a real struggle her her.

This combined with the undulating terrain, lack of energy, strong cross winds and missed training made it a real slog, but she didn't complain (too much), and gritted her teeth and duly finished with a final flourish, crossing the line together and feeling very happy that she had finished.

Once warm, with a medal around her neck she has vowed to do more, once she gets some decent footwear, and next time has promised to out-sprint me at the finish, which could cause a domestic problem if i over-take her.

My next race is the Turbo X, on November 21st, which she has gracefully declined to take part in (i cant use her exact words, without this site being suspended!!!), so plenty of relaxed training for a few weeks, the after that race i have the Virgin London Marathon in April, having been accepted (after 5 years of rejections) - so this time i am aiming for a PB.

Til next time - stay safe!!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sevenoaks Triathlon - Kent - 19th Sept

Was I ready?? - Sort of!!

Did I finish?? - You bet!!!

After the events of last Sunday I wasn’t certain if I would make the start of this race, but after a light swim and cycle mid-week and a 2m run on Saturday I felt I was ready, even though the calves were still a bit sore and so at 4:30am (again) i dragged myself out of bed, stuck my bike on the back of the car and I was off again for a 7:35 start in the Sevenoaks Leisure centre.

Once i had arrived and parked i made my way to registration, where i collected a huge goodie bag (more about that later), was marked up with my race number and fixed numbers to all the parts of my body and kit that I had to and then racked my bike in the appropriate slot.

This was a sprint Tri (actually my first ever Tri) consisting of 400m pool swim, 25k bike ride and 8k run, and although nervous as hell, I was now ready for this.

Swim - I have never been a very good swimmer and have never learnt to freestyle properly, so i opted for the Breaststroke, which, in recent months of training has improved, so at 7:35am, with 16 lengths of the pool ahead, surrounded by other swimmers (this will be fun I thought (!?!?)). I set off in my lane with 3 others, and after thrashing up and down for 9 mins, was able to drag myself out of the pool and head off to the first transition to bike. When i say 9mins, that was the clock on the wall time, officially it was 10:19, but that included the run to the transition, so 50  metres away across a stony car-park!

Transition 1 - On with the helmet, followed by socks, bike shoes and sunglasses. I healthy swig of Lucozade sport and i was off to the mount zone and away (2min 29secs - happy with that!!)

Bike leg - From the below chart you can see that it wasn't the flattest of courses, and with climbs almost straight away i decided to take the first few miles easy, to get my orientation and save something for 14-15km in, and boy was i glad i did.

The hair-raising, cheek-clenching descent from 4-5km saw me covering my brakes, and still hitting 30mph, and with a severe wobble halfway down had me wondering if my life insurance was up-to-date!! The rest of the course was less dramatic on a downwards theme, and at 14km more of a snails view of life as i slowly climbed Stone Hill (and we are talking 5mph here).

This was followed by a a very technical section of hair-pin bends and short, sharp climbs and drops, and finally a the short climb into the town and back to transition!!! Total time for the ride - 55min 16sec, which considering i was aiming for 1 hour, was very pleasing.

Transition 2 - Off with the bike shoes, and gloves, on with my running shoes, grab a banana and off into the run (1min 24sec)
Run Leg - Feeling totally drained, despite spinning my legs for the last 100m of the ride, i headed off into the the beautiful Knoal Park, for 5 miles of severe undulations, stunning scenery (including deer charging across only yards in front of me), and a final killer climb, sapping every last bit of energy, and making me realise that i need to concentrate more on doing "bricks" in training and not relying so much on my standard running training! - These 5 miles took me 42:50, compared to a PB of 31:15 (but that was flat!!!).

Tired, but elated i crashed over the finish line, to receive a massive goodie bag, filled with a great Buff (aren't they all great though???), For Goodness Shakes, Triathlon Plus magazine, Gatorade, Powerbars and more,and received my all important finishers medal!!

So my overall final time was 1hr 52min 20sec

Swim - 10:19
T1 - 02:29
Bike - 55:16
T2 - 01:24
Run - 42:50

Final position 188 from 388


My overall impression of the race - I can see why it was voted 220 Magazine Race of the year 2009, as the whole thing was slick and very well organised. The marshalls were superb, as was the goodie bag, and the course very challenging. This race and experience has prompted me to join a club (Born 2 Tri) again and get more advice and support and more structure to my training, so that next year I can do more Triathlons and hopefully stay fitter and injury free, with the hopes that i may even do an Ironman!!

Kit List
Fitness Footwear - Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane

Next up - Race for Life 10k at Chelmsford with my beloved, doing her first 10k (and panicking about whether she will be picked in the London Marathon Ballot - sorry dear!!!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

DNF in the city park!!

London Duathlon Ultra - 12th Sept - Richmond Park.

Was I ready?? - Yes I was!!

Did I finish?? - No I didn’t!!

The day started smoothly enough (at 4:30am) and after a 90 min drive to the competitors car-park I made my way through the misty surrounds of the park to register and collect my race numbers. Once through and with numbers affixed to the relevant parts of my bike I wandered over to the transition area to rack my bike and lay out bike shoes, helmet and Buff cycle gloves for the race. Looking around at others it was obvious I wasn’t the only nervous one there, but I had trained consistently both on the bike and running (mixed in with Triathlon swimming) and was feeling fine and ready!

The morning temperature started to rise quite quickly so it was going to be a nice dry day, probably too dry!! I then spotted that Tim Williams and Sarah Hill Sibby of CompresSport were setting up the stand and as it was Tim who had got me a place and supplies me with the fantastic R2 and Quad Compression gear, I was there like a shot!!
We were soon joined by Alex Flynn, who had come to watch, despite still recovering from the Europe 135, which he had finished the previous week and support (ended up selling the CompresSport gear eventually as well), and was soon off to the start area, ready for action.

The race consisted of running 2x10km loops of the inner road or the park, then cycling 7x11.5km loops of the outer road and back for another 10k run on the inner loop. The first loop went fine, nice pace, nothing fancy and taking water at the 3 CP on the way, and generally enjoying the surrounds of the park, with its deer wandering around however…………

At the end of the first lap we had a small excursion off road, through the edge of the transition area and back onto the road! This was not the most even of ground and my left foot found a trough in the soil and I came down heavily on that knee. I then spent the next lap nursing the throbbing knee, especially on the hills, stretching in places, before finally completing the whole 20k in 1:38. In to transition (carefully) and looking forward to taking the weight off on the bike. Quickly changing and getting onto the road and settling down I found myself up to speed quickly and felt very comfortable on the road, passing other in front and getting ready for the climb at 2km in.

