Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Lazy Fat Bastards Guide To Weight Loss Day 2

Ok, so at long last you are here at the start of the weight loss journey, the day you begin to implement lots of new ideas, new things to try and a new way of living. The premise of this journey is to give everything a try, you might not agree with everything but give it a go anyway. After all it's only for 30 days that is hardly any part of your life and you have spent years getting your body to where it's at now so 30 days won't kill you.

Today is all about what we do when we first get up in the morning and this is the easiest of all things. Get up, get straight into your kitchen and pour a large glass of water, ideally a pint or a litre if you feel really up for it. The get loads of ice and add it to the water. You need iced water and you will be drinking it over the next 5-10 minutes. It will be refreshing, it will be cold (that's the point), it may annoy you or get your teeth on edge but make sure every day for the remaining 28 days you start your day with the same glass of iced water.

"What a stupid idea" I hear you say.... "how can that possibly help?" It's all to do with cold thermogenesis and I will go into greater detail in later posts about this but for now here is a little story explaining the benefits of Cold Thermogenesis.

The story of Michael Phelps is an amazing one. The most decorated Olympian ever, a truly gifted swimmer who has smashed every record in swimming and made himself a household name. Did you know that at his peak he was eating around 12,000 calories a day! Now that is some eating regime! If I tried I don't think I could manage 8,000 so whay does he look so good if he eats that much and what makes it worse is that so much of it is so called junk food.

This paradox really go to Ray Cronise. How in the hell could Phelps get away with that?

Yes he swam, ALOT, but that in itself could not account for the massive amount of calories he injested daily. If we look at the calories in and calories out idea then Phelps should weigh a hell of a lot more than he does and should never achieve what he did.

Swimming is non weight bearing, in other words it's tough and exhausting but there is no contact with the ground like in running and the water has a sort of massaging effect on the body. This makes it a great sport for everyone, even f you can't swim because you too can get the benefits of cold thermogenesis and the fitness that messing around in a pool can give you provided that pool is cold!

So back to Pheps. Cronsie determined that the only way Phelps managed this weight loss and physique was not only because of the weights he lifted (a small part), or the amount of swimming he did (a little bigger part) but because of the cold environment in which he swam!

Swimming in cold water causes the body to become a furnace for fat loss. The body needs to become warm, it likes being warm. It regulates itself to become warm when faced with cold. Phelps spent a crazy amount of time every day in cold water and it was his bodies reaction to this that helped him to burn all the excess calories he was eating.

So whilst I would love yo to freeze your bits off in a cold pool, the sea or in constant cold showers we are lazy bastards so we start small and build. The small start is the glass of iced water each and every day before anything else in eaten or drunk.

Your stomach will have to warm that water, that will burn calories without you knowing it and with no sweat or effort. This is the easiest and laziest way to build cold thermogenesis into your life.

if you are feeling ninja and want to read or listen to more about the benefits of Cold Thermogenesis then here are a few of my favourite resources on the subject and some of the people who have taught me so much about fat loss and the body.

Ben Greenfield, Ironman Triathlete and all round guru on everything fitness and health related. Owner of Endurance Planet which is a MUST listen to podcast

Tim Ferris author of The Four Hour Body, life hacker extraordinare and all round interesting guy

Ray Cronise, scientist and cold investigator

thanks to these guys for helping me in my journey and I hope to help you get there too.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Importance of baby soft feet in Ultras and Ironman Triathlons

Baby soft feet are one of the most important but most overlooked aspects of endurance training and racing. Personally I make it a mission to ensure my feet are in tip top condition for any important race for at least a month prior to the race. I make sure I go to a good chiropodist at least twice in that month and a week before the race to ensure all issues have been dealt with and my feet are perfect to compete.

Our feet are the foundation of running and without a decent foundation we cannot expect to go very far or fast. The stories I hear of blisters, lost toe nails, and general pain go on forever. I experienced debilitating blisters in my first long ultra and swore that that was one lesson I would learn from.

Feet are funny things, there are around 20 main muscles, loads of tendons, ligaments, bones and soft tissue that can help or ruin your training and racing so why do so few of us actually take good care of our feet?

