My 40,40,40 Challenge

My 40, 40, 40 Challenge

What?

In 2017 I reach 2017 and have decided that I need a challenge.  This has become my desire to undertake an ultra marathon and I have decided to go with the the Muskathlon in Indonesia in October 2017.  My goal is to run 40 miles, age 40 and to raise £40,000 for charity.  The charity is called Compassion.  This is no mean feat, but I am up for the challenge and thought I would blog my training progress to build up others so that they can see how coming back from injury need not spell an end to sporting achievement, and that age has nothing to do with enjoying running.

Why?

I have always run, it was my sport at school, my pass time at university and my pleasure for most of my life.  I have never run a marathon, with the longest I have ever run (about age 17) being 20 miles.  I decided to run the tough mudder in Winchester with my brother and a team of fellow Guernsey boys back in 2012 and was training for it by running and jumping over each of the groins at Bournemouth beach.  It was on the final jump (from the sand and into the water) that I landed awkwardly as the drop was further than expected.  I ended up face down in the water with 3 sprained thoracic vertebrae, a severely sprained ankle and a worried looking dog.  The family watching from the beach were less concerned and enjoyed seeing a guy fall facedown in the water. I tried to run back the 3 miles to home but the pain in my back was too great and my ankle throbbed terribly.  For the next 12 months my ankle was swollen as I had rolled it outwards and not inwards as I was contacted by the wave as I landed.  The back was sorted by a great local chiropractor, but he ankle plagued me, and still does to an extent.

The following year, my wife and I were delighted with the birth of our twins, a boy called Bailey and a girl called Ime-Belle.  They are truly a wonder to see growing, but the time commitment of twins meant that I did not jump back on the training wagon as quickly as I should and did not start running again till New Year 2016.  I still had some of the stamina, but simply did not have the speed or tolerance I once had.  I love my runs but did not really progress, though running in driving rain with a head torch on is just so exhilarating.  I then read (late to the table I know) Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall and got enthralled but he Cretian Runners of WWII.  I have since read many books on ultra running and styles (even though I have chaired running clubs and teach running) as there is so much more that I need to understand.  Running and cycling seem to be the only 2 sports in the world that people assume you can just do and don't need help with.  Not sure i agree, I think there is always more we can do to learn and improve.  

This just excited me to run again, but did not give me a goal or purpose particularly, other than having a go at making my own pair of Tarahumara Tyre Running Sandals (Huarache).  I have now done so using a motorcycle tyre but have not used them as much as I want yet.  They are surprisingly good to run in though!!  I was then at a large church camp this summer called Focus and listened to a talk by the 4th Musketeer group and they talked about their Muskatlons and I was transfixed.  A group of men putting on events, mainly for men, with sponsorship going to charities that supported works that men had inflicted on the world (sex trade, persecution, fatherlessness etc...).  What a fantastic idea I thought.  They also do something called the Extreme Character Challenge (XCC) that I am due to be on October 2016, 72 hours in the hills of Wales without technology, just team and peace.  Sounds like heaven.

How?

The reason for this blog is to show people my journey from happy 10km runner at 8 min miles to 63km ultramarathoner, all within 12 months!  In my research I have decided that the best way for me to do this is to train my aerobic potential, rather than running within the grey zone that we all seem to train in.  In my day job as a chiropractor, I constantly treat people who have injured themselves overtraining with HIT, BootCamp, Heavy Free Weight etc...I do not, and have never trained in this manner as I believe firmly it is a fad and will come and go (I owe a lot of my thinking to my medical background and my first degree in sports studies).  The body is simply not set up to do 3x BootCamp classes per week if your day job entails sitting on your tush all day.  I believe that my immediate return to running 10km without injury and at a good pace after more than 3 years out is down to the fact that I trained my aerobic capacity before I was injured and the fitness has remained.

The way I am doing this is the way that most, if not all endurance athletes train (like ultra man Rich Roll).  I believe the method was pioneered my Phil Maffetone DC and he has trained some of the world most proficient athletes, including penning the seminal text The Endurance Handbook.  In essence, training with a heart rate monitor is imperative.  If you want to speed up, slow down is one of his tag lines.  Running with your heart rate at 180bpm minus your age is a good starting point for most people.  If you are super fit, add on an extra 5bpm, if you are a couch potato or coming back from injury, take off an extra 5bpm.  Train at this level and you will burn fat and not so much carbohydrate, meaning that you will have reserves to go on and on.  It is believed that even the average size person has enough fat reserve to run most of the way across America!  Professor Timothy Noakes, the godfather of running training, has U-turned on his protestations that carbs are king, to say that fat is our friend.  Sadly, the sporting world has yet to catch up, even with a belief that we are using best practice.  Rich Roll is a practicing vegan, but has no problems popping out successive UltraMan finishes and has even done 5 Ironman Triathlons (with friend Jason Lester) back to back over 7 days.  Don't tell him he needs animal protein and is going to be anaemic.

With this is mind I am undertaking (well aiming to) a training regime of at 3 runs per week, all at my allowed heart rate of 141bpm maximum (much harder than you think, be prepared to walk up hill) and to try desperately to reduce my carb and gluten intake, whilst increasing my dark green leafy veg and good meats at lower volumes.  I know I will miss chocolate brownie, but I am loving my Pinole Tray Bake (adapted from one ingredientchef.com), especially with organic, whole peanut butter on it! Mmmmm!

My blog will try to chronicle most if not all my runs, including how they felt, and I will attempt to produce an ongoing graph or time against both heart rate and pace to see how much my pace increases agains either a lowering or maintenance of heart rate level.

Let me know your thoughts if you would like to, wish me luck and sponsor me if you would like.  You can email me for now and as I have a sponsorship page I will post it here.

Thanks for reading and being involved

Nic