RED-S Syndrome – What Athletes Need to Know

Mimmi Kotka (far left) at the start of the 2020 Transgrancanaria – (c)iancorless.com

Mimmi Kotka broke silence just last week after a string of below par performances and has acknowledged it is time to take a break from sport. In an open and honest post on social media, she clarifies:

“I have been suffering with my body since the end of 2018. I have finally connected the dots between my low immune system, anaemia, fatigue, stomach problems, lack of menstrual period, inability to run fast and my body always running in reserve: it is RED- S, Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport.”

Now for many, RED-S may well be a new term, however, the list of symptoms and problems Mimmi lists are not. In recent years we have witnessed the rise of many a runner, particularly in the ultra-world for them only to slowly disappear.

Caroline Chaverot at Limone Extreme, Italy – (c)iancorless.com

Recently, Caroline Chaverot, a dominant force and some would have said unbeatable in trail running, slowly removed herself from the sport with a string of below expectation performances. In an interview with Damian Hall for IRunFar, Caroline said, “…I want to be better. Everyone else is training a lot, so I will train like them.’ Maybe I did too much? Or maybe too soon? If training becomes like a competition, then you get tired. I probably trained too hard and fast.”

The story of Geoff Roes and his dominance, for a period over the 100-mile distance, who now runs for fun, forever fighting a battle with fatigue. “It seems like I take two steps forward and one step back. I can’t really do what I want physically, I still get pretty fatigued.” said Roes talking with Justin Mock in an article on IRunFar dating back to just April 2020.

To be clear, I am not saying that Caroline or Geoff had RED-S, I am merely pointing out that our sport, the challenges it brings, without close attention can be far more negative than positive. No runner or athlete intends to get RED-S or OTS, quite the contrary. As Mimmi says:

 “I never had the intention to lose weight, nor do I have an eating disorder. I ended up with RED-S by mistake.”

The great thing about trail and ultrarunning is that it is a sport for all. All body types are welcomed and RED-S can happen to anyone at anytime. It can creep up without your realising.

“But a mysterious training condition is suddenly plaguing its ranks, robbing a generation of top athletes of their talents and forcing victims to wonder: Is it possible to love this sport too much?”

Mike Wolfe at The Rut, he is co race director with Mike Foote – (c)iancorless.com

The above is from an article, “Running on Empty” by Meaghen Brown that starts with the story of Mike Wolfe at the 2012 Transvulcania. I was there, I witnessed the day unfold. The article goes on to say:

“The past seven years have seen the rise and decline of at least a dozen elite competitors, including Anna Frost, who won the women’s division of the North Face Endurance Championship in 2011; Anton Krupicka, two-time winner of the Leadville 100; Geoff Roes, who set a new record at the 2010 Western States 100; and Kyle Skaggs, who demolished the Hardrock 100 record in 2008. Each of them reached the pinnacle of the sport only to mysteriously struggle to repeat their best results. Transvulcania was the start of Wolfe’s own precipitous fall.”

Now the context of the above article was OTS, (Overtraining Syndrome,) but the similarities with RED-S are noticeable.

What is RED-S?

Relative energy deficiency in sport, known as `RED-S `is the result of insufficient caloric intake and/or excessive energy expenditure. For Mimmi, it was the latter, excessive energy expenditure. The condition can alter physiological systems such as metabolism, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, and cardiovascular and psychological health.

For many, RED-S was known as the Female Athlete Triad and is often directly related to not eating appropriately for the amount of energy one extends. This can be a particular problem for the ultra-distance runner. “Furthermore, the RED-S model includes both male and female athletes – so if you are a male athlete, please do not stop reading! Low energy availability can impact male and female exercisers of all levels and of all ages.”

Food restriction is a worrying scenario, both for male and female athletes. A simple analogy is taking a car and restricting the fuel you add to the car. Do not add enough fuel and the car will eventually grind to a halt, the body is no different. While the condition was often thought to be one for female athletes, medical professionals are now seeing similarity in male athletes and the usage of the RED-S term now applies to male and female.

Mimmi continues to write, “I have plunged myself into this condition over the last few years. I have simply put in more and more hours of training without adjusting my calories accordingly, dragging me towards incredible fatigue.”

