Return Of The Mac’s Mojo

It’s been 21 days since my last post, hardly the scenario I expected when I put all that hard work into the www.pixelscotland.com revamp.

However, it’s not without good reason. For one, Harris has, as always, been keeping us busy, and also entertained. He has also taken to rising around 5am, something which tests even my penchant for early rises!  I’ve had to curtail the late nights just to keep up with him, with an obvious impact on the time available to me when I actually add to and develop this web site.

Secondly, I’ve been a man on a mission, finally getting around to all those jobs that I have put off for years. This weekend, for example, I managed to fit in a complete clear out of the garage, alongside playing dad and head chef at Mac HQ. I’ve finally cleared space to let me get my weights out and once again resume weight training.

As far as exercising is concerned, I have once again found my mojo, and it’s not just the running mojo! It all started with a swim in the newly opened Aberdeen Aquatics Centre, linked to the equally impressive Aberdeen Sports Village. What started out as a single swim is now a 4 times a week regular visit, slotted in to the day in place of taking lunch at my desk.

The overall impact has been huge and I would once again consider myself to be back ‘in training’, albeit still at a lesser rate than pre Harris days, and, of course, all done to fit in with his schedule. I’ve been mixing up swimming, walking, running, the spin bike, treadmill and cross trainer quite happily, with no actual plan, just taking what I feel like at the time, or what best fits the time available.

What’s more, in mixing it up quite so much, I haven’t found myself feeling like a ‘slave to the miles’, as I have done in the past when training specifically for ultras.

Even at this early stage of training, I am already formulating a full on ultra challenge that will see me tackle some of my favourite terrain, outwith an organised event and, with a bit of luck, in the company of a good friend. Hopefully more to follow on that front if things go according to plan.

I’ve also been busy on the review side of things, with a review of the Salomon Sky Tee for The Running Bug, and with reviews to follow of the Vivobarefoot Evo Pure, Vivobarefoot Trail Freak, Altra Lone Peak 1.5 and, finally, the long awaited The North Face FL Race Vest that I first spied on the backs of the likes of Jez Bragg and Sebastien Chaigneau a couple of years back.

In keeping with the minimal, zero drop, footwear approach, I have also been enjoying feeling slightly smarter than usual in a pair of Vivobarefoot Freud’s. Thanks to Vivobarefoot, I can now maintain my preference for minimalist footwear without having to wear out my trainers.

Finally, I’m feeling decidedly upbeat, despite being a Monday and back in the office, as I have only 4 more working days before we head back to The Cairngorms once again.

I can’t wait to get back on the trails and, this time around, we will be located in Rothiemurchus, close to Loch an Eilein, offering the best possible access to the numerous Cairngorm trails.

Expect loads more photographs, routes and reviews to follow, including a full review of the Croozer, a review of The North Face FL Race Vest, and, again if everything goes to plan, a review of a piece of kit that was recommended to enable me to cut back on the amount of water that I have to carry – a Sawyer Mini Filter.

“At just 65grams, and fitting in the palm of your hand, this is simply the best there is for Weight, Size and Performance. Drink directly as a straw, attach to Sawyer Squeeze Pouches, use inline, or attach to standard threaded bottles. The MINI uses the same exclusive 0.1 micron hollow fiber membrane filter used in our other filters. Although not quite as quick as the SP129 version, you will still be bowled over by the flowrate of this amazing little filter. The MINI comes with a 100,000 gallon (378,540 Litre) guarantee which is still the best rating there is ANYWHERE, and will last for anybody’s lifetime.

Simply fill up the pouch at a lake, stream or river, screw the filter directly onto the pouch and: 

  1. Squeeze the bag & filter water into your water bottle or container of choice
  2. Drink directly from the filter which has a built in cap for on/off functions
  3. Attach the filter onto most threaded water bottles including 2 litre bottles.”

[more information…]

PUMA PB Challenge – The Great PB Robbery

New post at The Running BugPUMA PB Challenge – The Great PB Robbery

I can’t help but feeling like I was robbed of a PB at the Great Scottish Run on Sunday. Not as a result of any great misfortune or anything even remotely dramatic on the day, but as a result of the injury that has plagued me these past 5 weeks. The first signs of problems came 8 weeks ago while on holiday in the Cairngorms. The calf muscles on both legs tightened to the point where running was extremely painful and, even after a deep tissue massage resulted in a return to some degree of normalcy, there was clearly an ongoing niggle with my right leg.

