Thursday 1 February 2024

A Year Without Racing

 A Year Without Racing! 


So 2023 didn’t go exactly how I thought it would when it came to races. However, the running still went on it was just not competitive in any form. I still trained hard just in case a race came up that I could enter, but it never happened for various reasons , I deployed at the end of February to the Baltic states, visiting lots of beautiful countries. First of all going up to the Arctic Circle, where I wasn’t sure if I could keep the streak going. The weather wasn’t always favourable for running, but I managed to cope just about on the treadmill even when the ship was rolling about heavily. That is always an interesting experience! We then came alongside in Norway in the city called Bergen , which I have never visited before. 


Up the Mountains of Bergen

I spent many time in Norway various other towns and cities, but this is the first I’ve been there. It was a beautiful place and good fun to run, but there were no races on during that time after brief couple of weeks at home during Easter where I prioritised family over races.


Running around the upper deck within the Arctic Circle

We then headed back into the Baltic a bit deeper. We first visited Sweden, a place I’ve never visited before. Lots of great running was had here. I even managed to do a Parkrun with a friend based out here in Stockholm. We then followed this by visiting Helsinki in Finland. Where we came alongside in another beautiful country. Wasting no time I was out running again on dry land. There were no races on during the time I was alongside, my daily running continued, allowing me to explore this lovely city. The next stop was Tallinn in Estonia. 


Running through the old city of Tallinn, Estonia


This is the last Baltic country I’ve never visited before not alone running so I managed to tick off all the Baltic states now. Again, there was no races alongside in Tallinn, I just kept up my running every day and exploring new places along the way. My runs continued every day over the next few months, visiting more countries, such as the Netherlands Germany, Scotland and Belfast before ending up back home after being away for about five months.


 It was time to spend some family time during my summer leave. So I prioritise that over racing because I hadn’t seen my family for half a year almost I owe them some quality time then I’ve got sent away on a course for five weeks in Portsmouth only coming home at weekends again. 


One of my daily runs whilst at sea

I wasn’t up for a racing at the weekends as it was precious time with the family for another month or so by the time I finish that course. When I was back home again properly it was well into October, I just haven’t found another race I want to race or I was interested in and before I knew it it was December. I just felt there was no point now in entering a race in the remainder of what was 2023. This will be the first year since I started running in 2009 that I hadn’t run at least one race. It’s kind of strange but also a bit liberating. I’m not sure whether that’s the word or not that I’m after but I don’t feel sad but I don’t feel happy. But it was also nice not having to deal with race nerves or getting kit together, buying food for an ultra that I need for the crew and myself,  planning where the crew are going to meet me on a race. None of those pressures that I’ve had for years gone. I have however, missed out on seeing friends that I usually see at these races because some of them live all over the country. Only get to see them at some of these races but not seeing them this year, didn’t upset me but I did feel a little melancholy about it all. Obviously I’ve saved a lot of money by not entering races this year as well which I guess could be a positive. Once my job is settled out and I know what I’m doing. I can start planning a lot more for 2024. I’ve got two big races already booked in. I am looking forward to training and racing them! It’s gonna be a good year I think. But as for 2023, it’s done and dusted. For 2024 the run streak continues and races are booked. It is going to be epic! 


Kiel, Germany

 On of the races already booked is the Hope Trail festival in July and I’m a little bit excited about that. I’m doing the 36 hour event and it’s going to be amazing! It’s one of my favourite races, mostly for the community. I know loads who will be participating so it’s going to be great seeing them all! 

Belfast, N.Ireland


 So yes I have in some ways missed races in 2023 but I think having a year off has actually done me some good. It’s allowing me to reflect on what I have raced and what I have achieved over the years. Allowed me to take the pressure off for a year, allowed me to think about where I want to head with my running and I’m still keen to do ultras.


If you got through all that, then thanks for reading! 


Until next time

Owain

Saturday 24 June 2023

One Thousand, Five Hundred Days of Running Everyday - What I have learnt

So, it’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper as the saying goes and written a blog, but as it’s a big milestone coming up with the run streak I thought, let’s get back on the horse and write one. 

