Manvmiles -🏅41 x 26.2
-🏅55 x 13.1
-🏅12 x ultra (1 x 100 mile)
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- Top [email protected] #HalfMDS 2018
Running, fitness, health, tech
In just over a week, I'm heading to the Pyrenees to have a crack at the @andorraultra . I'm not taking on the biggest race of this event, not even the second biggest. Or the third. I'm running the 4th longest race, the Celestrail.
On my plate will be 83km and 5000m of up. The feast starts at midnight and we get 24 hours to chow down the trails, including some lumpy looking bits.
Now if you've been paying attention my blatherings on here you'll know I've been injured for a few months. So I've not done a whole lot of training for this, though I do have a good solid base from a decent first half of the year. Even so I've had to think about how I'm going to approach the run and I've decided I have to use my shortcomings to my advantage.
How? Well, I going to be forced to take it steady. No room for ego and expectations. I need to go out with a whole load of respect and humility, zero bravado and a strong awareness of my own capacity right now.
So this is basically my approach.
1. Don't be Billy Big Shot or you'll get your ass handed to you sooner than is useful.
2. When the Pyrenees does hand you your butt, say thank you and don't moan.
3. Whatever happens just move forwards, summoning the spirit of the Paris Marathon march earlier in 2019.
After a cracking start to the year with a second sub-3 marathon in Seville, this year's other big goal, to complete the @lavaredo suffered a bit of an injury setback, that meant I didn't even make the start line. So during the week where I would've been battling the mountains I decided to take a holiday.
And that holiday downtime meant that after a few months of not running, resting the dodgy knee, I was finally able to stack together some consecutive runs. I used a week in Puglia – on the heel of the boot of Italy – to find my way back into running. And it was glorious.
I ran with rolling country lanes largely to myself except for the odd guard dog or speeding car, weaving through olive trees and vineyards, under a scorching sun that meant I had to take it easy.
It created the kind of carefree, just run-til-you're-done miles that I really needed. The perfect way to steadily reintroduce the knee and the body back to running but also a great way to fire up the spirit again and remember why sticking one foot in front of the other got me hooked in the first place.
And while I'm not 100% sure the knee is fully fixed, it's getting there and after a while on the sidelines, it was bliss to be able to tick over an easy 10km just for the fun of it. #runforfun#justrunning
12241 July, 2019
There are loads of great nuggets of wisdom in the Rise of the Ultra Runners, perhaps not surprising when you consider that @adharanand Finn has interviewed some of the best and most experienced ultra runners out there but this quote from @elisabetbarnes jumped out at me.
For a while as I progressed from marathons to ultra, I only really experienced success, which with my limited abilities meant finishing. And it wasn't until I took on the Lavaredo – and lost the battle – that I first encountered what I guess might be my own limits. Ultra running up to this point hadn't been easy but it also hadn't been quite this hard. The Lavaredo taught me there was much further I could potentially go but I'd also have to work harder to get there.
I was gutted not to be back out there in Cortina this weekend to push those limits again this year. A knee in injury in training put a stop to that but I will shoot for next year. And as I'm reading this book, I am wondering whether one day the UTMB will tempt me to push those limits further still. #runspiration#ultrarunning
83830 June, 2019
Perched on the rooftops I’m finally getting the chance to tuck into @adharanand new book The Rise of the Ultra Runners. And what a fantastic read it is.
It was actually his earlier book Running with the Kenyans that inspired some of my own adventures, including following in his footsteps to run the @safaricommarathon . Back then I'd not yet met Adharanand but after reading his description of that race, I signed up the next day and booked flights to @lewa_wildlife in Kenya! And it sort of unlocked my passion for running more adventurous races.
So a few years later, I feel very honoured to be quoted in his latest book where we chat about my Lavaredo toils. And to have to been there to watch him run into Chamonix to finish the UTMB.
And of course, there are some fantastic learnings in this book that I will take into my future runs. If you've not read this yet, do it now. But just be prepared to add races to your Bucket List!
116129 June, 2019
Love holiday runs. New roads, new views and exploration with the pressure of pace or distance, just run until you don’t want to run anymore. Today I clocked just short of 8 miles on a round trip to Alberobello. 30 degrees and decent rolling hills to this world heritage town with its Trulli houses. Might head back here early in the morning and run it before the tourists arrive. Magical little place that I fancy having all to myself to get lost in its twists and turns. #justrun#holidayrun .