This climb, albeit not a long stretch was short and sharp and finished me off!!

As I changed down gear and stood up in the pedals to gain power into the climb I felt a searing pain shoot across my left calf and had to come off the road (almost off the bike too) and stop. After walking a few yards I tried to restart, but could put no downward pressure on that side - my race was over!!

Despondently I then had to trudge the 2km back to the start area, not being able to put much weight on the left leg and glaring with envy at the other cyclist speeding past - I was gutted!! I had trained for this since the start of June and was not only out of this race but the 7Oaks Triathlon could also be off too, if I couldn't recover.

I made my way back to the CompresSport tent, was met with worried looks and sympathy, and after an hour or so, decided to limp back to the car and home!!!

I have vowed to return next year and finish what I started, watching out for pothole and hopefully I will collect that medal in due course. One positive is that the experience of the Duathlon was incredible, seeing the combination of many runners and cyclists of all types enjoying the day and racing together - it has certainly left me wanting more!!

Kit List
CompresSport - R2 & Quads
Fitness Footwear - Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane
Orca - Core Tri Pant
Buff - BOW10 T-Shirt
Polaroid - Mercury Sunglasses

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Hi-Tec and Hi-Performance.

In the last few weeks I have been trying out the new Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity adventure shoe in shocking green and silver (Stunning looks). A shoe that was promoted by Hi-tec in their running on water video (review by myself in July) and now a permanent fixture in my trail runs too.


My initial thoughts were quite reserved, as the shoes arrived ½ size smaller than I usually take but I was surprised at the great fit and feel of the shoe, and that they still seemed loose rather than tight. They feel incredibly light and with a very good Vibram Outsole they took to the trails, fields and road with little effort and maximum grip (yet to be tested in the muddiest conditions).

But it’s the seamless mesh (that Hi-tec call SUZE), which is a single piece mesh providing protection, support and breathability, as well as reduced stitching that really worked for me! This added to the comfort and still kept the shoe light, which combined with the Hi-Tec "ion" treatment for quick drying and water resistance meant the water uptake was minimal and what was taken on board was quickly expelled.


If I was to be picky about anything it would have to be the laces, understandably thin to stop them from absorbing water, but because they are thin it is hard to do a tight enough knot to stop them from coming un-done on a long run - best answer is a lace lock, which should come as standard - other than that these Hi-Tec Trainers are spot on and will work wonders hopefully as the winter progresses.

For more about the shoe visit http://www.fitnessfootwear.com/ - a great company who are supporting me for the 10 million metre challenge, and keeping me on my feet!!!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Tri and Run With CompresSport

Today i have received some great news from Tim Williams of CompresSport who has told me that Greg Bryce at TriandRun, based in Chigwell in Essex are going to lend Alex and Myself a pair of bikes for the London Duathlon on September 12th at Richmond Park.
















This will give us both a fighting chance of a good time as we take on the Ultra distance of 20km run/80km bike/10km run, all which must be completed inside 6hrs 15 min. This will be my first Duathlon, a week ahead of my first Triathlon (Sevenoaks on the 19th) and one i have been training for on a mountain bike, which weighs a tonne and adds immense resistance with heavy knobbled tyres, still it builds up the leg strength at least. The Racing bikes will allow us to cut down times and feel more confident of doing well in the race.

Swimming for the Tri has been going reasonably well, although i have to swim breaststroke, due to a shoulder "clicking" problem, mind you i can now do 400m (required distance in the event I'm doing) in 8:30, and should be quicker by race day - so not too shabby. Tomorrow will be a good session with 7m bike/600m swim/8m bike - before work and then 10m ride home in the evening - hard and tiring, but rest day on Saturday!

Running has started again and is gradually building up, so that I'm doing more than ½ marathon runs closer to the time. Last week i did a split day - run to work in the morning - shower (or be forced to work outside) and then run home in the evening - 8 miles each way. A good session as the legs are stiffer in the afternoon and have to work harder, but the return run always seems faster than the a.m. one.

The next month is going to be a tough one to get training done properly, with work taking a lot of time up at the weekends (a number of stock-takes), including the whole of the bank holiday, so i will be slipping in very early morning runs/rides to get the training done. This has also meant i wont be accompanying Alex to Bavaria for the Europe 135 to act as crew, although i am still playing a part, by getting replacement crew and sourcing hotels etc for the race.

Finally i have to say a huge thanks to Tim Williams again - last week i received a great T-shirt and Hoodie from him, ideal for training and recovery and have to say that Tim has been one of the forerunners in getting our campaign more profile and getting us help and sponsorship (such as TriandRun) and supplying us with some of the best compression guards on the market, and i am confident that CompresSport will certainly build their client base quite quickly and become a major player in the sports market - Thanks Tim!!
















One more finally - hopefully i will be getting a new back-pack in the next week or so (paid for this one this time), after my Raidlight 10l finally succumbed to overuse (3 years of regular runs, bike rides and races have taken their toll) so a review will be forthcoming.

Stay tuned and stay safe!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Shoe that fits like a glove

And the shoe in question is the Vibram Five Fingers, a weird and wonderful looking shoe that is as close to barefoot running as possible, without running just in socks.












The shoe i have been using is the Men's Vibram Five Fingers Classic, one of many from the series of Vibram barefoot running shoes, and once i had carefully prised them onto my feet, locating each digit in their respective home, i found the feeling and fit very comfortable and natural (despite the roars of laughter from my wife and daughter). The only thing is that you have to learn to run again with these on, you cannot head off straight away for a 10 mile run, with your usual stride pattern. The change in gait and footfall, back to the natural way of running, is totally different from being in a cushioned, shall we say "normal" road running shoe, and once the fear of stepping on something nasty and sharp has abated it feels surprisingly free to run like this.

The shoe itself is a combination of Vibram's great gripping rubber soles that add a good level of protection and stretch fabric upper, easy drying so that it can be machine washed should you find that muddy puddle. The grip from the sole of these shoes felt very sure, on both treadmill (where i started and would recommend others to start there too) and road running, (I have yet to venture across rugged trails), and the manufacturer list Bouldering as one of its best uses, and judging by the sole of the shoe the grip look sure enough to tackle that kind of adventure.

