Tag Archives: Injuries

Twists and Turns, Ups and Downs

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The wheels fall off!

Sometimes the best laid plans that you make and hopes that you have don’t always materialise; life is full of twists and turns, and ups and downs. I suppose that’s what makes life interesting – events happen in ones life for a purpose. Those people that we meet and those that briefly cross our path enrich our lives for the better.

I had planned to run in the Hungarian 6 Day Race in May and everything seemed to be going well. I had come back buoyant from a good performance at the 72 Hour Across the Years Race (Phoenix, Arizona). I did a reasonable good time of 5:22:38 for the Barry 40 Track Race considering I had done limited speed work since coming back from Phoenix. A week later the Sri Chinmoy AC organised a 50 mile run from London to Brighton, and I did that fairly comfortably. So all was going well, or so it seemed.

In February on the advice of my physio I got some orthotics from a Sports Podiatrist hoping to correct issues with my left ankle and knee. To cut a long story short I didn’t get on with them. They upset my biomechanics to such an extent that it aggravated the sciatica joint, seized up my lower back and caused piriformis syndrome. I got treatments from an osteopath and my physio and on their advice I decided it was just too risky to contemplate running a 6 Day Race. There was no chance my body would be able to recover sufficiently to endure the demands of a 6 Day Race. I laid off running for 7 weeks. I eventually sought treatment from a practitioner using the Bowen technique and that now seems to be addressing the key biomechanical issues causing the left knee pain. I needed to try something different. I bought some new shoes as well, hahaha! Don’t ask me how many pairs I have now.


At the same time I was diagnosed with chronic adrenal fatigue. Over the years perhaps I had put too much stresses and strains on my body. The kinesiologist who I saw for the treatment identified that I had probably dipped far below into my reserves and there was nothing left. I was running on empty and you can only do that for so long, before the wheels fall off.


No one really wants to know how sick you are or how it is affecting you mentally.  Because basically the general attitude with sports related injuries and health issues that are a result of amateur ultra-running is, “It’s your own fault”. The weeks of chronic fatigue were hard to deal with and it felt like the spark inside me had been extinguished. It was a challenge to deal with the depression, lack of enthusiasm and motivation for life, because that isn’t the person I normally am. I had this sense that I just needed to hang in there and it wouldn’t last for ever. With rest, and taking supplements identified to address my candida, leaky gut syndrome and chronic adrenal fatigue things are now on the mend.


Helping others

In February my physio asked me if I could help Claire Oziem who would be attempting to become the first woman to run unsupportive from John O’Groats to Land’s End. It is always nice to help others realise their hopes and dreams especially on such an ambitious challenge as this. I think for me my best qualities come to the fore when I help and try to inspire individuals. It is great to see those that you help blossom and fulfil their potential. Simply, helping others makes me happy. Claire started her journey on 22nd June. See her blog 1000 Miles in Mind, and Claire Oziem Personal Blog Facebook Page. As much as Claire has been grateful for the advice and assistance I have given her in the build up to her challenge, I think it has also benefited me – it gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction that in some small way reaffirmed in my ability to inspire others. I just have to inspire myself more that’s all, hahaha!

Back to my homeland – A trip to Cornwall

Cornwall twinned with heaven

As I hadn’t been back to see my parents since October, I needed a change of scenery. And as I was back to full training in the previous two weeks I needed to run in my heaven that is the Cornish landscape of spectacular cliffs, being by the sea and taking in the glorious view of St Michael’s Mount each day.

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I even forced myself to relax and just lie on the beach, something that I rarely do. I often find it hard to do nothing; if I’m doing nothing I feel guilty thinking that I should be doing something constructive.

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Running each day in such a beautiful part of the world renewed my energy levels and my joy of running returned.


The run on the South West Coastal path from Penzance to Land’s End and returning back along this route finishing at Porthcurno Beach (Garmin 22 miles coastal path run) was a very special day. It was one of those glorious summer days that you know exist deep in your childhood memory banks that you just long for.  It was warm, sunny and not a breeze stirred. The sea was like a millpond and everything was spectacularly clear. I felt truly blessed. All my senses were heightened and I wanted to capture every single aspect of the day – the sights, sounds and smells of being on this Cornish coastline.

10427262_763925450295349_5135249815496241732_nSource: From Curates Quotes


Whilst I was down in Cornwall I took the opportunity to visit People and Gardens and meet up again with the kind-hearted owners Ken and Lorraine Radford. I spent a most enjoyable day with those involved with the project planting spring onions.


Being outdoors in the sunshine with the smell of the earth and planting spring onions is such a simple pursuit that feeds the soul.





