Archive for the ‘Wisdom of the pooped-out runner’ Category

Sooooo, I rarely win competitions.

I won a competition a couple of years ago and landed a pair of running shoes, that was cool.

Other than that, not so much.

At the start of the year, replete with Christmas feed and festivities, I was at work when an e-mail popped in with the chance to win a place on a two week METAFIT course. It sounded interesting, I mean, no one’s going to argue with ‘fit’, are they and ‘meta’ is exactly the sort of jargon-y motivational thing that’s guaranteed to make me wonder “eh?”.

So, I replied with my e-mail and that and thought nothing more about it. Until the end of last week when another e-mail arrived saying that I’d won a place on the course. Get in! I think. It suddenly dawned on me that I still had no idea what metafit is, and now I was going to do it. Had I misread, was it METALFIT, aerobics to the tunes of Iron Maiden and Motorhead? Actually, that would be quite cool, let’s hope I can’t read.

I can read. It wasn’t going to involve Slayer or System of a Down it would appear. On reflection that’s probably as well – those kick drums are quite quick and I may have spun a limb off if that was the tempo.

On Monday, I turned up with a bag containing my shorts, t-shirt and shoesies. And some water. They were pretty hot on the idea of hydration, so I felt I should go with it.

Lesson #1 – there’s nowhere to change, get changed at work and then skip over already be-shorted. Likewise with showers.

The course was run by NUCAS Bootcamps – they have a van with the name on the side, which makes them a pro-outfit in my book, I don’t have a van, so I’m full of respect.

Turns out they have trainers too, people rather than shoes, although they have those too. Chris was the trainer we had, and I think he may be the main man at NUCAS. He was canny, engaging and seemed to know what he was about.

Warmup first  – which was leg kicks, arm spins and so on, high-knee jogging on the spot and that kind of thing. All good, and I was frankly a bit tired from that section never mind the actual exercises.

Now the main event – a selection of things such as star jumps, burpees (that’s get down, feet back, then back below your shoulders, up to your feet with maybe a little jump, repeat), press-ups, more high-knees jogging, and the Plank.

Why woodwork, I hear you ask? And that would be a good question. But it’s not.

A Plank is where you get on the floor, and when the buzzer goes you get on your toes and elbows (below your shoulders) and maintain that pose with a straight back for however long. The first was ten seconds, then twenty, then thirty, forty and finally fifty. Ouch.

Anyone who’s read any of this blog will realise that I run, and that’s pretty much it. A bit of cycling recently and a bit of swimming, but in essence nothing that affects the core muscles (in as much as I understand them, which is like those ice-creams I used to get at the cinema with the chocolate sauce in the middle, which was called a Core). Again, as I run that’s arms pretty much not required, so they’re like the pipe cleaners. Really weedy pipe cleaners. Can you even get pipe cleaners in these anti-smoking times? Maybe they’re renamed and called “fake tiny arms” now?

Anyhow, the leggy bits were pretty canny, the arm and core bits were really hard and the plank bits were nice, but along with the press-ups played havoc with my temperamental big toes. Press-ups more than the others to the point that I started doing knee press-ups (which was nothing to do with the tiny arms, honest).

About forty-five minutes of exercise, rest, exercise, rest, exercise, rest, you get the idea and we were done. I was dripping in the same way I would expect from a hard run in the summer. Proper dripping, not some rubbish metaphor.

Back to work, shower, and on we go – a bit stiff as the day wore on to be honest.

Next morning my shoulders and calves were ouchy to the max – back to the doddery old man walk that I last used when I ran an ultra. Crikey!

Repeat on Tuesday, more focussed on core work, which didn’t involve chocolate sauce and sprinkles in the ice-cream-like manner I’d expected, but did involved a lot of Plank, and other exercises to knacker the bits that hadn’t been covered the day before.

Wednesday was rest day – thank goodness, more doddering, and I had to miss out Thursday for a meeting, which I have to admit was rather disappointing.

And then today, Friday.

Plank, burpees, star jumps, something called a volleyball jump, which is to crouch, jump to the side, jump up, crouch, jump to the other side, jump up, and so on. Some sprinting too, which was nice, I like a bit of sprinting as it goes.

Again with the dripping.

I’m really enjoying it, and there’s still another week to go yet – I’m a bit knackered but not broken yet.

I could get used to doing METAFIT, presuming the second week doesn’t kill me. Heck, I might even write an update if I make it through.

Rock on!


Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered a lovely bit of fun in running. When you receive your number, sometimes, just sometimes, you get a magic number. Now, 1 is clearly a magic number, as is 13 or a nice round figure like 100. However, the Ditch-Number is pay-dirt for an ultra run. But what is a Ditch-Number?

