JCP Swansea Half 2016

swansea 2016 before
Before. Was I the only Half fanatic at Swansea?
Swansea Half Marathon, 26th June 2016. Swansea.
During. “Come on Sponge Bob”


I started this review by looking at my notes from last year and noted that I was really impressed with four holes in the bib number to aid pinning to your vest – unfortunately missing this year – but was also impressed with our names printed above the numbers which was great as spectators urged you on.

As can be seen from the “During” photo I wore my quiet, subdued, disappear into the background running vest which stopped everyone shouting “Come on Clive” and had everyone shouting “Keep going Sponge Bob”. Spectators were excellent, by the way, this year – along the whole course again and very vocal.

Tapered well this year and the weather was a lot cooler but still humid under the cloud cover. I made the basic beginner error of starting at the front of my pen, going out to quick, feeling ok so keeping the same pace for ten miles, having heavy and tired legs for the last three point one. A week later the stiffness is just coming out of those tired legs.

One benefit of going out too quick is that I took 12 minutes off last years time (not bad over 13 miles) finishing in 2 hrs 19 min. The downside of the race getting bigger each year is the fact that in spite of going quicker, I dropped from 45th to 55th in the Male Vet 60+ category.

said last year that the goody bag was average but would get better as sponsors came on board and that is exactly what happened. Drinks, banana, energy bars, joint tablets, joint ache cream (used on left knee) and other stuff. Said last year I would do it again and say the same this year. Good and flat with lots of support.

swansea 2016 after
After. Yet another nice quiet tee shirt.









Cracked The Nutrition Thing – before And During A Run

After years of trying to find the right nutritional path, lots of running with a sloshing stomach, tired legs and with blood/sugar levels all over the place, I think I have finally cracked it.

My preparation for my long Sunday run seemed a bit complicated for a 5.30am start,  so I wrote myself a note the night before. Here’s the very note and this is what I wrote:

Make coffee with butter

Put into blender

Add coconut oil

Add Ucan

Drink 30 minutes before start of run.

Add Ucan to water bottle and take with you.

To be a bit more precise

Carve off a quarter inch slice of Anchor Butter (butter from grass fed cows so Kerrygold is just as good) and slice into my tall cappuccino glass. Put under coffee machine and pour in the hot, black, Nescafe Dolce Gusto Grande Intenso coffee. Place into blender. Add concentrated MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) coconut oil, add one scoop plain Generation Ucan powder and blend it all up. Pour back into cappuccino glass and enjoy.

What sort of a difference did it make to my run? Well, miles 0 to 15 went like a dream with no loss of energy. Miles15 to 20 were tiring as you would expect but although my legs felt tired I didn’t have that “dead legs with no energy left in them” feeling.

Heart rate zone 2 running, was the order of the day, which is difficult when there are so many hills around where I live but I managed to stay within zone (134-144) for 16 out of the 20.68 miles. As an aside, does anyone else go off into a dream world while running and wake up in heart rate zone 3 ?

My 1980s marathons weren’t fuelled at all, unless you count pasta the night before, and my 2010-12 marathons were fuelled on Cliff Bars before the race and sugar gels through the race. The gels always gave me a strange stomach feel and in the Dublin marathon I was offered at a feed station, and took, a gel that was extremely fruity that felt like it was burning my stomach like acid would.

After much research (mainly from podcasts, all of which are reviewed and praised in an earlier posting) I went NSNG last October. Becoming ketonic from no sugars no grains and getting all my carbs from lots of lovely vegetables, has served me well. I am lucky that I do not need to lose masses of weight so, for me, it is a lifestyle shift for the sake of the change and for staying healthy, although I am 6lb lighter.

It was later that I discovered the coffee and butter thing and then later again after that, the coconut oil. My breakfast now consists of coffee with butter and coconut oil in it and that keeps from thinking about food until 1.00pm. Many will say that it is psychological, but my brain is I am sure, more alert than it used to be. How can I tell? I am learning a language while driving (Welsh). It used to be that on a long morning drive I would listen to a couple of lessons, start yawning and turn off the tapes and turn on music. Now I am listening to the tapes through the journey and the return journey. Note that Dave Asprey (Bulletproof Diet) calls the MCT oil brain food.

