Running Style

For the past 2 years I have been a data driven runner. I logged everything and basically always ran with the thought in mind to beat the last bit of data I had collected. This served me well for a long time, but with everything in life I need to add a little balance.

With a constant need to run for the data, I was spending large amount of time running outdoors. With lots of runs easily hitting the 6 hour mark. As a lot of runners will know balancing running and the other elements of your life is very difficult. So after this years surgeries and my recent chest infection I decided it was time for a new approach for my runs.

My wife and I went and bought a bike and a child seat. With the idea if I was going out for an hour or so the family could come along and enjoy a bike ride. This new approach to running has brought some wonderful benefits. For the first time in 2 years I have been able to change my training route. With my wife acting as a guide on the bike I can run along side and we can go wherever we like. We have managed to cover some trails close to my house and even run around a few of the local villages.

It has been great and todays run highlighted how much fun running with the family can be. While exploring a new route my wife rang her bell twice to tell me to stop; she had found a frog! So I picked it up so Grayson could see his first real life frog. He just giggled lots as he touched the little frog, then it jumped off my hand straight into the gear section of my wife’s bike! After spraying water at the frog we managed to remove it and carry on.

It really has been a nice change of pace to my running but is very difficult to transition away from the data driven approach. I can see my pace slipping in my stats but this is due to the new routes and how many times we stop to explore. I could easily solve this if I paused my GPS but who wants to fiddle about taking your phone out of your pocket all the time. Hopefully that problem will be solved when my Pebble arrives!

But for now I am trying to ignore the data and just enjoy running in a new way. An opportunity to explore our local area as a family.

What a week

The last 7-10 days have been rough. Due to my surgeries and guide dog training I had delayed all my exams until august. Unfortunately that meant this week I had 3 exams on consecutive days.

So as well as compressing all my revision into 2 weeks I had to memorise all the information for consecutive days. So this week I used a few memory techniques to memorise around 12,000 words in essay format. Now there is now telling if I remembered the right 12,000 words but I certainly hit quantity! This resulted in the past few nights me sat rehearsing pretty much non stop, this can get a little tiresome. So I was thankful that today was the last of the consecutive exams. I still have one more exam to go but compared to the three I just had to cram for the revision should be relatively simple.

I did however get some great news this morning, I don’t really want to say too much about it yet as I am not sure it will pan out. But I will put a little pin here to say‚Ķ.. something great might be happening!

Races

This year was supposed to be my big year of racing. With plans to amass enough points to compete at the UTMB. However due to multiple surgeries and guide dog training that wasn’t meant to be. So I figured my 2012 racing wasn’t to be.

Until! A friend of mine Charlie told me that the Great North Run were using the commercial I shot in the emails they were sending out. This inspired me to email ASICS and ask for a slot at the GNR. ASICS granted me the slot and I will now be heading to the race and running with Charlie and a runner I met recently Bryan.

With my 2012 qualifying a wash, I decided to compete in 2013 to qualify for UTMB. Now in order to even get to the qualifying races I need to qualify for the qualifier! They don’t make this easy! So I will now also be running The Round Ripon again with Bryan. This will hopefully secure my slot at Thames Path 100 mile next year which makes up part of the Centurion Grand Slam, which in turns gives me the UTMB points. Stick with me here!

I then got an email from a runner friend of mine Neil Bacon. He said why don’t you ask ASICS to put us both in the NYC marathon. I thought, hell why not so I shot off an email. Amazingly they said yes and got us in! So I am now running the only marathon I have ever wanted to run! It has been on my list of races to run even before I started running. Its just one of those marathons that draws me in. Me and my wife have spent a fair bit of time over in NYC so I know it from back when I could see. So it will be wonderful to return there now and run the streets.

The racing doesn’t end there though. I get a lot of random invites to races all over the world. California, Andora, Africa, Cyprus basically loads of places. (If anyone out there wants to invite me to a race do it, I love to go all over the place and run). Well a few months ago I received a message on Facebook asking if I wanted to run a marathon underground in a salt mine. All I would have to do is get to Germany the rest would be sorted. So I thought, why not?

So now I have a wonderful race lineup over the next few months. My first ever half marathon and my first ever marathon. That does sound a little strange considering the distances I run, but I don’t really compete at the short distance.

(I did compete in the Sheffield Half as part of The Marathon Sandwich, but GNR will be my first straight up half!)

Health

Ever since my last surgery I have had problems with being ill. I was never able to bounce back from surgery for some reason. The first surgery went great, I was literally running ready a little over 18 hours later.

I have had a cough now for nearly 2 months and I just can’t shake it. It has really been affecting my training and I noticed it on the run up to TR24. Out with Sian I was unable to cover 2 miles as I just couldn’t breathe. I figured at TR24 with it being race day I could up my game and all would be fine.

I did manage to do my laps but then needed to lay down straight away to try and recover. It was horrid and I certainly can’t do events like that while ill!

So the plan is to try and get healthy, I have been and had a chest x ray to see if there is anything underlying that is causing a cough to last this long. Hopefully it will all clear up soon and I will be training ready.

