Happy day

Well, a pace run planned for today and so I decided to get out at lunchtime.

Look at the route here

My normal route at present is from the EBRD in Liverpool street, London, through all the city workers down to the Tower of London. Then the city suits turn into tourists and on a day like this 90% of the time is spent dodging vacationing Americans, Germans and Japanese, to name but a few. The digital cameras are poised to snap some of the world’s best know landmarks, Tower bridge, the Tower of London, “the Gherkin” with cameras, taking pictures like this…

Off from the tower (past traitor’s gate, etc.) dodging more tourists, along the embankment to the RAF memorial (between Hungerford and Waterloo Bridge) then back to the city, dodging more tourists queuing for river rides, and of course the other million runners who all seem to run along the embankment – popular route πŸ™‚ but on a day like today, it is easy to see why.

One often becomes blase regarding the history in London, the richness of the architecture and the culture. it is a fantastic place and I have to remind myself how privileged I am to be able to run there.

Rest day

Well, even a rest day need some exercise – rowing and some upper body circuits today. After yesterday, my legs are a touch stiff, but nothing significant, but my upper body is ‘fatigued’ from the rucksack. I am beginning to realise that the stretching and core-strength exercises are going to be essential for this ordeal – to make it enjoyable anyway.

Will have to sort this out as it won’t be good to be feeling like this after the first day next March.

Oh, BTW – just to confirm I’m in the London Marathon next year as well (place deferred from this year) – only trouble is it’s the 13th April, i.e. week after the MdS. Good news is, if I survive the MdS, the FLM should be a breeze!


Anyway, this made me laugh.

Met up with Rob Urwin this evening, another friend (from Vodafone) who is also entered for the MdS race next year. He has been recovering from a long term injury (plantar fasciitis) but is now well and truly motivated for the race which I’m chuffed about. Good on you Rob.

Long run, heat and mind games

Now I’m not one to winge and moan about a task that I’ve set myself, but my mind does seem to want to make things difficult for me.

For example, today – long run planned as usual – 19 miles today in keeping with the preparation for the Amsterdam Marathon and the MdS in general – i.e. 10 weeks to Amsterdam, so 6 weeks of long runs (approx 20miles planned) while ramping up the speedwork. Fairly basic training schedule.

Guildford from Hogsback - Beautiful DaySo Tim and I set out on our run today full of optimism after the good race performance on Wednesday.

After about 11 miles, however, my mind had other ideas.

Legs were fine(ish) but body (from carrying 9kg backpack) and mind (from I don’t know what) were exhausted, and putting one foot in front of the other was becoming an effort.

So, the upshot was lots of walking from this point and a run of 18miles in 3 hours, but another mile or so in total walked.

On the upside, the run/walk thing will be good training for the MdS, as a lot of it will be compulsory, and in addition my blisters are fine and have not caused a problem. So as ever, it is an ill wind, etc, etc.

The other thing about today’s run was the heat – not sure on the actual temp but it was forecast to be 26-28 deg C. So nothing compared to the sahara (!) or even the London Marathon this year, but compared to the recent meteorological mediocrity we have experienced, it made a nice change.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Probably look into more food this week, along with a return to a 40-45 mile running week.

Gastric delights and toenails

Maybe not the best two subjects to converse on in the same piece of correspondence, however, I can assure any avid readers the relationship is purely coincidental.

When running the Marathon des Sables, the event is referred to as “221km in free style and a food self-sufficiency”, which basically means run, walk or crawl, but you’re taking your food with you for 6 days! – so, what do you pack for an event like this?

Well, weight is obviously crucial, which will limit the initial water content of the supplies, but also running this type of endurance event, implies a calorie usage far in excess of the normal 2500 daily estimate for a male.

So a good mix of mainly carbohydrate, protein, fat and minerals (to counter salts lost through sweating) in a lightweight form is the order of the day. Getting used to it is another thing.

So this morning I started testing foods to test my reaction to them – raw rolled oats this morning – not too bad with milk and sugar, but it will be dried milk in the desert.

Other thoughts at the moment are nuts of various type, probably pistachios and cashews, along with other cereal bars. The journey continues…

Meanwhile, my left foot middle toenail has had to be extricated from its toe (again!) as it was coming off (from a run a couple of weeks ago I think) and the ne toenail was again growing underneath.

Maybe I need to see a chiropodist – hmmm! too embarrassed to do that, as my feet are a mess.

Swim recovery

Always a good way to recover – cross-train.

Nevertheless, went for a short run (6 miles) last night, a nice undulating course around Guildford, but obviously took it easy after race and my legs were slightly fatigued anyway, so overall the time for 6 miles was significantly slower that the previous evening – still, not every run is a race.

Overall, please with legs not feeling to bad, no DOMS today (delayed onset of muscle soreness – who thinks up these acronyms!). Blisters tender, but holding up OK and hopefully will be fighting fit by Sunday for long run.

