The Monthly Mileage: Sep 2018 - Balancing Family, Fitness and Fun

What is the Monthly Mileage?

This is the second in a regular series where I’ll give you an insight into my training as I prepare for my world record running attempt in May 2019.

It includes my running and nutrition stats, plus any major events, like races.

To make it useful, I’ll include some ‘top tips’ where you can learn from my successes (and failures!).

This month the tips are themed around balancing family, fitness and fun.

Read August’s Monthly Mileage, including my top tips.

Infographic Showing James' Runnnig and Nutrition Breakdown for September 2018 (for JamesRunsFar.com) - 250Kb.jpg

What Were My Running Highlights for September?

The main objective for September was to hit some big weeks and long runs in preparation for the Autumn 100 mile race on Saturday October 13th.

And I did a pretty good job. Here are some highlights:

  • 617km (383 miles) - Total distance

  • 21k (13 miles) - Average distance per day

  • 52k (32 miles) - Longest run - Before work on a Friday!

  • 51 Hours - Total time

  • 8,626 metres - Total elevation - 200 metres below the height of Everest!

 My  biggest single run was a 52km (32 mile)  tour of Central London and Richmond Park before work on a Friday morning

My biggest single run was a 52km (32 mile) tour of Central London and Richmond Park before work on a Friday morning

 My 52km run on Friday was  followed by a 37km (23 mile) session  on the Saturday, which included some hill repeats.

My 52km run on Friday was followed by a 37km (23 mile) session on the Saturday, which included some hill repeats.

Balancing Family, Fun & Fitness

September was a busy month for celebrations in the Williams family...

  • Our eldest daughter, Rosie, turned 4

  • We went to a friend’s wedding

  • Catherine and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary

  • I turned 31 - I didn’t feel that old… until I got a foot spa as a present!

 I’ve never felt older than when I got a foot spa for my 31st birthday! Although it’s amazing for my runner’s feet

I’ve never felt older than when I got a foot spa for my 31st birthday! Although it’s amazing for my runner’s feet

All of this meant that I had to balance increasing mileage with some big celebrations.

Plus the normal family and work commitments.

I’ve included some of my ‘top tips’ for doing that at the bottom of this article.

Intentional Bonking (AKA - Hitting the Wall)

I also tested out a new way to make my long runs harder...

The fasted run.  

I very rarely eat before my morning runs, even if they’re going to be long.

And in September I tested out not eating or drinking DURING my long runs either.

The reason for this was to try to make myself ‘bonk’.

In this context, ‘bonking’ is not a sexual term. 

Instead, it’s where your body runs out of fuel and you start to feel awful.

It’s also often called ‘hitting the wall’. 

It’s a pretty horrible feeling, both physically and mentally. 

So why, you ask, was I intentionally trying to put myself through this?

Because practise makes perfect. 

And if I could replicate this horrible feeling that I might get in longer races, I could practise ways to get out of it.

However, despite trying to ‘bonk’ on a number of occasions, I didn’t manage to do it.  

My failure to bonk on runs of 52k, 43k and 37k was a good and a bad thing.

It’s good because my high fat, low carb diet has meant that I’m extremely fat adapted.

And that means I can exercise for a very long time without needing nutrition.

But it’s bad because I didn’t get the opportunity to practise getting myself out of that situation.

So we’ll just have to see what happens in the Autumn 100 mile race on 13th October! 

It’s Getting Colder... And Darker

It also started to become obvious (and depressing) that summer was ending.

The negative side was that it started to become cold on my morning runs.

And I even had to wear gloves!

But the positive side was that I saw a number of amazing sunrises on my early morning workouts.

To see more of the sensational scenery on my runs, follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

How Much Crap Did I Eat in September?

The amount of social events in September meant that my willpower was tested to the limit.

And I failed to control myself on pretty much every occasion.

In fact, my willpower was so bad that Catherine tried to control me by shouting “Goring. Not gorging!!!” anytime I was near food.

(Goring is where I’m racing 100 miles on October 13th)

 Catherine had to use some fairly extreme tactics to try and control me from eating too much -  Shouting “Goring. Not Gorging” at me  was one of them

Catherine had to use some fairly extreme tactics to try and control me from eating too much - Shouting “Goring. Not Gorging” at me was one of them

Here are some of my biggest failures of the month:

  • Eating huge amounts of Catherine’s magnificent home made princess cake for Rosie’s birthday - Icing is a weakness of mine

  • Eating spoonfuls of vanilla icing straight from the pot in the fridge after it had been used for the princess cake

  • Eating 8 slices of sponge cake at the wedding - The trick is to pick the corners… Because that’s where you get the most icing!