This niggle increasingly became an issue and, over the past 5 weeks, impacted considerably on my ability to train according to the schedule provided by Hayley from The Running Bug. In particular, I was finding it difficult to string together anything bordering on consistent mileage and most runs ended up as fartlek sessions. Perhaps more annoying was that my pace was starting to show the benefits of earlier interval and progressive run sessions. The potential for a PB was evident when the legs let me push on, but was unfortunately tapered by the pain that then restricted me to a slow jog or even brought me to a standstill on occasion.

Thankfully, the cause of the problem was identified early on, on my trip to see Keith Allen-Shirtcliffe at Witty, Pask & Buckingham Chartered Physiotherapists, part of the support package provided to me by The Running Bug and PUMA. I’ve covered the problem, essentially a relative glute weakness, before in a previous blog post (PUMA PB Challenge 3 Weeks And Counting) so I won’t go into that again here. Suffice to say that, despite identifying the glute issue and working to remedy it, the increased effort of trying to work on a fundamentally flawed running form, combined with attempts to improve my overall pace through a variety of different training sessions, appeared to aggravate the issue.

The Running Bug helped provide local physio help, in the form of Iona at SPEAR Physiotherapy in Aberdeen Sports Village. Without any prior knowledge of Keith’s findings, Iona quickly identified the same relative glute weakness and attributed the problems with my right leg to this. As mentioned in the aforementioned blog post, the problem wasn’t just restricted to non ‘firing’ glutes. On top of this, there was also a muscular imbalance with, for some reason, the left glute being particularly weak. I’m slowly learning just how interconnected the body is and this left glute imbalance appears to be responsible for the issues with the right leg.

As the date of the Great Scottish Run approached, I was becoming increasingly despondent. Training just wasn’t happening in the way that it should. Iona did, however, offer some hope. Taping my right calf with kinesiology tape made the pain bearable and, following that appointment, I had my best run in weeks. The problem is a long term issue, one that I am continuing to work on and will, no doubt, be working on for some time to come. However, with the Great Scottish Run looming, the tape offered the potential for me to at least give the PB Challenge my best shot.

With the race almost upon us, my main concern other than pain management was being able to maintain the pace required to see me through to the finish line, hopefully with a PB. In the past, I’ve only ever run at one speed so it has rarely been an issue. However, with the introduction of speed work into my training, I often found it difficult to get the pace of my long slow runs right. Quite often I would go out too fast and suffer the consequences, easing off before repeating the same cycle! I just couldn’t help myself. With the lack of LSR sessions over the past 5 weeks as a result of the leg problems, this was of particular concern to me.

At this point, my friend Allan Bruce offered to run the Great Scottish Run with me. This was Allan’s second half marathon after a long hiatus – his first 1/2 was the Great North Run back in 2007, which he also ran with me. Back then we ran 1:59:27, a time that I should add is far more in fitting with my other 1/2 marathons than my freak 1:51:05 PB!

Allan’s gesture was particularly kind on a number of fronts. Firstly, it involved a trip for him and his family up from Newcastle. Secondly, while it was most likely going to involve a new PB for Allan as well, it was not going to be a PB that was indicative of his current running level. In offering to try and help pace me to a sub 1:51:05 time, Allan was sacrificing a PB somewhere in the 1:30:00s which he had run in training just the previous week! I should also mention that I had previously tried to recruit Allan into running ultramarathons, a temptation that I know he would have loved but one that he resisted with some ‘piffling’ excuse of ‘time constraints’ and ‘family’. Little did I realise at the time just how much of an impact a single child, let alone 2, has on anyone’s life. I’ve already eaten a large slice of humble pie on that front. Allan, once again, thank you for coming up and running with me on the day. There’s no doubt that you kept me going at the pace that I did. I owe you big style.

The Great Scottish Run was quite an event, considerably different to the relatively low key ultramarathons that have been the focus of my attention these past few years. It certainly was great. Crowds lined the streets, offering vocal support to all the runners, people in cars honked their horns, and the route included many of the sights of central Glasgow. The legendary Haile Gebrselassie, now in his 40s, won the event with a new Scottish All-Comers’ half marathon record of 1:01:09.

Taped up and having taken painkillers to try and mask the expected pain, I met up with Allan and we patiently waited amongst the mass of runners for the start of the race. I was fortunate on the day. The leg didn’t overly trouble me and I was able to push on. The lack of long slow runs started to show around the 9 mile mark and a drop in pace around miles 11 and 12 put paid to my hopes of a PB. However, I fared much better than I expected to considering the lack of routine training in the run up to the event.