In barefoot running the general feeling is to ensure you have built up a good bunch of callouses that will protect your feet and make sure that they are hardened and ready to cope with what the earth throws at them.

But we generally keep our feet cocooned in our Asics, Salomon or other shoes to protect them from the nasty things we might land on. This is great but it makes our feet soft and weak, we protect them too much.

Blisters are caused by friction between either skin on skin or skin on material. It can happen because your toes rub against each other or because your feet are rubbing against your socks or shoes. Yes you can tape your feet, you can wear double layered socks, you can even try a number of remedies such as soaking your feet in petroleum spirit. But whilst these all seem to have some merits I believe you can beat good foot care.

Since I discovered this little secret I have not suffered at all on any distances or races from Ultra's to Ironman Triathlons. I make sure my feet are buffed, toe nails are trimmed, feet are creamed and any old blisters or small issues are dealt with by my chiropodist.

Now running long distances does cause your feet to swell and sweat so there is a high possibility of getting a blister but I have found that great care has eliminated this issue.

As far as toe nail loss goes I have found that it is only down to incorrect footwear in terms of sizing. This is because runners often go for the same size shoe they would normally wear, when in fact they need to be a half to a full size bigger to prevent this happening. Toe nail loss is due to the toes bashing against the front of the shoe, which causes small traumas in the toe nail which leads to black toe nails and eventually nail loss. Keep your toe nails, go bigger on shoes.

An excellent book on this is Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof  it is a little long and does go into massive detail but if you are into long distance running, Ironman Triathlon or multi day running then this is the book for you.

It covers how to deal with feet issues such as blisters and most importantly how to prevent then along the lines of what I have described here. It covers multi stage races such as The Marathon des Sables and other long distance races.

So look after your feet and they will look after you. It doesn't have to be expensive and you don't need to visit a chiropractor, just get a decent foot buff and some good nail scissors and make sure you don't cut too deep or that will give you issues!

Final tips.....make sure you are hydrated. Blisters often occur as a result of dehydration.

Get some good socks. I prefer X-Socks for general running and Dry Max socks for long distance trails. Both have been my preferred choice

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Importance of a crew in Ultra Marathons

Crews can be the make or break of an ultra. sometimes you are allowed them and sometimes not. In the cases where they are allowed I consider them a vital part of the experience. When they are disallowed you can still generally see your crew at aid stations for moral and mental support.

Don't underestimate how vital they can be towards your race. A crew is not just a person or set of people who can gee you up and throw man the Fuck up pills at you when required! Crews have many other attributes which are often overlooked by the runner.

Not only does the crew have to be awake the whole time you are running but they also have to endure long periods of boredom while they wait for your arrival at a checkpoint. They have to travel to places that are difficult to find and often just an ordinance survey area. They have to put up with you stinking of sweat, urine, mud and any other variety of smells. They have to endure the cold, the rain, the sun, the wind as much as you. They get nothing at the end, just a thank you, a smelly hug and sweaty kiss and maybe get tom listen to the tale of the race again and again as you relive it to anyone within earshot.

So how do you pick a crew? Personally I like to have people I know, I like the ability to talk how I normally would at points of extreme stress, swearing like crazy, crying out in pain and generally being a pain in the ass. A person who knows me understands that I'm often like that anyway and won't take it personally. Make sure if you choose your partner that they know what you are about to endure. They will be protective and will not want you to suffer. But you will need to suffer to succeed (see post about DNF, you don't want that!).

A good crew member will have prior knowledge of Ultras or other endurance events and will possess a similar crazy sense of humour and tolerance of pain. They will be able to assess you and make decisions that you might not be capable of. They will know when to kick your ass, when to empathise, when to tell you to shut up and have a great tolerance towards your ranting and selfish ways that will come out in the race.

You must prep all crew members in advance. Tell them what to expect, if you don't know what to expect just thin k of the worst case scenario and make it even worse. Articulate this to them so they can see the magnitude of what you are undertaking and that they are ready for the unexpected. Make sure they know the drills in aid stations and what they can and cannot do. Tell them about your food preferences, likes and dislikes and make sure they know this could change at a moments notice. Suddenly that bar or gel you love could be like poison so they need to have great flexibility.

