Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NOTHING TO WEAR

        Apologies for lack of blogging this week....I've actually been quite busy of late. Now those of you who know me well, will countenance with, 'busy at what?' I shall not be offended but training was part of it and that word 'work' was the other. Anyway I have been asked several times this week how much training I'm doing..........strangely nobody has asked how much work. My next race is only 25 days away and so I am trying to do as much running as I can before I begin 'Tapering'; which I will explain at a later date. Very basically  I alternate one day running and stretching and the next a myriad of excersises including, sit ups, crunches, planks, squats, hip flexors, 100's, press ups, cat vomits (yes, thats what I said), burpees, superman, sprints  etc etc. Now as previously mentioned I don't go to the gym, I'm not against it, its just I'm not a gym person,....too loud, too many people, too complicated.........actually this sounds like I am against it! each to there own. I also do pilates. I've run about 60 Kilometres this week ( about 8 hours mostly up and down and uphill again - ouch!) I usually have one rest day per week. Yesterday I should have done a long run (4+ hours) but decided as I'm going to the mountains on friday to help acclimatisation, I would do it there.
        My plan is to run some of the route for the July race. I have been advised that due to the elevation of 7,500 feet (2,500 metres) that this may be a little adventurous for my first 37K run, which is just short of a marathon. Also, because of the height, it could take up to a third longer than a road run ie 1.3 marathons, we shall see. Much more importantly to my female readers...I haven't got a thing to wear! ( yeh,yeh sexist I know). This may sound odd but yesterday I appeared to Sue in what she described as 'support tights' and asked me, head in hands, 'What was  I wearing?'...........'They are compression socks and  help minimise soreness and fatigue' I said............'You look ridiculous' she replied; completely baffled by the whole thing . I do hope they work because looking like a complete idiot whilst being carried away on a stretcher is definitely not cool.
      Whilst in the shop I was considering new trail shoes and its just a minefield and I hardly know where to begin. Can anybody give any rock solid suggestions? The problem I have is that I don't know if they are for me until I've run a few hours......and unfortunately the shop don't want their dirty, smelly trainers back after I've used them.....and to be fair they have a point.. Next, its shorts, shirts, water packs, gloves, poles, hats, shades,......and apparently the girls wear 'moisture wicking knickers'...........the mind boggles!!
       I just want to run in the woods for a bit,; this is all getting totally out of hand.
       So, back to me, this race. I have recently discovered that after 24K's if I don't make this point after a specific time I will be pulled from the race; apparently its for your own good because they know you are not going to last to the end, fair enough and its standard practice in trail running the only problem is the French website has an unfortunate translation of this occurence........

                'If a rider (???) fails to make the cut off time they will be arrested and deported to the nearest village in a van along with the other failures.'

 Bloody hell, its not enough to get pulled out, now I will have to face the ignmony of incarceration by the 5th Republic in ball and chains!!!!............
        Is it all worth it?
   

