How I Stayed Focused During A 1,240km Month of Running - The Monthly Mileage: Jan 2019

What is the Monthly Mileage?

The monthly mileage is a series which gives you an insight into my preparation for my world record running attempt in May 2019.

It includes an overview of my running and nutrition stats for the month.

Plus, there are tips that will help you achieve your goals.

In January, my training volume increased significantly again.

And I got a lot of questions about how I pass the time when I’m doing 3-4 hour runs every day.

So this month’s tips are all about how to keep your mind busy during long training sessions.

December’s monthly mileage blog included 3 tips on how to increase mileage whilst staying injury free.

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What Were My Running Highlights for January?

In January I ran 1,238km (769 miles).

This included weeks of 204km (127 miles), 307km (191 miles), 310km (193 miles) and a gargantuan 384km week (239 miles)!

Apart from not getting injured, I had lots of highlights, including:

  • Doing back-to-back days of 80km - with my crew who are going to be there on my world record attempt. A massive thank you to Ben Cooper, Jack Donaldson and Jamie Riddett who spent two cold mornings in Richmond Park cycling, shivering and feeding me, whilst I ran around in circles!

I was extremely lucky to have my  mates support me during back-to-back 80k training runs  round Richmond Park. From left to right -  Ben Cooper , me,  Jack Donaldson  and  Jamie Riddett . It was great practice for LEJOG where they will be supporting me for 9 days! And I was so amazed by their commitment that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open!

I was extremely lucky to have my mates support me during back-to-back 80k training runs round Richmond Park. From left to right - Ben Cooper, me, Jack Donaldson and Jamie Riddett. It was great practice for LEJOG where they will be supporting me for 9 days! And I was so amazed by their commitment that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open!

  • Running in the brand new Saucony Kinvara 10’s - I’ve been a massive fan of the Kinvara series for years. And the latest model seems to be the most comfortable yet! I’ve now got more than 10 pairs of Kinvara’s on rotation!

  • Getting an amazingly sophisticated new watch - the Polar Vantage V - I can now track my heart rate... from my wrist!!! The battery life is unbelievable too - I did a 50k run on Friday, 80k on Saturday, 80k on Sunday, 21k on Monday and it still had 50% battery left! Plus it looks sleek and awesome!

The new  Polar Vantage V  watch has given me a huge amount more power and stats. Including being able to  measure my heart rate  from my wrist. And it’s got a mammoth battery life too.

The new Polar Vantage V watch has given me a huge amount more power and stats. Including being able to measure my heart rate from my wrist. And it’s got a mammoth battery life too.

  • Coming top 5 in the world on a number of Strava challenges - The Lululemon, the January running distance and New Balance Run Club - Not that these things should make a difference. But it’s always a good motivation! You can follow me on Strava using the below link

  • Speaking at the National Running Show with Nick Anderson, Mimi Anderson and Evie Serventi

  • Speaking at Sky about how people can achieve their goals - again with Mimi Anderson and Evie Serventi

It was a great experience being part of the Saucony and Polar stand at the National Running Show. I even did a Q&A with Nic Anderson, Evie Serventi (my sports psychologist) and Mimi Anderson (my coach) about my world record attempt.

It was a great experience being part of the Saucony and Polar stand at the National Running Show. I even did a Q&A with Nic Anderson, Evie Serventi (my sports psychologist) and Mimi Anderson (my coach) about my world record attempt.

I was also extremely privileged to share a stage with  Evie Serventi and Mimi Anderson at Sky.  We got to speak to people about how they can  achieve their goals using the 3 C’s  - Connections, Comfort Zones and Confidence

I was also extremely privileged to share a stage with Evie Serventi and Mimi Anderson at Sky. We got to speak to people about how they can achieve their goals using the 3 C’s - Connections, Comfort Zones and Confidence

  • Testing my mental focus by running 40km on a 1.2km loop in my local park

One of the hardest runs that I did during the month was to  test my mental strength  by running  40km around a 1.2km loop  in my local park. And then off to Costa to get a hazelnut latte for my Catherine and a babycino for Rosie!