They must know when to ask relevant questions and know when you need to be left alone. They must show enthusiasm at all times and cheer other people who they will never see again or care about.

These people are VERY hard to find, however they are everywhere, they just don't know it yet. so don't despair if you can't think of anyone. In my first big Ultra I choose my crew wisely. I had a mix or personalities and abilities and made sure they all knew each other a little, they soon got to know each other a lot more.

A crew will give you everything and more but only if they know what to give and can adapt to the situation as necessary. Preparation is everything, for you and the crew so ensure you don't neglect this. Don't forget your crew can also provide support to other runners so encourage this as one day you might need similar support.

Here is the outline of my crew for the South Downs 100 in 2012

Julie - my ever loving wife, falls apart when I'm in pain, cares for me and will rally me when needed and provide love and nurture. I cannot contemplate finishing an event without her. Julie brings a passion and madness that only the Italians can give. Memories of her screaming "COME ON BIG BOY!!!!" will stay with me for years.

However I learnt in my DNF that I need to ensure if I'm in a mess that she is not there to give me the easy option of withdrawing!

Burti -crazy wine drinking all round bundle of irreverent fun. Burti has embraced endurance races and continues to astound. Brings a wealth of craziness and laughter to any situation. Burti even had an asthma attack at mile 98 whilst running the last 8 mile stretch with Julie and me. I had to say to Julie "Don't let her die! I've got to finish this fucker and I can't be doing with her dying". Luckily she was fine and suffers from them all the time, but I didn't know this and it showed her true dedication to getting me to that finish line.

Dean - my stepson and a personal trainer. Dean brings the hardness to the situation, he knows the job needs to be done and won't take any shit. Dean makes you forget the pain as he reminds you that you have been through worse.

Ollie - fellow Ironman athlete and all round good guy. His all round attitude make you smile even when things are so tough you want to crawl up and die. He knows when to take the mick and when to pick you up as he has suffered in races too.

These 4 people endured me running for 24.08 and saw me crying, swearing in church, laughing, running 6 min miling at mile 99 and crawling over the finish line. They suffered as much as I did and enjoyed the triumph equally. I had them running 8 mile sections from the 50 mile checkpoint one pacer at a time and I'm quite sure that without them I would not have finished.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

DNF what happens and what we don't like to admit to!


that awful realisation that you have entered a race, trained forever and yet still managed to fail in finishing the damn thing. So why do we DNF (did not finish) in races when we have done all this prep and what goes on in our minds before during and after. Here I will describe my first DNF and how it affected me.

I entered the CCC race of the UTMB series but was unsuccessful in the ballot so I was offered the TDS as an alternative. Basically CCC is a 100k race staring in Cormayeur in Italy and running through the mountains to Chamonix in France, around 2000 people race. The UTMB a 100 mile race around the same mountains but a lot further and a different route. the TDS is a very technical 120k race around the same mountains but is often regarded as the toughest of the 3 races. They all take place in Chamonix at the same UTMB race week as well as the PTL which is a team race of 300k.

Being a bit of a dick head I though I would take the TDS place as after all I had run a 24.08 in a 100 mile ultra, done an 85 mile ultra, numerous Ironman Triathlons and a selection of shorter Ultra Marathons so how hard could it be.

It was a nightmare.

The weather was perfect, the mountains beautiful but dame were they tough bastards. At 30k into the race the first thoughts of dropping out entered my head. This is normal in Ultra marathons and I expected it. What I didn't expect was how many times I would have to battle with my mind to keep going. I began to think of excuses, reasons for dropping out, things that would sound plausible and that would get people to respect me if I did drop out.

I kept looking at how hard things were, how tired I was, how sore every piece of my body was. I began to rationalise the race at the last mountain before I dropped out. There were people asleep on the way up the mountain, people go to the top and looked at the decent and just turned around and went back down the way they had come instead of attempting the decent.

Now I had entered a mountain running ultra race, not a fucking mountaineering race, or is that one of the excuses I use. Anyway the decent was really scary, i have t be honest and say that I was very scared for my life, it was pitch black and holding onto a rope for best part of a 3k decent while looking at a direct drop to doom and certain death 17 hours into a race is not fun.

