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One Year - The end

It's been over a week since the end date of Aug 31st whereby I had spent a year doing the One Year Project - Which was essentially a year in which I would give it a year to work evry single day to improve my fitness, strength and mobility. I set myself some metrics at the start to measure myself by and since the end I've looked back at the results. To be honest it's taken until now to write this up for two reasons - firstly the end day fell between my Pier to Pints Trail Marathon and the Riddum Ultra and secondly because to be quite honest it has taken me this long to be able to reflect on it properly.

As it drew to a close I had no feeling of a job well done or even relief - it felt a little flat. There was no fanfare in my own head or self congratulations. There was in fact almost sadness that it was coming to a close and then I realised it's because although it was relentless work and a grind day in day out I really did enjoy it. The whole thing gave me structure and I could see progress. Thinking about it and after last saturdays race I realised the feeling was akin to finishing an ultra.

The thing about running long distances is that you tend to visualise the finish, how great it will be and how proud it will make you feel but once you've done a few the reality is that the finish doesn't really matter, that's not the interesting or challenging part of the job. The real interest and enjoyment lies far back in the hills when there is still a distance to go and you have to work through your issues, pain and fatigue - thats really when it feels great, not crossing the line. The line brings just an end. When the race director dropped my finshers medal over my head last week I'll be honest I didn't even look at it as it was never the reason I went there. In reality along with helping the new guy to the finish I spent the last miles thinking about what to do next, where to run, what distances should I be looking at, when can I go again? The race really ended as soon as we were in the last few miles and the finish was a given. Crossing the line didn't mean much. And that was the same with One Year. The last day meant nothing in itself, it was just another day, the real pleasure and pride was to be found back days, weeks and months before on those days when I really didn't want to do it and still I did. The achievement was in those days not on the final day.

And the next day on September first? I just continued anyway. This time without the mental penalties for not completing sets or exercies - and I did and still do them anyway - And that is the point and crux of the whole thing - When I started I did things because "I had to" and now I do them because I want to. Much like ultrarunning when back in May I "had to" redeem myself and finish the Ultrabeast - now I just want to run long as I relish the fight during and not the glory of the end.

So One Year becomes Project 730 I guess only without the pressure simply because when habit is ingrained you don't need a stick to do things.

As for the stats and metrics?

I completed the year

I journalled what I did every day witohut fail

I ate healthily every day

I got mobility and stretching done every day - mobility yes but I need to stretch more

I lost 15 pounds of weight and added muscle - I can't complain about that - certainly makes running hills easier

I lost 2.5 inches around my belly and am now under my height/circumference ratio

I completed Preseli

I learned to lift weights safely - I benched my weight, I deadlifted my weight x 1.5 and I squatted my weight x 1.25 which i'm happy with

I ran consistently - 209 runs and averaged 89 miles a month for 1070 miles total. Considering layoffs for stress fractures etc thats not bad when you add in probably another 1000 miles of just dog-walking too

I have and continue to give everything I can to get the others through the Cardiff Half while raising as much as we can along the way. 

It was a good year - I learned a lot. So let's do it again.


Aberthaw Duathlon

This was a training run - and ride. As I have a marathon and ultramarathon coming up in the next two weeks with those seperated by only 5 days the sensible thing to do is drop the milage slightly and look after myself. Injury avoidance is always a given but even more so as events like this approach. Especially the marathon which is a non-negotiable as it's for charity. The ultra is important but mainly a personal challenge to complete it on short rest and it will provide the perfect ending to Project 365.

So to keep myself ticking over, avoid injury and keep getting outdoors I decided that as I have recently fixed up my mountain bike I would ride to Llantwit beach which is around 5 miles away, lock up the bike then run 10 miles along the coast to Aberthaw and back and then ride home giving me a 20 mile day out with only 10 miles of running.  The Tour de Vale project is on pause until I get the two marathons out of the way - I was tempted but the legs don't need another 20 mile epic as they have little niggles I don't want to exacerbate.

I won't go too deep into detail as the day is captured on gopro and published at but things went right until they didn't and then the wheels fell off. Or at least they punctured. Just before arriving at Llantwit beach I got a flat front tyre - new inner tube too!  I have a feel my tyre pressure was wrong and I had hammered some speedbumps while filming (I couldn't hop them as I should have) so lesson learned there. So I had options and as the video showed I worked through what I could and couldn't do remarkably quickly. I knew i couldn't fix the wheel right there and then - I didn't have the tools - lesson learned. I could however still run - but to run away from home was plain stupid at that point so the route changed. I could simply lock up the bike as planned and then run home along the coast to get the van and pick up the bike. The miles would be less but it was a perfect solution (and really the only one available)  The one thing I didn't even consider was calling a friend for help. I  instinctively wanted to and knew how to get myself out of the situation.

