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I’ve had over a year of near continuous injury in one form or other and it’s been hugely frustrating but the worst part was the slow but steady gaining of weight. It meant that when I couldn’t run at all I was putting on weight because I simply wasn’t burning off the calories.

I’d find I was starting to spin myself into frustration and feeling mentally fatigued by it and therefore put more weight on and so on and so on.

Just a day or two before I was due to volunteer at the NDW100 I made the mistake of weighing myself. It was then that I rocked in at a terrifying 81.1kg – this was the tipping point literally. I’ve never been 80kg, even when I returned from living in Asia and I was pretty unhealthy and podgy but I was never 80kg.

So on the eve of the NDW100 I dropped my daily calorie intake from too much to 1560, I reloaded MyFitnessPal on my iPhone and I disposed with all the delicious chocolate and bread in the house.

I decided that the best solution in eating terms was an increase of fruit and vegetables coupled with a reduction in high sugar foods like biscuits and the almost total eradication of bread from my diet. However, I also needed to be sensible and was very aware of the fact I don’t really like fruit and vegetables so would have to increase my nut and pulse intake to help stop me feeling hungry – lentils are my new favourite food. Finally I reintroduced tea and coffee which although not awesome in great quantities do serve to stave off hunger – well it does for me!

The other part of the puzzle would be easier – more exercise. Despite injury I increased the amount of exercise I was doing by going to the pool and ensuring that I rocked out at least 45 minutes of cycling each day, periodically I was even managing to run! The exercise bit was awesome, it felt really good to have a target again and I was back in training with my eyes firmly focused on the Winter 100.

I’ll be honest it’s been incredibly hard to get started but with the bit between my teeth I felt believed I could this and make it stick.

Week 1 was a nightmare and there were moments I could quite cheerfully have purchased a large Meat Feast Domnio’s Pizza with BBQ sauce and extra crispy onions and pepperoni but I didn’t. Each day I stuck within the calorie limit and I exercised.

At about week 4 UltraBaby began the process of showing up and in the days between my weigh ins I lost almost nothing – but I did still manage to lose. Had I gained during this period this might have destroyed my mental strength but the 0.3kg that dropped off gave me a lift you can’t imagine.

I’ve now managed to drop about 5kg in the first 6 weeks and I’m pleased with this but know I’ve got a long way to go yet. The best bit is that all my trousers are feeling that much better and a lot less tight. The aim now is to have dropped to about 70kg before the Winter100 as I figure that carrying less weight around that hundred miles will do me no harm whatsoever.

I suppose the conclusion to this is that you’ve got to mindful of your body all the time, show some restraint, don’t punish yourself when you don’t and do enthuse yourself as much as possible and you’ll keep healthy. I let myself put weight on because I blamed injury for my lack of exercise and need to comfort eat but it’s the very same injuries that have forced me back onto the road, the trail and the pool and it’s those same injuries that stopped me pigging out. Ultimately losing weight and staying healthy are a bit like ultra marathons – play the long game, keep positive and don’t stop.

On my day I’m okay at running, I can cycle and I’m pretty shit at swimming, so I thought I’d enter the Virtual Triathlon and see if I could stumble my way to a medal. On Monday of this week I got out the old iron horse, prepared my swim kit and then went to work. The idea was that I’d do the run first then jump on my bike and then off to the pool to finish off before it closed. It started well I did a very hilly 5km in 24minutes, changed swiftly into my cycling shorts and hit full pelt uphill into the wilds of Kent. I was moving swiftly and well and the first 10km couldn’t have been more fun. I charged up the final hill and into a local country park where I allowed myself a lap or three of the car park to ensure I got to swim having done more than 20km. With my distance about right and Movescount keeping track I thundered out of the park for my favourite bit – the fast downhill.

As I did I could feel the first heavy splashes of rain and I knew I was going to have to ‘give it riz’ if I was to avoid the oncoming storm. I pushed on through the now heavy headwind and felt the rain bashing against my face. I could feel that my control wasn’t all it should be and yet despite my lack of skill in cycling I pushed on. I hurled myself into the big downhill, now thundering along and it was here that I was caught with an intense combination of head and cross winds. The bike (otherwise known as Ultrette) dipped into the space between the road and the grass and what control I had disappeared.