Friday, June 24, 2011

TOO HOT TO HANDLE

     As Sandy commented in an earlier blog, Monument Valley in 130 degee heat might not be the best place to run ( hence my 5:30am after sunrise start) but she has a point, running in the heat is a whole different ball game.    
     Now some of you may have heard of the Badwater (Death valley...24 hour endurance race, 235 kilometeres)....yes thats what I said..... and even the Marathon des Sables (6 days 120 degrees 241 kilometers) and quite rightly will have difficulty getting your head around it.......me included. But this is what human beings can do; at least I think they're human beings. Anyway, my point is this, living in the South of France running in the summer in temps of 85 to 90 degrees is quite normal and for many, many runners not that exceptional......except I was born in Yorkshire and my ancient ancestors were Vikings!  Now correct me if I am wrong but to an ex-Viking this is seriously tough and well outside my comfort zone. Factor 50 suncream, 3 litres of water and a hat is all I've got between me and the nearest Star and.......well I could run out of adjectives but if it sounds difficult thats because it is.
       I take all manner of gels and power bars and isotonic drinks but all this plus water and pack adds about 3:5 kilograms or nearly 8 pounds in weight and tends to increase the discomfort further. True, you do lose all of this as you go but after 2 or 3 hours you don't get any cooler......you get hotter and thats when the next two problems can rear their ugly head. Dehydration is the obvious one and so stopping, getting into the shade and drinking liquid is the key, hence the isotonic drinks......but in severe cases you need to be on a drip!...Now unfortunately, last time I was in the mountains I didn't spot any sexy nurses with an affable bedside manner hanging around the place. However, bad as this is, there is a much bigger problem and its called Hypotremia.
          No not Hypothermia,......Hypotremia.....I guess the Latin scholars  (or is it Greek ?) amongst you can spot the connection, simply put, one is hot and the other is cold and both can kill you. What am I banging on about now you ask? Its a  medical condition brought on by drinking too much water. Due to sweating etc and the heat you end up washing all the salts and electrolytes out of your body leaving you dizzy with cramps and fainting...and it has been known in endurance runners to induce a coma and even worse. The other problem can be that the symptons are very similar to dehydration so you drink more and so your whole system gets even more out of whack. Its  therefore a balance to consume fluid regularly whilst replacing the lost electrolytes with isotonic drinks and sports gels etc. My particular favourite is Pedialyte,...yes its what they give kids when they have dehydration sickness. Its more gentle on the stomach.....and as I am such a sensitive soul it works for me.
        After a run I stretch alot, take on more fluid; chocolate milk is another good replacement drink and eat and thats me done. My fellow runners may have other routines and suggestions and I will be grateful to pass these on.
        There is an excellent video in six parts on You tube, see link,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuIVN3fp0eU&feature=related   that may give you some idea of what this blog 'Trail Junkie' is all about. Its a story about the Westen States 100 endurance run which I find fascinating and inspiring in equal measure. Its a dream and a holy grail for many runners, including myself, and if you get hooked you might just go out, buy some trainers and discover a whole new dimension. This years race starts Saturday 25th July at 5am West coast USA time and goes all the way through the night into the following day, 24 hours later....non stop......Please take some time out to watch this documentary.
         After starting this blog yesterday, in the heat, I waited till 7 pm and went out into the cool, dusky, evening air for a 2hrs-45 min run amongst the pine trees. It was so beautiful, peaceful and life affirming that I just kept going till it fell dark. This is the reason why I run....the other stuff is just background noise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