On a personal level, this is a perfect shoe for both indoor and outdoor use whether it be going to the gym, yoga, summer adventuring in the Rockies or just a quiet 5 miler round the block, but may not be suited to everyone. Before i started using these shoes i did look at a number of reports regarding injuries when using these (mostly about too much reliance on cushioned shoes), and i would strongly advise that if you choose to use these (and i would recommend them strongly) then slowly adapting to the changed style, by even as little as only a few minutes a day, will help you adjust and enjoy spending time on your feet.

FitnessFootwear.com seems to be one of the few official Vibram Five Fingers UK stores and has a huge range of styles and colours to suit all. I would like to thank them for their continued support, and look forward to dragging Adam Smith through the mud with me at the Turbo X, at Borden in November

Safe Running All

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Running on Water

I've been watching a mad video on Youtube about Running on Water. The Video was created by Hi-Tec, and runs under the guise of Liquid Mountaineering, a new sport which is attempting to achieve what man has tried to do for centuries: walk on water. Or to be more precise: running on water. the concept being that with the right water repellent equipment you can run across bodies of water, just like a stone skimming the surface.

The shoes in question are the new Hi Tec V-Lite Infinity, being launched shortly in the UK, and being Hi-Tec's return into the serious footwear market, by producing the ultimate lightweight adventure performance shoe, creating a running shoe that could cope with everything while being comfortable and grippy enough for all conditions. But most importantly that it could remain incredibly lightweight without soaking up water on the fells.

















Having seen the shoe advertised on the Hi-Tec Sports site and having run in Hi-Tec shoes years ago, I cant wait to get my hands on a pair and see how they have improved to become serious contenders in the trail running market, with some stunning looking shoes, that will make wet feet in winter a lot harder to find.

Role on the rainy season

Monday, 28 June 2010

2/3rds of a Tri

Another few weeks of training under my belt now, in preparation for both the London Duathlon and 7Oaks Triathlon, although is only been cycling and swimming (the forced break from running until beginning of July is still in effect).

Swimming - never been a good swimmer, so this was always going to be the part I struggled with and after several weeks of trying to learn freestyle, and failing badly I have decided to stick to breaststroke, as the Triathlon will be in a pool, rather than open water. Time trials for swimming 400m have been coming down steadily (currently at 9:30), which looking at last years results, is competitive with the others. This time will hopefully drop some more, and I have been aided in the last few sessions by a pair of Orca Core Tri Pants, which have added to my buoyancy and brought the times down. I now have a structured training schedule, which will add some endurance swimming and make the shoulders stronger and get me ready for the race.

Cycling - Having spent several months cycling to work once a week I have now started on the long rides on a Sunday - nothing like quiet country roads on a Sunday morning, until you hit the hills!! Downs great - Ups not so!. Leg strength has improved a great deal, not just because of the mileage, but with a little help from a pair for CompresSport Quad Guards, which have a gradually compression and great for recovery afterwards, thanks to Time Williams, who will be at the Duathlon, with his own stand.

There have been a few tumbles, mainly due to traffic suddenly stopping, and not giving me time to release the cleats in my shoes from the pedals (7.1 for the tumble, from the Polish judge) and scrapes here and there, but all parcel of training, and at least the toenails are returning to a proper colour after the Grand Union Canal Race. I now need to look at either adapting my mountain bike for constant road use, by changing the tyres for road ones, or trying to find a proper road bike, either via sponsorship (lend my your bike and I will post a review here) or by borrowing one (any offers).

Cycling kit, is now coming together, as well as the Orca Tri Pants, which I will use for the Duathlon too, I have both a very cool Buff cycle-top, and some superb Polaroid P7003a Sunglasses, as well as the Quad Guards, so now am almost set to go.

Summer Holidays are looming for the kids, and with Mandy working during the hols, as well as a trip to Bavaria at the end of August, I will be off for a couple fo weeks, so training may hit a slump then, but have already planned a 45 mile cycle on the Bank Holiday Monday, before I go, after a 5 mile foot race on the Sunday at Mersea Island with Mandy.

Talking of running, that will start this week, probably, although with the Duathlon only having a 20k run, I wont need to do a great deal of running over the next few months, so can concentrate on the other 2 disciplines instead (review on the Vibram 5 fingers to follow soon)

That’s me for now - more in a few weeks, 'til then "Happiness is the Open Road"

Monday, 14 June 2010

Footwear - Barefoot

One of the benefits of starting all over again means i will start slowly and have a chance to try some new footwear. With the current craze of barefoot running shoes, i have been given the chance to try out the
vibram five fingers and will be posting a review on these, once tested.

The concept behind these and the Invo8 Evoskin, is to try to get runners running more naturally, as we were intended. It may not be for everyone and certainly the look will put some off, but for me its something to try and see if it suits me and helps with my posture and energy levels, as it will force me to take shorter strides, land lighter and be more aware of how i run.

Adam Smith, from Fitness Footwear, has posted his own review of the New Invo8-evoskin, a direct competitor to Vibram in this market and you can read that report here.

Watch this space for the review in the next few weeks.

CrossFit!!! (Cross What???)

I am currently recovering from my attempt at the Grand Union Canal Race, on Saturday 29th May, from which i was withdrawn at 70 miles due to eyesight problems.... I couldn't see!!!!. Basically (as diagnosed by my GP, and later by an ophthalmologist, who checked me for Glaucoma) it had happened due to a "blood Diversion", where the brain decides which parts of the body need more blood, during intense exercise, and mine decided that as it was 11pm my eyes weren't needed, whereas my quads were.

Following Alex closely down the canal towpath, not being able to see more than a reflective strip on his packpack, was (in a word) terrifying, although i kept my feelings to myself, until we got to the check point. My obvious confusion, as a medic pointed me to a chair to sit on, made them realise there was a problem, and after several checks pulled me out of the race (yes i would have gone on, because i wanted to try to finish, and also not let Alex down).

They were right and i have no issues with that, and have since thanked them for saving me from possible permanent problems, although at this moment in time, i still do not know what the long term implications are. It may have been a "one-off" occurrence, however have been advised that once i start running again (currently on a months sabbatical from running) to monitor the situation and gradually build up. I have set targets (London Duathlon and Sevenoaks Triathlon, both in September), and am looking to do a marathon in November - but time will tell.

However this time has given me a perfect chance to try something new, CrossFit, as suggested by Adam Smith at Fitness Footwear (crossfit shoes)

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program, designed to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.
The CrossFit program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Athletes train to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess. CrossFit has proven effective in these arenas.