At the top I called my wife, she asked why it had taken s long to climb a 6 k mountain? Anyway she said it's only 4.5k downhill so I'll see you in a bit....3.5 hours later I emerged looking like a sack of shit. I was spent.

My mind was gone, I was still 10 minutes inside the cut off but I knew it was game over. My wife was calling my name to every person she saw in that darkness, desperate to see me. I clung to that desperation, that was my ticket out of the madness of this race. I couldn't put her through any more torture. So at the aid station I said the fateful words "Je Suis Termine"..... I Am Finished to the organisers. I had completed around 80k and beaten the biggest mountains but the really technical stuff lay ahead and I didn't have it in me.

I got on the death bus back to the race start, filled with other failures like me. There was no noise, it was like a funeral, but worse. We all had the same look of despair, the self hatred was kicking in. My wife and friends did their best to console me, listened to my tried and tested excuses and reasons why and I felt worse and worse about myself.

I could have carried on, I should have carried on. Yes I was in a mess but I have been through worse. On reflection it was a lack of respect for the mountains. I had never been on a mountain apart from 6 ascents and decent of Snowdonia 4 weeks before but that was only 1250m high. The smallest climb I had was 2000m in that race and the highest 2600.

I had to deal with the altitude issue.....another excuse

The food at the aid stations was not what I was used to or could train for....excuse.

I wasn't prepared enough.....excuse as I did a 100k 2 weeks later in 13.30 and came in 24th on UK soil. so I was prepared for the milage but not the terrain.

I was well versed in the stories we weave about races. I had compiled many over the years about how I had overcome an issue, ran through monster blisters the size of the palm of my hand, how I was dead and out and still completed. The story of how my wife walked out 4 days before an Ironman and 4 weeks before an 85 mile ultra and I still completed both. Cramping up in that Ironman and crying on the side of the road at my weakness and in so much pain, but I fucking well finished.

Ah the stories....I could tell you so many about the victories, the challenges I overcame and how I beat people I should never have beaten. But the story I hate most is my DNF story.

I created and rationalised superb reasons for my failure. Then I repeatedly told this story in various guises to friends, family, anyone who would listen in an attempt to make myself feel better about my failure and to get some sympathy. To hear "you'll do it next time" and other such words of encouragement when you know they are thinking WEAK! FAILURE! WIMP!

I used to take the piss out of other mates who DNF'ed in races. I even had calf guards on that said "Death before DNF" how fucking stupid was I to wear them.

But I kept them and will never race in them again. I will carry them with me when I return one day to that race and defeat my demons. I will tear across that finish line and burn them, tear them up, bury them at the foot of the finish line, run with a fucking big flag saying I beat my DNF, anything to exorcise this feeling.

S what to do when a DNF raises it ugly head and it's a damn ugly head that will torture you for many years.

If it is a medical emergency such as broken leg or similar then that is a legitimate reason. If you are timed out by a cut off and you have really tried you best then that is a legitimate reason.

I can't really see any other reasons other than excuses and we all know excuses are just bullshit wrapped up in self pity.

So when you find yourself immersed in self doubt, when your messed up mind is saying "Sod This! lets go home", when you feel like shit and are puking, shitting, cramping, crying at the side of the road, just take a break. Take it easy on yourself, it's not meant to be easy, if it was everyone would be doing it.

A friend of mine was messed up in an Ironman and sat down to watch some cricket, he loves cricket and his pain and hated for the race went away, he got up and finished the race.

I was in a real mess at the 70 mile point of the 85 mile ultra, remember my wife had left me, I had massive blisters, my torch has run out of batteries and I was a total wreck. So I said to myself, just make it to the top of that hill and you can have a rest.  made it, sat down, felt like shit, cried, ate and then attempted to get up. Fuck me that was painful, the getting up part that is.

I resolved to have more breaks when I felt I needed them. I say down at the last few aid stations for a bit while I felt sorry for myself. Then an old lady slapped my around the chops and told me she had just run lands end to John O'Groats and she looked about 90! That picked me up and I completed the race when I should have dropped.