STAR TREK

                      Now why would I call todays blog - Star Trek?  - Watch the video. I have been asked several questions recently. What and Why Green drink and JuicePlus+? What are tabata's? When's your next race? Won't you damage your joints with all that running? You might get a heart attack? What's the difference between road and trail? Bonking?? etc etc.
     There are many types of Green drink, after experimenting with quite a few I came to settle on Dr Nameth Sheridan's 'Superfood' which is licensed by Kiki Health in the UK. Made up of minerals and plants such as wheat grass, broccoli, seaweed, alfalfa, parsley, cactus, nettle juice, spinach , ginger root as well as  algaes, enzymes and a serious probiotic mixture. Check out the link  http://www.kiki-health.co.uk/Products/Supplements/Natures_Superfood.asp?referrer=AW3&gclid=COXAhaf_xqkCFYEMfAodb0rMUw  There are many benefits but I must stress that this a food and not a supplement. It also helps to alkalize your system, I could bang on about this all day - and as many of you know - I do. Very basically many of our health problems are associated with acid in our system caused by food, drink, stress and so on and this drink helps to re-establish the alkali balance, so many common diseases fail to grow in your body because it is now a non acid enviroment. I have taken it everyday for 8 years. It looks like pond water- and some would say tastes like pond water- whatever......it works. I also combine it with a further Avanced Probiotic (Neways) and Juice Plus+.
      Why all three?  I feel this way I am covering all the basics and JuicePlus+ gives me the guarantee of all my fruit and veg intake (without the sugar) for the day. This Big Three combination has so many benefits when combined that I can't recommend them highly enough. For example after my 4.5 hour runs I have no aches or injuries at all. No lactic acid build up. No stiffness. No limping around. My heart rate is now 47 and the next day it will be back to 47 and I can run again....the next day! Of course I  have a healthy diet too but it all helps. For more info on Juice Plus+ check out  http://www.juiceplus.co.uk/ or if in France,call Christine on 0633273767
      Tabata's- Dr Izumi Tabata is the man who discovered this remarkable 4 minute excersise, yes, 4 MINUTES. Its a type of interval training and has the same cardio effect as  45 minutes of normal aerobic excercise.....sign me up I hear you say. Take an excersise such as sprints for example ( it works better with large muscle groups) Sprint FULL OUT for 20 seconds, rest for ten and then repeat this 8 times. Thats it. Do once a week. The first few times I did it I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It's also a massive fat burner.
       My next race is the 37 k run in late July in Val d'allos, the ski resort, with 7400 feet ( 2250 metres) elevation. I'am a bit nervous for several reasons, firstly its 37 k, nearly twice as far as my last race, its in the thin mountain air - of which I have no experience- and finally, the first climb is  3300 feet (1000 metres) straight up and the highest straight climb I've ever done straight up is 1750 feet (530 metres), so go figure.
      Joint damage and heart attacks. All this is primarily in the hands of the Almighty however, due to the surface, trail runs are more forgiving than road runs and I have an extensive stretching, pilates and physio regime and my diet. Despite what you read in the papers you are much more likely to have a heart attack than if you don't run rather than if you do. (One study showed a 42% reduced risk of heart disease for those who ran for more than one hour per week)
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1169591/
      The main difference between road and trail running is, in trail running, there's nobody there!!! which is great; no cars, no noise, no people, just nature, fantastic. TRY IT. I know a few women who have expressed a concern about their safety and I understand but you see so few people, the thought of some homicidal maniac hanging out on top of a mountain waiting for a lone female jogger strikes me as slightly absurd. I do see the occasional runner and its actually about 50/50 men and women. Usually the girls are going so fast I doubt if anyone could catch them! In fact one of them could be the previously mentioned Juice Plussed up Christine.
     And finally; Bonking. If only this was something I could look forward to on a trail but sadly it is not. Simply put, if you run out of Glycogen, you stop and cannot go on.The Wall is a more commonly known expression. I've come close to it and have seen people suffer from it and its not a pretty sight as it can be accompanied by hallucinations and worse. Even well trained athletes can only store a maximum of two hours of glycogen plus there are other dangers such as Dehydration and Hyponatremia. Essentially if you keep your water, carbs, proteins, salts etc balanced and adequate then you are okay but on a long run with hills and heat its not always easy to work out and you HAVE to work it out all on your own........cos, as I said earlier, there's nobody else there!!
      Its fun this trail running lark.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT.

Just done a 30k, 4 hour training run in the hills. Why?? I hear you ask.....and its actually a good question. As you are all aware I am training to become an endurance athlete. The criteria for this is relatively simple...you must run a distance more than a marathon within certain time guidelines. The standard is 50k or 50 miles (80k), with the ultra endurance athletes covering 100k or 100 miles(160k). These runs can take anything from 5 hours to 30 hours.....non stop.
        In some respects you already qualify as an endurance athlete just by doing the training. Since I began this quest two months ago I have averaged running, in total,64 k per week or 40 miles. I remember many years ago seeing a picture of two guys climbing a local mountain, well I say climbing, they were running up it. I turned to Jamie, 'I know that mountain, thats not a race, I mean, people don't do that do they?'.......'Yep'   said Jamie 'and its 55 kilometres'. I was- and still am- aghast at how this was possible. Now Jamie had run the 'Comrades' in South Africa in his youth and thats two marathons back to back, so, respect...but this was up mountains as well!
      I have since run all parts of the 55k course but not all at the same time so I now know - or I think I know- what is involved........and its much harder than even I imagined.....and thats the challenge.
         Now first, here's the good news. I have read and researched extensively about all this and there is a school of thought and a discipline coming out of California - of course - called Crossfit Endurance. The basic theory is that you do short, half hour bursts, of highly intensive mixed fitness routines, including weights, excersises, sprints etc.......and NO long runs. Sounds fab and I have tried to incorporate some of this into what I do. Without being technical this anearobic activity actually assists and improves the aerobic capacity needed for endurance athletes. It focuses on strength because when doing these runs its your legs ( quads, hip flexors, calves etc) that will give out before anything else. Having done a few long distances I get this, but - but hears the bad news - common sense tells me that you need physical AND mental prep to keep going for such a long period of time so, tough as it is, I will continue with one long run per week.
        As with all relatively new ideas there are people who swear by Crossfit and others who think its snake oil but being a person who always likes to cover his arse; I do a bit of both.
           However what I do know is that Tabata ( look it up) and other Crossfit regimes do burn calories for far longer after the workout, than do long aerobic sessions, so its worth it to everyone to explore these ideas.
        Many people comment on my blogs and its both useful, funny and illuminating ....but nearly everyone does it privately by email, which is fine......I guess you're all shy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

