For main website please visit:

Friday, 25 December 2015

Nov/Dec Update

Happy Christmas from Lanzarote everyone!

I've been hibernating since the end of Oct and Dublin catching up on good (and bad) food, cidery delights and my former sedentary lifestyle.  I'll be starting to train again properly on Jan 3rd with 3 months to get ready for the next race, the Alexander The Great Marathon in Thessaloniki (Greece).


So I've been taking advantage of the big gap between marathons the last two months and giving my dodgy knee a bit of a break.  As I write I'm stuffing my face in my winter training camp (yeah right!) in Playa Blanca.  No races between Oct and March/April is a bit of a pain if I'm honest, it happens as most of Europe will be too cold/wet for the events to take place so they tend to prefer to put them in Spring and Autumn, presumably when the climate is more appealing to runners.  When you're keen to do 28 races as quickly as possible then this can be quite frustrating!

As it doesn't really take more than 3 months to train for a marathon it made sense to train down and rest up over the pre-Christmas break.  There's the inevitable parties, events and invites over this time and with Thessaloniki such a way ahead I knew it would be difficult to avoid situations where I'd be eating and drinking a fair bit.  The knee is fine, probably a bit weaker for the rest in all honesty and I've enjoyed piling on the pounds happy in the knowledge that they'll soon be falling off again.  With 4 races lined up next year as opposed to 3 this year, I'm aiming to get to a better weight to bring my times down and ease the pain of recovery.  If I can be as prepared and fit as I was for Dublin then I will feel ready to get through all 4 without incident.

Whilst I've enjoyed the rest and chance to eat pie and drink more, I find myself now excited about getting back down to it.  I've been out running 1-2 times a week (though not much more than 4-5 miles) and without much motivation and I've realised it's going to be a long hard road back to race fitness.  When I started the challenge last January I had a few short runs under my belt and I can probably say that I'm in a similar state of fitness to back then.  The only big difference is the running experience that I can now call upon when things get tough and painful.

2015: The year in bling

I've realised that without a training plan or end goal (marathon), I am just not someone who can go out and run for fun.  It's not part of my lifestyle although for 10 months of the year it is an all-consuming quest.  Having looked forward to not running at the same frequency or intensity all year, I can say that the novelty has well and truly worn off.

My advice to kids, wannabe runners and those with more experience; never take time off, keep on going!

How I pick the races

I've had lots of requests from followers around Europe to come and run in their country soon so just wanted to highlight the rather complex selection process that I have at the moment.

Put simply:
  • Each country in the EU has 1 marathon race at some point in the year
  • Some countries only have 1 recognised race (i.e. Luxembourg, Malta etc) and some have 20+ (France, Germany, Italy etc)
  • I like my wife Cat to try to make it to each race, I need her support and distraction and it's also nice for her to see me race and enjoy the city/country.  As she works in a school she can't simply take off a Friday or Monday and have a long weekend away with me.  Races need to be on her holidays (mid Feb, early April, early May, late May, end of July until early Sept and late Oct).
  • Although some destinations can be reached via Bristol Airport, the vast majority involve a trip to Gatwick (3 hr drive) so that time, plus check-in etc means that flying out on Saturday needs to be early in the morning.  This is so that we can arrive the other end in enough time to register/pick up race number at the Expo the day before the race.  Annoyingly very few marathons let you do this on the race day itself.
  • Races need to be spread out a little.  I need at least 4 weeks between races as my body needs a week post-marathon without running to recover and then 3 weeks to train again (though ideally a 2 month break is optimum).
  • Of the races I do each year I ideally want to be able to meet people from the ME community at 1 or 2.  In some countries where there isn't an ME association or known support group (i.e. Greece) meeting people isn't possible, though in Sweden it will be.  4 races without any support or meets at the races is a little disheartening so the countries need to be picked carefully if I'm to thrive on the boost that those meetings give me.  I was lucky enough to meet at least someone at each of the 3 this year which was fantastic and gives the whole trip a purpose.
  • I don't like massive races (20,000+) and I feel uneasy about foreign races below 500 participants.  I like having room to run and a bit of support.  
  • Still with me??  The last one is that I don't want to be running anywhere in August where it could be 35C+ -I just can't run in that heat.
So there you have it, not an easy task but glad to say that 2016 and 2017 look relatively straightforward, after that things will get tricky!

