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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Just for those of you who are interested in how not to train for an ultramarathon, ive started a run training blog on this site

so i wont put too much about it on this blog here, ill just focus on traveladventures and scary stories to tell young children.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


I’ve spent considerable time reading about how good nutrition affects running performance, and how a good diet is the cornerstone of any athletes life. Avoid sweets, fried and processed food, eat lots of fruit and veg. Avoid tea, coffee, don’t eat or drink too many dairy products.  Anyway my discipline sucks, here’s what i ate today.
8am breakfast of 2 x Weetabix, milk and honey (Nutrition Brownie Points – 7/10)
11am elevenses – smoked salmon on a white roll, 2 coffees and white sugar (NBP – 5/10)
2.30pm lunch – fish and chips, tea with milk and honey (NBP – 3/10)
11pm – large bag of smoked bacon crisps, half a bar of chocolate, spoonfuls of honey (NBP- 1/10 may as well have had a beer)
Anyway i’m going to write down what i eat every day now in a little journal - I think by exposing myself and writing down exactly what crap i put in my system every day, then i will force myself to a healthy diet. No, pervert reader,  I didn’t mean that kind of exposing myself.
Tonight, despite still aching legs from Sundays Yoga (I kid you not!) and after my fish and chips digested, i thought i’d do a stint in the freezing rain with a half marathon. I focussed on going slow and getting the technique correct, and although theres a lot of room for improvement, i think it started to work towards the end, or at least it either wasn’t sore or I was through the pain barrier. At this distance though, I could feel I could have done with some sugar to keep my energy levels up but that’s a small issue – I always take a little bottle with water and honey  (a true superfood and something that must make up 80% of my diet) but next time i’ll try adding some jelly babies which I hear are perfect for giving you a boost.
This month I plan to focus on diet, and technique. After this I don’t even know which country I’ll be living in so that will decide if I do this 50miler or just the Las Vegas Marathon in December.
50miles, well it’s easy to talk about when your’ sitting in your living room watching TV, but the reality is, there are all sorts of new issues come out – regulating your temperature, all those niggling pains from bad running technique and of course dehydration, hypothermia, and the other potentially fatal illness that comes from lack of sodium can make these ‘Ultramarathon’ races quite dangerous.  Anyway, now I have a task for the month, watch this space!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Crosstraining with YOGA

'GIMLI: Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for? ...'

I spoke to a veteran Ultramarathon runner the othe day, he's convinced me that i should do a 50mile(80km)  'training run' in the Welsh hills in December, so at least i have some 'mini' goal to train for now. I also asked him about crosstraining - its where you should really do other sports too to balance you out a bit and to give your legs a rest sometimes, normally with running you should be doing swimming or bike ie triathlon sports, as they are still good endurance sports but using different muscle groups.

However ive decided to take a chance may work, it may ruin my life. Call me stupid, call me a vegan metrosexual, call me a pervert, but I've decided to cross train with YOGA. Ok, i understand, its not the obvious choice for Ultramarathon training, but hear me out.

Ive already started this Chi Running, even to the extent of buying the book for £8.99. And it seems that its all about 'Chi' - basically on the odd occassion i finally find my sweet spot and am running in the zone, and not using any energy - well its almost like meditation anyway. Yoga, if i understand it correctly, strenghtens my 'Chi' (whatever that is) and helps with breathing, strengthening my core muscles, and increases my focus.

The point of Chi Running is that you are running using your core muscles, and you are focussed, so you dont need big and inefficent leg muscles to run. So actually, if im strengthening my core muscles and improve my focus, i couldnt possibly get a better cross train.

Ok i will try a 30km run this weekend after a week of Yoga and lets see how it pans out. Probably if i beleive it works then it will, until that Glasgow deep fried mars bar diet heart attack kicks in of course.