So I ran home and filmed along the way. It gave me a good opportunity to think about things. Project 365 is ending in 2 weeks and I had a good reflective talk to the camera while trotting along the beach. Narrating to the audience (not many I admit) helps me clarify my thoughts. I had a chance to reflect on the last year and where I had come from and where I was going next.  Saying things out loud aids me in understanding myself, my motivations and my faults. I can look back at what I said and work on the salient points. I can use the dialogue as reminders and as merkers of progress.  The whole thing is in the video if you  are interested enough to listen.

What this day taught me in the main though is that i have become far more adaptable in many situations. I can think on my feet, I can decision make quickly and I can shrug off setbacks much better than I ever could before. I saw this process in action at the Preseli Ultrabeast where I ran exactly the controlled race I wanted to and probelm solved along the way. I found myself honing those skills at the Preseli dipdab event a few months later where an entirely new skillset was required. Ultrarunning -  and not just in a line or loop from point A to B - is teaching me skills without every really noticing it.  I am more self reliant. I don't second guess myself so much and I don't rely on others to take the lead and follow.  My decisions are mine and I have learned to stand and fall on and with them. Failure is a part of ultrarunning. It's ineveitable, it took me a long time to learn that lesson. I got away with much as I learned and scraped with more luck than judgement by but by identifying and examining my failures and faults I have become a far better athlete and I think person.

I guess it's a hard and sometimes bloody stupid way of learning, beating your body up in order to learn life lessons at 50 is probably not up there with the worlds greatest ideas but I will tell you one thing - It's better than sitting in a warm house on a comfortable chair and reading selfhelp books that you never put into practice. If there was one piece of advice I would give you or my younger self it would be to trust in yourself, go outdoors, be prepared to hurt, be willing to fail and always ready to adapt.  

Youtube video is at



I was out on a test-run  on the bike (which I have just fixed up) and I had just popped in to see my parents on the way through. Both are now in their eighties and as I went through the door dad is on the walking machine. He does 30 to 45 minutes every day on there at a speed of 3Mph - That's more than some people half his age could manage - in fact I reckon thats more than some people a quarter of his age could manage.  Then I thought about it after I left and while I was there this morning mum left to go on a walk with her poles down the hill and back (lugging books back uphill too) which I know for a fact is over a mile and a half and that hill is steep enough to make me blow running up it.

So what am i getting at? Perspective. I go out and run long distances, I train hard every day and every week but this is relative to me. People make their own efforts relative to them. For my parents to put in the daily effort they do is their equivalent - and I'm proud of them for doing it. I'm sure it ain't easy some days when the body just says no. I get those days too - it's equivalent.  No matter what your age or fitness level do what you can - It all counts.  A favourite saying of mine at the moment is "Movement is Medicine" as I believe it truly is.  When people stop moving they age, they get weaker and evertually that catches up with them. So this is a personal message for my mum and dad - I'm proud of you for doing it, I admire you for doing it, I know some days its hard, some days it's just a job to get the day done but the effort you are putting in now still pays off at any age. 


Changes and Adaptations

Last week I was supposed to run a marathon for charity - See post a Half for Jack.  This didn't happen. The reason it didn't happen was completely out of my hands. A poor weather forecast caused the postponement of the village fete which I was to run to. Without the charity fundraising there was no marathon. There could have been but I chose not to run for a few reasons I'll touch on in a moment. When an opportunity like this is removed from you at the last moment - in this case two days before the options are to sulk, rage, accept or capitalise. 

Sulking and raging get you nowhere, crying or screaming at the wind just gets you a face full of spit and tears.  Acceptance that the decision is no longer yours and is out of your hands should be the first reaction. All I really lost was the opportunity on the day and a weeks worth of lowered training due to tapering. It's not like I lost a leg or had to call it off through injury.  And once you accept that the change has happened what can you do to capitalise on it. I could have just run the marathon anyway. its a route I've been planning to run a while but the weather was indeed looking pretty horrendous. I also had the opportunity to run with Murph rather than leave him at home. Not running it that day meant it would still be a new route for me on the actual new date of the fete - if there was to be one. The week of low training was a good rest and recuperation week which could mean I could now start to build a new training block ready for whever this run was to happen plus I have an ultra at the start of September anyway so I can still put in a six week block for then.

Opportunities rose, I grabbed what i could and moved on. As it turns out the fete is being scaled down but we still secured a stall at the end of August - I can still do the run then. Maybe the weather will foil us again, maybe it won't. It means that I will be running a marathon and an ultra within 5 days of one another. This is something I haven't attempted before and I need to think carefully about how ot approach it. The recovery time between both is short. I have the 6 weeks of the summer holidays off to prepare well though. I can do this if I do it right from the outset.

