intro/Why i run

intro/why i run

Yes yet another blog about running and stuff, ive seen and read that many that i thought id write down and store on a blog what i get up to, what im interested in and anything else along the way.

I like running, i like running ultramarathons, i like watching films, football and drinking too much every now and then, and thats me.

Im a father, a husband and project manager in the construction/civil engineering industry, i can honestly say i like what i do, guess im lucky work wise. My kids and wife are my main focus, and my wife (Jenny) and i work as hard as we can to take them places, at weekends and holidays both abroad and in this country.

Jimmy and baby Tommy

I have always enjoyed physical activity, from football in my early years, to squash at school and in the army, and playing sunday league football up until a few years ago when i became a father.

Basic and continuation training for the Royal Engineers way back in 1998 came and went, i had a bash at the pre all arms commando course down at Chivenor near Barnstaple, where i got injured meaing i got posted back to Germany. This is where i lost interest in the army and one thing led to another and i ended up back home.

Passing out parade ATR Bassingbourn 1998 
On the hill in Wales, carrying a fairly heavy bergen, still smiling though!

I enjoyed the weekly phys and toyed with the idea of becoming a PTI, the general standard of fitness wasnt too high so i was able to keep up with the front on little or no training, i also smoked at the time, but being aged 20/21 it did not really affect my fitness. I lived for the weekend, as did most at this age, the bars, pubs and clubs in Germany were my playground all weekend, and i loved every minute.

This remained the same when i returned to Manchester, i worked from the day i returned, labouring for a friend of my Dads, i managed to get a job with a civils firm and onto a HNC+BSc (Hons) course at Bolton University. I fininshed both courses changing companies along the way a few times. I met Jenny in a club in Oldham on a night out and i guess this is where things changed for the better, i retired (mostly) from heavy nights out spending all of my time with Jenny at home in Oldham.

Within a year of meeting we had bought a house and were expecting our first child Jimmy, who was born in April 2008. We have since had a second son Tommy March 2012 and things could not be better.


Sometime during 2009 my next door neighbour lent me the Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes (above), i read this cover to cover within about two days and knew then that something had been awakened. I didnt realise what and to what extent i would take it. But I had a focus, i started running more and found that i really enjoyed it. I worked fairly close to home at the time so could get up for a 30-40 min run before work a few times a week. I got hold of a cheap 2nd hand treadmill which went in the garage. This allowed me also to run at nights when Jen was at work and Jimmy was in bed. I wasnt breaking any weekly mileage records but was enjoying getting a bit fitter.

During 2010 i was asked to pace on a leg of an old army mates attempt at the Bob Graham round, a 72 mile 42 peak round starting and finishing in Keswick in the Lakes. It was short notice but i jumped at the chance to get to the lakes. It was the last leg from Honister slate mine to Keswick. Im glad i was there for Dales succesful attempt and inspired me to continue training and look for challenges myself.

Me and Dale
Dales main pacers who were with him for most of the previous legs.

I entered the Fleetwood Marathon 2010 which i got round in 3 hrs 55, which i thought was ok. (With no idea of pacing of a marathon i set off at sub 7 minute pace without realising which meant i did the first half in less than 1 hr 35 (which is my fastest unofficial half marathon time), the second half as you probably have guessed was a bit slower, but i finished and wanted more.

At the end of the Fleetwood Marathon

I did have an aim at this point and that was to run 50 miles, the book i had read was the story of Deans rise from a sedentry corporate suit to ultramarathon runner and was inspirational. Now i havent exactly gone as far as him (4 hr morning runs from 4 am and running through the night eating pizza have yet to be imitated) but the way he described his journey and his ultimate goal of the Western States 100 made me think i wanted something similar albeit a scaled down version.

I applied for the London Marathon 2011 but did not get a place, i then set about looking for a replacement event and stumbled across an advert for the Lakeland 50/100 in a copy of Runnersworld. I was hooked the minute i read it, i have loved every visit to the lakes and thought the 50 mile event (i thought at the time the 100 was for the elite nutters!) was achievable. I joined in some of the recces organised by Marc Laithwaite, Terry Gilpin and team which are really good. These gave me an idea of the terrain, ascent and descent and to brush up on my map reading skills which i havent used since the Army. I got round the Lakeland 50 2011 in 14 hrs 23 mins. It was a boiling hot day on the saturday amd as the start was scheduled for a 1200pm start we would be running through the hottest part of the day. Again not knowing much about pacing during an ultra i remained slow through the entire event, meaning the time and 140th/500 placing was about what i expected.

