Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Lakeland 100 2013

HMHD99 £2 up to £10 to 70070

I arrived in Coniston late morning on the Friday of the race; I had a very short wave of nerves turning into Coniston. They subsided as soon as I drove into the school field which would be acting as camp site/car park for the competitors and families for the weekend. I was directed into a space big enough for my car and 2 man Tesco tent (£12.50 bargain!!). I started to put up the tent struggling slightly in the wind. A fellow 100er ambled nervously to the pitch next to mine and asked me which race I was taking part in. He seemed defeated before he had even started and had a fairly negative tone, I didn’t dwell on it and went to register and get weighed.

I saw a few familiar faces from the Facebook community, (Jon Fletcher and Otto, Andrew Hayes, Simon Fisher, Anna Roberts etc) in the school canteen. I got weighed, registered and went through the kit check. I chatted to a few more people after kit check and then went to The Endurance Store as all the display they had out looked all bright and shiny and inviting. I bought some arm compression /warmers, quad compression and a running top that I thought I might wear after Dalemain, (one of those compress sport tight as a wet suit top thing). I got the right size tried it on and made a note to myself that they weren’t easy to put on and take off. So I though id decide at Dalemain whether id wear it or not.

I checked my race pack and my halfway drop bag again and settled myself in the car with the air conditioning on as it was getting rather warm and humid. I watched a movie on my phone(Trance, directed by Danny Boyle the guy that orchestrated the brilliant opening ceremony for last year’s Olympics), which is well worth a watch. This took my mind off things for nearly 2 hours and as I relaxed and cooled off in the car.

Time crept on and I got my running kit on and again checked my pack and drop bag, I chatted to Marcus Taylor a guy id ran with on a previous recce and Steve Mee,  who’s blog id read a few times after he completed last year’s 100.

It was now time for the briefing in the school hall, brilliantly given by Marc Laithwaite and Terry Gilpin. Things moved on and it was time to deposit the drop bag to be taken to Dalemain. We all hung around, a few nervous faces were seen on the way to the start funnel/area. I had arranged to run with Simon Fisher as we had run a couple of recces at a similar pace. I found another lad Martin in funnel (Simons mate) who I had also ran with on the same recces. He was aiming for a fast start so had placed himself near the front, Simon was nowhere to be seen as he had to attend to a call of nature that couldn’t be sorted in a bush on the first climb.

So the countdown ensued a few more brief chats with those around me and we all set off. The Lakeland 100 2013 had started and I was one of the starters! I wasn’t sure at this stage whether Simon had snuck in at the front and was in front of me or if he was behind me. So I carried on at my normal pace, not really thinking of what was ahead of me or how it would pan out. What I didn’t do and haven’t done since I signed up for the 100 last year was let any negative thought enter my head. No talks of DNF (did not finish) with anyone, the race was always a race and not an attempt, all conversations were positive (when rather than if, im running rather than im attempting and so on), I think this is a major factor in your preparation, filling your head with negative thoughts and phrases and comments only feeds any sub conscious negativity that can lay dormant until resurfacing during the event, then any hardships endured have a ready-made excuse to give up.

I cracked on up Walna Scar road not pushing too hard as it was so warm, but keeping pace with most around me. I kept looking back for Simon but he was nowhere to be seen, must have been some dump!!

I headed down hill down to the first checkpoint at Seathwaite Village Hall, quick fill of the water bottles after dibbing in and I carried on within a few minutes. I continued at the same pace into the evening, taking the climbs and descents from Wasdale Head to Buttermere in my stride, with the small matter of Black Sail Pass to contend with mind) I felt ok and carried on at this pace within my comfort zone. I also remembered to look behind me as the row of head torches stretching back into the distance and ahead of me created a surreal moment for me like i was on a row of stars or something, its hard to put into words, but the experience is amazing and only fills you with awe at where you are, where you started from and where you will end up. You have to have done it to know what i mean. As the skies were clear you could also make out many stars due to the minimal light pollution. It was truly and awesome experience.

I ran with Nick Ham (an experienced ultra-runner of countless 50 and 100 mile plus ultra-marathon finishes) for a while, knowing that he knew how to pace a 100 mile ultra I stayed near to his pace as it was similar to mine. The checkpoints came and went, each one hosted as brilliantly as the other by different teams. The 70s themed checkpoint was great, really lifting everyone’s spirits, a few photos were taken and on we went towards Buttermere.