I actually went to Yoga for the first time in my life last night. I noticed 1. There were some fat people who seemed they were experts. 2. I was the only straight guy (which is a good reason not to use the showers) and 3. I found myself sweating like a rapist after 20minutes standing around on a small mat.  so all this is new and confusing but out of the maelstrom im sure ill know for sure if it works or not on this 80km run

Saturday, 16 October 2010


I went for my first proper training run for a month today.  I’ll try to keep an intermittent log in here, as I will be taking bets on my ability to complete this 254km Sahara race over the next wee while, with the proceeds going to PAPYRUS, a charity that helps young people with depression . I did a cautious 5 miles (8km) in a not very fast 46 minutes in chilly but quite ok plus 4 degrees today, with a bit of hail towards the end.  I’m pretty fat from the USA though so that kept me warm.  

The first run is always an amazing one though – After a mile or so I always cough like hell, it feels like all the crap living and awful processed American food being expended from my body, and usually I have a tough time in the first few miles just remembering how to run – but after 2 or 3 I got into the swing of the Chi Running again and could open the clutch a bit. I’ve decided to raise money for the suicide charity, I think quite an apt good cause considering the nature of the race i’ve entered. So if you’d like to give, just email me – there will be details on my facebook page too. The strangest thing happened though – despite having not ran for a month, i wasn’t even out of breath today, so tomorrow i’ll attempt a cheeky ten miles, just a slow one, in an attempt to 1. Toughen up my feet with blisters and 2. Get used to running in crappy hailstones (the forecast is even for snow i believe) So long as the saunas on when i get back, then i shouldn’t catch a cold. 
At the moment im fat as hell, and red, so its time to bet against me finishing Marathon Des Sables!
Anyway back to the running – the first run for a while, always reminds you of why you run.
And i’m sure you are asking yourself – ‘Yes Alan –actually why the hell do people run?

Well this is an interesting and you could say core question. You non runners will see runners out in pissing rain, snow, hail and storms, and even deserts thinking – ‘This guy is 100% crazy – otherwise why is he putting himself through this hell? ’ A point I can understand fully by the way. Other non runners will tell you it’s boring, it messes up your knees, its gives you a cold, only a total nutjob would get up at 5am and decide to do such a pointless thing like run 20km up a hill and back. WHY?
Well – every runner will tell you a few different things, but the root of it all is - Running  makes you happy. Your brain releases Endorfins and you get a great feeling of wellbeing after the exercise. So it’s basically drug addiction. Of course people say they run for the discipline, they run to relax and clear their mind, they run so they look good, they run because they will improve stamina and be better in bed. And all these are true. But... during and (especially)) after a long run, you feel great, confident, positive, and want to do it all over again – and that’s why it’s addictive.   When you’re running smoothly, you’re totally in touch with your body and what it’s doing, it’s like meditation – at these times its easy even to fall asleep, (so don’t do it on a busy road)

And with Chi Running you don’t even expend enough energy to get tired, so you can run a longer distance than you normally would if you were pounding the pavement and messing up your knees. 

I’ve also stopped drinking now so if anyone sees me with a beer/wine/pint of vodka please punch me in the face (guys) or kiss me (pretty girls) or at least put a bet against me finishing the Marathon Des Sables (all girls and guys)

Thursday, 14 October 2010


My application for the Marathon Des Sables has now been accepted, so now i plan to make the most of my impending doom by raising money for a charity - With this in mind, i thought id put it out to the public, if anyone has a specific charity theyd like to see money raised for, please let me know, and let me know a reason why they should get the money. Emails to my facebook page or here please!

Friday, 8 October 2010


When i bought my first ever flat in London Fields, back in 1999, the only guys with Moustaches in Hackney were hairy Turkish guys selling kebabs on Kingsland Road. I’d moved up from the then seedy Ironmonger Row in Shoreditch (of the famous Turkish baths), much to all my City Boy Colleagues shock and horror to what was a the time the ghetto front line. (they now all live here) Broadway Market E8 was a typical East End high Street, with the Cat and Mutton, a pretty dodgy boozer with a pool table and a bunch of kebab shops, greasy spoons, and vacant boarded up shopfronts. There was one art gallery there, owned by a cantankerous but very proud old guy who hated me for some reason and ruined one of my paintings.
Moustache Pioneer, Venezuala