Aside from the breadth or totality of fitness the CrossFit program seeks, the program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximizing neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practice with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.

For more about this craze go to http://crossfitlondonuk.com and for the best footwear around the gym check out the Fitness Footwear range of crossfit trainers

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Impressed by CompresSport

Its not often that i rave about a product, usually i will be positive and say what i think, being honest, but fair, but raving is something i stopped doing years ago......

But that changed yesterday with the arrival of a pair of CompresSport R2 Calf guards, courtesy of UK company director Tim Williams. CompresSport Calf and Quad supports are designed to compress the area around the calf, reducing the accumulation of toxins especially on long runs. this allows better movement of oxygenated blood around the body, thus bringing a better muscle recovery during exercise. The compression also reduces muscle movement during running, which makes the muscle work harder with reduced risk of injury.
However one of the better effects is that once used on a run, washed (by hand) and then put back on slightly damp, they work wonders in helping recovery, ready for the next run......

That's the technical aspects, but on a basic running level, how did they perform??? In a word - Superbly!

I had run the Frinton ½ on Sunday last week, quite hard (4 mins outside PB, in rotten weather) and so still had heavy legs yesterday when i ventured outside in the R2 guards. However within a few minutes the compression effects started to work and i could feel the heaviness in my legs lifting and feeling fresher and almost adding a bounce to my stride with each step. I found i could push harder that i usually would, with out feeling any strain, and the 12 miler went extremely well.

I have used other similar products, but these are far superior to they others in terms of comfort and quality, and will definitely be taking these on the Grand Union Canal Race in 2 weeks time. Can t wait to see what other clothing CompresSport create in the future, but if it is all as good as these then Skins and 2XU will have some serious competition, and i for one will be visiting their eStore for some more.

The guards can be bought via the following link, http://estore.compressport.uk.com/epages/288898.sf, so make your running easier and get compressed.

Til next time - Safe Running!!!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Frinton ½ Marathon

A short but to the point post today,after yesterdays Frinton ½ Marathon (incorporating a 5 & 2 Mile fun run). It's almost mid May and by now we would be expecting something warm, so when i booked up for this race i suggested to my wife and daughter that they do the 2 miler and we hit the beach afterwards for ice cream and relaxing. WRONG!!!!!

Yesterday was about 8c, strong winds from the north and intermittent showers - in short February weather. Still that didn't stop us and at 10:30 i set off with the ½ runners, followed shortly by the 5 & 2 milers. Mandy & Freya completed their 2 mile course in about 35 mins, which for a 5 year old is good going, and she runs like a natural apparently (don't know who she gets that from but its not me!!).

My race was more eventful, with a mixture of hills (all on-road) and beach wall, and very hilly (1220 ft of climbs in all), but i hit a good rhythm passing the mid point in 44 mins and feeling ok, considering that most of my recent training has been at a far slower pace. After that point we dropped onto the seawall, running past beach hut and shivering holiday makers, and then hit the hills, so my pace dropped. My initial pace had me on for a time close to my PB, but the weather, rain and hills put paid to that and i hit the finish tape, none worse for wear in 1:33. Happy with that and even happier that my girl had her first medal and both her and Mandy enjoyed the race.

Off for a hot chocolate and warm scone and relax.

Next up - Grand Union Canal Race in 3 weeks, and as per my previous report - the nerves are settling in and planning is in full swing.

One last point - we now have a regular Blog on Polaroid's web-site where we will be updating progress regularly and offering advice accordingly - http://www.polaroidsunglasses.co.uk/blog, and we have also been contacted by someone in the US who is looking to promote us over there and who had a great deal of advice to share with us on Saturday last week - so check that out too at Tycoons Venture.

And one final - Final item. I have now been called an Elite athlete (first and last time - and have been called many other things, but never elite), as a group of us have set up a Team Buff page on Facebook, to promote Buff events and create our own, stay tuned..........

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Update

Time for an update and re-write of my Blog page (after cleverly deleting all the sponsors links - to be restored ASAP).

Its been a hectic few weeks, following on from the Crawley ½ Marathon on April 10th. Training has been sporadic, mainly due to a week off after the race followed by a shoulder injury that has restricted (to say the least) any serious running. That said i have a ½ marathon in Frinton on Sunday and still feel that i can push to get close to a PB (currently 1:29), despite a lack of running.

Looking forward towards the end of the month and the Grand Union Canal Race (http://www.gucr.co.uk/) and i feel that with a few more weeks incorporating long runs, but nothing fancy i will still be ready to give it 100% on the day. The race starts at 6am on Saturday 29th May, with a 19 hour cut-off at 70 miles and a 45 hour finish cut off. This week i have been getting information through from Dick Kearn (Race Director) which has started the nerves tingling, especially with statements like "The principal cause for concern is that runners may, through fatigue or dehydration, become disoriented and fall in the canal, get lost, or collapse in a remote location" Fall into the canal - didn't even think of that - UNTIL NOW!!!!!!

Anyway - Kit is slowly being compiled, with itemised drop bags for day and night running, as well as snacks etc. Alex is awaiting a last minute entry, which would be great as i need someone to nag during the run, and it would also be great to have him on the run.

Sponsors
Its been a big couple of weeks here too. Last week we received a couple of pairs of Sunglasses from Polaroid, for us to auction and put the proceeds to the Charity, and they have also started pushing our profile via their blog (http://www.polaroidsunglasses.co.uk/blog/2010/04/10-million-metres-raising-1million-for-parkinsons/) and have asked us to be guest bloggers with race info, training advice and general progress of the challenge - which we will do with great gusto.

And yet another fantastic sponsor has arrived on the scene. After a speculative e-mail in March, i received a message from Dave Suddes at Lowe Alpine, who replied with the wording "time to time some really stand out from the crowd and I have to say that this is one". and the great offer of £600 of clothing and gear from their web-site to use in our events, and would we be interested. - Silly question!!. The clothing arrived yesterday and is superb. I will pout a proper review on here once i have given it a run out (literally), but initial thoughts are very positive and i am looking forward to trying it out.

Plans are now afoot for other races to add to the 10 Million Metre challenge (check Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/10MillionMetres), including a run in Germany in September, once we get 4 crew and 2 4x4 vehicles, which Alex is investigating, so watch this space.........