Imagine the scene; you’ve been running for many hours, you’re tired, a bit confused and not as steady on your pins as you would usually be. It’s probably raining, it’s Britain after all, and there’s not a day you can guarantee you won’t get rain. Unless it’s snowing.

You stumble a little, veer to the side and through your misty carb-starved eyes you fail to notice you’re going off the path. Slip, trip, whoops, plump.

You’re in a ditch.

It’s wet.

You’re upside down.

After a certain amount of running this feels like a safe and comfy place to be, so perhaps you need a little snooze.

Eventually another runner or a marshall or the sweeper will find you, and at this point the Ditch-Number comes into its own.

You see, a Ditch-Number is any number that reads the same upside down that it does the right way up. No chance you’ll be mistaken for Mr Scoggins from Wayward Heath* and sent to some la-di-dah private hospital**.

So, the holy litany of Ditch-Numbers is this:

1, 8, 11, 69, 96, 101, 111, 181 and so on***.

I had the pleasure of running The Wall in 2013 with 101, and I’m running the Jedburgh Ultra in 11 this year, then the Jedburgh Half Marathon the day after with number 8.

C’mon, you want a Ditch-Number, don’t you?

I knew it…

*Apologies to Mr Scoggins, you’re likely a good five miles ahead of me, and you probably don’t want people to think you’re the inverted snoozer, do you?

**Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that when they find out I’m not Mr Scoggins they’ll throw me back in the ditch.

***I may have missed one, five or two hundred in there – I started thinking through the numbers and got a bit tired.

Soooo, there’s this magazine, Like The Wind, that came out a couple of months ago, you may have seen it. Lots of grand stories about runners and their lives, proper motivational stuff. I bought a copy, I stuck the the post cards up at work, I read it once, then again, and put it back in its envelope to keep it safe.

I wrote them a little e-mail, saying that I liked the magazine. Come to think of it, it may have been on Twitter.

They had a look over here at the blog and said they liked it.

I came up with a couple of ideas for articles and sent them in, they suggested I write one up and send it through.

I did.

Long story shot they put my article in the second issue and it’ll be available around the end of the month.

If you want to get a copy and marvel at the transference of my wonky thought process to the printed medium, you can order one here:

Like The Wind shop

You really ought to get one, it’ll be mint – the other stories alone will make it worthwhile, you might even like mine…

Consider my trumpet well and truly blown.

(I won’t believe it until I actually see it in print, but I can’t pretend I’m not extremely excited.)

And it was only a short run too.

I had a little jaunt around the woods this afternoon, it was quite lovely, there was a bit of sun and everything, just to remind me that the universe is a lovely place.

Because I’m a bit random about route-finding, there was a sizeable hill in the middle of the run. Not such a grand plan after two and half weeks of no running. As I plodded my wheezy way up, I rediscovered my arms, which I’d misplaced some time earlier. To be honest I’ve got arms that pipe cleaners would laugh at, and then probably beat me in an arm wrestle. It does come in handy if I ever have to pick something up that’s on the other side of a wall made of Polo mints, which happens more often than you would think.

By pumping these impressive contraptions in time with my spindly legs I found I could make slightly better headway than my usual clumpy struggling. Not bad, though the trick is in the timing – turns out if you get the timing wrong, then you run the risk of falling over in the brambles. Ouchie.

Then I remembered my gluteus maximus, or arse as you might call it. Wikipedia points out that it’s “the most superficial of the three gluteus muscles”, and I have to agree that it’s never come up with any deep opinions so far. Last time I was out I’d read something along the lines of “move your arse when you go uphill”. Not in the usual motivational “get a shift on” sense, but in a “swing your bum to move the ol’ hips” style. I remembered that it had worked quite well last time, so I gave that a go too.


It turns out I can only think about one body part at a time, but then I am a man, so that should be no surprise. Trying to co-opt two component parts into the conspiracy that is my running at the same time is entirely beyond me. The only way to achieve this lofty aim would be to get one worked out and second nature and then concentrate on the other. But which one first?

And that’s my dilemma (lemma is a Greek character shaped like the horns of a bull (∑) and di-lemma, meaning “two lemma”  leads to the popular (perhaps if you’re an ancient Greek) saying of being ‘caught on the horns of the bull’) – which one will help more? Possibly the answer is ‘either’, but that doesn’t really move the conversation along.

I reckon the arm pumping would look mighty fine, so long as I don’t overdo it, but then the arse-moving sounds like it would be good for the muscles. Am I so shallow that I would make a decision based on what would look like? Clearly not (oh yes I would).

Oh, the agony of choice…

What would you do?

The forearms are the radiators of the soul.