Monday, 4 November 2019

Review October - Started, keep consistant

  • I  have run more than 250km in  October, which is more than in the previous few months.

  • I have run  more intensively and according to Garmin my intensity minutes are higher than in the previous few months.
  • Intensity
  • I have swam  more,  if only a little bit more.
  • I have kept my weight under under 80kg and stopped it osscilating soo much. I also have an answer to the weight issue.  Too many junk kms and too much weight training added to the stiff arteries means my insulin system is encouraged to store food as fat.  I am reassessing my diet and training. I aim  to eat early and then reduce the calories during the day. Less carbs & salt ( I love salt) more protein and fats.  I am  the  cutting the junk kms and weight training for the next two weeks until the next assesment at the Metobolic institute.


  • I have stopped smoking.
  • I have stopped drinking beer, although I have had a few glasses of scotch and wine.
I feel a lot better in myself and can see we are going somewhere.  I still have mood swings,  but they seem less frequent and easier to manage. I have built a couple of troops of friends to keep me  going and they are helping a lot. My Cooper test result has gone from 2.4km  to 2.6km meaning a VO2max improvement from  42.37 to 46.84 ml/kg/min.   When I go boudlering I feel a lot stronger.

So we have some real improvement and we just need to keep going!

Remember your tats, troop and training

Only a short update today as I have already written about the major finding here

What I really wanted to remind myself of is how to deal with the dpressive swings, such as I had last weekend.

1) Remember that you have invested a lot in your symbolic tattoos and to use the underlying symbology to bring yourself up.  The Dragon tries to unbalance the Yin and Yang,  The Buddha uses the Dhrama wheel to rebalance the Yin  and Yang.  The Enso shows nothing needs to be  perfect,  The Water Basin shows you already know what you need to know and the Blue Feather shows you can reach your goals.
2) Remember that you have a lot of people  who really care about you and that you can always talk to them about your moods.  Don't wait until you are on the way up, use them on the way down as well.  They will be keen to help.
3) If all else, fails just go for a fucking run, YOU TWAT!.

Week 44 Done

Week 45 Plan 

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Finally we have an answer

I went to the Institut für Stoffwechselforschung ( Institute of Metabolism Research) in  Frankfurt and met with Dr Thomas Konrad.  Since 2001, the ISF is the only German study center to participate in the EU-funded RISC study ( ) "Relationship between Insulin Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Risk" (QLRT-CT-2001-01252). The study includes healthy 1500 people aged between 30 and 60 throughout Europe. It looks at the effects of lifestyle, environmental factors as well as gender-specific features on the insulin action and atherosclerosis in the long-term course are examined. Currently the 3rd follow-up is in progress since 2001 . In the meantime, more than 60 publications have been published that cover the aspects of "genomics", "proteomics" and "metabolomics".

So I think it is fair to say these people know what they are talking about.  I explained that I am running 50-100km  a week,  eat a healthy diet but my weight is always going up.  I have added weight training and more core work to the running to help improve things,  all to no avail.

Dr Konrad reviewed all the test result of various bloods, blood pressure and heart and thyroid exams.  He was of the opinion  that somewhere my body is under stress causing it to use the insulin  to store food as fat.  He noted my family history where my father died of a stopped heart at 79 and my mother diabetes  The issue was,  given my healthy heart and good blood results there was nothing to indicate where.  

Thus I went through several hours of tests.  The first was to monitor my blood pressure  over a period where I first lay down and rested,  then stood,  then sat and stood and finally sat  and breathed deeply.  Then a lung function test.  Finally a test on  a stationary bike with a ECG and respiration  mask  to monitor how my body reacts under physical stress.  

The first two where as expected showing a healthy heart,  with the only thing of note being the change when I went from  sitting to standing not being as good as expected. 

The bike test was interesting, I cycled against increasing resistance and got up to 150 watts which I was told was good, especially as I didn't break into a sweat.  