However, I could see all the seeds in place for a textbook gentrification – At the time there lived a pretty messed up mixture of Blacks, Vietnemese, Turks and Hasidic Jews, none of whom liked each other particularly, along with a few cockneys, looney lefties and starving artists. Although it was dangerous enough, too dangerous for English people, the architecture in the area is great and the area was obviously posh 150 years ago. The most important seed was that there was an established community of artists and general crusties, living in squats and setting up some pretty crazy gigs and raves in abandoned buildings around. It’s also slap bang in the centre of London and while at the time the tube was a far off dream (opened this year), you could still walk from Shoreditch to the City in 15 mins.

Fast forward two years to 2002, and Shoreditch in particular really started to move. Despite being a total shithole. There was a whole bunch of crusty bars, the most famous being ‘333’ or ‘The mother bar’ which, along with the White Cube gallery opening on Hoxton Square were true catalysts that helped Hackney become the coolest part of London bar none. I’d bought as many flats as i could by then, then bought the then totally fucked ‘Bikes on Broadway’ shop at 73 Broadway Market, which i can now proudly say is the offices of Findlay Property Investment (website here if you want to rent a flat or invest or simply talk to nice Estonian girls in London) We kept the bike wheel, i cant remember why. Theres also some random neon bike sign upstairs, it was just too much hassle to take down, but i'd like to think it was our part in 'creating' the vibe there.
Broadway Market - Trustafarian Dickhead Central

The big turnaround in 2002 for Hackney, in my book, oddly enough – the defining moment if you like, was the opening of ‘dream-bags&jaguar-shoes' in 2002. They just got a shoeshop in Kingsland Road and threw in a bar and hey presto!! Every bar in the area was stowed out by that time with everyone thinking they were onto the coolest thing in town – you didn’t even get mugged in Hoxton Square anymore. There were bars everywhere, strangely enough mixed in with Strip Bars for the City Boys (where i used to have lunch i must confess) and thankfully houses prices were going through the roof thanks God.
Moustache HQ, Shoreditch, Hackney

However, if you walked up Kingsland road towards Dalston, a few hundred metres though thats where the real action was – there was a dodgy Russian bar called the Wolf and Rabbit, and a Black club which overnight turned into a Russian club (ahh Oksana from Lvov i’ll never forget you! ) You never knew what was going on in that dodgy looking warehouse where the noise was coming from – people would have punk gigs in their squats, striaght out of 'the young ones' and id usually end up in one underground all night bar (whos name i cant tell you) The owner i’m sure was a police informer, as every character under the sun was hanging out there looking shady. Every now again a big group of strange gangsters would come in, well dressed and looking like pro football players (they were big movers in the Heroin business ) would be well spoken and polite, and would all introduce themselves (all 6 of them) by the name of ‘Fletch’ Ive no idea why. The Turks run the heroin business in London, the would tell you and they were ‘in construction’ To add to the real life ‘snatch’ effect, they had some lovely illegal Ukranian girls working there, poor lambs.
Some parts of Hackney are yet to Gentrify (note lunchtime can of Carlsberg Special Brew)

Walking round today the place has totally changed. The tenants are much better for a start, and i don’t find guns in tenants wardrobes any more. Broadway market and London Fields are now THE destinations to be at in London. Its full of restaurants book shops and wanky galleries. There a bike shop cum cafe. There a guy on a monocycle cruises around. There are guys with stupid looking moustaches.

There’s good and bad to this gentrification – on the plus side, i’ve seen and met some great looking girls in Hackney, something you’d rarely see back in the day (except our staff of course but they were Estonian and Japanese imports) but on the negative side, it seems to now be full of twats. For example, here in Jaguar shoes, there are 3 guys with moustaches, including the waiter. The moustache count has reached 20% - which to me means time to sell up. Hackney has now peaked and become so cool its full of total tossers. So i’ve been to Foxtons and put all my places here up for sale. Buffalo i didn’t see a single moustache – a great buying signal if i ever saw one !