19 Days Later: DDBD Report

So on the 31st August 2013 as planned I yet again set out to run a birthday marathon. A mixture of tough trail and road all on my doorstep. I was joined by friends and family along the way and between us we totaled up over 115 miles of running (me doing at least 26.2 of those). It’s taken me longer than I would of liked to pen this entry purely because as usual September is a busy month with Robyn and Chloe both returning to academic routines etc. It’s all sadly a little bit of a blur now so I shall keep this short. Not many photos this year unfortunately as I decided to leave my camera at home and run a little lighter. If anybody has some more email them to me please.

My main personal reflection of the day is how much easier it was this year compared to my first attempt the year before. I guess this is testament to another year of training and transforming myself from fat knacker to slim jim. Even though the pace was still slow enough for the event to be inclusive I covered the complete distance in far less time than last year and with fewer stops and walk sections (which considering the route is pretty good going). Recorded moving time was approx 4:50 but did have some garmin issues along the way so actually I think we did it in less. I’ve come out of the event feeling more confident and stronger than before and this is hopefully something I can take advantage of moving forward into winter training. Maybe I do have a 4 hour road marathon in me? I guess I’ll finally have to find out in the spring. Running details of the day can be found on garmin connect. The weather was again very kind to us. If anything slightly warmer than last year and not always in a nice way ;0).

Feedback from other participants was again positive and discussions at the finish line (pub) soon turned into questions about whether I shall repeat the event next year…Let’s see! I think maybe a half marathon next year to allow me to focus on other goals throughout the year?! One thing that is sure is that the route and timings will alter next year so that it can include weymouth parkrun (an event which held it’s first running on the same day as my birthday this year so our future will inevitably and forever be intertwined).

Once again there was a massive turnout of friends, colleagues and family members waiting for me at the end this year and showering me with presents, cards and celebratory beers. I love you all and appreciate your support. It’s the other running participants on the day though that deserve massive props for entertaining the silly idea in the first place and turning out on the day. I salute Ben, Gina, Lee, Sharon, Rich, Steve S, Dave H, Andy, Daz, Glen, Jasper, Chloe, Robyn, Ali, Bruce, Archie, Charlotte, Steve C for all lacing up a pair of trainers and keeping me company. Numbers were a little lighter this year (mostly due to unavoidable diary clashes for people who were still keen from last year….or so I’m told. lol) but this crew kept me smiling and on course all day. High fives and virtual group hugs all round. I also want to say a special thanks to Chloe and Robyn as my main support unit for the day (in fact for life). Yet again they did me proud. Mwah x x x.

DDBD 2013 Live Tracking

A week on Saturday (the 31st Augugst) I will attempt to run my second marathon distance to celebrate my birthday. Thankfully I’m not doing it alone. I have a good number of friends and family joining me for bits of the run (about 20 peeps if all goes well). I’m not sure if I’ll make it. Training has been going well but it’s a tough route including some big and long hills and finishes off with 8 miles of trail. It’s not a race though so I’m planning a slow pace. It should be fun and it’ll definitely finish with a beer. whoop whoop! If things work out well you’ll be able to track our current position on the map below.

(huge thanks to greenalp.com for making the above possible. link at bottom of post to go and grab the app)

You can view the intended route here on garmin connect and the tracking above will be available from about 9am which is when we hope to set off from Dorchester. Hopefully we’ll reach the finish line (The Cove Inn, Portland) at approx 2:15pm. You might need to refresh the page to be able to see updates and be aware at times there may be some lag if I’m out of cell coverage (likely to be on Portland). Links to this page will also be posted to facebook and twitter the morning of the run. The party starts at 2pm at the finish line if you are in the neighbourhood and want to come along.

DDBD 2013


So some of you may remember that last year I had this crazy idea to run a marathon on my birthday. I started in Dorchester and finished at the Cove Inn on Portland after 26.2(ish) miles of running. Along the way I was joined by friends and family who all ran a proportion of the route they felt comfortable with – whether that be half a mile to 18 of them! It was nice to complete the marathon distance last year but actually the bit I enjoyed most was sharing the experience with the rest of you. Everyone who took part really enjoyed the day. A long run is much easier when you’ve got a bunch of nice people to chat with along the way. I’d like to do it again this year. Do you fancy joining in on Saturday 31st August?

