Sunday, December 7, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Accepting that I am very positive about most things I have and have
used I need to wax lyrical about my current shoes.
Having dabbled with Hoka and having a short, unsuccessful return to
Brooks, I am currently wearing the Adistar Boost. I have had them a
few weeks now and run just shy of 150 miles in them. The longest run
being 15 miles and the shortest of around 2.5 miles.
I remain impressed by them, they are responsive, comfortable, light
and showing little sign of wear. The sole with the continental rubber
outer sole has been particularly excellent in the recent wet weather.
Running on slippery Tarmac with leaves everywhere and they have not
slipped or lost grip once. The sole shows no real signs of wear and
the boost cushioning is far greater than you would expect for just
looking at them.
I like soft shoes and they meet that requirement. The fit is like a
slipper, the heel cup soft and well padded, helped by the fact that it
has an Exo-skeleton setup rather than the heel support being inside
the heel cup. My only criticism would be that they are quite narrow in
the toe box so there's little room for the feet to splay as you run.
This hasn't been a major issue but as I run longer could become so.
I run in them most days and the shoes integrity has not deteriorated.
I am looking forward to many more miles in these and planning my next
from Oxford to Henley on Thames.
This is quite a significant race for me, not because I have done it
before, but because when I started thinking about running ultra's this
was the race that first popped onto my radar. I forget what year that
was. I remember setting up a plan and also using the #thamestrot in my
run tweets but I never got as far as entering.
I have left it quite late to enter this time, deliberately as I have
been on a comeback from, yet, another injury. This time a quad injury
or rather weakness that manifested into my knee. Essentially a lack of
quad stretching meant things were out of alignment and not working
properly, just getting tighter and tighter until there there was no
more flex. Think itb in the quad.
The treatment was focused on the quad muscles of my right leg and in
the knee joint where there was scar tissue. Over a period of 4 weeks I
stretched and had the quad stretched until from being around a foot
for being able to touch my backside it's now barely an inch away. That
last bit is proving quite troublesome to bridge.
This started me thinking about when I would have last stretched my
quads... When I considered it properly it's no surprise that I was
struggling and that I broke down. I had my last knee op in March 2012
before that I was off running for a year. Previous to that in November
2010 I had an ACL reconstruction in my other knee. After that I
started back training but never stretched my quads as was too nervous
about the knee. A year later I injur my knee again and so when I am
over that I now have two knees I am nervous about so don't stretch my
Conservatively I will not have done any quad stretching for around 4 years.
Little wonder I broke down. But much like the 20stone person that
starts dieting and sees large chunks of weight disappear very quickly,
when you start from such a poor position the improvement is almost
From diagnosis to being able to run again was little over 3-4 weeks.
Once back running I was able to build the mileage quite quickly and am
now almost back to normal. Current mileage is around 35-40 a week
whereas at the beginning of the year I was averaging 50 miles a week
and topping out on higher weeks at 60 miles.
This injury cost me a race start at the Cheltenham Ultimate Challenge
75km which was particularly gutting but after having made that
decision (or having it made for me) I backed off any race entries and
removed all the pressure. Deciding it was important to get fixed and
fit again in the proper manner before undertaking anything.
Hence the Thames Trot. While at 50 miles it represents a significant
personal challenge it is a flat course tracing the route of the River
Thames. As 50 milers go I guess it doesn't get much simpler? It is
early in the season so not too much time for me to get injured again
and is a target that I have realised I need.
I don't lack motivation to run at all but without a target I do drift
into some less than great habits. I eat more and I eat more cake.
Since my injury in June I have gained around 6lbs, not a lot but just
shows how easy it is.
Now everything is about February. My Christmas list is all about that
race and having the right kit. It's likely to be cold and wet in
February after all.
There was a moment earlier this week when I did think about packing it
all in and just becoming a recreational runner. Not doing any races or
events again. Just being one of those blokes that "jogs". I entered
the ultra on Monday afternoon. I felt great, motivated, excited and
keen to train.
On the Tuesday I was at work and as I got up out of a chair my back
went. It went into spasm and was momentarily excruciating. It eased
quickly but every time I tried to walk after being sat down it was
incredibly stiff. I run commute so to go home I got changed into my
running gear, did some back stretches to try and loosen it and set
off. 2 strides later I stopped in agony. No further damage but no way
was my back letting me run. I ended up walking home, stewing on the
fact that I had entered an ultra the very day before and then this.
All it needed was a few days total rest and some stretching, I used
some yoga videos on YouTube, and is 100% again. I lost 5 days. Not
brilliant but not that significant in the grand scheme of things.
Right now I am focussing on building to the race in February, I really
cannot wait and am loving being able to train properly again. It has
been a frustrating time.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
currently have? Recommendation? Review? Like the design and took a
punt? Your running hero maybe wears them? You persuaded in the store?