 

I’ve been so pre-occupied with work, making content for social media and YouTube and of course running every day, I’ve just not had the effort level to write a blog. I was actually sat at my desk in the Ops Room with time to spare; it seemed a good opportunity to do so. 

 

The milestone I’ve just hit recently is the 1500th day of running every day. That is just over 4 years of running every day with out fail. For it to be an official run streak it has to be at least one mile a day, but I’ve not had to do a mile day in a long time now. I will always have that in my back pocket though should I need to a streak saver. 

 

I’m currently away with work at sea, and I’ve had a few people ask “How would I keep my streak up at sea?” and “What am I going to do when I go back to sea?” They weren’t curious questions with good intentions. They were asked with expectation of failure. 


The day the streak started 19th May 2019 Plymouth Half

If anything, the last 1500 odd days of running everyday has taught me, that there are only excuses. I’ve built my discipline up, that even after the many races I’ve done including ultra marathons, I’ve got myself out and ran. Even when in my last role in work where I was in work at 0530 and finishing at 2230, I was still getting my run done at 0330/0400 those days. So why wouldn’t I be able to keep my streak up at sea.

 

Running everyday isn’t easy by any means, many fail for one excuse or another. It’s why it’s deemed as a challenge. As for something to be deemed a challenge, there must be a chance of failure. This is why I never set my self any goals for the run streak, that way I can never fail!

 

Since I started the run streak over 4 years ago, I have broken personal bests, achieved a podium and a couple top 10 finishing results in some ultra marathon events. I pass the stair test now every time after a marathon or ultra marathon. What’s the stair test? You know being able to go up and down stairs not looking like you’ve shit your pants. DOMS disappear pretty quickly, which is down to nailing my recovery very well. Which also has lead me to not being injured through running or running everyday. Some people say I’m just lucky, they maybe right but those are the same people I know have been injured a lot over the same period because they don’t do recovery properly. 


Hope24 - 24 hour running and I still kept run streaking


What have I learnt over the last 1500 odd days then?

 

  1. No excuses – It’s so easy for people to find an excuse not to some thing everyday. We were born to be mobile. It doesn’t have to be running.
  2. Recovery – Being disciplined in your recovery is one of the key things. Recover properly and it would lessen the chance of injury. You will see people go for a recovery/easy run on strava because that’s what they’ve called it, but it’s the same pace as the hard/threshold etc run the day before. Sleep well and eating well as just as important to the recovery as doing your recovery activity properly. Not a single ice bath or foam roller was needed ;-)
  3. Discipline – It took me a little while, but I found I can be disciplined, listening to my body, sticking to recovery programme after a big race even if felt strong. If I have to do a recovery run or easy run then I’ll do it. Plus they are my fav kinds of runs as well. 
  4. Making it fun and keeping it fresh – Not a single run has been the same; something has always been different, even if it was a little change. Fun is always in my opinion the most important thing. If you’re not enjoying it, then you’re doing it wrong. Much like pretty much every thing in life.
  5. Planning – A lot of people fail due to poor planning. Then it becomes and excuse. 

 

That is just some things I’ve learnt.

 

Don’t be scared to take selfies, action shots or anything. Logging your runs, however you want to keep you accountable is up to you. If it gets you out there, then you take that selfie. 

 

I’m still a toddler in the run streak world; I’ve grown from the baby stage into the toddler stage. There are runners out there with 10,20,30,40 years plus out there. Although the legend Dr Ron Hill still owns the World Record of 52 years and 39 days, although he sadly past away a couple of years ago. 


2nd Place at the Madness of King George 36 hour non stop race 


But what’s it like running every day at sea?

 

Now, up until I went back to sea I ran every run out doors. It was amazing, then I joined my latest ship and due to weather conditions in the North Sea and the Arctic Circle most of my runs at sea were on the treadmill (insert puke face). I did manage to grab a hand full of runs around the upper deck but the treadmill kept my streak going. Them the next part of the trip, at the time of writing this I’ve been super lucky the weather, and ship’s programme has allowed me to run every day at sea around the upper deck. 