With other smaller races planned over the forthcoming months, including the London and Henley Triathlons, Caesars Camp 50 in October and have just found out today that i have a free entry into the Salomon Turbo X race in Bordon in November (mud, wet, dirty, rivers, swamps and killer hills - sounds great fun) we are pushing that total higher each month.

Finally (if you are still awake), Alex was interviewed on BBC radio Berkshire yesterday. A very good interview that will open the eyes of anyone who thinks Parkinson's Disease only affects the elderly, and shows how Alex has, and is, coping with this terrible degenerative illness and that like an Icelandic volcano, he has no intention of stopping - Check out the following link at 2 hours 10 mins and 30 sec:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p007khn4/Sarah_Walker_04_05_2010/

Til next time - Stay moving!!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Fitness Depot

Ray Gill is a muscle & nutrition enthusiast who has spent years in independent research finding the most effective strategies for physical excellence. Ray will help you build muscle & lose fat with an effective workout plan and diet. He is also championing our cause at http://myfitnessdepot.com/outdoors/running-outdoors/10000000-metres-for-parkinsons/

His site is a wealth of information and advice, from Distance Running training advice to boosting Metabolism, all with helpful downloads and booklets. He also has links to running and triathlon gear, dietary advice and videos regarding all kinds of training.

Go take a look
Rich

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

10 Million Metres on Facebook

New Facebook page created to spread the word about Parkinson's Disease and the 10 Million Metres that Alex and I are racing over the next 4 years to raise £1 Million Pounds for Cure Parkinsons Trust.

Facebook Link - Please visit and all sponsorship will be greatly appreciated.
Rich

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Merrill Chameleon Cargo Outdoor Sandal

This is the Merrell Sport version of their Chameleon Cargo sandal, the main difference between this and the standard mens sandals being that the leather upper is replaced by a synthetic leather upper, but is more comfortable and a better option for someone like me who will wear them to death over the summer period.
My reason for choosing these was mainly for the latter stages of the Grand Union Canal Race in late May, with them being the option of fresher feet in the closing stages, although they won’t be used for a massive amount of distance. Because of this I have been not only walking but running in them and can report they are fantastic (and I’m not just saying that to please the sponsors). The sandal is a good fit from the start, with its adjustable lacing systems, comfortable heel strap (which didn’t rub on the run and cause blisters – a feature often found with sandals) and all supported by Merrel's Vibram soles. The Orthlite footbed gave a snug, but not restrained fit and it air cushioned Midsole cushioned my weight nicely.

Colour-wise (Kangaroo and Boa – brown and tan basically) these are designed with the outdoor adventure types in mind, and well suited they are. Ideal for scrambling around hard trails, due to very good grip, and well protected with a moulded toe cap to help you feel at easy on the rocks.

My feet were kept cool, despite many miles of running and walking (17 in all) but the only downside is that they don’t dry too quickly due to the cushioned footbed, but that’s a minor issue and not one that worries me.

All in all the Chameleon Cargo does everything a sandal should do and a lot more and takes outdoor sandals to the next level – I am hopefully off to Greece, Kuwait and the Sahara in the next 12 months – don’t know if they will be suitable for running 150 miles, but they will be ideal for exploring, before during and after (as well as lying by the pool or on the beach).

My immense thanks to Adam Smith at Fitness Footwear for giving me the chance to try and review their footwear once again.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Crawley Marathon

Boy was I not fit for this race, and in hind-sight should have probably not run it, but being stubborn and knowing what Alex has been though in the MdS this last week I wasn’t going to let a lower back pain stop me from trying.

The race was organised by the 100km Association, at the K2 leisure centre in Crawley, and was held on the athletics track - so 105 laps of track and no IPod allowed to help pass the time of day, so it was a case of strong mental attitude to switch off and just run. I had my Garmin to pace myself and set off at 7:45 min mile pace, which would have given me a finishing time of 3:20ish - inside my PB of 3:32:09 (oh how that time is easily remembered). The weather was being kind to me for the first time this year (racing-wise) and I soon settled into the rhythm for running for a lap, calling my counters name and switching off for another 400m.


Lap after lap was ticked off and I passed the time doing mental sums trying to work out distances and pace etc, without resorting to my watch.. I had a drop bag which I left by the side of the track, filled with chocolate covered espresso beans, Sports Beans, Dried fruit from Whitworths and cereal bars, and the organisers provided drinks and jelly babies as well, so I was expecting to come off heavier than I started.

I had set myself smaller targets to work to, rather than thing of the whole distance, and concentrated on batches of 10 laps, 25 laps and half way, and then count downwards. The heat though started to play its part and I had made the mistake to not drinking early enough and then starting to fade. The first half of the race went well, passing ½ marathon point in 1:39, so bang on target, but as I hit 75 laps (19 miles) I hit the wall and had to resort to a run/walk technique. Thankfully this is where running on a marked track helped. I was running 300m, the walking 100m, so would run from the 200m start until round the first bend and then walk to the next start again. This worked perfectly until 3 laps from the end when the organisers made us change direction and run clockwise round the track. Thankfully by that time with only 1200m left I didn’t care and happily ran the rest.

Biggest annoyance was the I had been forced to run 3 extra laps as my recorder had missed me a couple of times and not put me down. My watch time was 3:54:16 for the marathon, and the extra 3 laps added a further 8 minutes to the race, but happy to finish on the back of a tiring week and with no real pain in my legs, back and shoulders after the trip home.

Very nice memento of the race, making a change to the usual medals, and worth the money. Well organised, friendly counters and marshals, and a chance to hold the Olympic flame too (albeit the torch for the 1948 London Olympics).


Next up - a few weeks of heavy training, Frinton Half Marathon with Mandy & Freya doing the fun run and then Grand Union Canal Race………….


 
Kit
Polaroid Sunglasses
Buff - Begins design
Buff BOW10 T-shirt
Salomon Shorts
X-Socks - Run Energiser
Asics Gel Cumulus Trainers - Courtesy of Fitness Footwear

Monday, 29 March 2010

Happiness is the Open Road

The above is true in more ways than one, apart from the obvious running connection it is also the title of Marillion's last studio double album, released in 2008. I have followed the band since 1980 and been a fan of all they have done from Market Square Heroes with Fish as lead vocalist to Asylum Satellite with Steve Hogarth as lead singer. But why the mention ohttp://www.marillion.com/home.htmn here - its because they have come out to support Alex and I in our running of 10 Million Metres.

