Run a 10 Minute Mile in My Shoes….

‘It’s not that your goals are physically impossible that’s keeping you from achieving them; it’s that you lack the self-discipline to stick to them. It’s physically possible to lose weight. It’s physically possible to exercise more’ – Daniel Goldstein

I’ll openly admit that I’m probably one of the messiest, laziest person you’re ever likely to meet, and I’m perfectly ok with that. It also wouldn’t be unfair to describe me as wishy washy or flaky. I can make up a million believable reasons not to do something if I really don’t want to. One thing you may not know about me however is that every now and again, I’ll decide to do something and I won’t stop until it’s done.

On example of that recently was saving up for a trip of a lifetime to Vegas with Meagan. Another was just before Christmas when I set myself a challenge of being able to run a mile in under 10 minutes. I’ve never been shy of the fact that I’m not a natural runner, I’m 5’4 – with only a foot of that made up of leg, and my thighs are as wide as they are long (think less Beyonce, more international sumo wrestler) but I do know what good exercise it is, it tones me up like nothing else, and as cheesy as it may sounds, that ‘runners high’ you get when you’re finished is pretty addictive.

I’ve challenged myself with exercise a few times in the past. In 2015 I did a ‘10K Everyday’ challenge I invented myself as a way to stay fit over the Easter weekend and it’s been on my bucket list for years now to complete a half marathon at some point. The reasons I decided on a 10 minute mile challenge were four fold:

  1. It was less time consuming than marathon training and was something I could tag onto the end of a standard workout
  2. It’s something that can be done in the gym – which in the cold winter months was a huge attraction
  3. I feel I have endurance exercise down, I can zone out on the crosstrainer for 90 minutes on a good day, but fast, high intensity isn’t something I do much of, so will be good to try something new
  4. The treadmill at my gym shows you running around a virtual 400m running track and when you grow up with Janine ‘Gazelle’ Weightman and Angela ‘School Cross Country Team’ Harrison as your best mates, I want to prove to 12 year old Helen that running round a running track isn’t the stuff of nightmares it once was.

So after about two and a half months training (about a month of being frustratingly stuck on 10:15mins), on Sunday 18th December 2016 I did it, I ran a mile in 10 minutes (in under 10 minutes actually) and it felt pretty bloody amazing.

wp-1483563593927.jpgPhotographic evidence: calories, speed, time, distance

What’s even more bloody amazing is I’ve managed to do it again every time I’ve stepped on a treadmill since then as well, so it wasn’t just a one off – yippee!


More photographic evidence from 04.04.2017

It feels good to set yourself a goal and achieve it. Not just achieve it actually but work it into your daily workout routine. Now I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do next; it’s Easter weekend again soon however I reckon the possibility of me running another 10K every day this year is slim to none – still, it’s something I can tell the grandkids I did once…

Are cheap ‘Fitbits’ any good?

‘Walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day is considered a moderately intense level of exercise’ – Michael Greger

I wasn’t all the sold on Fitbit’s when they first appeared. Mainly because I thought they looked like a court ordered electronic tag than a fancy-dan pedometer. Everyone who has one though seemed to really rave about them. My job recently has forced me to come mildly obsessed with data and trends and charts and such so off the back of that I started to become really interested in the built in pedometer on my phone and trying to aim for 10,000 steps a day. Problem is I don’t have my phone on me all the time, particularly at work so I was having to basically try and run a marathon a day to get my steps in.

For my birthday I was given a Shonco Fitness Tracker, or my ‘Faux-bit’ as I like to call it and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with it so far. I’ve reduced the steps to 8000 a day which is roughly 5K as 10,000 was proving damn near impossible. It comes in a variety of colours (mine is like a turquoise blue colour) and is nice a slim so doesn’t look too chunky on my skinny wrist.

It’s on the basic side, it doesn’t have a heart rate monitor in it or anything but that’s fine, all I really want to know if how many steps I do a day. It calculates steps, walking distance, calorie consumption and monitors your sleep quality everyday. As it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth you can set it to remind you by vibration when there are any notifications or phone calls coming in. Although the Bluetooth disconnects when its’ out of range from your phone the bracelet still tracks your steps or sleeping and updates retrospectively when you’re connected again. Oh it also tells the time too. Handy.