You don’t have to be a runner to join in and take part. The pace is slow and if you want to stop after a few short metres then that’s fine by me, I’ll just appreciate the fact you turned up to join in and will look forward to sharing a beer with you at the end. Although this could be a great excuse to get out and give running a try and there are a number of  ‘couch 2 5k’ programs and apps I can recommend if you’re a newbie. Several of last years participants achieved personal bests in terms of distance covered and I know they’ll be keen to push further this year. It’ll be the same route as last year as it made it pretty easy to meet people along the way and I hope to yet again utilise online tracking to help people know my whereabouts en-route. They’ll be food and plenty of beer at the pub finish line and I encourage all those who can’t run (and those that do) to come and cheer me over the line and into the bar to start the party. I’d love to get as many (if not more) people involved as last year so if you’re interested in running leave a comment below or DM me on facebook or twitter and I can include you on an email with more details. You’ve got nothing to lose but your sanity 😉 

Help Needed Staying on Plan

Ok! Time for a new training plan. I’ve been slowly and slowly becoming more lazy over the last few weeks and it’s time to mix things up a little with a new plan. I’ve been running a set three times a week for so long I need to shake up the routine and get back to the fitness level I enjoyed before Christmas rather than be happy letting things slide to their inevitable flabby conclusion. The next big event in the Calendar is my birthday marathon and although not a race and undertaken at a very slow and steady pace I’d like to finish it this year with a greater degree of comfort and confidence and ready to put in good performances in a few races just after that.

The new plan is actually based on one provided through the Garmin connect website and I’m jumping right in at week 6 (probably not advisable but I only have 10 weeks until my birthday run). This plan has me running 5 times each week so it’s going to be ‘interesting’ trying to fit it all in around life at work/home. I’m hoping this will be the catalyst I need to force me into better habits. I want to get to bed at a more sensible time and be a bit more lively in the mornings (as when I’ve had periods like this in the past I’ve felt much better for it). Other changes this time round are the fact the program doesn’t see me running the same days every week and has much more variety in the content. The program also focuses on running for set time periods rather than reaching a set distance. This will be completely new to me but I’m intrigued to see how this pans out. Running 5 times a week will take some adjustment but  I could certainly do with the increasing my mileage and it’s about time I did more interval/speed-work sessions to give myself a push. I can only give it a go and see how I get on.

I’m posting this here and will hopefully continue to post here with my progress every now and again as I’m pretty rubbish at following training plans. I need your help keeping me honest and accountable to the plan. Help me out. The picture above is an extract of the what I need to achieve this week. Today should be a doddle (rest I can do. lol).

What’s your plan and how do you stick to it?

A New Dawn, A New Day


it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day.

I’ve been trying to get back on track after a tough couple of weeks of next to no exercise, illness and poor diet. It’s hard going to try and be good all the time. This week started well with less calories consumed, a pound or two shed and a few more miles covered but yesterday I failed to get out on a run and at some point in the evening a few things that had been playing on my mind all day got the better of me and I headed for the bread bin and biscuit barrel to find comfort and solice (fatal). Today though is a new day and it started with a six mile run. My head is clear, belly is light and staring  down the barrel of a 3 day weekend. Whoop Whoop. It’s amazing how one run, a little bit of sunshine can seemingly turn my mood around. Fickle huh?

Run route and stats can me found on strava, dailymile or garmin (choice is everything).


My Dirty Little Secret

shoe crazy

addicted to sole

I have a dirty little secret. I have an addiction. It sometimes keeps me awake at night and distracts me during the day. I am a running shoe addict.

It started off small, my first pair, they felt so comfortable. It was all so innocent. We built up a rapport and spent lots of time together but then one day they let me down. They started to niggle. They cheated on me, they hurt me. I saw better runners in better shoes and thought they might make me a better runner too, a better person. They had to be mine. Sure they were shiny and fun at first and we hung out for miles and miles but then I soon realised they were just slowing me down.