  • Eating masses of cheese at the wedding - Serving a cheese board late in the night is an inspirational way to end a wedding

  • Gorging myself at three all-you-can-eat hotel breakfasts - All-inclusive style buffets are another weakness of mine (just like icing)

 Catherine’s home made princess cake for Rosie’s 4th birthday was a huge success! Except for my waist line (And yes, that’s a real Barbie!)

Catherine’s home made princess cake for Rosie’s 4th birthday was a huge success! Except for my waist line (And yes, that’s a real Barbie!)

Needless to say, my high fat, low carb diet was thrown out of the window on many occasions!

Although I did have a few successes...

  1. Cod Wrapped in Bacon - Cod is a fairly boring fish. But wrapping it in bacon made it delicious

  2. Low Carb Fajitas - Using lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. I thought they tasted better than the ‘normal’ version. Although Catherine would disagree

  3. Pork and Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce - This was probably my favourite new meal of the month

  4. Low Carb Almond Butter Smoothie - Rosie, my 4 year old, prepared this for me to have before a run. And I’ll be using it in my drop bags for the 100 mile race too

  5. Roasted Duck with Asparagus - Duck is delicious almost no matter how you do it

  6. Sausage, Bacon and Brussels Sprout Hash with a Fred Egg - Catherine made this for breakfast and it made the house smell like Christmas for the rest of the day

You can find some of these delicious recipes in ‘Quick Keto meals in 30 Minutes or Less’ and ‘The Beginner’s Keto Cookbook

Between all of these successes and failures, these were my key food stats for September:

  • 106,000 total calories eaten - averaging 3,500 per day

  • 114,000 total calories burnt - averaging of 3,800 per day

  • 59% of calories from fat, 16% carbs and 25% protein across the month

  • 5,751 calories consumed in a single day. On Saturday 22nd September whilst celebrating my friend, Neil’s, birthday. And then proceeding to eat everything he offered me- including Skittles, Pringles and chocolate cake

  • 6,051 calories burnt in a day. On Friday 21st September, thanks to my 52km (33 mile) run

What Are My Top Tips This Month?

As it was a month of heavy training and heavy celebrating, the top tips for this month are all about helping you to balance family, fun and fitness.

Like most athletes (serious or not), I have to think carefully about how I plan my training (which is 100+ miles per week) and how it affects my family.

I still have a long, long way to go.

And I am far from perfect.

But I try my best to ensure that running has a minimum negative impact on our family.

These are some of the things that I do

1) Communicate Clearly With Your Loved Ones

Having an extremely understanding partner is the number one thing that will allow you to enjoy your hobby.

And I couldn’t have a better person by my side than Catherine.

She not only lets me do this crazy, selfish stuff. But often encourages me to do it.

But ‘get a supportive partner’ isn’t a very useful piece of advice!

  Catherine is the number one reason that I am able to do the hobby that I love.  And I couldn’t imagine anyone better to be by my side, for training and races. Not only is she supportive of me, but she often encourages me to go out. Plus, she doesn’t mind my toes!

Catherine is the number one reason that I am able to do the hobby that I love. And I couldn’t imagine anyone better to be by my side, for training and races. Not only is she supportive of me, but she often encourages me to go out. Plus, she doesn’t mind my toes!

So the next best tip is to make sure you communicate very clearly with each other.

This can include how and when you are going to do your hobby.

And being open about how it will impact your life negatively sometimes.

Catherine and I often discuss when is the best time for me to go for a run.

And when is not a good time.

One trick is to write my running schedule on the family calendar. So then everyone knows when I’m doing a long run, a short run, etc.

It also means I can plan running around social events. Rather than the other way around.

Which brings me on to my second tip... 

2) Be Flexible

There are some points where you have to prioritise the more important things in life. 

For example, the day before Rosie’s birthday, I helped Catherine set up for her party.

And so I didn’t go running on that day.

It was a very small, and easy, decision to make.

But it can make a huge difference to your overall happiness.

And, more importantly, the happiness of your family.

And with a little bit of forward planning, you can usually re-schedule workouts easily.

Rosie’s birthday celebration was the Friday, which is usually when I do my long run.

And so that week, I simply scheduled my long run for Saturday, and had my rest day as the Friday.

Talking of long runs…

3) Do Your Longest Runs in the Week

I choose to do my longest runs on a Friday morning before work.

