Thoughts & Emotions Before The Final Day – #RunE1Trail

Suddenly it’s hit me.  I can’t focus on the screen I type words on…

A watery blur fills my sight and the more I fight it the more it flows.

 

But what is the purpose of these emotions?

Why is it that faced with what others perceive as an escape and as magical adventure I sit and throw words out into the ether?

There is a deep and unspoken joy in teaching that is lost in the bitterness, the unnecessary tasks and data chasing, the reduction of base values to the machinations of the governmental machine.  There is a deep satisfaction from seeing young children arrive in your presence and leave as young adults.  Cast into the world like a message in the bottle, a message that you aren’t even sure will ever be noticed or read, and it is not done for the thanks but for the love of the act of teaching.

 

I will miss that joy.  A joy that more should be shouting about…  Not to massage their own teaching ego, but to celebrate and allow learners to appreciate the purity of learning for learnings sake.

Maybe leaving as I have, taking on what I have and sharing the experience as openly and honestly as I can will inspire those that look on to start to treat their fears and the challenges they face, big or small, differently.

I know my reasons for leaving will be distorted so I need to make them coherent, without the use of fancy words or poetic constructs.

I leave to show that fear is not something that should stop us.  The unknown and the chance of failure, small or large, shouldn’t stop us reaching beyond our perceived ability and as teachers, we should lead by example.  If I have taught you and you read these words, then realise that I expect you to challenge yourself more in your final year than you have ever done so in the past.  Not a token gesture, but a full onslaught on the limits you or others have placed on you over the last 4 years.  You all possess what you need within and need to simply reach out and unlock it.  You just need to do a few simple things:

Refuse to believe that you are not able.

Raise your standards higher than you ever have and refuse to let them drop.

Refuse to be ruled by your fears.

Refuse to stop trying.

As always the act of writing steadies the mind and emotions.  I can now focus on what I have left to do before leaving my position as a teacher and hopefully facing the students I have tried to guide through my word and conduct.  It is time to step out of the classroom and try a different way to guide them.

 

FEAR, DOUBT & CURIOSITY – The Reasons Behind #RunE1Trail – #GetOutside @TheUltraMag @GetOffTheRopes

It is a simple fact that the unknown and unfamiliar will scare us at some level.

I am filled with fear of this unknown and yet refuse to stop heading for it.

I am filled with doubt of my ability to survive.

Two are voices that is daring me to stop.

The other is daring to go on.

Curiosity…

Never satisfied, it pushes you beyond what you know you can achieve, daring you to just take one more step into the unknown.

 

 

 

It plays a cruel game with fear and doubt…

Curiosity is a bastard!

#RunE1Trail Schedule

The schedule is based on an average of 50km per day for the entire route and to make it a shorter list of locations is made up of several 12 day legs, showing the total distance being covered and the number of food stops along the way.

You can track the adventure via BarefootAleks.com

Images all taken from http://www.fernwandern-in-europa.de website

Norway & Sweden

karte_e1_skandinavien.png

Nordkapp to Pitsusjärvi – 505.5km, 5 potential food stops – 03/08/16 to 14/08/16

Pitsusjärvi to Arasluoktastugorna – 995km, 5 potential food stops – 15/08/16 to 26/08/16

Arasluoktastugorna to Bustadmo – 1503.5km, 6 potential food stops – 27/08/16 to 07/09/16

Bustadmo to Roros – 1983.5km, 7 potential food stops – 08/09/16 to 19/09/16

Röros to Grövelsjön – 2098km, 2 potential food stops (3 day leg) – 20/09/16 to 22/09/16

Grövelsjön to Mockfjärd – 2490km, 10 potential food stops (9 day leg) – 23/9/16 to 01/10/16

Mockfjärd to Semesterbyn – 3000km, 17 potential food stops – 02/10/16 to 13/10/16

Seemsterbyn to Varberg – 3382km, 13 potential food stops (8 day leg including ferry crossing) – 14/10/16 to 21/10/16

Denmark 

Food and provisions are no longer an issue due to population density

karte_e1_daenemark.png

Grenå to Skanderborg – 3503km (4 day leg) – 22/10/16 to 25/10/16

Skanderborg to German border – 3769km, (6 day leg) – 26/10/16 to 01/11/16

Germany

karte_e1_deutschland.jpg

Border to Oversee to Eutin – 3985km (6 day leg) – 02/11/16 to 07/10/16

Eutin to Bad Nenndorf – 4504km – 08/10/16 to 19/10/16

Bad Nenndorf to Nassau – 5001km – 20/11/16 to 01/12/16

Nassau to Thurner – 5503km – 02/12/16 to 13/12/16

Thurner to Konstanz – 5696km (5 day leg) – 14/12/16 to 18/12/16

Switzerland

karte_e1_schweiz.jpg

Konstanz to Morcote – 19/12/16 to 29/12/16

Italy & Sicily

Section not fully marked!karte_e1_italien.png

1600km – 30/12/16 to 11/02/16

 

 

The #BeerUltra Is Born

2 weeks ago, I said the world needs a beer ultra.  Then I did what I never would have done in the past…

I got people involved so that it would happen.

