Launching RunSpark

I am incredibly excited and pleased to be able to finally announce the launch of RunSpark. This is something that came to me as an idea just a couple of weeks ago and following lots of late nights and the help of some great people, it is now ready to launch.

RunSpark is a charity evening of running-related motivational and inspiring talks to spark that belief in all runners that they can do more with their running.

Whether you’re building up to your first parkrun or stepping up to a 100 mile ultramarathon, the principal and confidence required is the same. RunSpark will help you realise that you can do it, that you are so much more capable than you ever knew.

As if that wasn’t good enough, RunSpark is a charity event run entirely as a non-profit making fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support. All proceeds from the evening go directly to the charity.

There will also be goody bags for all attendees as well as a super awesome RunSpark Raffle with some incredible prizes.

So please check out http://www.runspark.co.uk for more information. I fully expect tickets to sell quickly so don’t hang around if you think it sounds like a good night.

For up to the minute updates on how it’s going and what is building up in the raffle stash then follow RunSpark on Twitter at @_RunSpark.

To find out more about it, who is speaking and why you really don’t want to miss out, do go and check it out today.

Talking The Talk

I always find invisible turntables are best for scratching

On the weekend of 22nd/23rd November I was invited to talk as part of the seminar programme at The Running & Endurance Sport Show, in Sandown Park, Surrey. Always keen to talk to a crowd and meet new people I jumped at the opportunity and polished up (read: shortened) my presentation about the story behind Fat Man to Green Man ready for the weekend.

K43 – where magic happened

After looking over the rest of the seminar list I saw that triathlon and endurance coach Mark Kleanthous was also talking so I dropped him a message to see what his talk would be about, mostly so we didn’t duplicate (bearing in mind that Mark is an MdS finisher and has completed over 1000 event in his 31 years of running). I needn’t have worried.

I’d never met Mark before and he was generous enough to allow me take up residence on his stand for the weekend to talk to people and sell a few books. This was incredibly kind of him and I was extremely grateful. It was also hugely eye-opening to hear him talk to people about the services he offers and his in-depth knowledge of endurance events was amazing.

I for one will certainly be speaking to him myself when it comes to looking more into what extra help I will need in my bigger challenges next year. If you are looking for endurance or triathlon coaching, I would highly recommend speaking to Mark. What he doesn’t know about endurance events simply isn’t worth knowing. Look him up, his website is: http://www.ironmate.co.uk

My seminar slot was 12:30 both days and although I had 45 minutes, and I had “shortened” my presentation, I still managed to go off-piste and end up having to wrap up a bit towards the end. Both days the talk went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The audiences were attentive, interested and more importantly stayed to listen.

The weekend also gave me a chance to meet many people who I had spoken to online, either via the uber-supportive #ukrunchat group on Twitter or via my own Facebook page for the book. It’s always funny to meet people you kind of feel like you know, and yet have no real idea what they look like. They all seem like such nice people online, but would they be in real life?

I’m happy to report that they were. Everyone I met over the entire weekend was really nice and many had positive and inspiring stories of their own as well as plenty of nice things to say about the book. When you write something like a book it’s always hard to know how it will be received. Reading feedback and reviews online is always nice, but to meet somebody face-to-face and to have them tell you how much they enjoyed it and be able to discuss the things in the story was great fun.

Obligatory run selfie

Being that I am currently on a runstreak I needed to run on the Sunday morning and not knowing the area at all I had the option of running out and back on a straight road (which I did on Saturday evening), or reach out for help. I chose the later and luckily online running buddy Glitter Mouse, who grew up in the area, was around and was more than happy to take me on a trawl through the woods early on Sunday morning.

So at 6:30AM, much the bemusement of the guy working on reception in my hotel (who had seen me go out for a run only twelve hours before), I walked out into the wet morning to meet a complete stranger to go for a run in the woods, in the dark, with no knowledge of where I was. This is the kind of stuff your mum tells you to never do, but my mum wasn’t there so I did it anyway.

She could of had a gun or a knife, but as it turned out, being a vegan, she didn’t even have a butter knife. I should add that neither of us had a headtorch with us either, which made the darkness all the more enveloping.

There was one point at which I was convinced I was being led into the abyss. Luckily it was just a field that was temporarily masquerading as a lake. Squelch.