So when you are faced with those hard decisions make sure your support crew know not to let you drop. Make sure that your fellow competitors help you, get the supporters to pick you up, beg the aid stations to give you some help but don't stop. Quieten your mind shout at yourself, scream if you have to, break the cycle of self doubt. Don't allow any self pity to take over and make sure you don't start creating the story before the end of the race, it's far too easy to live out that story.

In races it's the finish we want, yes we love the scenery, the talking, the challenge but what we really want is to finish. If we can beat our previous time all the better, or beat a rival. We don't want a DNF, they hurt.

The story of the finish against the odds is always far better than the story of failure, unless you back that story up with triumph over that failure now that's the story I want to tell.

To finish in a good wife and I are back together and very happy.

Comments and similar stories are great

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Lazy Fat Bastards Guide To Weight Loss Day 1

Ok so you have read about the reason for writing an ebook about this so now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty the first day in your 30 day journey to true lazy bastard weight loss. Notice I didn't say Lazy Fat Bastard as that is not what we are going to be. Lazy maybe but fat will be far from the truth.

The first thing to do is identify what has caused you to get to the state where you call yourself a derogatory term such as a Lazy fat Bastard. For most people it is over indulgence in food or drink or both. When I say drink it can be booze or coke or other sugary drinks.

Let me get something very firmly fixed before I carry on. It's not due to lack of exercise, repeat this is not due to lack of exercise at all.

Why can I say that with such certainty? Because you CANNOT out train a bad diet or bad addictions no matter what they may be.

I have been an endurance athlete since 2006. I started out wanting to run a half marathon. I was nearly 16 stone and hadn't done any running for nearly 20 years so I was not in a good place. Since the day I committed to run that half I have gone onto many stupid events and distances. I have completed numerous marathons, 4 Ironman Triathlons, multiple Ultra Marathons including 35, 50 85 and 100 mile including lots of others in between. Not to mention the thousands of training rides, runs and swims I have done.

I don't tell you this to brag, yes they are great achievements but the vision I had of a bronzed Ironman/Ultra athlete with rippling muscles and veins popping out in his 6 pack is far from the truth. The truth is hard to realise, it's taken me many years of dedicated exercise, sweat, tears and heartache but I now know exercise alone will  NOT help me get that body.

Ok, all this helped in my weight loss but up until last year I would regularly balloon back up to 14 stone and spend the rest of the year trying to get back to a race weight of 13 stone and I STILL  had a fucking big gut. I still looked at myself with disgust in the mirror, I still felt self conscious and bought XL t-shirts and I continued to think terrible things about myself.

So I have spent the last 18 months trying to identify what causes that gut, what I can do about it and what works and doesn't work. I know one thing for sure exercise works but not that much. Diet and exercise and a combination of other lazy bastard hacks can really speed things up and help massively.

So to start you need to identify what it is that is making you fat. In my case it is wine, I drink wine, I love wine, I sell wine, when I drink wine I get the munchies for crisps, cheese, chocolate and eat in excess generally. So this is a dual issue. Not only is the excess wine contributing to fat gain but the extra free calories from munchies also doubles my fat gain efforts.

If you love coke, diet coke or any other sugary drink and have more than 1 can a day then that is your issue. It might be pizza, burgers, chocolate, cake, processed food, I don't know only you know and no one needs to tell you. As adults we all know the issue we just don't necessarily like to admit to it.

Sit down and identify one bad habit you have, one thing that contributes towards your incredible achievement in becoming a Lazy Fat Bastard. Then commit to eliminating that evil for just 3 days.

So no sugary drinks, no chocolate, no cake, whatever is your poison and just don't do it for just 3 days. Anyone can do it for 3 days, Christ you can sleep for half of that and turn your minds to other things when you are awake!

We need to change the things that cause that habit, this is easier said than done, but while you are craving that chocolate or salivating over that drink use your mind to identify the things that lead to that craving. Look deep into this and write down those roads that lead you to your habit.

Sometimes it will be a bad day at work and you reach for the white wine, other times it will be a sugar crash in the afternoon and you NEED chocolate. It might be that cake is offered with every birthday in your office and it would be rude not to partake.

Find that trigger or multiple triggers. Identify just one thing that contributes to your fat gain and eliminate for 3 days.

After that we can move onto Day 2 and let the lazy times roll as this was a tough first day.

