The Hows Of Unsupported Barefoot LeJog

I think I should write a post that has the hows, the whats and the whens of this challenge.  Lots of questions have been asked and putting things into practice has meant that I have a better idea of what is sensible, what is a bad idea and how to make this thing run as smoothly as I can.

1.  Unsupported?

Well, originally I was expecting to do this alone and being completely self sufficient.  I am going to carry all the equipment that is necessary to survive on a day to day basis, use shops and water sources along the way to get what I need in terms of food and equipment and use a tent for accommodation.  Now, this challenge isn’t about achieving any record attempt but more about getting people to engage and spread awareness of both the condition and the charity, so I have said that people are welcom to join in along the way and if food or shelter is offered I am likely to say ‘yes, thank you’
2.  Barefoot?

This is the most contentious point for some.  I will be carrying a pair of Luna sandals for a few reasons.  Wet weather softens the skin on feet and so the skin wears away faster, and is far more easily damaged.  My goal is to complete the distance so if it is wet and the terrain is likely to damage my feet I am going to stick them on.  If my feet get damaged or if the terrain is such that I have to go too slow then I’ll be putting the sandals on.  If I had the luxury of time, I wouldn’t resort to the sandals.  What people should know that when I took part in the Edale Skyline race I didn’t put the sandals on despite sub zero conditions, perpetual wet surfaces and terrain that is super rugged.  It just felt like I was cheating when I took them off my pack, so they went back on my pack.

3.  Mileage schedule?

I’ve done some self experimentation and discussed this a fair bit.  Best idea is 35 miles per day, with a projected finish time of 5 weeks.  This give me a week’s grace in case I need it to recover or in case I happen to make a poor route choice.  The whole journey is so long that it’s hard to comprehend large stages, so, I won’t try and think about it.  It’s going to be a case of persistent forward motion and one step at a time.  If all goes well, I should be able to cover the distance by speed hiking or running.  

4.  Failure?

This will be the most difficult thing to acknowledge.  If something goes wrong, I’ll keep going but a point will come when I will have to acknowledge that I’ve failed.  All that means is that I decided to attempt this challenge too early, so I will go back to training and then repeat it every summer until I complete it.

5.  Motivation?

This has changed…

First it was finding if it is possible, then proving people wrong and now I’ve come to realise that these reasons are superficial.  The main thing that will move me forwards is the people I know and have met on the Internet, who have lost loved ones, survived and been given support by Stroke Association, or are caring for loved ones that have suffered a stroke.  I seem to feel a huge sense of reponsibiltiy toward these people and will feel that I have let them down if I don’t complete this challenge.  Then, there’s those who have shown support by buying a t-shirt or donating to Stroke Associstion.  I think that challenges are more achievable the more a person feels accountable for their actions.

6.  Equipment?

This is the easiest to address. I’m going to carry the minimal equipment is need.  Luxury items will be kept to a minimum and the main focus is on weight and functionality.  Too heavy and I’m going to have issues with my body.  Not functional or suitable and it’s going to potentially put a stop to the challenge.  

Hopefully this makes thing a little more clear for those interested and if you have any more questions then feel free to ask.

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Hobbity Feet Make It Into Runner’s World UK News! 

Thanks to the media release by Stroke Associations media lady Vicky, BareFoot LeJog made it on the Runner’s World UK website.  Then there was a flurry of page likes and donations.

Here’s the article for any who are wanting to read it, although if you follow this blog or the Facebook page, then you know most of it already. 🙂

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/news/buxton-schoolteacher-to-run-the-length-of-britain-barefoot-for-charity/13374.html

Day 2 & Many A Lesson Learnt

Where I pitch my tent is going to make the difference between sleep and no sleep.  Last night was a no sleep pitch, but still managed to move my legs.  Oddly, my legs where no stiffer than when I got up Wednesday morning.  Today was all about the walking on all the wrong surfaces.  Gravely roads, sharp rocky beidleways, more and more roads.  Although, some nicer terrain was used too ☺️         Then I got slightly lost because I wanted a slight explore.  Still managed to find my way back to Buxton, feet intact and no issues apart from a slight warm sensation from the ridiculous amount of harsh terrain.  Still, there’s enough time for them to recover before the start date.  Now the lessons:

  • Sleep or die is pretty much the key rule
  • Refuelling and rehydration whilst.
  • walking is as important as when running
  • Don’t forget other nutrition.  tailwind is going to be great but I’ll need enough protein and other nutrients so I recover well each night.
  • Route decisions are going to be key – Wrong route = Too slow.
  • Don’t be too proud to walk!  My walking pace is about 3.5 miles an hour over the Derbyshire peaks so if need be I will have to wak.
  • Take extra care when running or even walking with wet feet.
  • The weight of my gear is going to be the make or break factor!

Now to let my legs recover from the crossfit onslaught of two days ago and formulate some sort of mileage or time schedule for the summer.

Practicing Plan B, Ending on Plan C @runnersworlduk @trailrunningmag

Plan C is the slowest plan at 28 miles a day.