Mimmi was eating healthy and good quantities, however, the balance was off. Her training volume was too high and calorie intake insufficient. It was not an eating disorder of any sorts, more a miscalculation of energy burnt/ calories in.

Mimmi, was the winner of CCC and TDS and for a period of time, was considered unstoppable. A force to be reckoned with. But as she says, since 2018 she has continually suffered to find the same performance levels. This in turn brings a negative cycle that only perpetuates the problem.

I will train more.

I will lose weight.

Two common scenarios that gradually add more issues and one cannot ignore pressure from peers, fans and sponsors. In the case of Mimmi, she trained more to get better. She had no intention to lose weight.

While eating habits are an indicator of RED-S, the overall picture is much more complex and of course, the differences between male and female are marked.

The BMJ (British Medical Journal) list several key notable factors as an indicator, the first is missed periods or no menstrual cycle. Now of course, this is specific to women, but what other factors should be considered?

Stress Fractures.

Low BMI.

Strange eating habits.

Increase training.

Inability to recover.

The long-term impact if unchecked can be devastating with affects on the health system staying with the body for the rest of the athletes life.

When hormone levels are altered, the impact is potentially far reaching and why it may be common to know and understand that immunity is impacted, recovery, growth, concentration and an impact on endurance, the cardio vascular system can also be impacted which could lead to heart disease.

This is not a condition just for the “elite” of the sport, quite the opposite. We look up to our idols and we copy them. We hear stories of mega training sessions, we hear about fasted runs and we hear stories of specific diets to maintain race weight… A picture builds and is one that many try to copy and emulate. For some and in the case of Mimmi, it was about being fitter, therefore adding more training. But for others, the pressure to be thin is very real and fad diets contribute leaving a myriad of question marks that few find the answer to.

Going back to the car analogy, sports people need energy and that energy comes from food full of nutrients and variety. One should not have a troublesome relationship with food but unfortunately, sport is littered with athletes who do. How often have you heard someone say, “I need to run to earn my calories!” 

This mindset is the start of a potential problem and it needs checking.

As Mimmi says in her honest post:

“…I’ve dragged myself deeper and deeper into this condition during the last years. Just loaded on more training hours, not adjusting my calories accordingly and slugged through incredible fatigue. Being able to ignore the physical body is what makes a good ultra runner but it’s also what brought me down.”

Nutrition specialist, Dr Nicky Keay confirms in an article, “Fundamentally there is a mismatch between food intake (in terms of both energy and micronutrients) and the demand for nutrition required to cover expenditure, both of exercise training and for basic “housekeeping” tasks in the body to maintain health. If there is insufficient energy availability, then the body switches into an energy saving mode. This “go slow” mode has implications for hormone production and metabolic processes, which impacts all systems throughout the body.”

We train to get fitter, faster and stronger. But a complete athlete should look at all aspects to make a perfect picture. Food and nutrition is a key building block and without it there will be an inability to improve as expected in response to training and the risk of injury will increase. It´s a downward spiral we have seen all too often in the sport of ultra-running.

Counting calories rarely has a benefit in the long-term, however, in the short term, keeping a training diary that records food intake v expenditure can be useful. If an athlete consumes fewer than 2500/2000 calories (male/female) after taking energy expenditure in to account, your intake is likely to be inadequate

There are many fad diets out there but find a balance with nutritious food that has plenty of variety. Periodise food intake to coincide with training. For example, there is a time and a place for carbohydrate. Equally protein and fats. Eat fresh, minimally processed foods that include plenty of servings of vegetables and fresh fruit. Try not to avoid certain food groups unless advised otherwise by a medical professional and if vegan or vegetarian make sure you understand how to maximise calories paying attention to Protein, Fat, B12, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Iodine and D Vitamin. “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” by Matt Frazier is a great resource for all sports people

Post exercise, make sure you replenish your body with protein and carbohydrate. Protein will help repair lean muscle and carbohydrate will help restore glycogen for the next training session. How much carbohydrate you eat depends on what training you have coming up… This is where the help of a coach and nutritionist will help keep you honest.

Be sensible with training volume, less is sometime more!