Or maybe price?
I've had lots of favourite running shoes. In that regard I'm a bit
like a puppy. Oooh Saucony, I love them. Brooks, I love them. Salomon,
ooh like Killian, I'm very cool in these! Hoka, I really love them.
Past tense? Here's the rub. My last couple of running shoes have been
Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac. Great shoes. My running heroes wear them,
Wardian, Canaday, Meltzer.... All great runners in Hoka's. Aspiring to
ultras I bought a pair and it was love at first run. Soft, supportive
and surprisingly responsive. Pricey sure. Garish - definitely. But
really great and unlike anything I had run in before. Read the hype
around them and it's hard not to be seduced and seduced I was.
I set about banging on about them to anyone that would listen. On my
recommendation at least 11 pairs have been bought. Those
recommendations were genuine too. I have never been so passionate
about a shoe before.
You can sense there's a but coming can't you.
But........... they are not durable and once they start to break down
they cause problems, for me, in the knees. Running shoes used up be
good for in excess of 500 miles. I've seen literature lately pointing
to a number of between 300-500 miles. With me and Hoka it's around 380
miles. At that point the outer rubber has gone and I am wearing
through soft foam sole. That doesn't last long. The shoe is no longer
balanced and that puts pressure on the knee. Patella tendinitis is the
I'm not heavy, I weigh around 150lbs. I'm also quite light on my feet
and mid/fore foot strike.
My latest stinsons have done 450 miles and I retired them this
weekend. I did some research online and solicited some recommendations
for alternatives. Prompted by a review of the adidas boost on the
ultrarunner podcast website. Described as being more cushioned than
they looked. I also had a couple of positive recommendations from
mates that have them.
I looked at other shoes too, the Altra Olympus caught my eye for
obvious reasons. Then there were the usual suspects of Brooks, Saucony
and the New Balance fresh foam. The thing being that I wanted to try
them and not just buy online, if I were going to do that I would have
taken a punt on some Newtons.
I popped into Up and Running Cheltenham and had a chat with the guys
that work there. The most cushioned shoe they sell is the Brooks
Glycerin 12. They also sell the Boost. I tried those first. Initial
reaction was that they are thin. Particularly in the forefoot. They
also seemed very narrow, but then most shoes would compared to Hoka's.
I tried them on the treadmill and while the fit was good and the
material very soft around the foot the sole felt too thin. I think if
I were a heel striker then they would have been great but for me the
front of the shoe was not soft enough.
I tried the Brooks Glycerins and they felt great. Interestingly
considering they are the softest shoes in the shop they really aren't
that soft! They did, however feel cushioned enough and not that alien
from someone that has run over 1000 miles this year in Hoka's. The fit
on the Brooks is slipper like, the upper really soft around the heel,
much like the Boost, the lacing system holds the foot steady without
uncomfortable pressure. The design is awesome and appeals to my sense
of shoes that attract attention! They are bright blue, almost
metallic. I looked at some alternatives by New Balance and Saucony but
opted for the Glycerins.
List price they are more expensive than my Hoka's at £130 (versus £125
for the stinsons). Some store discount brought them down to £117.
I ran in them on asphalt the following morning. My initial thought was
I had wasted my money and that they were no good. I was actually
gutted. Then after about 3/4 of a mile I started to relax and the
shoes felt good. They are a solid build and nicely cushioned. They
feel very supportive and solid. I've not weighed them but would guess
they are heavier than Hoka. But that's key here, they feel solid, they
feel like they can work. A glance at the sole and there's a good
rubber there and a decent thickness too. They feel like they will last
and be durable. Time will, of course, tell on that but I have had a
number of pairs of Brooks over the years and always been impressed.
They have never let me down.
I also noticed my run form alter slightly to smaller strides. Higher
foot turnover probably as my body compensates for the change in
cushioning. Not a massive change but part of the process. A bit like
when you first run in minimalist shoes from a traditional shoe.
I loved my Hoka's and will almost definitely go back, maybe I will
just keep a pair for racing and wear other shoes for training. It
would be great if the road shoe could be made a little more durable as
that from my perspective it is all that needs changing. Adidas use
Continental rubber on their shoes why can't Hoka?
For now I am back in Brooks, they are a great shoe, my tendonitis was
less painful after one run in them. If this experience continues in
positive vein then I may stay with them, again. That's the point
really, if it's not working you need to look elsewhere and for
alternatives. There's so much choice and so much similarity now
between shoes that there's always an alternative. They all want our
£'s for the latest and greatest technology so shop around, try them at
the local running store for an informed view and, just as importantly,
buy them there.
Sent from my iPad
market, the most comfortable, that they are, in short, better than
I've seen them in stores for £65-£70 which even with my love of bling
and shiny new run-tech is a lot to pay for a pair of shorts. To date I
have been wearing Nike (the ones with the zip pocket in the back) and
Brooks (to date my favourites as they have a longer leg and side
pockets). Both retail at around £20.