 

Along the way I’ve run in some great countries in the streak and this recent deployment. But as always, planning has been important. Working my runs in and around my work which includes watchkeeping (shifts) be it 6 hours on 6 hours rotation or standard cruising watches etc. I’ve had to plan when I was going to run and get it done. For instance, currently I’m doing 12 hours on watch and 12 hours off watch. I come off watch at 1am, go to bed not long after, get up at 5am and go for my run, then get back in bed afterwards until lunch time. That’s when I get breakfast, and then go back on watch. 

 

During the run streak I’ve had all the comments about its bad for you etc. If there was a run streak comment bingo, I think I could tick it all off more than once. 


Not all the running at sea have been on the treadmill of doom

Run streaking, isn’t a cool thing. It is though something runners can incorporate into their training without the worry of injuring themselves from it. Runners get injured because they do something wrong in the majority of cases and that doesn’t matter whether they run every day or every other day. If someone came to me for advice on run streaking or looking to give it a go, I’d support them and not give them false information of how bad it is. I’ve seen it a lot, especially on social media. 

 

Do I recommend running everyday? Only if running is your thing, but its not for everyone, even if they are a runner. I get it, I do but what I highly recommend is being active everyday. We can fit something of benefit in every day. Active Recovery should not be dirty words, there are a lot of benefits from it and I see it all the time with those I know who carry out active recovery in some form. I see more injuries in runners who don’t do active recovery than I do in those who do something. 


Running in the Mountains of Bergen, Norway 

 

It's quite funny but leading up to this big milestone, I’ve never been injured through running or running everyday itself but whilst in Kiel, Germany, I injured myself by doing other stuff LOL. Firstly, after quite a few drinks, I thought it was a bright idea to electric scooter back to the ship giving an Oppo a lift. We didn’t see a curb at 3am in the dark and crashed quite heavily. I had a swollen elbow; bashed head and I pulled my calf a little as I went head first into an ATM booth LOL. The following day walking back to the ship sober after some food out. I stopped to talk a pic (air balloons in the sky with loads of warships in the background, sad I know), and I wasn’t paying attention. I took the pic, turned around and caught my left foot on a raise manhole type cover. This led me to try and stop myself stacking it by ending my right leg. This then over extended my calf muscle the one already hurt from the scooter crash and proper pinged it. DOH! So since then, I’ve been doing the minimum 1 mile run slow and at the pace comfortable enough to run to keep the streak alive (insert facepalm here). But like I said the majority of injuries are caused by mistakes and that includes most of those runners who are injured. 


Taken during one of shorter runs in Kiel, Germany


So, here we are, still running every day, no injuries caused by running or running everyday. Running isn't bad for you, running everyday isn't bad for you. People make excuses not to be active everyday. Go out and do something!

Anyway I think I’ve waffled on enough. Remember however you choose to run be it everyday or every other day. It should be fun, not a chore and recovery is the key! Don't forget you can find me on Instagram Click Here or on TikTok Click Here or on YouTube Click Here

Until next time. 

π‘Άπ’˜π’‚π’Šπ’

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Kernow Vertical Kilometre by Freedom Racing 2020 - Bringing a Mountain Race to Cornwall

It seems strange writing about a race I've done whilst in this situation where all races have been cancelled due to Corona Virus. However it was my last race just before all the restrictions kicked in. 

Kernow Vertical Kilometre  aka KvK an event that has been around for a few years now. It's based on the Mountain races where you run a total of 1000m of climb. Obviously in Cornwall there are no mountains to do such a race, so Freedom Racing developed a race where you would still run 1000m of climb, but you also get a 1000m of descent also. So this was definitely a double quad killer. 




I entered this race, close to the race date, as I had little events booked in pre May. I needed something to focus on in my training for the races I had booked in closer to the time. I couldn't enter other races local to me around in March as they feel into other plans I had around family. 

As it was down in Cornwall, I knew I could stay at my parents place as they lived near by, so I didn't have to worry about accommodation costs and the fact it wasn't too far away, it was ideal really for my purposes. 