So yes  an opportunity didn't knock last week but it has opened the door for more in the future. I wouldn't have ever attempted two runs of this length back to back for fear. Fear of failure, fear of injury.  Without having a choice in the matter there is no fear just the chance to do something new, to test myself further and to bring a real final challenge to the One Year Project that ends on Sept 1 - the day before the ultra.  Sometimes things just work out. But you have to give them the chance to.


The Grind Part 2

 So what does the grind look like in practice? A practical guide to grinding!  Take yesterday which was Thursday 15 June 2023. Not every day is equal and not every season is equal. It's important to adapt and shift training and priorities based on the season. We all know the differences in the seasons but each provides its own challenges and opportunities. So at the moment it's summer (in the northern hemisphere) which means any outdoor work needs to be done in the early morning or later in the evening.

This is for me and especially for Murph. I've said it so many times and I'll say it again, do not exercise your dogs in heat - You may feel fine but they cannot regulate their heat like we can. No animal can. It's why we became hunter gatherers. We can tolerate heat and use sweat to cool but animals can't and simply keel over eventually. So don't be that person. As training during the day is out as are longer walks It's just a short walk and back in the shade. Suits me.

I digress. On with the grind. I wake around 5AM as it's already light Murph has been up a little while and will wait patiently for me to get up. This used to be a critical period before I became used to the grind. This is the point where you will fail if you are not ready for it and mentally prepared. When you first wake you don't want to do anything, especially anything strenuous. You know all the training that lies in wait and the voice will be telling you either you can't or that you are ok to only do some of it. That today can be a rest day. That you deserve a break. Unless it is a designated rest day do not listen to the voice. Don't even let it speak and get up and moving. I have no designated rest days from all training. I do my foundation of mobility, core, pull and push ups every day no matter and I always either run or lift weights, on the vast majority of days I do all days. if it is a designated recovery day from running or weights I will do the other. It is simply non-negotiable. The only reason not to train is injury. Recovery and rest days are planned in advance so I never just wake up and say I feel like a day off. It does not happen full stop.

If you aren't negotiating with yourself you're already in a winning position. The voice may say "ah but what about that little niggle or blister, that's an injury you can take the day off" and unless you honestly one hundred percent think you are going to make an injury worse you shut the voice up and train. Ok if it becomes apparent that you were wrong and it was worse than you thought you pull the plug on the training and back off. There is no point in senselessly aggravating injury. But neither must you let potential injury derail your progress. I will say here that it takes time and experience to work out what is an injury, a niggle or just an excuse. Over time you will learn to listen to your body and you will know which is which.

So as soon as you are conscious enough get out of bed and move. Do what you need to do, make coffee, bathroom, whatever needs doing do it but with purpose. Do not stand staring into space while the kettle boils. You should be getting ready; your running kit should be ready to hand as it was prepared the night before. Check the weather in case you need to change any of it. Got 30 seconds? That's enough time for a set of 5 pull ups or 10 pressups - bang that’s one of your daily allotted number of sets done. You haven't had coffee yet and you're already ahead of the curve. You are in control of your day - it is not controlling you.  Drink your coffee or whatever and get your mobility done. use this as a warm up for the run. Now you have some pull and push ups done plus your mobility. Ahead of the curve again.

Now get out of the door and run, enjoy. It's dawn and the sun is just coming up over the hedges. it's a beautiful start to the day, you're already ahead of the curve, you're already ahead of 99% of the population who are still in bed and missing this. Watch the dog have so much fun he looks like he might burst with joy. Run, don't worry about pace just enjoy. It's that time of year and you can actually enjoy the freedom of the grind. I have over 10 weeks to my next ultra and I have a good base built. I have no particular need to do anything but enjoy running and maintain where I am at. I have a blister on my left toes and chafing on my right heel. They hurt but not enough to even consider not being out here. This is what I mean by telling the voice to shut up. Once upon a time it would have told me I was injured and couldn't run because of blisters. I should have told it to shut up earlier.

We run for just under five miles and as the sun rises so does the temperature, Murph begins to slow and so it's time to pack it in and get home, after all at some point I do have to go to work. I have to work to get paid but it's just a means to an end, it's not important to me on the scheme of things so I don't stress or worry over work.  Back home and I'm feeling quite frankly great - it's the after run feeling, awash with endorphins.  I have time for core - get it done which it's still cool. Stay ahead of the curve. It's planking followed by reverse hypers then crunches and leg raises. It only takes around 15 minutes but it's always worth it.  I drop in some more pull ups and push ups while getting ready for work. I fit in my 50 hip slides as part of mobility and by the time I am ready to leave for work I'm done. That’s it - I’m well ahead of that curve. I've run 5 miles, I've done all my core, mobility and pull and push ups. the whole lot is done before 7.30.