Maybe I was just hanging around with the wrong crowd? I changed brands, swapped allegiances and tried to get an edge. Less is more they told me and I found some truth in that. Less shoe – more money? It must be the science I told myself. I had to have more. Miles and miles and so many memories. The collection grew and grew. Shoes for road, shoes for trail, shoes for wet, dry, sun, snow,  grass, gravel, public holidays and even for events. I have tried them all. Shoes for all seasons. Shoes in every colour as surely fashion and coördination are the key to injury reduction. I love them all and still want more. I’ve tried to go cold turkey (even barefooted) but I still while away my spare time contemplating low weight, heal to toe differentials and lacing systems. It’s a healthy vice I guess and not quite as expensive as drugs (if you catch the sales at the right time) but I’m sure one day my loved ones will instigate some kind of intervention and start to throw old pairs out. I guard them just in case and perform regular stock audits.

I need therapy. Group therapy. Does anyone else out there struggle with this? and if you do what do you think of the saucony virrata? worth a punt for this summers long road miles?

Beauty of the Irrational

I came across this video today on vimeo and thought it worth sharing. Ryan Sandes is obviously as far from me as you can get in terms of running performance and achievements, he looks insanely fit, motivated and looks like he spends a good amount of his time and energy running events like this but a few of his comments rang true with me and it’s nice to feel that even guys like this have similar mental blocks and confidence issues they have to overcome (they’re only human after all?!?). I particularly liked his comments near the end of the video about finding your own path (both in terms of running and life)

The other thing that struck me in the video was just the landscape he was running through. Just Epic. I’m lucky in Dorset to have some beautiful places to run right on my doorstep but I think I need to start compiling a list of places further from home that I’d like to run before I die. Fish River Canyon in Namibia is now the first entry on that list. Where would you most like to run/cycle/swim/trek? (If money, time and 1001 other commitments weren’t getting in the way)

Running: The Idiot’s Guide (PART I)

I’ve now been running for 1 year and 8 months. In that time I’ve run nearly 1,500 miles (that’s almost Dublin to Rome according to google maps). That to most of my fellow runners isn’t a mind blowing feat but for those who knew me before I started running it’s a little more surprising and I also find people that don’t run at all find those kind of numbers startling.

Many people have seen the positive changes I’ve made and want to try running for themselves. A few people I know have succeeded and I’m pleased to say are still regularly running and feeling the benefits. For many people though it just doesn’t seem to stick. There can be lots of reasons for this. Some are good, some are bad. I decided I’d post these tips to hopefully help give you the best chance of making it stick. Some of you will find stuff like this easy and won’t need this post (turn away now). I didn’t find it so easy and if your journey starts anywhere close to where mine did then hopefully it’ll help. These are the things I’ve learnt on my journey from Fat Bastard to Forrest Gump. I’m certainly no expert (in fact I’m an idiot – hence the title of this post) but I do love a good run now and hopefully something below will be of use to you so you can enjoy running as well.

This first set of tips will focus on some basic things like motivation and expectations. Think of them as Disco’s general running philosophy. I’ll follow this up with some more practical type tips in PART II covering things like clothing, gear, blisters, nipples etc. (yes nipples!)

1. Understand Your Reasons

If you’ve embarked on reading these tips then you’ve probably already made the choice to give running a try. I think an important part of succeeding is understanding why you’ve made the decision to run in the first place. The reasons behind you wanting to give this a try are going to be the most powerful weapons in your mental arsenal. They will be needed to keep you motivated and battling on if things feel hard later on. When you first start out keep these reasons in your head and running through your mind. Running is always more of a mental challenge than a physical one. That’s good news. It means however unfit you are you can succeed you just need to be mentally strong. That strength comes from finding a good source of motivation.