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I was in a bit of a heap and bleeding but thankfully not too seriously – as far as I could tell in the darkness! I picked myself up, photographed the scene, called the GingaNinja, switched off Movescount and then ran 3km pushing my bike so I can meet up with transport home. I was cold, soaked and I didn’t know how to reattach my chain (not that my bloodied hands were working!).

I got home and tweeted my experience – and thank you for all the very kind support – but I was deflated. I’d damaged my bike, failed to get to the swim and just plain old fashioned failed. What to do?

The following day I did the swim, I fixed Ultrette and then yesterday I got my arse back out running and cycling.

The sad thing was that the fall dented both my confidence and my body and so it was a slow swim (525metres), a slow cycle (21.8km) and a slow run 5km). When I went out first time I felt really alive – but the second time I felt like I just wanted to get it done. However, this shouldn’t detract from what a bloody awesome idea for an event the VirtualTriathlon is and I would highly recommend getting involved in either the sprint or super sprint distance.

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I’ve been racing quite a lot since the turn of the year and this has been helped by my participation in the VirtualRunnerUK events. I was incredibly pleased to see that they had decided to run a Sport Relief event as it made sense that we might all fancy a bit of a go at something different and so a few days before the Sport Relief weekend the entries opened for an any distance and time event in cycling, swimming and of course running.

Sat in the comfort of my armchair I mused to myself about the fun I could have doing all three and in no time at all I was signing up to the swim, then I was signing up to the cycle and finally the run. It was then that it occurred to me that I could turn this into a personal triathlon and so I set about planning a route where I could minimise the transitions – because the swim section would realistically have to be in a pool. I planned it to be a cycle followed by a run and finished with a swim.

What actually happened was this

On the Friday – the first day of Sport Relief, and the night of the televised event , I went out and did a light 10km, this was unintentional but it served the purpose of completing the run section if I didn’t manage to do anything else. The reason I was worried was that my OHs mother was visiting and this meant that there would be non sporting activities that I might have to engage in – meh.

However, I revised my plan so that everything could be completed on the Sunday morning – nice and early and with a shunt in the running order. My VirtualTriathlon would be a 5km cycle, 500metre swim and finished with a 5km run (although there was a second 5km bike ride to allow me to get home from the pool). The first part was the 5km cycle, I span out of the house and hit the road – pushing my bike as hard as I can manage, which to be perfectly honest isn’t that hard and I did the hilly ride in about 16 minutes. It wasn’t anything spectacular but I was saving myself for the swim section which I knew would be the hardest part for me. The transition from cycle to pool was just under 8 minutes, which I didn’t think was that bad considering I needed to lock the bike up, get entry to the pool and change.

I hurled myself into the pool and began swimming the 25metre lengths, struggling as always when I’m in the water. I was alternating between freestyle and breast stroke as I’m not strong enough as a freestyler to do the 500 metres. So with all the energy I could muster I powered up and down, over and over again – so much so that I lost count of my lengths and therefore ended up doing about 625metres, although the Suunto can’t be considered definitive in its accuracy in the pool and it was probably more like 500metres. However I powered though the distance in just over 13 minutes and even with the time consuming transition I was still in good form. As I was swimming I made the decision to dry as little as possible out of the pool and throw on my running gear and thunder out of the leisure centre – leaving behind my bike kit which I would pick up later. This method meant I was held up for less than 10 minutes between getting out of the pool and starting the run.

Straight out of the door from the centre I knew a slowish route up a hill and back again. It was at this point that I could feel the hunger I normally associate with about mile 18 of a marathon and I had neither food nor water on me. Hmmm, this was difficult but I wasn’t likely to stop now and in reality I was flying.

Bang, kilometre 1 gone, bang kilometre 2 gone – I was expecting my feet or my back or my hips to suddenly implode and I’d need to use my Friday night 10km as my run distance. Thankfully kilometre 3 and 4 ebbed away into the ether and I was on the return to my bike and other kit. Sadly I came up a little short at 4.89km but in an excellent 16.32 – probably looking at a 17.30 5km which is the fastest I’ve gone in a long time.

