IMG_3611

How Do You Know If You Are Ready? 

Before you start reading you should know that I am not offering answers.  This is merely a starting point on something that I’ve been asked a fair few times this week, even though my challenge is 9 weeks away.

Almost every day I encounter a small voice.  It is the voice of doubt.  It starts as a small faint hum, and then grows to a faint whisper.  Alone, the imaginary sound of the sea at the end of my journey make short work of drowning it out.  The memories of the person I am running for cuts through the growing whisper, and the knowledge that there are people who have shown their support help keep the voice at bay.

Then the question come….

“Are you ready?”

The voice returns louder…

“You can’t answer that question can you?”

And it’s right!  I have no idea how to judge my readiness for something this big, and haven’t read any thing that actually spells out how you can possibly know.  The inner voice of doubt joins with the voices that I know are out there, and become more an inner negativity to push against.  The precept of martial arts is that you need to use your opponents force to attack their centre, meaning that if your opponent is relaxed, calm and focused you will have nothing to fight against and are likely to lose.  This collection of voices, all of which accompany me on each and every training run, are there as a force that allows me to push on, perpetually moving forwards to disprove them.

But the question still remains….

How can you know if you are ready for something, when you have never done it before?

IMG_3491

The Reason Tailwind Is More Than Just Some Energy Drinks Company!

I’ve contacted several companies and asked for their support and the few replies I’ve had, amongst the electronic version of tumble weed, have all been a distinctive shade of ‘no’.

Then Mike from Tailwind got in touch, and if I’m honest (putting aside the scepticism of Tailwind since I’d not ever tried it) I wasn’t really sure what he was offering.  Then we had a conversation or two via email and a video call and I was blown away.  A huge wait lifted from my backpack.  

That weight was the concern that food and nutrition would be an issue, as well as water.  Now, training seems to be getting more effective and I’m feeling more confident every time I train with Tailwind that file on the run isn’t going to be a problem.

I guess at this point the title should be explained.  The guy is an inspiration, especially knowing this small part of his story.  This Mike’s story and an explanation of why he chose to support BareFoot LeJog.  

” In March 2012 I was struck by a car and sustained a fractured skull which restricted blood flow to my brain causing a stroke. I spent the Summer losing use of my left limbs with my head in a cognitive stew

In November of that year I was seen by an occupational therapist who said her aim was to get me to be able to walk 100 yards to the local shop unaided, buy a newspaper and walk back, unaided.

As an experienced endurance athlete, with 5 Ironman triathlons under my belt, I said that wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

After several visits to physiotherapists who gave me exercises to get the muscles in my legs firing, countless numbers of falls the same occupational therapist sent me messages of support whilst I was in the Sahara Desert taking on the iconic 150 mile Marathon des Sables. I may have been bloodied from tumbles over rocks but made it to the end to prove to myself that a stroke does not necessitate a complete change in lifestyle.

I was very fortunate to have a supportive family endowed with masses of patience and a neurologist who was able to explain to the good half of my brain what was happening with my grey matter.
I appreciate that not everyone will have access to the same levels of support I did so when I heard what Aleks was proposing to do for other survivors with his epic LeJog run for the Stroke Association I’m tempted to say the decision to help him out was a “no brainer”for me. ”

Mike Julien @ Tailwind Nutrition UK

Busy Day Filled With Fun & Pain

Tomorrow is the day where it’s all going on!

At 4pm I’m meeting with High Peak Radio for a little chat, which will hopefully raise the profile of the run and also help it do more against strokes, and then at 6pm it’s off to the University of Derby for some metabolic analysis as part of a study I decided to take part in.

Why’s the second one exciting?

Well, I should walk away knowing my crossover point, or the point where my body switched from burning fat as its primary fuel, to burning sugar as its primary fuel.  I’ve been training based on heart rate for the last two years, sticking to a low heart rate in almost all my workouts.  But, so far the heart rate has been based on a rule of thumb formula (for this interested it’s the Maffatone method) coupled with a low amount of high carbohydrate foods like potatoes, bread etc.

