Running on empty

My first run in six days and very much a mixed bag.

I’d been feeling under the weather since Friday and this, combined with my trip to the National Running Show in Birmingham, meant that I had no real opportunities to run.

I felt a little better this evening, albeit still far from fighting fit, so I thought I’d give it a go by attempting a run to tonight’s Saints & Slimmers circuits class, and then a run back home again.

The run up was grand. Indeed, I was a full three minutes faster than the last time I did it a couple of weeks ago. This was promising. I felt good.

Then circuits hit me. They were tough. By far the toughest class I’ve been to yet. I still did my best but a combination of being weak from the lurgy coupled with the run to get there meant my energy reserves were totally depleted by the end of the session.

But, undeterred and very possibly foolish, I decided to run back home again despite a couple of offers of a lift. I had nothing, or very little, left in my legs but I figured this would be a good opportunity to dig deep – really deep – just to see what I could do when I was up against it.

It was brutal, it was horrible and I really didn’t enjoy it. But, even in the midst of questioning my sanity, I knew that a run like this that would benefit me. It never does any harm to stare adversity in the face from time to time, to remind my brain that when the going gets tough that I do have it within me to keep plugging away.

I knew before I left that I was weak, that the double run either side of an intensive workout would be really difficult but it did my soul a world of good to see it through to the bitter end.

Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (59.64km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km
5th January – 9.02km
7th January – 5.01km
9th January – 5km
10th January – 5.1km
15th January – 13.02km
17th January – 3.39km
23rd January – 5.81km

So, just over 40km to go and a week to do it in. This is going to be tight but I’ve done a marathon in a week on a few occasions now so it’s nothing I’m not capable of. Little but often.

Relive my run


National Running Show – Day Two

I said at the end of my last post that, on day two of the National Running Show, I’d be giving the Saucony Treadmill Challenge a go and partaking in a couple of free exercise sessions on offer at the run clinic.

Unfortunately that didn’t quite go to plan. I could feel a cold working on me all weekend but, come Sunday morning, it had developed into the fully blown lurgy. I felt spaced out, my hearing was muffled, everything hurt.

How I felt wasn’t helped by a restless, sleepless night caused by the noise levels from outside my hotel.

Seriously, people of Birmingham, why do you insist on honking your horns continuously at 4am? Boy racers in the carpark below, why? What are you compensating for? Women, why did you have to shriek at the top of your voices? Hell, you couldn’t even walk quietly! Bear in mind I was on the seventh floor too … dear help those poor sods lower down.

Anyway, we still got to the show just after 9am. Thankfully the crowds weren’t at the levels they were on Saturday although that’s not to say the event still wasn’t well attended.

I still went to the Saucony stand to contemplate the Treadmill Challenge but knew in my heart and head that I couldn’t do it. I feared that after ten seconds or so the contents of my stomach could very easily be introduced to their lovely and expensive looking treadmill and, let’s face it, no-one wanted that!

Instead we took another tour of the stands, going down my list of items and kit I had wanted to buy whilst Dawn had a demonstration of some massage mitts from Soma Therapies on her left calf which impressed her enough to make a purchase.

The folks manning the stand were lovely, and didn’t indulge in the hard sell at all. In fact, they encouraged her to take a walk around the show to have a think before deciding to buy or not. A quite refreshing approach I thought.

After that we went for a look at the exercise sessions again but, having seen the shapes we would have to twist ourselves into, we decided to pass. Again, my stomach most definitely wouldn’t have been too keen!

The business of the day done we decided to stay on for what was for me one of the highlights of the entire weekend, listening to Lisa Jackson’s talk.

Lisa is the author of ‘Your Pace Or Mine’, a book which the blurb describes as “What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last”.

I had bought this book upon its release a couple of years ago just before completing my first London marathon because I knew I’d find it highly relatable. Lisa has come last in 25 (or 24!) of her 100+ marathons but has an amazing attitude towards her running, coming last and her speed (or lack thereof).

I found her speech quite inspirational and littered with loads of ‘me too’ moments. As you might know I finished last (for the first time) in my most recent race and, still to my surprise, I haven’t beaten myself up over it … perhaps that’s in part because of this book and the little fragments of stories that stuck in my head.

Lisa also spoke about the running community, about the amazing characters she has met and the friends made. I know exactly what she means.

After her talk I knew I had to speak to her. To her credit, she took the time to have a decent chat with everyone in the queue. I was conscious I was the only man waiting to see her but I didn’t really care. Perhaps that speaks volumes about the impact her story has had on me, perhaps it says a lot about my own inner strength. Who knows? She was lovely and really took the time to listen and to exchange experiences. A definite highlight for me.

So that was the first ever National Running Show.