Work is well work. It pays the bills but when the day is done it's done. I don't take work home, I don't take work worries home. They don't pay me enough for that and even if they did I wouldn't want it. My time is mine. I forget about work until the next day. That took practice too. Over time you can teach yourself to drop the unnecessary stresses.

I don't eat in the mornings so midday is the first calories I'll have.  This wouldn't suit many but I started doing it to become better fat adapted and it seems to work for me. I don't suffer low energy and my body happily works away during the morning on my fat stores. becoming better fat adapted means I can run for longer at low intensity without fuelling. I can run for 3 hours or so with no intake of calories whatsoever.  After that I can start to trickle them in. For ultras I don't want to fall behind the curve if I will be out there for seven hours plus so I start eating sooner but for training runs until 3 hours I really don't need anything at all.

I also stand in work, the way my job is I'm on my feet anyway but I choose not to sit if I can help it anyway. When the opportunity presents itself I will walk at lunchtime, I have a loop with some nice hills which takes around 30 minutes and is a good way to just get outside and work the legs a little.

I get home and straight into Murph’s afternoon walk. It's hot and so they aren't the longest at this time of year and in the cooler seasons this will be a long walk or our run for the day but not today.  Once we get back from that and get him fed I start the strength work. Today is bench press day, yesterday was squats and so it’s a rotation of muscle groups at the moment. It's sometimes hard finding the right balance with being a hybrid athlete as both squats and deadlifts have quite an impact on my legs, so if I know I will be running long or tempo  tomorrow I won't be doing either today. It's a juggling act to work out in advance what I'm doing but that's all part of the training process.

Today for the pressing I'm working up to my max as I'm nearing the end of the cycle and go from sets of 60% of the max through to 80% to warmup and do some working sets and then I feel I'm ready to go over 70KG so attempt and nail 71KG which is my bodyweight which I'm very happy about as it was one of the targets I've been working towards over the last several months or so. This is what I mean about the grin, it's taken months and months of slow progression, day after day of work to hit that one target and PB.

I'm actually writing this a few days after and since then I also hit a PB in squat and deadlift with both coming in close to my targets now.  It's the end of the cycle so it's perfect timing and now I will bring in an easier deload week just to recover and work out what my next cycle will look like. 

After the max lift I do more working sets which takes an hour or so all told.  Then I'll eat and relax for a few hours, this is the days downtime to just chill and play with Murph and relax, eat some fruit and nuts. I'll take this time to stretch a little while I'm on the floor with him, he seems to like stretching too, lying on his back all four paws in the air and joining in.  Then around 8.30 it's time for our last walk and so we head off to the fields for another half an hour so stroll. Not a fast pace just time to enjoy dusk while it's cooler. In winter we mainly miss this walk out but when the evenings get light we take full advantage.  That's the key to all this, take advantage of opportunities that come along. if you get chance to do some exercise then take it. It doesn't have to be a set time or date to do things, you can add to the workload at any time if you just spot the chances.

Finally it's bed by 9.30 and asleep by 10 which means I get enough rest to do it all again the next day. And the next. Every day without fail. Once it becomes habit, once your head is used to it the body will follow and you no longer need to fight every day to get through it.  And that is how you grind.


15/06/23 - The Grind Part 1 - Meandering Thoughts on the Endurance Life

Much like life in general endurance sport tends to be the odd high (races or events) separated by long periods of grind where nothing much happens and you don't see much progress. I've noticed strength work is much the same as its the odd personal best with long periods of grind in between.

So how do you deal with the grind? It's important that it doesn't become a chore. I use the word grind and that may have negative connotations for some but for me it's a word that means slow steady progress. Grind away, chip away and imperceptibly move on. The sea doesn't erode cliffs in a day but when enough time has passed and the work of the wind and waves has been done bigger rocks will tumble. 

And that is how training works. You remember the spectacular rockfall and thats the part people want to see or hear about. You forget the grind that leads to it No-one else sees or cares about the runs at five AM in the rain or the hours spent lifting weights after work when you could be doing so many other things. No-one sees or cares about the relentless hill repeats for hour after hour  or the time spent working on core strengthening and mobility exercises.

But it's the work that's done alone when you don't want to that leads not only to physical but also mental growth. So when you are tired and cold and feel like giving up and the voice inside is saying "You can't". The mental fortitude that the grind begets means that the voice inside can be forced to say "You can"

So when you're next deep in the grind, perhaps it's months and months until your next race or you don't even have a race planned then embrace it. Enjoy every moment because it's progress you're making even when it doesn't feel like it. Every step and every rep is progress. If you really hate it that much then just stop, don't force yourself to do things you hate. If you try and try and cannot begin to embrace it then maybe this isn't for you. As the saying goes "Any fool can suffer" and you would be a fool to suffer without meaning or joy. But if you can find either in the suffering then learn to enjoy it. It brings more than just physical stoicism, it enhances your entire life. 