Moving forward

Well, for the first time in months I feel that I am moving forward having learnt many lessons, most importantly the ones that come to mind are:

  1. To be more aware of my health and the dangers of stress and overtraining.
  2. I’m not unbreakable, in fact I’m more fragile than I thought.
  3. Re-evaluate my motivations.
  4. Stop procrastinating and seize the moment.
  5. Stop worrying.
  6. Follow my intuition.
  7. A change is as good as a holiday, but a change of scenery is better.

Last month Bill Schultz, an American ultra runner left this lovely quote on my Facebook timeline which I’m so grateful for as it was much needed when I was feeling very low.

May the sun forever shine upon your face,
May the wind forever blow upon your back,
May your goals forever be in sight,
May your beliefs forever give you strength
And may your Spirit forever run free!


Review of 2013 and upcoming prospects for 2014

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He who thrives on challenges can accomplish extraordinary things in life.
– Sri Chinmoy.
One approach is to think of the hurdles that you face in life.  Another approach is to think of the joy that you will get after crossing over the hurdles.
– Sri Chinmoy.

The year 2013 has been quite a year for me. It was all about seizing opportunities and having new experiences. I’d competed in more ‘big’ races (marathon distance and beyond) than any other year. It was a year of ups and downs, but I’m glad to say certainly more ups than downs. In my work life it was also similar and I was fortunate to be selected to spend three months in Rome which enabled me to compete in the Rome Marathon in March, and then the Florence Marathon in November – happy times.

Race Results 2013

Date Race Terrain Distance Outcome Pace
29/12/2013 Across the Years 72 Hour race mixed 232.01M 72:00:00 18:37
24/11/2013 XXX Firenze Marathon road Mara 03:17:37 07:33
20/10/2013 Eden Marathon mixed Mara 03:41:41 08:28
29/09/2013 Grand Pier Half Marathon road Half 01:34:32 07:13
21/04/2013 Self Transcendence Six Day Race road 380M 144:00:00 22:45
17/03/2013 Rome Marathon road Mara 03:17:52 07:33
24/02/2013 Barry Track 40 track 40M 05:15:31 07:53

I was able to set PBs in the marathon and 40 mile races which I was very pleased about. I’ve still got some speed, but in all the years that I’ve been running has shown that I’m not a fast runner, but my body maybe better adapted for endurance. I also don’t have sufficient pace to get a good mileage in 24 hour races. My best to date is 114 miles (Basel: 114.28 miles; 2012).

Ever since 4 years ago I had a vivid dream that I was running in the 3100 mile race and Sri Chinmoy was present in that dream, I have set my sights on running in this race one day. I’m looking at the possibility of 2016 or 2017. To enable me to be considered I am required to get the qualifying distance of 600+ miles for the 10 day race.

So, this year I took the first step on that journey by running in the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York in April.

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Despite having a really bad chest infection a week prior and during the race I ran 380 miles, finishing 7th overall.

I was happy with this performance but my body is not yet sufficiently robust enough as I got Achilles tendon problems on the fourth day and really struggled for mileage in the second half of the race.  However, William James’ quote below was very apt and it allowed me to push through and finish the race.

William James quote

I underestimated how much the 6 Day Race took out of me. For 5 weeks afterwards my immune system was severely weakened and I couldn’t shift the chest infection and persistent cough. Eventually it took a course of antibiotics for me to completely recover. I then badly stubbed my big toe on the stairs at home and that knocked my running form for six.  So, it was a struggle to get any consistency in my running, and I was plagued with energy issues – constantly feeling tired and totally exhausted. In October I saw a kinesiologist who identified a number of imbalances affecting my overall health during an initial screening process. In no particular order these were as follows: chemical and metal toxicity toxicity; yeast infection (Candida); nutritional imbalances; structural problem; imbalance related to the type exercise I take and my physiological makeup; chronic dehydration (likely to be cellular based rather than kidney related); food allergy / intolerance; adrenal stress; low cellular energy (energy chemistry in your cell mitochondria not efficient). Other than that I was fine, hahaha! Well, at last I got a diagnosis, more that what my doctor could say, other than it is probably a virus and come back and see me in three months time; not much use to say the least.

From June onwards I began to get a persistent niggle in the inside of the left knee that progressively got worse, to a point it was seizing up and giving way. Both my osteopath and physiotherapist treatments were not alleviating it and then I made the decision to get a MRI scan on it. Thankfully it revealed no abnormalities or any meniscus tears.

Races Review 2013

My race year as always started at the end of February with the Barry 40 miles Track Race and I was in good shape having come through the winter season fairly well. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team tends to send a runner each year to this race and it is one we love to support. I targeted 5:15 and finished just outside that with 5:15:31. It was a bitterly cold day and the track can get very windy making running down the back straight a challenge and making runners work hard.

