St Helier, Jersey, Channel Isles

In The Swing.

Beautiful Jersey In The Spring.. Bring It On!

It’s a great time of the winter when the six nations rugby has started, the nights start to get a little lighter and getting out to do those runs seems to get that little bit easier.. It’s been an epic winter weather wise, even here in sunny Jersey, with gale force winds, flooded streets, cold mornings and muddy trails. Of course the allure for me to trail running in the winter is precisely the muddy trails and cold mornings, the feeling of being out in all weathers running, welcoming the rising sun when most people are tucked up in their warm beds is a good one, and whilst January was certainly not a record mileage month there has been some nice runs.

I remember this time last year being so motivated as I had the Marathon des Sables on the horizon in April and so I was training hard and with a focus that I have struggled to find so far this year. I might even venture to say I “have lost my mojo…” somewhat!

But this isn’t another post about soul searching, navel gazing or self-pity. This is a post about hope, the arrival of a new time, the phoenix rising from the ashes!

I am glad to say that fitness and motivation are coming back in equal measures, I had a quiet January building mileage slowly and doing plenty of Kettle bell training to complement the running. After last year there were few red flags; Lower back pain, shoulders slumping forward in the latter part of races and also problems with my hip flexors as well as the long standing issue with my knee/VMO. So at the start this year I decided I wanted to do more to condition my body correctly so as to build a solid base to be able to handle the races and challenges I have ahead of me this year.

I have really grown to love Kettle bell training and now see it as an important corner stone of my training regime. I think the amount of different exercises that can be done with such a simple piece of equipment is amazing and the amount of technique it takes to master the exercises is a big draw, particularly the dynamic exercises. I particularly like the fact that in a 30 minute session I can cover 20 or so different exercise and work on strength, work every muscle in the body and also work on an aerobic level as well. So for me it really ticks the boxes and I am starting to see real gains in my running, particularly in running form, running up hills and general endurance. I am excited to see how much this can help me and will be reporting through the year on this.

I recently went to see a specialist about my dodgy knee as I had been carrying it for a few months and felt the off season a good time to try and address it. The specialist examined it and referred me for an MRI scan to see what was going on inside. Once done and the results were in I went back to see him and initially he gave me the sobering news that I would need to rest and do no impact related activity for the rest of 2014 due to bone bruising and some cartilage damage on the inside section of my knee. I was absolutely blindsided by this to be honest. We talked a little and I told him of my plans for 2014 and he decided to re-examine the knee. He said that the symptoms had receded since the last time he had seen me and that he would still recommend that I take 3 months instead of a year..
I had some serious thinking to do.. At the start of this year I had set myself definite goals; Transvulcania in May, South Downs Way 100 in June and then I was planning to do the grand challenge of 7 x Round the Rock in 7 Days – totalling 336 miles in a week running around the island of Jersey, as well as a few other things here and there. All of a sudden this was all in jeopardy and I had to really think about what was important. Could I take 3 months off and maintain fitness? Could I take 3 months off and be motivated enough to then return to running? (My biggest fear!) When could I take 3 months off?? So I met with Coach Bruno and we discussed the forthcoming year; luckily my knee isn’t dehabilitating and I really want to do transvulcania so I decided to pull out from the SDW100 and carry on with the other plans.

Once I had decided this the emphasis had to be on trying to protect the knee as much as possible to enable some kind of recovery whilst also training. A fine line to walk and initially in early Jan a difficult balance to get, it seemed as soon as it was confirmed that there was something wrong with the knee that it hurt more and I seemed to get all sorts of niggles alongside it. It seemed to get worse and I was pretty despondent about the year ahead but I think that now I have turned a corner, fitness is coming back, strength work is kicking in which should enhance my running form and take strain off my knee, and I am using orthotics to try and alter my gait slightly as I have a fallen arch on the injured side (a strong contender for why I have a dodgy knee I believe!)

So on to February and it is time to start the hard work for Transvulcania, I am sure most of you who read this are aware of this race and the amount of climbing involved so I won’t go into the detail, needless to say I will be doing a lot of hill training over the forthcoming months. It is nice to have that booked and ready to go and I am looking forward to being part of another iconic race. After the uncertainty, lack of motivation and direction in January it is great to be feeling that pull towards a race and a goal again – good for the mind and soul!

After Transvulcania, in August I will be doing 7 round the rocks in 7 days (RtRx7) around my home island of Jersey. The first day (2ndAugust) is the day of the 48 mile Round The Rock Ultra here and then when everyone else will be sat in the bar contemplating a job well done, I will be recovering and getting ready to go out the next day and run it the next day, and then the next etc etc in alternating directions around the island to keep it interesting. I am attempting to this challenge on behalf of Jersey Hospice Care and hope to raise some good money for an amazing local charity that has a profound reach within our community. I have plenty of fundraising events planned on the back of this also so should be a good money spinner all in all!

I will be posting more about RtRx7 as it draws closer.. I will be looking for people to accompany me on the route for parts of it or a full day, so if a holiday to Jersey is on the agenda, hit me up! I have already secured a key sponsor, Marks and Spencer here in Jersey who have always been so supportive with my charity events are helping me to publicise the event through the week I will be running. I will be running instore on a treadmill about 3 weeks before and I believe even some plucky members of staff from the store want to come and join me for parts of the route!

So after a slow January and a slightly quicker February I anticipate a focussed March, with lighter nights, more volume in training and more fitness reclaimed. Just over 2 months til Transvulcania and I am really looking forward to being part of the race and having got over the logistical nightmare of booking flights and accommodation I now look forward to lining up on the start line with some of the world’s best ultra-runners (Timothy Olson already confirmed to be racing!) and around 1,500 of us mere mortals who do it just for fun.

Feedback: How have you been keeping motivation up during this winter? Are you a winter or summer runner? What trail shoes have you been using to keep upright in the slippy conditions? Any other adverse weather tips you wish to share? Get involved!!

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