The sun was rising as we headed towards Braithwaite, I still felt ok and was running well. By now I was running on and off with a small group, Chris Enwright a noisy scouser (Liverpool fan!!, ahh just my luck, i remember mentioning in jest that 'youll never walk alone' was one of my least favourite songs, (im a Manchester United fan), so 10 minutes later true to scouse form he starts singing it, i was a bit grumpy at this point and asked politely to refrain from singing that or hed be found in the bracken/ferns around October time :-) in jest of course ;-). Also with us now for a while was David Coxon, who I knew from The Wall Run last year and a couple of other lads (Shaun and Darren) who I hadn’t met before. Shaun, Darren and Chris were running strong a bit ahead of myself and David.

We headed out of Braithwaite (after some pasta and sauce and a brew) through Keswick and up towards Latrigg car park. We had a quick chat about the climb up Skiddaw, a decent route which id done a few times in June after work when I (lucky for me) was working on the A66 at Threlkeld and Doddick Farm supervising the construction of some access steps and stiles on the Public Footpaths that cross the A66. We headed around the fell and made our way down the left hand side of the Horseshoe shaped path which headed towards Blencathra. Chris, Darren and Shaun were running strong and were ahead of us as we reached Blencathra. We dibbed in filled water bottles and picked up some food  and headed off towards Dockray. It was on this leg that i had my first major wobble. The combination of the mid morning heat, plus the food just consumed and the slightly slower pace added up to me feeling really tired. It was on the long flat section (Old Coach Road i think) with not much change in scenery pace etc. I couldnt shake it off and was falling asleep on my feet. Id walk for 5 seconds with my eyes closed counting in my head thinking this might help if i closed my eyes. Looking back now i could easily have gone to sleep in the bracken and not woke up until the Sunday morning!

I managed to keep going being passed by a few, Jonathan Steele being one name i knew from the Facebook page, he ran past me obviously feeling good at that point. I made it to Dockray refuelled, had a bit of a break and carried on. I inspected my Hoka Mafate at Dockray and realised the tears along each instep (where the sole meets the material of the shoe) had worsened. I had felt this on the last recce, but they werent at a stage where they needed replacing, that added to the fact i couldnt afford a new pair prior to the event. So i took and bit of a gamble hoping they would at least last to Dalemain. The tears meant the insides of my feet werent protected and felt a few times on the downhills rocks and stones hitting my feet through the holes. I had my Bondi B in the halfway dropbag at Dalemain so i now had to change into them even though it was due to rain later that day (and the Bondi B are a road shoe and are pants on wet and muddy trails).

Dockray to Dalemain is one of the longer legs covering 10 miles, by now Chris, Darren and Shaun were running strongly, too quick for me to keep up with. I was still running within my own comfort zone and did not want to push too hard so soon (there were over 50 miles to go at this point) so continued to run with David Coxon at a steady pace all the way to Dalemain passing the castle renovated to current living standards.

At Dalemain i had the break that i had promised myself, i sorted my feet out as i had a small blister on each heel, changed my shoes (the Mafates i binned as i wouldnt be wearing them again) and socks and t shirt (i decided against the Compressport top as it seemed too much effort to get it on after 59 miles), and had some vaseline applied to my back (by that friendly scouser Chris Enwright) that had chafed with the excess sweat and movement during the first section of the event.

Myself and David cracked on towards Howtown now following the more familiar L50 route, we were ahead of the start time (1130am) of the 50 and we were looking forward to the leaders of the 50 coming past us. I kept looking back, got my camera out a few times thinking id get some photos of the L50 leaders, they didnt materialise when i though they would at the top before the descent to the Bobbin Mill which was checkpoint 9. Then all of a sudden a copper headed elite looking fell runner came flying down the descent. We gave our support and he nodded in return. It was Marcus Scotney and he was motoring. The next group were a good 10 minutes or so behind him, this group included Ben Abdelnoor the eventual winner of the L50. Also just behind them doing really well was Katherine Brougham, who was on the last recce i attended (Ambleside to Coniston), she looked strong then but struggled a bit on her descents, looked like she corrected that in some style. Well done to her.