The data on the app on your phone is basic too but tells you everything you need to know, and breaking things down by daily, weekly and monthly data although one downside is it only shows you the current day/week/month, you can’t go further back and compare months or weeks, which is a shame.

Charging is easy, the band pulls apart to reveal a usb port that you can just plug into any computer. It takes about 30 minutes to charge fully and lasts about 3 days. The app that comes along with it is free on Android and iOS and although it means I have to keep my Bluetooth on and have the app running in the background all day I haven’t noticed it significantly reduce the battery life on my phone.

The main question with any of these things I guess is does it actually work? Well functionally it’s pretty accurate, however my advice would be to only actually wear it when you’re on the move, for example it thought I’d done over 1000 steps while straightening my hair one morning. It certainly encourages me to walk around more. I’ve started going out for walks at lunchtime if the weather’s nice and I walk the 1km to the gym now whereas I’ll be honest I used to take the car. I go to the gym often as it is so it’s not like I live a completely sedentary lifestyle but I’ve lost weight every week I’ve had it since my birthday so I think it is assisting on keeping me more active.

My favourite part though is the sleep data (I do love my sleep!), it calculates your quality of sleep based on your movement during the night and works out how many hours deep sleep and how many hours light sleep you’re getting per night. Makes it really easy to spot the nights I was drunk….

So it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a fitbit, but it is also only £20 instead of £70 so if you’re more worried about price than you are data analytics (or accuracy) it’s a decent enough substitute and will encourage you to get your steps done for the day!

Get yours here 

Getting My Running Mojo Back

‘I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench’ – Satchel Paige

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with running, well with exercise in general to be honest. I only ever joined the gym because i’d started Weight Watchers and realised that the more exercise I did the more I could eat. I started running in 2013 after we’d decided to try Insanity at home then realised that anything anything would be better than that medieval torture DVD.

So suffice to say that any exercise I’ve done is because it’s been the lesser of two evils. And however cliche it may sound, when I first started running, I literally couldn’t run to the end of the street. So with Dave’s help (who runs ultra marathons incidentally, so there really was no excuse for me not to try). I did just that. I ran to the end of the street.

Then I would run to the next lamppost, then the next one, then the bench by the pub, and before long, I’d done my first 5K. Not long after that I set myself the goal of running to the airport and back, which is bob on 5 miles. Achieving that felt like I’d ran a marathon. I’d definitely caught the running bug.

Problem is thought i’m vey much a fair weather runner and it doesn’t take much for me to take an excuse to just go to the gym instead; It’s too windy, it’s too wet, it’s too cold it’s too hot, or most recently, I don’t have the right trainers – there’s that path of least resistance theory again.

I’ve mentioned before that I have flatter feet than Donald Duck, makes me great at swimming, crap at running and as such i need decent trainers that mean I no longer have the gait of a Weeble and make me need to hip replacement at 34 . I got some brand new trainers for my birthday (my trusty Asics Kayanos and quite literally wearing the lining off my last pair) so there really was no excuse now. Besides, everyone in the world seems to have been training for the Great North Run this summer, and I like feeling part of a gang.

So i laced up my new kicks, downloaded some cheesy motivational running tunes and set out for my first 5k in about 4 months. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, and i was pretty much unable to move for 48 hours afterwards but i did it. And thinking how much effort it took me to run 5K not that long ago, the fact that I could run it reasonably ok after doing nothing other than crosstraining for 4 months felt like an achievement.

The main thing i like about running, other than it tones you up like nothing else (i swear I almost saw an ab once) is that it’s all you. The effort is all you. You’re not being helped along by water, or a machine, and yes sometimes you get lucky on a particularly windy day and get pushed home but other than that it’s you doing all the work and that’s why it hurts so much! But it’s also why it does you so much good.

So although my first 5k was a success it still feels like a long road back to 10K. Out all i needed to get my running mojo back was a new pair of trainers and to run out of excuses.