Over the summer I was in Blacks and they had a sale which included
their running gear and TNF Better than Naked shorts at £25. I tried a
pair on to check the fit as I like a larger short with a longer leg
and settled on a pair in size medium. To give some idea of sizing I am
a little over 5'10" and around 150 lbs.
The shorts are great. They are super light flash dry material and
branded with the familiar TNF Flight Series logos. They comprise an
inner short which is like a cycling short in that it grips low down on
the thingy he with then a looser more traditional over short. The
liner rather than being compression is comfortable with flat seams and
'room' for a gentlemans under carriage to not be rubbing on any seams.
Better than naked or at least a bit like being naked.
The waist band is made of soft material with no rough edges and no
seams to pull in to make them tight. There is a small silky tie to
secure them. But absolutely zero running. The fit is remarkable.
Where these shorts are interesting though is in the number of pockets.
The linker short has pouches on the legs suitable for stowing gels or
power bars. There is comfortably room for 3 or 4. They are held
securely so that even while you are running they do not feel like they
will fall out. The only issue here is that it does mean they are warm
when you come to eat them so it is probably best to avoid putting
anything that could melt in there.
On the outer shorts there are three pockets around the back of the
waistband. In the middle a zip pocket which I have used for an iPhone.
It fits perfectly and is held by the shorts so doesn't bounce around
back there. Either side of this pocket is a flat pocket suitable for,
again, gels and the like, these are held securely but the waistband of
the shorts with seemingly little pressure. The same issue would apply
to anything that could melt as the pockets are tight against the body.
I have run in these shorts almost exclusively since I have had them,
they feel great and are versatile enough for both short and longer
runs where you can carry adequate food. I have had zero chaffing or
rubbing with these shorts whatever the conditions or however warm and
wet it has been.
Overall these are probably the best shorts I have worn, they are
comfortable beyond compare and proven to be durable despite many
washes through the machine. At upwards of £65 they are probably
expensive and despite how good they are I would struggle to justify
that kind of expense for a pair of shorts. If you can find them on
sale though they are a brilliant bargain.
For the garment I would give it 5/5 as genuinely the best short. For
price, at the RRP, I would give it 2/5 as they are significantly more
expensive than nearly every other short!
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
breathing. The struggle is what makes a victory, a winner. How many
times have you cried of rage and pain? How many times have you lost
your memory, your voice and your judgment because of your tiredness?
And in this situation, how many times have you been thinking: Try
again! A couple of hours more! Another hill! Pain does not exist, it
is only in your head! Control it, destroy it, delete it, carry on!
Make your opponents suffer, kill them. I am selfish, am I not? Sport
is selfish because one has to be selfish to be able to fight and
suffer, to love loneliness and hell. To stop, to cough, to be
freezing, not feeling one's legs, to feel nauseous, to vomit, have
headache, a shock, blood running down your body... Have you got
something better to offer me?
The secret is not in the legs. It is to find enough courage to go out
and run when it's raining, windy, when it's snowing. When flashes of
lightning hit the trees. When snowballs or ice rain hit your legs,
your body and make you cry. To continue, you have to dry the tears
from your face to be able to see the stones, the obstacles, the sky.
Forget some hours of party, face tens of reproaches, say no to a girl,
to the warmth of the blanket covering your face... Send everything to
hell and go out in the rain until your legs bleed after having fallen
down and risen again to keep running up... Until your legs shout:
ENOUGH! And leave you alone in the middle of a storm in unknown
mountains... until death.
Shorts drenched by the snow, brought by the wind that slaps you face
and freezes your sweat. Light body, light legs. Feel the way the
pressure of your legs and the weight of your body are concentrated on
the metatarsus of your feet's fingers, exerting a pressure capable of
breaking stones, destroying planets and moving continents. With both
legs in the air, flying like an eagle and running faster than a
cheetah. Or when you are going downhill, when your legs sink in snow
or mud, just before pushing forward, and make you feel free to fly,
scream of rage, of hatred and love in the heart of the mountain, where
only the bravest rodents or birds can become your confessors, hidden
in their nest under the rocks..
They are the only ones who know your secrets and your fears. Because
losing means dying. And you cannot die without giving your best,
everything, without crying because of pain and injuries, you cannot
give up. You have to fight until death. Glory is the greatest thing,
you cannot reach it without giving everything you have. You have to
fight, suffer and die. Without that, nothing is worth it. The time to
suffer has come, the time to fight has come, the time to win has come.
Kiss or die.
Courtesy of the Skyrunning Manifesto.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
I haven't done for some time, this mainly because what I was doing
wasn't significant enough to warrant it. A lot of people run marathons
these days, I'm not doing an ironman and lots of people raise money
all the time. How can I ask those same people sponsoring all those
other people to sponsor me?