I'm writing this while deep in the grind. Preseli was over 5 weeks ago and having built up to that for a year there was the inevitable post-race down period. From having a solid meaningful target to intangibles and a far off ultra in September. In reality I had or have two options, both are viable, to take it easy, enjoy the accomplishments and relax or to stay in the grind and just keep working.  I chose the latter in order to stick with the year long project.  That "ends" on August the 31st but I'm guessing it won't really end. Which poses the interesting question of when I do stop the grind. For as long as I can remember the only downtime I've taken is due to injury - and sometimes that has caused injury in itself, it certainly did in the early days.

What started as a hobby to get a bit fitter became a mission to see how far I could go which became ultimately a lifestyle and one that has changed my life in so many positive ways. As long as I have some balance there is actually no reason to stop. There are worse lifestyles to live. Others may view it as a denial of pleasures and an unnecessary acceptance of pain. I take pleasure from the denial as every time I refuse junk food I become a little stronger. I take pleasure from the pain or exercise, it makes me feel alive far more than sitting in a pub ever did. Sometimes when I'm out on a run and it's hurting and I'm working hard and the voice starts to say stop I just laugh and tell myself "This is the best I'm going to feel all day" and because that's true it means there is no pain really. Just the joy in doing something I love. The legs may be hurting but the heart is singing a different tune.

The photo below is  dawn and an early morning run.  This is my life. I wouldn't change it for the world. It's a fair bet that at the time I took this I was probably a little  tired and the legs were just beginning to feel the effort, Perhaps the blister on my heel was hurting that day.  Who knows? All I remember is the joy in being out there with my dog, feeling free and happy.

22/05/23 - From Preseli to Parkrun

Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say you were wrong.  I've always thought of parkrun as a waste of time. It's "only" 3 miles once a week. What can you get from that?  I thought that the time and distance weren't relevant to training. But then last Saturday I did a parkrun for the first time in Porthcawl. It was in order to see how it all worked so hopefully I could inspire the group I am training for the half to get out more. It has been challenging to get any sort of forward progress and I guess I hadn't considered how driven i am compared to others. I enjoy going out and running, it's something I look forward to. I didn't fully appreciate how much some people hate or dread something I love. 

So I figured I could use parkrun as a 'gateway drug' to running, perhaps having a focus and other people will get my lot moving, we shall see. So anyway I turned up at parkrun with one of the group to take a look. I had already run with Murph that morning and wasn't expecting anothing too strenous.  And as we listened to the briefing and then chose where to stand to get sent on our way I looked around me at all the different people, from the ones at the front who were clearly the competitive types in the Nike Alphaflys to the ones in the back who were definitely not your athletic body type, there were children, there were people of all ages and types. And that's when it hit me that I had been dead wrong about parkrun and I'm not afraid to admit that. This was running for everyone, not my idealized version of it.  And that's when clarity struck me about the whole thing. About this site and getting others to do things, try things, do more than they thought they could.  I was on the right track about being inclusive but it took seeing everyone at parkrun to actually see it in action and understand it.

So sorry parkrun i sorely misjudged you, you do hold an important place in running, even if people do only go out and do it once a week, so what? They aren't trying to run ultras or up and down mountains. They already are running up and down their personal mountain.  So hats off to everyone who was there and makes the effort. 

I must say the organisation was spot on, I was amazed that there were 440 participants. I was amazed that so many came to watch and support, I was amazed by how many volunteers were there.  

Of course a leopard might live and learn but he can never change his spots, within half a mile I had grown bored of the pace and shot off in pursuit of a better time.  But that's the beauty of parkrun, it's something for everyone, no-one but me cared I was going flat out by the end. My effort was just as important as those at the back who were walking.   So now let's see if I can get my little group there too. Hopefully if they try just once it will spark something in them.

10/5/23 - Listen and learn

My race report for the Preseli Ultrabeast can be found in the ultrarunning section.  As an addition to this I found out today that my final position of 28th had changed to 27 (and may well drop to 26) now I really don't care about my position as I was competing withj myself against the course not against the other runners.  But I know some do care. I noticed a facebook post after the event where an ultrabeast runner claimed that he saw two runners miss the checkpoint at Carn Alw on the 8 mile ultra loop. 

To explain you can choose your own route over this unmarked loop, you can follow the path or go as the crow flies but you must hit the checkpoints which are marshalled - they note your race number.  It is your responsibility to hit the checkpoint and ensure they got your number. Thats the end of story. Your responsibility.  That's part of fellrunning - You make choices, you take responsibility, the same responsibility as carrying the mandatory kit., for being able to navigate. Once you are out on the hills you are on your own, you have to take care of yourself. 