I wrote a speculative email to them a few weeks back, asking if they could offer us support in some way and on Thursday last week, I got a call from their press officer, Lucy Jordache, saying that the band have decided to have Cure Parkinsons Trust as their nominated charity for their 2 weekend conventions, in Holland and Canada, in March 2011 - Totally Gob-smacked - and we cant thank them enough. We are getting together a press release for them to use on their web-site when the tickets for the convention go on sale, so our publicity should soar.
And if that wasn’t enough……………

A very large parcel has arrived from Sarah at Buffwear, with t-shirts, shorts, socks, buffs, etc, all in the new "zebra" style and colours, and all added straight away to my running kit for this weeks training (the tights will come in very useful if the weathermen's prediction of snow is to be believed). Buff have supported us from the start of our Million Metres Challenge and continue to do so with great gusto, offers of races, contacts and constant help.

And if that wasn’t enough……………

I have just received an email from Nicki Reid at Ardblair Sports saying that Sleep Monsters have just added our Polaroid press release to their website - http://www.sleepmonsters.co.uk/news.php?article_id=3714, which will get to the running community even more. Nicki has also been paramount in getting our challenge advertised around the UK, working very hard with X-Bionic and Polaroid to try to maximise publicity and getting newsletters out and working with us to get the best for us.

We owe a huge amount of thanks to both Sarah and Nicki for all that they have done and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future - Thanks Ladies.


More later this week, regarding Fitness Footwear and Lowe Alpine - stay tuned.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Back to training

2 weeks off running and last Saturday I had the pleasure of heading out onto the Ridgeway with Alex, so a casual 10 miler. No re-occurrence of the thigh strain and felt fresh throughout (although there was an obvious drop in fitness level, despite swimming, weights and cycling during the break). I can now get back into a training schedule, with the Crawley Marathon in my sights on 10th April.


This will be a challenge in more ways that just the distance, as this is a track marathon run at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley and is entirely on an athletics track, but it will be a good mental challenge and it will be nice to run on flat ground for once rather than the twist and turns of rutted farm tracks and mud sodden towpaths. I am hoping to do the run in a new pair of Mizuno Wave Rider trainers from Fitness Footwear (suitably broken in of course), for which I will post a review, and compare how much different they are from the version I used in the 2004 London Marathon.

Talking of races - Alex and I have been looking at other races to add to our calendar, which "may" include, 50 Mile Challenge in mid July, Venice Marathon in October this year, Grizzly race in March 2011, hopefully the London Marathon in 2011 (I should have a guaranteed entry this time after 5 rejections) and 6633 ultra in March 2012 , as well as organising our own races to take place in late 2011, consisting of a 50k and 100k races, as well as looking at other ideas - more to follow……..

Apart form the above its been a quiet few weeks sports-wise, although life is still as busy as usual. Alex is holding a kit seminar in Swindon Sports Hall on Thursday (18th March) and we are hoping that James Cracknell will be there, as well as a TV crew (James is also doing the MdS this year - a walk in the park after his Antarctica event last year!!!!). We have an agent now looking at other sponsors (medical and automotive names suggested already) but still early days and will wait to hear what he comes up with. Alex has been asked to abseil down the Deliotte building in May, for charity - hope he doesn't suffer from vertigo, but all this is on his web-site at http://www.alexflynn.co.uk/.
I have also received a couple of items from Sealskinz, which I have yet to try out, but once used I will report back with my findings and comments and hopefully nice dry feet too.

Keep healthy

R

Monday, 1 March 2010

Moonlight Madness

Last Saturday saw my latest race, or rather challenge in this case - Moonlight Challenge, organised by Mike Inkster at Challenge Hub in Kent. Every year Mike organises a 50 mile challenge and this Moonlight one. Both are held over the same course at Marshside, near Canterbury in Kent and are multi-lap events. They are billed as Challenges rather than races, with the aim being that you do what you can in the allotted time and take satisfaction from completing the desired distance….. My target for this event was 3 laps (20 miles), after the events of the Thames Trot and my thigh strain - and I entered with the thought that after 3 laps I would see how I felt and decide from there on the rest of the event.

Saturday arrived after a very wet couple of days and we were able to enjoy the warmth of the Gate Inn at Marshside, before the event and watch Ireland beat England at the rugby, however without a pint in my hand it lost some of it occasion. After a briefing from Mike, regarding the state of the course and impending water hazards we set off along the lanes and farm tracks that made up the course. My aim was to try to complete each lap (6.75 miles ) in about 1 hour, and duly finished the first in 55 mins, un-flustered, feeling ok and finding the footing ok in my North Face Hedgehogs. This was to be their last outing after clocking up over 400 miles in training and racing since I got the from Fitness Footwear last year and they have served my well, the grip is still tremendous, despite miles on road and tarmac, the uppers still water-tight, but the spring and cushioning has started to slip and so they must be laid to rest (must try the new model from The North Face and see what the differences are).

Quickly stopping at the end for the second lap I was starting to feel the tension in my thigh increasing from the lack of off-road training in the last few weeks, and although I was comfortable on the flat road sections it was obvious that more than 3 laps would cause the problem to re-occur on the rutted trails and I was happy to call it a day after 3. 2 years ago I did the same event and pulled out at 3 laps, but with a knee strain created by a misplaced footfall, and was hoping for more this time, but it wasn’t to be….c'est la vie!!!!

After some hot food and a quick promotional photo for one of the challenge sponsors (9-Bar) link I headed home and an earlier than expected night. Sunday and I could hardly move my left thigh and quad, due to the tightness from the event, so was very thankful that I had pulled up earlier than the total distance, and was happy to add a further 32,380 meters to the challenge total - bringing us to 321,184.

However I have now decided to have a total rest from running over the next 2 weeks and change plans for the next few months, as follows;

March 21st - Wiggle 12 hour - Cancelled
April 10th - Crawley Marathon - Track race, so totally flat, although mind-numbingly boring - good for Grand Union
May 9th - Halstead Marathon - original plan for Sedburgh SkyRace collapsed as race was postponed 1 year - however Alex and I may be doing a 100km race instead that weekend, as the closing date for the Spartathlon is the 31st May and the Grand union (qualifying race) starts on 29th May, so we may need the 100km as a fall-back entry race. So with this in mind I need the break and recovery period to make sure I am fit for these flat races.
Hopefully once I get some pictures of the Moonlight Challenge I will post them on here, and give my sponsors something to be proud of.
Update again soon - now where's that sauna?????

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New Balance

Short but sweet this week, ahead of Saturdays Moonlight Challenge.


