Salisbury 54321

Another race to demonstrate my poor recollection of any race I ever do though I may have an excuse for this one. Last year Ian and I went to Salisbury the night before and decided to get absolutely hammered, just to see what would happen in the race. It actually went quite well, 3.45 in a 27 mile off road marathon. Or so I thought it was off road.

I arrived here in slightly better wear than last year, still really unfit but not quite so hungover. I got a lift with Oli and was taking advantage of his new found desire to do every race in the UK. And his mum's car...

This is a very well organised race considering it only costs £10 to enter and involves being given a page of directions. I don't recall from last year getting lost so was hopeful that I could just follow others and keep on track. It starts in Salisbury and takes a scenic loop passing 5 somethings 4 somthing elses 3 2 1 etc. I can't remember what is what. I remember a cathedral.

I ran the first half with Oli who had done a hilly 30 mile race the day before. Jen was also here doing her second trail marathon in as many weeks and it was great to see her ditch the road marathon rat race to join us in more fun surroundings. She set off like a bullet and I was in no mood to try and follow her. 

I was only accidentally a bit hungover for this one. I was supposed to meet Rob in the pub in central Westminster the night before, he ended up being late and hence I ended up getting pissed. It was purely an accident. I wasn't expecting to be able to keep up with Oli for long and certainly after I had to stop and do the Pope's job in the woods again. However I put on a bit of a sprint and caught him up again.

There was a lot more road running than I recalled from last year. At least two thirds is on road. I was disappointed with this although I was struggling with the off road sections. Oli left me on a grassy bit at about half way and ended up taking half an hour out of me. As Oli sped off I just felt like I'd hit a wall. I had no energy left. 

2 months ago while enjoying a really nice run I decided to change my life drastically and become a vegan. Now 2 months on while suffering again during a long run and feeling much worse in the same places I was running last year I decided to change it back. No more veganism. It was fun trying and I learn a lot about food. I'm sure it can be done by someone with more patience and time than me but that isn't me.

I struggled on, getting passed by people as my legs gave up. I thought a lot about the Spartathlon. In my current state there was no way I was going to finish it. I had a plan to run as much of August as possible and knew that I couldn't do it like this. Then I thought a lot about milkshake. How I ran so much without milkshake is beyond me.

The end of this race was quite funny from last year. Whoever puts out the markers obviously gets way to enthusiatic about it at the start and then realised after about 18 miles that he is running low on signs. Then the signs appear only every mile or so. Many got lost in the closing stages of the race. i seemed to know where to go from last year and stumbled in 4.01 or thereabouts. 15 minutes slower than last time. 

I want to remember this for a while. The shitty feeling of bad running so that I can feel better about good running. I have a massive month of running planned to get me into the shape I need to be for Greece. I'm going to start by eating some Haloumi. 

Day 35 - Not much to update on the Veganism thing

I said I'd painstakingly blog the details of my vegan experiment but I haven't. I think the reason for this is that it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It's not something I really think about too much and hence don't have a lot to say. I find it interesting in itself that there is nothing to report as that demonstrates what a small change it was.

It's now been 5 weeks. My diet is now more simple (mainly due to lack of culinary flair) but much healthier. Typical changes in the diet are;


  • Breakfast used to consist of toast with eggs and bacon, often a full fry up. Now tends to be just toast with beans and hash browns. I eat more baked beans that when I was a student.
  • I now tend to run/cycle to work on an empty stomach and eat when I arrive, rather than eat before and after
  • Lunch used to be Subway, Wasabi (stodgy curry) or pub lunch. Now found a couple of great places. Hummus Bros and Just Falafs (second best pun ever). 
  • Eating and drinking a lot more fruit than normal. Curtousy of innocent and Graze. Drinking less coffee and drinking more water.
  • Dinner is as usual (rice/pasta/wrap) based with tofu or fake meat instead of meat. Lots more veg than normal
  • Alcohol absorbing snacks tend to be chips (when I can find a chip shop in London, they are rare) or I just get home and destroy a tube (or 2) of pringles.


It's hard to say whether it's made any difference. I've lost about 6 pounds and to feel a bit lighter. I looked at the photo of me at the start of the GUCR this year and I looked a bit of a porker. I feel a bit better when actually running too. The important thing is that I am a bit more mobile when I'm running as it dawned on me by the end of the GUCR that I was not in a fit state to even finish the Spartathlon within the cut off time. 

There are a few times when it is a bit tricky though


  • I have found eating out hard (resorting mainly to chips when I don't know what to have) and I have relaxed the beer counting. I find it hard to remember all of the beers on that list that I am allowed to have and as soon as I encountered a bar with none in I just went for what everyone else was having. 
  • I have found it difficult when I forget to take food to a race. I usually forget because I am hungover. This happened in the Tanners 30 where I had several tubes of pringles at home and didn't bring any. I could not eat the cake on offer from a friend who made it especially
  • I'm going to be pretty difficult to cook for in the rare instances where I am invited to be cooked for. 
  • Going abroad is going to be hard. I am off to Switzerland this weekend and am not sure about how I'm going to eat. I obviously need to as I have 49 miles of mountains to run but it will be difficult in a country famed for cheese and meat. (and little knives, clocks and fence sitting)


Other than that everything is all good. Looking forward to a proper kebab in Sparta though.