2. Manage Your Expectations

If I gave you a lump of stone, a hammer and a set of chisels and two days could you make me a beautiful statue worthy of a place in the national gallery? Nope. Why not – you have all the materials you need? OK this may be a silly example but this is one of the most important things you need to figure out about running. If you’ve not run before or for some time (and I mean run any distance over 1000 metres) then do not expect to just go out and run for 30+ minutes at a decent pace without stopping. Unless you are already pretty fit, it just won’t happen. Don’t feel bad about it that is completely normal. When I started I could not run around the block without stopping 3-4 times and having an asthma attack. I can now run 20+ miles with reasonable comfort. The only change is that I’ve stuck with it for 20 months and allowed my body to adapt.

You have the raw materials ( if you can walk you can probably run right?) but it will take time to get them ready to work in this way. Your body is a very clever machine but give it time to adjust and manage your mental expectations around this. Don’t run twice and decide it isn’t for you because it felt hard or you didn’t achieve the distance or pace you think you should be capable of. It took me about 10-12 long weeks of running 3 times a week until I could run non-stop for 30mins(5K/3.1 miles). I followed a ‘couch to 5k program’ which helps you manage these expectations and build up slowly. You start out walking more than you run and gradually change thing around. These programs are not for everybody but I’d suggest well worth a try. These days you can get apps for your phone, podcasts for your mp3 player, watch timers and all-sorts to give you some help. They do everything for you but the actual running. Just google C25K if you want to try.

Whatever method you try, keep in mind it will take some time for your body and mind to adjust to the point you feel comfortable running a reasonable distance (5km is a good target to get you going). Having your motivation straight in your head will help you to keep going out and keep trying. Just because results don’t happen instantly does not mean they won’t happen. Stick to it. What’s your hurry anyway? Doing something is better than doing nothing so give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the journey (however long it takes).

The other thing to keep in mind is your pace or speed. When you start out take it slow. Real slow. Worry about getting quicker once you can run solidly for 30 minutes. Until that point think slow slow slow.  Not speed walking but a slow jog/run. Nothing quicker. Once you get more into running you’ll get to realise that even accomplished runners don’t do every run as fast they can. If I run 4 times a week only one or possibly two of those runs will be at a quick pace. Running at a comfortably slow pace has several training benefits so get used to it from the beginning and feel happy about approaching the run in that way.

3. Hard Work and Pain

Running will hurt. It will be uncomfortable. You will sweat (LOTS!). Your legs and feet (in fact all of your body) will hurt or ache like they never have before. You will struggle to breathe. You may suffer from stitches. You will have to run in the rain and when it’s cold and possibly dark. At some point you will encounter some kind of pain related to running. This is the truth of running. Those people on the television adverts making it look easy and cool…..They Lie! Welcome to the real world. OK I’m exaggerating slightly but again this is about knowing what to expect when you start running so it does not come as a surprise and make you stop.

The good news is it does get easier (much easier). The more you do it the less painful it becomes and if you take it slow and build things up gradually you will make it easier for yourself. Once again concentrate on your reasons for starting this in the first place to keep you going through the discomfort. Mental strength will be required to overcome the physical shortcomings. Once your body then adapts, your mind will be given the odd day off and can start to enjoy the run; plan what your having for supper that night etc. Keep in mind the benefits you will get if you can make it through the other side of the pain . . . you’ll have a healthier heart, you will lose weight, you will sleep better, have more energy, be happier, less grumpy, effected less by stress and anxiety, have a better immune system, improved confidence, better sexual performance (don’t snigger it’s true), have increased mental agility. I could go on and on about the benefits but basically this comes down to the old adage NO PAIN – NO GAIN. Expect pain, plan for it, have a mental technique to get you through it and you will see the benefits.

4. Celebrate Your Successes

This one is simple but of huge benefit if you can get it right. Weirdly for most people I’ve noticed it doesn’t come natural. Stop being Negative! Don’t finish a run and focus on what hurt, what you didn’t achieve.  Focus on what went well. Did you go further than last time? Were your quicker? Was it less painful? Hell you got off your arse and went for a run….It doesn’t matter how crap it might have felt you should give yourself huge props for getting out and giving it a go. Did you enjoy the view? Obviously you do have to be critical to a certain extent to push yourself to improve performance but find some balance and middle ground. Don’t fall into a spiral of negative thoughts.