Then it did on a trial basis…

The result was an awesome race, great atmosphere and the start of something that is going to hit the race calendar in 2017!

Here’s the video of the event made by the talented RunnExplorer

https://t.co/nUuQ0257YK

So… How does it work? 

Simple… 50km route made of 2 different 5km loops. A bottle of beer at the start of every loop and then a final beer to finish.  

Penalty laps occur if beer is spilt or contenders vomit.

The kit list was simple… A bottle opener to be carried on the runs (kit for different weather conditions to be kept at the beer checkpoint)

Huge thanks to BeerBods.co.uk, the marshals, the volunteers, Ultra magazine and obviously RunnExplorer:)

Understanding The Void – The Reasons Behind #RunE1Trail – #GetOutside @TheUltraMag @GetOffTheRopes

The phrase ‘Pursuing the void’ was a good set of words when I first set up this blog page.  It was set up to give me an outlet, someway to note down the thoughts and feelings that I wasn’t able to make sense of and put things into context.  I’ve realised before that transferring the demons and gods that rule us into print reduces their hold on me, but I realised that I didn’t understand this concept of the void.

Literal meaning of void, as defined but the Oxford dictionary is:

  1.  Not valid or legally binding
  2. Completely emtpy
  3. To be free from; lacking

The truth is that with nebulous statements like ‘pursuing the void’ we create our own meaning, based on our own emotional, social and historical references.  I’m realising something about this idea of a void.

I’m not seeking the emptiness of zen (a bit of an oxymoron as I understand it since you are not meant to empty, but ready to allow thoughts to flow as they would in a river) but I’m relishing a different void…

 

 

“I have no idea what is going to happen once I arrive in Norway.  That’s the truth of it.  Questions float around with no actual defined answer, as though they are being cast in the direction of a hungry information sponge.  The whats, hows, wheres and whens don’t seem to have any meaning since the genuine truthful answer is I don’t know.

I’m standing on the edge of a precipice, deep and able to absorb any and all light I try to shine into it, hiding everything and anything that is beyond my immediate vision.  I can taste fear, apprehension, anxiety and an odd sense of loss.

But amongst all these, acting like a sweet syrup that binds the ingredients of a wondrous gastronomic delight, there is the taste of curiosity.  I can sense the void and I want to see beyond its even horizon and be aware of what I am experiencing.”

 

I guess what I realised when I wrote those words, was that I was petrified of my own curiosity, but like an addict I find myself drawn towards it time after time, catalysed by even the slightest hint that I may not be able to complete what I’ve set out to do.

Fear of failure is the biggest driving force we have and maybe curiosity as to the outcome is the way to realise its strength.

 

Thanks for reading these ramblings…  They are just the words of someone trying to make sense of need to jump into the unknown without the romantic attachment to the image of an adventurer.

Have an awesome day  :D

Fun On The Fells – #RunE1Trail Training @trailrunningmag @pledgesports @ordnancesurvey @lunasandals @alpkit #GetOutside

Decided to test some Alpkit gear today and surprisingly it survive some stupidity cultivation. Was awesome getting out and showing the newly repaired training buddy a route I ran in the winter. These things are a bit more fun when someone else shared in the stupidity 😜
Here’s a video that hopefully answers the questions about running on rough terrain in sandals :)​

Training On No Fuel Day 2 & 3 – Preparing For The Reality Of Running Europe #RunE1Trail @Pledgesports @trailrunningmag 

 

Day 2 involved the same rule…

500 calories in total for the day and a 50km run, but I made it slightly more difficult by picking a flat and unchanging trail to run along.

 

Simply put it was mentally difficult.  Physically my legs felt tired but they didn’t ache.  I stuck to that one simple principle of being ruled by your heart, and it seemed to work.  I slept for 5 minutes at 21km and realised that I seemed to be struggling to stay warm, but that’s why I had extra layers in my pack.

There’s not really much else to it…

I welcomed the rain that started with around 12km to go, I admired the misty views the rain created and felt that sense of achievement that I did during the summer month as I reached the end of my 50km.

The simple side of this is that my body was generating glucose using fat stores as well as some muscle.  Using fat is a good thing and generally happens under low intensities.  All that needed to happen was to have enough oxygen getting in to my body, and by keeping the intensity down, walking when I needed to and even that little nap I had, I managed to supply enough oxygen to my cells to carryout the magical process of gluconeogenesis.

So, so far it’s day three, my cold is still here, I’m not dead yet, I feel ok (other than the cold) and I do want to eat!

