Archive for Andy Joyce’s runs

Goodbye cruel world!

Alas the streak is over. Having been out of action for 5 days with flu followed by tonsillitis, I have taken the hint and admitted defeat. I completed one run at the beginning of the end (first time I have been incapacitated through illness in 18 years), with a jumper on and didn’t sweat at all. The warning signs were there!

It is a shame from a personal perspective, but inevitable I guess. Thank you to all those that supported me in the short period I completed and the very best of luck to those who have more to go. I hope you are not as unfortunate.

I might meet you again in the future.

Till then.


Today’s running total reminded me of a song that was on a rather obscure 80’s album that we had within the family record collection. It was actually on a cassette tape that we would play in our burgundy Renault 25 V6 Turbo, a car that had a voice. It was full of chart toppers, including ‘Una Paloma Blanca (I’m just a bird in the sky)’ and many other seminal classics.
Anyway the lyrics of The Clap Song 3-6-9 were written in 1965 apparently and quite sweet in a very odd way. I am not sure that I agree with geese drinking wine or monkey’s chewing tobacco, but we need to make advances in beauty products, so I guess we can turn a blind, yet beautifully shadowed, eye.

Day 123
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 369
Miles to go: 726

Sunday 30th

Got it out of the way early today so I could enjoy a large family lunch (18 people!), which included 4 different puddings and nice wine.
It was like an outdoor scene in Sleepy Hollow. Thick fog that parted only briefly to allow you to see a dark grey figure in the distance before it was gone again. Fantastically eerie.

At the half way mark I came across an older gentleman who started running the way I wanted to. I stopped for a while and watched him running. Firstly I was impressed that he was out and active. It then became hard for me to go in the same direction as I would have had to over take him (hopefully) and then that would have felt disrespectful. I didn’t want to ruin his day. So I chose to change my route and attack the (unbeknown to me) water logged woodland. It was as if I was wearing my favourite clogs made of ice, which were melting ever so slightly, then decided to try and run the 100 yard dash on an ice rink. To say I would have looked like a complete idiot is probably an understatement. The uncontrollable running on the spot movements that were going on was worse than any slapstick Home Alone type, baddies running on marbles, sketches ever. If there was a prize for revolutions per minuet I would have won pants down.

Anyway, slightly muddy and out of breath I returned in one piece.

Day 122
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 366
Miles to go: 729

Happy Birthday to you.

I went to a 1st birthday party today. I was invited, I didn’t gate crash. I learnt my lesson last time.
It was a good affair with friends and their family. I played with some toys and watched some rugby. It was nice.
To burn off the slice of cake I ate, which was almost the size of a football (no joke), I thought I would do some extended sprints, which actually means I ran a little bit faster. By the end of it my legs were like jelly, my lungs were burning and I wanted to be sick. I thought “the best way to get rid of these feelings is to do it again”. So I did, for less distance though. It felt good to have exerted myself. I will try that again at some point over the next 9 months.

Day 121
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 363
Miles to go: 732

Friendly Friday

I got in touch with some friends that I had not spoken to for over 4 years, today. It makes you feel so comfortable when you are integrated back into a group and things continue as if you had never been away.

To reward the end of another tiring week I had fish and chips, lager and a go on an indoor remote controlled helicopter. I might add that I do not condone the use of indoor helicopters under the influence of weak Australian lager; especially not at this time of year.

I need help from you all to try and lift the monotony of the daily plod. Should I start running backwards or moon walking my way round? If I though I was time pressured before, then I sure as hell would be after that.

What a rubbish post. I am sorry if you have wasted 2 minutes of your life reading this. Stop now or you will waste more…stop it. STOP IT! Your choice.

Day 120
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 360
Miles to go: 735

Thursday 27th

Not a lot happened today. Went to work, came home, ran 3 miles, consumed dinner and went to bed. Anyone else have as interesting life as I do?

I am planning on making some venison sausages soon (I have been threatening for the last 4 months) so I am investigating the best recipes. If anyone has any that they would like to forward on, then please do.

Did I mention (and apologies if I have) the documentary on killer whales and Seaworld? It has some of the most breath taking footage and commentary of the relationship between the whales and trainers and is unbelievable the way in which companies will stop at nothing to make profit. If you are interested in Orcas and their existence in captivity, then I would strongly recommend it. I am not easily shocked or moved, but I had my mouth open in disbelief at a lot of it.

Anyway, in the words of the Mayor of Trumpton, “that’s that”.