They measure my VO2 max whic was 48, again rather good.  Then they found the issue.  The measure of Pulse Wave Velocity   which indicates arterial stiffness was rather bad.  This was the cause of the stress and thus the weight gain. I am trying to do too much

Dr Konrad wanted me  to do the following things 

1) Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a farmer and dinner like pauper.
2) Eat low slow carbs and protein. 
3) Change training to reduce/remove long endurance runs and strength training
4) Focus on interval training

I have another appointment in two weeks to review the effects of the change.

I have asked several questions 

1) How long should each interval session be? 30mins?  60mins?
2) How long should each intervals be? 
3) How long should the recovery be 1min 2 min? More?
4) How frequent should the session be?
5) Is a swim recovery session of < 30mins once a week ok to do?
6) I take it no weights or core work like sit ups should be done?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Lost weekend

Sunday I hit rock bottom and did nothing.  No long run,  not even a short one.
I didn't do anything about it at the time, but then tapped into my support network talked to some  friends on  Monday and they made me  feel a lot better. I could have contacted them on Sunday instead of waiting,  then I would have at least done  a little run.

I made a good recovery by doing  intervals with a colleague in his mid thirties.  In the last weeks weeks we have done two interval sessions, 1min and then 3mins...repeated 6 times. On both of these he was easily quicker than me.
Yesterday we did 8mins repeated 3 times,  he was fucked on the second one..and whipped on the third. 

Now I know you shouldn't compare oneself against others...but it did feel good.

I am trying to modify the plan to include everything required and doable.  The trouble is if I don't get up at 5 during the week I miss some  of the important  core training.  I can try and squeeze one in evening.  I have added a third easy run to the flat so now I'll be  doing that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday evening I really want to go running,  but as that is after the 4hour journey home  it is a bit of struggle. Swimming is getting better and I think this is the week  I do two swims.

Tuesday night I am doing an unplanned weight session in a gym...this might be  an issue as it is my first visit to a gym in twenty five years.

Week 43 Done

Week 44 Planned

Monday, 21 October 2019

It's coming back

I had a really good week with almost all the training I planned to do completed. The diary is also been kept up to date. I felt really bad on Monday morning,  but then my mood swung on Tuesday and I had a good run to the flat. I did some intervals and then a run to the  flat on Wednesday.  Felt really tired on  Thursday but still did the Stairs and abs workouts.  The only bad day was Friday when I ran out of steam on a short 10km run. I rested with re-planting our sky bed in the garden on Saturday and then rounded off the week with a 30km  run  taking the week's distance to over 80km. Quiet pleased with that and my weight is slowly improving and on  target for 1kg a week. 

I rejoined the organising committee of the British Spartathon  Team and read some very nice comments on my return, which was good for my mood.

This week I want to go longer on the Stairs and add the weighted jacket.  I will go longer on the swim  on Wednesday and add a second swim,  maybe Friday or Saturday.

Week 42 Done

Week 43 Plan

Monday, 14 October 2019

Old runners don't die, their blogs just fade away

Last week I had  good start to the week and then trailed off,  Friday I was very busy with work and doctors appointments and didn’t find the time  to train.  Saturday I was working at a friend's house building a porch roof.  Sunday I went out and just felt knacked.

This week I have less appointments on  Friday and will just aim  for one  long run.  I have added a few goals into the weekly plan as when they go green that motivates me.

Week 41 Done

Week 42 Planned 

The good news is that the weight is under control and the gain  is stable.  Ok I am still only just under 80kgs but at least it is not going up.  14 days of no smoking or drinking has helped.  I am going to start reducing  the sugary and junk carb snacks with the aim of eliminating them by next week. 


Just before writing this entry, I saw in the autocomplete of a couple of blogs I used to follow.  They are very outdated and the runners just seemed to have lost interest.  I don't want to be like that.  I am determine to get back and qualify for Sparathalon and finish well.  I will update this weekly to keep me on track,  if only for Firmen :-)


I had the outlining done for my new tattoo on the right shoulder blade. Ao Guang the Dragon King of the East Sea brings chaos to the world and upsets the balance of the yin and yang on the left,  while the Bhudda and the Dhrama seek to restore the natural balance. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ten days & a book

It is ten days since I last partook  of cigarettes or alcohol.  Quite pleased with that.

