Rubbisher Runner

For the one or two souls out there still waiting for a race report on the Tralee 100km (4 weeks ago now) I promise you one is on the way. And I promise to make it as short as possible and to have some photographs in it.

Today’s post is to update you on my running (or lack thereof) and what I’ll do to recover from my injury.

My running afflictions are mirroring those of an Austrian runner hiding in the mountains of Kerry. Obviously this is because we are both elites at the height of our game and not delusional middle aged men. First off I had my brush with insomnia over the summer where I started to enjoy waking at 05:00 for a run. Thankfully that is now over and the darkening mornings have made sure my serotonin levels keep me in the land of nod.

Following on from the insomnia problem I’ve now developing a persistent, almost chronic pain in my left leg that only goes away with walking (but not running). I think it is a result of a tight structure in the hip/pelvis/spine that plagued me a few years ago. The compensation on the right side expresses itself in an acutely tight hamstring during exercise (running). My best guess is that the ultramarathon saw the gap between my mental ability to keep pushing and suffering and my body’s ability to keep up open up and in crept an injury.

The  solution to the problem is obvious. Stretch, a bit of physio manipulation and rebuild the running. Like all idiots I have ignored this solution until now but last night I could barely sleep with the pain and even I know that that is not a good sign. So, I’ll start a few weeks of stretching in the space where you’re supposed to be kneeling and praying and cut back the mileage. If I’m still crocked it’s time to get the physio to work his magic.



Ultra recovery

Having finished the Tralee 100km ultra about 3 weeks ago I’m in the middle of the “you know you’re not superman, right?” phase of my recovery.

I’ll up -load a race report in the next week or so but at the moment I’m trying to work out how long it will take me to recover. The way these events go (for me) is that after the first week of physical recovery I catch my second wind and believe that the race took nothing out of me. This is followed by a tempo session (fast running) which is followed soon afterwards by the transport and general workers union in my body going on a work to rule. Dog walking is ok, cycling is tolerated, anything apart from those is a down-tools moment.

So, in order to rebuild industrial relations with my legs I’m in the middle of bilateral negotiations with each leg. The right hamstring is refusing to discuss distances longer than 4 miles, the left hip is ignoring requests from management after 7 miles and to compound this my liver has submitted a formal request for a restoration of it’s full rights and privileges having been put on gardening leave during my training.

So, tight hamstring, tight hip, more wine required, less buttered coffee.

I grabbed a 48 minute PB for 100k though.

C’était un rendez-vous

The running:

There’s been a worrying development in my running which I’m putting down to the the  rising tide of middle age. Slowing down? creaky joints? bien sur but that’s not the development. No, I’ve taken to waking at 05:30 to go running. I, who love my bed nearly as much as I love my wife, children, dog and red wine am lost as to what has happened.

This is a Bubendorfic development of worrying proportions.

Apart from that, all is well and I’m due to start a long picnic on Sunday week (7th August) with the 100km Tralee Ultra at 06:00hrs. The first 50k should be fun, the next 25k will be be the slow realisation that I am fitter in my head than in my legs and the last 25k will be me promising myself that I’ll never do this again.

No change there then.

What is the title of the blog about then?

Well, we seem to live in a world of ever spiralling levels of anxiety about the impending demise of our civilisation, the culture of austerity, fear and hatred seems rooted in our consciousness. Things have never been worse, the existential gloom rules our heads.

Horseshit. We’re just not that good as a species at holding in our farts.

Some of our farts turn up as violence, some as environmental damage and some as poverty. All that’s changed is that we’ve found a way to pipe the smell of our farts up our noses through our smart phones.

40 years ago we lived in a world just as screwed up as this one. Go google the terrorist acts of the 1976. And it was all home grown. RAF, UVF, IRA, ETA, Neo-fascists.

But inside in this maelstrom life was full of the fun and adventures we love.

Take a look at this piece of cinéma-vérité from Claude Lelouch. Filmed at 05:30hrs 40 years ago this August in a single take. The soundtrack is a ferrari but the car doing the filming was a Mercedes 450 6.9l.

I could watch this all day.

The world is a beautiful place in the early dawn.


Summer Plans

Every year we normally get off the Island in late June/early July and that puts a full stop to any running plans for the rest of the summer.

The combined medication of southern european sun, low priced alcohol and no access to work e-mail are enough to prevent my latent masochistic streak from forcing me into 20 mile runs when on holidays.

The problem with this summer hiatus is that I normally miss some opportunities to fill in the middle of the year blank in my running schedule. (Schedule = one or two long races and lots of random running).

So this year I’ve split up my holidays into a week moping about the house and a week in Italy in August. The moping is made up of being the designated parent for the kids, watching the Tour de France on the box, failing at DIY around the house (repairing the window mechanism on a vintage car rather than doing the garden/painting the bedrooms), dog walking and of course, running.

With no work to get in the way the main benefit to the running is that the mid-week runs can be stretched to 10 – 15 miles. Not earth shattering but enough for my frame.

The plan is to enter the Tralee 100k race in early August with the intention of enjoying the race and just getting around. This sort of low expectation is a fair reflection of how I expect my fitness to be by early August and how much I’m willing to commit to the race. The distance requires me to change my diet (swapping from carbs to fats) and dealing with a tight pelvis and sore left leg. Both of these have the ability to send me well off-course. Those variables plus a 5 week training plan which will top out with a longest run of 3.5 hours (about 23 miles) make me think that anything more ambitious is foolish.

Roll on August.


As a 15 year old boy trapped in the aging body of a man that word makes me laugh.

During the past week I had my annual wandering-around-Decathlon-while-on-holidays event. As the years pass my need for pointless and cheap sports consumer goods seems to diminish (I wish I could say the same for my kids and wife) but as a creature of habit I still find myself wandering the gymkhana aisle wondering if I would look good in riding britches or whether my life would be fuller and more satisfying if I owned a sailing jacket or another bicycle light.

This time I made it out alive with only three semi-pointless purchases:

  • a hammock. Who’s life isn’t fuller for owning (another) hammock? Now to plant some trees.
  • A fold-up knapsack. Somehow this will be useful.
  • Another pair of running shorts.

The running shorts seem to have been designed with functionality in mind and not any sense of style or self respect.

The shorts were picked up in the trail running section of the shop and have some voluminous pockets for carrying food on long trail or ultra marathon races. Ask any long distance runner about kit and they will tell you that comfortable shorts with big pockets are a must.

The key difference with this pair of shorts is that rather than have long pockets that double as a testicular cancer checking devices in the traditional down the sides of the legs position they are situated in a kind of cummerbund across your mid-rift.

Fashionable they ain’t. When you pull them on you feel like you’re pulling on a pair of pregnancy pants.

But they work. You can stash a phone and a heap of food in them and everything stays put.


Running cummerbund

Silent Training

There’s a school of thought that says that the best training for long distance running  is the silent training you commit to.

Silent training I hear you mumble – that must be when he shuts up about how much the running means to him.

Yap, yap, yap, yap yap, door to my soul, blah, blah, blah….

Well, I wish it were so.

No, silent training is the term given to the non-running aspect of the training. The proper sleep pattern, the eating the right food, the balance between exertion and recovery.

I’ve been having loads of that recently………….which is another way of saying I’m only doing about three runs a week and doing lots of relaxing. I’m feeling fine with this as the three runs include a 16 – 20 mile run each weekend which is enough to keep my hand in the game.

As part of my relaxing regime  I went off to sleep in a tent with the family and last weekend.

Well worth it.


Silent Training


The vast structure of recollection

Bear with me on this one.

The biggest problem with being a grown-up is the worrying about the future. Worrying might be the wrong word; maybe planning for or looking after are better terms.

It doesn’t really matter what you call it, when you’re a grown up its always getting in the way. It gets in the way of enjoying life, of living in the moment, of fully connecting to the thing you’re supposed to be doing. It’s the worst thing about being a grown-up (apart from the going blind, the skin like old paper, the outrage at the antics of teenagers, the outrage at the ill-fitting pants of anyone under 30 – you get the idea).

But there is a solution, a cure, and, like the best of miracle cures it’s free.

It’s your involuntary memory. Your Proustian memory.

I was in Paris a few weeks ago for work and I had a morning to kill so  I did what any normal person would do and I went sight seeing. I rented a bicycle and imagined myself as a younger man and pedalled around the 3rd, 4th and 11th Arrondissements. My destination was at the top of Rue de la Roquette and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. I’d come to find the final resting place of the man behind the crystallising of the concept of involuntary memory in the 20th century.


Marcel Proust told a story that included an anecdote about a small cake and a cup of tea. The scent and taste of the cake transports him like a time machine to his youth and he describes in vivid detail eating the selfsame cake with his  aunt. This  involuntary memory has become known as Proustian memory. The next time you smell a freshly shaved pencil and a wax crayon and your first day of school flashes before your eyes you can say “that triggered an intense proustian memory” rather than “I think I’m going mad” – it makes you seem more intelligent.

Whats all this about?

Well, the activity of running for long distances allows me to live like a child and allow  space and time to lose their connection. This allows all of the burdens of being a grown up to evaporate and I find myself mentally, if not physically, free of the burden of being a grown up.

That’s the main reason I run. The freedom of childhood. The most natural state in the world.

Of course, most of my childhood, like yours, was probably a grind of homework, school uniforms, religion and rain. The same is true of running but the overall cumulative effect of all the running is to allow space and time to drift apart and in the gap between the two you find an alternative world.


After the trip to the graveyard I dropped into a small shop in Paris and picked up a bar of soap. Immediately I was 16, on my own in France for the first time and staring at topless women on the beach. But that’s another story.