To conclude, who is at risk of RED-S?

The reality is, RED-S can occur in any age or level of athlete but the greatest risk comes for those who are involved in sports that require high power. Power to weight ratio is a fickle beast and those most at risk are cyclists, climbers, triathletes, runners – yes, runners!

Ultimately, find a healthy balance between training, nutrition and rest. Go through the warning signs below and be honest with yourself. If in doubt, ease back, eat healthy and seek the advice of professionals who can help get you back on the correct path.

Warning signs:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Illness
  3. Repeated injury
  4. Mood changes
  5. Broken sleep
  6. Below par performances
  7. and of course, an unhealthy relationship with food.

 

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DEATH and TAXES and RUNNING INJURIES

Pleasure to provide the images to accompany the words of David Roche for the article, ‘Death and Taxes and Running Injuries’

for Trail RUNNER Mag

It’s easy to idealize running.

Frolicking through forests! Jumping over rocks and bounding down mountains! On a training plan, the miles come so easily. But that’s not reality.

As a coach, I try to never lose sight of that fact. It’s so easy to write down “8 mile run” and not think about what that actually entails. That’s more than 10,000 steps, each one with significantly more impact forces than walking, each one with the potential to go horribly wrong. That training log entry seems simple, but it’s asking an athlete to do something that many people can’t do in the first place.

Our heads may be up in the clouds, but our bodies are on the ground, and they can feel the pounding. The process of building up endurance risks breakdown with each step. Running is a lot like life in that way. Every day that passes brings us one day closer to the ultimate breakdown.

What can we do in the face of our own fragility? We can keep moving forward.

That sounds melodramatic. I promise this article will not be too serious. But it is important to understand that we get running injuries for the same reasons that we die—our bodies are only capable of so many miles, even if our brains can expand to encompass infinity. Just as life requires death to have meaning, so too do runners have to get injured for the miles to be more than numbers in a training log.

So let’s celebrate the whole journey, including the parts that might be less fun to talk about. Let’s talk injuries.

Read the full article HERE

Trail RUNNER Mag HERE

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Episode 112 – Nicky Spinks, Emelie Forsberg, The Jeff’s

A_GRAVATAR

This is Episode 112 of Talk Ultra and we speak with Nicky Spinks about that incredible DOUBLE Bob Graham Round. Emelie Forsberg joins us to tell us all about her injury, how she feels and when (we hope) she will be back and we speak to ‘The Jeff’s’ an inspiring husband and wife who took respective 1st places at the Salt Flats 100

NEWS

Ultra Trail Australia 

Men

Pau Capell 9:20

Ben Duffus 9:39

Yun Yanqiao 9:42

notable 4th – Ryan Sandes 9:48

Beth Cardelli 11:16

Fiona Hayvice 11:33

Kellie Emmerson 11:53

00:16:16 INTERVIEW Steven Jeff and Meagan Jeff – Salt Flats 100

Quicksilver 100k

Paul Terranova 9:17

Chris Calzetta 9:32

Mario Martinez 9:56

Krissy Moehl 11:02

Roxana Pana 11:44

Monica Imana 12:13

ROB YOUNG – marathonmanUK has started his Transcontinental run record (2766 miles) on May 14th. He started with an 81 mile day 1…. you can track him HERE

At the time of recording having run 5-days he was just south of the Grand Canyon heading to Flagstaff

We mentioned in the last show about Nicky Spinks completing the DOUBLE BOB GRAHAM ROUND and I am really pleased to say I caught up with her just days after of this inspiring interview. Only the 2nd person and 1st lady to complete a double BGR in 45:30

01:07:42 INTERVIEW with Nicky Spinks

01:44:19 INTERVIEW with Emelie Forsberg

UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Fiambala Desert Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Fiambala Desert Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Australia

Victoria

100km | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Macedon Ranges 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Western Australia

Kep Track 100km Ultra Marathon II | 100 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Kep Track 75km Ultra Marathon II | 75 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Austria

ESPA-Mountain-Marathon | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

ESPA-Ötscher-Ultra-Marathon | 72 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Trail des Vallées du Chevalier – 62 km | 62 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Bhutan

