Monday, November 20, 2017

WW50 Kit List

It’s been a while since I did an ultra, in fact this will only be my 4th event this year after the Cheltenham Challenge half, the 9-to-5 charity run and Boddington 50km. Even by my standards this is a slow year. 

I’m going to try and write a few blogs this week on the lead up to the event. 

For the approaching trail 50miler through Wendover Woods there’s a proper kit list. I will need to pack and prepare. For me this normally means a lot of disproportionate fretting. I really do over think this stuff. 

My kit list will essentially be...

  • Race vest (10ltr Salomon)
  • Bottles (x4) 2 in drop bag
  • 2xu shorts
  • Brooks shorts
  • Salomon jacket
  • Buff (x2) 1 in drop bag
  • Salomon beanie
  • Patagonia cap
  • Salomon Cup
  • Nike fleece top (in dry bag)
  • Petzls x2 + batteries
  • Run gloves
  • Buff beanie (in dry bag)
  • Adidas Terex
  • Salmon speedcross (in drop bag)
  • CEP socks x3 (1 in dry bag and one in drop bag)
  • Road ID
  • Run tops (tbc)
  • Gels etc plus some food in car to eat post race
  • Barrier cream (applied liberally at start and then in drop bag for emergency)

The route is 5 laps of 10 miles and has 9,500ft of gain and descent in total. I thought I’d done a good copy of this at the weekend with 10 miles through the woods and 1,500ft. This was hard enough and actually falls around 400ft short of a lap come race day. 

With a 15hr cut off it could be a looooooong day. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why do you run?

There's so much written about why we run. Comments range from "it allows me to eat cake" through to "it stops the crazy".

I'm not sure those are really an answer. They are an articulation of what might be an answer in the absence of being able to fully answer it. 

I run and I do like cake but it's not why I run! If I didn't run I'd probably still eat cake. I say probably I mean definitely. As for the crazy there may be something in that. 

That's not to say it stops me or anyone from going crazy but maybe it's a moment where you're just alone and not multi tasking. Unless listening to music or whatever while you run counts as multi tasking. 

When you're running it's just that. A physical act. An expression of what we are capable of. Something that feels right. It's also a time when, largely, you cannot be interrupted or distracted. No phone calls, emails, social media, kids, partner, work - the list goes on. 

It must feel right as it isn't easy. At least it isn't when you start but once people can run it seems to be what they want to do. What they have to do. 

Maybe it's addictive? People talk about endorphins and runners high - I don't think I've experienced that other than against the environment I'm running in. I run to work and rarely do I get home and talk about that run. Even if I have deviated a few miles to make it more of a session. It's a practical run. It gets me home. I enjoy it and it makes me feel good but is just functional. 

Put me somewhere different though and the experience is different. Totally different. I ran in Central Park NYC a couple of times this summer and loved every step. It was new, exciting and had some element of exploring in it. Same was true in Annapolis and even Amsterdam (it's been a good summer of running). 

So why do I run and why do so many of us run? 

I'm not sure there's an answer beyond it feels good and is addictive. I truly think it's addictive. Ultra running is full of people with addiction issues. The standard line being they have replaced one addiction with another. 

You can see this in the behaviour of a runner; life becomes about their running and when they can next run. It becomes about planning the run. Day dreaming about it. Surrounding yourself with other runners and talking about it. The new gear. The tech. The whole immersive all consuming aspect of running. It consumes you.

This is why it is hard for a non- runner to understand. How can you really explain to someone that 'yeah right now it feels hard and hurts and you're struggling but keep going and you'll just get it'. Invest in it and you'll get it. 

This is where perhaps modern culture doesn't allow for running. In an era dominated by talent shows and reality TV stars why do we need to invest in anything other than the desire to be famous. We are taught and teaching through TV and social media that it can happen instantly if you're in the right place or you do the right thing. Don't worry about working for something because you'll just get it. 

Running, like pretty much everything in actual reality, flies in the face of this. No-one leaves the house and just runs like a gazelle elegantly down the road. But..... you can get there if you start, invest and develop as a runner. 

You might not have the answer as to why you run but you will be asked the question. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Running 9-to-5

I was in a team that ran a working day on Wednesday. The 'Running 9-to-5' event raising funds for MIND. 

Aside from running for 8hrs this was 8hrs lapping a building. A glass structure surrounded by cars and with a concrete path. More reflective surfaces than a budgies paradise.