So much for day to day, I wanted this lifestyle to help with my running, to allow me to burn fat as a fuel rather than sugar, to help me avoid the crash after the insulin rush and dive forcing me to take in just one more gel. What confused me then was suggestions from seasoned marathon runners and ultra runners, who were NSNG, to fuel on a carbohydrate called Generation Ucan. It didn’t make sense to me to eat fat, run at zone 2 and burn fat and then to ingest carbohydrate. So – more research.

It turns out that (I can’t remember this bit so this is a direct quote from their literature) Generation Ucan is a product made from modified corn starch – GM free, which allows for sustained natural energy levels, without the spikes and crashes of normal energy drinks. It’s a slow release complex carbohydrate that allows your body to access your fat supplies easier for fuel.

The bit that sold me to this product (by the way I think I should say that I am not sponsored in any way) is the statement that there is “No gastric distress, because super starch is a large molecule that passes through the stomach quickly and is digested slowly in the intestines.”

If I had to change one thing on my next long run it would be to carry more water as I was becoming dehydrated towards the end of the run, partly due to being so wrapped up against the elements. Looks like I will have to sterilise my Camelback water bladder ready for my next long run – I will let you know how it goes.

Flu Recovery And Podcast Listening

I didn’t need the flu jab because I never get colds – big mistake. Was it flu? Perhaps man flu? Whatever it was it saw me coughing for four weeks and breathing on, what felt like, half of one lung. Running outside in the cold was out of the question so, in one of the weeks, I managed two sessions of run-walking for two miles just to keep my limbs moving.

On a separate issue to this blog, having managed 4 miles in one week, what was I to do the following week if I was feeling well again? 4.4 miles? Followed by 4.8 miles? Time to move down the page to my previous blog on the myth about only only ever increasing your mileage by 10% a week.

So anyway, what do you do to keep motivated while you wait for your lungs to recover? For me, it was listening to the many podcasts that have accumulated on my iPhone. I subscribe to a number of podcasts that I like and admire and my (free) subscription means that they accumulate until I listen to them. Usually I have between five and ten not listened to episodes of each podcast waiting but, for some (see below) there are none, as I listen to the episode as soon as it arrives. I will go through each of the running and/or lifestyle podcasts that I listen to below and give what can only be my personal thoughts on each. If you think from my description that you might like to subscribe to any of them, then please do and then branch out from there. The way you branch out, in my experience, is by listening to your normal podcasts as, the way podcasting expands, is by podcasters inviting other podcasters onto their podcasts! Something else to be aware of is that once you subscribe you are usually able to download past episodes so that you are not sat there waiting for the next episode.

One quick explanation of where I am coming from in reviewing these podcasts as you may be (probably are) coming from a completely different perspective. Briefly, I am a 61 year old marathon runner, looking to run my first ultra, who has recently gone no sugars no grains (NSNG) and is half way through the book “The Bulletproof Diet” by Dave Asprey, and enjoying it. I live in the UK and nearly all of the podcasts that I listen to emanate from the USA. I have listened to one UK podcast and one that was half UK and half USA and unsubscribed both of them after a few episodes. That is not to say there are no good running / lifestyle podcasts coming out of Europe, just that I haven’t found them yet.

Obviously, for all of us in Europe, there are differences in speech etc. when listening to American podcasts. The biggest one for me, which took me a while to fathom, is their use of a weird temperature scale which, for some reason, goes from something like 32 to 212. It is called Farenheit and may confuse you if you hear on a podcast that someone was cold on a run because the temperature was down to 20 which would be a nice Summer day on a scale of nought to a hundred. Another thing that you will have to get used to in some, but not all, American podcasts is that some people, usually younger females for some reason, raise their voices up at the end of a statement as if they are asking a question. If you can ignore these differences though and they don’t grate on you, the information you can gain is invaluable.