Well in the face of all that I did just that. I had entered the
Cheltenham Ultimate Challenge - a 75km ultra, thinking this
significant enough I registered on just giving to raise money for
diabetes setting a conservative target of £250.
Then the unthinkable - injury. I couldn't do the event. Gutted and
added pressure. I offered people their money back, none of them wanted
it. But what do I do now? I have committed to running 75k and it could
look like I just wimped out. I really didn't.
I have some ideas although there are few ultras that look suitable
this side of Christmas.
I may change tack and go for the Thames Trot instead. That's a 50
miler on the River Thames in February. That would be enough time to
get properly fit and a good event to do. It's also one of the first
ultras that I considered running when I first conceived of running
this type of distance.
My sponsors have been great but I cannot help but feel I have let them
down. The sooner I have something on the calendar to fulfil that
obligation I will be much happier.
You can still sponsor me here ;)
free. It has been relatively simple to recover if incredibly
frustrating. That's the thing with an injury that you needn't have
suffered anyway. Nothing popped, cracked or went bang. One day I was
fine and then I wasn't.
So what was it? A muscle injury to my left quad, essentially as a
result of poor maintenance. Ok no maintenance.
What does that mean? It's a really simple answer, it means stretching,
it means foam rolling and good core strength. All the things that as
runners we know we should do and yet we don't. My weakness is that if
I have 45 minutes to train I will run for 45 minutes and 30 seconds. I
will squeeze everything out of it leaving no time to stretch or do the
Most runners I know are the same. Very few do the maintenance unless
they have had issues. Even then as they recover the slide into the
familiar pattern of training until they break and then repeat.
Why is this? If we love running so much why not spend the relatively
small amount of time doing the stuff that keeps you running?
In this 6 weeks or so where I have not been able to run I have been
doing other things. I've rediscovered swimming using the lido
regularly and even putting on the wetsuit to head up to the lakes at
South Cerney. Taking care not to push to hard to fast I have built up
starting with 1km distance and being at 2.5km. In the last couple of
years I've not swum enough and when I've needed too pushed to hard
hurting my shoulder. This approach has kept that part of my body safe.
The action of swimming front crawl with scissor legs has also helped
my quad. I can definitely feel a benefit. I will keep with the
swimming through the summer, the lido is just stunning and now I'm
back into it why wouldn't i!
Cycling is more a means to an end, I quite enjoy it for short
distances but just find it boring. I cannot imagine spending more than
couple of hours in the saddle, conversely I can easily imagine and
want to spend 6-8hrs running. I guess that's what shows where the
The plan now is to build slowly to running regularly without pain. T
allow time for other training and to take rest days. Rest days will be
cycling days. Training without the impact, plus I really don't cycle
far at all.
This week I want to build to a 10k - see how I feel and then step up
again. Nice and steady. I have no pressure of a race or event coming
up, although I do have some ideas so will see how I progress over the
next 3-4 weeks.
It's good to be back, now where's my foam roller?
Monday, June 16, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
There was no incident when i was injured, nothing popped, snapped or pinged. Just one day it didn't hurt then it did. This was four-weeks out from the Cheltenham Ultra and the last two weeks of intensive training before taper-time. The plan was to cover around 60-odd miles in both weeks. As it goes i covered 13.9 and 11.1. A mere 95 miles short of target!
I didn't just stop during this period though i used my bike, my thinking being that that will at least keep my fitness reasonable. That was a real shock to the system. After day 1 of cycling (i cycled 30 miles in two rides) my sit bones were in agony and my lower back felt like it had been set in concrete. Agony! I guess that's what happens when you've not ridden in months. My body soon adapted to cycling and in the last fortnight i have ridden 125 miles. Not bad.
I also decided to seek assistance with the injury early in the process. Normally i wait until things have progressed too far before seeking help. This time i contacted a Sports Masseuse - she came around last Monday and after some discussion around what i had done set about working on my legs. It turns out that my legs are not in good repair. My quads, hamstrings and ITB are short and inflexible. Some painful massage and instructions on how to stretch and roll and an insistence that i need to and that was it. I have stretched and rolled more in the last week than i have in the entire year to date.
After cycling to work i spend 15 minutes in the gym stretching and rolling. Ditto when i get home. As the week progressed and i noticed that i was no longer limping when walking so tried some runs off the bike. Thinking that i would already be warmed up so it was less likely to be an issue. This proved right and i was able to move up to a couple of miles.
Saturday i ran cold, that is without cycling first. I made sure to limber up and start slowly. I ran without issue. This morning, Sunday, i ran again taking the same approach. I managed 5 miles at sub 8 minute pace. I feel a little stiff at the start but that quickly dissipates. If anything the issue seems to have moved from my quad to my left groin.