One of the hardest runs that I did during the month was to test my mental strength by running 40km around a 1.2km loop in my local park. And then off to Costa to get a hazelnut latte for my Catherine and a babycino for Rosie!

And with all of that combined, my key running stats were:

  • 1,238km (769 miles) - Total distance ran

  • 40km (25 miles) - Average distance ran per day

  • 80km (50 miles) - Longest individual run. I did two 80km runs back-to-back as part of my first long training weekend

  • 104 hours, 50 minutes - Total time spent running

  • 10,000+ metres (32,800 feet) - Total elevation. The equivalent of climbing Mount Everest... and then another 1,200 metres!

Jan 2019 Monthly Mileage Chart.png

You can track my training by following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava.

How Much Crap Did I Eat in January?

January started off in the worst possible way for running.

Or the best possible way, if you’re thinking purely from enjoyment.

My wife and I spent New Year’s Eve in Dublin celebrating her birthday.  

And the celebrations continued into January 1st...

... The day where I ate and drank my way through 6,900 calories! 

This was partly because it was the last day that I was allowing myself to gorge before serious preparation for my world record challenge would start... on January 2nd! 

Which means no drinking, and no excessive gorging on food, until I arrive in John o’ Groats in the early hours of Monday 3rd June (hopefully!)

Throughout January my eating habits significantly improved.

Mostly due to my wife and daughter’s unbelievable commitment to cook me low carb, high fat culinary delights such as:

  • Low Carb Cheesecakes - with whipped cream, dark chocolate and almond flour

Rosie, my daughter baked me delicious low carb cheesecakes

Rosie, my daughter baked me delicious low carb cheesecakes

  • Sloppy joes

Catherine brought out an all-American dish - Sloppy Joes - with a low carb twist for me by using romaine lettuce instead of wraps

Catherine brought out an all-American dish - Sloppy Joes - with a low carb twist for me by using romaine lettuce instead of wraps

  • Tuna Poke Bowl - Raw tuna, sesame oil and lots of spice, which was delicious. The cauliflower rice that I had with it rather than real rice, was not delicious!

  • Macadamia Fat Blondie Bombs (my personal favourite!) - Macadamia nuts, dark chocolate, almond flour

The macadamia fat blondie bombs were the winning dish of the month!

The macadamia fat blondie bombs were the winning dish of the month!

  • Ikea Meatballs - In my opinion, they’re not worth the hype…

My daughter, Lottie, and I, were concentrating very hard at lunch. It was a match made in heaven… I ate the high fat, low carb meatballs. And Lottie at the low fat, high carb chips!

My daughter, Lottie, and I, were concentrating very hard at lunch. It was a match made in heaven… I ate the high fat, low carb meatballs. And Lottie at the low fat, high carb chips!

My key food stats for January were:

  • 128,000 total calories eaten - Averaging 4,100 per day

  • 151,000 total calories burnt - Averaging 4,900 per day

  • 6,900 calories - Most consumed in a single day - On 1st January 2019. My ‘last supper’ before LEJOG 2019

  • 6,500 calories - Most burnt in a single day

January’s Top Tips - How to Stay Focused During Long Sessions

January was my biggest month of training by a long way.

It got colder in the morning, I started waking up a lot earlier and the runs got longer. 

And I’ve had a lot of questions about how I stay mentally focused during these long runs.

So here are some of techniques that I use.

1) Be Goal Orientated

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to keep your main goals at the front of your mind.

No matter how difficult a run seems, especially when you’re lying in a warm bed, having a clear focus on your end goal is a great motivation. 

To do this, you need to clearly define your goal.

Writing it down is one of the best ways to do this.

Are you struggling to think of a goal?

The  read this article on figuring out the real reason you take on these challenges 

Once you’ve defined your goal, you can then focus on breaking it down into all of the processes that will help you achieve it. 

For example, I’m attempting to break the record for running from a Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

To do that I need to run 100 miles a day repeatedly.  

So I need to practice running big back-to-back days.

That means I need to get up at 4am to do long runs before work. 