PACE and retraction

So I've talked enough about me.  Let's talk about ME (sorry!)

You may or may not have been following but the last couple of months have been very eventful within the ME world.  There's been a widely celebrated critique of the bungled PACE trial by David Tuller with the help of ME patient and hard-working advocate Tom Kindlon.  PACE was a trial funded by taxpayers (£5m) published in 2012 that ultimately recommended CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and GET (Graded Exercise Therapy) as a treatment for doctors to prescribe for ME patients.  It's results were based on bad science and were manipulated by those who have made a career out of their insistence that ME is a psychological illness.

Following this a request was made by James Coyne for the data of the trial to be released.  This has been denied by King's College London for a variety of ridiculous reasons (one of which is to keep patients anonymity even though they have admitted to already releasing some of this data, another that the researchers on the trial might be threatened by patients) and as a result has destroyed their reputation and credibility by scientists worldwide.  The journal where the PACE trial was published (PLOS One) is now seeking legal advice as they only publish if data is openly available for review.

In short, if the data is released it is very likely to show the flaws in CBT and GET that most patients know first-hand as the treatment actually makes them much worse.  Bad science practice from such a high-profile and important trial and a retraction from the Lancet amongst others can only mean that new treatments and a shift in how ME is perceived ona  grand scale is inevitable.  Even some of the old-guard in the psychiatrist community with connections to the Medical Research Council appear to be shifting their standpoint in preparation for this. Very interesting.

To read Invest In ME's call for the retraction of the trial in the Lancet, please click here.

I'll be back in Jan with a reminder of my plans for 2016 and more info on the races, I've printed off the training plan and not long until I'm back out there.

For now though, I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas break and thanks again for all your support in 2015.



Total Sponsorship Raised:  £2526
Facebook Followers:  206
Twitter Followers:  564
Miles covered:  20(!)
Average temp:  12C
Lessons learned:  Don't stop running!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

October Update

I'm done for my first year of the challenge!

3 of the 28 marathons completed and it's time for a couple of months rest before starting over again in January.

As I write I'm nearly recovered from Dublin Marathon (Oct 26th), one that I'll never forget as I managed to beat my PB and creep under 4 hours for the first time.  I also got to meet Michael & Carmel O'Reilly from the Irish ME Trust and talk about the treatments and real needs of Irish ME sufferers -click here for more info.

How did Dublin Marathon go?  Click here for my race report!

The only disappointment from the trip was the promised features from the Irish Independent and Irish Daily Mirror.  I've followed/chased all of these and so far I'm getting a bit of a wall of silence -something that I'm sure my ME followers can relate to in regard to being heard by doctors, government and the media.

Earlier on in the month I had some great runs along the towpath towards Portishead and out towards Nailsea.  Training through August and September was a little tough due to the heat but I think that it made a big difference come race day, along with the greater emphasis upon hill and interval training.  I had the odd knee niggles but nothing serious, more of a problem was a very heavy cold which caused me to miss my last two runs of training but I got well just in time.

Long Ashton -one of my most regular routes over the summer

What made the difference in Dublin?

Well, I reckon;

  • Hill and interval training on the midweek runs
  • Training at a higher temp than race day
  • Uniterrupted training schedule 
  • Better recovery emphasis (foam rolling, ice, stretching, calf sleeves)
  • Greater intensity and focus on race day (plus morning race start)


What next?

Well I'll still be running twice a week to keep the legs strong and hopefully ensure that it's not such a long road back to fitness when I start up again in January.  In truth I'm not sure what time to be aiming for in the next one, I'm not sure I'm really capable of much better than 3.59 hrs but we'll see.

Whilst I certainly expect to be able to run the next 24 in less than 4.5 hrs (providing I train well), I'm not sure that beating a time is the greatest motivation now I've dipped under 4 hours.  I know there'll be some tough courses/conditions coming up and I have got an extra race in 2016 for my body to cope with, so taking it steady might be the way to go.

2016 races

Booked in so far are;

#5 - April 3rd - Alexander The Great Marathon - Thessaloniki (Greece)

#6 - June 4th - Stockholm Marathon - (Sweden)
#7 - Aug - possibly Solidarnosci Marathon (Gdansk, Poland)
#8 - Oct - possibly Toulouse Marathon (France)

I'm going to be powering down over the next two months so things will go quiet for a bit on Facebook, Twitter and there'll be a joint Nov/Dec blog here.

Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me kick this challenge off in 2015.  It's come a long way already with nearly £2500 raised, 500 Twitter followers and 200 on Facebook.  I've learnt a lot about running this year and even more about ME from meeting some incredible people in Ireland, Finland and the Czech Rep.  Hopefully I've helped Invest In ME a little in their mission to unite research across Europe so far.

It's been an amazing experience so far and I can't wait for the 2016 races.  Catch up soon everyone.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

September Update

Autumn! 9 months and over 850 miles run this year.  Just one more marathon (Dublin, Oct 26th) until my winter hibernation!  Weirdly the final mile at Dublin will coincide with my 1000th of the year, never thought that would happen when I came up with this idea last October!

It's been pretty warm out in September and training has gone well aside from the odd twinge.  I've been ice-ing my knees and calves almost every night which has meant that I've recovered well for the next run.  In my head it's been like every run is a football match and the time in between is training for the next performance.  Small compensation for not making it as a football player, my friends will point towards an 11 minute sunday league debut (and final appearance) where I was a substituted substitute.    Things are going well for Dublin so far.  I've intro'd myself to the Irish ME Trust who have been super-friendly helping to promote my visit there.  I've mailed off approaches to radio/paper contacts, hoping to get something back as the race approaches.  I was invited to an ME support group meeting but unfortunately we don't arrive until the Sunday afternoon.  It looks like I'm going to have a few people coming to cheer me on which will be fantastic, I'm also going to be joined in the race by my good mate Ben Scott who is completing the last of a very impressive 4 event challenge this year for Cancer Research UK.

If anyone is keen to meet, here's my itinerary for Dublin;

Sunday 25th October - Land at 2pm, need to check-in and find expo to get race number.  Will be free from 5pm

Monday 26th October (Race Day) - Any time after 2pm, will post my whereabouts on Facebook & Twitter but likely to be drinking Guinness somewhere!

Tuesday 27th October - Flying back early morning, unlikely to be able to meet.

I got some new running shoes this month, you will see me coming!

Asics Gel Pulse 7, with a nice discount from Easyrunner in Bristol

They should get me through Dublin and the training for my 5th race in April 2016.

Marathon #5 - Alexander The Great Marathon, Thessaloniki, April 3rd 2016

So I've been keen to book this one for a while but had to hold fire until Easyet released their next tranche of flights.  There's only a handful of marathons in Greece and I was keen to have Cat with me (she works in a school so fitting around school holidays is tricky) so we chose this one in Greece's 2nd largest city.  The race begins in Pella, the birthplace of Alexander The Great and travels upon 'the road of gods' towards the White Tower at Thessaloniki.  The course itself is said to be pretty quiet until the last 3-4 miles on a very straight undulating road taking in some pleasant countryside, it could get a bit dull out there but Thessaloniki looks like a really nice city.


Only 50 Euros to enter and you get a race shirt which is pretty good value.  Flights were quite cheap and I managed to find a very cheap deal for the Bristol Hotel (4*) near to the race start.  Training will start in January for that one and I get the luxury of a 3 month build up to get back up to fitness after a couple of months of working down after Dublin.  Only 8 weeks after that one until Stockholm though which puts more emphasis on a good long winter training programme.  I've got 2 more marathons to book for 2016 at the moment (will be 4 in total), will let you know more about the other 2 soon!

I had a good run with my buddy Josh around Long Ashton (11m) along with some solid weekend runs to Nailsea (15m) and Sheepway/Portishead (17m).  I don't know if I've necessarily improved over the last few months (my times are very similar to back in March) but I do now have the experience to know that if I'm struggling I can hang in there and things will get better in a few minutes.  I've definitely made better use of my midweek 6 mile runs, using one for hill training and one for speed/intervals, which have been rather brutal but essential after my experience in Helsinki.


Normally in this bit I'd talk about something I've learnt from running this month but instead this month I'd like to just draw your attention to some more good work by Invest In ME

Within the next two weeks they will officially form the European ME Research Group with its inaugural meeting in London. Invest In ME have managed to bring together top researchers from seven European countries together to discuss research strategies for ME, EU funding opportunities and a collaborative approach to research.  These have resulted after their hugely successful colloquiums and conferences.  It's fair to say that the work this volunteer run charity are doing is truly amazing.  Their researchers have recently been over in Bergen, Norway to meet and consult with the scientists currently working on the already incredible Rituximab trial over there which yielded the exciting results I talked about before.