It’s not always easy to do and in fact I often forget (like I said I’m not perfect) but if you can crack this you’ll always think about running as  a positive thing and that will always make it easier to then build into your routine.

5. Challenges and Goals (once you’re ready to move on)

The other technique I’ve used to good effect is to give myself some improbable targets. Once I started running 5k I saw the benefits, kept doing it and before long was able to just about run 5-6 miles. At that point I decided I’d enter a 10 mile race. I’d never ran 10 miles let alone ever entered a race and my body and mind were telling me it would be impossible. The reality is giving myself enough time (3-4 months) to train it wasn’t impossible at all, just improbable.  Once you can  achieve your first goal you soon realise nearly anything is possible if you set your mind to it. After 10 miles, I entered a half-marathon and decided to try and run 1000 miles in the calendar year. Then I decided to run a marathon for my birthday. Next year it will be a marathon race, the Grizzly and whatever other improbable targets I can come up with. These are all just tools to keep me motivated and keep me working hard. The harder I work the greater the benefits. Max Effort In = Max Gain Out. Simple mathematics really.  The process of setting a tough goal and then beating it is pretty addictive. Be warned! lol. If you are just starting out keep your goals simple. Just getting out and running should be enough but once you feel like it has become routine then start to up the stakes a little. Push yourself.

These changing goals feed back into the motivation and your reasons to run though. Many of the reasons I started running for I no longer have to worry about or they don’t hold the same power for me now I’ve come this far. Some still do. I have to keep revisiting this and creating new inner-demons or crazy challenges to battle. It’s all just one big mind game.

I’ll leave it at that for the moment as hopefully there is enough here to get you started. Let me know if you’ve found this useful in the comments section and I can then start work on Part II. Likewise if you’ve tried running and it didn’t stick and want to give it another go then tell me about it, what went wrong and I may be able to give some advice.

Running Wild

I Just thought I’d take the opportunity to update the blog with how things are going on the running front. As usual there is some good and some bad (life in balance huh?).  I’ll cover the bad first. The bad is my motivation levels.  I’ve really been struggling to get motivated to run over the last week or so. I have been running but both the frequency and mileage has taken a hit and there has been more than one occassion where I seem to have struggled to get my ass out of the door and get moving. This lack of motivation is worrying as I’m meant to be training hard to beat my PB at the Weymouth 10 miler in a couple of weeks.

I think this dip in motivation is caused by a combination of adjusting to the dark nights and miserable weather and also adjusting to a more hectic and busy schedule at home now both the girls are back on respective school timetables and shifts patterns.  I’m sure I’ll get past this slump soon but it is frustrating and tiring. On a positives note though when I have been out for a run I’ve found my average pace seems to be increasing. It looks like the long slow miles over the summer have indeed increased by aerobic efficiency. woohooo!

The other slightly bad news (although expected) is that I did not get a ballot place for the London Marathon next year. Booo! The odds were never in my favour though so I’ve put plan B into operation and yesterday posted my application to enter the North Dorset Village Marathon instead. Hopefully this will be the momentum I require to keep me getting out and training through the winter months. I do have a course I am attending for work in London at the end of this month so am planning to at least get at one shorter run in our capital city added to my log.

The good news (which kind of explains the picture above) is that I have  managed (completely accidentally) to get a much coveted place in next years Grizzly! The Grizzly is a rather mental multi-terrain, hill, beach and bog infested 20-ish mile run around the Devon coast. It looks and sounds completely crazy but lots of fun. Places sold out in under 3 hours and I think I snapped up one of the last few remaining. This runs in March and although more of a fun/completion orientated event rather than a time target type affair (for me anyway) it will again give me more reasons than ever to get out over the winter,  get wet,  cold,  muddy and tackle some hills. This years Grizzly is sub-titled ‘Grime and Punishment’. I can’t wait!