Along side this, I’ve had Nick Allen, from Buxton Physiotherapy Centre analyse my running gate and give me a set of corrective exercises to do.  The idea behind this form of training is to minimise the niggles I’m going to get from poor running form, and making sure I can manage any minor niggles before they become anything major that stops me running everyday.

So, in the final 10 week push to build my mental strength, confirm past training and build on it, everything is taking a decidedly tech feel to it.

Lots of work is going to involve running in a fasted state, on tired legs and fine tuning he intake of water, calories and electrolytes, which luckily for me will be easy.  Mike at Tailwind UK and Jenny at Tailwind in the U.S. Have both been amazing with support so far and I’m confident that as far as getting enough in whilst running is concerned, I’ve got it fully covered.

Now to see what the metabolic analysis says :)

A Two Year Journey In Pictures…

There is more to this journey than the posts on this blog. On deciding to make the whole Le Jog attempt public for a good cause, I deleted all the old posts, most of which served as a training log. Here’s the journey in the form of pictures, a past time I picked up from my Grandfather, who passed away due to several strokes and who the run is in memory of.

The Love Hate Relatioship With Hotel BareFootLeJog 

 
That little red tent is going to be my home in 10 weeks time, abd I’ve already Christine’s it ‘Hotel BareFoot Lejog’.  It’ll be a place fir relaxing, refuelling and sleep for the maximum of 6 whole weeks, and this morning, having camped out after a day of running, BBQ and birthday cake with good company, I realised something.

This little red thing is going to be were I relax, loving the fact that I have it with me in the evenings as I go to sleep.  In the mornings I will fondly say goodbye as I pack it way, having reluctantly left its warm and glowing interior, but as I begin to get tired, I am going to be cursing its existence!

Right now however, I’m looking forward to seeing lots of these each evening.

  

IMG_3677-0

The 5th Element Of Trail Running

Sean Conway has written a straight forward blog post about the 4 elements of trail running, which is both a good read and has some really good points that anyone doing long runs out on trails should really think about.

Here’s the thing.  In martial arts, in particular when studying and practicing form, you work on making the movements second nature.  In other words, training should be something that makes running or moving along trails your natural state.  Learning to be aware of your body’s needs, strengthening weaknesses and finally, knowing how to cope with those emergencies (like a suddenly drop in temperature) in an almost isntinctive way is what makes up the 5th element of trail running.  Being able to move with almost inhuman efficiency.

Now this is just my thoughts and ideas on screen.  If you make running trails your natural state, your body will respond by adapting.  As a species, we are incredible endurance machines with the capacity to adapt on the move, and of achieving what our modern, sedentary and comfortable lives would deem impossible.  

The limiting factor in this whole thing is our preconceptions of what is physically possible.  

IMG_3555

Something From The Weekend

Trail Running magazines editor got in touch and it ended with a mini email interview.  Now, this isn’t my usual cup of tea, but as some have said and I agree, the summer challenge isn’t really about me.  It’s about raising money and awareness to help those that are unfortunate enough to be effected by strokes. 

Part two of the interview was to get some pictures to go with the article.  Tricky task, considering everyone who could have run with me and help with the pictures were away.  So, tripod was strapped to my running pack and off I went.

  
I need to keep improving my metabolic efficiency, so instead of lots of food and Tailwind, I look one bottle of Tailwind, with the intention of refilling the bottle half way through training.  

13 miles of glorious weather, lots of stopping and using the timer option on my camera.  Eventually this whole stopping and starting wore a little thin, camera and tripod were packed away and I ran the last miles without stopping for pictures.  Here’s the result of all that stopping and starting…

          

Hopefully they are what the magazine is after, and lookout for the article in the July edition.  Fingers crossed it actually does some good in terms of raising money and raising the profile of the run.

With 77 days left before I start running from Land’s End, training is going to get harder, more targeted and take a lot more time.  Just as well I enjoy being out and running.  Otherwise, this whole venture would be horrendous. 😊