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!

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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 😉

Things That Will Be Missed Part 1 – #RunE1Trail #GetOutside

 

I once had someone to spend my time with.  Someone who I thought would be beside me for the rest of my life, but that wasn’t meant to be.  The gap that should be there however, is filled with a love for the Lake District fells.  Their unpredictable temperament, their harsh terrain and the beautiful simplicity of moving around them.

To all the fells of the Lake District…

I will miss you!

Couch to #E1Run – The Story So Far… – #GetOutside @Pledgesports @OrdnanceSurvey @TrailRunningMag

Join the support and pledge for adventure -> #E1Run

I decided that I should put some words down to explain a few things.  Why is it I keep saying ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things?

Some already know my journey to this point…  Preparing to run the length of Europe, self supported, but others are new to the journey so it seems right to share the story and explain why I really do believe that anyone can do what I do and that I am in no way anything other than ordinary.  I have no special gifts and seek recognition for any form of prowess.  I simply try to inspire others through the simple act of being nothing other than ordinary.  So here it is…  The beginning and story so far…

My lungs burn, my muscles scream at me to stop and I feel like I’m fighting gravity and the ground with each step.  BEEP!

That’s my signal to stop.  I double over, feeling sick, out of breath and head spinning from the exertion.  “How on Earth am I going to do another 7 of these??”

Truth is, I’d jogged…  I hate this term!  I’d ran for no more than 30s and I was already feeling like death!  “Why on Earth would anyone do this for fun?”

The odd thing is that the C25K app I downloaded quickly changed to the 10k version, then the half marathon and finally the marathon version, something I never thought I would describe when talking about my past, present and future!!

This was July 2102 and the start of a year which led me close to (and I admit this with great reluctance and a the bitter taste of what I experienced) taking my own life on several occasions, only to turn to running for a moments escape from the bitterness that I felt.  The thing is, I am now living in a way I need thought possible, never imagined I would be capable of and that seems to have allowed me to let go of so much anger, pain and blame.

I was unfit, I was overweight, the world I’d created for myself and the dreams I’d nurtured were falling apart around me and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was taking slow and deliberate step into the pit of depression, unable to stop myself and unaware of what was happening to those I cared for.  The result was living along in a flat, in a town where I knew few people and having to live off £80 a week.  Those were dark times, but my decisions had led me there and I refused (I refuse to this day) to change my decisions and all the way through I continued to run, discovered the joy of running in the Peak District and developed a love for the peace and clarity it gave me.

All the while I research running.  It felt instinctively wrong.  I was fighting the ground, I was putting in lots of effort for little gains in speed, giving me the sensation of being inefficient, until I chanced on the concept of barefoot running and correct running form.  It all made perfect sense!  Each step was a use of energy and if we run poorly, we need more energy to sustain that particular motion forwards.  I began to change my running.  My running began to change me.  I skipped the marathon distance, and with 20 miles of run walking I entered a 50 miles ultra!

3 weeks I trained for it.  I finished.  I didn’t understand how, but I finished.

The switch had been flicked and now I was looking for challenges, running the same hill rep 652 times back to back, covering 75 miles and gaining the same amount of ascent as Mt Fuji was the start of running barefoot from Land’s End to John O’Groats, which became the catalyst to preparing to run the 4750 mile long E1 trail.

The point is simple…

It takes little more than persistence to change our view point from ‘Running Sucks” to “Love to run”, no more.  It’s the same principle with any thing we can’t do and find challenging, but we are all made to take on these challenges if we can just remove the blinkers that we self apply through our pursuit of comfort and ease.

Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

Join the support and pledge for adventure -> #E1Run

The Dark Side OF Adventure Planning – Part 2 – Logistics Of Running The E1

This is going to be one of the biggest time consumers of the whole trip, if not the biggest time consumer of the trip.  I have to get myself to the start, get myself back from the end, setup a schedule for the route so people can have an idea of where I’ll be, when I’ll get there and what sort of distances I’ll be covering.  Then there’s finding addresses along the length of Europe so I can post equipment along the route and collect as needed.

In essence I’m trying to predict or put in place lots of systems and events that ultimately lead to specific points in space and time, and doing all this while become an meteorologist and trying to predict and plan to changing weather conditions.

The time of the trip is done to partly coincide with the first time I managed to run for more than a minute, almost exactly 4 years ago.  It also gives me a time where flying to Norway is slightly cheaper.  But there is one issue…

At some point I will have to be up high and have to deal with potentially impassable conditions, whether that is in the Swiss Alps, Apennines or the higher sections of Norway.