I am seeing the masseuse tomorrow to get things worked over again - this will be the last session before the Cheltenham Challenge. Last week i was probably less than 50% likely to get to the start line. Today i feel like i am 75% likely to make it. What will determine that is how this next week goes. It is taper so mileage should be lower, if i can get to being able to run 10 miles at the weekend without any issue then my confidence will be restored.
I should be fit enough i will just be missing a couple of long runs in my legs. It may even be an advantage as i will be complete rested and fresh.
Time will tell i guess...
You can still sponsor my efforts for Diabetes UK here.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
We found this recipe on Pinterest this morning and made them for dinner tonight.
They were really easy to make and stayed well formed when cooking (these things have a tendency to break apart sometimes). Really great aromas while cooking too. I actually added a couple of extras in some spring onion and red peppers to give them some crunch.
- 2 15.5 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup of frozen carrots, peas, corn, thawed
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Maharajah Spice
- 1 8 oz block Paneer Cheese
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1. In a microwave safe dish cook the frozen veggies in 1/2 cup of water for about 5 minutes. Just until thawed, not really cooking it – that will come later.
2. In a food processor puree the chickpeas. You want the chickpeas creamy, but a few lumps is good. If they're not pureed enough they won't stick together very well when it comes to cooking them..
3. In a large bowl add the pureed chickpeas, 1 cup of veggies, salt, pepper, and Indian spice. Mix well.
4. Form into 2 inch wide patties, this seemed to be the best size so that they don't fall apart during cooking. Place a thin slice of paneer cheese on the bottom patty and then cover with another patty, and seal the edges.
5. In large frying pan add the vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is really hot, place the cakes in the pan and cook each side 5-7 minutes. It will get more yellow in color and a crispy outside when close to done.
6. Serve them on their own with salad, on a naan bread or, as we did, in a pitta bread.
This recipe and more can be found on Seaweed & Sassafras here http://www.seaweedandsassafras.com/2012/05/curried-chickpea-cakes.html
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
75km ultra starting and finishing at the iconic and world famous
Cheltenham Race Course.
The last two weeks have been hard weeks with longer long runs and
higher weekly mileage. I have covered around 108 miles in the last
fortnight with the last week being a 57 miles week, this is high for
me. To date I have averaged around 50 miles a week. The longest run in
that period has been 23 miles with the longest day being 26.6 miles.
In training for this event I have run, over a period of 7 weeks, 326
miles with a further 206 planned over the next 5. That includes a
taper week and the race itself.
This Saturday just gone I needed to run a marathon distance. With home
logistics this was not feasible in one hit so I decided to run it in
two halves. A half marathon in the morning and a half marathon in the
early evening. I had all sorts of grand ideas about trying to negative
split them against each other but that pretty much went out the window
when I found myself going sub 7 min mile at a point in the morning.
I decided to go pretty quick in the morning and then see what happened
in the evening. My morning half was completed in a little under 1:36.
I felt great and did back off a little towards the end to save
something. My PB is 1:27 set some years ago and I definitely feel I
could better that currently in a race environment and on a typically
In the evening I ran 1:42 which in the circumstances was even better.
I was somewhere I don't normally run, taking my daughter and some
friends to a party at Cattle Country I found myself running around
Berkeley. In these circumstances an out and back works best for me as
I have a shocking sense of direction. It normally works except that
the out route I selected happened upon a dead end after around 2.5
miles. Doubling back to where I started I then headed out in the other
direction calculating the remaining distance and halving it for the
second out and back.
In the morning it had been clear skies and sunshine but with the sun
not high enough temperatures were around 12c. Compare that to the
evening where the temperature was closer to 20c and this was
significant. This will be valuable though as the Ultra is on 22/06 and
even in an English summer it won't be cold I am sure.
Some of the footpaths around Berkeley were interesting. Narrow Tarmac
wide enough for one that was lumpy and cracked from neglect and plant
roots, visibility was also obscured by long grass and weeds
encroaching. It was hardly Hardrock or UTMB but did mean a more
tentative approach to foot placing was necessary. The last thing I
wanted was to turn an ankle in such a benign setting.
I was back at the party to pick up the girls in time. I'd run 13.5
miles. My total for the day 26.6. I felt great and was buzzing from
it. I, unsurprisingly, slept like a log Saturday night. The week ahead
is an easy week totally 36 miles with a long run of around 10 miles.
To date all my training has been done in Hoka's, actually of the 870
odd miles I have run to date this year probably 850 has been in
This is causing me a bit of a problem as they are proving to just not
be durable. The rule of thumb on shoes I normally work to is that they
are good for between 500-600 miles. Plenty of people I know go beyond
that. If I look at the soles of some of my 'traditional' running shoes
they have been well used yet still have plenty of rubber tread left. I
had my first Hoka's at Christmas and by around 300 miles I had worn
through the rubber outer sole - at 500 miles they were unwearable such
was the wear pattern on the sole. I am less than 300 miles into a new
pair and already the wear pattern is significant. To the point where I
am considering the best thing to do going forwards.
