Lesson One – Fail to Prepare and Prepare to Fail!

I recently attempted to run to the NEC with a group of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. It was a collection of speakers for the National Running Show, some high-profile elite runners and little old me running about 50k a day for 5 days. To be honest I’d not fully recovered from the 100 miler in November and I’d done minimal training for this, so rather unsurprisingly… I got injured! Half-way through day 3 (80 miles in) I had to stop because my foot had swelled up to the size of my head! The ‘cankle’ as it became affectionately known was caused by soft tissue damage and I suspect was actually a transfer of the pain from my knee which hadn’t fully recovered from the 100. I spent the next few days crewing for the other guys and had an absolutely amazing time. If you haven’t done a group adventure trip then I’d thoroughly recommend it – the camaraderie and friendships you make are incomparable to everyday life. Working as a group through adversity (injuries, rain storms, cold, failing light, slow service at Nando’s…) brings you very close together and I think I have made some friends that I will stay in contact with for a very long time. Part of me will always regret not being able to finish the challenge but I’ll never regret the exceptional banter with that awesome group or people.

Lesson Two – Runners are Awesome

Then came the National Running Show and I was frankly terrified the night before – I’d left my safe corporate job to set this show up and I’d invested a lot of time and all of my money into creating an event that I felt the community wanted and deserved. Organising a major exhibition is like organising a massive party – no matter how good you think the music and food is and how nicely you decorate the space there is no guarantee people will show up. Fortunately people showed up, LOTS of people! More than 12,500 people over 2 days – it was amazing. People were so happy and kind on the day, it was a genuine pleasure to be surrounded by a room full of like-minded people who genuinely love running. Even the celebrities seemed to enjoy it – Kelly Holmes was so generous with her time and stayed far longer than she was supposed to. I was lucky enough to spend some time with her and I have to say that she is every bit as amazing as I’d hoped! It was awesome to meet all of you and thank you to those of you who took the time to e-mail or contact us on social media. To stop us getting a big head I made sure I read every single negative comment I could find – not because I’m a masochist but because that way we can make it better. I appreciate that we didn’t get everything right first time and there are still a few improvements to make for next year and I think that reading the bad stuff has really helped us evolve the 2019 event. We have some REALLY cool stuff coming for 2019 and I cant wait to tell you guys all about it all very soon ?

Lesson Three – You An Expert on Your Own Body

My final lesson was that sometimes you need to just do what works for you. I’ve been running for over ten years and I’ve learned a few things about what works best for me in that time. There are trainers and kit that I can or can’t use, little routines that work for me and make absolutely no sense to other people but they just work and I have my own little weird way of doing things. There are lots of experts out there that are very highly qualified and much better at running than me and wherever I can I try and take their advice or copy them. I take the approach that I’ll  try anything once but if I don’t like it then I won’t do it again and I think that’s a healthy way to approach it (if I don’t like doing something then it will suck the fun out of my running.)

So what’s the relevance of all of this? Sometimes people will tell you to stop doing things as well as suggesting new things to try. Often that advice is good advice – e.g. Mike you should really stop drinking beer the night before a run (I probably should but undoubtedly won’t!) but sometimes it’s not right for you. In this case, a number of runners that I really respect told me that I should stop wearing my calf sleeves as they only really help with recovery not running. I really respect the guys that gave me this advice and they are far better runners than me so I stopped wearing my calf sleeves. 3 out of the next 4 times I ran I had to cut my distance short because of a calf strain. It wasn’t until I got home and my wife pointed out that I should probably just keep wearing them if I get injured without them that I realised how silly I’d been. Calf sleeves work for me, they don’t work for everyone but I started using them because I had calf problems and when I stopped using them the problems came back. I’m no doctor but this probably means they work for me.

Does this mean calf sleeves work for everyone? Does it mean that those expert runners don’t know what they are talking about? Of course not! What I think it does mean is that you should take all the advice you can get but tailor it and match it to your own experiences. If you do something really weird and it works for you, then just keep doing it. Obviously, if you keep doing everything exactly the same way then your results won’t really alter so change is a good thing, but you don’t have to change everything and sometimes staying the same is pretty cool to.

If you’d like to get in touch about this blog or any aspects of the show then tweet me @raccoonrunner