The Last Secret | 200 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

Canada

Alberta

Blackfoot Ultra 100KM | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Miler | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

British Columbia

55 km | 55 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ontario

Sulphur Springs 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Sulphur Springs 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sulphur Springs 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

China

Shangri-La 100k | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Shangri-La 50k | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Czech Republic

Craft Gemini Maraton | 84 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Mammut Ultramaraton | 85 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Denmark

Midtjylland

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X50 | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X70 | 70 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Finland

Oulu

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 160 km | 160 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 53 km | 53 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Ultra – 80 km | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

France

Ardèche

53 km | 53 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Dordogne

La Mythique International Run | 250 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Haute-Savoie

Technica Maxi Race | 85 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Trail du Gypaète | 73 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

XL Race | 87 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Trail du Hautacam – 50 km | 59 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Isère

Circuit de la sure | 56 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Jura

La Transju’trail – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Orne

Trail du Massif d’Ecouves en Pays d’Alançon – 61 km | 61 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Pas-de-Calais

105 km | 105 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Rhône

Raid 500km | 500 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Saône-et-Loire

Trails des Vignes | 300 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail de Côte-d’Or | 105 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 101 KM | 101 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 67 KM | 67 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Hungary

Ultrabalaton | 212 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ireland

Kilkenny

Tullaroan Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

Trail Alta Val Nure – 60 km | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Piedmont

Trail del Monte Soglio – Gir Lung | 63 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sardinia

Asinara Ultra Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Vigolana Trail | 65 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Tuscany

100km del Passatore | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Veneto

103 km | 103 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

53 km | 53 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Nepal

Mount Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Netherlands

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 300 kilometers | June 02, 2016 | website

Peru

Jungle Ultra | 220 kilometers | June 03, 2016 | website

Portugal

Blue Island Trail – Ultra Trail | 70 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – 100 Milhas+ | 100 miles | June 03, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K100 | 101 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K70 | 70 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Santana Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira | 59 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 144 km | 144 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 57 km | 57 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Ultra-Trail de Sesimbra | 60 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Réunion

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Romania

80 km | 80 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultramaraton 52,75 km | 52 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Russia

Elton Ultra-Trail® – Master 56 km | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Elton Ultra-Trail® – Ultra 104 km | 104 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Master | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Ultra | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Serbia

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 122 km | 122 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 86 km | 86 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Slovakia

Štefánik Trail | 140 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

South Africa

Comrades Marathon | 89 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Spain

Basque Country

Euskal Herria Mendi Erronka | 65 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Castile and León

60 km | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Catalonia

Trail | 71 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Trail Els Bastions® | 52 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Els Bastions® | 90 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail | 129 kilometers | May 27, 2016 | website

Galicia

80 km | 80 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Sweden

Boras Ultra Marathon – 100 miles | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Boras Ultra Marathon – 87 km | 87 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Switzerland

Berne

100km run Biel | 100 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Birmingham

Grand Union Canal Race | 145 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Calderdale

Calderdale Way Ultra (long) | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Devon

Dartmoor Discovery | 32 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

East Sussex

Weald Challenge 50 km Ultra Trail | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Greater London

First Half Challenge | 56 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

London 2 Brighton Challenge | 100 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Northamptonshire

Northants Ultra | 35 miles | June 05, 2016 | website

Surrey

The Omen 66.6 | 67 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Worcestershire

Severn Path Ultra | 58 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Severn Plod Ultra | 45 miles | May 27, 2016 | website

Severn Way Ultra | 58 miles | May 29, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Rockin Choccolocco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Arkansas

War Eagle Tail Twister Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

California

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Nanny Goat 100M Trail | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | June 03, 2016 | website

San Francisco 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

San Francisco 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Ultimate Direction Dirty 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Florida

Lake to Ocean 100K | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Georgia

Wildwood Games – 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 05, 2016 | website

Idaho

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 60k | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Maine

Pineland Farms 50K Trail | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

Pineland Farms 50 Mile Trail | 50 miles | May 29, 2016 | website

Michigan

10k Run | 62 miles | May 30, 2016 | website

Yankee Springs Trail Double Marathon | 84 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Missouri

