What I Learnt About Tailwind & The Fellsman 

The Fellsman is labelled as one of the toughest (if not the toughest) UK Off-Road ultra marathons.  It’s a horseshoe, 61 Mike route, with 11,000 feet of vertical ascent on an unmarked course that is mostly off track.  I completed it late last night, having been given special permission to run it barefoot or in Luna sandals.

Now, I really don’t think they expected me to stick with the barefoot thing, and at mile 40, I was grouped with 3 great runners, but was told shoes on or no more running in the race. Rules are rules, so on went the shoes and sad thing is they have caused a fair sized lump on the top my left foot, where the shoe was obviously pressing on one of my tendons.  Still, I have no one to blame but myself.

During the race I was planning on making some videos but the conditions where harsh, and navigation takes too much concentration to allow random videos, but I did make a note of how I felt every 10 or so miles, so here’s what Tailwind Nutrition is like.

5 miles with 4000′ of constant climb, and I felt fine.  In fact I felt rather good, with plenty of juice in the legs to push up the field.  I managed the nutrition in take (only tailwind) fairly well, with gradual sips along the way.

At mile thirteen after a ridiculous 2 mile climb up Gargarath, at a 3m to 4m in 1m gradient, I felt great!  Tailwind was going down a treat, nothing was really tired, and I felt like I had plenty of energy despite the really harsh, wet and windy conditions.

Then I made a mistake with my intake.  It’s actually hard to know how long you’ve been moving (distance or time) when you haven’t got a watch on.  I didn’t really refuel with anything for the next 10 miles.  The most input in was about a third of a bottle of Tailwind mix, so the inevitable slow down happened.

Now….

Here’s the bit I learnt.

With other nutrition, when I’ve not managed it well, I’ve never really managed to regain the same composure and energy level.  It’s pointless battle that inevitably leads to the desperation shuffle.  I mixed up some tailwind and started to drink it in small amounts but far more often.  In a 3 mile stretch I made sure I drank at least 1/2 a bottle.

Everything carried on working, but my energy levels started to return.  No gut issues meant I upped the intake again.  Energy levels felt awesome, which I really needed to try and push through serious foot pain cause by the shoes I was made to put on due to ‘safety’ and ‘insurance’. This is what amazed me!  I’d caught up again!?  I didn’t really feel like I’d reached a low point from not eating enough, and even at mile 59, after 18 hours of trudging through swap like, endless bogs, I could still manage to run!  And, because of the  electrolytes in the drink I didn’t cramp up or suffer from dehydration.  In fact I finished and (sorry about the typically trail runner thing to say!) my pee wasn’t dark?!

It seems the American hype is less hype, and more fact 👍🏻

Now here’s the best bits of the race.  The few hours when the weather dramatically improved 🙂

   
   

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The Story So Far…..

nearly 3 years have passed since and expanding waist line, stress and depression drove me to take up running.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve grown to love it and embrace it like any true addict would their chosen vice, but back then, it was the last thing I imagined doing in my spare time.

Two and a half years on and things are different.  I’m 4st lighter, I feel fitter and I’m learning lots about what our bodies are actually capable of.

I dot have any special diet, I don’t avoid alcohol or worship a specific food group and demonise another.  I just run, take pictures of my adventures and enjoy the outdoors.

I do run barefoot at times, but I wouldn’t class myself as a barefoot runner, or go around preaching the virtues of running or doing it barefoot.  I simply enjoy what running does for me both mentally and physically.

So we are at the present time.  I’ve lost someone I care dearly for through poor mistakes and unfortunate circumstances, I lost my grandfather to Father Time and now I’m considering testing what is thought to be ludicrous.

I’m training to run from Lands End in the UK all the way to John O’Groats.  These two points are the two furthest points in the UK and to make it more challenging, I’m going to be attempting it barefooted, covering over 1200 miles of trails, paths, roads, fields and hills.  What’s more is that I will only have 6 weeks to complete something done by “athletes” in 6 weeks and 3 days!!

Yes!?  I’m worried 😳

My mantra for the whole thing?

“I endeavour to cultivate my stupidy”

By Aleks Kashefi, 2014

😋

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