At the start of the Calderdale Hike 2011

As past of my training leading up to the Lakeland 50 i entered the Calderdale Hike a local ultra of 37 miles starting and finishing in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire. I completed this in painful 8 hours 52, this was the first ultra I had took part in. This was definately a learning curve but one I enjoyed and used the experience positively. There were a few clothing issues and not taking on electrolytes soon enough which resulted in bad chafing and cramps from mile 20. These were ironed out which made the Lakeland 50 all the more enjoyable, it was still tough but with no chafing and no cramps I could concentrate on the running.

One of the many perks of running in the Lakes, the views

Progression over the past year

Calderdale hike 37 miles 14th April 7hrs 50mins (last year 8 hrs 52)
Greater manchester marathon 28th April 3 hrs 32mins (Fleetwood Marathon 3hrs 55mins)
The wall run 69 miles 23rd June 13hrs 06mins 28th place
Lakeland 50 28th July 11hrs 14mins 75th place (last year 14 hrs 23 140th place)

So looking at the above ive improved on last years times more than i expected to be honest. As my training hasnt been as consistent as i would have wanted adding to the fact that i was limited to how many long runs i could go on i was surprised firstly with my time and position in the Wall Run and then the improvement on last years time for the Lakeland 50. Im hoping to build on this for next years events, these will be;

Coniston to Buttermere L100 recce January
Rivington Trail Marathon (Cancelled due to snow)
Calderdale Hike 37 April
Highland Fling 55 April
L100 Recces
Hovington Trail Marathon
Osmotherly Phoenix 33 miles
Lakeland 100 July

The joy and pleasure i get from running is hard to explain, ive tried before and either get lost in thought or who im talking to loses interest. I love the freedom, the solitude, getting lost in my own thoughts and having the time to sort out during the run whatever gripes are stressing me out at the time. The passage below borrowed from a running site explains it pretty well.
'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.'

Most runs are done locally or on the treadmill i have invested in at home. That purchase was was of the best ive made, as my wife Jenny runs a dnace school i the kids at home until she gets in, so the best time for me to train is between 730 and 930, so this time is mostly filled by attempting to up my weekly mileage on the treadmill.

I aim to log the next 9 - 10 months training as best i can. What i do when i do it and whether or not im managing to do what i feel is enough training to complete the Lakeland 100 next year. Most miles are recorded via my Garmin 910xt out on the trails or roads, some i do on my treadmill during the week when the kids are in bed and Jennys at work, and i also cross train when i can on my road bike and turbo trainer.

Now im no expert on training, diet, zones, thresholds and the like, but i do know myself. I think i know whats in my head, what makes me tick and what will get me to the finish next July. Im not really into details and never have been, but will rather look at the bigger picture. Im not going to get too worked up if i cant train as i have set out, i have too much going on in my life thats too important to let it dictate the rest of it, and that will have to include my training. Fortunately my wife being in the fitness industry she understands to an extent the training and the benefits you get from it (she still thinks we are nutters for wanting to run for so long in sometimes terrible conditions).

By writing this blog it will force me to look at what im doing, and perhaps push me to do more research on the areas i may not know as much about, diet, nutrition, training plans etc.

I aim to use the rest of this year to improve my general fitness to consistently run 20+ miles per week. This is roughly what i ran per week (minus marathons and ultras) on the run up to The Wall Run and the Lakeland 50 (see relevant blog posts), such was my improvement from last years time for the L50 im happy to go with this amount of mileage per week until roughly Christmas. As my weekends looking after my two boys, and my wifes workload (as Director of a Performing Arts studio) enables me i will try to get out for a long run early on a sunday morning in the hills around Saddleworth, near Oldham.

Dovestones, Saddleworth, Oldham
From December i will steadily increase the weekly mileage with every third or fourth week being more intensive or a recce of the 100 course or an event as above to include some hills to improve my ability in the hills.

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