Here's me

My name is Matt I'm a freelance music teacher. I teach whole classes, voice, and guitar both privately and in local schools.

I've been running since February 2010. I originally set this up to promote fund raising for Edale Mountain Rescue Team when I did the Nottingham Ultra in 2011. I raised over £500 but the race was so uneventful (in a good way) that I couldn't be bothered to do a write up.

Now I'm intending to use it to document the running stuff that I want to be able to remember.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Energy potion

I've finally perfected me recipe for energy drink/gel.

The need for a homemade product comes about due to a severe alergy to some food colourings that I have.  I think everyone has a reaction to food colourings - you can see at school (I'm a teacher) when pupils have had a lot of sweets.  With me its really bad though; if I accidentally ate a glacé cherry packed with E111 I wouldn't be able to go to work.  Anyway I started looking for something more natural than fluorescent blue powerade. Tom Williams of Marathon Talk directed me to Torq who make natuural drinks, gels, and bars. 

From information on Torq's website and trial and error I put this together.  These quantities give the best taste and consistency but I have used much more carbs in the same liquid which cuts down on weight but is not as palatable.

80g maltodextrin
40g fructose
60g lime juice
Boiling water to make upto 350ml
2.5ml elete electrolytes

I make it in the shaker you get free when you buy protein powder which has ml markings on the side. I put the cup on a scales weigh the dry ingredients in weigh the lime juice in add boiling water until you've got 350mls then shake it until its clear then add the electrolyte.

Maltodextrin is a starch powder derived (I believe) from potatoes starch you can get it from body building shops like GNC but its about 4 times more than at Although you'll need to buy 1kg or more.

For the fructose I buy Tate and Lyle fruit sugar which is really cheap.  For the lime juice I use tesco lime juice which is about 70p for 250ml in the ingredients isle. The Elete electrolytes are by far true most expensive thing.

If you use it please let me know how you get on. I'd really like to know how it compares with commercial products.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Dovedale Dipper

Yesterday I went up to the White Peak to run the Dovedale Dipper. Its a circular 26.5 mile route with nearly 4000ft of elevation. Here is a GPS trail although unfortunatley its not mine because My phone obviously lost signal at one point and I have a mark in the middle of the sea.

It was a brilliant day that I can really recommend. Its a tough course but really beautiful. I went to treat it as a training run and I was really happy with what I did. I was part of a group for quite a long time between miles 12 and 17 but they eventually left me so clearly my endurance isn't great but there were people I was very pleased to finish ahead of. At the start I fell in with two guys but very quickly told them they were going too fast and I dropped back. I was lucky at some stiles and they came back past me as we got onto the high peak trail and I again told them I couldn't keep up. I'm not sure where I passed them but I saw them come in about 15 minutes behind me. I also finished ahead of one guy called Jimmy that I hadn't seen at all but caught at the 12 mile mark.

What pleased me most was how I dealt with the cramp. I think it was as bad as at the White Peak Marathon but I handled it better. I didn't really stop to walk it off but ran through it this time, I've also discovered a good stretching thing. Last time when I stopped and stretched it was a disaster and made it worse because as I stretched my quads my hamstrings cramped but this time whilst still running I started just to kick my heels higher towards my backside and I think it really helped.

I stayed really energised and positive all the way through although in the last 4 miles I wasn't really with anyone so I kind of zoned out a little. While I was zoned out I started thinking a little about the Ultra. I'd run the 1km upto the last checkpoint (22.5 miles) really quite strong and in those last four miles I carried on running well (albeit slowly) and I started thinking well, the pain hasn't really changed since mile 19. It moved about a bit; sometimes my quads were tight and on the verge of cramping, sometimes my hamstrings, sometimes just above my knees. But I thought well if I ran mile 19-26.5 without deteriorating why shouldn't I run mile 19-31 in the same way.

When I did the White Peak I really picked it up in the last half mile or so but I wasn't able to this time because it was very down and there's a terminal velocity in the Vibrams. The Vibrams probably cost me a bit of time in the last 4 miles because every now and then I was having to walk across the limestone shards that covered the path but there was nowhere that I suffered for wearing them.

The reaction to the Vibrams was interesting. Amongst the runners most were interested in them but I think the general consensus was that I'd be suffering more because of them. The non runners were more interesting and they were generally saying how healthy must be, one actually said that they must be a lot more protective than trainers – right. A few people were asking if they had enough cushioning and I think were surprised to hear that there is none.

I was talking early on with an old gent who I caught and passed who was talking about his experiences of some of the other runs he'd done. He tended to stick around the 20-25 mile mark and had no interest in going further. There were a lot of people on the run who were talking about big distances though.

I was talking to the older geezer about the time when I was young and first heard about ultra distances. Me and my dad were going up to Hadrian's wall and we asked a guy who we knew was a youth hostel chap if he'd done it (yes) and what hostels there were. He didn't know about the hostels so we asked where he stayed. “I didn't we caught the train up ran the whole thing then caught the train back”. I found that amazing and I suppose since then I've always had an ambition to do some long distance running. Looking back though I realise it was really this ill-defined dream that seemed unachievable. I guess I've always thought that things like that would either happen or not. I wish that back then I'd have gone – wow I want to do something like that, what can I do now to get towards that goal. That was probably 17 years ago and its only now that I'm working towards that goal and I love it. I'm so proud that I'm in a position where I can learn about an event on Thursday and rock up and complete it on Sunday. That means more to me than times; the fact that fitness is no barrier to doing anything I fancy doing. Its a parkour thing too; how useful are you – if you find yourself in the situation where you need to do x can you do it?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Magic Mile

 This Friday (5th August) I'll be running the Marathon Talk Magic Mile.  at 7pm on Holgate School field track in Hucknall.  Anyone who wants to come along and do a mile is more than welcome.  Turn up between 7 and half past and I guarantee that someone will be there to hold the stopwatch.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


The recipe but also some thoughts about chia seeds drawn from experience.

Once I bought my first pair of Vibrams I of course wanted to know a bit more about them and barefooting in general. I quickly ended up on barefoot Ted MCDonald's website which had Born To Run splashed all over it. I'd already heard of the book through the parkour community and decided I'd better see what ll the fuss was about.

I loved the book. I found it captured well the feelings I was experiencing myself as a new runner. One part which particularly interested me was Iskiate. I've always been interested in these kind of magical remedy recipes. I loved reading about the elvish lembas , ent wash and orc draughts when I was a teanager and even bought a book about herbal remedies and thought about how I could make my own versions: when I read about the Iskiate it seemed almost the same. I was eager to learn more.

I'll show what I've learnt and give some comments on my own experience.

The Recipe as I found it;

Juice of one lime
Disolve the sugar in the lime juice
1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar
33cl water
Add the water
1 or 2 dessert spoons chia seeds
Stir in the chia seeds

I've found it best to dissolve the sugar in the lime first and then shake together the water and chia in a protein shaker then add the lime-sugar mix. I also like to leave it for at least 20 minutes before drinking – I'll explain why later. I was given my shaker by a body-building friend of mine and it has a wire ball in side which really breaks up the lumps.

Recovery shake of my own;

After a particularly hard run or a parkour session here's a recovery shake I like;

In a shaker mix 20g chia seeds with 150ml water. Make up to 500ml with strawberry and banana smoothie add 20g whey protein and shake till smooth.

Where to get ingredients

First I no longer use fresh lime; they are relatively expensive, variable quality, and take a long time to squeeze. I now use pure lime juice which I buy in 250ml bottles from the tesco ingredients isle. I use a quarter of a bottle per serving – its much cheaper and quicker and I can't really taste a difference.

Protein powder I get from bulk-powders which I first came across when I first wanted to buy maltodextrin. Its a no branded protein and there probably are better things out there but I find it fine and it is comparitively cheap. Maybe its placebo but I do think I can tell a difference in recovery when I use protein powder although I only use it after particularly hard runs or parkour sessions. When I do use it I take 20g – 40g after the session depending on what I did (20g after a run 40g after a hard parkour session) then 20g the following day at breakfast.

I buy from an online shop which specialises in importing chia seeds. I've found the service excellent and the product seems great although I have nothing to compare it with.

Thoughts and Comments

I've been drinking Iskiate regularly for about 18 months and have also experimented with chia seeds during runs. I've read up on chia seeds and their use. I believe my experience with chia puts me in a good position to offer opinions.

Chia seeds are really good for you, high in calcium, dietry fibre, and omega 6 and 3. I believe that chia is the only food one the planet that has the correct ratio of omega 3/6 for humans. They are very low on the glycemic index (as low as is possible). They are also high in protein, even compared with something like chicken, although it would be dificult to eat eough chia to make it a viable source of protein. They are low in carbohydrate.

I believe the key things which make chia so useful are its low GI value and its ability to absorb water. I don't believe chia, on its own, is useful as a fuel. I read an article advising eating a handful of chia before water during a marathon instead of using sports drink. I've tried eating chia in this way and I really don't believe its useful; chia just does not provide the things the body needs whilst exercising at intensity. I think chia, on its own, could be useful for something like walking.

So I think chia is only useful when made into iskiate.

I read once that the reason iskiate works is because you get an instant boost from the sugar then a sustained energy from the chia. I don't believe that either. I think the only energy comes from the sugar but that the chia blocks the body's rapid uptake of the sugar, therefore removing the crash that one can get after sugar and giving more sustained energy. I also think iskiate helps keep you hydrated for a long time which I put down to the chia's water absorbing properties.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tuesday 21st June

On Tuesday I wnet for a long run and it was the first since the marathon. I have done stuff since, an 11 miler, an 8, a short one and a parkour session but this was the first long one.

It was quite a learning experience.

I wanted to go to Decathlon to get a bag and the race route goes right past Decathlon so I thought I'd run a section of the route. Decathlon and back isn't far from my house but I ran over to Bulwell in order to pick up the Robin Hood Way through Bulwell Hall to Watnall and then on to Giltbrook. Now the UR (race organiser) website says that the trail isn't always signposted well so I took a map. In order to avoid carrying the whole map I photocopied the relevant bit. They really weren't wrong about the lack of signage though. The trail was hard to follow and its not helped by the fact that the Robin Hood Way is quite fractured; there are little spurs that go just a few hundred meters in order to take in a village meaning there are places where the Way actually has three signs all going in different directions. There are also places where the signs just stop and there are places where the trail goes in very unexpected directions.

Well obviously I got lost, well went wrong anyway. I turned of the road to enter the Bulwell hall section of trail and it was going fine when I ended up at the Nottingham Golf Center. There the signs stopped. I ended up going in completely the wrong direction and I couldn't figure out the map (which is odd because my map reading is usually excellent). I asked someone where this road went and it he said it went the wrong way for me. I ran round a bit hoping I was going the right way to come upon Roll Royce air strip – I wasn't. In the end I used the GPS in my phone to get a location and once I'd done that I realised which way I needed to go and everything was fine. I also realised what had gone wrong in the first place. I'd not photocopied enough map and I wasn't actually on the map yet, the person had asked for directions must have been a clown because the road I asked about was the one I wanted and went no where near Bulwell like he said.

Anyway I was back going and I didn't go wrong again. I got onto a section of trail which I've run regularly and came out at Watnall road motorway bridge, I crossed the bridge and came across a UR sticker left over from last years race. I was on the map now so I didn't have any problems but the trail started doing strange things. It plunged across a field in a seemingly random direction, there wasn't really a footpath as such but I was definatly right according to the map and the footpath signposts at either end of the field. Next the path passed behind a row of houses and the hedge was really over grown meaning I had to run in a sort of crouched position.

Lesson One
There are many places where passing people will be very hard or impossible. This means I'll have to be careful in the race to pick a good pace from the start. If you get to one of the narrow sections behind a slower runner then it might be impossible to pass and therefore you'd loose time. The flip side is that if you got to one of those narrow places in front of a faster runner you might end up either running faster than you should so as not to hold anyone up, or stopping completely in order to let them pass.

Leaving Watnall on the path to Giltbrooke there were some very undulating sections with some steep uphills that I'll proberly walk on race day. I think this is ok and I think the variety suits me so I'm not really worried about it. There are lots of stiles at this point also small bridges over streams and sections of duck boards over boggy ground. At one point, still on the official trail, I got to a stream where a footbridge was shown on the map to find no way of getting over the stream except jumping. I guess the race will take a little detour round this section.

As I said there are lots of stiles here, sections crossing small fields, and intersecting paths. I've done walks on this kind of path lots of times and navigating is easy; you can hold the map up, look at it as you go, and navigate almost meter by meter. The OS maps are so good and you're going at a speed that this is possible. When running its quite different though you can't keep such a close eye on the map and therefore I regularly had to stop to map read.

Lesson Two
I want to make sure I am very familiar with this section of trail so that I don't have to spend time map reading or get caught out. I don't think I can rely on course markers (there might not be any) or having people to follow because we'll probably be so strung out that I might be running alone by this point and even if I am with someone they might not know the way.

I turned off the trail to head down to Decathlon and vaulted some rails on the way.

Lesson Three
it became obvious at this point that I'd totally misjudged this run. I knew the distance, I knew it was going to be around 17 miles, and yet somehow I'd only prepared myself (mentally and practically) for a much shorter run. I'd gone much too fast so far I was whacked, I'd one at the kind of pace for a ten miler and still had 7 to go. I'd also only taken enough drink for ten miles. The lesson is think more before setting off.

Lesson Four
I doubt I can make my time goal of 4 hrs 47 mins. I know its a bit early to be defeatist and I will make an all out effort for it but having seen the kind of terrain I won't be upset if I don't make that time. Even on this relatively short stretch there were so many stiles and if there's a bunch of runners there could even be a queue. We'd had some rain the day before I did this run and the trails were so greasy that there were times I had to slow down because of that. Even if I manage (like I hope to) to run the whole course in stages before hand there may still be places that I'll have to stop to map read.

Well after a quick purchase in Decathlon I set off home already exhausted due to the problems of lesson three. I went the quickest way back but I had to walk at some stages. This was the only time I've hit the wall and, although I have lost some fitness since the marathon, really its due to not thinking the run through properly before hand.

So here's the commencing hard work – especially if I have any chance of hitting the time goal.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Some short sessions I'll be trying

I'm now starting work a bit earlier on Monday so I don't have time to do anything of decent distance before work any more but I'm going to try to get something in. I won't have time to do more than about half an hour plus a shower in between dropping my son at the child minders and setting off for work.

I want to out line some of the sessions I'll be trying to put in. Hopefully this will keep me in mind of what I have to do but I hope it will be interesting reading because some of them will be quite unusual sessions. There'll be the usual interval sessions but there'll be some all over conditioning too.

Here goes starting with the more usual stuff and including explanations where I think they may be needed

4 x 4 mins hard with 2 mins rest.

2 x 1 mile

2 x 100 meters

Tabata circuit. This involves taking an aerobic activity (so running, cross-trainer, stationary bike, jumping jacks, burpees etc.) to the point where its no longer an aerobic exercise. It takes 8 minutes in total here's how you break it down; 3 mins easy easy jog warm up, then 8 lots of 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, then 1 minute easy easy jog cool down. When you do the 20 seconds on its full max effort. Don't try and do a pace that you can do for each round just hammer it as hard as you can. No matter what your level this should be hard. The first time I did this session I felt really sick. In test it has been observed that subjects heart rates go beyond their theoretical maximum limit and this session has big claims for being one of the best weight loss sessions you can do because of the amount of calories you'll burn off in the 48 hours after the work out.

All over circuit. 5 x chin ups, dips, press ups, crunches, 400 meter sprint, rest. For the exercises choose sensible numbers and bear in mind that from the second exercise to the end you'll find them harder than normal because all the exercises share muscles. So I'm at around 40 mark for press ups in a single set but the last time I did this session I did 5 x 10 press ups within the session and I was finding them hard by the end

Stair training. For this you want around 40 steps in a flight. I do it on the Forest Recreation ground in Nottingham which has a set of 36 steps in 3 sets which is ideal. Here's what you do; every time you go up you go hard and when you come down you go easy you do 3 rounds each of; running touching every step, every other step, every third step, every fourth step; 2 rounds each, on each leg, of hopping touching every step, every other step, every third step; 1 round each of two footed jumps touching every step, every other, every third, every fourth, every fifth (if its possible on the steps you're on); last crawling – start at the bottom with your back to the steps go onto all fours (hands and feet not hands and knees (very important)) crawl backwards to the top when you get to the top crawl forwards back to the start. Carry on with the crawling if you can or if your like me you're now feeling wasted so go and cry.

Half an hour balancing. Get yourself a level hand rail (round if your balance is good square if not) get on it and practice balance; walking forwards and backwards stand facing the direction of the rail and do some squats, practice standing sideways on the rail, try some squats there too, also crawling (hands and feet not hands and knees) along the rail.

Those should keep me busy I'll add more as and when I think of them. If you find you've got bored with gyms or with normal intervals why not get yourself down to some stairs.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The challenge I face

The Challenge

What exactly am I facing with this challenge? Well there's the 31.16 mile race in October which will be hard on its own; I've walked that distance in a day before and it was a very painful experience, the furthest I've ever run is 26.2 miles in a marathon, I've run 20 miles or more only three times so far.

The race is really only the culmination of the challenge though. I don't want to just get through it; I could probably do that tomorrow because there's no cut off for the race.

For me the real challenge will be in the lead up to the race. I have in mind that I'd like to run it at the same average pace as I ran the marathon a month ago which means just over 9 minutes per mile (4 hours 47 minutes target time). When I did the marathon I got severe cramps at around mile twenty and if that happens in this race then I'd be looking at a very slow last 10 miles.

The training will be hard because I need to try to find out what causes my cramps and what I can do about it. That means I'm going to have to do a lot of runs at the kind of distance and intensity that will cause the cramps in order to try different remedies.

Along with this training goes the risk of the various over use injuries which all runners face. I think as long as I start the race I will finish even if it means a very slow time and walking a lot. What's going to be harder is getting to the start line having got a good balance in training; too little and I won't reach my time target, too much and I'll risk not making the start line at all. I really need to up the intensity of the training runs, honestly I didn't train that much for the marathon; I ran a maximum of three times a week but usually twice and there were weeks in the build up when I ran once or not at all. More importantly though I didn't really ever push myself in training. The long runs were done slowly and the shorter runs (10 miles or so) I did at probably 9 minute miles. In the marathon we set of at 8:40 per mile and up to the cramps didn't find that hard, I was breathing in for 2 steps out for 4. So the marathon was a real learning experience for me, I learned that I can run a lot faster than I thought.

Honestly I probably won't be able to up the consistency; the situation with work and family means there will still be weeks in the build up to the ultra that I won't be able to run all that much. I'm going to alter the training by upping the speed in training. I'm going to be including sections of faster running in the long runs and in the mid distance I'm going to really up the intensity. I'll write in another post about exactly what types of runs I'll aim for and about my slightly unusual method of judging effort.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Edale Mountain Rescue Team - What they do and why I'm running for them

Edale MR Team is made up entirely of volunteers and funded entirely through donations; they receive no funding from government.  They operate in the North of the Peak District but frequently work alongside other teams in the Peak and in Yorkshire and the East Midlands. Their core duty is to help climbers, walkers, and anyone else who has come a cropper in the sometimes difficult terrain of the Dark Peak area although they are often called to assist other emergency services in the area too.

The service is free to anyone that needs it but the annual cost of running the team is around £50,000.  This money is needed for such things as team training exercises, response vehicles and other equipment like defibrillator and stretchers.

The team traces their history back to the early fifties, got their first vehicle in 1992.  By 2006 the roster was three vehicles and apart from the first have all been donated - in turn the team pass on their old vehicles to other teams around the country.

By October 2010 the team had already had more call outs than in any other year making it the busiest ever year.  Here's a round-up of the type of incidents they deal with (I've taken the info from looking at their facebook page): boulders spraining ankles; 64 year old man got into difficulty, needed air ambulance; D of E group didn't make cut-off before dark, found by team using rescue dog; general injuries to walkers on well known, well trodden paths - could happen to anyone; mountain biker coming off and fracturing ribs.

What strikes me about all of these incidents is that they're all activities which I take part in; in fact one was a boulder on the trackside boulder at Curbar, I was there bouldering about a month ago.  And the other thing is that the incidents aren't caused by stupidity, they're just incidents; I've fallen off bouldering routes before, I've come off my bike before, I've accidentally stepped in a rabbit hole before. Anyone of these accidents could have been that bit worse and if they had have been I may well have called Mountain rescue.

For anyone that enjoys being out in the countryside don't think it will never happen, it could, please support my fund-raising efforts.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

What brought me to running... part 2

It is parkour that gave me the tools for running in terms of fitness but also in another way.

A couple of years ago I had a problem with landings.  I'd watched a video in which someone said "how far do you need to bend your legs really" the idea was that you don't need to bend your legs much on smaller drops.  I thought about this rather too much and got to a stage where I was almost locking my legs out and putting a lot of pressure on my legs.  At the time I often got to the child minders to pick up James a little before she got back from the school run and I used to practice balance on a rail behind her house.  One day I had no trainers in the car so I just did it barefoot.  I noticed that as I was jumping off the rail (about waist height) I wasn't experiencing the pressure that I had been.  The drop would hurt because of the roughness on the soles of my feet but there was no tension in my legs and everything felt good.
My 2nd pair which I used for the marathon

I wanted to include some barefoot work in my training.  From reading the Parkour Generations forums I knew about Vibram Five Finger shoes.  They're a very minimal shoe; a 2-3mm thick rubber sole to protect from stones, thornes, broken glass etc. but that's it - no ankle support, no arch support, no heal - its as close to being barefoot without actually being so.  I ordered a pair.

The first time I ran in my new Vibrams (VFFs) was a game changer.  I'd always gone for little jogs but never really enjoyed it, I just did out of a sense that I should.  The first run was difficult and after a couple of miles my feet were shot, the arches had completely collapsed, and I had to walk.  I loved it though.  Running in this way was so much fun.

There are lots of arguments about barefooting and I don't want to get into that but I would recommend barefooting or minimal footwear because its so enjoyable.

I got into running a bit more and started regularly going out for an hour or so.  I go out the door not really knowing what I'd do but just to enjoy going for a run.  Sometimes I'd go for something short, sometimes I'd mix in some parkour, on one occasion I went out thinking I'd go for about 6 miles and ended up doing at least 12.

Entering a marathon was the next step and that brings us up to date.  I still really enjoy the running I'm still basically doing the same thing - going out to enjoy the run.  I didn't really train for the marathon in the sense of having a programme, I did up my mileage but I just did what I wanted really.

The next step is the ultra.  I haven't started running again properly after the marathon but I think my first run back will be on Tuesday (6 more days) and I think it'll be around 15 miles.

What brought me to running

I've been more or less involved in physical activities all my life and they've always been connected with the outdoors and with movement.  My comprehensive school had a yearly activities day and for my first one (age 11) I chose to go on the Christmas walk.  It was a circuit starting and ending in Castleton and taking in Mam Tor.  The weather was awful and there was a genuine danger of being blown off the side of Mam Tor and at the top all I could do was cling onto the trig point and wait for the teacher to come and drag me off.  I really enjoyed it though and it was something I really wanted to keep doing.

When I started the bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award I began climbing as the physical recreation part I also got really into mountain biking at the time and between the ages of 14 and 17 most weekends would be a long bike ride on Saturday followed by the climbing centre on Sunday.  I kept going on the school walks and met Pete whose family did a lot of climbing and I often went climbing outdoors with them.  I used to love climbing although I was never good at it - especially outdoors because I'm not very good at heights.