Marathon Training Academy

This is the first podcast that I started listening to and is the one that I mentioned above that I listen to as soon as episodes arrive. Run and hosted by Angie and Trevor, the podcast comes over as a laid back chat with a mom and dad of three kids who are desperate to learn and to pass on what they have learned to you the listener. Angie is the more advanced runner and also coaches for a fee but does not ram the advert that she coaches down your throat as she limits herself to around 35 coaching clients and usually has that many and needs no more. My knowledge has increased at the same rate as Angie’s as I listen to these podcasts. Trevor has only been running for four years and is therefore the student to Angie’s coaching which works well in the podcast. I would highly recommend this podcast as a good starting point as I find it well edited, to the point and usually gives different points of view for each item discussed. It was through this podcast that I started zone 2 running which changed my life.

Vinnie Tortorich – The Angriest Trainer

I think this was probably my second podcast subscription and I believe I first heard Vinnie on the Marathon Training Academy podcast. It is completely different to the above podcast and thrives on the fact that it is unedited, random, has occasional swearing and it is a sort of chat between Vinnie and his co-host Anna Vocino. Vinnie trains people in California, film stars, producers etc and has been advocating NSNG for some time through the podcast and through his book Fitness Confidential. Although he runs Vinnie is more of an ultra cyclist. At first I loved this podcast and have grown with it over time. Unfortunately, my impression is that the adverts (random chat adverts) that can go on for some time, have become more and more of the programme, especially the adverts for Vinnie’s own product The Pure Vitamin Club, which sounds a great product, only availably in the USA, but pushed too hard. We all know that podcasts have to be funded and this is often by product placement, adverts and sponsorship but this podcast seems to me to have more of that than any other podcast that I listen to. You also have to pay a monthly fee to be able to download past episodes, something I have not come across on any other podcast.

The Running Lifestyle Show with Keri Gormley

I discussed above some podcasts where, usually younger females, go up at the end of a sentence as if a statement is a question. This grates on some Europeans but, if you can ignore it, there is good info coming out of this podcast. Keri appears to be quite new to running compared with other podcasters so would be a good one to follow if you are newish to running and runners diets also. There is a lot of diet info also which is NSNG or as sometimes mentioned as LCHF (low carbo high fat) and this is given by a registered dietician who appears on almost every podcast. Unfortunately, like a lot of youngsters throughout the world, this dietician tries to get as many of the words “like” into a sentence as possible, sometimes achieving four or five. You like know like the type like of thing I like mean i’m like sure. Again this may grate but if you can ignore it there is some good info and, although the podcast is mainly geared to young females, and is often a bit flowery (giggling, vision boards etc) this 61 year old bloke is still subscribed.

The Livin’ La Vida Low-carb Show with Jimmy Moore.

Love this podcast, listened recently to the 900th episode so it has been around a while. Good guests and a more technical podcast than the more chatty versions. Some of the more interesting podcasts for me have been direct recordings of speakers at a low carb conference held in Australia. Download the 900th episode which is a highlights show and will give you a flavour. I should say that Jimmy doesn’t always have guests on who agree with his views, he sometimes talks to guests who completely disagree with NSNG to get a balanced view.

The Ask Prof Noakes Podcast with Brad Brown

Professor Tim Noakes has appeared on many podcasts and seems to have been around for decades. He is very knowledgeable about diet and running and has been writing books since the 80s and has seen (and even admits to prescribing) the wrong information that was around at that time. He seems to have been responsible for getting people to drink to thirst on a marathon rather than over drinking as is still often prescribed. These are very short podcasts and you will probably listen to a number at a time. Basically Brad comes on, asks a listeners question, gets the Prof to answer the question and the podcast ends.

To sum up, some people listen to these and other podcasts via iPhone, IPod or similar, as inspiration as they run. Personally, when I run outside, I listen to bird song and the environment around me. I have a job with occasional long driving runs and this is when I listen to these podcasts, gaining information rather than listening to mindless background music.