We finally crossed the line in a time of 1:52:50, not too far adrift of the PB time of 1:51:05. I somehow managed to run 13.87 miles according to my Suunto Ambit. There’s a lesson to be learnt. I really should work on picking the best racing line. Admittedly however, it’s not always that easy to pick your line when surrounded by quite so many runners!

As gutted as I am not to have smashed my PB, I really can’t help but be happy with how things went on the day. It’s by far the best that I have run in years and I did it while injured and on the back of weeks of injury. Despite the setbacks, I managed to increase my pace significantly and take at least 8 minutes off of the time that I would have run the 1/2 marathon in back at the start of the PB Challenge.

I was 3432 out of 8902 runners, 2867th male and 566th in my age group (40-44).

Mile Splits:

  1. 7:47
  2. 6:47 !!!
  3. 8:20
  4. 8:23
  5. 8:18
  6. 8:02
  7. 8:37
  8. 8:18
  9. 8:36
  10. 8:38
  11. 8:52 :o(
  12. 8:50 :o(
  13. 8:25
  14. 7:37

Technically, this is the end of my PUMA PB Challenge. However, it’s also the beginning of the next stage of my running. Over the past few months I have been fortunate enough to benefit from training, physio & nutritional support as well as general support from everyone at The Running Bug, PUMA and, via the forums & Bug Miles, the support of my fellow Bugs. It has been brilliant.

Back towards the beginning of the year, the running fitness accrued over 3 years of running ultramarathons was all but gone, my weight had ballooned, and my running mojo had deserted me. It would have taken me at least 2 hours to run a half marathon.

Today, despite missing the PB, my running mojo is well and truly back. My weight has decreased considerably, thanks in part to eating more, and I now have an array of healthy snack options to supplement my diet throughout the day. I am working on improving the muscular imbalances and flawed running form identified by the physios, which should strengthen the body and hopefully help to avert future injury. I have a far greater appreciation of the different training sessions and the role that these play when coming together to form a comprehensive program for improvement.

This weekend I almost turned the clock back to 2008 when I ran the Moray 1/2 Marathon in 1:51:05 and, looking back over the past few months with everything that has happened, there’s no way that I can really consider my PB Challenge to be a failure. I am determined to resolve the issues that prevented me from smashing that 1:51:05 PB and, along the way, to set new PBs at 5k, 10k and 1/2 marathon distances. I have actually enjoyed running faster, pushing my limits not so much in terms of distance but in terms of pace. What’s more, I have definitely found a challenge that is more in fitting with my current family needs than ultramarathons.

I reckon there’s definitely scope for improvement, to smash the 1:51:00 PB and, indeed, to aim higher. After a couple of days off to recover from the Great Scottish Run, I will once again be diving back into my 1/2 marathon training plan, stepping back 5 weeks so that I can pick up where things started to really go wrong for me. Hopefully this time around, with the knowledge that taping helps alleviate the pain, and with my efforts to resolve the muscular and form issues, the ‘missing’ 5 weeks will go a lot better. This will hopefully then set me up for another crack at my PB, at the Fraserburgh 1/2 marathon in November.

Finally, I just want to say thanks to the following people:

  • The Running Bug & PUMA, for selecting me for the PB Challenge and for providing so much support.
  • Hayley Munn from The Running Bug, for the excellent training plans, advice and support.
  • Neil Tillot & James Knock from The Running Bug, for the support along the way.
  • Sarah Duffield from Mac Nutrition (www.Mac-Nutrition.com), for showing me that I needed to eat more to lose weight and to fuel my training properly.
  • Keith Allen-Shirtcliffe at Witty, Pask & Buckingham Chartered Physiotherapists (http://www.wpbphysio.co.uk/) and Iona at SPEAR Physiotherapy (http://www.spearphysiotherapy.co.uk/) at Aberdeen Sports Village (http://www.aberdeensportsvillage.com/), for identifying muscular & form issues and trying to help me address them.
  • All my fellow Running Bugs, and especially to those of you who joined me on the 1/2 Marathon PUMA PB Challenge, for their words of support along the way.
  • Thanks to Sandra, John, Gemma, Diane and, of course, my wife Leanne and son Harris, for coming to the Great Scottish Run to support me.

Happy Running :o)

The Running Bug Is 3 Today!