Go! KT82 Trail Relay | 82 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z Gravel Classic 60k | 60 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

GOATz Gravel Classic 60K | 60 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

New York

Cayuga Trails 50 | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Oregon

Bend Beer Chase | 70 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

TrailFactor 50k | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2016 | website

Walk The Line Relay – 2 Person Team | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Walk The Line Relay – 3 Person Team | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Walk the Line Relay – Solo | 33 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Rhode Island

Gloridays | 44 miles | June 05, 2016 | website

South Carolina

El Diablo | 220 kilometers | June 03, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100K | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100M | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 60K | 60 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Utah

Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Virginia

Old Dominion 100 Cross Country Run | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Washington

Pigtails 100 Mile Challenge | 100 miles | May 28, 2016 | website

Pigtails 150 Mile Challenge | 150 miles | May 27, 2016 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50M Ultra | 50 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Soaring Eagle 10 M Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Soaring Eagle 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 28, 2016 | website

Vashon Island 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

Kettle Moraine 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 38 Mile Night Fun Run | 38 miles | June 04, 2016 | website

Kettle Moraine 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 04, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay Chicago | 194 miles | June 10, 2016 | website

Wyoming

Rocky Mountain 50k | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2016 | website

02:23:59 CLOSE

02:28:43

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?…. won’t stop me running an ultra!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140619

 

So I asked the question, “?… wouldn’t stop me running an ultra!”

Cassandra Cisneros Chemo
…

Andre Blumberg Noise about UTWT and TMs
…

Carla Murphy Arthritis and tin-man (girl) knees, ouch…

Mick Wren Hallucinating my very own alternative reality…

Matt Burton Averaging 12 miles a week in training…

Holly Rush Work…

Rob Pinnington The shits
…

James Harris My little legs…

Richard Ashton Being savaged by a massive dog…

Richard Hill the word “massive” is so subjective…

Emily Willemin My asthma! It knows not to mess with me on race day or I’ll just go further next time…

Richard Hill The wife…

Cameron Adamson Not paying 80$ for the grand slam…

Matt Dooley Failure…

Peter G Smith Age…

Dan Park Apocalypse…

John Hitchen *I*…

Kristen Moegling My head…

Sean Sweetman Glandular fever…

Colin Stables Peoples perception of me…

Sarah Haworth A broken toe…

Hermie Roque Saludes Colds and a slight fever…

Dennis Both Mørk Nielsen a sprained big toe…

Russell Thomas Going base over apex 10hrs into TDS, and having to hobble the next 40 miles…

David E. Jackson Injury…

Chris Valenti Self doubts. No, actually, it probably would…

Craig Eccleston The pain I endured running a marathon…

Chris Tack Spending the winter training season in Afghanistan…

James Stewart Not having an available episode of Talk Ultra to listen to…

Ed Kumar Parkinsonism
…

Carolyn Mankiewicz-Shreck Fear…

Graham Millington Achilles Tendonitis even though it really should if I were sensible. . But then I wouldn’t be running an Ultra…

Jane Benson Arthritis in the lumbar spine. My very overweight consultant said I should quit. I went onto win 2 events and have learnt to train effectively without the junk miles and get off road more…

Lior Sion Wild boars at night. As of this morning…

Simon Pavel T Miranda an upset stomach…

Michael Feehan An ileostomy due to crohn’s disease…

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140766

Thanks for the great input and thoughts… add your thoughts below.

Running through the pain

Inactivity would normally have me climbing the walls. Irritable and just ‘out of sorts’. A daily fix of exercise not only eases the mind but it most definitely does provide energy, be that physical or mental. I’m an addictive sort of person and since I got into sport seriously some 25 years ago, the need to fulfil the endorphin rush has been something I just can’t avoid.

In my early cycling days getting up at 5 or 6 am to cycle 30-50 miles before work and then do the same after work seemed ‘normal’. In actual fact, in season I would also do a mid week race and more than likely a race at weekend. When I gave up cycling in 2002 I guess I was pretty much burnt out both physically and mentally. Working 10-12 hours days and then adding 2 bike rides just meant that life was out of balance. Twelve months of RnR and a variety of sports allowed me to move into Triathlon. Of course it was meant to be fun (and it was) but that OCD kicked in and before long I was training twice a day and even sometimes three times a day, working full time and trying to be around for my family. I represented GB for Duathlon at the 2005 Worlds in Australia and went on to do multiple Ironman races.

