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How This All Started

Diary Entry 14/01/2018

Welcome to the diary documenting the training for the Te Araroa Run. So alongside the normal weekly blog post will be a continuing blog/diary about the current training with a weekly check in (you can find more daily information via facebook and instagram). The idea is not only to share how they training programme is progressing with runs, swims and strength training etc. but also to highlight how the training is affecting the psychology and how these challenges are being addressed.

In all honesty this first diary entry is about the training from the previous 6 months of when this journey really began up to today 14/01/2019.

I go back 6 months to when this was just a fleeting idea. I said to my then colleague Laura who inspired me with her exploits in extreme events that I had this crazy idea. (check out our podcast episode, find the episode with Laura Nesbitt). From then I looked at the costs and thought hmm not much chance of that happening but I will try a couple of companies for sponsorship. No response. I gave up. I had much to learn about this fundraising business.

I gave it up. 3 months with doing nothing about it.

Move forward those 3 months to where I am sat with A, I want to say A is a client of mine but to be honest it is a relationship that works both ways, I train and challenge her physically and she trains me psychologically. To be honest I have come out of a few training sessions with the feeling as though I have just had a counselling session. This client/counsellor/friend relationship with A is what sparked this journey into action.

I went to visit A for a coffee and it just so happened to come up in conversation that running the trail was something I would love to do. There was no intention much further than it being a dream that came up in conversation. Actually writing this now that probably isn’t true, maybe on a level I knew she would challenge and maybe kick start this whole thing.

I struggle to recall when I first dreamt of taking on this challenge. But it soon became a genuinely possibility when she said she may be able to help. I think it was knowing that someone would be willing to help and someone with a take no shit approach to me who will call me on my bull-shit that would help kick start things.

Maybe it gave me a little confidence boost? The funny thing is the training and being able to achieve this goal physically doesn’t worry me, I am relishing the psychological challenge. It is attempting to raise money that was my previous stumbling block (as in I gave up after sending two emails) and I have quickly learnt that you have to be relentless but to also look at the local community to get behind you and support. Asking people for money can be a struggle for a lot of people and is personally one of my biggest stumbling block but it is just another lesson to learn. People want to help.

So what did I do next? I ran, I ran for the first time in months. I had been playing football for the past year but my cardiovascular fitness had dramatically dwindled, I had gone from a flying full back that could run, jog and sprint over and over for 90 minutes and still be going full steam to, tweaking my back and gasping for air after 45 mins. In the last 8 games of the season I played in 3 games managing only a total of about 90 mins. It is fair to say this was the least cardiovascularly fit I had been in years. Training for that year was all about getting as strong as I could, which of course was to the sacrifice of my CV.

So my first run, I ran 5km, for three days after my calfs felt like they were about to PING! I can barely run 5km yet I want to run 3000km? I was and am still confident. I understand how the body reacts and adapts to stimulus and stress, I use this knowledge to train people every day to totally change their bodies. I can do the same to myself just as I got very strong last year, this year I will become a great endurance athlete. 5km to 3000km it doesn’t completely scare me.

I said to myself ‘if I can run a half marathon and wake up the next day as if I could do it all again by the end of December it would fill me with confidence that I will be able to do this.’ by the end of November I was running 12 miles feeling strong but having issues with finding the right footwear. I was and still am transitioning to a more minimal shoe but it doesn’t half give the calves a battering. Cardiovascularly fine, biomechanically difficult.

The plan was to focus on the biomechanics rather than distance through December. I must admit minimal training happened during this month. I had a fantastic 10 mile barefoot run on the lush sand of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Maroochydore to Mooloolaba and back. To this day my most favourite run. It was slow and hot but no aches, no pain in the calf’s. Are they getting used to this much more midfoot - forerunner style? I will leave the debate of running style and running shoes for now but I think the calves are slowly getting there.

That was the one of three runs for the month. I was on holiday and it stayed that way. I was too busy relaxing and enjoying myself. Looking back now I think I knew I was able to do the distance I set out to achieve and that my calves were feeling better (still yet to see). I can remember saying to myself ‘the real work starts next year. Relax and enjoy yourself and get properly started next year.’ I’m not happy with that decision but I did have a lovely time, gaining 3kg in the process. And all this BEFORE Christmas!

Two 7 mile runs, plenty of Christmas food and a football match that ended in injury leads me to today. The injury occured on 29/12/2018 a big whack on the shin, some nice swelling and bruising but also the tibial nerve was a bit messed up. Touching my shin I could feel the sensation my toe and touching my toe the opposite. Ankle not moving well at all. It was time to quit football and get serious.

Jo, the fantastic physiotherapist who has kindly volunteered to support me through this training process described it as ‘imagine when someone stands on a hosepipe, that’s your nerve.’ To be honest I think it sounds worse than it is, or I could have had it a lot worse than I did. After taking Jo’s advice of rest and ‘you are going to stop playing football now right?’ Jo, I have stopped, I promise.

So I sit here writing this today after a small 3.4 mile run to test out the leg, all felt of, a little strange but it actually got better as I ran. Pretty decent pace too. Let’s see what the rest of this week brings. Hopefully ready to start the 48 week plan.

3 key takeaways:

  • Go all in. Contact sports are just too high a risk when training for something like this.

  • Look inwardly at what is holding you back. Provide an honest evaluation of yourself, move the ego to one side and look for ways to grow.

  • Seek help. This would not happen on my own. A thank you to all those who have already dedicated their time and to those who are planning on helping moving forward.

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