It’s The Running Bug‘s 3rd birthday! The Running Bug website has reached 150,000 members AND 500,000 bugmiles – that’s the equivalent of running all the way to the moon and back! I’ve been involved since September 2011, when I first came across the website and submitted a blog post for consideration. I’ve posted 50 times now for The Running Bug, including the following blogs:

Happy Birthday to The Running Bug :o)

PUMA PB Challenge 3 Weeks And Counting

I have always considered my petite little derrière to be one of my best features. Until, that is, my running form was put under scrutiny of late by a couple of physiotherapists, firstly by Keith Allen-Shirtcliffe at  Witty, Pask & Buckingham and, latterly, Iona at SPEAR Physiotherapy in Aberdeen Sports Village.

Now, I have to admit, that before embarking on my role as a PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador, I would likely never even have considered visiting a physio. However, as far as my running is concerned, it has to be one of the best things that I have done.

I was fully aware that my running ‘form’, and I do use the word ‘form’ in the loosest possible sense, was fairly far removed from anything bordering on athletic. I did, however, think that my ‘ultra shuffle’, was a fairly efficient, if not somewhat slow, style that got me from A to B on anything from 5k to 95 miles.

That illusion was shattered on my first visit to the physio when, if memory serves me correctly, there was at least an element of surprise that I had managed to complete any ultramarathon distance! That first appointment was hugely enlightening but also, I have to admit, somewhat overwhelming. Keith’s sharp eye soon identified flaws and imbalances in my body as I stood there in nothing more than a pair of shorts. What’s more, that was with me stationary. We hadn’t even gotten as far as the treadmill!

I left that appointment with a great deal of admiration for Keith and for his profession in general. I still find it quite amazing that someone could look at me and identify all manner of flaws, weaknesses and imbalances. Granted, there’s a lot of training and experience to get to that stage but still, it’s quite a skill.

Some basic stretching confirmed the initial diagnosis and then it was on to the treadmill to see just how this all impacted on my running. The findings were equally grim!

It turns out that my ultra shuffle has more in common with walking. There’s a definition of running over at www.thefreedictionary.com that reads:

“To move swiftly on foot so that both feet leave the ground during each stride.”

The ‘both feet leave the ground‘ part is the fundamental thing that differentiates running from walking. Video evidence showed my ultra shuffle had both feet off the ground for no more than a single frame of video, whatever fraction of a second that might be! (I really didn’t want to depress myself any further by asking at that point!)

And yet, when I left that first appointment, after some 1.5-2 hours, I still felt positive, testament to Keith’s other skills. I left armed with a different approach to running, with a number of stretches, and with some exercises specific to the weaknesses identified. Admittedly, the suggested running form felt quite ‘prancey’ (for lack of a better word!). However, just weeks on from the appointment, it is slowly starting to feel more natural and is most definitely more efficient. As soon as I adopted the suggested changes I found that my previous running speed felt too slow and the video evidence immediately suggested an improvement in overall form.

By all accounts it will take approximately 1 year for my new form to feel entirely natural and, while I am certainly more comfortable with it, I do find myself reverting to the ultra shuffle on occasion, and especially when tiring. It’s just one of those things that I am going to have to slowly work on and improve upon.

So, what exactly was identified as being problematic and what is my new running form?

Just for the record, I am no physio. In fact, I can barely name the muscle groups in the legs that I task with getting me from A to B on a daily basis. As such, what follows, is my attempt to distill down all the facts from my physio appointments into a succinct explanation of the problem.

Essentially, I have what is a relative glute weakness, where:

“the function of the Glutes is overshadowed by the disproportionate strength of other muscle groups, built up due to habitual movement patterns and poor technique in training which creates strength imbalances.” (Kinetic Revolution – Glute Weakness)

In layman’s terms, that petite little derrière that I mentioned way back at the start of this post (see, there was a point!), is actually less ‘petite’, more accurately ‘underdeveloped’, at least relative to the surrounding muscles. And, as everyone tells me:

“The gluteus maximus plays a significant role throughout the running technique, including propelling the body forward and maintaining proper torso alignment.” (Livestrong – The Human Gluteus Maximus & Its Role in Running)

It gets worse. Not only is there an overall glute weakness. It turns out that it is worse in the left glute. At this point I have to ask myself:

  1. how on earth did I manage to get in this situation in the first place!
  2. how did I manage to end up with one glute weaker than the other! (after all, it’s the same butt at the end of the day!)

So, I am under utilising one of the largest and most powerful muscles in my body and, what’s more, this is impacting elsewhere in my body, causing all manner of strange compensations and, over the past few weeks, niggles.

Oh!

Back to the running form.

My suggested running form includes far greater use of the arms to try and propel myself along. There’s also far greater use of the legs, moving away from my favoured shuffle in favour of a more sprung, energy efficient form that involves getting both feet off the ground for a longer period of time. That’s a total simplification but, suffice to say, it resembles something considerably more athletic than my previous form.