As we approached race day, the world had started to change with a Pandemic caused by a virus. As the current guidance at the time of the race allowed the race to go ahead, and not being a massive race. It was still going ahead, if it was a week later it may have been a different situation. Being fit and well, I still planned on racing. That's all I'm going to talk about when it comes to the current work situation. 


The Start/Finish
Race day soon came along and I got my self in a position that I was going to be as ready as I was going to be at that point of time in my training. KvK is a 15 mile race, two laps of 7.5 miles 500m of ascent in each lap. I was racing solo, but if you wanted you could race as a pair doing a lap each. 

15 miles was in my training programme, so this was a great way to race and hit the mileage that I required. I was looking forward to it. It was a different kind of race to what I've done before as such. 


Coast Path Section pic by No Limits Photography
St Agnes is a small village in Cornwall usually packed with tourists, but there isn't much parking down there. So we decided to head down early to get a parking spot, walk our puppy on the beach prior to the later starting time of the race. Registration started at 12pm, and the race was starting at 2pm. There is a finish cut off time, but it is still pretty achievable for the majority of runners. 

As registration opened, I got to see a lot of friend's I knew who live down there in Cornwall, which was nice. At first I thought I was the only runner from outside of Cornwall, but I saw two others from Plymouth which was nice. 


First section of the figure of 8 lap done
Although this was my first Freedom Racing event, I've known Tom Sutton the RD for a while now, seeing him often at other events and so forth. It was nice to see him and all the others I knew. It was definitely a very friendly race, that even if you knew no one you could easily think you did.

Will all the registration done, it was done to the start with both solo's and the first leg runners of the pairs. It started down the bottom of the slip way at the beach. This meant it was an up hill climb from the very start. The race took you up through the village from the start up a climb until you turned on to a footpath. You continued this climb along footpaths in fields through housing areas until you climbed up more footpaths to the top of Beacon, this was the first of 4 climbs to the Beacon Top. You quickly ran down and lopped through paths and small roads until climbing back up to the Top of the Beacon once more. It was blowing a really cold wind up the top. The course then ran down to the Coastal Path which flowed along and down into the village. That was the first loop of what is like a figure of 8 course. 



Coming down from the Top of Beacon pic by No Limits Photography
As you come through the village you rejoin the coastal path and head up and out the opposite way for the second part of the figure of 8. You climbed up until you start another descent down to a valley. You then hit a stonking bit when you have to climb up some tough set of coastal steps. Once you catch your breathe the views are stunning once more. You are already seeing those ahead of you on their way back to the village. 

Once you complete this loop, you come back down into the village where the atmosphere is brilliant, supporters and marshals cheering and giving the cow bells loud ringing. You run through the village and repeat the lap again. 

The wind had not died down at this point at the top of the Beacon, and I was getting colder as I was tiring. There were two good aid stations at 8 miles and 12 miles well stocked with goodies, not just your average water stops you'd find on a road race of similar distance. 

As you came down from the second lap to the finish, the supporters are still going barmy and you race down to the finish line. A down hill finish was great to stretch out those tight quads after a quad busting 15 mile race. 


Plenty of mud 
There you go, 15 miles, 2 x 7.5 mile laps, 500m of climb each lap totalling 1000m of climb. Your legs and lungs definitely know about it. A well organised race, very friendly and one I would definitely do again. I set out for a Sub 3 hour, but missed out by 5 mins or so. Anyway have a look at my short film I made of it here (click link ). 

Thank you for reading, I'm not sure when the next race blog will be out, but I will be writing up my year of running everyday blog very soon. In the mean time download my podcasts here (click link) have a listen. They are available on all podcast sources. 
Cow Bell Medal

Until next time. 

π‘Άπ’˜π’‚π’Šπ’

#GoTailwind #UglowSports #BeyondComfort #TheBeautifullyBrutal










Wednesday 25 March 2020

Film Review: "Wrath" A 230 Mile Record Run Attempt in Scottish Winter

The Cape Wrath Way trail is a well known trail, stretching from Fort William to the very tip of Cape Wrath its self finishing at the light house. The film was taken across some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. When Summit Fever Media contacted me to review another of their films, I obviously said yes. I have been privileged once already before ("Underdog" Click Link) and watching many of their other films such as Last Woman Standing and their Spine race coverage every year, I was excited to see what they have produced this time. 


