Blame it on the boogie

Played the blame game a lot this weekend

Saturday was a horror showing, shuffled through 20km, got lost, hate my Asics runners, too hot, too humid.

Sunday was worse, a 10km social run on heavy legs, heavy Asics shoes, irrationally chasing people who are ahead of me because they are simply faster than I am, too hot, too humid.

But such is the joy of a long weekend that on Monday I could try it all again. Who and what would be to blame this time around?

I set off in my old Nike runners with a headful of trepidation and Billy Joel. And……it was exceptional – your next run is your best run! 


Felt like I was getting somewhere but comfortable. To quote the great Peter Kay – 

How fast could you run in your slippers? Bloody fast! They should give ’em to athletes, y’know, Nike slippers! 

So the lessons I have learnt this weekend but likely won’t heed:

  • Consider the conditions and adapt to them, heat and humidity are not friendly running  partners 
  • Run at your own pace, it’s good to push pace but don’t be surprised if it leads to exhaustion, pain and misery – also not friendly running partners
  • Don’t buy shoes to be durable, you’ll likely want to throw those heavy clunky bastards into the nearest river or bin, plus you’ll have to put at least another 600km into them before the missus will let you buy another pair.
  • Never ever blame yourself!
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We’re not in Kansas anymore…

Don’t stop running whatever you do!

Tired because your family are sick and not sleeping?

> go for a run

Not feeling motivated to run the same routes?

> go for a run

Finding it too hard to climb out of an impossibly comfy king size hotel bed?

> go for a run

Nine short days between runs, a mounting pile of excuses, one failed training plan and I am moving like the tin man. 


So lesson learnt and we go again.

T-R-A-I-L, T-R-A-I-L

If you aren’t already trying a little bit of trail, then you ought to be. True for most of us unfortunate souls, this involves a degree of travel to trail but I tell thee it’s marvellous. So to unashamedly bastardise Baz Luhrmann’s great work – if I could offer you only one tip for the future, trail running would be it!

The long-term benefits of trail running have not be have been proved by scientists and this is based entirely on my own meandering experience.

Stay with me on this: I claim to be non competitive, to focus on finishing events rather than specific times; however truth be known I want to do well, I want to win (a epidemic would need to befall all sub4:45km runners globally)(I’m working on it) and I don’t like being overtaken. This focus on outcomes does a disservice to running and distracts from just enjoying myself. The great thing about trails then is, unlike fells and roads, you can run Ks and Ks without seeing other runners – are you gaining on people? are people gaining on you?! Once the initial traffic dies down you don’t see people very often, so who gives a f*&k!

Twisting and turning through rainforest on the Eungella Trail Run is a thing of beauty, the legs certainly knew I had run 21.1k but having to stay switched on and being alone with nature made it feel like a fraction of the previous day’s road run over the same distance. I’m a running romantic and fall head over heels for near every run I participate in but today was an absolute beaut. At 8am we left this:

2:02:32 later, I returned to this spectacle:

So glad I (A) got of bed, (B) chose these Nike Kruger Zooms over my slicks – perfect for a soggy trail (C) heeded the advice of the Pinnacle Pie advocates, I may have placed 23rd but I breakfasted like a champ

Marathon’s worth of Ks in the legs this weekend and beginning to feel good about running the Great Whitsunday Trail. In others news I agreed a 100k run with a bloke at work, did I mentioned he works in sales…

 

Routinely out of routine

Most days are closed out by looking longingly at trail pictures on Instagram and reading blogs by you the running obsessed. Then as I dream of one day completing Marathon de Sables or the Bob Graham Round I resolve to start tomorrow at 5am.

But alas between 11pm and 5am each night, something extraordinary happens. At the sounding of my first alarm, I rise only to turn off the subsequent  schedule of alarms and dream now only of more sleep before the working day.

 

Then when the day is done, the cycle starts again.

