Tag Archives: RatRace2017

Taking it easy Vs Being sensible


This blog was supposed to be a review of, what would likely have been, a great afternoon of fun at The Suffering, 6 months and 7 days before the big one, Rat race Dirty Weekend . However rather than a tale of excitement and fun, feats of endurance and strength as I dragged myself and family through what looked like an adults playground, this blog is about road blogs, sulking and geeking out!

rat race

With my final Obstacle run of 2016 just days away and excitement building my body gave me a sharp reminder that not all is well, Body 1 – Fun 0! It may have been a shift at work involving lots of lifting, stubbornness at pilates (Note to self – that look and “is that ok” question actually means “try the lower option”) or it may have been the culmination of a busy training week. Whatever the reason the result was the same, a missed weekend with the family and an unused race entry. To say I am disappointed would be an understatement, and even by my relatively unsociable standards, I have been in serious need of an “approach with caution” sign above my head as I pulled off a rather impressive angry elf impression.


Two days of sulking and being fed up is over, it’s time to return to being grateful for the progress I’ve made and look forward to the remaining journey to the Full Mucker. Six months, six days and 12 hours to prepare for a challenge that will test endurance, strength and guts. Plenty of time in normal circumstances however, in just over a months time I am expecting to undergo abdominal surgery with a 6-8 week recovery period. Yes that is cutting it fine, but I like a challenge.


I’ve written before about controlling my competitive/stubborn streak and although I still need to work on that I am making progress. More and more I’m able to ignore others and focus on myself, my form and my movements. Despite this shift in attitude friends and family still insist on telling me to “take it easy” something I find difficult to understand when it comes to training.


How much progress can actually be made by “taking it easy”? My thinking is not much! So here lies the problem, how can I make progress towards my goals of being in the best shape possible for surgery, facilitating my recovery and preparation for the rat race weekend whilst not aggravating my current circumstances. As a geek knowledge and understanding are my tools of choice, my thinking being, that if you understand how and why things work it’s easier to make informed decisions, make the most of training time and avoid anything that might aggrevate or detract from training. So this weekend my kindle has taken a hammering, a reading list containing texts on calisthenics, Heart rate training, Yoga and pilates  has been created as I look to plan my training for the next month in the most “sensible” way I know. Stay tuned to find out if it works or if the angry elf returns.


Why I’m doing what I’m doing



Why I’m running.

It has been just over a month since I signed up for the Rat Race Dirty weekend, since then I’ve been asked on numerous occasions “why?”. It would be easy to use the infamous quote of “because it’s there” or even more simply because “I like a challenge”, but whilst these both ring true there is a much deeper answer. You see when people ask the question “where are you from” the answer isn’t as simple as “insert name place here”, I was born in Hartlepool but my dad made the decision to join the army when I was three so have lived in numerous places since. For that reason I don’t have a real connection with any one place, I do however have a strong sense of belonging to the forces community, even now that I am settled in Leeds and my dad has retired from the forces.

I found transitioning from living in a forces environment to being a student immersed in civilian student life. I had time to be able to adjust to this transition but for some the transition comes out of the blue often initiated by some form of catastrophic event. The unsung heroes in the forces are those left behind whilst those serving perform the duties for which they are trained. The wives and families that keep the home running, the kids happy, the Christmases’, birthdays and school holidays as normal as possible, all whilst acting as the mother, the father and managing their own worries and concerns. As a child growing up I waved my dad off several times knowing, although perhaps not understanding, that he may not return. I will forever be grateful that he always returned home safe. Many families are not so fortunate and for every soldier who pays the ultimate price for his country there are colleagues, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives/husbands and children who must continue to pay that price. It is for these reasons that we have chosen two forces charities to raise funds and awareness for in our journey to completing the dirty weekend.

The first of our charities is Scotty’s little soldiers . Remember the unsung heroes I spoke about in the paragraph above? Well one of these is Nicky, she lost her husband Corporal Scott and as a result of the impact this event had on her family she set up this wonderful charity to offer support to bereaved families. The charity offers support in dealing with the emotional turmoil as a result of bereavement, it offers support, activities and respite that helps these young people realise that it is ok to smile again and helps those who are a little older plan their future through further education grants. Scotty’s is doing great things raising awareness for the unique circumstances and challenges these young people face. They have recently announced “Scotty’s day” in July and I for one cannot wait to wear my Scotty’s “tattoo” and t-shirt for the day.


The second charity is The Royal British Legion . The charity is most noted for the Poppy appeal and this years celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Somme, but their work continues year round. They help ensure the memory of those fallen are never forgotten, the needs of those serving are met with support, care and guidance, they support veterans, the families of the forces community and bereaved families. The Royal British Legion stands by those who have previously served maintaining that sense of community and belonging. I for one feel an immense sense of pride when I see veterans of all ages parading alongside current serving soldiers whilst children cheer and wave their flags aloft. The Royal British Legion play a large role in facilitating these proud moments and long may it continue.


The added motivation of knowing that actually signing up for these events and enjoying yourself is really a small price to pay to help raise awareness and funds (Karli and Petes fundraising page) for these worthwhile charities, when I know I have a tough training day planned or I really don’t want to go to the gym or outside for a run I think about the reasons I’m doing it and those thoughts are quickly dispersed. As for training I cannot remember being more motivated or enjoying training as much as I am right now, I see my dads Strava feed and see his progress and activity levels and begin to see the holistic benefits, the bigger picture of signing up for a challenging event. There are plenty out there, Running, Swimming, triathlon and obstacle/mud running are just a few of these.

A moment of madness = 200 obstacles, 20 miles

It was a moment of madness, as I closed the confirmation page one thing was going through my mind; “What have I done?” The video clip lasted just over 3 minutes and is full of people smiling, having fun and sharing high fives all whilst conquering obstacles, not easy obstacles but doable obstacles (or are they?). The chimp in my brain (if you’ve read “The Chimp Paradox” you will understand, if you’ve not, well you should) couldn’t hide it’s excitement and clicked “sign me up”, the computer in me (another Chimp Paradox reference) rebooted just as confirmation arrived. I had signed up for Rat Race Dirty Weekend 200 obstacles spread over 20 miles ( http://ratrace.com/dirtyweekend/ ).  A hard task for most but when you consider that at 4’11”, having never ran more than 6km and my OCR experience is 3 5km events over the last 2 years, you get an insight into the journey ahead.

mud2 me taking a dive during the major series in Leeds 2016

There’s one more thing, my ex-squaddie dad turns 50 in January, what would any self-respecting first-born do for their father? You guessed it, he’s signed up too. So here marks the countdown (356 days as I’m writing) to one of the toughest physical challenges I have ever attempted. What better way to stay accountable than to blog about this journey to Burghley, my successes, my mistakes and my failures.