We continued onwards towards Mardale Head, by now i had my second wind (at 66 + miles i wasnt sure this was possible), or maybe it was my third wind, anyway i felt great and the pace we managed towards Fusedale was not what i would have expected. Where i thought i would be walking as preparation for the climb up Fusedale I was running (not too quick i might add) but still running. Tony Holland who was doing the L50 passed us on the way up and stayed with us for a chat as he knew David well, i know him only through Facebook so it was good to meet face to face rather than just knowing the avatar.
We pushed on up the climb and had a chat with Steve Mee writer of the great post that is on the home page of the Lakeland 100 website. He had some positive methods of staying motivated throughout the event last year when he did the 100 for the first time.
I had my own motivational tools which I'll come to in a bit. We maintained a decent pace passing some of the 50ers on the way up the climb, Steve being one we passed. I think alot were struggling in the midday heat which they had just started in whereas we had acclimatised to the heat along the course of the morning so it wasn't such a shock to us. He shouted a well done and I shouted back that he'll be passing us again on the descent. Sure enough 10 mins later Steve and his group passed us at high kop before the descent to Haweswater along the path that never ends to Mardale Head. We continued along keeping pace with most of the 50ers all the way to Mardale Head. I spotted Carla Murphy along the way who was 'having a mare' with cramps similar to what i had at the Highland Fling back in April. At the checkpoint we caught up with Chris, Darren and Shaun, Shaun was suffering with his calves or feet, cant remember which and Darren also had a similar complaint. They mentioned that they may have pushed too soon back on the run in to Dalemain (i thought at the time they were running strong, perhaps too quick and it had caught up with them). We pushed on up Gatesgarth Pass a cheeky climb which is fairly short but steep. I was next to Chris Enwright again who inadvertantly wound some 50ers up by saying this was just a baby of a climb :-), as if laaa!

I continued feeling strong passing to my amazement more and more of the ladies and gents doing the 50. I couldnt believe how i felt after 75 miles! I was half expecting the wheels to fall off at any point but i continued knowing that the pace i was going at i could maintain at least until Ambleside. We dibbed and refuelled at Kentmere, by this point i think i had left Chris and David behind me although they werent far away. I felt energised again coming out of Kentmere and wanted to use this positivity to the best i could while it lasted. I was now not only thinking of just finishing but finishing in the best possible time i could. I still maintained a manageable pace but was picking more and more fellow 100ers off as i went. This felt good and motivated me even more to push on. I was up and over Garburn through Troutbeck and was heading into Ambleside before i knew it. I picked up the pace again keeping up with some 50ers all the way to the checkpoint which was now located in the Ambleside Parish Centre having moved from Lakesrunner which is now a coffee shop i think. I flew up the steps like they werent there causing a marshall to shout 'no way are you doing the 100!!', this gave me even more of a boost entering the checkpoint. I sat down for a few minutes, filled water bottles had a brew and ate something proper ready for the run to Chapel Stile. I hooked up with a few lads doing the 50 and ran with them all the way pretty much to Chapel Stile. I reckoned this saved me half an hour easy and i passed some more 100ers who were walking at this point.

The rain was now coming down pretty hard now and for the first time the waterproof jacket came out. Im glad of it now and that i opted for the OMM Kamleika, kept the driving rain out well. I was now back running with David Coxon who was also moving well. We picked the right path through Blea Moss, remembering to stay high this time, and stayed on the path through the thick tall ferns to the unmanned dibber on the wall. We headed down the tarmac road past the farm. This is where things got for the first time a bit confusing, the head torches reflecting off the driving heavy rain added to the tiredness due to the nigh on 100 miles we had just covered had myself and David questioning the route to Tilberthwaite, the trail looked mighty different at 0230 and for a few minutes it looked like we had gone round in a circle and were back at the same wood on the right of the track with cobbles and rocky trail underfoot. It was at this point following my pre-programmed route on my Suunto Ambit (i had been using this since the start every so often to make doubly sure i was taking the right path, and up to then had been working great), for a minute or so thought to myself had we somehow turned round and were heading along the line on the watch the wrong way ahhh!! I knew we were sort of heading in the right direction as i could see a few head torches up the slate path from Tilberthwaite Car Park. Then some 50ers caught us up who were also having a similar experience checked their GPS and we were ok, so i trusted it and followed the arrow rounded the corner and thankfully there was High Tilberthwaite Farm. I ran steadily ino the checkpoint and began refuelling ready for the last climb. It was getting cold now, i could feel myself starting to shake so put on all kit i had in my pack, spare t-shirt, gloves, waterproof bottoms. Without this spare kit it would have been 10 x harder to get myself warm again. The kit list is definately there for a reason, do not skimp on kit, just because 6-7 hours earlier people were dropping with heat exhaustion doesnt mean you wont need your spare kit for the latter legs. The rain and the wind combined at 0300, added to the fact after so long on your feet the body finds it harder to heat itself made it really cold. I was hoping the layers i had on and the climb from Tilberthwaite would warm me up.