This means I can have Sunday as my rest day and spend more time on weekends with my family.

In August I did a 40k, 42k and 52k run all on Friday mornings before work. 

It also means I get all the benefits of exercising on my commute.

Which brings me nicely on to tip number 4..

4) Use Your Commute Effectively

Using exercise as part of your commute is an amazing way to:

  • Save time

  • Save money

  • Avoid having to travel on public transport or sit in traffic.

If you’re lucky enough to live fairly close to work, then it’s easy…

Just start doing it!

If you live a little further out, then you have to be a bit more creative.

Splitting up your journey is one way to do this. 

And with a bit of planning you can commute as normal for part of your journey, then run or cycle for the rest.

One trick I’ve learnt is to take all my work and sports clothes for the week in on the Monday morning. 

And bring it all back on Friday evening. 

Then you don’t need to carry a backpack every day. Which makes running a lot easier (and better for your back!).

But to be able to use your commute effectively, you need to

5) Get Out the Door Early. Or Late. Or Both

The best time for me to train is when the children are asleep.  

That means that I don’t miss out on so much quality time with them.

This was the reason why I chose to get up at 4:20am on a Friday to go for my longest run in September - 52k (33 miles) before work.

Rather than doing a long run on a Sunday.

This also means choosing to get up early on the weekends too. Rather than having a lay in.

So I’ll often be out of the house by around 5:15 on a Saturday or Sunday for long runs.

There is one big problem with getting out early though…

No matter how hard you try, or how quiet you think you’re being, you’ll always make enough noise to wake up multiple people.

You will almost always do one of these things:

  1. Fall over and crash into your wardrobe - waking your wife up

  2. Walk into the baby’s room, thinking that it was the front door - waking your baby up

  3. Realise you’ve forgotten a vital piece of kit after you’ve left the house quietly… like your shoes… and then having to come back in the house - waking everyone up

I do try to make up for these things by returning home with a present after my run... 

I usually make sure that I come back armed with a hazelnut latte and almond croissant for Catherine...

A babycino for Rosie…

And a hug for Lottie!

But if all of the above tips still aren’t working, there is still another way to use your time effectively…

6) Increase Your Intensity

There are a few tricks that mean you can get more benefit from less time.

I wouldn’t advise these for complete beginners as they can put a lot of strain on your body.

The standard advice is not to do two intense workouts two days in a row.

But doing two slightly shorter, but harder sessions two days in a row can give you some of the same benefit as one longer session.

For example, you might usually do a 22 mile run on day 1 and an easier session the following day.

You could change this to a 15 mile run on day 1 at a higher intensity.

And follow that with a shorter 7 mile session the following day focusing on speed.

Instead of a 22 mile run on one day, you could do a 15 mile in the morning and 7 in the evening.

One of these can be at a slightly harder intensity than the other.

Another way to have more effective sessions is to introduce intensity at certain points.

For example, you could start a longer session with some higher intensity work. Then do the rest of the long run at a normal pace.

This means you learn how to cope when you are tired.

Which replicates the feeling you’ll get towards the end of a long race.

Or you can finish your sessions more intensely.

These are often called progression runs and mean that your last miles are done at the fastest pace of the entire run.

  • Fasted Sessions

The standard version of this is not to eat in the morning before a run.

Read the ‘intentional bonking’ part from this blog where I adapted this rule and didn’t eat or drink at all before or during my long runs.

The main reason for doing this is so that your body gets used to burning fat for fuel, rather than relying on carbohydrates.

This becomes more important the longer you exercise for.

But this should only be attempted by serious athletes.

And I always take food out with me on my runs, just in case I get into serious trouble.

This article gives some tips on how to do a fasted run.

What Are Your Top Tips for Balancing Your Hobbies With the Rest of Your Life? 

Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this blog, on the Contact page or on social media below. 

What’s Coming Up in October?

The main focus in October will be my second 100 mile race.

After my successful first 100 miler in August, where I came 4th, I’ll be looking to improve my time of 18 hours, 53 minutes.

Last time I was focused on logistics, organisation and planning, rather than the time or the place I finished.

And whilst I will still focused on that, I’ll also be looking to improve my performance.

You can follow my progress as I prepare for the event on social media.

  • Rest

Because of the race, I’ll be spending most of the first two weeks tapering, which will include lots of rest. 

And the last two weeks will be recovering. 

October’s Monthly Mileage blog will include tips for how to prepare for races.

I’ll even give you my checklists that I use for planning for an event.

So you can use them for when you prepare for your own events.

So make sure that you... 

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