A hike around Sherwood Forest

‘Exercise is important, but exercise in a gym is not important. Go and take a walk outside. Skip the umpteenth coffee date and go for a hike instead. Take the stairs. Walk your errands’ – Daphne Oz

One of the best ideas I think I’eve had this year was to write our bucket list down with the hope of actually getting somethings ticked off it. It’s something I’ve kind of always had going in my head but trust me, there’s an awful lot of other rubbish that swirls around there on any given day and sometimes you can’t see the opportunities even when they’re right in front of you.

Like some short of weird internet divine intervention, that same day I posted our bucketlist, the Travelzoo top 20 email popped into my inbox (well, that fact in itself isn’t divine intervention, they both just happened to be a Wednesday) what was spooky though was upon said list was a deal for 2 nights in a Ringwood Hall hotel near Chesterfield. Which is near Sherwood Forest. Which is on the bucket list. Hear what I’m saying?

So we left our drizzly raining offices after work on a friday and drove the couple hours down to Nottinghamshire, where of course it was nice and sunny (it always is anywhere south of Darlington).


We’d set aside a whole day at Sherwood so after a hearty breakfast (a very hearty breakfast) we set off on the 20 minute journey. Sherwood Forest is owned by Nottinghamshire Council so there was a small £3 parking fee but we expected that. At the visitors centre there’s ample parking and plenty of Robin Hood themed facilities like Ye Olde Loos, Ice Cream Shoppe and Hark! The Vistors Centre – I may be embellishing on some of the names but you get the idea, it was quirky and quaint and I imagine kids would love it.

There are quite a few walking routes around the Forest which are clearly marked by wooden coloured signs, however the longest one is only about 5K and we were prepared to spend the majority of the day there so downloaded this 8 mile walking route from the Sherwood Forest Trust to follow, which would take us pretty much all the way around the Forest and end up at Major Oak and eventually the visitor centre car park

It really helped that we were blessed with such a beautiful day as we set off on our walk passing the Cricket Ground and a little small fun fair. It’s hard to imagine how little operations like the funfair stay running but I guess the park must have enough tourism to warrant it’s existence.  Once you get away from the car parks though you’re very quickly into the depths of the forest (or ‘The Glen’ as I preferred to call it). I think the Robin Hood fanatic in me was disappointed that they hadn’t hired actors to dress as men in tights and swing around the tree tops or ride past you on their horse doffing their caps. Snapping myself quickly out of the dream world I clearly inhabit, I remembered it is a conversation site and having people muck about in tree treetops for my entertainment probably wouldn’t be best for it’s preservation. Sherwoodcollahe

Sadly the forest isn’t as big as it once was, a lot of it has been lost due to deforestation which is why the council stepped in and took over. As far as walks go it’s a really pleasant one and almost entirely flat so won’t be too tough on the knees. There are however a few little muddy trails if you’re following the same walk we did. As it takes you right around the periphery of the forest before taking you back inside to see the rest it goes off the beaten trail slightly and I would hate to try and wade through some of those boggy footpaths after some heavy rain. Wear sensible shoes I guess is what I’m saying, but hey if you’re walking 8 miles around a forest you’re unlikely to be doing it in stripper heels are you?

The walk we did is really easy to follow, especially if you use the instructions as well as we found the map once printed off a little hard to read. It was very quiet and peaceful, the only people we really came across was the odd dog walker and some lost Duke of Edinburgh students. Once you get towards the end of the walk however and closer to Major Oak you’re back in tourist territory and it’s noticeably busier.

Major Oak is a large English Oak  which according to legend is where Robin Hood and all his merry men would shelter and sleep. Why Kevin Costner never used it in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves I’ve no idea, would have easily kept him, Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater pretty warm and dry. It weighs an estimated 23 tons, has a girth of 33 feet (10 metres), a canopy of 92 feet (28 metres), and is about 800–1000 years old. In a 2002 survey, it was voted ‘Britain’s favourite tree’ and 2014 it was voted ‘England’s Tree of the Year’ by a public poll by the Woodland Trust (kind of like X-Factor but for trees I suppose).