OBSESSION

video

Obsession seems to be one of those words that is only ever associated with certain types of activity.......and nearly always has a negative conotation. Excuse me for being defensive for a moment. People can be obsessed with work or a person they find attractive but mostly I here it labelled at anybody who excersises a lot....... and always by people who don't. I find this curious; I never here anyone say someone is obsessed about eating or partying into the early hours or drinking or reading or fishing or shopping for shoes or handbags or, or, or....and even if they do it is always light hearted and non judgemental; so why do we fitness types get such a bad rap and what is the reason for this. Generally speaking I keep a low profile but recently I have thought why? and hence this blog. If your goal is to become healthy and fit or to just maintain your health, I believe it should be celebrated and encouraged rather than denigrated or ridiculed. The Brits and some of the French are particularly vociferous at the latter. There is, of course, one place where encouragement is the norm and that is California........but they're all nuts I hear you mutter, you see, there you go again. I believe excersise should be classed, at worst, as a healthy addiction and at best as an example of dedication and character.
      I remember many years ago I had just returned from a run and was in the middle of some rather strenuous press ups and various people were giving me jibes about what I was doing until one person -a Californian - passed by and shouted  'Doesn't that feel great!'. I know, I know, perhaps a little over the top for us urbane English but at least it was encouraging.....and it made me smile.
     Some of you have asked exactly how much do I excersise and what do I eat. Now this really is going to sound obsessive but bear in mind that to my other fit friends I am a complete lightweight, so its all relative.

Average weekly excersise routine.

Monday       AM-  1 hour easy10k run in hills average elevation gain 1500 feet (500 metres)
                    PM - Various excersises inlc 60 press ups, planks, 50 squats, Pilates etc
Tuesday       AM - 20 mins Tabata sprints
                    PM - Rest
Wednesday AM - 4 hour 25k run in hills average elevation gain 2100 feet (700 metres)
                    PM - Rest
Thurday       AM - One Hour fast walk
                    PM - Rest
Friday          AM- Tabata sprints,30 mins uphill.
                    PM- Various excersises incl hip flexors, press ups , abs work, pilates etc
Saturday      AM - One hour fast walk
                    PM- Rest
Sunday         AM -13k  tempo run 1hr-20 mins
                    PM - Rest
I wiil then vary this training  over the next week and repeat; with lots of stretching.  Any comments or advice will be gratefully recieved.
       Rather than list everything I eat I thought I would just briefly summarise. I don't drink or smoke, I eat very little red meat and tend to eat chicken or fish. I have a mixed salad with no dressing every lunchtime and we eat very early in the evening before 7 pm. I do eat carbs but usually only 3 to 4 times per week and very small portions. This is sometimes difficult to balance because carbs are a pre-requisite for endurance running but from my research protein is just as important and so nuts are also included for this reason and  also for the 'good' fats they provide. Obviously we eat alot of vegetables and some fruit but not much and besides I supplement this with two 'Juice plus' capsules.
   Breakfast is always a half litre of green drink, not only for the abundance of nutrients but also to assist in alkalizing the blood stream plus a probiotic capsule whose benefits are too numerous to mention - trust me. After this, two handfulls of mixed organic meusli with extra almonds and oats, no milk or sugar.......and one ripe banana. Later I may have another probiotic mixture included in a shake with greek yoghurt, melon, strawberries and more green drink but not everyday. I drink at least two litres of water a day but when running, considerably more as my 'sweat rate' is about 1.2 ltres an hour. I will also be consuming gels and power bars which add to the Carb intake if I am running more that 90 minutes. (Glycogen depletion).
       Finally the BAD stuff, yes I do eat crap as well. I have two chocolate croissants and two coffees whilst reading my morning paper and after lunch and dinner will have 3 chocolat biscuits with a cup of tea. I figure with everything else I do I can get away with it. I have no idea if this regime is the right or wrong way but I have a fit and healthy physique, low body fat, healthy blood composition, excellent immune system and a low resting heart rate of 49. I intend to constantly improve my diet and excersise regime through research, advice and testing.........I am also aware that many things in life are far beyond my control but at least I am giving it my best shot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