The intentions were to get Plan B done but after running for Buxton to Hathersage in the most round about route I could think of, I arrive with only 28 miles done.

This is what it kind of looked like to start..

   

   

  

  

  

  

 And then some one turns summer off!

  

The cakes just before Chatsworth were all gone!!

  

And an impressively amazing pub was shut!!!

  

But that didn’t stop a trial of some Luna Mono (monkey) sandals and I was inspired to do an on the spot review!! 


Generally, despite the rain and the pummelling I gave my body the day before, it was a grand day out. 28 miles, lots of prating  around and enjoying my surroundings, all in about 8 hours (including all the stops).

Today, legs feel like they did yesterday morning, but the views fro yesterday and a cheeky little breakfast in Hathersage should see me get home before dark.  Bring on the35 miles of hills 👊🏻 

  

         

Justgiving.com/barefootlejog

Train The Body, Train The Mind – Reaching Exhaustion The Night Before The Day After 

Tuesday, May 26th

I wake up and do the normal routine of some random exercises.  Then it’s a walk to get shopping, fuel up, rehydrate, and generally get plans for the next day in place.

Then I have some time to spare after doing some publicising stuff and speaking briefly to Vicky at Stroke Association’s Media Team.  So, I go to the gym, heart rate monitor on and on the treadmill.  I up the pace until I get to a comfortable heart rate.   This is how I train.  Not based on pace, which doesn’t really tell me if I’m using sugar or fat.  23 minutes later it’s on the rowing machine with 500m row followed by 5kg medicine ball, single leg squats (5 reps each leg) and repeat 4 times.

Then I have half an hour to refuel again!  Thank goodness for Tailwind.  It doesn’t need digesting to be absorbed so I know after about 10-15 minutes that sugar is in and working its magic.  Then it’s one for crossfit.

1 hour of pull ups, followed by pressups (3 pull ups, quick up and hold, slow down, 3 pressups slow down, hold and quick up), then some wall climbers, followed by a WOD.  5 burpees, 300 row, squaring and then launching a medicine ball at a wall, over box jumps, and then sit ups all until the timer reaches 14 minutes.  After 60 squats and throwing the ball up my legs felt used.  1.5 litres of Tailwind later and the workout is done.  My legs feel used and I have that glorious hazy feeling that accompanies a tiring workout. 

Tomorrow will the real mental challenge.  35 miles of running with the current full LeJog kit. Now I just have to refuel, rehydrate and get myself focused on the end of night camp site, somewhere in the hols surrounding Hathersage in Derbyshire.  As Barefoot Ted said in his brief and to the point message to me earlier today….

“Let the adventure begin” 

😀

The Answer To The Question ‘Why Are You Doing This?’

Here goes….

My Grandfather had several strokes in 2013. The first few caused him to forget some things and people and the man that I looked up to seemed slightly less godlike than he did before. He recovered well, but then it happened again after a few months and after this one his memory of me became a distant whisper. I could see he felt he should know me and others he met.  He would often apologise for not remembering, as though having had a stroke and forgetting was in some way bad manners! His behaviour changed and he looked more frail than I ever thought he could.  The once strong man became more a shadow of his former self and the strength that once filled his gaze was replaced by frustration.  He removed himself from the house he has been in with my Granmother for years, moved into a nursing home and eventually passed away. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen the effects of strokes though.

When I was younger (probably around 6 or 7) my mother had a stroke at an early age. I don’t want to go into details so much but it wasn’t a pleasant thing to see someone you depend on for your survival become completely hopeless. I didn’t understand what had caused it then, but remembering the symptoms I saw and piecing things together its kind of obvious this is what happened. Right now, you wouldn’t be able to say she had experienced a stroke, but not everyone is that lucky.

I know this challenge is going to be hard physically and mentally in parts, but I’m still going to do it. I have relatives who has survived the hard ships of persecution in WWII for being polish and know that the suffering part is going to be optional.

You think you’ve placed your finger on my motivation and drive to get this challenge completed?  Maybe you have, but there’s a little something hidden that is hard to admit, even to myself.  Like many and selfish as it may be, I do this as much for me as I do for a charity.  I am guilty of neglecting that unspoken duty to visit him when he was ill and getting worse.  I grudgingly visited him once after his first stroke, and when morals and doing the right thing where the most important, I put myself first and avoided those meetings.  This is why this whole thing, raising money and raising awareness is important to me, but the act of running is my way of recognising the incredible strength that both my grandparents posses, having lost all during WWII’s persecution.

I have no interest in the attention that doing something like this is undoubtedly going to bring.  I have no interest in setting records.  I know that it will appear that this is a self serving enterprise, and you are right…  It is, but not for the reasons that seem apparent at first.

So on the 26th of July, at Land’s End, I will pick up a pebble and I will carry it the length of the country, and on returning home, I’m going to place that pebble on my Grandfather’s headstone.  My way of acknowledging everything he did in his life time.  It will just be a pebble, but it’ll hold countless memories and like the old custom, let him know that he is not forgotten.

