Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Why the Outlaw?

A recent Twitter exchange with GB canoeist Mark Proctor ( inspired me to write this post.

Why the Outlaw? This is something people ask me all the time so I thought I'd write a warts and all post as to how and why I made the decision. It will not pull any punches and if it inspires anyone to pursue something they thought impossible, then I will be happy.

Mark referred to me as a "crazy bugger" and to be honest a lot of people share similar thoughts.

Lets give you a history of my life in the previous 31 years, 6 months, 28 days.

At about the age of eight I had my tonsils out and this caused me to fill out almost overnight. I used to be as thin as a rake before this. I have no idea if the two were connected but they occurred at the same time.

Fast forward five to six years and I find myself at Secondary School and lo and behold because of my size, I was bullied both mentally and physically. Outside of school I had a good bunch of friends but in school, nothing could be further from the truth. I detested it. I didn't feel I belonged. It was torture I dreaded the hours between 9am and 4pm and couldn't wait to finish school where I could do the things I enjoyed such as swimming, riding my bike and playing football. Running was one of the other things I detested about school because I was forced to do it and given my size I was awful at it.

Fast forward another 5 or 6 years and I found myself at Leeds University and at the freshers fair  in my second year I was asked to play for the various rugby clubs, I think this had something with the fact I was 15 stone and 5 foot 11 inches, but I don't like pain as I had enough of that (emotional and physical) during my jail sentence that was Secondary School. Instead I decided on playing Ultimate Frisbee and this was a wonderful decision, I met a great bunch of people and really enjoyed playing frisbee including the exercise and even the running.

This was the last formative exercise I did and that finished in 2002 when I graduated, I had a brief foray into Ultimate Frisbee again during the summer of 2006 but work commitments cut this short.

Anyway we fast forward to January 2012 and the decision that changed my life.

Here I was at 30 years 6 months and three days old,  an obese, smoking, drinking, fast food eating couch potato. In fact I'm quite sure if you looked couch potato up in the dictionary, you would see my ugly mug grinning back at you. I decided to give up smoking as I hated it.  This was the best decision I have ever made. 

I then followed this up with the decision to do a triathlon. Given my previous swimming and cycling experience, I thought it was a good idea. I even reasoned with my wife that I was never going to do a marathon as I hated running.

Fast forward nine months and I had completed my second triathlon ever, my A race for 2012 and the reason I punished myself persistently for. In the process I raised £1025 for Cancer Research by completing the London Triathlon.

It turned out that the triathlon bug had bitten me more than I ever appreciated as as soon as I had finished I was debating what to do next.

A year ago I said I would never run a marathon but I sit tapping at my computer with the Outlaw looming in 19 weeks and 4 days. The Outlaw for the uninitiated amongst you is a triathlon which must be completed in 17 hours consisting of

  • 2.4 mile swim
  • 112 mile cycle
  • and a 26.2 mile run aka the marathon I said I would never run

Back to the original question.

Why the Outlaw?


  • Because I'm a determined sod
  • Because I have a new lease of life following my decision to give up smoking
  • Because I am thrilled by the challenge
And Most Importantly
Thanks for reading, sorry I have come across as self centred but I needed to explain my reasons for putting me through a potential 17 hours of pain where I will strip myself to the barest most raw state I think I will have ever known.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Heart Rates. What a confusing thing they are

Right I've been worried about how high my heart rate (HR) goes when I'm running.

Now the question is should I be worried or is it just me. Let me explain.

According to t'internet your max HR can be worked out using the formula of 220bpm (beats per minute) minus your age.

For me this would equate to 189bpm given I am 31 years young.

Also about t'internet are estimations on what bpm your HR should be.

Using the following page. my HR zones should be as below.

Zone 1 (40-52%) - 108 - 124 bpm
which is described as healthy heart and could be apparently achieved by walking briskly

Zone 2 (52 - 64%) - 124 - 141 bpm
which is described as easy and could apparently be achieved by jogging

Zone 3 (64 - 76%) - 141 - 157 bpm
which is described as aerobic and could apparently be achieved by running

Zone 4 (76 - 88%) - 157 - 173 bpm
which is described as anaerobic threshold and could apparently be achieved by going hard

Zone 5 (88 - 100%) - 173 - 190 bpm
which is described as VO2 max and could apparently be achieved by going all out

Now using the above data when I go for my 10km runs I would expect my HR to be mostly be between 124 and 157 bpm which are the zones which cover "jogging" and "running". However if we compare my last three long runs of 10k using the data from my Garmin my HR's have been as follows.