....FAT.....

              If the average person runs for 30 minutes he will burn a Mars Bar or a glass of wine in calories.       
           I used to play five-a-side football three times per week and there was a gym near the car park and every other day women would file out of their dance/step /whatever class with their rolled up mats, leggings and sweat tops. This was a very impressive commitment year in and year out.....but there was one slight problem....they were all fat, not overweight but fat. I saw the same people for years and I just couldn't get my head around what for me and my footy mates was blindingly obvious. Were they looking in a mirror? I would have asked for my money back.I could see that they actually felt good about themselves. ..'Just been to my dance class' blah blah blah. Now you may think I am being nasty, after all, at least they were trying and thats true but all they were actually doing was getting fatter. However the really scary thing about all this was that I was as guilty as them......and I didn't see it either.
      This was 17 years ago, I looked fit and healthy but I wasn't. I was 15st-7lbs, (thats 217 pounds!). Just like the dance class I believed because I played football, vigorously, three times a week I was in good shape.
35% of Americans and 25% of Brits are clinically obese and a great many more are fat or overweight. We ALL know why.....we eat too much and don't exercise enough. WRONG!!!!!!! I now way 12st-6lbs (174 pounds). Thats 3st-1lb (or 43 pounds ) LESS. And I have more muscle ( which is supposed to weigh more), so what is going on?  Even more scary 90% of Americans believe they  eat a healthy diet.
      There are two problems with exercising A You feel hungry and B You believe you can now eat because its your reward for all the calories burnt. The result is you eat more than you lost. I personally find that drinking alot of water just after excersise helps and also a healthy protein /carb snack- nuts, fruit, glass of skimmed milk etc seems for me to work best. There is a great deal of research on this but psychologically I tell myself that the fact I have exersised makes no difference to what I would normally eat. Suprisingly long, slow, low intensity training can and does temporarily supress my appetite.
         The main thing is we all know excercise is good for us in so many ways that the benefits are endless-just watch out on the eating afterwards.
                  So why did I say 'Wrong' to eating and excersising; You have to do the right kind of excersise and learn how your body works...Aerobic is the obvious answer but many high intensity workouts are just as effective. Secondly its not how much we eat but what we eat.I am constantly  staggered at what people think is healthy and what isn't. A tiny bit of reasearch will tell you all you need to know. I tend to assume that I am stupid and need to educate myself more and then hopefully I will keep going in the right direction.
      Its all a learning curve but food labelling today can be highly illuminating. I did this experiment....try it.
I visited the local store and looked at the fat, salt and calorie content of 10 different HEALTHY meusli/ organic type, breakfast cereals.....ie the good ones.  Per 100 grams the fat content alone ranged from 3 to 16 grams. My case rests.........Its a jungle out there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RUN AROUND THE WORLD