Our walk took us just shy of 2 and half hours so since we had some time to kill and the whether was so nice we took out service station sandwiches we’d bought on the way, along with some cider we picked up at a local off licence and sat and watched some local cricket in the sunshine. Just like in days of yore.



Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – The Kielder 100K

Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known’ – Rex Pace

When you start to think about people you really admire, it’s easy to come up with the same old answer every time, a celebrity or a sports star, people you’re detached from and are almost superhuman. It’s easy to forgot that actually real people are doing amazing things around us all the time, we just don’t notice it as much because it’s not trending on Twitter.

I admire lots of people in my day to day life; there are lots of female senior managers at work I aspire to be like, my mum raised two kids alone in a foreign country while my dad worked to provide for us, my dad and brother how work ethics that are second to none. All little bits of different people that I take inspiration from and wish I could be like.

Then there’s my husband Dave, who, as you’ll know has taken up running ultra-marathons over the last couple of years, which, as far as my fat stumpy non-runner legs are concerned is nothing short of bionic. A few weeks ago Dave undertook his second Ultra; the Kielder 100k, which he’d planned to do as a warm up for the EnduRun24 in May, but when that got cancelled, Kielder turned into race day.There are 3 distances you can do for the Kielder Ultra; 50K, 80K and 100K.


So, how did he get on? He and fellow runner Ryan who completed (and only bloody won!) the 50K leg tell all…

How did Kielder compare to any races in the past?
Dave: I only really have one ultra, The Wall, to compare to. Kielder is shorter (even the 100K distance) but that is where any prospect of it being easier ends. The terrain under foot is probably the most difficult aspect of the race. It is extremely wet bog for large portions of the first half of the race. There are also some very steep hills, far from runnable for all but the very gifted. The course is designed to take the most difficult path so doubles back and takes odd detours just to be awkward! It is very pretty though, if you can see through the fog…

Ryan: It was quite similar but less hilly than most races of late, however the terrain took me by surprise. I’ve ran many parts of Kielder before but not where the course took us, it was fantastic and brutal in parts.

What are your pre-race rituals?
This race was unusual because it took place on a Sunday. Most ultras seem to start on a Saturday,as they may go on well into the next day depending on the cut off times and the speed of the competitors. We were due to register in late afternoon so having stuffed the car full of equipment we drove up to the start/finish point. We were one of the first people to arrive so went and chose our camp spot and put up the tent. Registration was simple and pretty low key. After that we went for a short walk down to the edge of the reservoir to take in the view and soak up a bit of the spring sunshine. The race briefing didn’t add much information and the details which were added went over my head a bit. I found it difficult to retain any navigation tips and apply them to a course I hadn’t seen, especially without a map in front of me. After the briefing we cooked dinner outside in rapidly dropping temperatures before quickly deciding that the local put was the best option (tonic water only for me). I didn’t really feel nervous rather just impatient to get to the running. Out camp was quite comfortable, but it still took a while to go to sleep.

Ryan: This has changed in the last year, I used to have a bowl of pasta and half a bottle of wine! Recently I’ve been reading a book by Renee McGregor called “Training Food” no I’ve don’t drink the night before but still have a carb rich diet. I make sure my kit is ready and laid out for the morning, most ultras start really early so I like to be really organised and have no stress in the morning.


The weather was pretty dramatic early on, how did that affect you physically and mentally?
Dave: We weren’t expecting to wake up to a tent covered in snow! It made getting to the start on time more of a panic and made me a bit apprehensive. It also made it hard to know where you were placing your feet. I fell over multiple times and almost twisted an ankle on countless other occasions. My feet were soaked almost immediately from the start and stayed that way despite multiple sock and shoe changes throughout the day. They were uncomfortably cold at points and the wet going made me over concerned with the chance of blisters which contributed to some tactical mistakes. I did actually find that the deep snow on my lower legs felt like it was keeping them nice and cool so wasn’t a problem.