Before we set off i had refuelled with some food and a few cups of sweet tea. I also had to to change the batteries on my head torch as it had started to flash a warning that it was getting low on batteries on the way in to Tilberthwaite. I changed from the Lithium battery in the Petzl Nao to some AAA, to my horror within 2 mins it had started to flash again warning that the battery was low. How could this be, i had checked and rechecked this before packing kit for the final time. I didnt panic and positioned myself as close to David as i could on the climb out of Tilberthwaite. Pushing on up the climb with us was a group of 50ers, one had a brighter head torch so i got behind him for a while. This was easily the least enjoyable section for me, the lack of head torch plus the wet ground and slippy Bondi B and i was sliding all over the place. I didnt let it get me down and laughed evertime i fell on my arse. I found it easier on the grassy sections just to slide on my arse as i could keep up with the man in front better!!. So after picking my way down the tricky  rocky steep descent with no head torch we finally came to a proper path. I now found myself running/shuffling next to a 50er with TWO TORCHES!! ahh if only id found him earlier I explained my predicament and asked if i could borrow his hand held torch for the run in (the easy bit down the road, not the rocky tricky steep descent!!), he very kindly lent me it and i set off knowing the end was not far away. My left IT band was giving me some gyp by now, so to counter this i ran sideways like a crab all the way down the hill into Coniston, i corrected my gait for the last 100 metres (wasnt sure how people would react to black mansized crab-like figure running through Coniston in the early hours) and rounded the corner on to the final run in to the school. I was soaked to the skin but felt elated when i saw the finish line. I was met on the final turn by a bubbly (for 0345 in the morning) Tracy Dean who shouted ahead that another 100er was here, i dibbed for the final time and entered the school. I was hit by a wall of applause, warmth and friendly faces, i didnt know whether to laugh or cry so i just smiled the biggest grin. I was led into the hall where i picked up my medal and t shirt.

What an experience!!

I finished in 33 hours 52 mins and 08 seconds in 65th place. I could not believe the time and the placement. I was over the moon, so pleased at how it went.

I completed this event with a few motivational/tools for inspiration. The first is for the Charity i ran for Duchenne Now and the young lads and girls my fundraising efforts will help. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy affects mainly boys and is a rare muscle wasting disease. Most of the young people affected ny this disease dont make it past their late teens or early twenties. A friend through works stepson Tyler Richardson has it, and Nick Irlam (his Step Dad) and family spend alot of time fundraising for Duchenne Now www.duchennenow.org I wanted to help. If you have managed to read this far and are would like to donate there are a couple of ways that you can, the www.justgiving.co.uk/christetlow249 link, or by texting HMHD99 £2 up to £10 to 70070. Thanks in advance for your donation.

Tyler Richardson
Another motivational tool that helped was my own son Jimmy, hes five and sort of grasps what i do. So as a tool for when things got tough i asked Jimmy to stand in front of me and say a few times 'come on Daddy, you can do it' So when things got rough id play that mental recording in my head, it would make me smile and push on. He also really wanted a meadl with 100 on it, so i promised it to him!! It worked for me anyway!!

Ill be back in 2015, as next year i hope to bring my sons up for the Lakeland 1 and help out marshalling if they need it. I like the idea of being on the other side for once. See you next year then!

I pinched a few photos for this post as mine werent that great, thanks Adam Rose and others that posted to the L100 Facebook page.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

What will happen if i take a week or so off training???

After running at least 20 miles a week (more leading up to events) for most of this year and the year before i guess i would say im kind of an addict, more than a day not running and i get the anxious/itchy feet feeling and i end up a bit of a grump i have to say. So just before Christmas, after a busy year at work, the wife and I took the kids on a short break to Disneyland Paris. Having never been in the past I wasn't sure what to expect (apart from Mickey and Minnie obviously). Before we went I wasn't sure whether or not I'd get to go out for a run. To make sure this did not become an issue while we were there I decided before hand that I would take a full week off (this ended up being 9 days with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

It (to my surprise) worked out better than I expected. I could focus completely on the boys and the missus, because of this Jenny was happy and the break was all the more enjoyable. Sure I missed it like i knew i would, but as I had decided before we got there the burning/empty feeling never had a chance to fully develop into a full on grump (which normally comes when I don't manage to get out as mentioned above, hence the Grumpy mug below, bought while we were there :-))

I also had a few minor niggles, the kind which wouldn't have stopped me training but a week off would only be of benefit to them. I accepted there would be several impacts: 1) a loss of some cardio-vascular fitness (running efficiency), 2) a loss of  some muscular strength and 3) Weight gain. The first two are systems in your body are impacted by the time you take off running, the third is effected by diet (more on this below).