Photos at Barry 40 – 2013 (copyright Paul Stillman) (I’m number 282)

Photos below from Barry 40, 2013  Copyright All rights reserved by Les Stills

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I was very pleased with my performance and I’m hoping to run in the race again this year (9th March) and would hope to get as close to 5 hours as possible. In a way in depends how quickly I can recover from ATY and resume back to full training within the next few weeks.

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As I was out in Rome for the whole of March with work commitments I decided it was a great opportunity to run in the Roma Marathon. It was a beautiful way to see the city and I finished up with a new PB.

Lido di Ostia on the beach 22 March 2013

As I mentioned April was a leap into unknown territory with the  Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race. I am so grateful and indebted to the advice and knowledge imparted to me from my good friend Abichal (6 times finisher of the 3100 mile race!).

With the energy issues and constant niggles it was rather ambitious to try and target the Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Track Race in London in September. I decided to give this race a miss as I had made a commitment to run in the Eden Marathon down in Cornwall in October for the charity People and Gardens.

I tested out my fitness and the knee my running in the Grand Pier Half Marathon down in Weston-Super-Mare three weeks prior to the Eden Marathon. It wasn’t a brilliant performance and I lacked any pace, going off too fast in the first half and struggled to hang on in the second half of the race. But it was a good run out under race conditions.

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The Eden Marathon was a challenging course as about three quarters of it is off road and on trails, but I was more than happy to run on behalf of People and Gardens to raise much needed funds.

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The course was rather muddy and during the race there were torrential downpours with thunder and lightning.  I thoroughly enjoyed the race and it was great to finish in the grounds of the Eden Project with my family and Ken and Lorraine Radford (from People and Gardens) waiting for me at the finish.

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Again I was out in Rome in November for work and the Florence Marathon beckoned. Florence is such a beautiful city and has a wonderful Italian ambience. An amazing coincidence occurred. I met a wonderful Italian guy at the start of the Rome Marathon in March, and whilst I was warming up at the start of the Florence Marathon we bumped into each other again. The Italians are so warm, friendly and affectionate. We had perfect weather for the race, bathed in autumnal sunshine and slightly cool. The support on the course was amazing and it was a better atmosphere than the Rome Marathon. It’s a fast course and I paced it just right to get a new PB by 15 seconds. I didn’t want to run this race hard as I was conscious I wanted to recover quickly for ATY 72 Hour Race.

And well, ATY was a special way to end 2013 and begin 2014 – see my earlier post on this.

Goals and Aims for 2014

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Man’s time is unimaginably precious and unbelievably limited.
– Sri Chinmoy

I had such an awesome 2013 it is going to be difficult to better it. I did more travelling in 2013 than any other year, but this requires financing. I was indebted to my parents for assisting me with the trips to America. So, I’m hoping to win the lottery, hahahaha! Competing in multiday races is not cheap and there are always on going costs with kit, osteopath and physio treatments, food supplements, sports massages, etc, etc. I had intended to run the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York again, but due to difficulties getting time off work and the cost of flying over to America I’m targeting the following races:

Proposed Race Calendar
March Barry 40 Track Race; Self-Transcendence London to Brighton (50 miles) (Sri Chinmoy AC run)
May EMU 6 Day Race, Hungary
July / August 2 or 3 marathons (yet to decide) or participate in the Peace Run North America (13 June – 18 July)
September Adelaide 6 Day Race (?)
December ATY 72 Hour Race

This race schedule is in an ideal scenario and I haven’t really thought about how I would pay for all of this. But, I will take each race as it comes. The key for me is to stay fit and healthy and I need to put in place plans for my training, injury prevention and health. And more importantly it is about getting the right work / life balance. I don’t know what will happen with my work situation as I’m awaiting the outcome of a job promotion in my civil service department. Achieving this would be give the increase in salary to pay to attend these planned races. But will I be granted the time off work to enable me to attend these races? Who knows – that is out of my hands. I hope events will unfold in a fortuitous manner.

In the meantime these are some of my plans and objectives for 2014:

Injury prevention
– biomechanics assessment to address recurring muscle imbalances
– work on improving running form
– Yoga
– do more core strength training
Health and Well-being
– address the candida
– further kinesiology tests to be done
– meditate more
– to live more in the moment
– incorporate weighted vest training
– review other running shoes to use for multidays (Brooks Transcendence out in March)
– Yoga for Sport weekly sessions.
Long term targets
– April 2015: Self-Transcendence 10 Day Race
– 2016: Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race
 Achieve something great outwardly. Many on earth will admire you and even adore you for what you have done. Achieve something good inwardly. Countless people will get a tremendous inner uplift from your very presence on earth.
– Sri Chinmoy

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