What was the hardest part of the day?
The hardest section is the first big loop (leg 2) that the 100/80K runners complete over Deadwater and Peel fells, due to the terrain and steepness. However for me, the third leg was worst as I changed shoes to get dry feet, but this left me in shoes that did not give enough grip. The paths were partly very wet clay/mud which was extremely slippery, and I fell hard twice in as many minutes. The logging tracks were also covered in the debris of logging activity, particularly stray branches which slowed me to a crawl.

Ryan: I found the lakeside paths the hardest, I’ve ran around them over 20 times but as I’m training for another race currently most of my training has involved running up big hills, the more undulating sections of the lakeside path were more difficult than previous times I’d ran on them. The guys I ran with had really good flat speed which made me struggle.

What nutrition/hydration kept you going?
Dave: I ate mainly jelly babies but I stuffed the odd bit of different food into my mouth at checkpoints. For hydration I used Nuun hydration tablets with water and some sports drinks.

Ryan: I’ve always been good with nutrition on races, I’ve luckily never suffered from stomach problems and can eat anything, I’ve been known to eat jalapeno pizzas! Recently I’ve switched to Tailwind nutrition, it gives me everything I need to get round, it also aides my recovery. Since I’ve switched to it my results have improved beyond belief, it’s given me a new found confidence.

Who did you meet along the way and how important is it to have company?
Dave: I ran with a guy called Stu for some of the first leg. I like to talk to people early on to distract me from any nerves. I ran most of the exposed Peel Fell section with a lady called Cathy which was really reassuring because the visibility was terrible, the course markings not always obvious, and I wasn’t carrying GPS.

Ryan: The thing I’ve always like about ultras is the people you meet. As you’re not usually running at eyeballs out pace you can generally have a good chat and get to know people, you’re out on your feet for a long time so it’s a great way to pass the hours. I met Simon and Mark within the first couple of miles, we got chatting, it turned out I knew friends of Simon and knew who he was through the twitter ultra community. It made a huge difference, we worked as team really well, by that I mean there were times were one of us was struggle at some point and we stuck together to get each other through. I’ve ran on my own and in groups and can honestly say wouldn’t have got through the day as well if I’d been on my own all that time.


Dave had signed up for the 100K race but made the decision to drop down to the 80K…..
Dave: There were a variety of factors in the decision to drop down. Leg 3 was a disaster in terms of footwear, which slowed me a lot and made me concerned about falls. Being behind schedule I realised that the head torch I was carrying would not be up to the task of running off road in pitch darkness. I had thought I would only really need it at the start when there were lots of other people around. The conditions, terrain and to some extent, the hills were much more severe than I expected so I was concerned about how much this might have taken out of me. Also other runners and even some of my support crew were talking about changing to the 80K distance from early on, which planted the thought in my head. The deciding factor I think was that the weather changed so dramatically that by the decision point it was glorious sunshine. I had done very little proper running due to the terrain so decided a sunny 20K around the lake to the finish sounded much better than
more rough terrain and hills. This would allow me to finish at a better time for supporters and for the drive home.


The weather was sightly better by the afternoon!

What state were your feet in afterwards?
Dave: Not bad, I think maybe one small blister. The main problem only showing itself towards the end of the race was bruised big toes. More unusual for me has been that I’ve had a sore mouth, particularly gums for about five days after the event which made it painful to eat or have hot drinks. My main guess is that it is something to do with the electrolyte drinks but it could high glucose in food and other drinks, or just the amount of air breathed over the 12 hours running.

Ryan: Feet were fine, they got a soaking in the first 2 miles and again throughout the course.  Touch wood, I’ve always been lucky with my feet, I on’t tend to suffer from blisters.  I wear Injinji toe socks and Salomon Sense Ultra shoes and it;’s a combination that seems to work really well.  After St Cuthberts 100km, race director couldn’t believe how good a condition my feet were in, he jokingly questioned if I’d actually ran the course!

What one thing will you take away from the day?
Dave: Well I coped better than I thought as this was my first real trail race. Finishing 6th with relative ease and finishing strongly (3rd best final section time) confirmed that starting slow and getting stronger is more fun than heading out fast and running out of steam.