I also realised this week that I’ve now clocked just over 700 logged running miles so far this calendar year. The original plan was to hit 1000 miles before the end of the year. I’m not sure I’ll reach that now as the likelihood of getting decent weekly mileage in every week between now and the end of Decmeber taking into account bad weather and Christmas festivities is not good. I shall try and get as close as I can though and am already pretty proud of what I’ve achieved in my first full calendar year of running. It should be a doddle next year….right? lol

So how are your fitness plans going? What are you doing to adjust and keep you motivated for the winter months? Let me know in the comments.

Disco’s Daring Birthday Dash (Event Report)

Well last Saturday as planned I set out to complete my first marathon distance run. A tough 26.2 mile course that would see me climb close to a couple of thousand feet in terms of elevation and also included some 8 miles of coastal trail path before crossing the finish line. I had a bunch of family and good friends turn out and run bits of the course with me and at no point along the 26.2 miles was I the only runner participating in this self-organised event. Now it’s all done and the dust has settled I can confirm the day was a huge success and share some of the pictures.

I’d like to say a MASSIVE thank you to – Ben, Simeon, Neil, Bruce, Steve L, Glen, Gina, Phil, Sharon & Husband, Kelly, Chris M, Steve R (and the girls), Darren, Chris B, Dan, Mum, Ali, Lee, Ian, Archie, Charlotte, Luke, Ellie, Chloe, Robyn and Bracken (the dog) for all taking the time to come and run with me on the day (and Josh on his bike). It was a great feeling to be running as a pack along various parts of the route and it was brilliant to have good conversation and words of support from you all whenever I needed it. It made things much easier and the run much more enjoyable. Some of you pulled out your own best performances on the day with probably half the people on the list above reaching far greater distances than they had run before. This made the day pretty special. I think we all deserve a pat on the back, between us I think we ran nearly 180 miles that day. I’d also like to thank all the other friends and family who rocked up at The Cove to cheer me over the line. It all made for a brilliant finish to an awesome day. Special thanks to Ben & Steve R for providing most of the pictures. I wish I had taken more but in the end I had to concentrate on the moving of my legs. I also have to give a special mention to Chloe and Robyn. These girls rock my world on a daily basis, put up with my training plan, my whining, my smelly feet and constant jibber jabber. They both ran well on the day and also provided the best mobile support vehicle/cheering squad a bearded bloke could wish for. I love them both x x x.

I covered 26.45 miles with my garmin recording the moving time as 4hr 56mins. The actual start to finish duration was a good 30-40 mins slower than that but there were two scheduled rest stops on route and a couple of smaller not so scheduled ones.  The 26.45 miles also includes roughly a mile of walking where it was just was too hard or too steep to run. Considering the nature of the event and that it’s my first attempt at such a distance that’s pretty good going. As expected we were well ahead of my planned pace for the first 12-13 miles and then the trail over the back half of the route around Portland took it’s toll but all in all things pretty well balanced out as expected.

The strangest thing to come out of the event from my perspective though is the slight anti-climax that has come from completing the distance. This is one of the reasons it has taken me all week to get around to posting this (other than generally being lazy at blog posts). I think in my head I must have thought that somehow I’d feel a little different after covering a marathon (walk taller maybe?). I don’t. That doesn’t mean I’m not happy to have done it and I am still very proud of my achievements, it’s just I still don’t feel like I’ve pushed myself enough (and no I’m not a masochist). It could have been my choice of route (which allowed some walking), or the slow steady planned pace, or the good company doing such a good job of distracting me but I don’t feel like I’ve got close to finding my limits yet. I guess that’s almost what I wanted the marathon distance to be about. It certainly wasn’t easy (and I put in lots of training) but my recovery has been quick and I’m already enjoying being back out running again. I guess if I can sort out participation in a proper marathon race next spring then I’ll get the opportunity to push myself a little further. This must all sound a little nuts to most people so I’ll shut up and  finish with a dose of perspective and some pictures….

It was a brilliant way to celebrate my birthday. I couldn’t ask for a better start to another year on this planet and it was great to do it all with friends and family (mission accomplished). I may not feel like I’m yet to reach my endurance limits and I know deep down I’m capable of quicker times but if I start to think about and compare the ME who ran a marathon last Saturday to the larger, unhealthy ME of 18 months ago… I smile.