The 4 days at Disneyland were amazing I have to say, and very tiring. Jimmy our eldest was buzzing from the minute we got on the Eurostar to the minute we got off it on the return journey, Tommy our youngest (9 months) was obviously too young but was a smily happy baby most of the time.

The main problem wasn't the lack of running to be honest, that i could deal with, it was the complete lack of places to get proper food. It was mostly American rubbish, with only slightly smaller portions. To minimise the diet effect (as mentioned above) i opted for the best food possible staying away from the burgers and opting for the pastas and Mexican.

Now we are back (post Christmas) it's time to resume training, along with a bit of 'hydrating' and 'refuelling' as well , seen as though it is Christmas!

So Boxing Day was the first run back after just over a week, and it was great,  a fairly hilly 8ish mile road run around the hills of Saddleworth, all the niggles had gone and I didn't feel like I had lost much fitness, all subsequent runs have been the same, feeling as strong as before the break. I should hit my target mileage (25) for this week with a rest day (core/strength work) then a long trail/technical run planned for Sunday morning, detailed below with a few photos from the route.

chris249's Trail running Move 12/31/2012 - Move at Movescount.com

The long runs are what i look forward to in the week, the more time i can free the longer ill go for, the passage below borrowed from a running site explains perfectly the draw of such long runs and events.

'The athletes entire conscious experience of reality boils down to a desire to continue pitted against a desire to quit. Nothing else remains. The athlete is no longer a student or a teacher or a salesman. He is no longer a son or a father or a husband. He has no social roles or human connections whatsoever. He is utterly alone. He no longer has any possessions. There is no yesterday and no tomorrow, only now. The agony of extreme endurance fatigue crowds out every thought and feeling except one: the goal of reaching the finish line.'

So my concern of taking a week + off from running was that i thought i may lose the fitness gains i had seen on the run up to the holiday. The losses i have felt have been negligible, whereas i believe the benefits outweigh any losses in fitness . Firstly i could involve myself fully in the holiday with no distractions and also I now feel better, stronger and more motivated ready for next years training and events/races. The body periodically needs a week off, so i will allow myself this luxury (im sure cross training will substitute the doing nothing though).

Im now looking forward to next year, first thing on the agenda is a few training runs from the programme followed by the first Lakeland 100 recce of the year (www.lakeland100.com), which is Coniston to Buttermere on Sunday 13th Jan which is approximately 25 miles of the 100 route that i will be doing in July, ill post about the recce when done. Below is a route map of the L100 (Coniston to Buttermere being numbers 1 - 4).

Thursday, 22 November 2012

treadmills and mileage tribulations

Last week was a bit of a let down training wise, my wife was struggling with an injury so needed a hand at home with the kids. I had signed up to to do the Ambleside to Coniston recce with the Lakeland lot, but some things have to take priority.

This week was better hitting the 20 mile target with good runs out on the road. Each week im just about making the target of 20+ miles a week i set for myself when i started to plan for next year. I'm aiming to keep this up until December. Then after new year the miles will increase, incrementally as I get closer to the 100 in July, with futher recces and events inbetween.

This mileage might seem low to some, but it is the mileage I ran earlier this year to prepare for the Calderdale Hike, The Wall Run and Lakeland 50, all of which I improved on more than I expected.  Also through a bit of luck (im now seeing it as this) my circumstances at home dont allow me time to overtrain, hence the reason (touch wood) i rarely get injured.  This has been and will continue to be a steady progression for me into the ultrarunning world and hopefully i can remain injury free.

What I've realised is it is going to be tough to get anywhere near the mileage I want to be running on the run up to the events planned for next year (Calderdale hike, Highland Fling, and Lakeland 100). Due to my circumstances running during the week is limited due to my wife running a dance school (www.jet-studios.co.uk) until 2130 every night during the week and as I'm site based I start at 730 meaning I'm up at 6 everyday so morning runs aren't really an option (performance at work to be considered also) . So I made the decision to invest in a treadmill which is now downstairs in the unfinished extension, as below. This has really helped me during the week as I know I would be going stir crazy without it.

Recently though I've started to question and research the difference, pros and cons and bio-mechanical effect it may have long term, and if there are detrimental effects want I need to do to counter them.

This is the question i need to answer, below are parts of a study summarised on a site asking a similar question.

Stride Length and Rate
A study by Elliot, B.C., Blanksby, B.A. Medicine and Science in Sports looked at these two factors.