What if something goes wrong or I run out of time?  I’m going to keep that pebble and train harder and keep repeating the task until I complete the task at hand and that pebble makes an uninterrupted journey between the two furthest points in the UK.

Thanks for reading such a self serving post, but I guess that is the nature of blogging.

You can donate if you see fit at the link below, with the money raised going to Stroke Association who do incredible work with both sufferers and also their families, along side funding research into treatments and prevention of strokes.

www.justgiving.com/barefootlejog

Facebook Page Here

Tailwind Discount That Helps Raise Money for @TheStrokeAssoc

postMike J. at Tailwind NutritionUK is a stroke survivor, but more than that he is someone who has several Iron Man competitions and MdS under his belt, but even more than that, he has generosity.

What am I going on about?  Well, this –> 10% Tailwind Discount

He contacted me and said the following…

Customers that use the link I’ve sent you, will get an automatic 10% discount and Tailwind will also donate 5% of the order value to Stroke Association via my just giving page!

So, if you are an endurance athlete or participant, and want to try a product that does actually do what it says on the tin (packet in this case) without causing stomach problems or tasting absolutely horrendous, then head on over to Tailwindnutrition.co.uk, get your self some tailwind to try, use the link to get some money off and help raise money for the Stroke Association at the same time.

You can read my experience with tailwind at the Fellsman ultra here, and there are countless reviews on line that all seem to say the same thing….

‘It’s all you need, all day’

What Does Your Training Look Like?

This question is probably asked most of all questions, considering that the main one is “doesn’t it hurt your feet?”

So, what does it look like?  It does alter but here’s a general run through.

4:30am 5 Days A Week – Core and Strength work

  • 20 single leg squats (10 each leg)
  • 10 weighted squats (10kg)
  • Pressups (normal – 40, wide arm – 26, medicine ball – 24, normal – 14, wide – 16) 
  • Swiss ball plank – 1 minute
  • Side plank (feet on Swiss ball) – 1 minute each side
  • Pull-ups – split into sets of 9, 6, 4, 6

Aerobic Base Runs (heart rate at 145bpm) – this is for the next 6 weeks – any high end workouts are hidden in the middle of the the longer runs keeping to about 80/20 ratio.

  • Tuesday – 8 miles
  • Wednesday – 8 miles
  • Thursday – 8 miles
  • Friday – 6 miles 
  • Saturday – 30
  • Sunday – 15 miles

So far I’ve been averaging around 55-65 miles a week with some hill work.  I live in a hilly place so flat runs involve nearly 1000ft of climb.  

Then there’s the form specific work that I do based on analysis of my form by a specialist physio (Nick Allen of Buxton Physiotherapy Centre).  I also wear a 10kg weighted vest at work 3 times a week.  I look an utter fool, but it serves it’s purpose!

Now, I’m getting mentally ready to get a big mileage week in with a practice run of Plan B (35 miles with camping gear) to make the most of my half term. 

I’m sure other people training is far more hardcore and intense, but so far I feel far lighter on my feet and more confident in my body than I have in 37 years of using it.

Have a good weekend. 

1206 miles, Barefoot – Possible or Not? Vote Now!


Just wandering what the general consensus is. The run will be off-road, completely barefoot (unless it is too cold or wet, or damage to my foot means I will need to wear some running sandals) and unsupported (which means I will have everything I need to be self sufficient, including tent and sleeping bag).

I’ve been running barefoot for about a year, and run an ultra and some fell races (trail races for the U.S. guys and gals) barefooted.  I’m planning on covering 28-43 miles a day, mostly off-road starting on the 26th of July.

I’m not doubting whether it’s possible as I’ve set myself the challenge but….

Do you think it is possible or do you think it isn’t?

Be honest

Acknowledging The Thresholds Of Potential Failure

1206 miles of running is not a small and easy task.

There is no plan for failure, but there are points where I will have to say it is time to stop.  The potential for failure because of random events gets higher the longer a challenge is, and a potential 6 weeks makes that random chance huge, but I’m not concerned with it.  Part of my training has been doing things wrong and pushing what is sensible to find what happens in a controlled way.  But there is one thing that I will have to stop for and I think I need to put the reason why out there…

I am a teacher and with that have responsibilities that I take seriously.  I teach and keep working hard because I genuinely want the best for the students that I interact with.  Doesn’t matter if they are in my classes.  I’m not unique in this.  All teachers have this sense of profound responsibility, which is why they work the way they do, and tend to put work first where others wouldn’t.

So, here it is.  I will have to stop 6 weeks after starting regardless of how close I am to John O’Groats.  There is not provision for teachers to have additional time off and even if there was, the impact it would have on the students that I look over as a tutor and those that I will be teaching in my classes is too high.  I’m sharing this so people understand early on that I will push my body and mind to the point of breaking just to complete this challenge, but when the decision to stop and return to work comes, I will stop!

It’s not a decision I’ve come to easily, but I know it is the right decision to make about the challenge.  I may be doing it for a good cause but is it more worthy than the potential future of the children and young adults I will be responsible for?

I think not, and I hope others understand why.