Emma on training

People seem to be interested in how you train to do such a big run so I thought I’d give a little insight into my intentions and previous experience.

When I was training for the freedom run in 2011 I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life and had to squeeze in the mileage anywhere I could. That meant that most of my training was done on the canal right beside my house. A lot of the runs were pretty monotonous but pleasant at the same time as the canals are beautiful. The downfall to this was that there was little training on hills and it would appear that South Africa is not flat! The main concept behind my training was to gradually increase my distance on a daily and weekly basis until my final few weeks when I was running 100miles a week. This was pretty tough considering that six months before the start of the run I got tendinitis in my knee and had to start from running one mile at a time, if I could manage that. Overall this theory did the job and I managed to complete the run pretty unscathed. I do however feel that I overdid the training a bit and could have done less damage to my knees if I trained slightly differently. Which is what I hope to do this time.


My intentions…

This is my aim but it is only an aim. Of course I need to gradually increase my mileage as I did before but this time I hope to focus more on quality not quantity. I have less demands on my life this time so hope to get out to the Peak District more and do more full days running on trails and over hills. I’m going to try and replicate the lifestyle I will have in Africa at least once a week. I will still need to be doing my flat out and back runs along the canal which is good rough terrain training but hopefully not so much that I recognise every leaf on every tree!

Also my intentions are to try and get a yoga class in each week as I’m not so young and flexible anymore. Trying my best to look after my old body!! Also going to get more hours in on my bike. I suppose the aim overall is to not hammer the miles so much but to spend a lot of time being exposed to the elements while training.

Interviewing attempt no 1

Arrgh! My attempt to interview Emma is a disaster, well not a disaster, but its not good. Being interviewer and camera person when you’re an absolute beginner is a bad idea.

The lovely Zoe lent us a proper camera and I was pleased with myself for switching it on and clipping it onto the tripod, ready for when Emma arrived. The battery going dead is only a minor hitch, as there is a spare one. More importantly, after we do a practice interview, I can’t figure out how to download it to my computer. We ditch the camera and try an ipad and then an iphone. None of them are mine. I don’t know how to use them.

The next day, I did figure out how to download the first film. There are lots of basic errors, which I would tell you about, but I can’t imagine anyone trying to do this who is as ignorant as me. Now, I have the interview on 3 different formats. After many hours of trying to stitch this together, my test audience suggests, tactfully, that we redo it. But, as I promised some of you an introduction to Emma, here is a mini clip and a couple of special effects to show off my new skills. I am particularly pleased with the ridiculously dramatic music (although it is completely off message and not the look we are going for).

Entry into the ‘spot the mistakes’ competition is open to everyone and the person who points out the most mistakes, wins a prize. Double points for any I haven’t already noticed.

The Running Show

The Running Show is full of clothes, shoes, nutritional supplements, physiotherapists, sports therapists, compression tights, future marathon events and runners (there’s a 10k on the morning I go.) It’s a little overwhelming. Happily, clothes, shoes and training are Emma’s area of expertise.

There are freebies, mostly nutritional supplements. (This is lucky for me as the only dairy free food I can find, at the venue, are average tasting chips).

For a bargain £15, I sign up for 6 months of Runner’s World and get a free camelbak. I don’t need a camelback, I only run for 20 minutes at a time. But it seems too good a deal to miss. And you never know.

I’m seeing how I feel

Amidst all the clothing, I find some techy stuff. There’s an awesome machine, Ithlete, that can tell you whether it’s a good day to train or not. I’m tempted by it, although it would ruin my standard excuse for laziness: “I think I’m coming down with something”.  Then again, it would be hugely motivating to be told that today is a perfect day for training. Emma, to my surprise, is interested in the product too.

I am also delighted to find Lessbounce. If you’re a woman and into sports you must know about this shop. I first discovered Lessbounce just over ten years ago and it changed my life. Specifically, Panache Sports Bra, changed my life. Since then, sports bras have improved a lot, and now, there are many different effective brands in many different sizes. If you’re not comfy, seriously, get to Lessbounce.

“If it’s a faff, you won’t bother”. It’s another snippet of advice that I pick up from ultra runner, Andy Mouncey. This advice is for people who are racing. I’m not sure it’s so relevant to a journey of 120 days. We will have more opportunity for faffing. But I like it as a general concept. Make things simple: keep them simple.

Finally, I have nice long chat with Run247.com who are interested in a press release. (Another skill to learn.)

On the whole, I thought the running show was pretty good, especially for its first year.

Next stop: the Adventure Travel Show in January @ Olympia– anyone else going? £10 entry.

Snakes and Anti-Venom

For the benefit of my snake phobic friends of my family
For the benefit of my snake phobic friends and family

Snakes are a bit of a risk in Sub-Saharan Africa. They’re a risk in most countries except sleepy UK. Not a total risk, there are still lots of people alive in Africa so I think our chances are good, but about 1.5 million people a year are bitten by snakes in the region, and that’s enough for me to consider and investigate what to do, as we won’t normally be near a hospital.

I’ve come across snakes a few times in my life. I wouldn’t want to be placed in a pit of them but, in my experience, they are harmless. Back many years ago, walking in the Kenyan bush, the person in front of me stepped off the path and almost onto a snake. Startled, the black spitting cobra fled in my direction, its head reared up ready to attack. To be fair to the cobra, it was fleeing from a fat foot landing on it during its afternoon nap. Luckily, as I was dawdling a few metres back, I had time to leap out the way and the cobra carried on gliding past and dived into the undergrowth as swiftly as possible. This is my understanding of snakes, leave them alone when they are sleeping, get out their way when they’re scared, make lots of noise so they hear you coming and they’ll not bother you.

However, Emma almost sat on a puff adder in South Africa. Puff adders are well camouflaged, apparently like to lie on roads and paths for warmth and, unlike most snakes, don’t move when they hear you coming. This ‘can’t be arsed to move but don’t step on me or you die’ attitude, makes them a hazard for Emma and whoever is cycling with her at the time. I realise I am anthropomorphising and that adders possibly stay still because it would ruin their camouflage. But then, I suggest, if you’re really good at blending into the background you shouldn’t get angry when someone steps on you. Take it as a compliment. They and black mambas have a bad reputation. I consider anti-venom for each of them.

Searching for information on anti-venom on the Internet, I discover that humans can have a fatal reaction to it. I guess it has to be powerful stuff to counteract the snake’s poison. I also learn that snakes often bite without adding poison. It’d be tragic, if the snake didn’t put enough poison in, only for the anti-venom to cause anaphylactic shock. It seems anti-venom is not stuff for a first aider to administer.

Happily, I also read that most people survive snake bites as long as you stay calm and keep your pulse rate slow, http://www.thesafariguide.net/safari-guide/snakes. Keeping your pulse rate slow will give you longer to get to the hospital. If you’re scared of snakes practice keeping calm. Which means rock or indoor climbing is not only a source of fun, it’s training for controlling our fear. I might learn to meditate too.

In the unlikely event of being snacked on by a python, we should keep a bottle of alcohol with us. Apparently, they don’t like it in their eyes or up their nose. I think a nice strong spirit, like, say, tequila (gold).

And finally, here are a couple of cute photos of snakes, I don’t know if they’re deadly, but they are pretty:

Eye Spy
Eye Spy
To infinity and beyond!
To infinity and beyond!