No significant differences were recorded in stride length, stride rate, support time or non-support time on a treadmill compare to outdoors for men or women when jogging at velocities of between 3.3 and 4.8 m/s.
As speeds of running increased over 4.8 m/s on a treadmill compared to outdoors: stride length decreased, stride rate increased, and the length of time the support leg is on the ground increased.
So at these higher speeds you are taking shorter strides and getting longer ‘rest’ time each time one of your legs is on the ground. This is countered however by an increased number of strides per minute.

Propelling Your Body
This is the kicker here. The main difference between treadmill running and outdoor running lies in how your legs have to carry your upper body.
Outdoor running, your leg muscles mostly work on propelling you forward. Treadmill running, because the belt is moving under you, your leg muscles mostly work at re-positioning your legs to keep you stable.
This affects how much work your individual leg muscles need to do.
Treadmill running, the rearward moving belt decreases the need to pull your upper body forward and so requires less work from your hamstrings than outdoor running. However, your hip flexors (right at the top-front of each leg) have to work harder to provide stability as your planted foot is dragged back (literally) under your body.
(Source: Dave Schmitz PT, LAT, CSCS, PES Health Services at Columbia)
So in treadmill running we have a situation where the hamstrings are less-used and the hip flexors are more used than when outdoor running. This will have an influence on energy output. Hamstrings are b-i-g muscles in the overall scheme of your body – in fact, they are your biggest of all muscles. They use up a lot of energy to expand and contract during each stride. Hip flexors are much smaller and so would intuitively require less energy to squeeze in and out.
Studies estimate that the energy expenditure required by your leg muscles is 3% greater for outdoor running over treadmill running (running at 4.0 m/s).

We use our legs in different ways on a treadmill.

Total Energy Difference
Combine this with our knowledge that overcoming wind resistance outdoor running requires a 5% increased effort (at 4.0 m/s)
And the end result is running at 4.0 m/s you can expect to be working somewhere around 8% harder outdoor running than treadmill running.
So how can you make treadmill running require the same level of energy use as outdoor running?
A 1996 study in the Journal of Sports Science – taking into account the above factors – concluded that a 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running.
So if you want to match the energy required outdoor running, put your treadmill on a 1% incline.

Other Factors
Aside from energy expended, there is one important factor that makes treadmill running easier than outdoor running:
The treadmill surface is always softer than a hard sidewalk or road surface. That makes it a whole lot easier on all your joints, and without joint pain you can run for longer and be much happier about doing it.
Let’s see. If you set your treadmill to a 1% incline you’re going to get the benefits of the same energy output (and so calories burnt) as outdoor running, plus your joints will be much better protected.

The Mental Challenge
There is one aspect, not related to energy requirements, that effects how easy your run will be.
As I see it, being distracted when running makes things a whole lot easier. Distractions include listening to music or watching tv while you workout. When you focus on something else rather than your body, you don’t notice your body so much. This helps to alleviate any running discomfort. This is why running with someone or in a group is much easier than running by yourself. There is no better way to distract you from what you are doing than my conversing with someone.

Listening to music distracts from effort

But focusing on external distractions can also take away from the actual intensity that you can go to and the overall exertion that you feel. And sometimes (most of the time) actually feeling that effort and intensity is a large part of the fun. Like for my daily 1 km time-trials (which I’ve been experimenting with since the motorway run) I run without my ipod so I can focus exactly on the level of exertion on my body.
To wrap this all up, we can say that treadmill running with distraction (people, tv, music) is going to feel easiest and require slightly less energy. Outdoor running with no music is going to feel hardest, but you will benefit from expending more energy (and likely burning more calories).

So basically the above and other studies are saying it is much easier to run faster on a treadmill than outside as you are assisted by the belt. I'm of the complete opposite view. I run faster when outside. I think this is more of a mental thing, it's miles better to run outside, wind in your face, inspiring scenery and so on. For a 10k for example I can't get anywhere near the 41.01 time (my pb for that distance) on a treadmill . I put this down to mental fatigue opposed to physical. As however far I run on the treadmill during the week it's nothing like getting out on the road or trail. It's basically a means to an end, ensuring I get some miles in during the week in addition to at least 1 long run at weekend.

If its a chore to run then and you don't enjoy it and are just doing it for the end result then I guess you will need the distractions to get through the run mentally.  I'd much rather run outside with no music, I think the difference here is that the perhaps author is thinking that the runners are running even though they may not want to and dont enjoy it. It's far better running with no distractions, the rhythm of your feet striking the ground is enough for me, getting lost in my own thoughts and before I know it miles and miles have passed.