For more help on habits and how to change them read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Lazy Fat Bastards Guide To Weight Loss Prologue

This is the title of an ebook I am hoping to write. Why a title like that, surely it will put people off buying it as it is derogatory and nasty to the potential buyer. So why not lazy fat bitches guide....well if you like it can be that but I had to start somewhere so forgive me if you are female.

Well in my opinion it's the term we often use to describe ourselves in our own minds. You know when you look in the mirror after a weekend of excess in terms of alcohol, chocolate, crisps, pizza and all the supposed bad things we consume from time to time. I have often caught myself, stopped my own stupid brain from telling me I'm a lazy fat bastard even though I know it's not necessarily the case. I run stupid long distances, do Ironman Triathlons, I've started strength training and I eat VERY well for the majority of the time.

So why do we speak to ourselves like this and why do we refer to others in this way.

I blame it on the media and to a certain extent peer pressure. The media cannot make us think something but they sure can have an influence on how we think, act or live. Just look at advertising, we are currently bombarded with messages to buy, to conform, to be a certain way, have a certain look. The media perpetuate this as they are the ones selling that advertising and so they create advertorials around the ad's they are selling.

The fact that in general the writers do not have a clue what they are reporting on only shows their stupidity and opens them to the rightful critisism. Just look at the reporter who interviewed Mo Farah after the Olympics and asked if he ran a little then? However not all reporters or media are bad, take Christopher MacDougall who wrote Born To Run. MacDougall researched this meticulously, ranted he had a vested interest as he was a runner who always got injured but he went deep into the rabbit hole and came up with an amazing book.

We are often critical of ourselves, our minds can influence us and destroy us if we are not in control of the thoughts that occur on a daily basis. Controlling those thoughts is a VERY tough thing but not impossible. These thoughts come from past conditioning from our parents, teachers, peers and enemies. When we are young we are like sponges and absorb most of what is said to us as truth after all we are just kids and what do we know, right!

This conditioning takes many forms, parents tell us we are great when we start to walk and talk, then they tell us to be quiet when we ask too many questions. Teachers praise and ruin with stars and ticks and crosses. Friends can be lovely and also cruel, when you are a kid you say the truth such as "why do you have a funny nose?" not realising the effect this has on the person. Enemies are worse as they can prey on any insecurity and often create those insecurities.

But that was then and this is now.We can choose how we think, we don't have to think of ourselves as fat, lazy, ugly, useless, stupid and all the hundreds of bad thoughts that can plague us at any time and often with no warning. It's been said that it's never to late to have a good childhood, I know from personal experience that that is a tough thing but it starts with letting of the hold the past conditioning has on you, saying FUCK IT to that part of your psyche.

Easier said than done but it has to start somewhere and you might as well start here. Reflect on the things that have held you back. For me I have always had my father's voice constantly telling me how bad I was, what a lazy little shit I was etc. Now I know he didn't mean these things. As a father I have used similar terminology towards my son and regretted it later on. Was this down to my conditioning? probably but was it just a conditioning reaction or did I really mean those things? Did I really think I was going to help him change the things  thought were bad by talking to him like that.

Obviously I thought I was helping, after all that was how my father dealt with me and he had to learn. But it didn't help. It just alienated my son from me in the same way I am alienated from my father.

Damn this blogging is tough as it draws shit out from you that you didn't mean to actually discuss but the typing and thoughts take over.

So I am trying to sort this out with my son, trying to let him know that I don't think he was bad, I was just doing a bad job of being a dad. Yes sometimes he was bad but it was his behaviour that was bad not him as a person. There is a distinction. My son may have got a bad result at school or been home later than he promised but does that make him a bad person? NO it make his behaviour bad and something that can be adjusted, addressed and with his permission changed for the good not just because I demanded it.

So what about the things we say to ourselves. Is this just a habit, just a program that runs in our minds. In most cases I would say yes. Habit is a great thing if it is harnessed and used correctly. Conditioning can be altered and amended. Instead of saying lazy, fat, bastard to yourself accept that your behaviour on this occasion was not what you want and resolve to change it. You may have to constantly resolve to change things and think that it won't work but the mind is wonderful.

