Sunday 31 March 2013

Running in the Centre of the Universe

Podcast NameWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Running in the Centre of the Universe

Running in the Centre of the Universe is presented by Ashland Dave and is set in Ashland, Virgina. Ashland's claim to fame is that it states to be in the centre of the universe.

I enjoy this podcast as it talks about everything from balancing work and family life to running itself.

Talk Ultra

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Talk Ultra
Talk Ultra
Talk Ultra is hosted by Ian Corless and is a sister show to Marathon talk. Talk Ultra is a  mix of interviews, training and news on races and upcoming events.
Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Marathon Talk

Podcast NameWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Marathon Talk

Marathon Talk makes it onto a site dedicated to trail running as this is a great show and talks about running at every distance from 1 mile to Ultra Distances. It has a great web site and forum to register and review races.

This great show is presented by Martin Yelling and Tim Williams.

Three Non Jogger

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Three Non Joggers
Three Non Joggers
Three Non Joggers is a widely recommended podcast. In their own words What's this all about...? Two runners who don't jog, one mailman who doesn't jog but calls running jogging... ...all discussing the crazy-ass sport of long distance running. I downloaded and listened to several episodes of this podcast, but I ended up deleting this feed. There was not quite enough running information and the show may make more sense to an American audience than it did to me? 
Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Trail Runner Nation

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Trail Runner Nation

TrailRunner Nation
Trail Runner Nation is hosted by Don Freeman, Scott Warr and Faith Goss. The Nation interview high profile runners and experts on all areas related to running, performance and equipment. The interaction between the hosts and the guests make this an enjoyable podcast to listen to.
Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Thursday 28 March 2013

Ultra Runner Podcast

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
UltraRunner Podcast
UltraRunner podcast is hosted by Scotty Sandow and Eric Schranz. This podcast is focused more around interviewing runners with a higher profile and discuss all elements of ultra running. They have had some great guests on this show and cover a wide range of topics related to running ultras.
Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Running Stupid Podcast

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Running Stupid

Running Stupid
Running Stupid is hosted by Coach Ken and he takes a very light hearted look at ultrarunning. Coach Ken is very upbeat and talks about his own running  experiences and also has interviews with occisional guests.

I always look forward to listening to Coach Ken as I can;t help smiling when listening to hs podcasts.

All Day!

Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Dirt Dawg's Running Diatribe Podcast

Podcast NameDescriptionWebsiteItunesRSS Feed
Dirt Dawg’s Running Diatribe

Dirt Dawg's podcast is the first running podcast that I discovered. Listening to Dirt Dawg's podcast was an inspiration to me. Here was a guy that was a family man, in full time employment that was inspired to run long distance events and share his journey with the world. I also quickly learned that Dit Dawg runs for sheer love of running and getting out there. Maybe I was not alone after all :)

Dirt Dawg shares a good mixture of his own running adventures, training and just general life stories.He publishes a regular blog that can found here.

This is one of my favourite podcasts and comes highly recommended to all runners out there.

Ultra running URL

Itunes Feed

RSS Feed

Sunday 24 March 2013

Hardmoors 55 2013

This was my first attempt at running the Hardmoors 55, which was run from Guisborough to Helmsley for this first time this year. (it normally starts at Helmsley). It has also been my first race of any distance, since the Hardmoors 60 in October last year. My preparation for this race in terms of training has been following an Advanced Marathoning plan by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. The HM55 is my longest run in that plan, which is 5 weeks out from my marathon. A link to my slightly modified version of the plan can be found here. As you can see I am falling well short of the weekly mileage targets. That is the point for me, if I can not even find the time to meet the mileage for a marathon plan, then why follow an Ultra plan. I think the mixture of speed and endurance is better for me than the more endurance based ultra plans. Most of my running for this plan has also been on trails rather than tarmac. The slight changes I made are that I do longish runs on Friday and Saturday and the obvious one is that the original plan does not have a 55 mile long run :)

Just getting to the start line was an adventure wheel spinning my way up a very snowy Sutton Bank was not for the faint hearted. Once at the top I doubled back to help a stranded runner stuck near the top of the hill. Once there I joined the coach at Helmsley to take us to the start at Guisborough. It was good to catch up with everyone on the bus and discuss the upcoming race, just looking out of the bus at the snowy wintry conditions it was clear that it was going to be an interesting day.

Race registration and kit checks went very smoothly and it was good to see full kit checks being enforced given the weather. Thanks to Ray for snapping me before the off. My hopes for this run were to be able to run all runnable section, survive on minimum food by running at a steady pace. Given that this was a training run towards a marathon and also preparation for my first 100 miler in May, I was not wanting to go out to hard like I did in my last Ultra (Hardmoors 60). In short I wanted to see if it was possible to enjoy an Ultra, in terms of time I was hoping that I could break 10 hours for 55 miles.  We learned at race registration that the course was being shortened to 52 miles, given the weather I was keeping an open mind about the time target.