And if I still want to have a good weekend with my family, then I need to wake up at 4am o Nome Saturday and Sunday too.

My second tip is to use visualisation.  

Recently, I’ve been visualising the end of my world record attempt - the John o’ Groats signpost.

And specifically seeing my wife and two daughters there.

This has been a  huge positive image for me to use during long runs.

2) Friends

There was one huge learning that I took from the weekend of training with my support crew...

.... There’s no better distraction from running miles and miles than having someone next to you.

Before that weekend, I’d done practically 100% of my training alone.

After all, there’s not many people that want to get up at 4am to go running in January!

But it was amazing how quickly the miles passed by when there was someone next to me on a bike.

If you can train with someone else, even for short sections of a long run, it will make it a lot easier.  

There are various ways to find other people to run with.

You can run past a friends house on your running route. Meet at a mutual location to start a run. Organise to commute to or from work with fellow runners.

Or join a club.

3) Podcasts and Music

My preference during long runs is to listen to podcasts.

I find that you can concentrate on them a lot more than listening to music. So they take your mind away from the fairly monotonous act of running. 

I also feel that I’m making better use of my time than listing to music, as I’m learning something new or hearing something inspirational.

There are a few tricks with podcasts: 

- Find High Quality Shows

There are a huge amount of podcasts...

And most of them are terrible!

But by doing a bit of googling on ‘best podcasts in [topic/ genre that interests you], you’ll find a bunch.

If you need inspiration, here are some of my current favourites: 

  1. Rich Roll - Get insights into the life of high achievers across a number of different areas. One of my favourites was Ross Edgley, who swam around the entire coast of the UK

  2. 30 for 30 - Documentary style episodes on some great topics. Start with the ‘Six who Sat’ for two iconic stories about women’s running

  3. Choiceology - An insight into how to make small changes in our everyday life that have big impacts. Start with ‘the big impact of small changes’ episode

  4. Endurance Planet - Some very specific advice for training for endurance athletes. Start with any topic that takes your fancy!

  5. Hurdle - Stories of successful people and businesses and how they got there. Start with the episode with Kirsty Godso, a Nike ‘Master Trainer’

- Download A Lot of Different Shows

The second trick is to download a bunch of shows and stick them in a playlist.  

Downloading them means you don’t have to rely on 3G or 4G connections when you’re out and about.  

It also means that you can queue up shows that actually interest you.  

Otherwise, you’ll go into auto-play and end up listening to podcasts that are pointless and not interesting.  

And there’s not many more frustrating things than listening to a pointless podcast.

Except listening to the same person over-and-over... 

... which brings me to my next point... 

- Mix Up the Order

Once you’ve downloaded lots of shows, mix up the order so that you don’t have multiple episodes from the same podcasts.

This is a nice psychological boost for a few reasons.  

First, you don’t get bored by the same voices over and over.

Second, it’s often a nice surprise when a new episode comes on that you weren’t expecting.

It’s a small win. But a good one :-)

I rarely listen to music, but I do have a secret weapon when I need a psychological boost specifically in races... 

... I have created a playlist on Spotify called the ‘Ultra Running Motivational Playlist’. 

This is an embarrassing collection of the cheesiest, happiest tunes that I’ve ever heard. 

There are classics from Steps, S Club 7, Busted and many songs from Disney films. 

This playlist only comes out when I’m at my deepest and darkest points during a race.

But it’s incredcibly effective at raising motivation. 

And I’ve often found myself singing aloud at the top of my voice in the middle of the night in a race! 

I highly encourage you to have this secret weapon in your back pocket.

But make sure that it only ever comes out as a last resort.

Overuse of this will mean it becomes ineffective very quickly!

How Did Your Training Go in January? 

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 February?

February is going to be a relatively calm month, compared to January.

First, I’m having a bit of a rest week after my long training weekend at the end of January.

But I will be ramping the distance up for a few weeks to about 300km per week.

Before having a complete rest week again at the end of February where we go on a family skiing trip to Vail... 

... Although I won’t be skiing this year. (Sad face). 

You can follow my training on social media and on Strava.


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