The reality is that on the run I will be taking on board around 500 calories during the run and then a 500 calorie meal at the end of the day and I wouldn’t really expect to maintain this for more than 5-6 days at a time. The other part of this is that this is preparation for a worse case scenario, but the likely hood is running on a calorie deficit for quite some time. The trick will be to manage the route schedule is to know where they are so I can prepare for them with some big feeds a couple of days before.  The other thing that is important is having food to hand that are high fat, so I can get the best calorie/gram amounts and having some basic knowledge of what I can forage as food.  

For now, I’m gonna start eating properly so I can be rid of my cold sooner, rather than depress my immune system and stay I’ll for ages.

Who would have thought that planning such a long trip would be so technical😉

Training On No Fuel – Preparing For The Reality Of Running Europe #RunE1Trail @Pledgesports @trailrunningmag 

I decided yesterday to start a new phase of my training.  One that by all accounts is deemed risky and stupid, but here’s the point…

There are lots of sections in Norway and Sweden so far where getting food as we do in our everyday lives and outings is not going to happen.  I will have to carry it all and with that comes the risk of injury and the inevitable need to slow down.  The other issue will be the additional calories needed to carry this extra food so one solution (maybe not the best but..) is to carry less food but cover the same distances.  

Today I ran 31 miles in a fasted state, with no fuel being taken on board at all and then only 500cal of food after running.  I feel no different to racing a 50k but there is one thing…

Mentally, the thought of having to repeat today’s run distance and on next to no fuel has destroyed my motivation to move.  This is going to be the thing that pushes me to my breaking point during the E1 run.  The reality of hardly any calories and an incomprehensible distance.

This stage of training makes perfect sense to me.  Even though I’m sat here battling with the want for more food and refusing to eat anything else today, despite having a few slices of pizza about a meter away from me.

The other thing is I’ve realised this must have been what my grandparents faced during WWII!  I can’t even begin to comprehend their hardship, but if they managed it and came out as some of the most incredibly strong people I know, I think I’m gonna just run 30 miles tomorrow and be greatfull I have 500cal of food.  

A Parting Message – The Reasons Behind #RunE1Trail

The Reasons for this ridiculous adventure are varied.

I think I learnt something really important first hand when I ran the UK.

I had never taken on anything quite as demanding mentally as the whole LeJog thing and like I’ve commented on before, I inadvertently jumped head first (I believe this is called a dive) into those dark spaces in our heads.  The same dark spaces that don’t really exist and are just our way of dealing with a fear of failure.  And there it is…

The reasons I am doing this, or at least one of the reasons I am doing this.

I have just sat and completed my tutor reports.  Words about the progress of 30 young people, who I have looked over for 5 days a week for the last 4 years.  Seeing them develop for children in to semblances of adults.  Not quite adults, but at the same time not quite children anymore as they make the final move as secondary school students

As I typed, as I used the words that are expected of me, I thought about what would actually be a better way to say my final goodbye.  What would I say to try and make them understand what the true importance of their time in school was?  I think given the opportunity, on my final day in school, I would share these words with them…

“I stand here about to take a step into a world I am not familiar with and a life that fills me with a sense of fear.  I know that the chances of failing in the task I’ve set for myself is high, moving away form the familiar and comfortable routine of a life I’ve known for over 7 years to a way of living that has absolutely no certainties.  Don’t misread this and think he’s just quit and off he goes.  This moment comes after month of moving away from comfortable choices.  Purposefully making my life more difficult and removing those things that we take for granted and all to share one important lesson.  Your time here, in this school has one true purpose.  The subjects you learn, the exams you will take are all pointless if you miss this truth.  You are here to learn to cope with failure, to make mistakes and to learn from them and their discomfort.”

This is the part that people will misunderstand.  I’m not referring to the discomfort of not having a comfortable bed or being cold.  I’m referring to the mental discomfort of facing and realising failure.  The bitter taste it leaves as you realise that you weren’t quite as good as you thought you were.  But that’s the point.  You are all in an environment where you can make mistakes and there are those ,that regardless of outward appearances, will stand and help you make sense of those failures if you chose to face them.  It is in this discomfort that you realise who you truly are and learn the most important lessons you need to learn. The lessons that will prepare you for the future that is ahead of you.  So, I will share my experience as I struggle to find enough food, make mistake after mistake, learn as I go along, see things that I never dreamt of seeing and find out that as humans we are capable of incredible things.  But I’ll stand there as just an ordinary person who did one simple thing…  chose to acknowledge failure, look it in the eye and shake its hand so that others will hopefully learn that it’s an irrational fear that is hampering our true capacity to learn and be alive.”

Maybe some of you will read this.  Maybe most won’t, but if this has an impact on just one student it will have done its job.

#NoDemonsNoGodsNoMasters.