1821225 June, 2019
It doesn't matter if you're doing your first mile or your first 100 miles, the only person who gets to define what's difficult is you.
In the past few weeks I've seen a few examples of people in the ultra running community cussing races they deem not to be worthy. And belittling the intentions of newcomers to the ultra world at the same time. And it's a bullshit attitude.
I've had 10 mile runs that have been harder than marathons and marathons that have been more mentally challenging than 100kms.
One person's molehill is another person's mountain. The point here is not how 'hard' it is, it's that everyone aiming to stretch themselves a little further than they've gone before – and not just in terms of distance – deserves support and encouragement. #everygoalisequal#runspiration
1723120 June, 2019
Bloody love a windswept beach run when the tide's not long gone out and the still-wet sand is firm but forgiving. Wide open views and crashing waves as your sound track.
On this one in Ballyheigue I was nursing a very decent hangover and battling into the salty sea air on the way out.
By the time I turned for the back stretch of the four mile round trip, brain and the body had been well and truly rinsed clean. And I felt vaguely human again.
What a spectacular place and one I'm definitely going to visit again. Just might do it after one less Guinness. #ballyheigue#beachrun
207819 June, 2019
Hello again #medalmonday it’s been a while. This one from the weekend’s #HalfontheHead in Ballyheigue, Ireland. A rather pleasant 9 miles up and 4 down cutting through some stunning countryside and the sweeping along the coast with wonderful views of the Ring of Kerry and a finish 30m from the beach in this shot.
Honestly feel like I worked just as hard in the bar as I did on the course. And keeping pace with the local ‘hospitality’ was as challenging - and fun - as trying to keep up with them on the course.
A really fantastic destination race that’s as much about the weekend as the run. Would go back for sure. #kerryheadhalf#runireland
1171123 hours ago
After a few months with very little running, clocking an easy half marathon at the #HalfontheHead yesterday was ace. Felt good just to be running. Also because I was still nursing the injury it also meant I wasn’t thinking about my time at all.
I settled in with the 1:45 pace group and really enjoyed the chat and support among the 15 or so runners pushing for that time. I’ve never really done that in a race. I’m usually too busy gunning for a time.
But yesterday there was no other purpose than to enjoy a few miles. No goal, no target, no self-induced pressure. other And it was bloody ace.
Running has taken me to a lot of far flung places but then occasionally you get a wake up call that there’s great adventures to be had much closer to home. This weekend’s miles will be at the #HalfontheHead starting and finishing in Ballyheigue on the wild Atlantic coast of west Ireland.
It’s a small town but I already feel very much at home here. Just 200 odd runners will tackle the hilly half but there are people from all over the world and there’s been a fab vibe so far.
The race is also on a Saturday which is a rarity and it starts at 11am which is even better. Don’t think it could get much more chilled.
It also means I’ve got Sunday to explore the magic scenery around here too. Provided I don’t get too carried away with the Guinness. But you know, tick follows tock follows tick... #runireland#runspiration
78314 June, 2019
Little throwback to one of the loneliest moments I've ever experienced running. Sometime not long after sunrise, with 20-something hours of running under my belt, somewhere by the Thames with 20 miles of my first (and only) 100-mile ultra to go.
I felt empty. I felt tired, battered and although I was running with a friend who took this photo, I felt completely and utterly alone in the world.
Like I was wrestling a problem that no one could help me with. A Sunday night before school angst at the thought of the size of the challenge still left. A mountain that only I could climb.
I didn't want to go on. I didn't want to go home. I wanted to stay on this quiet bench where my stomach wasn't churning and my legs weren't on fire. I wanted someone to give me a hug but I wanted everyone to leave me alone to suffer.
All I could think was how stupid it all seemed. What's the point of running 100 miles anyway?
But I also knew I had to go on. And so I did. I drank some more weird pink carbs, stuffed the 100th date into the hole in my face, got off the lonely bench and made my way wearily to get a belt buckle that's now in cupboard somewhere.
And I'd do it all again. Only next time a bit faster. #ultrarunning#endurance