Whilst they've got 7 countries involved so far, I'm hoping that by running all over Europe we can attract the attention of others and highlight the need for some countries to maybe even form their own association as I pick up followers.  You can follow their progress through the links below:

Invest In ME - EMERG   Invest In ME Facebook

Please also follow 'Let's Do It For ME' who are run by ME patients to help raise funds and awareness for the projects that Invest In ME are pursuing.

Let's Do It For ME  Let's Do It For ME Facebook

One of the biggest challenges they have is that when the media want a comment about ME and research they are directed to other larger ME charities who are doing very little in the research field.  I've learnt the truth about how these charities operate and spend donations as well as the links they have with the government and it's critical that we help raise the profile of Invest In ME -they're the ones with the researcher contacts, focus and urgency to find cures and treatments.

That's it for now, thanks again for your support, look forward to seeing some of you in Dublin in 3 weeks!

Monthly Stats

Total Sponsorship Raised:  £2110
Facebook Followers:  182
Twitter Followers:  450
Miles covered: 102
Average temp:  17C
Lessons learned:  Ice every night, having tied icepacks to my legs all month have now got some proper ice wraps for my shins and knees and it's sure to work wonders.

Monday, 31 August 2015

August Update

This month I successfully ran my 3rd marathon of the 28 marathon challenge, Helsinki in Finland!

It was a hot and hilly one, the hardest yet but the race and trip itself felt like a big success in helping to raise awareness and money for ME research projects via Invest In ME.  I completed the race in 4hrs 30 mins and despite not finishing with a great time it was a fantastic day (click here for race report).

I met with Christel Rimaila, Paula Aarnio and Mintti Raassina from the Finnish CFS/ME Association, all were very welcoming and gave me a good insight into what it's like there for ME patients (click here for info).  Thanks too to Nadja and her friend for making signs and coming to support me!  We had some great donations and messages from the Finnish supporters, things do look like they're starting to improve slowly there although I know the government's current stance on ME is frustratingly backwards and misguided (like in many countries I'll visit).


Helsinki has some fantastic lakes and islands with a lively city centre and very friendly people -I'd definitely recommend a summer city break there! (click here for pics of my trip!)

Sponsorship Update

As I type we've just ticked over £2K raised for Invest In ME so they can fund their research projects!  That's really great given the challenge is less than 1 year old.  The idea from here is to try and reach as many new people as possible so there'll be a big drive on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word in time for the next race in Dublin.

I've come up with a basic flyer to help reach corporate sponsors to help me try to cover some of the logistical costs (below).  

I'm offering a spot on the front page of my website as well as logos, regular posts and mentions on all social media and any press/media that I'm offered.  Just £100 a year from a handful of sponsors could be the difference to me getting the challenge finished quicker.  As the challenge progresses I'm expecting greater coverage from local TV, media and the running world so there could be some decent exposure for anyone who'd like to be a part of it.

If you know of any company that would be interested please ask them to drop me a message through my contact page -I have a letter drafted outlining the challenge, sponsorship benefits etc, if you would like a copy to send on to your MD or HR contact please drop me an email.

Training for Dublin

I'm a week into my Dublin Marathon training and it's going OK so far after a slow start.  I've only got 25 runs before race day, not long to get ready.  You must be ready though from the other marathons I hear you say?!  Well although it's all valuable mileage, it doesn't quite work like that.  I need to wipe the slate clean, re-focus and build again slowly.  I'm also going to introduce more hill work and interval speed training to make sure that I perform better at the next one.  I want to be a bit leaner and mentally stronger for the next one as it's my last one until April -that's a long time to stew on a disappointing race.

So far I've done a 20 mile week (week 1) which has encompassed a really good hot and hilly run in Hay On Wye.  I went out with Nick for the run and took it nice and steady.  I'd fallen out of a canoe on the river Wye scraping and bruising my knees and shins earlier in the day so was glad it didn't affect it too much!


Whilst I wait for Easyjet's flights to come out so I can book my 5th marathon (likely to be either Thessaloniki, Greece or Linz, Austria), I've signed up for Stockholm on June 4th!  It's a big race with over 30,000 runners and I know that we'll be well supported by the Swedish ME Association.  