  • Improved form
  • Exercises
  • Stretches

Technically I should be in a great place right now, gearing up to meet my PUMA PB Challenge race at the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on 6th October. Technically!

I ran faster than I have in years at the Moray 10k a few weeks back, matching speeds that were last attained by a much younger, lighter me some 5 years ago!

This, I believe, is testament to the excellent support that I have received in my role as a PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador. From the excellent nutrition advice from Sarah at Mac Nutrition, that highlighted that I actually needed to eat more, not less, to achieve my long sought after weight loss; from the meticulously thought out training plan provided by The Running Bug’s Hayley Munn; from the physio advice and support, firstly from Keith and now from SPEAR Physiotherapy; and, last but definitely not least, from my fellow Running Bugs, spurring me on to make the most of the amazing opportunity that I have been presented with.

Unfortunately, 3 weeks out from my PB Challenge event, I have to admit to being injured, which has impacted on the last 3 weeks of training. Ironically, it would appear that the very weaknesses outlined above are the cause. I have a persistent throbbing in my right leg that is aggravated by walking and, especially, by running.

Talk about terrible timing!

It would appear that my attempt to improve upon my running pace may actually have exasperated the weakness that has long been there. The increased effort of intervals, progressive runs etc, combined with attempts to rectify my poor running form, have actually aggravated issues, resulting in the intense pain of the past few weeks. (Again, this is just my take on the words of the physio).

However, I am now back receiving regular physio treatment which, with a bit of luck, should resolve the acute pain and get me back training and, further, should aid my efforts to rectify the weaknesses explained above. Ultimately, the aim is to become a much stronger, more efficient, and more evenly balanced runner.

Other than a single achilles injury, I never really considered myself as ‘injured’ the whole time that I was running ultramarathons. However, looking back on the past few years, I did experience persistent ITB issues in my right leg, more often than not during rather than after the event. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, this further highlights the impact of the weak glutes and, in particular, of that particularly weak left glute.

Had I not visited a physio, I would be none the wiser with regard to my imbalances and weaknesses. Chances are, as I stepped up my efforts to improve my pace, I would encounter more and more niggles. Thankfully, I am in a much better position to meet the challenges ahead and to try and address these issues which should hopefully lead to injury free running.

As for the PUMA PB Challenge. 3 weeks is a long time. 4 weeks out from the biggest race of my life to date, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, I suffered an achilles injury and yet I still managed to complete that race. I have every intention of doing the same with the Great Scottish Run and I have not given up on the goal of a PB come the 6th October.

I hope that all of your PB challenges are going well. With a bit of luck, your path towards that elusive PB will be a bit smoother than mine has been these past few weeks!

Moray 10k & An Ultra Legend Wins The Marathon

Well my first 10k since 2009 has come and gone and, overall, I am happy with how things went. Ideally, I would have been looking to put some of my PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador training to use to beat my PB of 49:36. However, the past 2 weeks have seen my training schedule somewhat derailed with exceptionally tight calves and then with a numbness of the right leg that somehow manages to combine both numbness and pain during and after runs.

In the 2 days before the 10k, I found myself feeling quite nervous about the event and, in fact, I think I was equally nervous as I have been for some of the longer ultras. I know some people expect the shorter distances to be no problem but things have changed considerably for me this year.

For one, I am still getting back into the swing of things after my running went out the window following the birth of my son Harris. It always amazes me just how quickly it is possible to lose accrued race fitness.

Secondly, all this training has thrown up some problems of its own, most notably that, after all my speedwork, I have actually been finding it difficult to re-establish my ‘normal’ race pace. I have a tendency still to go out too fast, despite telling myself not to, and then flagging, only to pick it up again, flag again, repeating the cycle until end of the event.

Thirdly, with all the training and support, I feel there’s an air of expectation for me to do better than I have in the past. I’ve had nutitional support, physio support, training support, and, of course, lots of encouragement from family, friends and fellow Running Bugs. Just thinking about getting that 1/2 marathon PB in 5 weeks time makes me sweat!

Writing this now, in the aftermath of the race, it’s obvious that things aren’t quite right as far as the legs are concerned. Or, more accurately, as far as the right leg is concerned. There’s a dull throbbing numb feeling which is slightly worrying but, given the exertions of yesterday, I’m just glad that it feels no worse than it has done over the past few days.