 One of the great joys of Trail running is that you can run anywhere anytime. Trainers and a pair of shorts and thats basically it....you just go. This is fantastic....most of the time. I have run the Grand Canyon,( Bear dodging), Las Vegas ( Hot), Mont Blanc (cold...not up it I hasten to add, just around the base). Hong Kong, along the Peak( It was here that my friend Jamie once advised me 'Don't run at night, along the old road, after a rainstorm, as all the Cobra's get washed on to the path'....When I told him where I had been he exclaimed, 'Thats where I told you not to go!) Oops, thought he meant somewhere else. Table top mountain, Cape town....also Johannesburg (which was more scary than probably anywhere else as I thought I was going to get shot or mugged any minute - my friend Brophy, told me it was perfectly safe but then again he was brought up in the 'Bush' in Zimbabwe so what would he know. Bejing ( odd), Great Wall of China (Breathtaking, literally), Rome (around the Colloseum and up and down the Circus Maximus Ben Hur track which was just cool - its a guy thing.).
       The Manchester Ship Canal ( I know, very glamorous, but it was fascinating as it wanders under the city and its bizarre at 6 am in the half light), Palm Springs (It was here I encountered a group of extremely well dressed youg men coming towards me very, very early one morning and I thought what odd looking runners. As I got closer I realised they were a bunch of gay guys who had just left the nightclub! - now they were giving me funny looks). New York ( This was with Jamie, the most consistent runner I know. His pace never changes 30 mins or 5 hours, makes no difference. It drives me nuts as I think he's going faster, 'No Phil, you are going slower'.........'Oh bugger off'.)
     Barbados, with Samantha,...or was it Jools, as one is a girl and the other a guy, my memory is obviously gone........its all that running. ( It was hear I got accosted by Monkeys, luckily I think it was Sam they were after thank God ; besides, NOTHING fazes her, so I let her get on with it - you see the age of chivalry is not dead). The whole of France and the UK (nearly), Turkey ( where two years after I ran in the hills above Fethiye some jogger got kidnapped - he must have been a bit slow.), the Italian Lakes, LA (California Beach jogging, say no more),  Toronto (which takes the prize for the most boring place to run ever, sorry, I have now just offended my sister and her entire family.) And  finally, miles and miles of Meditteranean Beaches....... I have never run through the jungle as I just feel that I  might be tempting fate and besides as you already know I am a total coward.
      So where is the best place in the World that I have ever run ? I realise and hope that I will continue my search for many years but having considered it long and hard the answer, to date, has to be  Monument Valley at 5 am just after the sun has risen. - ( A local Navajo said I could run off into the Desert but I must stick to a track marked by some small stones....which were basically non existent - must be an Indian thing. 'Any advice' I asked 'Eagle that flies backwards' or whatever his name was.......'Yes' - as he looked away in that wonderful  American Indian kind of way - 'Don't stop'.........I nodded a thank you, believing we had connected on some ancient spiritual pathway. Actually he was probably born and raised in downtown Phoenix....but I'm into all that crap.) Anyway, as I stood miles from anywhere deep in the desert surrounded by those giant primordial rock mesa's I could only think one thing - 'This is it!'.... I suppose I could go on but I think you get the picture, most of the time trail running is a peaceful heaven on earth and I feel very blessed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

SNAKES, DOGS, BEES, BEARS.......

              SNAKES, DOGS, BEES, BEARS........

Here is a beautiful picture of a waterfall, if only all runs were as perfect as this. I hardly know where to start. The hazards of trail running start with the obvious; you fall over alot and cut yourself badly, sprain and twist things and in my case last year broke my leg. Most of the time you just have to get on with it infact its a miracle I have'nt been hurt more often. Technique, training, stretching or biomechanics as they call it today can play a large part in keeping you injury free however some things are out of your control. Dogs must be the number one hazard. If you run in woods in well populated areas the general public always seem to leave their dogs off  the leash and when they attack you they ALL say, 'Well its never happened before he's normally very docile' thats usually just after he's taken a chunk out of my leg.......and then they suggest its my fault! Sue says I am a 'pack leader' and so they feel threatened. They feel threatened!!! Nowadays if I see a dog I just go another way its just not worth it however getting stung and attacked by bees has also happened but that's clearly my fault because I obviously smell like honey. I have come very close to Wild Boar and I have actually been attacked by a low flying Duck protecting its young in a river....'QUACK QUACK QUACK' ..I nearly had a heart attack.
       When running along the rim of the Grand Canyon about 6 AM I felt totally at one with nature and all passed of peacfully well but when I returned to the lodge the local Ranger said I had behaved irresponsibly and said I should not have gone out alone..'Why' ........' Because of wild Bears'...... 'Your kidding'.......'Nope'......'Are they dangerous?' said the naive Englishman.......'Well' said the Ranger..'You are in their home, I would never go out without my rifle'. Although its a scary thought I don't think anything ever prepares you for your first Snake encounter.
       In the USA in deserts you look out for Rattlers, in Europe its Vipers, in Asia Cobra's and Vipers but the list is endless and when running you are always hearing strange slithery noises in the bushes. It scares the crap out of me. On one occasion in France on a lovely warm summers day I stopped about 15 feet from a small black Viper. I remember being told that they are the worst but don't worry they always run away quickly when they sense a human. IT DIDN'T. It rose up and looked at me and I thought why is it not scuttling off. It tuurned to me as if to say  'I am a Viper and I am not going anywhere........What are you going to do?' Shit...I began to slowly back away and then I turned and shot off in the opposite direction convinced it was chasing after me. I had been running for two hours but I think I did  the 100 metres faster than Usain Bolt !
       I had visions of the Viper smiling to himself and saying  'What a pussy'.  And yes.......I am.