It just seems so annoying, this entire year I haven’t been healthy for long enough to get any real training in.

So in an effort to try and sort it once and for all I am hitting all the factors I think it could be. So diet and rest are high on the list, reducing stress and introducing working out back slowly.

I only did this post as I feel I am at a turning point now. So I want to track my progress for now and see how long it takes to get back on track!

Post Surgery: A New Chapter

I have just recently had my last eye surgery, this time it was on my right eye. While the surgery was successful I am still unsure whether there is an improvement in my eye. I think it will take time to settle down and hopefully improve.

However these past 4 months have been difficult the number of things I have delayed for surgery and guide dog training has just grew larger. It is like my life has been on hold the past few months and I was hoping at the end there would be an instant improvement. Now surgery has come and gone its time to start working on everything I have delayed.

The amount of revision I have to get through is astounding, I have no idea if I will manage to attain the result I want. I just have to comfort myself with the fact that year 1 grades don’t count, its just there to get you through to year 2. There is of course a chance I can still come out of year one with a first, however that is quite unlikely with only a few days to do months of revision.

I also missed out on the run I had been training for. The past 6 months had been building up to one race that I had to bow out of. This was a difficult decision to make and one I didn’t commit to until the last possible moment.

I have decided to take a more relaxed approach to my training and go as minimalist as I possibly can. I will still rely on a lot of tech but simply reduce the rate in which I track and monitor in real time. So gone are the splits and the calorie counts per hour. In are the just running and nibbling when hungry. I think this new relexed approach will pay dividends. I have already been out for a gentle run with my wife while she rode her bike. Not concerned about the distance or pace just going out to spend some time together doing something healthy.

So a new more relexed year is planned, with lots of running and lots of studying!

Compressed time

The week starting 28th of May is perhaps the busiest I have ever had.

In a 2 week period I am supposed to be:

Training with my guide dog
Undergoing eye surgery
Sitting my semester 2 university exams
Training for the SDW100
Celebtrating my 30th

Now unfortunately it simply isn’t possible to fit all that in. So I have had to unfortunately defer my university exams, surgery and drop my spot for the SDW100. It really is a shame that it was all scheduled in the same 2 weeks period but I felt the guide dog was the one I really couldn’t postpone.

I I had taken a pass on this dog I had no idea how long it would of been until I had another potential match. So on the 28th of May (the day after I run an ultra!) I will begin training with Ascot my guide dog.

As for surgery, I have no idea when that will happen now. It is a real shame as I really need that sorting as it is causing enormous problems in all areas of my life, although these may be eased with the presence of Ascot.

As for the SDW100, I will run that next year. Infact to make up for missing this year I may even enter the Grand Slam! So if anyone else would like to join me and run the entire Centurion Running Grand Slam let me know. We could get a nice collection of buckles going!

A Rough Day

Today has just seemed like one of those days where everything seems to go slightly wrong.

The day started out pretty well, I had to make a few adjustments in travel arrangements today so I headed round to my sisters to get a lift in with my brother in law. I then ended up shooting my willing nephew repeatedly with a Nerf gun. This was certainly a fun morning activity!

Arriving in sheffield we missed my first lecture due to a few issues and I had decided my time would be better spent working on an essay. A quick call from the press association attempting to schedule filming for that day gave me an opportunity to bargain for a lift home! They didn’t go for it so we rearranged for another day and I had to figure out another way to get home.

Shortly after this is where it all started going wrong. I had to attend an afternoon lecture to get an opportunity to chat to the lecturer about an essay I am yet to begin.

Just as I was about to approach the lecturer my phone rang. At the minute I always answer my phone immediately just in case its Guide Dogs, I am desperate for a guide dog so any phone call I hope it to be the one. Turned out it wasn’t and the lecturer left before I got a chance to talk to him. That was pretty much the entire reason I went in today for that quick chat to the lecturer.

I decided to make plans to get home and arranged to meet someone at the train station where I live. This meant a simply trip on the tram and train something I do regularly. However this time it just didn’t seem to go smoothly.

All the stair wells had been closed off, so when you use a cane the only way you find this out is when you bump into the barriers. So I eventually made it to the platform I needed to be at with a little assistance and I waited patiently for my train. My train always leaves on the same platform, so its a simply case of waiting on platform 2 for the right train.

“the train approaching platform 2 is the 1520 to Leeds”

Thats a little early I thought, surely its only around 1500. So I moved away from the platform and waited for the next train. A few minutes later another announcement.

“the train approaching platform 3 is the 1520 to Leeds”

Eh? So the train I just missed was the one I wanted? Dammit. So now getting annoyed I waited for the next train.

“the train approaching platform 2 is the late 1520 to Leeds”

This time I thought I would ask the conductor who got off the train what was going on. Turned out this train was actually the late 1520 to Leeds, who knows what the others were.

So I continued to wait and finally a train I could catch was announced. By this time I was becoming frustrated as I was worried I would miss my lift the other end. The train was announced and 10 minutes later it still hadn’t arrived!