It appears then that the two runners didn't visit the checkpoint- so far I can see from the results that one has disappeared meaning I would presume disqualified for missing the checkpoint and maybe the other will suffer the same fate.  There is a reasonable path running a few hundred metres  past Carn Alw and you need to leave it and make a purposeful detour to visit the carn (and the marshal)

I'm sure it was an honest mistake and these runners didn't even realise they had in effect cut the course short by missing it and from their times they are experienced runners who placed top 10 (one was first M60 so he lost that trophy too) so they should know what they are doing. And this is my point here - You must read the race rules and listen to the briefing at the start, It was made very clear that you must visit Carn Alw. Everyone was literally told 5 minutes before we set off. I have noticed a trend before races that some runners ignore what is being said for safety and routemaking decisons and talk among themselves - seems like sheer arrogance because they "know it all" to me and incredibly rude to the organiser and other runners who are actually listening.

So if these two runners had listened, paid attention and digested the rather important information that they had to visit Carn Alw (I mean everyone else managed to do so it seems including myself and the two runners  I was with at the time - We knew we had to aim for it as soon as we left the main path 3 or 4 miles back)  then they would have known to hit that checkpoint and saved themselves the disqualification. 

When I ran the race in 2018 apparently the first person to Foel Drygarn at the turnaround approached from the wrong direction and the marshalls realised that he had missed the check at Carn Alw,  he was leading by a mile and lost the lead and race as he had to backtrack. Yep mistakes happen out there but you can certainly minimise them by doing your course research beforehand and actually listening at the briefing.

Of course I could be miles off the mark (no pun intended) here and this inst why the results changed but I'm willing to bet I'mclose. And  even so everything I said about personal responsibility, listening and preparation stands.

And for those that don't carry the mandatory kit ... Actually don't even get me started

17/04/23 - 50 for 50

Well today is the day I finally hit the big 50.  And there has been no dread, worry or depression at all. In fact I'm welcoming it. Now I get to race in the over 50 category!  Seriously though it's just a number and I feel the same today as I did yesterday and the day before that. Someone asked me the other day how I felt about being 50 and my instant and honest answer was that I didn't care because I felt like I'm 30. It does help when you refuse to grow up as I do.  So today is just another day. We were up early for a run to the beach which set me up for the day beautifully as I'm back in work after 2 weeks off.    It's now under 3 weeks to go to the Preseli Ultra and training has gone as well as I could have hoped.  I have been building up nicely since early February after the break for the foot injury.  and last week peaked with a 50 mile week which is about as much as my body will handle.  Hey - 50 for 50 and I didn't even plan that (it was 51 miles really so not perfect)

Stats are below - as much as I do love to run by feel I have found being able to measure the progress useful and vaguely comforting. Although I know I've been putting in the required work it's also good to have it backed up by cold hard data. Im pleased to see the amount of time in the lower zone aerobic training  areas of zone 1 and mainly 2. I'm guessing that the time spent up in 4 and 5 have been the hill repeats which is fine and what i would expect. So now to gradually lower the training intensity. It's not a full on taper yet but the hard work is done and now to get to the start line refreshed and uninjured and ready to enjoy the day knowing that I put the work in.

to that end I've now dropped deadlifting and squatting from my weights regime until after the race. They aren't very compatible with the high milage as its difficult to fit them in on a day when the legs are not already overtaxed so to avoid injury I just removed them from the rotation for a while although I'm continuing to benchpress and do other weight related training. The focus is and will continue to be running for the forseeable future and so I have no hesitation in putting that training first.

As for all the foundation work - it continues. Every single day since the start of September I've got my mobility work done. Every day the core work gets done plus the pull and pushups and the 50 chosen stretches.  Yes there are days I don't feel like it but there will always be days like that and on those days I simply grind it out and always feel better for it. It builds the mental discipline I need for ultrarunning.  Onwards and Upwards and remember age is just anumber. If I can do this anyone can.

16/03/23 - Training Others and Being Myself

I've always run alone - if you only count humans, dogs are special. But I can literally count the number of times (excluding races) I have run with other people on two fingers of one hand. Twice in over seven years. it's not that I'm anti-social although I prefer my own company and that of close friends and I'm very happy with that. But I find that I like to do what I do when I want to do it, if I want to run I will. If I want to run and then instead of a 5 mile run turn it into a 20 mile run then I will.  Having other people around constrains that. If it sounds selfish thats because it probably is but I will tell you what - It means your training isn't limited by others. If I want to spend a day running an ultra for no other reason than pleasure I can. I don't have to conform to being somewhere at a certain time, I don't have to consider other peoples feelings that they may want to do something different. 