Other Endurance Challenges

A quick shout out to the following who I'm following regularly on social media and continue to inspire my challenge.  Have a look at their amazing events!

2015 miles in 2015 for ME - Chris Croshaw is running for 4 ME charities
Mike Shepherd - Mike conquered the North Pole Marathon for Invest In ME and has more challenges to come
Running At The Front - Nick Butter from Bristol is running 3000 km in 2015 for BHF, VICTA & Cancer Research
401 Challenge - Ben Smith from Bristol is running 401 marathons in 401 days for Stonewall and Kidscape
Marathon Man UK - Rob Young has run 370 marathons in 1 year, new challenges announced regularly
53 Marathons - Amy Hughes ran 53 marathons in 53 days last year and continues to set new challenges
Owain Thomas (Yolo7dayUltra) - Owain runs for Ochre cancer charity on for a friend who has terminal cancer

By the end of next month I hope to have booked my first race of 2016 and secured some corporate sponsorship.  I'm also hoping to have made contact with the Irish ME Association and gathered some followers there.  I'll also be very heavily into my Dublin training plan, busy times!

Thanks again for all your support!


Monday, 3 August 2015

July Update

Just two weeks to go until Helsinki and I've had a busy old month, with 101 miles covered and many more travelled in order to ge myself ready for August 15th.


                                                        Reykjavik running

I've been on some great runs this month and lucky to have had some amazing scenery in both South Wales and Iceland.  Running along the coast from Reykjavik was incredible and I went for 2 hours of my 3 hour run without seeing a single soul.  It was great training for sure even though at 13C it was a lot cooler than I can expect to find in Helsinki.

Laugharne Castle, South Wales

Quick thought that occurred to me recently whilst out running.  I approached Men's Running to see if they'd be interested in doing a feature but unfortunately it wasn't quite impressive enough to get any column inches -fair enough I thought as I know of some fantastic and seemingly impossible challenges out there.  They said to get back in touch when I was about halfway through my planned 28.  This could be 2-3 years away and that got me thinking why I can't get more marathons under my belt and get the challenge done quicker.

The main barrier is affording flights, accommodation and trainers.  Can I do 8 or 9 in a year?  Yep probably, I certainly feel fit enough.  Getting corporate sponsorship (and donations to ME research) is proving tough as we face stiff competition from bigger and often more well-known charities.  It's frustrating in many ways to see all the promising news come through about the Rituximab trial and still see governments refusing to help speed things up with funding.  Explaining ME to someone who doesn't know anyone with the illness is something which I know is challenging for everyone trying to raise awareness or change attitudes.

As I'm self-funding the trips at the moment I thought there was some ironic symmetry between the challenge and the quest to find effective ME treatments.  In both cases the only barrier that I can see is money.  Both are very possible, indeed, hugely likely.  But it's almost right that my road to the finish should be a longer one than it could be, as with ME sufferers who wait with frustration but hope that effective treatment is on the way.

Chilli ME Challenge

This month I decided to literally bite the bullet and do the fantastic Chilli ME Challenge for Invest In ME.  The idea is to create a stir similar to that of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from last year but to raise the profile of ME and the need for research.

It's a fantastic initiative that has been gathering loads of both funny and poignant videos and gives the participant the chance to nominate friends/family to take the challenge once they themselves have munched on super hot chillies.

For more info check out: Chilli ME Challenge

Anyway here's my contribution and my good buddy Ian (who has ME), thanks to those who've fulfilled their nominations and pledged/shared.

My Chilli ME Challenge
Ian's Chilli ME Challenge

BBC Radio Bristol

Not quite July but keen to pop this on here before I head off to Finland.

At BBC Bristol!

So I was invited to come and talk to John Darvall on BBC Radio Bristol about the challenge and Invest In ME.  John has already featured 2 discussions about ME and generously given up a lot of time to talk to sufferers and fund-raisers.  He recently found out that his step-sister has the illness and is keen to raise awareness and learn more about biomedical research projects.

John Darvall (left), BBC Radio Bristol Presenter and supporter of ME research

Having given the Action For ME charity a platform previously I was very keen to accept his invitation to let the people of my home-town know more about the Rituximab Trial and Invest In ME.  Not everyone with ME knows of the excitement surrounding Rituximab, I know that if I had the illness and wasn't aware of the great work that Invest In ME are doing then it would lift my spirits and give real hope.