Recovery is going well and despite one or two other issues the last week has gone well running-wise, with 40+ miles training over various distances and paces and a good split day last Friday, when I ran to work and home again in the evening.

This week will be relatively light with only a 4 miler on Tuesday and then nothing to the weekend, except keeping hydrated and warm. The weather for Saturday looks to be cold and wet, so Hedgehogs will get what will probably be their last outing and hopefully the Gore-tex uppers will do their job.

Finally on another note - I have to say a big thank you to New Balance for their help with a damaged jacket, which they couldn’t repair, but replaced with a Motion Jacket and complementary pair of Winter Laminate running tights, which will come in useful this weekend end.

A big thanks to them and 'til next Monday - Safe running.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fruitful Labours

Mid week and a couple of gentle runs have caused no problems with my thigh, although both have been very easy. Before Saturdays run I had pleasure of meeting Lee Chamberlain - a Guinness world record holder on the treadmill, and thoroughly nice guy. He had already run the route of the race from the finish to where we were and was also running back again - 100 miles in under 24 hours - unbelievable effort - Check out his web-site and send him your support.


I took the chance on Monday to pick his brains over training, nutrition and running in general and as a result am now changing a few areas, namely pacing and re-hydration to hopefully improve my running and stamina. As mentioned in the previous post, one thing I must work on is leg strength and have already added squats and extensions to my gym work, albeit light exercises as I don’t want thighs like Mr Universe.

As for the title of this post, i have today received a goody selection from Sandy Letman at Whitworths the UK’s leading supplier of home baking, cooking and healthy snacking products, consisting of:

Nibl Snacks - Fruit and Nut Berry Burst, and Jaffa Berry Choc
Juicy Mini Apricots
Fruits Multipacks
Sunny Raisins
Jumbo Mixed Raisins

All in handy snack bags, ideal for taking on runs.

All very kind and offered to me before the Marathon Des Sables (an offer stupidly forgot to take up at the time). With me burning over 13,000 Kcals in January alone energy levels need to be kept up, and these are a better way of maintaining that than using high calorie, high cholesterol snacks such as chocolate, crisps, biscuits etc, and taste even better.

I have always loved dried fruits, easy to carry with you on a run, ideal to snack on at my desk and add to breakfast cereals, salads, etc so, avoiding prunes, they will keep me heading in the right direction (prunes in another direction, but let's not go there).

I have the pleasure of adding their logo and listing them as one of my sponsors and hope that next time you go shopping you think of them when you fancy something healthy to snack on.








Next blog in a few weeks time when I will be able to confirm if I will be running in the Moonlight Challenge, although intentions are there, recovery may hamper.

Healthy living all

Monday, 8 February 2010

Thames Trot (and 3 fatal letters - DNF)

Saturday 6th February - 8.30am - Oxford.

130 runners line up ready for a 50 mile slog alongside (for most of the way) the River Thames, following a track that goes under the name of Thames Towpath. However this "towpath", is nothing like the paths you see by most other canals etc this was 40+ miles of mud, dirt trails and glassy banks, interspersed by the odd bit of road and tarmac (ideal for off-road trainers).

The one thing that was obviously missing from this race was Alex Flynn - running partner and someone to nag at for not keeping up the pace (his orders). Due to a combination of heavy cold, long office hours and a flight to JFK on Sunday morning for 2 weeks of business conferences, he needed family time and did the sensible thing and gave this race a miss. My original plan was to drive to Henley the night before and stop at Alex's, before going on to the race in the morning, however our cat was badly mauled in a fight on Thursday night, so after a trip to the vets i decided it was better to make sure he was ok, before going, so set off at 5am on Saturday morning.

I had loaded up my waistpack with Sports Beans / Chocolate covered Espresso Beans / cereal Bar / camera and filled both bottles (one water, one Nuun), spare socks, double tied shoes laces and took my place.

Once i started, after a briefing by Steve Adams, the early morning nerves vanished and i was quickly into my pace, albeit not too quick (8 min miles), and headed off along the path away from Oxford and toward CP1. The going was tough almost straight away, as the route was extremely boggy underfoot, with the kind of mud that sticks in great clumps. The scenery and company was great, chatting with Quentin for most of the way to the first CP, although something didn't feel right!!

CP1 was at Culham after 10 Miles, which we reached in 1hr 35min, and served the famous Go Beyond fruit cake - one of the best i have tasted (sorry Mum!!), and a huge incentive to get to the next CP, stopping for only a minute to refuel, we quickly moved off , my pace quickened slightly and i was off on my own, but again my leg (left) felt weak and i found myself struggling with the turns......... Finally at 17 miles, as we turned onto a footbridge across the River Thames, my left foot slide outwards at an angle and a sharp "ping" in the top of the thigh spelt the end of my race. The next 1½ miles could only be taken at a slow walk and i could feel my body temperature dropping quickly, as i could keep no pace going, so continuing to the end would be a disaster, and i have to think long term.

I made CP2, at Benson after 19 Miles in 3hrs 15, and called it a day - something a runner never wants to do, and even though another 27 runners also withdrawing on the day, its still no consolation.
However it did teach me a valuable lesson.......................

It has only been 3 weeks since the 45 mile Country to Capital Race, and in reflection, i had taken too much for granted, as my training had been low key, due to recovery and then a minor taper, and i had neglected to keep my leg strength up with other exercises, assuming that the running would suffice. The injury was a combination of heavy feet, slippery surfaces and reduced leg strength, that i should have worked on. A mistake i intend to rectify over the coming months, so I am now putting together a series of leg and core exercises to add to my gym routine and build the strength that i will need to cope with all these races i am undertaking over the next 6 months

My next race is in 3 weeks time, but thankfully the next race on 27th Feb is only a short (well compared to this one) race, the Moonlight Challenge, a 32 mile run starting at 6pm, which i will be undertaking as revenge for not finishing in 2008, after a knee strain after mis-judging a pothole. So this time "its personal". That will then be followed by a another 3 weeks off, before the Wiggle 12 hour race on 21st March. However i need to fully recover from this injury and re-assess what i do (i.e. miss the next race) as long term i have to be fully fit for the Grand Union Race at the end of May.