So the description from SFM Website:

"In December 2018, Damian Hall and Beth Pascall attempted to break the Cape Wrath Trail self supported 'fastest known time' [FKT) of 7 days, 9 hours and 31 minutes. The Cape Wrath Trail is notoriously wild, remote and inhospitable, the terrain it winds through is regarded as the last true wilderness in Britain. Their attempt takes place in the depths of winter when there is only 6 hours of daylight each day."

Local spectators pic by SFM
It starts with Damian and Beth introducing themselves and why they are doing the run. Letting viewers to get to know them a little prior to the pair setting off on their adventure across the Highlands. The nice thing about it, is they are very humble about the whole situation and you don't get that eliteness you sometimes get from athletes of their standard.

As they make their way in darkness to the start point via a boat trip and get into their adventure, their light hearted humour made me smile. It also sets the tone nicely for the rest of the film.


Beth Pascall and Damian Hall pic by SFM
As they both progress, the filming has a mixture of type of filming. They film themselves and narrate what they are doing and how it's going, as well as the film crew interviewing and film them from another prospective. The whole process gives you an eye opening viewing of not only the feat of endurance, but the Cape Wrath trail brutality and beauty.

You do get drawn into it, although not to the extent that you're willing them on but where you actually wish you were going on the adventure with them. You see all the self supportiveness, as well as what it really takes to nail a FKT. Running and moving for a long period with very minimal sleep, and then the joy of finding a place to kip with a mattress along the way.


Glenfinnan Cape Wrath pic by SFM
230 miles of winding trails, climbs, bogs, river crossings, Deers and darkness. The grit from the two runners show, but also the utter team work of both of them working together to achieve this FKT. You see the ups and downs of them both whilst the viewer gets to watch the stunning beauty of the Cape Wrath Trail in winter.

The pair sleeping along the way for very short period of time, but the joy they find in staying in a hut that has a couple of mattresses also shows that simple things as this can make a big difference in the mind set of a runner or runners undertaking this FKTs.

I truly loved the way these two fabulous runners gelled together, and the film just made me wish I could've joined them (although I'd probably would've slowed them down for the FKT lol) When a trail running film can give you such a warm fuzzy feeling, you know they have nailed it, in my opinion.


Lighthouse approach pic by SFM

So when not go and watch it for yourself and enjoy every minute. I know I will be watching it again and again. See film here <<<<<<<

Until next time!

π‘Άπ’˜π’‚π’Šπ’

#GoTailwind #UglowSports #BeyondComfort #TheBeautifullyBrutal


Tuesday 19 November 2019

Questioning Myself Through Run Streaking

As I start to write up this blog, I've hit the 6 month mark (183 days) in the Run Streak that I'm currently embarked on. I thought it would be good to talk about what I think about it at this current point in time. The answers I've gained from questioning my body through running every day. 


Even when away in Bulgaria at a wedding I ran
What is a Run Streak?

A run streak if you didn't know is where you run everyday at least a mile. It's not run a day, then next do a work out the following day or a swim and claim "Well I did something". Running Every Day (RED) is just that, running every day. Dr Ron Hill ran every day for over 53 years, even when he injured in an accident. 

So why did I start my run streak?
The day it started Plymouth Half Marathon with my mate Luke 
Well I ran the Plymouth Half Marathon with a good friend called Luke on the 19th May, keeping him company. Like always the day after I always go for some form of recovery run. For me, it's always worked to flush out any lactic acid build up, and it's always prevents DOMS from kicking my arse. 

So I thought to myself, let's see how long I could keep a streak going? I've previously in a past run every day of a 5 month deployment, so I know I could do it for a short period at least. 

Thing's I had to consider is:

1. Work - I travel a lot in my current role, so I would have to fit runs in and around travelling
2. Social - I have a little social life, so I'd have to fit it around friend's. I missed out a lot last year being away for the majority of it. 
3. Family - The most important one of all, I said when I got back from deployment last year, running will always be around family not the other way round. 