Vegan Experiment - Day 1

At the end of the first day of not eating animals I actually feel a bit stuffed. I may have overdone it food wise today, Tofu and rice, Hummus and falafel wraps, lots of fruit juice and half a can of pringles. Not sure whether this will have the weight loss effect I was hoping for.

I have received mixed reactions from peope I've been speaking to about doing this. Mainly derision from people who know me and encouragement from those who don't. As I've mentioned before I am not completely clear as to why I am doing this, I just want to try something radical and see how it goes.

My decision to go completely vegan has been influenced by two things (at least). My inability to moderate and my desire to not cut down on my alcohol consumption. There are plenty more reasons that may fall out of my unconsious brain over the coming weeks.

I find it harder to moderate than I do to switch things off. I know that I could lose weight, get faster, run better etc by eating less of the things that are bad. This is something I can't really control though. I live in constant danger of thinking "one kebab won't hurt" and "well I'm out now I may as well have the biggest burger on the menu". I know that one will always lead to more. In this respect fast food for me is just like nicotene, trans-fats and reality TV; the only safe level of consumption is zero.

And I just don't want to give up alcohol or even cut down much. I love that I have the chance to drink and socialise so much. My alcohol consumption is probably higher than the 28 units suggested by whoever, maybe it's closer to 40. I wouldn't say it's out of control. I do like to get drunk and stupid.

So whenever I say what I am doing the two most common "Why don't you just" responses I get involve cutting down on the beer or moderating my food. "Why not be just a normal vegetarian?" Because I'll binge on cheese and eggs. There is a chance I may do the same with falafel and hummus.

And where is the experimental experience of moderating? Like saying "I won't bite my nails". I wouldn't expect any life changing experience from that.

I've just been assigned a mentor from the Society of Vegans which is quite exciting. They offer help to any new starters. I think the first questions I'm going to be asking are about beer.

Anyhoo, loads to write but no more time today. Us celery eaters need our sleep.

Vegan Experiment - T Minus 1 Day

I’ve just emptied my fridge and cupboards of anything containing traces of animals, including the spider that has been living there for some time. All this food is now sitting in a pile on my kitchen table waiting for my housemates to dive in.

I have just been shopping and bought some of the vegan foods that I would normally ridicule. Soya milk, tofu, carrot batons and so forth. Luckily there are lots of foods that I really like in there. Pringles (Lime and Chilli flavour), falafel, hummus, coco pops etc. I’m currently finishing off the chicken I have left and then that’s it.

I have decided to attempt 3 months eating as a vegan. During this time I plan on running more than I ever have done before and the 3 months will cumulate with the Spartathlon; a 153 mile road race in Greece.

This is something I put about 20 minutes thought into on Wednesday morning before I decided on doing it. I’d just been reading “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal and was getting ideas about how to enjoy running more. He made a great case for saying that humans are naturally able to run long distances and without having to eat animals to do it. A year ago I would have laughed, now I really want to put it to the test.

Why Not?

I decided to do this before I really thought about why. All conversations I’ve had with people since are demanding answers to this question. “Why not decide what you want to achieve, think of all the options, weight up the pros and cons and then make a decision?” is the usual response I get. Instead I’ve made the decision and feel I have to retrofit a justification. There obviously was some reason, conscious or otherwise as to why I’m doing this. Some thoughts that don’t quite add up to a proper explanation are;

· I can’t think of a time this year so far that I’ve really enjoyed a run. I can think of lots last year, regardless of time where I’ve actual just loved the fact that I was running. This year everything has been a disaster just because each run I have done I’ve wanted nothing more than for it to finish. I suspect this has something to do with the shit I put into my body.

·I want to lose some weight. I am 13.5 stone and want to get down to 12. I’ve admitted defeat in every being able to “moderate” anything. I know I can’t just “cut down” on fatty foods, booze or sugar, I need to have some strict rule that eliminates this. I still plan on eating a lot and drinking a lot too. The last thing I want to do is curb my drinking. I hope that by completely changing my eating habits I can do this.

·I kind of want to prove a point made in the book. The author suggests that we don’t need meat and the best ultra-runner in the world would agree. I could read more books about it and talk to more people about it, or I could just experiment on myself. If nothing else it will at least be an experience.

·I want to nail the Spartathlon.

The best that could happen is that I could lose 2 stone, feel healthier than I ever have done before, run better and enjoy it more and have a great race in September. The worst that could happen is that I mess up my race and feel a bit miserable. Small price to pay. Actually I am aware that this may make me ill, or just look like a dick but I’m not too worried about that.

The Bonehead Questions.

Since running long distance I have had to suffer a constant stream of stupid questions. Maybe stupid is a bit harsh but I get fed up of answering the same things over and over again...

1. Isn’t it really bad for your knees? - NO
2. Don’t you get bored when running? - NO
3. You must get through lots of trainers? – Well, yes. Obviously.
4. What was your average pace in [Insert trail ultra here]? – Dunno. Don’t care really since “average” does not really mean anything here.
5. Do you stop to eat and go to the toilet? - Well yes obviously. No actually, let’s say no. I just carry on running and shit myself to save a few seconds.

I feel like I’ve got the answers sussed to these, however I am now being exposed to a new series of questions for which I don’t yet know the answers. I’m confident that the answers are there though. So far I’ve had...

1. How will you get enough protein?
2. How will you get enough energy for all the running you do?
3. How will you get enough nutrients?
4. Won’t you get bored?

So..... Day 1 tomorrow. I’ve already cooked my tofu/pepper/rice thingy to have for lunch. I’m looking forward to it.