This week I am running in my Brooks Pure Project shoes. A very
opposite shoe to the Hoka and one that took a little adjustment
yesterday. It was like running in cardboard! I have them with me today
and will use them all this week. What I may look to do is wear them
for more training runs, particularly shorter efforts and save the
Hoka's for longer runs and longer races.
I can sort of understand that Hoka's are less durable as with the shoe
being oversized the need to save weight is paramount. But putting
something like a vibram rubber outer sole would make such a massive
difference to the shoes. I am going to write to Hoka about this as
feel it is something worth highlighting to them. I will also be
pointing out that my one man crusade has now seen 12 people buy Hoka's
that previously did not know of their existence. I recommend them as I
genuinely believe in them, how they perform and what they can enable
you to do. That something as simple as a little extra durability is
causing me some negativity I can only assume it is others too. I am
not a heavy runner, I weigh a little under 11 stone (<70kgs) the fact
is they should last better the they do for a premium product.
Monday, May 5, 2014
I ordered the trial pack of 5 gels, using a discount coupon that you get when you sign up for the newsletter, which made it £8.99 as opposed to £9.99. They arrived, freepost, in a couple of days. All very efficient. Emails were issued on receipt of the order, while the order was being made (they are made to order) and finally despatched.
The gel is very different to other gel products as you have to make it yourself. The product out of the box is dry. To make it you need to open the threaded top and pour in water or coconut water. Then give it a shake to make sure it's mixed and then use. I typically have made them the night before use.
The screw top works well, although pouring liquid in was a bit tricky and needed a small jug (maybe they should sell a small funnel?). I have made them with coconut water and water and they tasted great with both. The consistency is different to a traditional gel as it has solid food in it. When you eat them it is real food, it is a nicer eating experience than a gloopy gel. The vanilla is really strong and balanced with the other ingredients so while it is sweet it is anything but sickly.
My only negative is the shape of the gel. This was difficult to get into my Salomon race vest as the gels are square and not the long thin design that most use. I need to fold them a bit to wedge them into the holders. I also had a problem with one of the gels where the seal under the screw top broke after i had put liquid in. I couldn't carry it so just had it for breakfast as i headed out the door.
I have seen comments about the cost of the product but actually it's comparable. Traditional gels seem to be anything between £1.80-£2 and these come out in that ball-park. Where there is a difference is in the amount of carbs, these offer 11.2g per gel whereas their gloopy cousins offer around 20g. This is definitely something to consider when you are first using them.
Overall the taste and consistency of this product were excellent. I really liked the flavour, it was easy on the stomach and easily digestible. No issues at all. The service provided by 33-Shake was excellent and it's reassuring that the product has short shelf life - it's fresh of sorts. If the packaging could be aligned with traditional products so that it fits in a race vest then this would be perfect.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an excellent source of protein, dietary fibre, magnesium and iron. It is an excellent food for starting the day. These muffins really set you up for the day.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Avocado (large and ripe)Two eggsSalt/pepper/chives or other garnish
Turn on the oven to 425f/220cTake a ripe avocado, cut it in half removing the stoneYou then, using a spoon, scoop out some of the avocado from around the pit to make the scoop in each side bigger. Big enough to take an egg. Around 2 tablespoons on each side should be enough.Put the avocados into a baking dish or tray making sure they fit snug and don't roll or fall to the side. A bun/muffin tin make work well.Crack an egg into each side of the avocado, make sure the yolk is in the pit you have stopped out with the egg white filling the remainder. Some of the white May spill out but this is fine.Put into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the whites have set.Remove and garnish with salt, pepper or chives.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
- 5km - on the, world famous, race course
- 10km - on the race course and surrounding area
- half marathon - a single loop over Cleeve Hill
- marathon - two of the half marathon loops
- ultimate challenge - a combination of the first 4 events, so three loops over Cleeve Hill then the 10km then the 5km.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
This was my first ultra and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I hardly slept last night and was up early this morning. As far as I can tell, this is entirely normal. Breakfast was a porridge pot, a banana and a coffee. Oh and some amino acid supplement. Then I just sat on bed watching tv and waiting. I looked
out through the curtains to check the weather, it was misty and raining that was not forecast and plunged me into a bit of a minor panic. I had gear for wet but that wasn't part of the plan. Pausing for a moment to remind myself that I am 43 I accepted the weather and settled. My mantra leading up to this has been what will be will be. I'd not done one before and so knew I would learn loads and get valuable experience. Everything is easier the second time around.
I had a lift to the race start organised from the night before and was being picked up outside the premier inn at 8:10, it was only 5-10 minutes drive to the start. The oft quoted ultra runner community already stepping into action to help me out.
