Run Fatboy – Run

65kg, lean, leggy & from a small kenyan tribe is how we envisage most high end distance runners to be.

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Even the occasional white athlete high up in the distance rankings appears to be running to find a sandwich. Before they slip through a grid in the road.

It’s easy to watch these guys knock out a marathon faster than you can walk to the shops, and assume all runners are like that.

That running and athletics clubs are made up of 95% Usain Bolt like animals, and a few coaches that breath fire and will judge you for being slow.

But this really isn’t the case.

In fact, 80% of the running community is the opposite, and you should check it out.

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Some of you may find the title of this blog slightly offensive, I promise that’s not how it’s intended. I’m the “fat boy”, in this scenario.

This month I have run my first marathon, 10k, duathlon and got my first 5k lined up soon.

I’m 84/85kg, 6′ 1, and wide. You don’t have to look far in a 10k to pick me out from the field. Instantly out of place.

For a competitive runner, I’m considered heavy.. very heavy. But I’ve been out there getting it done.

And it’s all kinds of fun.

It all started 4 weeks ago when I ran the fabulous Manchester marathon for my new partner, Asics.

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Now I’ve ‘run’ 4 marathons after 180km on the bike and 3.8km of swimming.
Easy pickings for a man like me.You’d think….

With a 25mi time trial on the Saturday, 5 hours sleep and a greasy fully English. I was on the start line Sunday morning thinking, “why am I here?”.

Having planned to run with asics team mate, the incredible Nick Butter, www.nickbutter.com I quickly found a comfortable rhythm, and decided I had the legs to push a bit.

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So, off I trotted, leaving Nick to waltz round, stopping at Tesco for an ice cream. As you do mid 3:20 marathon?!

Around the 10k mark I found myself up with the 3 hour pacer and decided I’d push beyond, seeing how much the legs would stretch.


Picking up Tomas B, another top ultra runner around the 15k mark, we decided to hold a firm 4:05/km pace, and chat the mid section away.
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At this point I knew I was moving well, even hauling around my excess shoulders & big frame, I knew I could string together a solid time. So at 35km I kicked out, opened the legs, and hit the gas button.
Then as expected, it hurt. It hurt a lot. Pushing and pushing, gritting my teeth and chasing down runner after runner, I crawled my way through some of the field in front of me, crossing the line in a very respectable 2:53:53.
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And it gave me confidence.

All kinds of confidence.

I knew at that point, that everything I’d heard about the lightweight runners, was a myth.

Sure, if I want to be competitive at big races, kona, marathons, halves. I need to shred the weight. Lose the excess.

But James Cracknell just ran a 2:43 at London marathon near 100kg, so what’s the excuse?

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Off the back of my new confidence I decided I’d play, push it to see where I could get to.

Seeing the asics boys running 120km+ a week, I started to build and up the miles.

I was lucky enough to visit my best friends parents out for Easter weekend, and momma Lightfoot’s birthday. To ensure I didn’t miss training, Alex came out on the bike for a chat, so I could run accompanied.

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I ended up running a 1:31 half marathon, with more in the tank. Not the ideal prep the day before my first ever 10k!
None the less we turned up in Regent’s Park, weary eyed & full of 4 Easter eggs each. To see what my legs could produce.The regular comments on the start line as I shuffled to the front, “he’s a big boy”, “backing himself there”..

A wry smile spreading across Alex’s face. He knew the drill.

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And as expected, 500 runners set off at 10am, me & 3 immediately off the front, hard at it.

Having never run a 10k I didn’t know how hard to run, what to do, how to pace it. So we’d come up with a plan.

Run on the heels of the fastest guy. And stay there.

How hard can it be?

Lead by a strong runner from St. Albans, the 3:35/km pace was just right to feel the pinch, without feeling burned out.

Sat on the back of the 4 I was sticking to the game plan. Lap one, 3.3km down. All 4 runners still in the game.

This could get real fun I thought. But these boys can run, they’re playing with me. Half way and someone was gonna open up that gas and ask all kinds of questions of our legs.

So I just held the pace, sat on the heels, kept the speed.

4K, 4 becomes 3.

5k, 3 becomes 2.

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Half way and I was feeling good. Hurting, but I knew I had a lot more.

And there was only two of us left?!

I couldn’t hold this guy the end surely. Lean, skinny, athletic. Clearly seasons from many a 10k skirmish.

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So I tried to hold him for lap 2/3. And managed to stay in contact, just sat on his heels. The awkward athlete that you just can’t shake off.

That’s when I passed Lightfoot. I couldn’t see the runners face but a crisp not from the main man, and I knew. I knew he was hurting, clearly more than me, so I could be in with a shot here?

If I could hold him to 8km, I could be in with a shot here.

The last 2km is just a viscous mind game, no matter how fit you are, how fast you’re going, it’s gonna hurt and you’ll have to dig deep.

But I had an advantage, my brief few years in rowing had taught me how to race side by side. A position few road runners or triathletes ever find themselves in.

The track mentality, knowing the mind games.

8km, I was still there, and he was looking around, worried, what was I going to do.

So I waited, picked my moment carefully. And as we split ways to pass a group of runners, I kicked out.

And for the first time in my life, I felt like I was running. Really, really running.

9km, 5 metres ahead.

Just two sentences on repeat in my mind.

“Don’t fudge this up, don’t fudge this up, don’t fudge this up”

“Go go go go go go go go go”

And I ran, and ran, and ran. Emptied the tank and came home a comfortable distance ahead. With a first ever 10k time of 35:18. Another very respectable start for a ‘big boy’.

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And the duathlon played out much the same. A bike course record even after 3 weeks off the bike, no shocks that was my strongest discipline.