For a while I sat at the wheel of my bike, feeling like I was going to puke – but I didn’t and when I finally stood up I knew I’d done something brilliant and I have VirtualRunnerUK to thank for the opportunity.

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So I’ve been a bit quieter than normal on the blogging and tweeting front as I’ve been busy doing, as my partner puts it, real life. But now it’s back to more fun things and by fun I mean sport.

As regular readers will know there are a number of things I want to achieve this year but this has had a huge bomb thrown into the middle of it called UltraBaby. Advice seems to be suggesting that having a baby will have a negative impact on training, running and racing and I can see how that might be but I’m going to do my best to race as much as is humanly possible this year and then see what the future holds.

And so to my 2014 aims – the triathlon.

I haven’t yet been able to find a suitably timed, local triathlon that I can get involved in, that is suitable for beginners and available at the sprint distance as my swimming isn’t very strong and my biking is nervous. However, to the rescue has come my new favourite event – the Virtual Run, from VirtualRunnerUK (I’ve blogged about these guys before).

To coincide with the Sport Relief weekend they are offering the opportunity to go cycle, swim or run a sport relief distance, get a medal and also donate to a charity that I feel very positively about.

So how does this link up to my aims for 2014? Well, I’ve signed up for all three elements and I’m thinking that if I were really clever I could turn this into a type of personal triathlon. Sounds ridiculous I know but I’ve found that the virtual events have made me feel competitive during training and I’ll be transitioning as quickly as I can. Obviously for the sake of logistics it won’t have the same kind of feeling as a real triathlon but it will make for a bit of mid March fun before I head into the Tough 15, SDW50 and the hugely important (to me anyway) We Never Walked Alone 96mile Challenge. I’ll also be doing it in a slightly different order than a triathlon (as far as I’m aware), for the logistics side I’ll need to do my cycle first (only 3 miles) followed by a 5 mile run and then a 1500metre swim.

I’m fully aware that this won’t count as completing of one of my 2014 aims but it will take me one step closer and that’s very much what running and training is all about – making progress. So time to crack out the old iron horse, hope the Hoka dry and pray my swimming shorts don’t become any more translucent…

I know that a lot of the people I follow or are friends with via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram read my general witterings and then very sensibly ignore them but I would urge you all to support this outstanding event, if you aren’t doing anything this weekend, hell even if you are doing something this weekend then get involved. If you don’t want to sign up to the VirtualRunner version of things or even a Sport Relief event near you then can I urge you to open the door, smell the fresh air of the day and just doing something active. Take the kids, take your significant other, take an opportunity to challenge yourself.

My pregnant partner, the lady carrying UltraBaby, is looking at doing at least one of these events – possibly all of them, only at the shorter distances and she will speed walk the run section but if she can do it then so can you.

What’s holding you back?

Look forward to reading about your adventures on what could be a very active weekend.

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It’s been a little over 30 days since I started my 400km in 30day challenge and it was a horribly hectic period filled with running, cycling, swimming, illness, injury and an unfortunate visit up north. Needless to say I failed in the task but I did manage to turn my disappointment into a number of positives… and here’s the numbers

I walked over 95km. I cycled nearly 130km. I ran over 225km (including the Valentines Challenge 10mile and 10km Virtual run). 7km of breast stroking (I mean swimming!)

However, I was 175km short of my running target but I’ll go again in June and aim for the full 400km.

Next up is the St Peters Way Ultra and I’ve stupidly been running this evening in my Merrell Barefoots without socks and skinned the tops of my feet! Silly bloody me – still it’s Monday they should hopefully be healed by Sunday. As Eric Idle said ‘always look on the bright side of life’, after all it is only running

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Between March 3rd and October 26th 2013 I earned 15 medals, 21 Tshirts and 22 race times. Not quite the 25 I was aiming for in 2013 but it was an injury riddled year. Proud of these races and medals though I am, 2014 is set to be bigger, more challenging and all together nastier. I hope each of my fellow runners takes a little look at their own medal haul tonight and thinks, ‘yep, I’m pretty amazing’. Well done guys

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