Arriving at Race HQ there were a lot of runners and spectators already there drinking tea, pinning numbers on and checking kit. Everyone was decked out in the ultra runner style, compression tights, calf guards,
buff headgear, caps, inov8, salomon, hilly, ultimate direction. Everyone had the gear, but nobody was behaving like an alpha. It was a very friendly atmosphere and when people asked you how you thought
you'd do you they were interested in your answer even if it meant you might beat them. There was no ego visible anywhere.
The light rain continued but was forecast to stop around 9 which coincidentally was the race start time. A number of runners had put on rain jackets in anticipation of this being wrong. I opted for my
haglofs gilet, it wasn't raining that much and it's easier to get off and on if needed. I had removed the jacket within 3 miles, the rain had gone and it was warming up nicely.
We lined up to start and nobody wanted to be on the line. The contrast with a 10km or half marathon could not have been more marked! The RD's daughter gave us the "ready, steady, go!" and we all set off along the
path. A couple of runners immediately went to the front, I was in a group behind them. Content to let them get away. With the race having just started I still had a semblance of strategy in mind.
Pace settled and runners strung out, I found myself in 4th place. Looking behind there was no one gaining ground. With the three front runners pulling away I settled on trying to run my own race and was
great full for my headphones. (I actually spent most of the day running on my own).
This is where, in hindsight, things started to go wrong. Cruising in 4th spot my confidence was high and glancing at my garmin I was ticking along at around 7:15 min mile pace. Far too fast but it felt
good so I continued. I tried to slow down but this is harder than you think. Particularly when you are running on familiar terrain; fast, flat Tarmac.
I should have shown more discipline.
Before we were a third of the way through a runner had come through and caught me. I tried to keep with him but it wasn't happening. Once again I settled into my pace. Once again this was too fast. I went
through the half marathon in around 1:40-1:42 (this is approx as I've not downloaded my Garmin yet).
Things then started to go quite wrong. The route took a turn up hill. This was a long drag of a hill as opposed to a steep climb. Still in 5th and feeling good, after all I only run around 15 miles by this
point, I set off up the hill too fast. I was pulling the guy that had over taken me back, as I closed in on him I could see he was struggling. I asked if he was ok? His foot had gone numb so he stopped to loosen his shoes. I pushed on. He wouldn't regain the ground on me.
Now my toes started to hurt, on my left foot my big toe felt blistered and on my right foot my middle toe was very sore. I needed to check them but knew there was actually nothing I could do. I did stop and tighten my shoes though, that really helped, must have been my feet sliding in the shoes that was the problem. Head down I continued up the hill.
It was a slog. There was an aid station at around 17 miles, I didn't need anything so continued. Still alone and still going uphill. I was caught by another runner near the top, he looked fresh and was just bouncing along. No way I was going to keep with him.
There was a Marshall at the turn point, I stopped, had a handful of jelly babies and downed a water. I took a couple of minutes here and chatted with him before setting off again. The route was back down the
hill I'd just run up.
Except that it didn't feel like a downhill. It was flat'ish and this is where i started to walk. Around mile 22 I think? I started to run / walk to try and get some mojo back. This is where I started to get really, quite pissed off with myself.
I have immersed myself in ultra running, I listen to the podcasts, download the magazines, watch the videos, read the articles, follow it on twitter. It's my thing. The advice I must have heard maybe 100
times is to start slow. No slower than that. Play the smart game.
I even put a thing on the intranet at work for any last minute tips from a significant running community and the advice was start slow. No slower than that! Really slow. I hadn't done that and now was paying the price at a little over half way. I was honestly gutted and borderline emotional. My mind full of nothing but that I had ruined it. First ultra, really good advice and I had just got carried away. I was overtaken by a number of runners going down the hill and moved from 5th to 12th position.
Then I calmed down. Another piece of advice I had been given was to enjoy it. Right now I wasn't enjoying it and I had a long way to go. That was the moment. I pushed the negative thoughts out and settled
into my pace. Another runner went past me, twice. He ran past then stopped to meet his crew to collect a banana and then ran past me again. No standing on ceremony however nice they are!
At the bottom of the hill was mile 33. It was survival mode now. My quads were cramping slightly and so I was managing that. My toes were no longer sore but I had to stop a couple times to tighten my shoes. A
Marshall at the bottom pointed me I the right direction with the words "it's only 7 miles to the finish" I guess it's all about your frame of reference.
This last 7 miles was awful. Actually it started awful, then I can only assume my gels kicked in as I had a burst of energy. Rather than shuffling along at 10 min miles I was now flying along at 9 minute miles. In front of me I saw a runner, one who had passed me earlier, he was walking a lot so I kept calm, caught him, checked he was ok then pushed on. Another 10 minutes and there was another runner. Same
approach and I was up to 11th. With a little over a mile to go there was one more runner. Yep I did it again!