Once under way it was good to get the legs moving and kept reminding myself to take it easy early on. The first real sign that that the weather was going to be a big part of the day, was the climb up Roseberry Topping. The wind whipping across the hill was vicious, top marks to the two marshals that were running the checkpoint on that hill. I was more than glad to get up and down of that hill. After passing through the first indoor checkpoint at Kildale we started the long climb towards Bloworth Crossing. It was this point that I started my highly complex nutrition plan by consuming a single fig roll. Here are some key facts on my new super food :) I am using Sainsburys fig rolls, but I am sure other brands are very similar ;)

Nutritional Summary:

There are 71 calories in a 1 roll serving of Sainsbury's Fig Rolls.
Calorie Breakdown: 23% fat, 72% carbs, 5% prot.

The first hints of strong wind were to be found on this hill,as the wind was blowing strongly into our faces during this climb. Once we started to approach Bloworth I had my breath taken away by the wind! I had to put on my hat and pull my coat hood over my head to prevent the side of my face freezing! The side wind was that strong it was literally blowing my sideways whilst running. The knee deep snow in places, stopped us from being blown away though! Full marks to my Montane minimus jacket for keeping the wind out. It was during this period that my water supply froze, so the only water I could drink was at check points that had water.

Most of the route was runnable, but the drama of that wind and the 2 to 3 feet snow drifts in places, added a real sense of drama to the day that made the run a real adventure :)

I had not had chance to recce the parts from Bloworth to Osmotherly miles 18 to 32. There are some great climbs in this section and they come thick and fast. As I approached Osmotherly (second indoor checkpoint) I had consumed almost a full packet of fig rolls, but I was looking forward to some savoury food and a good drink of water!
After leaving the checkpoint at Osmotherly we hit some of the longest and deepest snow drifts with strong cross winds again. This section was pretty tough, and it was slow going wading through the snow. I was looking forward to reaching Sutton Bank,as from Sutton Bank you start the run in to the end at Helmsley. Once at Sutton Bank, time seemed to go into slow motion as I started the run into Helmsley. What kept me going was the desire to finish an Ultra without needing a head torch and on checking the time, it looked as though a sub 10 hour finish was still on the cards, if I could keep going at the same effort.

I managed to reach Helmsley in just under 10 hours and was delighted to have broken the 10 hours barrier in such challenging conditions. I was 14th overall.  Really pleased that I seemed to have proven to myself that running in fat burning mode for an ultra has enabled me to have one of my best finishes in a training race :) It was also the first ultra where I felt in control of the pacing throughout the whole route. I would also like to give a special thank you to Shelli, Hardmoors leading lady for helping me with pacing and route knowledge.  Also many thanks to Jon, the helpers and marshals. This is my second hardmoors race and I am big fan of their race series. I look forward to running the HM55 and HM60 again. I remain very nervous about joining the two together to run my first 100 miler later this year though :)

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Reflections and Projections

Well as of February 2013, I am I am now a V45 runner. Which has got me thinking about the last 3 years of running and more importantly what comes next. I became a runner after entering my first fell race called the Chevy Chase . Prior to that I had mainly been a mountain biker for fun at weekends and the occasional jogger. I was over weight and under trained for that race and it was hard work dragging my fat ass around that course. The course and the people running it inspired me though and decided I wanted to try this race again. I did a little more training for race the next year and did a little better. The death of my father in law made me look at life that year  and decide what was important. Losing weight and getting fitter was starting to take on more importance after the loss of John.

So I decided to enter Kielder trail marathon in 2011, I followed a beginners training plan and did the minimum to get by. As this was a trail marathon I started to do more of my training off road. Running on the trails was a real eye opener for me. It was entering my first Ultra that seemed to get me fired up to train properly. I think that the training during the winter of 2011 are what started a real thing for running! The off road training for the Ultra, made training seem less of a chore and I really started to enjoy running. It was also  a great excuse to go and run in some lovely places.

 Last year was full of some amazing highlights for me completing my first 50 mile and 100km Ultras. Running  sub 3 hours for a marathon. The sub 3 was a run where I managed to beat my expected A goal time by over 10 minutes and PB by over 30 minutes!  It was also great to have Jo and friends there to cheer me on. Completing my first 50 miler was a great feeling and so was finishing my first 100km. The 100km turned into a slog fest and has made seriously question my motivation for entering these very long runs. I also had a cold for the 2012 Chevy Chase so decided not to run. The event had to be routed due to bad weather so it would not have counted as a year to mark progression on the course time. I also won my first ever race :) The Northumberland Coastal marathon put on by the splendid North East Maraton Club was a fabulous course I ended up leaving Birtley Athletics and then Sunderland Strollers Running Club as trying to balance club nights, races and training etc was just not working for me. Running is a very individual thing for me. Both Birtley and Strollers are excellent clubs, having set sessions on set nights at set times, was just not working for me(or my family) and I would end up wasting time trying to constantly re-jiggle my training around club nights and events. I do still train with the Strollers on a Monday night at Penshaw when I can make it.