I’m proud to have been an ambassador for the show. I really enjoyed myself. I was impressed by the numbers attending, especially on the Saturday.

I had heard some grumbles about the size of the hall and the lack of a lot of the big names in the running world not being there.

To be fair, no-one knew quite what to expect, but I think the organisers got it pretty much spot on. I fully expect it to be in a bigger hall next year and for the major brands to come running looking for their spot in the show. It’s their own loss for missing out this time.

National Running Show – Day One

Three years ago I wasn’t a runner. I’d often thought about it but never had the nerve or self belief to try it and, back in January 2015, I was still some four months away from lacing up my trainers and giving it a go for the first time.

Yet, today, I found myself in the queue at the NEC in Birmingham to get into the first ever National Running Show. And not only was I in the long, long line of people patiently awaiting admission but I was honoured to be selected as an ambassador for the event! That just goes to show the impact the sport has had on my life.

But enough about me, what about the show?

I don’t think there are enough superlatives to do justice to the event, and how much I enjoyed myself, so I’ll just let you think of some on your own!

I attended the show with my friend Dawn, and after gaining admission, we quickly found the registration stand so that I could collect my special ambassador goody bag and whilst it’s not quite up to Oscars level just yet it certainly was the best goody bag I’ve ever received at a show, actually containing items that are useful.

Whilst there I bumped into Edward Chapman, one of my team members from the Shine Cancer Walk in September. It was nice to see him again and to catch up briefly. Why not give his own blog, Trail Running Man, a read?

After that, it was time to catch the opening presentation by none other than Dame Kelly Holmes. Normally I am quite sceptical of these elite athletes claiming they have the same struggles and insecurities as the rest of us mere mortals but, in this case, I really did relate to what she was saying. She delivered her talk with humility, humour, a little self deprecation and seemed like an all round decent spud, even dealing with a short technical mishap almost as if it was all part of the plan.

It was emotional, it was inspirational and left me determined to work extra hard to find my gold.

As you might note from previous entries, I’m currently in the midst of a six-week bootcamp-type programme, Saints & Slimmers, and was challenged by my fellow team members to get my group t-shirt pictured with as many legends of the running world as I possibly could.

So when Dame Kelly announced she’d be happy to pose for selfies with the audience I didn’t need to be asked twice. I felt a bit sorry for her as the hordes descended upon her but she handled it with composure and posed for as many pictures as time allowed … including me! After a brief explanation of why I was thrusting a t-shirt in her general direction she said, “Well, we better help you with your challenge then”.

On a high from that, I then spotted Jo Pavey MBE – World, European and Commonwealth medallist – nearby and seized the chance for my second picture of the day. Again, she was lovely and happy to accommodate my request.

By this stage I was buzzing. Dawn (now that she was relieved from photographer duties for a while!) and I went for a proper look around the many stands at the show. There was everything a runner could possibly need, no stone was left unturned and it was great chatting with many of the vendors to find out more about their products. I resisted the temptation to buy anything (mostly). Today was a browsing day, but Sunday could be very different. I apologise to my wallet in advance.

I did buy one thing – a 2017 500-mile Virtual Runner medal.

I was so, so close to reaching 1000km for the year but was thwarted by the heavy snow and sheet ice at home during December and was tempted to buy the 1000km medal anyway, but after chatting with Susan at the VR stand she persuaded me to go for the 500-mile medal instead.

It was the better bling of the two options, complete with spinning bits to amuse an easily distracted mind like mine (!) and was a little reward to myself for my efforts last year.

My celeb spotting wasn’t done for the day. Prior to visiting the VR stand I saw Ben Smith at the Truestart Coffee stand. Ben is the absolute legend that recently completed 401 marathons in 401 days raising £250,000 to help combat bullying in schools and society in general.

I bought into his journey and the cause having not had the happiest time during my own school days way back in the 80s and completed the virtual marathon that the 401 Challenge had organised in 2016. I also intend to sign up for the 2018 events in the summer.

Ben was absolute gent. Not only was he happy to pose for a pic, but he chatted for a while too. I was also really pleased for Dawn. Ben is from Bristol, Dawn from Wiltshire  so they chatted a little bit about the area.

Whilst there Ben roped in Paul Hobrough for a picture as well. Ben described him as the ‘physio to the stars’ and was one of the experts giving one-to-one sessions over at the registration stand. Thanks, Paul, for the pic.

As I said, today was all about browsing and seeing what was on offer at the show. Sunday will be the day for doing ‘stuff’. I’ve got my eye on the Saucony treadmill challenge, plus a couple of free exercise sessions at the run clinic in the middle of the hall. I also intend to take in at least a couple of the talks and maybe booking a chat with an expert or two.

A hugely successful day and a highly enjoyable show. Bring on day two!