Thursday, 13 October 2011

Meet the Man Behind the Blog - Review AND Preview!


Yes, a few weeks since my last post, but I have been a wee bit busy!  The day job, i.e. a University Lecturer at the University of Brighton has been keeping me plenty busy, with the students recently returning.

Tonight, should be a shorter post than usual.  Simply a brief review of my talk up in Yorkshire last week, and a preview of TWO upcoming talks.

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of talking to around 25 runners in the cosy Studley Roger village hall, not far from Ripon.  The talk was organised by Dave Jelley from  Dave has recently set up a Guided Running company that provides Guided Trail Running Breaks.  It was recently featured in the Guardian two weeks ago.  Click the following link to read the article: And as the article mentions, the running in Yorkshire was very scenic, over a variety of terrain.

I met Dave at the Shires and Spires 35 mile Ultra back in June, where we actually discussed the possibility of the talk whilst racing!  So on the Friday night immediately prior to my talk, on a pleasant evening as the sun was setting, we had a quick six mile run across the fields, including running through a deer park, .

My talk was titled "Ultra Trail Running:  Enjoying the Overall Experience - The Importance of TOTAL Preparation".  I provided some background to my philosophy on what determines fatigue during ultra trail running, and then illustrated my ideas with my contrasting experiences at the 2009 and 2011 Ultra Trail Mont Blanc.  As expected, my ideas created some discussion, with many runners being able to associate with my observations.  Although, there were some 'disbelievers', who felt that I placed too much emphasis on the importance of positivity.  Reflecting back on my talk, I probably did 'play down' the importance of the physical training too much.  As after all, at the end of the day, it is the physical body that has to propel you to the finish line.  However, the problem I have, as readers of my blog are quite well aware of, is that at times I do tend to go on a bit!  So one of my aims was to try to stick to my planned schedule, and hence why I rushed over a few aspects of my TOTAL training approach.

During the last year, I have been give quite a bit of thought into why I slow down so much during ultra trail running.  My post back in August titled Training for Ultras - What's It All About? highlighted some of my thoughts.  However, recently I have been trying to develop a model that will encompass all of my ideas.  During my presentation I spoke about how ultra trail running performance is "determined by a balancing of the current physiological and psychological input with the underlying self expectations / self belief!"  And I presented a very simplistic model to help clarify this, and reinforced the importance of the subconscious beliefs with a quote from 1983 by Gary Elliott, coach to NZ marathon runner Alison Roe, Boston marathon winner, New York marathon winner, World Record Holder, 1981.
 “Success becomes automatic when your subconscious accepts your goals as reality.”

I appreciate that this balance scales image doesn't really provide much information, however, i am hopeful that my new model will be complete shortly, in time for my talk up in Cheshire in the middle of November.  More about this talk, and my other upcoming talk in Eastbourne, later in this post.

So back to last weekend.  Overall I felt the talk went well, especially as it did what I set out to achieve, that being, to get runners to think differently about their training, and to give more thought to what actually causes them to fatigue during ultra trail running.

The next morning, after watching England's disappointing performance at the Rugby World Cup (The advantages of having a dual identity, I still have the All Blacks to cheer on!), the sunshine was gone, and it was out into the Yorkshire mist for a longish run across a variety of terrain.  Dave and I were joined for the run by Martin and Billy.  As Dave is running the last race of the Runfurther series this weekend at Rotherham, we decided to keep the pace pretty easy, which suited me fine, as pretty well all of my runs are at an easy pace. (Keep an eye out for Dave at this week's series decider.  Not only is he in 'with a shout' for the over 50s title, he is also well up there for the overall title!) 

So there was plenty of talking as we ran along at a cruisey pace, on mainly running related topics, including a bit more discussion on some of the training aspects I raised the night before, and a 'bit of banter' on perhaps I just shouldn't be so lazy with my training, and if I did some proper physical training I then wouldn't slow down so much! Although later on in the run, having discovered a little bit about Billy's impressive race performances when he was a wee bit younger, the question was asked into why he now raced so slowly!

Running with Martin and Billy (middle) in the Yorkshire mist

So overall a very enjoyable weekend, and as I titled my talk, the overall enjoyable experience includes meeting loads of positive minded, extremely friendly, ultra trail runners.

This post is sub-titled: Review and Preview.  Yes I have two talks coming up.  The first, which takes place next Friday, 21st October, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, is at the University of Brighton, Eastbourne campus.  It is part of the Beachy Head Marathon Science Symposium.  Click this link to find out a bit more about the free symposium.  There are three speakers in total, including Emma Ross from the University of Brighton and Charlie Pedlar from St Mary's University/English Institute of Sport.  So it should be a pretty interesting and informative night.  The Beachy Head Marathon Science Symposium is open to everyone.  All you need to do is e-mail to book your free tickets.

Then on Saturday 19th November, at Cuddington, Cheshire, I have been invited by the Delamere Spartans running club to present to trail runners within the Cheshire region.  My presentation has the same title as my Yorkshire talk, although hopefully I will be able to introduce my new model on ultra trail fatigue. Tickets are available by e-mailing: 

Hopefully a number of you will be able to make either the Eastbourne or the Cheshire evening.  It would be great to meet you.

Well, not as brief a post as I planned, so no signing off quote!

To those of you racing this weekend's Round Rotherham, may you all enjoy the overall experience.


PS  If any of you are thinking about racing next year's Montane Lakeland 100 or 50, well you better be quick!  Entries have been open for a little over a week, and there are already nearly 250 entrants in the 100 mile, and over 400 in the 50 mile!  The 100 mile already looks like it will be a great race.  The last two winners i.e. Terry Conway and myself will be back, as will a number of the 2011 top ten finishers including Paul Tierney, Barry Murray, and Simon Deakin, and a newcomer to the event Richie Cunningham, twice winner of the 95 mile West Highland Way Ultra Race.  Best I start doing some proper training!!!


  1. Looking forward to seeing you in Cheshire, Stuart. I should have been heading to Rotherham this weekend but injury is keeping me on the couch.

  2. I grew up in Cuddington and now live about 16 miles away from there. Not sure if I can make the date yet, but will look into it.

  3. Hi Duncan

    Amazing, such a small world. I see that you have entered next year's Lakeland 100. Good to see that you are back running again. I look forward to battling against you in races next year.