Interview starts at 2hrs 11mins, click here to listen

ME in Finland

So as part of my challenge I'm keen to find out more about what it's like to have ME if you live in each country I visit.  I got in touch with the Finnish ME Association for more info, click on the link below.

ME in Finland

So next month I'm hoping to report that I've ticked Finland off the list successfully and that we've raised a little bit more money and awareness for Invest In ME and ME sufferers.  I'll be taking a week off training to recover, eat pie and drink cider then it's all eyes on Dublin at the end of October.

I'll also be booking flights, accommodation and grabbing a ticket for my first planned marathon of 2016!

Thanks again for your support, flicking through my Facebook/Twitter I've had some really nice messages, most from people I've never met which is just fantastic.

Catch up on the other side!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

June Update

June already and halfway through the year, insane.

It's been a bit of a stop-start month for training with just 67 miles completed across 8 very hot weather runs but despite a couple of unavoidable breaks (Glastonbury, Work away weekend) I feel on track to at least get to Helsinki and finish.  Beating my time from Prague I think will be out of reach (I'll give it a go) but I think a more realistic prospect will be to get through it in under 4.5 hrs given the 20-25C temperatures I'm expecting to have to cope with.

Bristol to Pill, my route of choice despite the volume of bug swallowing!

I'm training solo for this one, which although a little dull at times, has meant that I've found my natural pace on the longer runs.  As before I'm finding anything below 10m a little hard to approach mentally, I'm caught in a bit of a halfway house between wanting to run quick to get it out the way and treating it with the respect it deserves.  Anything longer seems easy to accept that I'll be out there a while and I can get a good rhythm going.  Had a slight knee niggle throughout June but pleased to say that it seems to have died down, a reminder that I need to keep doing my physio ACL exercises and strengthening if I'm to get round in one piece.

Pill village just outside of Bristol, really nice place to live I reckon

Hot Weather Running

Quick post about hot weather running, a new phenomenon for me and one I wasn't sure would really happen with our wonderfully eccentric British summertime.

If you know me well, you'll know that I hate it when it's hot.  The last time I went to Turkey for my holidays (more than 5 years ago) it tipped 41C and I was quite literally drowning in my own sweat.  Not pleasant. I'm off to Iceland in 2 weeks on this years summer holiday (no joke, I am!).  The very idea of running 26.2 miles in the sort of heat we've been having lately makes me sweat profusely.

I've been reading a lot about how to cope with running in heat and in particular the tips I've found in Runners World are definitely ones I'm taking onboard.

10 Steps for Making Hot Weather Running Tolerable

There are two main challenges for me.  Number one is accepting that my running will be slower and that chasing a PB in a Summer marathon isn't very sensible.  Number two is finding a good balance between keeping hydrated enough and drinking too much water by over-compensating (easily done and equally as dangerous).  The pee colour chart will prove very useful!

I'm running most of the time with a water bottle belt and lucozade in hand which isn't too cumbersome but still affects my pace a little.  I have t-shirts (mostly football tops) that wick away sweat and I'm getting up earlier on weekends before it gets too hot so I'm hopeful I can get through what is looking like a huge month of training.  It will be mentally and physically tough, probably tougher than the race itself but I'm determined to get through it and feel ready for Finland.

Rituximab Trial Update

Just a couple of days ago the results of the Phase II Rituximab Trial have come through from Norway where they're working with Invest In ME and UK researchers.  It's extremely promising news building upon the initial findings from 2011.  64% of people who received the drug have experienced major or moderate responses with some having been symptom free for over 5 years!

Full Details Here

Further evidence if it were needed that biomedical research is working and the donations that you make to challenges that support Invest In ME are going to make a difference.  For more info check out UK Rituximab Trial

Helsinki Marathon -why it looks awesome!

So I'm really looking forward to Helsinki.  Here's a few reasons why!
  • The route - a bit hilly but look how many islands I'm running over (above), lush green parks and plenty of Baltic Sea views
  • The start - no congestion apparently (the scurge of the Prague race) and able to stride straight away.  Although we do start at 3pm (hottest part of the day), don't know why!
  • Support - although it's a much smaller field than Prague, approx 6,000 compared with over 10,000 it's well supported in the built up areas and there's a good (35 year) heritage to the race.
  • The finish - I'll be finishing in the Olympic Stadium, treading on the same track as those in the 1952 Olympics and also where Paula Radcliffe won the 2005 World Championships.  As I near the line my race number will trigger my name on the electronic scoreboard, that's pretty cool!
  • Helsinki itself - I've never been and maybe wouldn't normally go so it will be great to experience the culture, food and city before and after the race.