I spoke to my wife about it and she was happy or maybe just content ( I will go with happy LOL) for me to give it a go.

Thus the run streak had started. 
Hope24 a 24 hour even in June
How did I find the first couple of weeks? 

I was pretty motivated and things were going well, I wanted to make sure I wasn't just going for a run for the sake of it, and that I ran quality miles. I found the first few weeks pretty easy to maintain the motivational level, I was feeling pretty good, I was getting runs in during works time which helped a lot. Therefore not having any major impact on family time either. I was also lucky to get some double runs in as I'd join my local club for some club runs be it off road or on road. 

Did I find any parts hard?

Yes there were times when I couldn't be arsed to drag myself out for a run, if I was lucky I'd have some company to run with which helped with the motivation. If I was by myself then the hardest part was getting out, once I was out I ticked off those miles. Some days I had some tough runs, more mentally than physically, but getting out did me a world of good. Some times my legs took a while to wake up usually the first mile into a run but once they realised what was happening, they soon perked up.

As I said, the just getting the motivation to go out occasionally was the hardest parts. 

Madness of King George 36 hour non stop race I finished it with these to top blokes
What have I learnt?

Well I already knew the human body was capable of many things, some times we need to try thing's we can't do to find our limits. I have learnt despite getting older, I am still capable of putting in performances close to what I have done in the past and some of that has been down to this streak. I reckon if I continue to work hard, and train smart I may even beat some lifetime PBs. I learnt, that there really is no excuse for finding time to do something. We have 24 hours in a day, and even if I didn't run during works time, I still have time to work, eat, spend time with family and get a run in. I have had to get up really early some days because of travelling for work to get a run in but it was doable. I have learnt how well my body now recovers compared to how it use to. Stairs no longer provide an issue after a long race. I also learnt to have more faith in my abilities and it gave me back a lot of confidence in my running.

Can anyone do it?

Of course any one can, but like anything it's more a case of wanting to do it. It's not for everyone, but I've friend's who do it, and we're all individuals with different lives to lead but we all manage it. One friend of mine is currently into her 3rd year of running everyday. You just have to listen to your body, be sensible and most of all enjoy it. 

Whilst travelling to and from Jacksonville, USA I still found time to run
Is it bad for me? 

Well Dr Ron Hill managed it for over 53 years, it improved his performances including winning Boston Marathon. He even ran after an accident which lead him to be in a cast. Like anything, it's all about listening to your body, so much of it is about recovery, you don't have to do nothing, you can do active recovery. So going out for a mile or two at a comfortable pace, depending on what your recovering from. So after my 36 hour race, I took a week for recovery, easy runs over the week, even when I felt already recovered I still continued to keep it easy. When I had niggles, I eased down on mileage and pace. It worked for me, doesn't mean it will work for everyone but when a non runner boss of mine turns round and says "It's bad for you" I was hoping Karl Pilkington's Bullshit Man would come along and point at him and say "Bullshit"

But aren't I supposed to have rest days? Like I said above I do but it's just lower mileage and easier pace. My body still recovers well and for me it's better than sitting on a couch resting. 

My last big race of the year the Cornish Marathon
And finally where do I go from here?

Well I've got goals I would like to hit by the end of 2020, I've already ticked off some which I believe the run streak has helped me to hit early. I will continue to run every day until I decide enough is enough. I've no end goal for running every day, at the moment I am still enjoying it and still reaping the benefits. 

Some stats from the last 6 months:

Miles Ran: 1078.54 
Races run: Plymouth Half, Hope24, MoK36, Saint's Way Challenge, Cornish Marathon (plus local 10Ks and 5Ks in between)
Countries run in: UK, Malta, Bulgaria, USA
Podium Places: 2nd place at MoK36 

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions drop us a line. If you're bored you can watch my latest film on the recent Cornish Marathon race here (click link)


My 6 Month Run Streak run Day 183


π‘Άπ’˜π’‚π’Šπ’

#GoTailwind #UglowSports #BeyondComfort 

A Year Without Racing

  A Year Without Racing!   So 2023 didn’t go exactly how I thought it would when it came to races. However, the running still went on it was...