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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Jan 2016 Update

Hi everyone, quick update on how the start of the 2nd year of the challenge is going.

I've clocked up 76 miles for January (about 55 more than the previous month!) and it all ramps up from here as I get back on the horse for another year of running around Europe.  Every night I'm not running I'm doing weights, stretches and core work (45 mins) which I hope will make the races much easier.

Also just hit a sort of landmark since I started working on the challenge, I've hit 1000 miles!

Highlights of the first 1000 miles, approx 7000 to go!

Injured or not?

Unlike last year I've jumped straight into running 6 miles on Tues and Thurs nights home from work.  It's quite likely that this was a bad decision as I have struggled a bit throughout the month with as yet undiagnosed lower leg pains.  The weird thing is that I'm running without any pain at all, in fact I'm now running as well as last year at my peak.  But immediately after a run and overnight I get a warm, dull ache down both legs that no amount of foam-rolling or ice will rectify.

Hello ice, my old friend

I wondered if it was shin splints but having read up on it I'm not convinced.  Anyway, it's all in hand and I have a sports-massage next week.  If that doesn't sort it I'll have to head off to the doctors.  My latest guess is that it's a lot of tangled muscle fibres and the legacy of my run in Dublin last October, I've not had a massage since September so I'm optimistic that this will help sort it before the mileage goes up in Feb.

UK Marathon Chat and Website Additions

Every Tuesday from 8-9pm I've been passing on my limited marathon knowledge to others as part of #UKMarathonchat.  I've really enjoyed answering questions and learning more myself from more experienced runners.  They've been good sports and retweeted info about ME and my challenge to their followers (2800 and growing fast) and it's been good to hear about new ideas/products/reads and more from them.

It inspired me to add a couple of new pages to my site:

Running Gear - a summary of what I've acquired and use in races and where to get them

Running Reads - a so far small selection of great books that have helped me improve

Winter runs past the Clifton Suspension Bridge, much colder than it looks here!

Lessons learned from my first 1000 miles

  •  Don't listen to anyone who says you can't/won't do it
  •  Do listen to other runners. Read, ask questions, learn from your mistakes
  •  Recovery is just as important as the run itself (ice, rest, foam rolling, massage)
  •  I'm not built for speed but tell me the distance and I'll go run it
  •  Run your own race, you'll catch everybody up in the latter stages
  •  The race is a celebration that training is over (26.2 miles vs 300 miles)
  •  Under 4 hrs in a marathon is possible even with a partially torn ACL
  •  People in Europe are super-friendly (more so than a lot of the UK in fact!)
  •  Decent running shoes are essential
  •  Alcohol/junk food and running don't mix, running requires discipline 

Energy gels and mid-race nutrition

If you've ever tried energy gels you'll probably agree with me that they're a bit like sugary snot.  I'm not sure how much of their use is psychosomatic and I found from my last marathon that banana pieces and jelly babies were much more effective in 'wall' prevention and a big sugar crash.  Having read Christopher McDougall's 'Born To Run' which tracks the Tarahumara Indians (the ultra-running tribe from Mexico) I've cooked up a superfood called Pinole.

Pinole cakes for the longer runs

Here's how to make it:

  1. Dry out 2 corn cobs
  2. Cook corn until brown
  3. Add 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  4. Stir in 2 tbsp of chia/hemp seeds
  5. Throw in 1 tsp of salt
  6. Add 3 tbsps of honey
  7. Let it dry out in the fridge for a bit

I'll let you know what it's like as I'm trialling it on next weekend's long run!

Marathon 5/28: Thessaloniki (Alexander The Great, Sunday 3rd April 2016)

So I've been reaching out to any English speaking organisations in Greece for some help with finding media and ME charity contacts.  I've tried British Consulates, trade organisations, private medical companies, press desks and forums.  So far not too much to report but I have found someone who has agreed to help who has had ME for over 20 years (more info to come in the next update).

Easy I hear you say? Hmmm

I'm learning more about this marathon (good and bad).


  • It's mostly downhill!
  • The route itself looks quite picturesque in places (rolling countryside, ruins and architecture and beach/harbour at the end)
  • There'll be plenty of room to run, less than 2000 runners.
  • The weather is expected to be around 15-18C and more than likely wet.


  • I need to be on the bus to be dropped off at the start line at 5am, this will make it a little tricky planning my breakfast and more than likely a lot of hanging around before the race starts at 8am.
  • 24 miles of virtually no crowd support.

Other news:

Running Stories: Just discovered this website, hoping to be featured (more info soon)

Invest In ME Annual Conference, May 3rd 2016: I'll be in Stockholm preparing to race when this takes place but great to hear that there could be a collection bucket and a bit of publicity on the day.

IIMEC11 - 11th Invest in ME Research International ME Conference 2016

That's it for this month, thanks all for your support and good wishes. Big shout to Tony Bradstock for posting this on facebook which had no fewer than 137 likes and 67 shares!




Total Sponsorship Raised: £2549
Facebook Followers: 204 (eek, I've lost two)
Twitter Followers: 639
Miles covered: 76
Average temp: 4C
Lessons learned: Recovering properly is equally as important as the running itself