Day 119
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 357
Miles to go: 738

Monthly Mentor: November – Charles Malet

Charlie at the end of the Gloucestershire Way

Charlie at the end of the Gloucestershire Way

This month we meet Charles who is so well travelled, without it actually being his job, that if he was an Empire, three quarters of the world map would be pink.

He is currently a master brewer at The Force Brewery in Cirencester, producing four premium quality ales, which are spreading far and wide, such is their attraction.

In a former life Charles started competing at a young age in swimming and both track and field events, being successful on the national circuit with the javelin. He has always been naturally fit, which is why when he joined the Army the basic exertions came easily to him, meaning that he had to diversify into extra curricular activities to really push the boundaries. These included rugby, cross country, orienteering, endurance events and triathlons. He has also completed a solo bicycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End in seven and a half days, River Thames from Lechlade to London in a slalom kayak in three days, Three Peaks Challenge (UK) in nineteen hours (self-driving…..) and has reached the summit of Thabana Ntleyana, Lesotho (11,424ft) from Sani Pass and back in six hours.

After a long period of rehabilitation for injuries sustained whilst in Afghanistan, Charles, remarkably returned to endurance events, competing in a triathlon in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This particular event will always stick in the memory as he had to borrow a bike from the organiser for the third leg, who had understood the unavoidable problems Charles was facing with his own racing bike. As Charles approached the change over he was handed a mountain bike with half flat wheels and a plastic baby seat fixed to the cross bar! The lead that he had built was eaten away with every rotation of the pedals.

Not sure the Brownlee brothers would think this was suitable

Not sure the Brownlee brothers would think this was suitable

Most recently Charles has ran 94 miles in just over 28 hours completing the Gloucestershire Way from the start in Chepstow, along a very ambiguously maintained path, to the finish line of the beautiful wrought iron gates of Tewkesbury Abbey.

The ups and downs of the Gloucestershire Way

The ups and downs of the Gloucestershire Way

Whilst there are others that have done 100 miles in 24 hours, there are very few that have done that distance up and down the topography of the Costwolds, including May Hill (974 ft), areas of the route which were completely overgrown or almost impassable without a machete; with a lot of the route being infested with nettles, which we will all agree are tiresome at the best of times, let alone for hours on end. Charles sustained serious foot injuries and blisters yet retained a smile all the way round.

The route

The route

There is a great post exercise report posted HERE. He did this with two friends in support of a charity called Alabaré who help homeless ex-Servicemen get prepared for unsupported reintegration into society and the workplace.

Charles might not be a serial endurance athlete, but the determination, stoicism and modesty that is engrained in his fantastic personality, makes the events he has completed all the more impressive. He is also one of the wisest people I know and therefore to get sensible advice from him about training and competition, especially after recovering from injury, should be shared with the masses.

Last months Mentor (Katie L’Herpiniere) made a comment that following events she has participated in she is no longer too afraid to try anything in business or sport. How do you get past the natural hurdles of anticipation, denial and your mind not wanting to start, let alone continue?

I’m not sure that it would count as a considered strategy, but I have always found that making a decision to commit to something is irreversible; a sort of magnified version of buying a non-refundable ticket. This means that any sort of wobble in the build up to an event is not possible, because your mind is prepared for all that lies ahead and you know you cannot get out of it! This is helped by trying to look beyond the event or the challenge itself and imagining what it will be like to have done it. There has got to be something drawing you to the horizon and, if you know the event itself will be painful, the focus must be on its completion.

When you think back to competing, whether in the pool, track, field or triathlon, is it the pursuit of beating others that drives you or is the competition purely against yourself.

A mixture. Winning a race in a time that you know you could beat is frustrating. Chariots of Fire delivers the final word on this one (and so much else, of course). A livid Abrahams is telling his whimpering belle, Sybil, that he doesn’t run to take beatings, and articulates this with the outburst, “If I can’t win, I won’t run”. Quick as a whip, Sybil retorts, “If you don’t run, you can’t win”. Primarily, I will always compete with myself, but the presence of others enables me to take this further.

How do you motivate yourself to improve the areas of your fitness (or your weakest event) and how do you manage the development of those weaknesses without having a detrimental effect on other areas.

I have always found that the key motivator with fitness is the knowledge and belief that it makes things easier. Knowing that doing something over and over again makes you better at it is enough for me but an essential part of this is to be able to chart one’s progress. Taking note of where you start, and how you develop, is critical. Perversely, perhaps, I actually find it really interesting – especially if you can be vaguely scientific about it and work out how other factors such as diet, sleep and intervals play a part. In terms of maintaining fitness in all the areas required, I find it best to work on an area of weakness gradually, rather than devoting all one’s time to it. This is likely to ensure that you won’t fall away in the areas that you are already strong.