I am keeping the little red diary up to date and sticking to the training program as well. Each I record my weight and the count down to the next Spratathlon and the Athens 24 hour run which will be  my qualifier.

Currently I am reading The Champion Mindset.  It is as if someone  had written down the Whit and Wisdom of Mark Cockbain and added some longer words. Which just goes to show we already know what we need to know (wara tada taru shiru.)

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Back to work

I am travelling back into work for the first time in two weeks after a truely inspiring two weeks.
I determined to get fit enough to first qualify for Spartathlon,  then finish it and finally finish it well.
There is only one person stopping me. And we all know who that is.
I have managed to run everyday day since I have been back and cut the smoking and drinking booze. I never find it difficult to quit either of those things in terms of a chemical addiction.  Once you have been on the hard stuff, a bit nicotine or alcohol is easy to drop.
I have a moleskin diary for the year ahead to keep me accountable and responsible for my actions on a daily  basis.
Several people are tracking my progress as well. I just need to commit for less than a year to achieve this goal. Simples

Friday, 4 October 2019

Ware tada taru shiru

This coming week I am taking inspiration  from the tsukubai that stands in the grounds of the Ryōan-ji temple in Kyoto,

The kanji written on the surface of the stone are without significance when read alone. If each is read in combination with 口 (kuchi) - the shape of the central bowl - then the characters become 吾, 唯, 足, 知 which translates literally as "I only know plenty" (吾 = ware = I, 唯 = tada = only, 足 = taru = plenty, 知 = shiru = know). One of the underlying meaning "what one has is all one needs".
In other words I already know what I need to know to finish Spartathlon. 
I like this idea so much I have the lid of the basin tattooed  on my arm.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Spartathon 2019 Get 2020 done

I have just got back from  crewing Paul Ali on  Spartathlon.  I returned in a lot better mood than last year and rather inspired. It was nice chilling with Tom for the six days.  We met too many people to list in detail and came away with load of stories.

Me, Paul, Alex and Tom

Paul and me at the finish

Sasha, me, Lance with Tom in front

Paul's Special shirt

Special care

Some of the stories that stick out

Meeting & helping all the runners and crews all through the race, but mainly at CP22.

Running down the road after Jonni  screaming "safety pin" with Gill Thomas shouting back "I have one:" I think the help we both offer  makes Gill and me  the Spartathlon Mom & Dad.

Getting the South African  lady auto assistance at midnight in Ancient Nemea to "fix" her car that wouldn't start.  It was a true blonde moment...the car was still in gear.

Getting Steven Carr to eat after throwing up loads of black bile at Lykria

Getting a lady s caps at Nestani fro her runner despite the fact she was very rude.

Hearing "Hello, hello" very quitely at Nestani,  looking round and not finding anyone there.  I thought I was hallucinting,  but it was Steven Scobies partner who is shorter than me and I had looked over her head.

Hanging out with our Tom, Sasha, Lance, Rowli, Handsome Tom at checkpoints  on day two.

Seeing Jonni running down the road screaming "PEANUTS! I AM EATING PEANUTS" immediately before he threw them back up.

Talking to the poor DNFers and understanding, especially after four failures myself,  how hard it is.  I don't think the runners who finish this  race the first time, can truely appreciate how bad, how disappointed, how truely sick with themselves,  a runner who has put years of effort to get into this race and then DNFed feels.

I spent Monday evening getting drunk with two of them and became more inspired.

I got myself a little red Moleskin and have started to get fit myself.  I have just less than 100 days to get ready for the Athens 24 hour and get a qualifier...
As Mark Cockbain would say "JUST GET IT DONE!"

30 days days of praise

As a reward for actually finishing a race a friend offered to send me 30 days of praise. Needless to say he was not expecting me to finish and was then stuck with having to come up with 30 days of sarcasm dressed up as praise.  I think he did rather well...You may even guess who this smug sarcastic  shitebag is. if you do,  slap him one  from me.

Day 1:  Good morning Rob. May I compliment you on your ability to walk quickly in big circles. I hope you are fit and well today.