On the positive side, I did better than I expected to. My time, of 51:46, was some way short of my 10k PB. However, putting things into perspective, it’s approximately 9 minutes faster than I was running 6.2 miles in back at the start of my PUMA PB Challenge in mid July. It’s my 4th fastest 10k ever out of a total of 15 10k races and the fastest that I have run a 10k since early 2008. I know I haven’t run a 10k since 2009 but trust me when I say I haven’t been running that fast in the interim!

(Official results 3rd September: 51:46, 120th out of 271 finishers)

There’s identifiable room for improvement, 5 weeks to do it in before the 1/2 marathon, and 5 weeks (hopefully) of further weight loss. I clearly still have work to do, but can at least identify the how/why/what/when :o)

There’s definitely hope for that all important 1/2 marathon PB. Hopefully this annoying niggle in my right leg wont get in the way of any more training and then it will be full steam ahead to the 6th October.

Some general observations from yesterday:

  • 10k is definitely a family friendly distance. I left Leanne and Harris to travel through to the start line, ran the race, and met them at the finish, all within 2 hours. Definitely more family friendly than the 8-30 hours absence that accompany my ultramarathons
  • I had forgotten just how different it is running an ultramarathon and a 10k. With the ultra, it’s definitely more relaxed (at my end of the field at least!). With the 10k it was all about continued maximal effort, albeit for a much shorter time
  • I enjoyed it, to the extent that I am looking to see when I can next run a 10k where, hopefully, I can get a PB

Ellie Greenwood

What I didn’t realise until checking Facebook later on Sunday once I returned home was that ultra legend Ellie Greenwood was competing in the Moray Marathon and won the ladies race. Ellie was born in Dundee but has been living, working and racing in Canada for years, living in Banff initially and now in Vancouver. Congratulations on the win Ellie.

Ellie Greenwood Racing Highlights

  • Western States 100 mile Endurance Run Course Record, California, USA. (2012, 16:47:19)
  • Comrades 89km 2nd place, South Africa. (2012, 6:08:24, downhill course)
  • IAU World 100km Champion, Gibraltar (2010, 7:29:05)
  • Marathon Personal Best, Vancouver, Canada (2012, 2:42:15)
  • 2011 & 2012, North American Female Ultrarunner of the Year (awarded by Ultrarunning Magazine)

Moray 10k

This coming Sunday, the 1st September, will be my first race of the year since the D33 ultramarathon back in March. I did have a number of events planned for the interim, including a second stab at the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, the 53 mile Hoka Highland Fling, the 43 mile Devil O’ The Highlands and, well, pretty much all of my ‘usual’ ultramarathons (Scottish Ultra Marathon Series). But then, in February, my son Harris was born, and it soon became all too obvious that there wasn’t going to be enough time in the day to train to the extent that I was used to AND be a great dad. That’s when I decided to retire from running ultramarathons, albeit temporarily.

In the run up to a race I am used to getting drop bags ready, spending ages pondering over kit choices, which waistpack/rucksack/race vest to wear etc. etc. etc. This time round, however, I will be lucky to have warmed up by the time I get to the starting line. Why? Because I am running a 10k, 6.2 miles.

I’ve run 15 10ks to date, starting back in May 2007 at the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k. I can’t recall if it was that very race but I do remember that I reached the 1/2 way point at one Baker Hughes 10k, in May of that year (as it always is), and thought to myself that this was now my longest run of the year! Given the thousands of miles that I have logged since, and especially the miles logged since March 2010 when my focus turned to ultramarathons, it seems funny not to have run anything longer than 3 miles by May of any year!

My PB for the 10k distance is 49:36, set way back in 2007, again at the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k. If memory serves me correctly, that was the year that the race start was delayed because of cars parked on the route and also the year where it started hailing/snowing just before the start of the race – no doubt the reason for my extra turn of speed that year!

Believe it or not, I am actually nervous about running it. I’ve never been a fast runner and, with a 10k, it’s never that long before the event is over. It’s also my first 10k since June 2009!

It would be nice to finish with a good time, especially considering all the training I have been doing and that, at my next event, the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on 6th October, I am aiming to set a new PB as part of my role as a PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador. However, I currently have a niggle with my right leg and, thus, will just have to see how the day goes.

On the plus side, even with race registration, transportation to the start line etc. etc., I should be away from the family for little more than a couple of hours rather than the 12-30 hours required for completion of some of my ultras in the past! In that area at least, it will be mission accomplished as far as my running and having realistic running goals is concerned.