So next month I hope to bring you some news of my plans for Helsinki and a brief glimpse at what it's like for ME sufferers over there.  I'll be 2 weeks away from race day when I next write and on the 'taper' ready for the race having got through 109 more miles of probably very hot running!

Thanks again for your continued support everyone
Twitter: @mikeseumaras

Sunday, 7 June 2015

May Update

So this month I completed my first marathon in 14 years and the 2nd of my 28 Euro challenge! Prague Race Stats

I've written a full report on how it went with pics and links here:
Prague Race Report

Following the race I had a steak and a fair amount of lovely Pilsner Urquell.  I gave myself a week off to recover and heal, almost immediately coming down with a very heavy cold (good timing) -most likely my body's way of getting its own back.

The last few weeks have gone well.  The weather has been warm and a good challenge for Helsinki (where research points towards a 20-25C race) and I'm feeling more prepared from the lessons I've learnt.

Bristol to Pill towpath, my favourite training route

I've bought a foam roller which is proving invaluable in helping with strains and stiffness.  If you're wondering what that means, here's the video that I follow with exercises: Foam Rolling Exercises. It's no sub for a good sports massage but they can be expensive and I've decided to have one after my longest training run (20 miles) as a painful reward before I taper down towards the race.

I've been thinking a bit about next years races and I'm saving up to book one in August, most likely that it'll be Alexander The Great Marathon - Thessaloniki, Greece, April 3rd 2016 although this could well change, just waiting for more of the marathons to get dates confirmed.  The idea will be to try to do at least 4 next year.

Mevagissey harbour

I was lucky enough to get back to Cornwall last week and got out for a very hilly 11m run from Mevagissey to St Austell and back (Pentewan Trail).  The views were fantastic and it was good to get some hill work done as most of my runs in Bristol have been quite flat along rivers etc and the first 3 miles or so out of Mevagissey were very challenging.

I've been in touch with the folks at who have very kindly placed my challenge on the front page of their website and are giving me excellent support on Twitter.  It's an international community of events and actions for ME which is really great if I'm to reach more people around the world and raise awareness -cheers Rachael for all your help so far.


So, some brief thoughts on how to mentally survive long runs.

I read about this in Phil Hewitt's - 'The Highs And Lows Of A Marathon Addict' and have to say its something I would naturally do anyway but its proving to be quite helpful.

Let's say you're attempting a 14 mile run; this is really a 7 mile run.  Why?  Because it's 7 miles away from your house and then back.  Nonsensical I know but you've got to get home somehow so the mileage to come back doesn't really count.  Walking home 7 miles isn't really an option, I have no cash on me to get a cab or bus and calling someone to come get me is embarrassing.  Stay with me!

So when you get to 4 miles then that's over halfway in my mind (in my rationale that's 4 miles into a 7 mile run).  Reaching over halfway of the actual run (7m) always gives me a boost, I know I will get home and in terms of pain etc I'm over the worst of it.  When I get within 3 miles from the end I know that's the equivalent of my walk home from work which doesn't take long.  Applying my usual running pace to the mileage means I won't be running for much more than 25 mins, not a big deal when I've already run for an hour and a half or more.

In terms of a marathon, I break 26 miles into 3 sections.  Up to 8 miles is just a weekday after-work run to get warmed up.  The next 8 are when I'm 'in-flow' -the slightly meditative state that I've talked about before where you don't really feel like you're running, the mind is wandering and breathing is easy.  Then the final 10, well, that's usually all about survival.  Drawing upon experience, positive mantras and (towards the last 4 miles), clinging on for dear life etc etc.  Anyway, the most important thing I have in my locker is a successful marathon under my belt to call upon when the doubt creeps in.

That's it for now.  On the to-do list for next month is to find some folks to meet in Helsinki and make some noise in the press over there (and here) whilst fitting in some good training around Glastonbury Festival and a boozy work weekend away.

Cheers for your support and catch up in a few weeks.