Coming off the first run in 4th, off the bike in second. With gas still in the tank I ran the fastest second run leg, causing a bit of a stir amongst the athletes at the top end of the field.

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Who is this tall, unusually overweight man snapping at our heels?

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But the most important question, just because you think you’re heavy, are you?

The running community is one of the most welcoming in the world. Fellow Asics frontrunner Matt Rees showed that at the London Marathon carrying a fellow runner over the line in a video that fast went viral.

 

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Whether you run 5k in 15 minutes, or 50 minutes. Almost every club will welcome you with open arms, and have runners of your ability! You might not even think you can run 5k. It does not matter.

They’ll encourage you, help you, teach you tips and tricks. Chat to you, learn about your life, your interests, your hobbies. And before you know it, you could fall in love with the sport.

And you’ll ask yourself, what was I so scared of?!

Nobody will judge you. Because if you’re out there, getting it done, and striving for self improvement. You’ve already won the battle.

So get online, look for your local running clubs, find one with a time that suits, and go have yourself some fun!

I promise, you won’t regret it!

The Paleo Diet – Why to Try

Dieting.

A concept I for one have certainly struggled with this winter. As we move into summer and the weight starts to come off, I’ve pulled it together… just about?

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Me just before my summer diet.

But why is a good diet so important?

Well for a start, you can’t run a petrol car on diesel.

You wouldn’t choose start a fire with damp wood.

So why try and fuel your body with less than adequate nutrition?

And yes, it’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of a ‘baked good’ here and there. I mean, did a cinnamon swirl really ever kill anybody? Can a vanilla cupcake ruin your life?

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Probably not. But moderation is the key as we all know.

So after a meeting with a nutritionist I know quite well, we formulated a couple of options for my diet to move out of winter and into the summer, with the goal of keeping energy levels high and weight low.

A lot of you know that I struggle with IBS. For those of you that don’t know, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), is an irritation inside the digestive system, caused by anything from stress to gluten. And in my case, it gives me unbearable stomach cramps limiting my movement. Generally caused by an overdose of Oil, Gluten, Lactose or sugary foods. In recent months we (me and head chef Momma Schofield) have managed to keep it under control by keeping oily food down, and minimising gluten in my diet.

Now I generally sit around 83kg, and I only have to look at a chocolate bar to put 1kg on.

But that’s certainly no excuse.

So to get to 79kg there was work to be done.

Many athletes are the same, you work so hard for so many hours a week. You feel like you’ve really earned that dairy milk. I mean, a little dairy milk can’t harm right? We only bought a 500g bar….

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Some paleo treats whipped up for between sessions

But it’s a trap, meaning that many athletes remain at a constant weight, treating themselves far more than they realise. A dangerous game.

Me and the dietitian decided that the best solution while we had the time in the off season was to try the Paleo diet.

The what?

Yes, most people think the same.

I was familiar with the paleo diet as my old rowing coach Tony Larkman was a big advocate.

The paleo diet is a healthy derivative of the Atkins diet. It works to remove highly processed foods, refined sugars and carbs as well as trans fats.

Essentially, no carbohydrate, no dairy, no alcohol.

The latter being an easy one for me.

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Fish & Vegetables. The most basic paleo meal.

So what’s the theory behind this diet?

The idea is that similar to the cavemen, our body has to break down fat for fuel. This makes the body do more work to process food and help burn through the fat stores. High volumes of vitamins and minerals keep the body healthy, with fat becoming the primary energy source. This removes all the sugary foods & carbs that cause so many people in modern society to gain weight.

Yes that’s right.

It’s not fatty foods getting you, it’s the pasta and chocolate bars.

Not at the same time I hope.

A lot of people fall down on the paleo diet because they forget to replace the carbohydrates with fat.

Your body needs fuel to function.

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Without the potatos this would count!

If you cut carbs & turn to lean meat and vegetables.

It’s going to hit you hard.

Very hard.

So after trying the paleo diet for 6-8 weeks, and losing a substantial amount of weight, I managed to get very ill, and proceed to put it all back on again. My body adapted to the diet quicker than normal due to my high volume training & racing programme.

There’s only so long your body can burn carbs for before it uses the fat stores. So my system was already a step ahead. I had to occasionally cheat to include a bit of full fat Greek yoghurt or some peanut butter. But I was generally rather strict.

Would I recommend this diet?

Yes, yes I would.

And here’s why:

Despite the increase in oil and fat disagreeing with my ibs, the increase in vitamins and minerals really helped my body stay fresh and recover. The added micronutrients go a long way! I learned a huge amount about the composition of meals, different recipes, healthy snacks and a great breakfast recipe.

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Although I’m not paleo now I’ll still eat paleo meals 50% of the time as they’re healthy, fresh and fast. I didn’t think I’d be sitting down with a fish salad and a smile on my face.

Removing carbs allows you to make meals work without them. So adding enough clean carbs to recover becomes a very easy job!

In my opinion the best team in the world to have nutrition executed is the cycling team: Team Sky. The sports scientists they have working around the clock over there are phenomenal. Between them and british cycling they’ve cracked training and nutrition down to the tiniest percentage gain. And do they eat carbs? Unfortunately for all you paleo lovers out there, they do. So in the long run it must be better.

However if I can do 30 hours training a week without carbs. Then you can do it too! If you’re looking to lose weight and find a diet that can work, is sustainable and will teach you an incredible amount about your bodys needs and the way to eat easy, clean and fast, the Paleo diet is the one.

You’ll be very tired for a week or two while the body adjusts, but I promise you’ll feel fresh and healthy afterward.

Just back yourself!