You have many years of poor conditioning deep set in your mind and it will take a while to let go and set new conditioning but it's best to start now otherwise you will be a slave to your past lies and no one wants to be a slave, especially to lies.

A great quote is that "no one can insult you without your permission" bit of a fancy way of ending but it's true. No one can make us feel bad about ourselves unless we allow them.

You are not fat, lazy, stupid, a bastard, bitch or any of the other labels, you are just you so it's time to start liking yourself otherwise how the fuck can anyone else like you.

Jesus said "Love others as you love yourself" bit of a problem if you don't love yourself first.

So start loving yourself today and check back for the first day in the Lazy Fat Bastards Guide to Weight Loss.

For more information on changing conditioning check out Tony Robbins free ebook. It's a shorter version of his best seller and is a great read.

strength training

So my stepson Dean Barton is a PT and a good one at that. Yet for years I have resisted strength training, mainly because it hurts! Not just at the time but for days afterwards and I thought it would harm my running. The truth is that it HAS to be part of my training from now on.

I'm getting older, things are not as strong as they used to be and i'm getting more niggles in areas where I didn't used to. Also I suffer badly with poor posture and issues from working at a desk and travelling a lot in my car, 30,000 miles a year!

This wreaks havok with my upper body and my Psoas muscles in particular. It shortens my hamstrings and generally messes my body up. Lucho also has been prescribing strength training in my new program so I am gonna have to suck it and see. I did start 3 weeks ago and gently eased myself back into it in order to lessen the pain and things seem to be going well so far.

I have Ben Greenfield's book on weight training for Triathletes and am going to start incorporating some of the exercises from that. I have also just finished Mo Farah's book Twin Ambitions and its well documented that since he started training wit Alberto Salazar that his running improved massively and this was mostly due to strength training.

So what am I doing.....

Lot's of stretching first to loosen up those tight muscles and easing into some squats. Then a series of lower and upper back exercises to strengthen those areas and loosen them up. These include raises and full body pull ups with some shoulder high rings where I lower my body down slowly whilst maintaining posture and explosively raising myself back up.

The squats are tough. I have to use a weight below my heels to assist while I get in better shape to do this exercise and Dean has a bench behind me so that I know when to stop the lowering phase and explode up on the squat.

All in all things seem to be not too bad right now so I will continue to do this in the off season and am starting Lucho's running plan today, before my weights session of course! Luckily it's only an easy 4 mile MAF run with some strides at the end.

I know the strength work will help and will report back later with the exercises I find have worked best for me.

Monday, 4 November 2013

My Favourite Running Books

Anyone who knows me will know my passions extend to reading as well. I have devoured thousands of books in my time and I thought I would include a small section here with some of my top 5 favourites and why.

Born To Run by Christopher MacDougall
This has to be in my top 10 of books of all time. The story that is woven with science and history make it an essential read for any aspiring or existing athlete.

MacDougall tells the story of Caballo Blanco aka Micah True, a ultra running maverick who got so fed up with the western ways that he receded far into the Mexican Copper Canyon mountains in the same way his hero Geronimo did on many occasions. Why did he choose the Copper Canyons? Because he met the Tarahumara Indians in a 100 mile Ultra in the USA and came to realise they held and still hold the secret to happiness and health.

The Tarahumara Indians are a reclusive group of people who live in the heart one of the world's most impoverished areas and yet have survived and thrived when all round them mayhem abounds. The Mexican drug cartels operate and control lots of the area and the Tarahumara provide the 2nd story within the book.

The third story is the science and history of running. May people think this is a book about barefoot running and while there is references to it it's really a book about how to run efficiently and without injury, something many of us aspire to. Get this book either on Kindle, or paperback or even on Audiobook and see what many people are talking about.

Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman
This was the book that sold me on the MAF or Maffetone method. How could this guy Stu Mittleman be such an amazing athlete. How could he run for rediculous distances and yet not break down and actually get faster as the race went on. I now know a lot of this is due to the Tarahumara and Dr Phil Maffetone but although Stu knows Dr Maffetone and trained under him he never met the Tarahumara to my knowledge and yet he displays their philosophy and ways.

Tick Tock Ten by Gerry Duffy
The story of one of Ireland's most famous endurance athletes. Gerry writes about his experience completing a Deca Ironman. A Deca Ironman is 10 x Ironman Triathlons 10 days in a row. An Ironman Triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike and then a 26.2 mile marathon.
to do one of these is an achievement (I have done 4) to do 10 in a row is outrageous. I am currently reading his first book abut how he ran 30 marathons in 30 days around Ireland.

Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn
A great book about the authors experience of running with Kenyan elite athletes. Finn took his family to Kenya to immerse himself in the culture, the mindset and ultimately the training methods of what makes Kenyan athletes so amazing. The answers are surprising and have great relevance to our Western methods of training.

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens
I had read about theses legendary monks and seen a few videos on you tube so I had to get the book. It is bloody expensive and impossible to get at a decent price. This is a book that is tough to read at times as there are references to Buddism and philosophy but the important aspects for me were the crazy rituals these monks put themselves through to attain a living god status. Think of running an Ultra marathon every day for a 100 day period in a year. then repeat that but increasing the distance each year for 7 years. And that is just a tiny bit of what they have to endure.

As a bonus here is the book that all athletes should have

Dr Phil Maffetone Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.
this explains the methods and reasoning behind the MAF method of aerobic training.

All of these books are available at Amazon and if you click on the name of the book it should link to the page. 

Training with Lucho

So today starts my first day of training with Tim Waggoner aka Tim Luchinsky, aka Lucho from Endurance Planet.

Lucho was a bastard to track down, despite being showcased on Endurace Planets podcasts on a weekly basis in Ask the Ultra runner and Ask the Coaches he does not really have a website, or a phone number or advertise his coaching services at all.

He has a blog and if you can find him he is on Facebook. I did try to make contact many times through these channels with no real response then one day I got lucky. Lucho was impressed with my persistence and we began to discuss the future.

I have taken 6 weeks or so off from running, riding, swimming in general and just enjoyed myself, sometimes a little too much. I have trained at MAF pace in general. MAF pace is the aerobic heart rate zone made famous by Dr Phil Mafetone. This will help me to start the training Lucho will set as he is a big believer in this method of raining in the same way I am.

Basically it is a method where you train to a comfortable aerobic heart rate zone. The allows your body to burn mostly fat and give you a decent aerobic engine. When most of us race an Ultra marathon or Ironman it is almost always or should always be at our MAF pace.

To determine your own MAF rate simply take your age from 180 and then consider a couple of questions first.

Have you been injured in the last 2 years, if yes remember to minus 5 beats.

Have you training at a regular rate for the last 2 years if not  take off the same 5 beats.

If you have been training regularly fr 2 years without any real issues then add 5 beats.

if you have trained for around a year without any real injury issues then just use the 180 minus your age number.

in my case I am 44, so 180 - 44 = 136 then I add 5 beats as I have been training for years with little or no injury so my MAF zone is 141. I train mostly within a range of this zone between 130 and 145. this give me a little flexibility and allows for fatigue.

When I started training for the 2013 season I performed a MAF test which consists of a mile gentle warm up then 3 x 1 mile loops of a local lake and I recorded the time of each mile repeat. The results were as follows

Mile 1 @ 11.45
Mile 2 @ 11.50
Mile 3 @ 11.55

The times do get slower as you tire but it shows how bad my aerobic engine was despite many years of training.

At my peak racing this year I performed the same test with the following results

Mile 1 @ 7.45
Mile 2 @ 7.50
Mile 3 @ 7.52

A significant improvement! this is all done at the same effort level and HR zone of 141.

Following my 6 week break I have done another test and am pleased to see that my fitness has not really dropped that much and I can happily run at a pace of 9.30 at my current MAF range. Now that I am back into training I look forward to really dropping this pace and hope to achieve a pace of around 6 minute miling as I believe that is possible with the right coaching and patience.

I recently bought a wonderful Heart rate monitor which is strapless and has Bluetooth technology. It's called the Mio Alpha and not only does it looks great and perform brilliantly it has no bloody strap to chafe into my chest and drive me crazy on long runs. You can get one here

Mio Alpha Strapless Heart Rate Monitor Watch

So it's off to train now and look forward to some brilliant results with my new coach