What are the best five tips you would give someone wanting to organise their own endurance event like running The Gloucestershire Way?

1. Whether or not it has been done before, check the practical feasibility of it very thoroughly. Think about what could go wrong and how you would be able to deal with it. Will you need support and who will provide it and how? Do you need any sorts of permission or are there agencies that must be notified? What will the ground and the conditions be like when the event comes – presumably you are planning it at a different time of year?

2. When considering what it is you want to do, make sure that you set an extremely clear goal. This makes planning much easier, as well as training. The main purpose of this is to keep yourself mentally focussed and active when the challenge is underway. Once you are tired and degraded, it is harder to remember why you are doing what you are doing but if you have a clearly defined end point, you will mitigate against other dispiriting factors. Aside from designing an event just because it seems like hard work, try to build a sense of enjoyment into it. This will turn it into something to look forward to and to enthuse about.

3. In the likelihood that the event or challenge is to be longer than any training period, take great care not to underestimate the requirement for sustenance and hydration. If you feel hungry or thirsty, it is already too late to do anything about it in the immediate term and you will suffer during the lag. Bear in mind that you will get cold very quickly when you stop, almost regardless of the weather, so take kit that will keep you warm and dry.

4. Do not become over-reliant on technology. Batteries run out and screens get smashed. There is no substitute for knowing exactly where you are on the ground and on a map. I would add listening to music here, which a lot of people do when they train. If you are on the go for a long time, it may not be practical to do this during your own event so it is worth getting used to listening to what is going on around you. After all, this makes you much more aware of your surroundings which, in turn, helps you to appreciate where you are. If you can do this, you have a much greater chance of enjoying yourself and this may even make you go faster!

5. Establish how you respond to training and, from that, work out what you think you need to do to realise your challenge. Be a little wary of training programmes written by other people as there is no guarantee that they will suit you. The risk of injury from over-training is greater than that from slightly under training. An endurance event, specifically, will require reserves and you will be able to tap into these even if you do not think that you are as well prepared as you had hoped. If you read the Gloucestershire Way text, you will see that I lost a lot of body weight despite eating a lot whilst en route.

Day 118
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 354
Miles to go: 741

1 + 1 = 7

My maths must be pretty bad. The hardest thing about this challenge is keeping up with the tally at the end of the run. As you will see from previous posts I have had trouble counting the days – I am still two days adrift apparently. Now, I have found that I am 68miles behind!! How can that be? The fact of the matter is that I have run 117 days at a minimum of 3 miles a day and therefore I have run 351 miles. Where the hell I have got my figures from I have no idea. I will be checking back to see how I have done it. Maybe I am a genius in wolf’s clothing?

It was teaming down with rain this evening, but it was warmer. I can definitely feel my endurance developing as well as my mental state where by I have no desire to stop, which is a first. I still find it difficult to get the knees and ankles to play ball though. Strides still seem short which actually inhibits the pace at which I can move because there is only so many short reps I can do…if you catch my drift.

Anyway, I think the secret lies in the roller. I will roll again this evening.

Day 117
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 351
Miles to go: 744

Footballs/ PE lessons / Bare legs

Have you lived yet? I thought I had. I have been lucky enough to travel to different countries, had an education (when I wasn’t daydreaming), laughed till wee came out and looked longingly into the eyes of the one I …..VOM!
Anyway, on a very chilly evening run last night I realised that those were mere precursors to the real events of life. Let me tell you, you have not lived until you have been sprayed by a Surrey Council gritter truck going at 35mph. The little rocks of salt tumbling off the asphalt into your crackers and whipping your face with a provocative contempt. The worst part of it though was the fine salt dust, the only remnants of the trucks existence, clinging to my already mottled brow, latterly sending a toxic concoction into my eye that would have stripped enamel. Oh how naïve I was until last night. I feel alive with the knowledge that I am now a real man.
Hill work is still proving to have paid off.

Day 115
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 287.36
Miles to go: 755

Sunday 23rd

Met with friends this morning in the tipping rain for some breakfast. Went for a run in the dark. Had a couple of beers to congratulate myself and polished my shoes for work the next day.I know that they say time flies when your having fun, and it is true.

I was looking to end this with a joke from the internet – a classic knock knock. I read a few of them and they were rubbish. Here is a classic example:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange you going to let me in?

Really? It sounds as bad as the type of jokes I used to make up when I was a child and my dear Sister would feign laughter so as not to upset me. At least I am not posting them on the web for the entire world to read. An example:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
I don’t know, why did the chicken cross the road?

Just rubbish.

Day: 114
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 284.36
Miles to go: 758