It was, as it turned out, hot too. Really hot. Getting on for 30c and with no shade or breeze and reflections everywhere probably even hotter. 

We started, there were 7 of us, at 9am. A few runners had signed up to join us and they started lapping with us 2/3 km around with 9m of elevation. Lap after lap. We probably started a bit quick but then who doesn't! Around 7.5 miles in the first hour. The morning continued to go well with marathon distance in around 4hrs.

I took a break for lunch, heading indoors to eat a sandwich and try to cool down a bit. It was the afternoon where I suffered. I forget how much I'd run but as I approached the hill I felt my stomach turn and stopped myself being sick. I carried on but had to walk. Nausea really hitting me. My afternoon continued with great difficulty. 

I was trying to run but was done in. The heat was sapping everything I had. This was new, while I haven't raced in the heat, I have run plenty of times when abroad in some warm climates. I've never struggled like this. 

Honestly the afternoon is a blur. On reflection I should have probably stopped. I also shouldn't have succumbed to some gentle peer pressure to run the last couple of laps. I was hot and spaced out. 

We finished at 5 o'clock. We'd covered as a team of 7 around 266 miles which was 660 laps! It was awesome. 

A couple of the runners covered big distances in the 40's. the third was at 40. I was behind in 38.5 miles then most awesome, the two female members of the team each hit 35 miles. Witnessing the birth of two ultra runners was a beautiful thing (prior to this the most they had run was a marathon). 

The final member of the team covered 30 miles and had been fighting the conditions all day. 

There was massive elation at the end and really, physically at least, no one was broken. No soft tissue injures or worse. 

On the day the most significant factor was the heat. 

My struggles through the afternoon were down to more than the climate. On the Monday I started with an insulin pump. 

The omni pod. 

I spent Monday at the hospital setting it up for me and left to return the next Friday to do some tune ups. 

What I never realised is that all the basal I had added to the machine were not saved. Rather than 7.5 units of insulin as background over 24 hrs I was getting 1.2. 

I should stress that this was user error and not the Omni Pod in any shape or form. 

That's a significant drop off in insulin requirement and has an effect. Blood sugars rise. What this meant in reality for me was that I could not temporarily reduce my basal rate as it was already too low. In the circumstances I suspended all insulin.  For the morning this was fine. I was running and so, and I'm not sure what the technical term here is, but I was using the sugar. I was eating and my blood sugars were around 5-6mmol. This is good! In the afternoon once I was walking more than running my blood sugars increased. At the end of the run my sugars were 10mmol. Later that evening they were 20 and rising. There was though, remember, no basal. 

When I relayed this to my support team this was the response I got.

"...Your sensitivity is much more increased when on a pump and it is more likely that you needed basal insulin even if it is just a very small amount therefore your blood glucose was elevated a few hours later.


That’s why they recommend you are not off the pump or no basal running through for longer than an hour. Again, because you have increased sensitivity you reacted to high blood glucose levels by feeling sick and nauseous than you normally would on insulin pens. Did you think about checking ketones?.


Next time try the temporary basal reduction now you know turning off the temp off setting will help, even if the pump is only running at 10% will make a positive difference..."

This is the TOTAL opposite of what I did previously. When i was on pens I'd use my basal and the manage my bolus down to accommodate the impact of training. Now on a pump I need to reduce the basal and bolus as normal. 

Took me a while to get my head around that one. 

My physical recovery was actually pretty quick. A couple of hours and I felt well enough to function. Initially we finished i tried to eat but just couldn't. I managed to eventually get food in me around 10pm. I think the last time I ate before that was 1pm. 

The only carb I had consumed in that intervening period was a bottle of Tailwind. I couldn't eat and my blood sugar was going down. It wouldn't stabilise and I needed something to bring it up. 

The answer was a friends Tailwind - don't ask me what flavour it was!! I made a 500ml bottle of it and it did the trick. My blood sugars rose to 7 mmol and I could press on with some confidence. Tailwind might very well have saved my life a little bit!

Going back to the Omni Pod, at my hospital follow up on Friday it was identified that my basal settings had not saved. We unravelled the issues and everything made sense. Issue corrected the pump is working brilliantly for me now. I will be doing a 'sort of' long run tomorrow to test it out.

It won't be laps and it won't be 38.5 miles either. 

What all of this made me realise, as if there were any doubt, is what running means to me. I cannot articulate it fully but I know that without it I'm just not who I am. 

Diabetes will never stop me running or for that matter doing anything.

That's a fact.