I was up to 10th and nearly done.
I rounded the corner at the cycling club to see runners that had finished, other spectators and the RD. I crossed the line and have honestly never felt more relieved. My body felt ok too. I was beaten up but not really hurt or anything. I got my goody bag (more later) and headed inside to change and sort myself out.
I took of my shoes and socks, I have a blister on my left big toe and my middle toe on my right foot will lose a perfectly healthy nail. I have not had a blister on my feet in hundreds of miles of running and
in years. The shoes and socks I was wearing haven used for many miles so this was odd.
What did I learn?
Pacing is EVERYTHING! I was talking to a guy afterwards that finished just behind me, he had run no more than 25 miles a week and longest run was18 miles. So I had way more miles in the legs but he paced
better. More walking earlier would have helped a lot as would sticking to a slower pace.
Nutrition & Diabetes (type 1). I started this race with a high blood sugar (around 16mmol). Knowing that it would come down really quickly. I tested my blood sugar once during the race, at the 25 mile aid
station and it was 4.2! I need to trust and eat more, sooner.
Kit. Actually I was really pleased with my kit with one exception. At one point on the hill I was struggling to breathe deeply. My chest ached. I loosened the chest straps on my race vest and it was sorted.
Everything else performed as I expected.
Ultra community. Simply great. I am a better person this evening than I was this morning through this experience. Support, help, motivation all in plentiful supply with no sense of self. Just amazing!
I actually feel remarkably well. Legs are stiff but there's nothing serious. No injuries (crosses fingers and toes, but not knees - are you mad!). So next race is always a biggie - at 27 miles today I thought I was looking for a new sport! But now I'm calm I need to find my next ultra. I know I'll be better.
Today was an amazing experience - of course I'm going to do it again?
My gear list for this race was...
- Hoka Stinson Tarmac shoes
- injinji socks
- Compressport calf guards
- Century riding cream
- Skins compression half tights
- Brooks race shorts
- Adidas Tech T compression shirt
- Nalini arm warmers
- Haglofs Gilet
- inov8 race peak cap
- Salomon 5 ltr hydro race vest
- 2x500ml of high 5 electrolyte
- I Also drank 4 bottles of water on the course (2ltr total)
- 3 gels
- 1 trek bar
A handful of jelly babies (from an aid station)
A handful of home made flap jack (from an aid station)
Starting blood sugar - 16mmol
Half way blood sugar - 4.3mmol
Finishing blood sugar - 7.2mmol
1 Cadbury Dairy Milk
1 cup cake
1 bottle of water
1 race t-shirt
1 clip framed picture based on the race by the RD's daughter
1 pack of crisps
Friday, March 28, 2014
Icy tears fill my eyes in protest at the frigid air
Heavy skies start to lighten
The sun toys with the dawn
Threatening to break it
I know it's unlikely
Cold air sucked into my lungs
My heart rate spikes at the shock
Breath momentarily misses a beat
Hands, seeking warmth, are clutched in long sleeves
It all feels alien
Uncoordinated and contrived
Like I've never run before
My legs come alive
Tight muscles start to loosen
Stride settles down to a metronomic beat
I was born to do this
My mind lets slip, "so we're going for a run then?"
Maybe I should have told it before we left
Sunday, March 23, 2014
for this for the last few months following a 50 mile schedule. It has
proven to be an excellent plan that I have used more as a framework
than rigid plan. It has enabled me to build to long runs beyond
anything I've done before and feel stronger and more durable than
ever. So here are some numbers....
21 - the number of weeks I have been training with structure. It
started on 4th November with a 6.5 mile run.
1 - the number of weeks i miscalculated my schedule by. I needed to
add an additional week for 3rd March as just plain omitted it.
832.32 - the number of miles run in training. There's still a week to
go but this is super-taper time and will be barely any miles. That's
an average of 39 miles a week.
Link to my training plan...
2 - number of marathon distance runs completed before going to work.
59.4 - the most miles I ran in a single week.
30.9 - the most miles I ran I a single run. Cheltenham to Cirencester and back.
47 - the number of miles I am short of in my actuals versus planned/
schedule. A little over 2 miles a week discrepancy.
Friday - the day in which I ran most training miles, 196.5.
1 - pair of Hoka's (Stinson Tarmac) that I have pretty much destroyed
through training and will be replacing post race.
Podcasts - 42 guardian football weekly, 21 The Game, 10 Talk Ultra's
and a smattering of Ultra Runner, Trail Runner Nation, Sunday
Supplement, Infinite Monkey Cage, Rich Roll and The Chels podcasts.
Audible - 2 books, Buddhism for Busy People by David Michie and
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami.
6 - days until race day.
40 - miles to race next Saturday.