Ryan: The two great friends I made in Simon and Mark, my first ever race win and a lovely new Salomon Slab 12 Set, my running pack of choice!

Finally getting some editing done #kielderultra #teamvague

A post shared by Helen Newman (@honestlyhelen) on

What’s the next date in the running diary?
Dave: July 16th, St Cuthbert’s Ultra, another 100K race. I’ve got some unfinished business to attend to!

Ryan: I’m doing the Highland Fling on April 30and then my first 100 miler attempt, South Wales 100, a beast of a race in the Brecon beacons.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing their first ultra run?
Dave: Firstly, have you considered something more sensible?! Before the race, test out decent kit and do as many training miles as possible without injury. On race day focus on nutrition, hydration and pacing.

Ryan: Get entered, get training and enjoy the whole experience. It’s more doable than you think, if you break it down into sections, checkpoint to checkpoint, it makes it much more manageable. One last tip, when you think you can’t possibly take another step, trust me you can, it’s amazing what happens when you push yourself beyond that point. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll get there eventually!


Ryan Hogben has always enjoyed distance running after completing his first ever half marathon and building from there. He says he’s never enjoyed the shorter distances and after couple of guys at his old running club had done G2E, a 55 mile ultra along canal paths from Glasgow to Edinburgh, he took the plunge and was hooked. The Kielder Ultra was his 12th race of ultra-distance.You can follow his own running adventure here.

Thanks very much to Steve at for allowing me to use his brilliant pictures!

2016 Resolution number 6 – an Update

‘It’s not exactly the most relaxing activity, granted, but I always imagine I’m sweating out all the things weighing on my mind’ – Becca Fitzpatrick

Back in January it felt obligatory to jump on the blogging bandwagon that was doing the rounds that week and I created my 16 in 16. 16 resolutions for 2016 (god help me in 2072!). I remember posting it and getting a few positive comments about them and it was all lovely but I don’t think, if I’m honest with myself I was under any illusion that I would actually do any of them. Believe me I’ll say pretty much any old shit for the sake of a half decent blog post.

So fast forward a few months I  noticed on my stats page that for some weird reason, my 16 in 16 post was being read again, which made me read it again, if only to laugh at myself for spending 3 hours creating a useless list of half baked ideas that were going to somehow make my life better. The most surprising thing is, I have actually managed to do a few of them. Perhaps one of my resolutions should have been ‘be less hard on myself’?

Anyway, that gave me the idea to create a few posts giving updates on some of the things I said I would do, and low and behold I actually have!

Number 6 on the list was:

Get back into running – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I don’t particularly enjoy it and I find it difficult, but I’ve always a bit of a masochist, I like punishing myself by doing things I don’t enjoy. Health wise nothing tones me up like running, it gives me the opportunity to discover new music, and it completely clears my head when I’m down. I know all the benefits it brings, I just need to get it done.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fair weather runner. I don’t find anything wrong with not wanting to run outside in the pissing rain, or snow, in fact I think that’s a perfectly normal attitude to have. Problem is, spring has sprung, the clocks have changed so we have more daylight hours, which means I have less excuses not to get off my fat backside and get out and get it done.

I haven’t ran properly since I did the Blaydon Race with Dave and Steph last year and it’s worrying to think that this time last year I ran 10k everyday over Easter weekend, there’s no way I could have done that this Easter weekend. No way Jose. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying to keep fit of course, I’ve started spinning semi regularly and still going to the gym almost 6 times a week. I just haven’t been running. So I decided 2 weeks ago to start up again.


As you’ve probably gathered if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I don’t go particularly easy on myself. My usual comfortable distance always used to be 10K but I knew that trying to do that after not running for 8 months would be ridiculously hard and I would say really horrible things to myself when I was unable to achieved it. So I’m basically starting again. Well, starting at 5k at least, then building on that whenever I can.

So far so good, I’m trying to get out at least twice a week (weather dependent) and building up a kilometre a week. I figured that if I can maintain that level of ramping up, I should be running 10k’s again by the weekend of Steph & Chris’ wedding at the end of April.