All the best if you are running any of the Moray Marathon series of events this weekend. I will be the one kitted out head to toe in PUMA gear :o)

Mizuno Wave Enigma 3

Thanks to The Running Bug, I have a shiny new pair of Mizuno Wave Enigma 3 trainers to test out while away on holiday. The Mizuno website describes the Wave Enigma 3 as “Luxury, cushioning and superbly smooth transition. Full length Mizuno wave and U4iC deliver a sumptous ride.” Aesthetically the shoes are really nice, coming in a lovely grey, blue and yellow colour combination (officially classed as Dark Shadow / Victoria Blue / Bolt). It’s actually hard to believe they aren’t trail shoes as this colour combination wouldn’t look out of place out on the trail. Comfort wise, I have yet to test these out on a run of any length but they appear to be well cushioned and extremely comfortable. Watch this space for a review!

Press Release

Pavement pounders will love the luxury, comfort and cushioning of the newest version of the Wave Enigma 3, a neutral shoe that provides an amazing cushioning to weight ratio – updated so it’s 30 per cent lighter, thanks to Mizuno’s clever new midsole technology, U4iC (pronounced ‘euphoric’).

Wave Enigma 3 is a soft, lush shoe, designed for neutral, high mileage runners. The updated lightweight version retains the shock absorption qualities and cushioning of the AP+™, promising a smooth and fast, yet cushioned ride.

Support comes from the anatomically engineered midsole geometry for stability, with full-length Parallel Wave® (now lower in the midsole) delivering a smoother, silkier transition, plus support, enhanced by the articulated lateral side.

SmoothRide (SR) Touch Foam is an even lighter material than the predecessor’s VS1 and offers up a small weight saving, plus even more shock absorption and greater propulsion through the whole running gait.

A clean looking and uncluttered shoe: the air mesh upper has concealed welded straps inside the shoe creating clean lines. Hidden micro-fibre materials with fantastic dimensional strength mean the upper is supportive, without being intrusive – creating a well-cushioned, stable, neutral shoe.

A lighter shoe, but not a lightweight – the Wave Enigma 3 offers durability with blown rubber forefoot and a light and cushioned X10 heel pad.

Features:

  • RRP: £120 / €160
  • Weight: Men size 10: 310g; Women size 6: 285g
  • 13/25mm Ramp

Updates:

  • U4iC midsole with full length Mizuno Parallel Wave® gives a more conventional ride than Prophecy or Creation
  • U4iC offers luxury cushioning but is 20g lighter
  • Evolved Dynamotion Fit™
  • Superb fit and upper comfort
  • Greatly improved stability and transition, and improved propulsion with the use of new SR Touch
  • Articulated forefoot wave
  • New Last

Bug Miles

I have to admit to having not really used Bug Miles, over on The Running Bug to log my miles. At least, not until this year when my OCD logging of mileage, trainers used, weather, weight etc. etc. on SportTracks went out the window. I’m still not back in to SportTracks but I have been making good use of Bug Miles, especially in my new role as PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador for the 1/2 marathon distance over on The Running Bug. I have been using Bug Miles to log my training progress and have found it great as there are so many comments of encouragement from fellow Bugs.

Today, I decided to log all of the 16 ultramarathons that I have completed since my first ultra back in March 2010. I couldn’t quite believe what I saw. Bug Miles displays the number of runs, the total mileage, the total time and the longest run. It’s a way of looking at things that, until tonight, I hadn’t ever really considered.

Until, that is, I noticed that my 35 logged runs had a total of 850 miles, a combined time of 9 days 21 hours and 50 minutes and a longest run of – well, there can only be 1 candidate for this – the 95 mile West Highland Way Race 2012.

So, that got me to thinking. Just how long have I spent running ultras and how far has this taken me.

My 16 ultramarathons (not including any mileage from my 1 DNF at the 2010 Highland Fling, where I got as far as 27 miles), saw me cover approximately 718.5 miles, taking the best part of 7 days! 7 days. That’s nuts. But then again, the more I think about it, that’s 7 days out of a grand total of approximately 1,095 days.  Put like that, it doesn’t actually seem that much. Argh! Must run more!

PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador

So that’s me into the second week of my PUMA PB Challenge now. Today was a scheduled rest day with the option of some light cross training. However, after last nights evil intervals session, I opted to make the most of the recovery day.

In all the time that I have been running, I have only ever taken part in 8 1/2 marathons, with times ranging from my 1:51:05 PB back at the 2008 Moray 1/2 marathon, through to 2:02:24 at the Fraserburgh 2009 1/2 marathon.

Date Event Time
30/09/07 Great North Run 1:59:27
07/09/08 Moray Half-Marathon 1:51:05
19/10/08 Aviemore Highland Half Marathon 1:54:34
16/11/08 Fraserburgh Half Marathon 1:54:46
08/03/09 Inverness Half Marathon 2:00:00
18/10/09 Aviemore Half Marathon 2:00:44
15/11/09 Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2:02:24
04/07/10 Stonehaven Half Marathon 1:57:45

A quick glance at the above should demonstrate that my 1:51:05 actually appears to have been a ‘bit’ of an exception and, certainly at this moment in time, just coming back to running after the birth of my son, any attempt at a 1/2 marathon would likely see me add a time to the above list somewhere close to my slowest times. I have a long way to go before I am anywhere near to being able to better my 1:51:05 time. However, I like a challenge and this surely fits the bill.

Some of you may already be familiar with my ultra exploits outlined in my ‘Aim high, anything is possible!’ blog on The Running Bug. For those that don’t, here’s a quick overview:

  • Pre 2005: unathletic child; heavy smoker from teens through to 30s; overweight; despised running (with a passion!)
  • 2005: 1st 10k; occasional bouts of running, nothing that could be construed as ‘training’
  • 2009: 1st marathon; First heard about UTMB and ultramarathons whilst on holiday in Chamonix
  • 2010: 1st ultra, the 33 mile D33; Followed by my 1 DNF (Did Not Finish) at the 53 mile Highland Fling; Completed Speyside Way Ultra in August
  • 2011: Completed 6 ultramarathons, from 33 miles to 55 miles in length
  • 2012: Completed the same 6 ultramarathons plus the 95 mile West Highland Way Race
  • 2013: Birth of my son Harris; Completed D33 ultramarathon despite total lack of training

Despite all the miles covered in training and events, I remain overweight, something which no doubt hinders improvement in my running pace. With training not exactly going to plan after the birth of Harris, and, often, not happening at all, the weight issue has worsened.

The final straw came on the weekend of 22nd-23rd June, when the 95 mile West Highland Way Race took place, an event that I should have been running but, in light of my training (or lack of it), pulled out of in advance. Determined to return to fitness, I sought a goal that was attainable without spending too much time away from family.

I decided to try and beat my 1/2 marathon PB, admittedly without actually checking to see what it was and giving due consideration to how this compared to my current running level – doh!

Coincidentally, the PUMA PB Challenge caught my eye and I applied. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually be selected to participate. I first heard that I had been selected back on 5th July but was sworn to secrecy until the event actually launched. I am delighted to have been given this opportunity and welcome the assistance that PUMA and The Running Bug are providing to help me try and beat my PB. I am sure that there were others that could have been chosen, quite possibly people who would have been a safer bet to beat their PBs, so thanks to PUMA and The Running Bug for taking a chance on me. I will do my best to top that 1:51:05.

So far, I have had the benefit of a running schedule tailored to my specific needs by Hayley Munn. It’s great to get some assistance and direction in this area. I have to admit to being a bit of a single speed runner in all my years of running to date and it is only recently, over the past couple of months, that I have appreciated the need for a varied training programme to buck me out of this rut.

I have had some assistance with the implementation of my training from ‘Coach Carly’, a fellow new parent who I first met at an ante natal class and, thanks to our sons, have become friends with. Carly, an accomplished track athlete, put me through some speed sessions in the weeks before I became a PUMA PB Challenge Ambassador and is kindly assisting with the implementation of Hayley’s training plan. I doubt that I would have pushed quite so hard at last nights intervals session, for example, had Carly not been there to ensure that I did not slacken off the pace when the going got tough.

On the nutrition front, I will soon have a consultation and plan in place thanks to Mac Nutrition (http://www.mac-nutrition.com/) The ‘UK’s Leading Consultancy For Nutrition Advice’. In the past, my dietary efforts have not produced the desired results and, if anything, I have found myself lacking in terms of fuelling my training and events. I am already looking forward to seeing what they have in store for me and, with a bit of luck, this will result in weight loss, which in turn will impact on my running pace.

Finally, I am off to Northampton, via London, on Sunday night, for a physio appointment and to meet the other PUMA PB Challenge Ambassadors (5k, 10k, Marathon).

So, that’s an introduction to me, and where I am at in terms of my PUMA PB Challenge. My challenge race is the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on 6th October, a mere 74 days away but hopefully long enough for the physio, nutrition and training assistance to take effect.

As of 24th July, there are 135 fellow Bugs taking up the PUMA PB Challenge for the 1/2 marathon distance which is brilliant. Thanks for all the comments and support on my logged training sessions over on Bugmiles and, also, over on the forums.

Happy Running :o)