Had a good swim today as well, and rewarded with a pint in Broadgate / Exchange square, along with a mass of other city workers enjoying the final arrival of the sun to the UK!

Picture shows the ongoing work on the Broadgate Tower (which is just behind Exchange Square) – a marvel of construction and architecture (in my humble opinion!)

Yateley 10k PB

After all the psyhcological trauma of the blisters and whether they would affect the run last night, it all came together at the right time.

The skin had dried out quite nicely and maybe the use of lavender oil (thanks for the tip Anne!) had helped as well.

So, determined to rid my mind of excuses, Tim (Stewart), John (Rees) (who are also doing the MdS) and myself lined up at Yateley at 7:30pm for the race last night for the off.

At the gun, I was off like a rocket, convinced we should aim for sub 40min, and up to 7km (on the assumption the markers were accurate(!) it was still on (27:56). Alas it was not to be as the 8km mark did not arrive until 4:29 later, and with 4:22 and 4:11 for subsequent klicks, the final ‘chip’ time was 40:59 – still a PB though and 1:15 better than previous best.

The run was interesting from an experience point of view, in that I began to see that all other things being equal, running is a mind-game – what Tim calls the central governor is always telling you to stop and always finding excuses to slow down. What comes with experience is the knowledge that one can battle through the ‘pain’ which at the end of the day is more mental pain, than anything else – the anxiety associated with “if I carry on with this, I’m going to hurt/blowup/fail” thoughts.

Altogether a well organised run and a very enjoyable evening, so thanks to the Sandhurst joggers and marshalls for all their help at the event. Definitely be doing this again next year.

Medical Update

Okay – so these are minor blisters compared to any I might expect during, or subsequent to the Marathon de Sables, but today in my office with my socks off trying to dry them out (the blisters that is) I am led to contemplate the enormity of the task ahead – in about 8 months time, my body and that of 800 ish others will pushed to it’s limits and beyond, and then some more.

The training is just a commitment to an event, and an attempt to remove or reduce the impact of any unknowns, such as

  • Running distances over consecutve days
  • Dealing with physical and mental exhaustion
  • Managing in extreme temperatures and humidity
  • Carrying weight (12-13kg) from point to point
  • Travelling through sand and unfamiliar terrain
  • Surviving on minimal rations and dried food

Any of the above on its own would be a challenge over a period of a week, but all together has undoubtedly been devised by a psuedo-sadist and is only taken up by those with semi-masochistic tendencies.

Still, I’m rambling.

The skin is off the right foot blister to reveal a bright red 2″ oval of raw skin. As I’m intenting to keep running from Wednesday, I hope this calms down a bit – any hints or tips on the dealing with blisters greatfully received – Over the next few months I’ll probably be trying taping and foot hardening concoctions until the cows come home.


Arrrrgh – Blisters!

Ok – so I didn’t use the new shoes today for the long run, but in an attempt to stop the black twinge re-appearing on my middle toes just before the nails drop off – I wore some thin socks (1000 mile – guaranteed no blister!!!!)


So much for guarantees.

Ended up having to shorten the long run as running with 2 massive blisters on both in-soles after 13 miles.

Disappointing as up to then a great run – Guildford town up the mount / steep hill at the bottom of the high street, along about 1 mile then down across to University of Surrey, up back to hogs back, down to Compton, Puttenham, back through to Wey canal just before Bramley.

Ready for Yateley 10k Wednesday – we’ll see. Sub-40min on cards.

New shoes

Got some news shoes today.

Stuck with ASICS as normal but rather than Enduro which I've had and run with for past 15 months or so, got some newer Trabuco 10s.

Guy in shop said these were better (more advanced) and have better cushioning/support. Fitstuff (www.fitstuff.net) in Guildford.

Got a size bigger as well as this seemed to fit better (yes, I actually don't want to lose those toes.)

Anyway, will be off for long run tomorrow. May wear them so will give verdict after that.

The first of many….

So how many BLOGS start with the text “This is my first blog and this is what I had for breakfast, and then….”

Nothing like that here today.

I’ve set this up mainly so I can keep the world informed (if they are interested) in my training for the 2008 Marathon des Sables – the Marathon of the Sands – in Morocco, and of course in the race itself from March to April next year (if the technology will stretch that far πŸ™‚

I’ll go into more detail over the next few months, but don’t want to peak too soon (good training strategy, huh!). Suffice it to say at this stage it is a 150 mile (5.5 marathons) self-sufficient endurance event across the Saharan desert over 6 days.

My training will involve a few build up events, such as the Yorkshireman Off-road Marathon (9th Sept), Amsterdam Marathon (21st Oct) and some longer runs early next year.

So keep an eye out on this site – details of sponsorship will be forthcoming soon (come on, it is 150miles!) and the all important question will be debated – “How many toes will I lose?”

Oh and in case you were wondering. Croissant.

Richard's Ultramarathon Running Blog