I'm probably on the autism spectrum somewhere, I get told that in work because they deal with kids with it a lot these days and reckon I exhibit lots of traits.  To be honest I couldn't care less because the key to all this is that I'm happy. And as far as I'm concerned is that you can't really ask for more than that in life. How many other people out there surrounding themselves with people either physically or digitally are truly happy?  These days I have the deep rooted sense of happiness, the one you feel all the time, not just when something nice happens. I love my life, I'm grateful for it. 

Now others might not see that because they tend to see the side of me that has little time for strangers or small talk. They see the agitated me that feels forced to socially interact. Time is a commodity, I don't like to waste it now - perhaps that's a function  of the aging process.  If i'm lying on the sofa and Murph isn't requiring a cuddle then within minutes i'll feel like I could be doing something else, more productive, stretching, reading, researching. I can't simply watch a screen. Improve, rinse repeat.

And so with all that said - I have become entangled in training other people to run a half marathon in October. A group consisting of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. This means I have to run with people, this means I have to socially interact with people while running and possibly the most difficult part I'm dealing with is having to be at a certain time and a certain place to take the training sessions. It's terrifying - I feel like I've lost control of my ability to do what I want, when i want. At the moment we have only done a few runs on a sunday and each time i'm itching to be somewhere else, free and just running where and how I feel.  And this is without having to run on the roads with them (although they will be on the trails whether they like it or not once the ground improves)

But as with all my other projects I'm going to do this. I'm going to give it the best of my ability. I'm going to get these people around that half marathon course as long as they put in the effort on their side. I will be patient and understand that not everyone has the drive that I do.  It occurred to me that is is my project for Equinox one. Three months to get this training group off the ground and headed in the right direction. Put the focus I put into my own training into training others as well. I suspect I will get as much out of it in the end as they will. Already Murph is gaining confidence in running with strangers. He isn't 100% happy about it but he is coping - and he can do it so can I.

I just messaged the group to say its 9.30 on sunday as it was last week - this is horrendously late for me, i'll have been up since 6 and so its likely to be my second run of the day, Instead of just thinking about what else I could be doing instead of a 2.75 mile loop around the roads I'm going to focus on what i can bring to the table for these people. There's a lot they don't know, theres a lot I could tell them, i just need to work out how.  You gotta love a challenge right?

28/02/23 - Preseli Training & Poles

Read the full story and watch the video in the new Ultrarunning section

17/02/23 - Measuring Progress

Always be prepared to change and adapt. When I first started running I was in love with all the metrics and statistics that first my phone app told, then I gravitated to a running watch. At first progress is fast and provides that dopamine hit of "I'm doing well, look at  how far/fast I can go compared to this time last month or whenever" but progress inevitably slows until the runs start to merge into each other. And so the metrics simply become a way to keep score - mileage mainly.  At that point I realised I was starting to lose the initial joy of running, it was starting to become work. I remember writing a post about it at the time. It's the exercise verison of the 7 year itch I guess. It's no longer new, shiny and exciting.  And so I cut myself off the metrics, I stopped logging miles or wearing a watch, I knew where I ran well enough to gauge miles if I needed to - and I didn't. And I just started running and training by feel - Purely to enjoy it and feel no pressure. Purists and trainers might at this point throw their hands up in horror, after all how could I judge if I was progressing or ready for ultras apart from some nebulous feeling that I couldn't quantify.  And I'm sure it did have drawbacks as I only ran when i felt like running. But that was the point, by running only when i wanted to I rekindled my love of it. Running no longer felt like a job, I was just enjoying the feeling of movement and being alive in nature. I even ran ultras with no watch and judged my efforts by perceived time (this wasn't a great success in outcome but was liberating to not care for a long race about time) I trained like this for some years - I say trained but is it training when you're just out enjoying yourself?

But lately i've swung back to measurements and metrics. I've thought about why this is and I think it's because now I have set in stone goals - Ultras and strength - I need a basis by which to measure progress again. I have a Coros smartwatch which I must admit is fantastic and does everything I need runningwise - which to be honest isn't much as I still run a lot by feel.  Heartrate is something I take note of more now though as I know that to complete the longer distances I need to keep it low and preferably below 135 to remain aerobic. I know from experience that when running long too much time spent working anaerobically is burning matches at a rate I can't sustain and will scupper my chances of a finish or at least a good finish.  Heartrate is something I'll touch on again in a future post.

The measurements are principally coming to the fore in my weightlifting though. I am religiously journaling each session as it's become crystal clear to me that I cant strength train as I do run - by feel.  I have developed a training plan which relies on the feedback from previous sessions to create a number of cycles that should promote performance gains. if I don't log the numbers I can't plan for the future. It's become an invaluable record of what i've done and so when i begin each session I know exactly what I need to do. In fact the polar opposite of what i do running wise. I've developed my own code and shorthand so I have a complete reference point at a glance.  If you start to strength train I'd highly advise doing this from day one.  A series of numbers will tell you all you need to know as you build the foundations.