      THE PUSSY

Sunday, June 12, 2011

EXCUSES EXCUSES

                       EXCUSES EXCUSES

Well as you can see I got the t-shirt and very proud I was too as I flaunted myself around Cannes that evening. I had run half marathons on roads before and usually felt tired and sore afterwards but two days after this race I had a much bigger problem......I felt fine. This concerned and perplexed me. What was going on ? If I may digress slightly. Whenever I tell anyone I run I am always met with a barrage of reasons of why the people I am talking to can't or don't excercise. This is odd for two reasons, firstly I didn't ask them and secondly.....wait for it......its bullshit. I can feel some squirming. Okay, so what am I going on about. If I were to give my excuses for why I personally cannot run they would be as follows....... Deep breath......

1 - I have scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) this causes acute back pain and poor alignment of shoulder and hip joints.
2 -  I am short sighted and cannot see very clearly 4 feet ahead. ( Not good for running)
3 - Skin melanoma on nose. It won't kill me yet but I am advised to stay out of the sun for long periods of time.
4 - Possible heart condition, my Father, Grandfather and Great grandfather all died at 59.....I am 56.
5 - I have a kneecap suplaxation,ie my knee joint keeps popping in and out if I twist at all......very painful.
6 - Broke my leg one year ago straining and damaging tendons etc.
7 - Complicated pronate. My foot strike hits the outside of my foot and then rolls in causing acute strain on my knees and up into my thighs.
8  - Arthritis

  I think thats it but you never know...........anyway you get my point. We can always find reasons NOT to do something but you have to find a way to live with your problems and adapt so that you can get on with your goal no matter what.
Two days after the race I went out and ran two thirds of the 33K course in 3 hours, not only was it hard and difficult it was also beautiful and invigorating.......maybe I had potential!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

THE RACE IS ON.

                THE RACE IS ON

And we're off, well they are all of, I'am actually having a last minute pee due to the amount of water I've consumed so I chase on after the group as they charge up the first hill. This is somewhat unnerving but I stay with it as the rain lashes down and people start slippng and falling all over the place. I thought I lived in the South of France this is more like Manchester (or Seattle for our American friends.) I get to the big climb of 1500 feet which is a lot considering we started on the beach; more rocks, streams, mud and impenetrable bushes. The french have a habit of saying things as they pass you by or vice versa and as my french is useless I just grunt 'Boff,' this is a wonderful french expression which is utterly meaningless and serves the purpose brilliantly; besides what on earth do I want to talk them about as I'm struggling for breath! Incredibly and after nearly an hour of blood sweat and tears, I finally make it to the top and find myself above the clearing mist revealing an amazing view. This is great (sort of !).