We ran up some hills, through some woods, past the pond of juvenile naughtiness and back down to civilisation before ending up back at my hotel, still in the rain, still in the dark.

As I waltzed back into the car park I was looked upon with some suspicion, as if I was some kind of lunatic, by a handful of smokers enjoying both the slow onset of cancer and the winter rain. Who were the crazy ones I wondered? Thanks so much to Glitter Mouse for showing me around, it was a fun run and proof not everybody is a crazed psychopath.

Following my meaty cooked breakfast I headed back to the show where the rain continued to drop from the sky which made the 5K and 10K races somewhat soggy. Even this didn’t deter the runners though, hardy bunch of souls we are, as the races continued anyway.

The rest of Sunday was much the same as Saturday, with me getting to put faces to names and say hello to all manner of friendly people I’d never met before.

Run for your sprouts

One couple I met were James and Claudia, who are the brains behind adventrunning.com and are trying to encourage as many people as possible to take on a short runstreak of twenty-five days in December. It’s a great idea at a time when a lot of people find their lives get “too busy” to run.

The aim is to run for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, each day, between the 1st and the 25th of December. After that you can carry on for the rest of the month, or take a break with the knowledge that you’ll be able to start the New Year in fighting form and ready to smash out some new PBs.

To help motivate people along the way there are a collection of spot prizes and events, together with a Facebook group, Strava club and a Twitter campaign to help keep people moving through the last month of the year.

As a runstreak runner myself I think it’s a great idea and can only help get others going into the New Year in better shape than they would be. On the face of it running every day might seem tough, but we are all much stronger than we know and lots of people will be surprised with the results. To help the cause along I gave them a couple of signed books as spot prizes, so hopefully somebody will be pleased to get a copy for keeping running towards their turkey.

Overall I had a great weekend. I spoke to lots of people about the book, met old friends and made new ones. With the confirmation just having rolled in for more talks at The Run Expo in Manchester in March 2015, I’m looking forward to another weekend of the same soon. I’ll see you there.

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When I’m 64 (Runstreak Days In)

RS64Sixty-four is the square of 8, the cube of 4, and the sixth power of 2. It’s represented in binary as 1000000, the code for international direct dial calls to New Zealand and the subject of a Beatles song.

All these things are what I normally think of when I think of sixty-four. Except today. Today it also has another significance – it is the number of  consecutive days I have been running so far. My runstreak.

Sure it’s not the biggest number of days anyone has run for, Ron Hill has been running everyday since 1964, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to match that, but I’m going to keep going for a good while yet.

Why run everyday? Why not? I set myself a minimum distance of 5km a day, although most days it tends to be more, but sometimes I just have a slow jog as a recovery run.

So, how’s it going? Well, good actually – thanks for asking. Just over nine weeks in now I find that I am fitter, stronger and faster than I have been in quite some time. I tend to run hills or shorter speedwork during the week, parkrun on a Saturday followed by an increasingly long run on a Sunday.

On days after I’ve had a particularly long run, such as after a marathon, sure, it is a little tougher but once you get moving you loosen up nicely and by the end of the run you forget what’s gone before.

Over time I’ve found my legs have become used to running every day and become tired less quickly. It’s something of a revelation to be honest. I kind of expected to be ridiculously tired the whole time and unable to run some days, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It seems to feed itself, the more you do the more you are ready for and capable of.

All the lovely runs for October (cheeky double on 23rd).

I’ve been lucky enough so far to not get injured and have kept myself stretched and have been using my foam roller too – being proactive with injury prevention. I’ve also been getting a sports massage to keep my legs from tightening up, which really seems to be helping.

Some days fitting it in can be more difficult, which is when it takes more planning, like getting up a little earlier while everyone else sleeps, or running later in the evening, but generally I’m able to run during my lunch break at work. With a 5km minimum it can be as little as a 20 – 30 minute run around the block. Who can’t find 30 minutes in their day?

The thing is 5km is the least I want to run, so as long as I do that then all is good. Other people run other distances. If you want to take it on then you can do as little or as much as you like. It’s your runstreak, your rules.

More than anything it takes away the indecision of whether or not to run on any given day, because I know I’m going to run everyday. It becomes less of whether to run and more what time I will run. It’s pretty liberating stuff.

The other thing is running makes you feel better, both physically and mentally. It’s a natural happy drug, like sunshine on your brain. Why wouldn’t you want that every day? Sixty-four days and counting.