Day 2: Good morning Rob. May I offer my congratulations on your run last weekend. I was impressed with your efforts especially for a man of your age.

Day 3: Felicitations good sir and may I tip my hat in your direction after your recent run. It may have been an effort but remember sweat is just all your body fat crying.
Day 4: Hiiiyyyaaa lovely, briiillllliant run on the weekend. U R Ammmmmmaaaazzzing. U ok now hun?

Day 5: Good morning Rob. May I compliment you on your sterling display of intestinal fortitude and mental resilience at last weekends race. I hope to see a further display of these traits at ALL your races going forward.
Day 6: Hey awesome effort dude, great race at the weekend. I knew from the start that you were going to crush it. You got this man!

Day 7: Morning Rob. Running for 24 hours is not just for the elite, young, gifted, athlete. You have proven anyone can do it, congratulations!

Day 8: Morning Rob. You may not be talented. You may not be the best. You work hard. You don’t give up (much). You keep going. You cross start lines. You cross finish lines. YOU ARE A RUNNER!

Day 9: Morning Rob, your third best 24 hour ever is still better than no run at all. Congratulations!
Day 10: Rob, salutations and greetings. Remember the runner you were before your race was weak compared to the one you are today.

Day 11: Rob, I admire your physical ability to withstand many miles on your feet and your mental toughness. You sir are a stable genius! Anyone who says otherwise is spreading FAKE NEWS!!!

Day 12: Morning Rob. Not everyone will understand why you get up at 5am and run before the sun, in the rain or when it’s cold. That’s ok, you’re here to live your life, not make them understand.... and also to have something to write on your blog.

Day 13: 
Rob, epic effort at the recent race. Never be afraid of being slow. Just be afraid of not trying at all.

Day 14: Good morning Rob, I was thinking about your recent run and it struck me that the miracle was not that you finished the race but you had the courage to start.

Day 15: Good morning Rob, I hope you are recovering well from your recent run. Well done on the finish, I’m glad you didn’t listen to all the doubters who said you couldn’t do it.

Day 16: Morning Rob, congratulations on your recent run. Most impressive considering a man of your size needs to take twice as many steps as other people. Well done!

Day 17: Good morning Rob, congratulations on your recent 126.8km run over 24 hours. Did you know that the 24hr world walking record is only 190km? You should definitely aim for that in the future.

Day 18: Good morning Rob. You sir have proven that you don’t need a runners body to run but you need to run to get a runners body.

Day 19: Good morning Rob, congratulations on finishing the race. Remember slow runners make fast runners look good and I’m sure they appreciated your efforts at your recent race.

Day 20: Congratulations on your third best 24 hour run of 126.8 (I assume you meant miles not km). Very well done!

Day 21: Good morning Rob, may I extend my heart felt praise for a good run. Remember, pain is temporary but your time posted on the internet lasts forever...

Day 22: Good morning Rob. Congratulations on your recent race result. Remember that finished near the back will always trump Did Not Finish which will always trump Did Not Start.

Day 23: Good morning Rob. Congratulations on your recent run, I was particularly impressed by your ability to drag out 126.8km over an entire 24 hour period. Your persistence was most admirable.

Day 24: Good morning Rob. Congratulations on your recent race. Your race strategy to start slowly and maintain a slow pace throughout the entire race showed great determination and discipline particularly when others were running much faster than you.

Day 25: Good morning Rob. Congratulations on your recent run. I was most impressed by your ability control your emotions during the race. It appears you are learning the ability to take personal responsibility for your performances. Well done, this is the first step to becoming an ok runner.

Day 26: Good morning Rob, I salute you on your recent run. The way you demonstrated your incredible navigational skills to avoid ANY bonus mileage during that race was particularly impressive.

Day 27: Good morning Rob. Awesome race man, awesome. Your ability to carry all that body fat around for 24 hours period without breaking down and comparing yourself to much thinner runners was most impressive. Kudos to you sir!

Day 28:  Good morning Rob, congratulations on your recent ultra-athlon. Your ability to stay awake and maintain a brisk walking pace for 24 hours was amazing. I am in awe of your physical and mental capabilities. Legend!