Each day contains the number of pressups, pullups, core, mobility and 50 movement challenges. Then the lifts for that day complete with the weight, reps and sets. 

Each day contains the number of pressups, pullups, core, mobility and 50 movement challenges. Then the lifts for that day complete with the weight, reps and sets. 

03/02/23 - Thoughts on rest

I have a problem and it might be one that others would love to have. I now can't stop. Whereas others might have problems starting something new like a fitness regime I have now found I can't stop.  Something I've become better at over the years is learning to listen to my body and stop it breaking down before it hits injury rather than having to rehab afterwards.   And at the moment it's saying I need a bit of a break. So I've decided to take a few weeks off running completely, heal up the niggles and let things just take a break. I'm fine with that although generally I'd rather be out running at least I get to be outside with the dog and it's kind of nice to just chill with him instead of moving with purpose.  I've also reached the end of the third cycle of weightlifting and so I'm taking the 4 day break from that too as part of the cycle as a whole. 

But doing both at the same time is so odd. It feels like I lack purpose, no running, no lifting.  And I know that should feel great - I can relax, kick back, do nothing, really take a break, like it's a holiday.  I'm sure it's what normal people do, relax and stuff. But something internal still drives me to do my mobility, stretching, push and pullups.  I said i'd do them every day, I guess I really did mean every day and that's the difference now, I don't just say i'll do it, I do it. And I know only I care and that's part of the point. If I can motivate myself to do these things with no external pressure or reward - Then I really am getting somewhere in the mental strength stakes.

So while the body recovers and gets ready to go again - because I know it's what it needs - I can still tick it over and tick my mental boxes too with the small stuff.


I realised while doing the daily 50 squats as part of the years challenge that i had completed one month of it. Every day 50 squats, add to that the 20 I do for my mobility plus the 30 or so I do most nights while letting Murph out before bed. So most days in January i've done 100 squats - not bad going. Tomorrow 50 of something else - I haven't decided yet. 

In fact January has gone very well, I've done what i needed to do when i needed to do it and you can't ask for more than that.  I've got off my ass and run two races. I've progressed my weightlifting and this cycle is bringing new personal bests though lets face it everything is a pb in the early days.  This site has begun to slowly take shape and I've updated a little.  So the journeys have begun and so far the sailing is good.


There is a chapter in the Discworld book Thud! (I believe) in which Sam Vimes - Commander of the Watch is home to read to his son at 6PM every night. On this particular day he doesn't notice time passing and is nearly late - and so he and his staff brings the entire city to a standstill as traffic is stopped to get him home by 6. Why do I mention this and why did it pop into my head as relevant today?  Once he gets back to read to his son it is explained thus. If he was to be 5 minutes late would it really matter?  It's just 5 minutes.  But he knows thats where the slide begins. If he can be 5 minutes late, he can be 10. And if he can be 10 then maybe 30. And then if 30 an hour is fine. And then surely it's ok to miss a day. And so inevitably the end of the reading to his son.   

And the reason this is relevant to me and hopefully to others is that if you're going to do something - you do it without fail. Not half- heartedly or sometimes.   So every day I do my mobility exercises, my core, my 50 challenge movement for that month. if its not a (rare) rest day I do my weights, I run.  Every day no matter the weather Murph gets his walks. No missing them. Every day I eat healthily. I get to bed on time for sleep.   Because it would (and has been in the past) easy to miss one day, one session and just like Sam Vimes I know that can slip into 2 days and then the excuses flow. 

So I'm accountable to myself every day. No matter what  since the first of September I get it done. I've gone as far as getting out of my warm bed to do press-ups as I've realised I'm 20 short.

It sounds like madness but to me now it's anything but. 

23/1/23 - Kymin Fell Race

16/1/23 - Craig Yr Allt Fell race


I am receiving a daily email from a site/supplier with advice on how to run ultras - more specifically I think your first. At the end of the day I may pick up some useful advice from people who know more than I do. As usual I'll sift the information for that which I need. And it's all been well and good and some of it has made me think - which is never a bad thing. And then on this particular email the very last piece of advice is this "Enjoy the challenge. Soon enough you’ll be too old to run ultras and a bit longer after that you’ll be dead, so enjoy it. "

What a crock of shit - well the age thing at least - and I won't name the author. There are loads of inspirational people running ultras in later life. Admittedly we all die so they have that bit spot on.  Perhaps it's all tongue in cheek and probably is but statements like that fire me up because they add to the illusion that people are too old to achieve things like ultras. Tongue in cheek or not it still propagates that myth and if it discourages one person from trying it's one too many.

So no you wont be too old to run ultras soon enough. if you want to do it get out there and make it happen. In fact use this very sentence as fuel - I know I will.