 Now its downhill and they are sprinting along, what to me is a sheer cliff, full of loose rocks. I'am convinced someone is going to break something and I hear later somebody did! Crikey. I pass several people who took off too quickly, ( a well known runners error something that, gratefully, I'am incapable of doing). They are 'throwing up' and do not look good. Before this race I had to have a compulsory medical and my french doctor thought we were all nuts and he was the official race medic!...Go figure. I like the next bit, no hills, nice and flat and I feel pretty good until a guy who must have been 15 years older than me speeds by, my pride is hurt and I chase after him, yes, he's nearly 70 and he's my prey; pathetic isn't it. More climbs and cliffs and I finally get back to the beach where I race a very peeved German to the finish line ( I know  he's German because he swore at me in German.) Sue and Alexander are there to meet me, 2 hours and 20 mins over a very hard 20 k's. They say the goal of your first trail race is just to finish but I was very proud to see I came 110th out of 150. My mate Cedric appeared and thanked me for my earlier advice. Alexander thought this hilarious. 'You never speak to anyone'..........'Well you know us trail runners we're a breed apart.' Sue's eyes rolled to the heavens..'Still talking shit'.

Friday, June 10, 2011

ROMANCE VERSUS REALITY

So I'am driving through the village and theres a picture of two cool dudes running up a hill advertising three different trail runs..20k, 34k and 52k and a light went on. Could I run 20k through the hills of where I live, surely possible if I run 10k normally so full of self belief I signed up and went on a practice run through some of the course. It was hard but doable and this was in normal trainers. Next step was to buy some cheap trail shoes to test ( Iam a Yorkshireman after all), then a cheap camelback that held 2 litres of water,special socks,hat, trail vest, shorts....I looked quite the proffesional  until Sue informed me that I looked a total dork.... but I would not be deterred.
 I only had two weeks to 'break' the shoes and myself in. I became further enlightened on the second exploration when the markers had been put out for the actual trail which is when I came across those rocks in Blog no1. This was part of the actual course and I thought,'they must be joking'. This was the first of many suprises of what is expected on these trails.....I had no idea.
The thought of running 20k through these beautiful hills I find quite romantic but of course when you are actually doing it.....tired,bruised, hot and completely knackering is more the reality.
Soon the BIG day arrived. I had trained in fabulous sunshine but race day had decided to turn into Armegeddon. My friend Nick said 'forget it, too dangerous, you must be mad'. I must admit I had my doubts, running over rocks and up and down steep Category 1 gradients in this weather was a bit dicey. Undeterred I arrived to find over 25% of the runners had failed to show due to the conditions.I wasn't nervous at this point I was bloody terrified. When I had gone to pick up my 'Trail de Balcon' shirt the day before they smiled and said 'No monsieur, you get it after the race'. They all found this hilarious especially the hardy endurance lot who resembled Special Forces Navy seals. In the midst of this wet group of 150 hardy souls a french guy, Cedric, asked me if he needed two shirts or three ( like as if I knew). I nonchalantly said 'No, two is fine I know this area well'. What a prat, for all I knew Cedric and myself were about to die of hyperthermia. I was swallowing water, bananas,gels,powerbars, isotonic drinks like there was no tommorrow...I must have looked like a complete amateur; and thats because I was.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The First Hit of Endurance


ENDURANCE TRAIL RUNNING

I suppose anyone looking at this first image of my first Blog and the seeing the title Trail Junkie would be excused for being somewhat confused; Firstly by the title and secondly by the picture of a selection of very large rocks....I shall endeavour to explain.
    At 56 years of age to take up a sport such as this might be considered a little reckless, no I don't mean rock climbing, although it sometimes feels like it. For many years now I have run for one hour, three times per week, no more no less. It kept me fit and though I regarded it as nothing unusual only a few of my peers did anything even remotely similar namely Samantha, Julian and James (sounds like a 70's rock band). In fact these 3 people are the only people I have ever run with but as they all live in different countries I run alone for 99% of the time. Luckily I quite like my own company ( somebody has too) so there you go.
       I run quite slowly, don't like hills, have never had a runner's 'high' and a for every 3 out of 10 runs find it really hard to motivate myself, so why is this Blog called Trail Junkie and the title Endurance  Running. To be an endurance runner you have to run more than a marathon in one go (for example 50 kilometres or 31 miles) and with trail running this includes hills, deserts, snow, mud, rocks, rivers and mountains. It is therefore considerably harder and more demanding than just a road but to me it is far more rewarding. So what has changed me from a regular jogger into a nutcase! It started with a poster on a wall in the village of Theoule where I live in the South of France.