As for 2013. Well I started writing this article in January and it is now March. So my blogging is falling behind a bit! I have managed to keep up with my training over the winter. I am playing with my training and despite running the grand total of 2 trail marathons and 1 road marathon I am now following one of the plans from Advanced Marathoning (Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas) to take part in the Marathon of the North again at end of April 2013. I switched from the excellent Hanson Brothers plan as I needed a plan with higher mileages to help get ready for my attempt to run 100 miles. I do have a few curve balls added to the plan like running the Hardmoors 55  5 week out from my marathon :) My plan for the marathon is to try and PB, I am realising that I am unlikely to knock well over 30 mins from my PB like I did last time :) I will also be attempting my first 100 miler at the Hardmoors 110. More on that and other future races for another blog post though.  A key gamble for the 55 is that I am following a marathon training plan and keeping the pace work in the plan. I stopped most of my pace working during the summer and in hindsight, this was a mistake.I am also running more miles following a  marathon plan! I ran 180 miles in Jan after a slow start, 251 in February. So starting to average about 65 miles a week. I am also only running 5 days and pushing myself harder on the days that I do run. I am finding the speed sessions the hardest, but I found a secret weapon for helping and that is using the running app called Strava. It lets you and others mark segments of your runs to compare times against. So I have been tracking down local strava segments and pushing myself to run faster on segment sections. Using Strava also helps track progression in terms of times over key distances. Here is a link to my strava profile for anyone interested in checking Strava out It works on most GPS watches and smart phones. The only other reflection I have is that trail running is what I really enjoy. I still have to convince myself that I enjoy ultra running(50 miles plus)! So it might be that next year I run more trail races and less ultras. Talking of trail races. The Chevy Chase will be by number 1 A race for this year, really looking forward to this race. Alistair and I are making a real weekend of it and will be running the Coniston marathon the day after the Chevy ;) That is going to be a real leg burner!

Other random thoughts are I joined the runners world sub 3 forum and there are some very good, talented and experienced runners on that thread.  So on asking for sagely advice on how to improve I remember two things one was reading this book Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice (Syed). It is a very good read,a brief summary of the book is that you only get better at something by regular practise and training. The other advice followed on from this, do more training and miles to build endurance and get faster! Obvious innit!

With just over a week until the Hardmoors 55, my main hope for that race is that I keep the pacing at level sensible enough to be able to actually enjoy they day out! Here's to hoping I keep that promise not to charge off again!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

February Report Card


February should have been a return to routine and consistent miles, disappointingly circumstances made it harder still to adhere to a schedule. Where I did run there were lots of positives with a good marathon / half marathon back-to-back and some longer runs at a slightly quicker pace than of late.

Actual VS Plan:



This month’s running buddies and routes:

Gary Linacre (DAYTREKKER)     

Various routes on the Dukeries course and Belvoir Challenge

The Belvoir Challenge an off-road marathon, my second running of this event; it’s charm had diminished none; you are welcomed into the village of Harby as a VIP (the event is run in aid of the local school) and are treated to a tough route, across and around ploughed fields, over open grass and along narrow rutted paths, all through the very pretty Vale of Belvoir, running past Belvoir Castle at the run’s high point. The aid stations are stocked with hot drinks, home-made cakes and flap jacks. On return to the school hall a bowl of soup and lovely home-made crumble awaits. All for an entry fee of just £16, awesome.

Training Thoughts:
Frustrated is the word that most readily jumps to mind; two months into the year and I am already over 40% behind plan. I do take some solace from knowing I have not missed a run through choice I am though very unhappy to be so far from target.

One of my favourite ultra-running quotes comes from David Horton “pain is inevitable, suffering optional” – without a significant uplift in training frequency, intensity and volume I am clearly heading for some needless suffering in races later this year.

Whilst not where I wanted to be it’s not all bad news I have at times been pleasantly surprised with some good running in training further there are no real niggles or ailments to report. The Belvoir Challenge is the first marathon I have finished having felt comfortable throughout, I didn’t wear a Garmin but the pace felt very even throughout and I was fresh enough to run a half-marathon the following day.

Start of month 84.2 kilos (13st 7lbs)

End of month 82.3 kilos (12st 13lbs)

Very pleased indeed to be back under the 13st threshold, focus firmly on the next milestone of 12st 7lbs.

Clearly the number one priority is to find some consistency by adhering much more closely to the plan I have in place. As I am likely to have some time off towards the end of the month then this should be easier.
I had been considering a run out at the Hardmoors 55 however weighing up potential injury risk, interruption to training and frustration at running it slower than I might like, to take account for being a little out of condition, I have decided against it. I still have to exorcise the pain of a DNF at Hardmoors 60 last year so will save myself, at least Hardmoors wise, for a return to that race this year.

I do hope to enjoy a few trots out with fellow MDS runners and to get up to the Peak District to finalise the route for my proposed April FatAss event, details to follow.

To learn more about my plans for this and next year, including the charity I am raising money for please visit: