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.

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.

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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.