With the above brief study it makes a point that the biomechanics are different when running on the road than on a treadmill, and that when on the road you are using all your energy to propel yourself forward. This goes against what I have read elsewhere in part, regarding technique and form for efficient running. I don't run barefoot but the technique is sound, leaning slightly forward at the ankles, not the waist and keeping strides short and under you, and contact with the ground to a minimum. The foot should strike ball of foot first, and not the heel. The heel strike sends unecessary force to parts of your legs, back and upper body that dont want and arent effecient at disperisng said forces. The forefoot or midfoot strike should be directly under your centre of gravity  The leaning forward allows you to be almost gravity assisted, with the lifting and replacement of the legs keeping you from falling forwards which can also be described as running.

Stu Mittleman, a member of the USA ultrarunning hall of fame is a treadmill advocate, see the link below for a correct use of a treadmill video.

http://marathonmastery.com/treadmill-training/ <http://marathonmastery.com/treadmill-training/>

So my thoughts are now that as long as  good form is maintained when on the treadmill, and i get out at weekends either on the trails or road there doesnt seem to be any great problems running on a treadmill, plus it also keeps my weekly mileage to the level i need to be doing for next years events.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix??

Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix??
There aren’t many of us who run these long distances who aren’t partial to a gadget or two. This is supposed to be a relatively cheap sport, in its simplest form it is (trainers and simple running gear can be picked up for under £100. But to develop, and monitor the progress in our training there are all sorts of gadgets available.
Garmin and Suunto are the leading players and have brought out similar mountaineering/training/GPS devices at similar times. The Suunto Ambit and the Garmin Fenix both, impressive bits of technology. Now I have a Garmin Forerunner 910xt which is brilliant, but is geared more towards the triathlon market, but at the time of purchase had the longest battery life, long enough to work throughout the 50+ mile ultras I did this year.
I aim to get involved in triathlons in the future so will be keeping hold of the 910xt for that purpose.
Suunto Ambit
'2012 Suunto launched the first ever GPS watch combining the advanced training and heavy duty outdoor features. It has taken the market by storm, and is especially valued for its superior mechanical durability, reliable altitude measurement and water resistance. Hand made in Finland by Suunto, the original inventor of ABC watches and dive computers.'
Found these videos or the Ambit getting put through its paces, the video above is worth checking out, this guys must have some stones!!
Garmin Fenix
'With built-in GPS + ABC (Altimeter Barometer Compass) functions, fēnix gives you all the navigational tools you need in a rugged wristwatch - keeping your hands free for when you need them. Get accurate readings on your location no matter what position your wrist is in or how dense the foliage is around you.'
'Set up navigational activities to plan trips, create routes and record waypoints. Download routes from the BaseCamp™ desktop application or create them by marking your favorite spots as Waypoints - parking space, trailhead, mountain shelter, summit and more. And, best of all, fēnix will route you along your path with a clear visible navigational arrow or a track line.'
Having read both of these great in depth reviews by DC Rainmaker the American sports enthusiast im glad i opted for and ordered the Suunto Ambit, it has been targeted at ultrarunners whereas the Garmin Fenix more towards hikers. Ill give my own briefer review and thoughts when i get it....
Suunto Ambit
First impressions are good, easy to use straight out of the box, connected to Movescount and trialled it on the treadmill in the house. Below is the interface on the movescount website. Simple with all you need in one place to monitor and assess your training sessions. The firmware of the watch was updated on connection to movescount with useful changes suggested by Ambit users.

For me this is by far the the best piece of technology on the market for ultrarunners. The battery life for one is capable even for the longer ultras taking 24+ hours. The more i use it the more i realise its potential. As it is developed with the ultrarunner in mind, it fits perfectly with my requirements. Easy to use packed full of features which are continually being improved and added to. Its first indoor treadmill trial is above, the information shown is just a fraction of whats available on the Movescount site.

This weekend will be its first test in the lake district, ill update this post with how it performs.

I didnt make it to the lakes as planned unfortunately, but have used the watch on a couple of runs local to where i live and it doesnt disappoint, all information is easily accessible on the move and the information to analyse on the Movescount site is laid out well. Really good and useful piece of kit. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Its more of a mental battle.....

It more of a mental battle.......

As part of the preparation for next years event, i want to put down on paper so to speak what i consider the most important part of the preparation for next years 100, preparing the old noggin for the rather testing task of travelling under my own steam for 100+ miles.