I’ve chosen the what I think is the lesser of the evils.  Starting in Summer in Norway.  The idea of running in sub-zero conditions, snow and with little to no sunlight wasn’t something I wanted to even experiment with, so I’ll now have to contend with whatever conditions the Swiss Alps throw at me at around 2000m.

This bit is important.  The logitstics of something this long are going to be intimately linked with the weather.  There is absolutely no getting away from the fact that as I run down Norway, I will be losing between 30-15 minutes of sunlight, as I reach the latter parts of Sweden and then Denmark, I will be running through mild but wet conditions as Autumn begins to take hold and then there’s the Swiss Alps…

The E1 runs along a pass through the alps that at it’s highest will be in that border line section where I could have no snow, some snow or enough snow to make the whole rejoin liable to avalanche!

Some conditions, are passable with a control of the risks.  Others will stop me dead.  This is where I’m going to have to find some form of employment and wait for the ideal conditions (or more to the point, passable conditions).

The change in seasons on something this long are also going to play a big part in what is needed, which is going to be the most fun part of the ‘Dark Side of Adventure Planning’.  Get it wrong to not have the equipment where and when you need it is likely to be a barrier to the constant forward progress, but I’m going to enjoy working closely with Alpkit to get this side absolutely nailed down.

So what is the point of all this?

Simply put, you will always have a few things to workout:

  • A general schedule of places you are going to pass through and possibly dates or even times you will pass through them.
  • Knowledge of whether certain sections are passable (i.e the need for ferries, knowledge of tide times, average weather conditions etc).
  • Drop locations that will reduce the need to cary equipment and food for later stages.
  • Location of food and water (water is less of an issue with the use of water filters).

 

What else do people consider when dealing with the logistics of adventure planning?

Why Do You Run? An Existentialist Angst Response @Trailrunningmag @Runnersworlsuk @OrdnanceSurvey #GetOutside & #Run

I apologise in advance for the existentialist angst in this post….

I run because it is fun!  I run because I get to see cool places, lots of cool places and I get to see them in a shorter space of time.  I run, so I can sit on top of big things, looking all contemplative when in reality I’m tired from running up the hill.  ;P

 

Have a great Christmas!

#GetOutside, #PushYourLimits & Become More Than Before

I’ve written something about the mentality the allows someone to push on when others would stop and spent long tired hours contemplating how it is that we can keep moving when really, by the popular consensus we should have quit, stopped and returned.

Earlier in the year I wrote a post about a moment of realisation that seemed to changed my whole approach and outlook to getting myself outside my comfort zone.  The below is a small section of it, and probably the most important sections…

“Yet, at some point I made the conscious decision to go in.  It is easier to be in a dark place and stare up at the light than it is to stand out of reach of the dark and wander what demons lurk within.

Gradually, this dark place began to fill with light.  Where once there were undefined shapes of forbidding, there now stands figures of encouraging challenge.  The way out is easy to find, no longer a distant star, but more a beaming beacon.  The euphoria of reaching a stop point was simply the realisation that it is possible to sink lower than you imagined and then rise out.  I am no longer ashamed or fearful of this dark place. 

It is easier to crawl out of the pit of despair than it is to avoid falling in.”

Here’s something I’ve recently clocked on to, without being nebulous…

I tweeted that I was likely to fail in my next challenge (a winter BGR in sandals), but since its for a good cause I’d take it on.  It’s been something I’ve wanted to try for the last 2 years and after supporting a friend on the route in summer, I’ve become slightly obsessed with it, or more accurately fallen in love with the stupidity of the UK rounds.

For those that don’t know, the UK rounds involve long distances, lots of peaks and the main national parks of the UK.  All of them have ridiculous amounts of ascent, are ultra distances, involved as many peaks as you can grab and require lots of navigation and outdoor skills.  This is all before you consider the fitness needed and the mentality that goes hand in hand with these challenges.  There are 3 big rounds in the UK that I’m fascinated by, mostly because of the mental aspect.  How does a person cope mentally with such a challenge?

This is where the tweet reply from Ricky comes in….

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At some point along the way, I seem to have embraced the philosophy that I was so interested in when I was at the end of my university degree, and even more interested in when I went back to college to try my hand at photography.

It’s a simple concept.

When faced with adversity you should embrace failure before you even begin.  But this seems to completely counter what we are told about positive mental attitude.  Think about it happening, see yourself being successful and you will be.  The thing is, it’s an oddly peaceful mental state to get into.  As soon as you acknowledge the failure and embrace it, a sense of indifference seems to roll over you.  You aren’t worried about failing.  It’s almost as though the failure doesn’t exist.  The same happens with the thoughts of success.  They seem to disintegrate as you develop the same sense of indifference to the idea of finishing successfully.