When it finally did I boardedd the train squeezed into the totally inadequate seating and waited for the conductor. Who then proceeded to annoy me by questioning the validity of my rail card. Felt like swearing but I let it be and headed home in a grumpy mood.

So there it is my rant about today, seems stupid now and it was pretty much forgotten once I had finished my run. But british rail you do annoy me

Post Surgery and the Media

Around a month ago I finally had eye surgery on my left eye. While the surgery went well I arrived home in quite a lot of pain. After 3 hours I couldn’t take the pain any longer and had to return to the hospital, turned out my cornea had been scratched during the operation and was causing my a lot of pain. Thankfully nothing serious so I went home and waited out the pain.

However the past few weeks have been incredibly difficult, the imbalance the surgery has created is too great. I am really struggling. This has unfortunately caused a few issues with university and training.

I will have to defer some of my university exams and essays till the summer. I simply don’t have enough time to catch up on everything I have missed. This is a real shame as I didn’t want to have to resort to this, but I would rather get a result I am happy with and wait till summer.

I also had to miss a small amount of training which is having an effect. My calf muscles seem to be having a real issue with lactic acid, I seem to build up the acid far to quickly. I hope this subsides in a week or so otherwise it will be a lot of grunting when I compete!

On the positive side I seem to be gaining a lot of media attention really and today received a wonderful writeup in the Guardian! You can read it over here. I have also given interviews for a number of magazines and newspapers, I will try and link to them as they are released!

Weekend at the stadium

This past weekend I had the pleasure of competing on each day at the Olympic Stadium.

Day 1 was a 5 mile route around the olympic village that finished inside the stadium on the finish line of the track.

We had set off from doncaster at 5am in order to drive down and arrive in London. I had read there would not be changing facilities so thought I would just go down in my running gear as it wouldn’t be to cold. I also seemed to forget to pack any normal clothes for the weekend break, so literally just had running gear, no coat, no jumpers nothing.

Arriving in London; after spending a large amount of time being lost! I soon realised how cold it actually was. My wife and I were not prepared for this weather. Everyone else seemed to realise it would be freezing and was wrapped up warm. Being northerns we decided to grin and bare it. However 3 hours later this tactic was no longer working. So we had to resort to buying official Olympic jumpers. I was worried my son might get cold so I donated mine to him and used my tough northerner training to get through the shaking.

As race time approached we headed to our holding gate and all the issues of being cold were forgotten. We were position at the back of the second wave as we had no intentions of making this a fast run. Then over the loudspeaker came an announcement “the visually impaired runners are due to set off next”. What?? there was a special section we were supposed to be in? we dashed to the front and missed the start, we quickly joined in around a minute or so after once they realised the majority of the visually impaired also had no idea there was a special section as they all begin to gather behind us.

The run took a scenic tour around the park and we were able to run around the freshly built arenas. My wife had never run further than 3 miles and never run faster than a 10:30 mile. So we pushed it a little and ran slightly faster than that. Sian was struggling a little around the course but the idea of finishing in the stadium spurred her on.

As we entered the stadium we ran in the service tunnels and the adrenaline really kicked in. Our pace quickly increased to 9 minute miles and we shot out into the stadium. Running on the track felt fantastic and the stadium seemed huge. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling and we even received a really hefty medal.

The next day we returned to the stadium for the 100m sprint. This is certainly not my preferred running distance and I am not a fan of sprinting. The full range of motion and the intensity just has injury waiting to happen written all over it.

We Hund around the stadium for a while watching the other races and took advantage of the polar opposite weather of the previous day. After a couple of hours me and Neil Bacon headed down to our holding area to get ready for the sprint.

(Get ready for the excuses) We entered the warmup facility where I did a few warmups before heading out to the track. Once we arrived outside and walked out onto the track itself I realised I couldn’t see the lines defining the lanes. I asked for assistance from the staff but it was to late, I was told to go for it!

So unable to see the lines or even how far I should be running; on the sound of the gun I went for it. I apparently took an early lead but I felt myself drifting into another lane, so I eased off and concentrated on trying to stay straight. This apparently was my downfall as I was overtaken by not one but two people!

I finished the race 3rd and felt a little disappointed. But then took splice in the fact I had just done a 100m sprint in the Olympic stadium so who cares what position I finished in.

The weekend was fantastic and I managed to walk away with 2 medals to remind me of the events and some great memories to take away with me. I also managed to tear up my muscles; sprinting just aint for me.

Busy Month

This month is without a doubt the busiest month in recent memory. With 6 essays and 3 exams all due over the next 2 weeks I am immensely busy. It has been a great opportunity to learn more about new areas of psychology though and I am finding a real interested in synthetic psychology.

It is a great combination of the technology I love and models of psychology. Creating artificial neural networks that can control robots that learn and interact with humans just sounds so 21st century! Will definitely be exploring more over the summer break.

This month has also been a big surprise on the TV commercial front. It has appeared online and on the TV! I also have a prying campaign running in many running magazines so keep an eye out for me. I have embedded the video below

I also promise to get updating this blog again as soon as this hectic month is over!