Whether or not this will help i have no idea, ill know at the end of July next year.

You can prepare completely physically, but if the minds not fully prepared, then the task will be all the more the difficult, Stuart mills talks about this in his blog, follow the link for an interesting post concerning ultra peformance and positivity.
I agree with the premise, any negative thoughts can grow and if they take over you're fighting two battles, from my own experience I can say that I have never set out on a challenge thinking I can't do it, my wife calls me stubborn, and I guess I am, sometimes it's a good trait to have sometimes its not,
I think we are programmed with these traits or we are not, it's inherently woven into who we are, thats why only a very small percentage of the population enter these events.

The drop out rate for the Lakeland 100 this year was so im told greater than normal within the first few checkpoints, looking at the results on www.Lakeland100.com, of the 262 that started in Coniston 136 finished, so pretty much a 50% drop out rate overall. Around 50 of those that dropped out for whatever reason and dropped out within the first 10-12 hours or at or before Checkpoint 6. Running through the night could have taken its toll and to the uninitiated is a tough experience, the darkness is claustrophobic not really allowing the mind to wander only concentrating on a few metres in front of you making time pass more slowly. Add to that tiredness and fatigue from physical exertion and your on the road to negativity setting in. The challenge is to try to keep the mind positive and strong when the body is sending overwhelming signals that it wants to stop, i.e. pain.

I havent done the 100 yet,  but I have done a fair few night runs, paced BGR legs from dusk util dawn and spent many a night yomping through the night on exercise in the army, and endured sustained periods of sleep deprivation. What I haven't done straight after the nights exertion is then continuing for another 60 - 70 miles, this is the reason for this post, ill be a new experience for me and i think the mental preparation required for such an event is an important thing to think about. That's why over the next 9 months or so a long mental excercise will consume my thoughts, I'm already doing it, on the drive to work, during quiet periods, and last thing at night, focusing on what i will be feeling, thinking and what will keep me going.

Some extremely capable and experienced ultra athletes havent finished the L100 finding it too far and too hard, again something to consider but not to dwell for too long on.

Below are some of what i think are important factors, im sure there are more but these are the ones that have jumped out at me in the first instance.


Physical Preparation.



Mental training.

I aim to develop this post up until and after the 100, and continue adding to it as my training and experience develops.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

JustGiving Home


Sometimes something in your life makes you take note of what you have, and not to take it for granted. Im lucky, i realise what i have and i treasure it more than anything. 

Earlier this year i was invited by a colleague to tag along with one of his labour suppliers who was taking him to watch Manchester United versus Bolton Wanderers. The nice fella that kindly took us to the game was Nick Irlam, a talkative Mancunian who wears his heart on his sleeve. He told me about his son Tyler and the condition that the boy has, which is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He explained the condition briefly and the effect it has on mostly young men and how their  lives can be cut short. I decided then to try to raise money through the run i was about to do later in the year (The Wall Run, see relevent post). I raised over £600 with the limited time i had before the race. I want to do the same next year and raise as much money (hopefully more) as i can to help these young men and women and help the charity search for cures.

'Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a condition which causes muscle weakness. It starts in childhood and may be noticed when a child has difficulty standing up, climbing or running. It is a genetic condition and can be inherited. It usually affects only boys, although girls may carry the Duchenne gene. Boys/Girls with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy should have regular check-ups and physiotherapy from childhood, and are likely to need increasing help and treatments from about the age of nine years.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic condition which affects the muscles, causing muscle weakness. It is a serious condition which starts in early childhood. The muscle weakness is mainly in the 'proximal' muscles, which are those near the trunk of the body, around the hips and the shoulders. This means that fine movements, such as those using the hands and fingers, are less affected than movements like walking.

The muscle weakness is not noticeable at birth, even though the child is born with the gene which causes it. The weakness develops gradually. It usually shows up in early childhood. Symptoms are mild at first, but increase as the child gets older.'

The charitys website can be found at http://duchennenow.org

So next year i am pushing the boundaries of my own endurance and taking part in the Lakeland 100, a 100 mile Ultramarathon starting and finishing in Coniston in the Lake District, UK. This is a premier UK event attracting many of the UKs and Europes best ultrarunners, the record for the event was set this year by Terry Conway who got round in an incredible 19 hours 50 minutes!!

'The Lakeland 100 'Ultra Tour of the Lake District' is the most spectacular long distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK. The circular route encompasses the whole of the lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston'


JustGiving Home

Please follow my Just Giving link at the top of the page and donate whatever you can spare to this vital cause,


Chris Tetlow