Day 29: Good morning Rob and well done on your recent run. Did you know that a body fat % of over 25% is considered clinically obese? So despite only covering 128.6km in 24 hours, if you consider the fact that you were pushing 29% body fat then I think that must be a herculaneum effort. Much respect to you sir

Day 30: Good morning Rob, well done on your recent run. It was adequate.

Bonus One: Hey Rob, I’ve just passed 126.8km into the race in 15.5 hours and it made me think how amazing it was you managed to spread that distance out across a full 24 hour period. Your mental determination to maintain a slow pace was incredible.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Bottrop 24hour Rave Report : better than washing 25kg Fosse Septique's Charcoal basket.

That went well!
A lot better than expected and I conquered my demons. More to the point I know where they come from and how to get rid of them now. 

Bottrop is less than an hour from the flat I stay in during the week so I  jumped on the trains and made my  way there.
I met an old friend Bridget Brady and a couple of her pals. Which is always nice.
Me and Bridget
Sarah & Bridget in the front, me a little bit behind

The race is a 1.2km loop around a park. Fairly flat and mostly tarmaced path. There is a well stocked refreshments tent staffed by very experienced people. 

I placed my gear just after the refreshments tent. I bought a chair with me to rest on and a couple of bags. One bag had clothes in and the other stocked with food.
Me & my gear

The clothes consisted of 

  • Loads of t shirts
  • Four pairs of shorts
  • Undershorts( to cut down on chaffing)
  • Loads of socks
  • Several Warm layers
  • A space blanket ( because sometimes I get very cold)
  • Buffs, hats and gloves
The food consisted of

  • A couple boxes of peanut butter porridge
  • Rice puddings and greek yoghurt 
  • Some snicker sticks
  • Gels and tailwind 
The race started at 11am which I think is a good time. Those that start later mean you have longer to go after sunrises on the second day. As I wrote in the pre race blog I was determined to keep my head straight. Ian Hopkins my running pal in Germany was convinced that it was to do with the gels so I wanted to stay off them.

I coated my under carridge in vaseline and resolved to renew that very hour. The first couple of hours went well in the heat .  I was taking proper five minute walking breaks every 30 mins. I would eat a bit of peanut butter porridge each 30 minutes. I changed my shirt every three hours shorts & socks every six hours 

The timings I have are
18km in twos hours

33km four and a rice pudding

40km in five

47km in six and a complete kit change and a Greek yoghurt.

68km in nine and then eased off to keep my head straight 
100km  in 18! wow that was slow
Then my time keeping and note taking went a bit off. I was focusing on my four pebble breathing meditation. 
I also enjoyed myself chatting to people I know. One guy recognized me from my Spartathlon finish and said they used me as an example.

" You went back four times and finally finished it in your fifties" 

Which was nice. Another guy,  one of the official timers,  recognized me from TorTourdeRuhr from 2014 as he leant me  his phone so that I could quit.  This time  I was determined not to.

I know I  took a couple of half hour breaks overnight and walked a lot. An awful lot. I bored poor Sarah with my incessant chatter.

Some time around four am I was eating some peanut butter porridge and chucked it back up. This didn't upset me at all and I kept my head straight. I just walked back to my kit, sat down, brushed my teeth and took some mouthwash. Then I got up and kept going.

Zebra thinking!

I was mainly eating TUC biscuits and brezels. No gels at all. 

I liked that I continued to the end and covered just over 126 km in the 24 hours. So a rubbish distance to be expected as I am very heavy at nearly 80 kgs. 
I  felt really  good in the last few hours. So much so that I worked out with a bit of effort I could get my third best distance for a 24hour. Which I just went and did.

Very happy as you see from the medal picture. 

Lessons learned
  • The biggest was that I can keep my head straight by staying off the gels
  • Vaseline and lots of it stops chaffing
  • just keeping going and mediating
I am now looking at another 24hour to get that pesky Spartathlon qualifier.  

Thanks to those that have inspired me ( Mark , Fish,  Jo & Nicky) and those that have cajoled me, you know who you are and what you are. But most of all to those that have supported me especially my wife and sister.