I went to university at Aberystwyth and part of the reason for choosing to go there was because I thought that there would be plenty of climbing.  Actually that's not really true; the roads to Snowdon aren't great and its a long journey and at the time the guide book for mid-Wales was out of print.  So the climbing really tailed off.

I took up rowing instead.  I'm not talking about the Ox-bridge style boats though - we used celtic long boats.  They are around 20 ft, hold four rowers plus a cox and have fixed seats.  I had some great times rowing including surfing the boat into the harbour one when we went out in a force 4, rowing along side a pair of dolphins, and the celtic challenge.  The celtic challenge is a relay race from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth in Wales. The year I did it the weather was amazing and the sea was totally flat.  It took our team around 18 hours and I was lucky enough to be in the boat for both sunset and sunrise.

After uni I moved back home to Nottingham with my girlfriend (now wife) and I did try to get back to climbing but money was scarce so I couldn't really afford to go to the climbing centre and time was also scarce so I found it difficult to get enough time together to get into the Peak District.  I still love to get climbing when I can though; I hardly ever go indoors but that's because I can't really be bothered but I get to the Peak District when I can (not often) and just enjoy myself climbing at my standard (low standard).

I am now much more focused on parkour which I found when I watched Jump Britain.  Parkour is running, jumping, and climbing in any situation.  So when you look at it you'll typically see someone making an obstacle course out of whatever environment they're in.  In the background the training is tackled much like a martial art and there is also a strong spiritual and philosophical side.  Its parkour that has given me the tools to take running more seriously...

My First Marathon

The white peak marathon 2011

My goal was to not blow and have a great time and a secondary goal was sub four hours.

I went off with two mates at about 8:40 miling. We were running how we felt and that was the pace so we were well on for sub 4 we went through half in around 1:53 and feeling good.  I had knew that the second half had a nett descent of around 250 meters and so far it had been all uphill, only gentle, but up none-the-less.  After the half point i was really looking forward to a bit of descent but i had to wait a little longer.

At 17 miles we were still going up and at a drinks station one friend stepped on my heal; I wear vibram five fingers and it came right off so I had to stop to put it back on.

The next section was horrible in the toe shoes, hard trail with sharp rocks scattered over the trail: exactly the surface that barefoot ted said is the most painful to run on.  I had to slow due to the surface but kept contact with my mates who pulled ahead when I was putting my shoe back on.  When the became a bit nicer again I quickly made up the ground on my mates and was feeling strong with lots of energy.

However at mile 19 it became obvious that my train would be stopping at cramp central station. At mile 20 I adopted a run walk strategy; well not so much run walk as run stop scream in excruciating pain walk run.  At one point I stopped to stretch out the front of my quads but while I was at it the back of my quad cramped up and all I was left with was the screaming. Just past mile 22 was when the route finally went down hill.  Its the kind of downhill I hate; steep and with the sharp stones back so the vibrams wouldn't let me just let the brakes of.

Anyway I ran down and the cramp had gone.  However when the nasty steep downhill was done it was back to the gentle up and within 400 yards the cramp was back. At the last water stop at 23 miles I actually stopped and just sat for 30 seconds and it was good and the last time I walked.  That may be because after another half mile or so there was a big steep down section; it was two really steep down with a flat section in the middle leading to the Cromford canal path at 25 and a bit miles.  It was then flat to the end and I managed to keep the cramp at bay till the end.

And I actually didn't blow I finished feeling great (except cramp), I ran with a smile all the way I got a row of about thirty hi-5s from a group of scouts at around mile 24, and even in the midst of cramp I was bigging up anyone that passed me and I was giving a thumbs up to anyone I passed.

One massive mistake was that as I crossed the finish line I stopped too abruptly and cramped so badly that it wasn't even funny and I was screaming so loud that a marshall from the drinks station 10 metres away came to check if I was ok.

The cramp meant that I didn't do my best; I've done training runs quicker, and apart from chafing, I cant really tell I've done it; I even carried my son downstairs a while ago.  However I had great fun, I didn't make 4 hours I actually got 3;61.32, my mates didn't get cramp and did 3:54. I was the fastest person wearing vibram five fingers.