Today I fought the good fight, with pain filled eyes I roused myself at the ungodly hour of 4am – pain heightened by the fact it was a Saturday. Once upon a time I would get in bed at this time, not out of it! A hasty coffee followed by a short drive and I was into a 20k run. Some two hours later chatting with the Mackay Road Runners I had clearly made the right decision; with 20ks under my belt, an inspiring sunset beheld and the weekend only a couple of hours old. Nonetheless it had been a tough decision!

 
For now I’m going to push myself each Saturday morning,  back it up with the Mackay Road Runners’ Sunday events and hopefully I’ll come good and be able to tackle a marathon again this year of next.

That said if  there are any stronger willed folks that have managed to break the dreamweaver habit, please show me how!

 

 

‘I can’t run…..’

I hate when people say this. Unless there is an absolutely undeniable medical or physical reason why you can’t run, then it’s simply not true.

We can all run, just ask Terry Fox – now there’s a bloke who could have argued the point and look what he did.


The bloke is an absolute bloody inspiration and when I read blogs from people just starting out on their running adventures I think they are pretty bloody inspiring too.

It would be easy to say no and stay on the sofa but we all start somewhere, so whatever your goal, just by having one you are winning. I have covered some good long distances now but I remember battling hard on numerous 5km loops before I finally felt I had it mastered. So to all you runners with the conviction to get out and start running, hang tough – it’s a beautiful thing.

For Easter I’ll return to Massie Bony Mountain Road, a road that has given me a hundred great views, made me question my will to keep running at least as many times, showed me running in 40c heat (because the schedule says so) is naive bordering stupid, seen me chased by dogs, scared by snakes, shocked by kangaroos and terrorised by Magpies! I can’t wait! This 10km out and back is the foundation training upon which all my running has been based and thankfully at its end there is always my mother-in-law’s well stocked fridge.

Find somewhere beautiful to run and run it often.

Good Gear

It was a struggle to get up, three times I decided not to. But the fourth alarm got me, how I now celebrate my genius of the night before. It must be noted however the multiple alarm method is not endorsed by my wife “Why don’t you just get up when the alarm goes off?!” – alas she’ll never understand the life of a lazy runner.

However I did arrive on time, if slightly later than planned,  for the Tim’s Pub to Pub 16km at Slade Point. With the comfort of strong directions “If you don’t see two pubs, then you’re lost” and buoyed by the promise of a Bacon & Egg Magoffin, we were away. It was relatively cool, by Mackay standards, for the first 10km but then the heat really got up and each patch of shade was a welcome relief. Two of us came home for a sprint finish (don’t we look like we are going fast) which was a lot of hard work for 17th & 18th spot!

Whilst out there, labouring like only a heavy heel striker can, a bloke asked me whether the camel pack was worth the cost and the weight. My take on it is, the weight of the camel pack is justified as it serves a purpose whereas the weight of my gut is an anchor and where the real concern lies. Camel packs give me the confidence that I am not going to be the bloke rushed to hospital for not  drinking enough, like visiting the toilet before a long run – it gives me one less thing to worry about.

His questions did get me thinking about how such a basic and wonderful pastime does involve a fair amount of kit. Trainers, shorts, tops, socks – in the various guises are pretty much the essentials (if you are a barefoot runner – feel free not to comment). Beyond these however there is an absolute arsenal of gear with which to do battle with  bitumen, trail or fell.

Some of it has worked for me and some of it falls into the expensive experiment column. One thing I have learnt is if you find an issue when you first start out or much later in your running career, you are running in the footsteps of many others and the kit/cure is out there.

Top three major wins for me over the years have been:

CAMEL PACK

Ever seen a thirsty camel, me neither. I’ve been using the  Caribee Hydra 1.5ltr for about 3yrs and its been ideal. I hardly notice the weight and always feel more confident attacking a big run in hot weather with 1.5ltrs in reserve. Smart routing for headphones, from the back pocket if required, and enough space for keys, a few energy gels/bars and a mobile phone. I wish there was a bit more space sometimes but I’d probably end up carrying too much weight. Toyed with the idea of a hydration pack with bottles rather than a camel pack, sense they would be easier to refill, but if it ain’t broke…

Couple of things to remember/consider:

  • I have fully tightened the pack and it fits my frame (6ft1) but it may be loose on smaller frames – check your sizing
  • In warmer climates, make sure you put the bladder in the freezer, between runs, unless of course you want penicillin in your water.

INJINJI RUNNING SOCKS

After naively changing from Asics to Nike a mere two weeks before a marathon, I was absolutely hobbled after the event. Unwilling to stop running and with other big events on the horizon, I went to see the good folks at InTraining.  They put me onto Injinji and from 5kms to 50kms, across road and trail, I have not had a blister since. Yes you can probably get 5 pairs of running socks from Big W for the same price as 1 pair  of Injinjis but I put a higher price on the condition of my feet. Feeling a blister fill mid run is like drinking on a school night – you know you can’t stop despite the pain you know is ahead.

My only regret is that in a moment of misplaced generosity I donated a pair to my brother. Buy a pair and love your feet.

BUFF by BUFF

People will judge you, but only people who do not know the wonder of the Buff. I am a born again Buff lover, at first I was ashamed of my Buff and only used it on night runs. She was my guilty pleasure.

Truly the Buff is the most versatile running aid out there:

  • Keeps your head warm
  • Poor water on it – keeps your head cool
  • Stops sweat running into your eyes
  • Face cover in strong winds, particular on beaches
  • Holds head-torches in place and prevents rubbing
  • Emergency handkerchief (oh the shame of it)
  • Emergency toilet roll (one use policy applies)(truly hope this desperate circumstance never occurs!)

The Buff is your friend and mine, just find a style that suits you – I’m no Ja Rule but I am living it up.

If anyone has any suggestions on good kit that has worked for them and supports their running please leave me a comment.

In other news Slade Point is exceptional on a clear sunny day, or what people in Mackay call ‘a day’.

On, on.

Cape Crusader

When my family went South for a couple of weeks, I locked Cape Hillsborough in as a distraction from missing them. But only after a gentle 7km Friday and some obligatory single man behaviour, when life gives you lemons!


I didn’t rise early enough to see kangaroos on the beach but did time the tides well enough to skip across to Wedge Island. Some of the trail is hewn straight out of the bush and there is a well earned and scenic traverse when you break the tree line on the Andrews Point Trail.

 
Breakfasted like I had completed a marathon, then got to my inaugural run with the Mackay Road Runners – the 8km  Ocean International Canter. This run operates a handicap system, whereby your start is staggered based on previous results. Being a newby I got a standard +8mins, meaning I set off 8mins after the first runners. I was a little concerned when it was explained to me that this would mean I would have to run 5minute Ks, as I usually hover around 5:30. But this is the joy of club running, it pushes you past the comfortable trot of your solo runs and today it pushed me to 8kms in 38mins. Now I don’t think that time will get me to Rio but must be close to a PB.

  
Running out to the 4km everyone seemed human enough, some faster, some slower. Then I began to see apiritions, runners who floated over the ground – was I dehydrated? Was I losing it?! Oh no, that’s right the elites were coming…. Recognisable due to their steady even breathing and long elegant strides, all sinew and muscle there are no wobbling stomachs or love handles amongst this lot; I am envious and respecting of these guys and girls in equal measure. What I don’t like is being hunted by them, they are the Kalahari to my antelope – all weight around the middle and weighed down by drinking a weeks worth of water.

Adventures past and present

Delighted to be a Ascendacy Apparel Affiliate, thanks to Laurie and the team for their  support. 

Made me think back to some of the bigger adventures of the past, so in no particular order:

Camino de Santiago

 
The picture, taken at 6am on some long since forgotten hillside in Northern Spain, pretty much sums up my attitude and approach; this was in those dark pre running days when adventure meant changing my choice of take-away. It’s fair to say my then fiancée, now wife,  was the driving force and I just held on for the ride. 30days, 1000kms – I actually remember thinking that I had run out of things to think about. I was a tit. Regular cups of tea, stunning towns and villages, pilgrims from all corners of the world and a free wine fountain are all things I look back upon fondly. 

Find the time, it’s exceptional and remember to be in the moment – I wasn’t but hope to do it again one day…and run it!

  
Mt Meru

My wife and I met, worked and fell in love in Tanzania. In Arusha most mornings we would have the sincere joy of looking up at Mt Meru, Mt Kilimanjaros little sister.

Early on in a poor but ultimately successful attempt at courtship I told her if she climbed it with me, I would propose at the top.

A couple of years down the track, two days of climbing and a very cranky fiancée with a bung knee we did just that. The summit ascent at night felt fine but descending in the light you really begin to question your sanity, especially when heights aren’t your speciality.

Highly recommended if you ever find yourself in East Africa with a long weekend spare. 

  
Adams’s Peak

Don’t fancy sharing this 5500 step,  7000+ footer with 20,000 pilgrims and tourists, then go in the off season! Sri Lanka perfectly prepares you for this epic pilgrimage; a belly full of fresh tea, mango lassi and spicy dahl and you are ready to take on the world. The fact this exceptional adventure is not more widely known about is a travesty but also adds to the allure. Sri Lanka makes for a phenomenal holiday too  

Honourable mentions must go to   Howgill Harrier’s 9 Standards Fell Race – what a start to 2016! And running at Mt Cook in New Zealand, surrounded by giants…

  
Back in the now, the big wet has cooled everything down so I splashed about for 14km. Mackay has already had more than the average March rainfall this year, so  pack a coat or an ark!  

Living a lie

I’ve got a confession to make, I’ve been dishonest for the longest time

I run roads and I run trails and I run fells. And I have always claimed to love all my children equally but when a friend from home sent me images of a snow wrapped Rossendale Valley I had a moment of sadness….   So in the interests of honest – fell running is my first love.

The challenge being of course that the concept of a ‘fell’ seems distinctly alien to Australians. When you explain it consists of running up hills and through bogs often in adverse conditions, the response is typically somewhere close to “Righto….ok…mate”.

So until we have the opportunity to venture out into the clag once more, sleep well little ones

  

Top Threes – Best Runs

Currently I write more than I run, strava knows my shame, so I decided to review my top three of all things running.

So to kick off – my top three favourite runs,  life to date:

Innnnnn One) Grane Reservoir trail to Helmshore (Musberry Fabrics)

  

Is this Rossendale’s best kept running secret? Maybe it found me on the best of days but I had an absolute blast. Gentle warm up as you jog up and round Ogden Reservoir anti-clockwise from the car park. Dropping down after the ruins, head immediately off road once you go through the gate. Hold a line left, take every opportunity to climb and after stomping through the heather, you quickly break the tree line. 

Now your on top! So enjoy the rough narrow trail that runs parallel to the hillside, the excellent view and the ruins of some long lost but well preserved village before falling down into Helmshore. 

Nice stand alone loop or could be combined with Tor, Peel Tower, Buckden Wood or a pint at The Robin Hood.

A Rossendalian’s Rossendale Favourite.

2) Kurrawa to Duranbah

  
This 50km beasty takes you from the GC to just inside the NSW boarder. They say it’s scenic and you do rarely lose sight of the beach/ocean but I like to see those things with my thongs on and a beer in my hand. Through the veils of sweat and fatigue, the three or feet in front of you is suburban concrete most of the way. What I did love however was:

  • Sahara and the team know how to run an event – aid stations, conveniences, stewards and ice baths!
  • It was cool and overcast
  • First 25km were tough as were the last five but I bossed the 25 – 45km and beat the speed walker who was threatening to show me up for the first half. I had hoped he was only doing 25km but he spun at the turn around looking fresh as a daisy so I dropped it into 2nd gear burnt off up the hill and said a silent but heartfelt prayer to the running Gods that I would never see him again. Breaking with convention they answered!

 3) Headtorch Run Down Whinberry Naze
You could pretty much pick any of the midweek winter fell runs with the Rossy Harriers. I particularly like the steep descents on this one, be brave, and what you lose in views by night you make up for in the experience. 

  
 
Looking forward to many more that may knock these off the podium.