In 2007 I was reading a book whilst relaxing on a beach in France. Another busy season behind me I had decided I need something new. Something challenging. Little did I know that ultra running would be what lay ahead. Running had been something I hated. It was triathlon that had opened up my mind to the sport but even then cycling was my ‘sport’. In a Duathlon or Triathlon I would nail the bike and survive the run. What I always liked with endurance sport is the element of unknown. The fear of not finishing. When I stood on the start line of an Ironman in 2007 I was sure I would finish. From that moment on I realised a new challenge awaited. Dean Karnazes provided that new challenge. Little did I know that reading ‘Confessions of an all night runner’ would lead to the passion I now have for ultra running.

The ‘fear’ has never gone away. I never stand on an ultra marathon start line complacent or assuming a finish. Running is brutal. It tires the body, it hurts the body and it fatigues the body like no other sport. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a negative. It’s what makes the sport great. The ability to overcome and succeed. I am not a great runner. Never have been and never will be. I can however perform well at Age Group level and I have had some successes but I know my place. Does that matter? Of course not. What’s important is taking part and achieving goals or targets. I met my partner, Niandi, through running and we have both had great pleasure travelling and racing with a common bond. I have had so many fantastic run experiences. I have made some incredible friends and I have witnessed and experienced new places. I have cried through personal joy and pain and I have cried at others joy and pain.

In 2011 I wanted to somehow pass on this passion. My good friends Tom Wiliams and Martin Yelling had started a podcast in 2010 called Marathon Talk. For this show I had helped them out with interviews in the ultra world. As 2011 progressed I knew that an ultra running podcast was just what the community needed. I was aware that other podcasts existed but they had a similar format. A little chat, an interview and then goodbye. I wanted to create an audio magazine. Something with variety, a longer show that could be taken on long runs but ultimately a show that expressed a deep passion for our sport at the grass roots and elite level. Talk Ultra was created.

Fast forward to September 2012. In the last month I have been to Sierre Zinal, Trofeo Kima and just last weekend UTMB to cover the race for Vibram. The sport is now rewarding me with experiences of a completely different nature. I am now reporting on, writing about, photographing and mixing with the stars of the race circuit and a world I love. Just one year ago I would never have thought this possible. But I guess the OCD I have that I brought to my own personal running is now being brought to the sport in a completely different channel and I am being rewarded.

The downside of all this is that my own personal running has taken a step back. Running twice a day has just not been possible. In actual fact, sometimes running just once a day can be a challenge. Ironically, my usual bomb proof physique and lack of injury over 25 years in sport has now all come to a head. Earlier this year I was getting some knee pain. I knew from experience that it wasn’t the ‘knees’ but more everything that connected to the knees. I typically tell all my coaching clients ‘get it sorted, don’t mess about’. Of course like a true Pro I did exactly the opposite… Just finding the time to see my Physio didn’t seem possible. Of course after months of running and racing with an element of discomfort all came to a head and after running the Lakeland 50 I finally had some tests done. As expected, the knees are feeling the pain but the problems are elsewhere. Core and some muscle imbalance are at the root of the problem. All helped by increasing sitting editing and recording a podcast. How ironic!

Anyway, back to the start. I am 16 days cold turkey. I have missed my runs but because of the connection to the sport through the podcast, writing and photography I haven’t missed it ‘that much’. I remain confident that all will come good and I will be back on the trails soon. But I have a new perspective. The joy of running, the joy of being on the trails and the joy of being in the mountains with wide open and empty vistas are what appeals. This all became completely apparent when I did 5 hours on trails with Salomon runner, Linda Doke at the Glacier de Zinal. We had the most incredible time running, chatting, taking photos and enjoying the trails for what they are; an escape!

I will always want that escape. If the escape is following and reporting the sport from the side of the trail, so be it.

Don’t rule me out yet though. One way or the other I will carve a niche on trails. It may just be in my own time at my own pace. I can live with that!