Finally - My Kit consisted of mainly the same as last time (why change a good set-up)

The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR - Courtesy of Fitness Footwear
Mizuno Performance Tights
1000 Mile All Terrain Socks
X-Bionic Accumulator L/S Top - Courtesy of Ardblair Sports
Ronhill Jacket
Camuflaje Polar Buff - Courtesy of Buffwear UK

Monday, 18 January 2010

Country to Capital 45

A very hard race, not only due to the distance (45 miles) but also down to the lack of training and underfoot conditions. Both the latter were a result of the recent snow and laying ice which had completely destroyed my training plans, leaving me only a treadmill to run on safely, which in turn led to a serious amount of under-training - still at least I felt fresh for the run.
The race started at Wendover in Buckinghamshire and after 20 miles of trails and roads joined the Grand Union Canal footpath at Denham Lock at Uxbridge and followed this path to the finish at Little Venice in London. An 8.30am start meant I had to catch a train at 4:50 that morning, travel to London and meet up with Alex, before the onward trip to the start. Once there, as the rain started to fall, we registered and with a light pack, carrying only a top, cap, socks and Sports Beans, we set off with approximately 120 others.

The weather was poor to say the least, raining constantly for 5 hours and very chilly so the addition of a pair of gloves and a Polar Buff were the order of the day, and with an extra layer under my jacket I felt warm enough without over heating. Bladder was full (camelbak in the back-pack I mean) and so we set off at a stead pace (10 min miles) and settled down to enjoy the run. An enjoyment that started to wane after about 3 miles as rain soaked gloves (must get some waterproof ones) started to become very cold and feeling in my hands started to go. Still my feet were dry due to the Hedgehogs Gore-Tex uppers and everything else felt fine.

A slight detour then at Ballinger, as a group of 15 missed the bridleway path meant an extra spell on the roads, but we were all at CP1 (8 miles in 1hr 40min) in Chesham only a mile later, and with the famous Go Beyond fruit cake available, as well as water and Jelly babies, we quickly refuelled and continued Southwards. The route was still mainly trails and bridleways but as we passed Chorleywood West, Alex started to suffer from pain in the outside of his right knee, which grew progressively worse as we ran. Just to make things worse we hit a large flood road ½ mile form CP2 and my feet got soaked as the water went in over the top of the shoes.

Adopting a run walk strategy meant we could carry on at a good pace but after CP2 at Horn Hill, after I emptied my shoes, we slowed to walking pace for the rest of the race. Alex could only manage 10 yards of running before having to stop and stretch out. So with me on point dictating the pace we marched onwards, covering about 4½ each hour, which reduced the strain on his knee. After 5 hours on the go we hit the Grand Union Canal, our home for the next 6 hours, and with more snacks and cake at CP3 in Cowley Peachy we could do nothing more than march, talk and set the world to rights.

The canal split in 2 directions so we turned northwards, at a welcoming sign of "Paddington 13½ mile", only a ½ marathon to do and we would be home, however now, as we let CP4 at Greenford 3 miles later, I was suffering as well. A large blister had formed under my left foot and the walking and change of gait wasn’t suited for the Hedgehogs and shin muscles were expanding at a painful rate of knots, still we had only a short distance to go and weren't going to stop.

Headtorches now on we stopped briefly at CP5 (Alperton) knowing that there were only 6 miles left and headed for home, at a pace dropping to almost 3 mile per hour. Every climb on bridges and locks had me gritting my teeth in pain, but the relief of finally reaching the finish, amidst warm applause from the organisers and others was joy in itself and with a warm cup of tea inside, a sudden dash to the toilet (well shuffle) Alex and I made for the station and wound our ways home.

We finished in 10 hours and 51 mins, 86th & 87th, and with 30 others pulling out/not starting could be pleased with our efforts. Also we now have another 69,200 metres under our belts and can progress knowing that we need to improve fitness but that our endurance is good, despite injuries.


My Kit consisted of
The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR
Mizuno Performance Tights
1000 Mile All Terrain Socks
X-Bionic Accumulator L/S Top
Ronhill Lite Jacket + Gloves
Buffwear Camuflaje Polar Buff
Polaroid 7007 Glasses

Next race is only in 3 weeks time, again organised by Go Beyond Ultra http://www.gobeyondultra.co.uk/, which is the Thames Trot, starting from Oxford and finishing in Alex's home town, Henley-on-Thames, so I have a few days rest, and then back on the road again, with gentle training rather than high intensity, although the shins ands left knee will need to recover suitably first.

Til then - Safe running all.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

So much to do and Thanks

Happy New Year to all my friends, colleagues and sponsors. I feel that this year will be a busy one, especially on the running front.
2009 was very eventful with Family Holiday to Florida in January, followed swiftly by a very wet Marathon Des Sables in March/April, a month of illness in May/June, moving house in July and making plans in August for the 1 Million Metres challenge, getting a great range of sponsors on board in September and kicking off the challenge with our first race in October.

Sadly this was also a year of big shocks - both regarding Alex - the lowest point of the Marathon Des Sables was hearing that he had been forced out of the race at the start of the long stage with Pericarditis - something that he thankfully recovered from very quickly - swiftly followed by another shock, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease - but this didn't stop him from completing the 85 mile Ridgeway race in August, and with me nagging in his ear we ran the Henley Half in October - the guy will not stop until he achieves what he wants, and it is my pleasure and honour to be working and running with him as we not only complete the Million Metre Challenge, but push onwards and upwards.

As we planned races for 2010, the total distance increased and now new plans are being formed for longer runs in 2011 (London to Rome), as well as 2012 (LA to NY??) - These are still in the infancy of planning, but with the right support and backing the 2011 looks to be a certainty. Hopefully this will generate a lot of publicity for both Cure Parkinsons Trust Charity, as well as our sponsors, with national TV and newspapers, from not only the UK, but also France, Switzerland and Italy hopefully being interested.

On the note of sponsors i must offer my greatest thanks to Adam Smith at Fitness Footwear, Patrick Lambertz at X-Bionic, Nicki Reid at Ardblair Sports and Sarah Gowans at Buffwear, as well as their support teams for all the help, and equipment that we have had so far, and here's to our future working together, and us all achieving our goals.

And talking of goals - our next race is the Country to Capital race on 16th January - a 45 miler from Wendover in Bucks to Paddington in London, via the Grand Union Canal (for the last ½), which in light of the current weather conditions which is expected to last for another few weeks, it will be cold, wet and arduous - but as they say "If it was easy - everyone would do it". Next report will be after the race.

Finally - We are in the process of designing a new web-site and making changes to the challenge name to reflect the increase in distance and new races, which will be announced soon.
Safe running everyone.