What is there left if your indifferent to it all?  Well, its an odd sense of nothingness, where you simply act as is needed.   You develop a strange sense of purpose that drives you forwards, regardless of pain, tiredness or injury.  Most importantly, you act as you need to act, freed from the usual constraints that inform or shape our decisions when involved in challenges.

I am a fan of the phrase “endeavour to cultivate stupidity” because for me it embodies this attitude to challenges.  I will be starting a whole new part of my little adventure, and it will be interesting to see what happens, but for now, I’m going to focus on getting in the right frame of mind to complete probably the hardest physical challenge of my life…

The Bob Graham round, and I will do it to raise awareness of the fundraising that the Cumbrian Foundation are doing. So, if you wish to help you can get involved in one of the following ways:

 

Why Do You Run?  Recurrent Rumination 

There’s nothing special in this post.  It is just a way to externalise something that is very slowly chipping away at my resolve, and maybe by externalising it I can start to redirect it.  So, feel free to stop reading.  These are just the words of someone feeling sorry for themselves and trying to stop the self pity. 

Here’s the problem with these ponderations.  I’m not running as often as I was.

The drive to get out seems to have been misplaced and I feel an old mental state returning.  I have been aware of it for a while and instead of acknowledgement I have sought distractions.  Just getting out and running doesn’t seem to be good enough, but I’m not actually going out to run!  So is the mood a result of not running or is the not running a result of the mood?

In truth I have no idea, but I think my current lost mojo and mood comes from a few places.  Discussions with an old friend about the past, the inevitable come down from a summer of experiencing freedom in a way I didn’t think existed and the remains of poor past choices.

“Why do I run?” is an important questions in dealing with the current low.  I am not myself, and I know I run to return to myself and let the grime of modern living fall away, but how does one find their mojo when it has been misplaced?  

I don’t know the answer and I’m a bit lost as to where to find the answer.  Maybe I should stop feeling sorry for myself.  Maybe I should stop looking to the past, screw the future and go back to living one moment at a time.  

And there it is…..

I knew there was a reason to writing nonsense like this, and having those conversations with yourself that you can’t have with others, whether there are no others or they are not the people you’d like to speak to.

I run to help me find that feeling of living one moment at a time.  In fact I run to return to the present and stop worrying about the future or dwell on the negatives of the past.  It’s time to start climbing out again.

So why do you run?

Running, Anger & Annoyance – Are They An Inevitable Link For Improvement Of Self?

  
These thoughts are unformed, the initial threads of a new line of thinking and just the musings of someone who has realised or thinks they have realised something.

Running and pushing has at some point dissociated form anger and annoyance.

In fact, should we run or train using anger and annoyance as a driving force?  Are they beneficial sides to be used or are they the path to disappointment and maybe even injury?

Surely it is better to run at peace, pushing when you feel it is needed, being happy with the outcome of choosing not to push hard and realising that you really can’t fight with yourself.      Is it that anger and annoyance masks the sense that you aren’t at one with yourself or is it a way of focusing on the push?

I have used anger to drive me forwards when others and myself felt that the early end of a journey is inevitable, but it never felt as fulfilling as just pushing because I knew I could.  Is it the fact that I know I can push harder if needed, that I know the dark voice of doubt is actually my analysis of a situation and a tool that shows the way to proceed as apposed to showing how not to proceed?

Rambling on as I am, I have just one question….

Do you use anger and annoyance to find something that wasn’t there before when pushing yourself to your limits?

The Season Of Mixed Emotions

Taking a time out to enjoy the view and colours.

I find Autumn to be an odd month.  It comes with a sense of loss as Summer ends and those warm and relaxed days are replaced by days that start and end in the dark, the temperature drops and the winter moodiness sets in, but at the same time it’s full of sense of joy and wander as the countryside transforms.  Gone is the green and in comes the varying shades ranging from yellow to red.

It’s also that time of year when people find a myriad of excuses to not get outside.  I would have been one of these people, but luckily, my training bud organised me into an early Sunday run.  No excuses we’re made today and it was glorious.  I’m amazed at how lucky I am to live where I do, so I’ll stop using words and hope that the pictures will do this mornings views some justice. 🙂


Being shown new trails is always great fun.

Running through the mist that was clinging to the rocky edge.

Chatsworth estate, where all the trees have folaige that starts at exactly the same height.

Run done, so time for breakfast and tea.