17/02/13 - Distance 7.02 miles in 01:19:31, where my average HR was 161bpm and my maximum HR was 174bpm

10/02/13 - Distance 6.22 miles in 01:07:57, where my average HR was 155bpm and my maximum HR was 173bpm

02/02/13 - Distance 6.58 miles in 01:10:56, where my average HR was 163bpm and my maximum HR was 176bpm

As you can see the above puts me on the boundary between zones 3 and 4, which should mean I am being anaerobic. Now from my understanding anaerobic exercise should only be able to be maintained for a duration of about 2 minutes comfortably.

However I can maintain a "zone 4" HR for a period of longer than 2 minutes. I did maintain a "zone 4" HR for period of over 23 minutes today.

Thus the only conclusion I can make is that my zones are not as estimated by various sources on t'internet. I believe that my trigger HR between aerobic and anaerobic is 170bpm ish. I can carry on running for periods of 20+ minutes as long as my HR does not breach my 170bpm threshold. This makes estimating my other zones extremely difficult.

Joe Friel agrees on his blog ( with my estimations above and his esteemed colleague John Post MD states in this blog post that

"1)     No two of us are the same.
2)     No two of us fit the exact same formula/parameters relating heart rate to training."

Now if I throw in the bike things become even more complicated. I have no idea what my zones on the bike are which means that training in zones when running or cycling is difficult for me. I just have to learn to listen to my body and what it tells me. I know when I need to walk to lower my HR. I'm even debating ditching the HR monitor strap and

Who knew when I took up this triathlon lark that I would get so confused and involved with training and HR zones.

Sorry for the boring post but this whole HR mumbo jumbo has been on my mind for a few months. Remember I am doing this for charity, if you feel like sponsoring me you can do by going to

Thanks for reading.


Monday, 4 February 2013

I am a runner

Well January was an interesting month for me.

January was the month which saw me finally start to get to grips with running. I needed to make some changes to my footwear but with the help of Sweatshop in Meadowhall, I think I have finally found some trainers which
  • don't give me blisters
  • suit me forefoot running style
  • are immensely comfy
After having a gait analysis done for the third time (hopefully this one will be more successful than the last two) I decided on a pair of Asics Gel Fuji trainers for my offroad exploits and a pair of Asics Gel Lyte 33 trainers for my road pounding sessions.

As usual with my trainer choice, they are incredibly understated.

A combination of the trainers, my PT sessions and my own stubbornness and determination has seen me set 9 running PB's in the month of January.
  • 1km in 04:16 an improvement of 34 seconds
  • 1.5km in 07:07 an improvement of 91 seconds
  • 2km in10:37 an improvement of 63 seconds
  • 2.5km in 13:30 an improvement of 75 seconds
  • 3km in 17:23 an improvement of 110 seconds
  • 1 mile in 7:42 an improvement of 85 seconds
  • 2 miles in 18:50 an improvement of 31 seconds
  • 3 miles in 28:25 an improvement of 199 seconds
And the one I am most proud of
  • 5km in 29:29, an improvement of 216 seconds and something I have been chasing for what seems like an eternity. A sub 30 minute 5km.
9 PB's. The most amazing thing about this is they were completed in the space of 3 runs. I think I might finally be getting the hang of this running lark.

On Saturday I also completed only my third 10km run in my life. It was a struggle running on my own but I set a new PB for 10km. I only need to shave another 6 minutes off my time and I will have gone sub 1 hour. The 10k in question was completed in 1 hour and 6 minutes.

These are all steps in the right direction with regards my running and I am starting to enjoy it. I even contemplated carrying on with my run on Saturday but given I have injured myself by doing too much too soon previously,  I decided against it. I was feeling really strong and half of me was sorely tempted to continue with my run.

Sunday saw me complete my first outside bike ride of 2013 on my road bike. Oh how I have missed the Madone. It is so much comfier and more responsive than my hybrid mountain bike. I pushed myself and completed 32 miles. The headwind was atrocious but as the weather is something I have no control over I decided to MTFU and go for a long(ish) ride. My average speed was 15.9mph which is above the requireemnts of Outlaw.

At the Outlaw I must maintain a speed of 13.7 mph to complete the bike course in 08:10, whereas if I could maintain the speed from Sunday I could complete the bike course in approximately 7 hours.

January also me finally break my target of 27:30 for a 1500m endurance swim, when I completed the distance in 27:09.

I have also taken up training with Adwick Masters Swim club on a Tuesday night and have been struggling through these sessions. In the first session I was the slowest swimmer in the slow lane. This was a culture shock to me when I have been lapping people in my gym's swimming pool.

All in all you could say that the month of January has been a good month for me and I'd have to agree.

I am also 95 days cigarette free and this is the best decision I have ever made. I am not missing them at all.

Bring on February and all the improvements that will bring. February will also see me start my 20 week iron distance training plan.

Remember you can sponsor me by clicking on the following link

Thanks for reading,