Not that their wedding requires their guests to participate any form of distance running of course, that would be weird, but it should hopefully mean I’m back to a level of fitness that enables me to wear a very unforgiving bodycon dress I’ve had in my wardrobe for 18 months and never been brave enough.

I’m really hoping I stick with it and get back into it again, even if it’s just bashing out a 10k once a week when I have time at the weekend because when I’m fitter, I do enjoy running a bit more, and the better I get at it the more adventurous I can be by running in some areas with nicer scenery – like along the river Tyne, which is one of my favourite places to run.

I’ll be perfectly honest though, the main reason I like running so much is that it absolutely melts calories which means I can eat more chocolate and drink more wine!



Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – A Spanner in the Works

‘You start without any problems, without any pain. All the pain comes after 30K. Sometimes, it’s possible to have pain even in the finger’ – Haile Gebrselassie

It’s been a while since Dave’s done an update about his ultra running adventures at the beginning of the year and it feels like loads as changed since then. From an outsiders point of view i.e. mine, its seems to be going well. He’s fitter now than he was this time before The Wall, and he’s managing to do some incredible distances practically 3 times a week. Here’s Dave to explain more:

It feels like a long time since Christmas and training’s been going really well since then. Now that all the indulgence of that time of year is out the way I’ve been able to concentrate more on my diet; eating more fruit, vegetables and fish to make sure I’m nice and light but still strong enough to tackle such long distances. The typical North East weather hasn’t helped and we’ve had  a much colder February than January, with more threats of snow and ice which has forced me inside to run on the treadmill – something I’m not overly keen as it makes a long run even longer and more boring.



Getting some small sponsorship of some Argi+ from Angela at Versatile Aloe Vera has been a massive help. I’ve tried all kinds of rehydration drinks with varying degrees of success. Argi+ is probably the nicest tasting rehydration drink (mixed berries) I’ve had so far which sounds like a small point but when hydration is so vital, drinking plain water all the time gets very boring very quickly – taste is everything. Apparently it has two uses; to boost your energy pre-race or aide with recovery post race. I found it has a mild bloating affect on me so feel it’s definitely better suited as a recovery aide. I’ve found it incredibly moreish so really helps with getting the much needed electrolytes back in the body. The extra hydration means I’ve definitely noticed being less crampy after long runs. The little sachets have also proved useful as they’re small enough to fit in your running vest to take out with you in case of an emergency when you’re 15K from home and bored of warm, tasteless water!*

A real high point of training so far has been getting 70K done in one weekend (35k back to back on the Saturday and Sunday). Sometimes having a break between long runs can be worse than just keeping going as you tend to seize up or don’t rehydrate enough to go out and do it all again. To be able to manage this without much in the way of crampiness or fatigue really shows how far I’ve come with training. Sadly last week I seem to have tweaked a muscle in the top of my right leg which hurt to even walk on for a few days. I’ve given myself the weekend off and it’s feeling much better now. I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a weekend’s training to make sure you fully recover than to force yourself to keep on training and risking more permanent damage.


Rather out of the blue at the beginning of February we got a call from Newcastle racecourse to say the big race; EnduRun24, the run I’ve been training so hard for has been canceled due to renovations to the course that won’t be complete by race day. This came as a huge shock and really threw me for a few days. I’ve got mixed feelings about it now though. I was psyched up for it and it would have been a massive achievement, and something completely different from The Wall I did in 2014 but on the other hand it would have been extremely mentally challenging. It would have been easy to stay hydrated and fueled up due to the lap nature of the course, but I feel it would have been mentally hard to keep going for such a long time round and round the same course for hours on end.

All that being said it hasn’t really changed my training plan really as I was always going to do the Kielder Ultra (100k) as part of my training for EnduRun24 so I’m still remaining focused on that. I also have my eye on the St Oswalds Way 100 Mile Ultra in September as it’s also quite local. Having EnduRun24 cancelled at least means now I can recover fully from Kielder and still have plenty of time to train for St Oswalds without running myself ragged, no pun intended!

*For more information on Arg+ products you can visit Angela’s site here or email her at: