So here I sit on my 38th birthday contemplating the eternal question “What next?” I’d love to feel a sense of satiety with life but whilst my family and my career are both sources of immense pride I have a cyclical desire to improve and take my fitness further. Cyclical in the sense that in stages throughout my adult life I’ve become unhappy with elements of my physical fitness and decided I want or need to do something about it.
The path that’s led me to change my approach to running is a long one so without too much indulgence I’ll attempt to briefly explain.
The desire to do something that really challenged me came to a head in 2012 when a friend posted about the amazing transformation of James Hobday. James had such focus, determination and a source of inspiration in the form of “Mr Gymcredible” Daniel Coleman. Whilst James had accomplished an amazing transformation (voted Bodybuilding.com’s best of the year) it felt out of reach. James didn’t have kids to consider at this time, he was younger, stronger, better. Daniel’s however felt in my grasp. He was older, had a child, a partner and his accent told me he was southern (i.e wears a coat). Surely I could replicate his success? All I had to do was exercise, eat healthy (no sugar, fat, butter, caffeine etc) and not drink alcohol. I was with him up to the point about exercise!
To cut a long story short I was fed up and in May 2012 something had to change I sat on the end of my bed with beer and food baby protruding and hit the enter key to sign up to Mr Gymcredible’s fitness challenge.
In the space of 6 months of gym training I dropped 3 stone in weight, I got some biceps (although I always preferred leg day) I’d reduced my 10K time from 52 minutes to 42 minutes (just through weight loss and without running more than a mile a week), I completed a coast to coast race with my oldest friend and I had won MyProtein’s 14 day transformation challenge (which a lot of people entered) as nice treat at the start of the year. When I decide to commit to something I like to see it through. It’s easy to say you’ll do something and then stumble at the first hurdle and I had said I’d do things before and given up. The difference with this challenge was sharing my goal. With in an hour of hitting enter in May 2012 Mr Gymcredible had posted my start picture and video (you’ll be sad to know I can’t link to his site as the challenge stopped a couple of years back now) to his website and I had shared my ambition to facebook! If I didn’t see it through I would look like a proper tool! Even worse than that I’d be sat getting fatter, sadder and more average by the day!
So now back to the present. At first the shire horse category of racing seemed quite novel but I knew to be at my best I needed to loose shed some timber. Lining up for my first ultramarathon with my top mate and training buddy Stones was the culmination of months of hard work and long hours on the trails. The Hardmoors 55 post can be viewed through the link above but needless to say our efforts were quelled by the Beast from the East. Having survived for 34 miles in horrendous weather I felt sure I could manage the distance. I entered the Lyke Wake Challenge and finished. So having finished an ultra why did I not feel that satiety?
I’d noticed during the race how tired I felt. “Of course you did you idiot, you just ran 40 miles!” came one response. But it was more to do with feeling inefficient. I’d watched the younger fitter athletes, or “showoff bastards” as the man running alongside me called them, as they passed us with ease and ran up hill like it was an escalator. What made them different?
- Their weight – They weren’t trying to lug 15 stone up the hill (I’m including pack weight in this ? )
- Their form – They make it look easy
- Their experience – This isn’t their first time
So. Enter the next challenge….. to become a good, forefoot, ultra runner. Not to win ultras but to be better than I am now in form, fitness and mind!
I started my gentle form transition training in September and I’m going to give a little weekly update that might help other’s considering making the move from heel striking to forefoot so fingers crossed it helps someone other than myself to write this but I’ve taken the first step in committing to do it so here goes. I feel optimistic despite having sore calves and in a nod to ‘Born to Run’ I shall sign off simply with my new moniker. ‘El Lobo Gordo’