There’s not much I like about the tube, apart from the fact it is the quickest way to get from A to B. Rush hour is the worst, especially being so short! Getting on to a packed train and being presented with a nice sweaty armpit in my face is not an ideal way to start the day. Add to that the fact I can’t reach the bar overhead to hang on to, so it’s a balanced workout until I either get off or get a side rail. But it turns out there are some positives that come from spending an hour and a quarter on the tube (each way) to get to work. No internet service means goodbye Netflix and ‘just one more episode’ and hello again to the joy of the written word.
I love being inspired by what other people do. It's a great way to keep me motivated and excited about the next adventure on the cards. If you follow my blog, you will notice at the end of each post I put up a quote which I try to match to what I’ve been blabbing on about. In my previous post, the quote was taken from the latest book I have just read (in record time), which I loved. After telling a few people about Marathon des Sables, I was told by more than a few (even my recruitment agent!) to read a book called Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. (Epic title!). Two pages in and it had me hooked, I even managed to miss my train stop on the way to work one morning!
In a nutshell, this book is about one guy's quest to find out what the secrets are to being an incredible runner. He tells the story of the Tarahumara, a mysterious tribe hidden in the canyons of Mexico who are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world. It makes the MdS look like a dream! Without giving away too much, it will make you question whether we need to wear anything on our feet at all, if lettuce for breakfast is the way forward and if humans really can outrun almost any animal in the Savanna!
Just a note on the barefoot running phenomena, I’ve always been intrigued about the thought process behind these things you attach to your feet (because let’s be honest, it's not for the fashion), so I spoke to my cousin Bids who owns Russley Physio in Christchurch for her thoughts. (Blatant plug but if you have an injury she's awesome, hopefully not from barefoot running…). As with everything there are pros and cons, but if you do go down this road ease into it gently. We may have been initially designed to run barefoot, but over time we have got used to having the support of sneakers too! Bids explained it really well, so it's easier just to quote her directly!
'Taking it slowly is the most important thing. Pain is a warning sign, and we need to listen to it and acknowledge it. If you can’t change it, then put your shoes back on. This is the basics of what I teach. This is really hard when you're running a big race like the Coast to Coast or a marathon, as the last 5km or even more is always going to hurt. It is learning what to ignore and what to accept.'
There is a very interesting article about Vibram Five Finger which includes a lady who sued the company, claiming they deceived customers by advertising that its shoe could reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, without basing those assertions on any scientific evidence. Like anything you can choose to believe or ignore as you wish, but a part of me wants to give them a go and see what they're like!
If you are wanting to add a few more books to the pile beside the bed, here are a couple that I would recommend reading.
Running Hot; Lisa Tamiti – I read this after listening to Lisa speak and it very much opened my eyes to the world of ultra-running and the ability to push yourself far beyond what you perceive as your limit. With some major obstacles including breaking her back and being left alone in the Libyan desert with no water, and shoes half a size too small, this kiwi shows what it’s like to live life to the max! At the time I was just dabbling in triathlon, doing everything wrong in a half-ironman and running a few 10-21km races. This book opened my eyes to the ultra-running scene and some of the amazing races that go on around the world. (One being MdS!)
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs; Tyler Hamilton – This book probably sits in my top three favourite reads. I’m not too sure why maybe it was my complete naivety to the cycling world (or just professional sport full stop) or the eye-opening fact of how brutal people can be when to them winning is the only option. It shows what it was really like to be on the U.S. Postal Service team alongside the doping and lying that went with Lance Armstrong. It describes the apparent ease of EPO, and had me questioning how many people would actually do this? If it gave you an extra 15-20% over your competitors, would you do it? (Just for the record, I’d like to think I never would!)
A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey; Chrissie Wellington – This girl is a legend, and her book is just the same. In 2007, and as a complete unknown, she shocked the triathlon world by winning the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and went on to win it another three times. I read this book during my build up to Coast to Coast (she also did the Coast to Coast and won with about four weeks kayak experience) and was so inspired by her journey to the top. She has some classic stories, like her experiences with needing to go number two while racing, and presents these in a light-hearted way. But it’s not all glamorous winning and medals, it’s also a frank insight into the sacrifices and discipline one needs to become a champion.
Have you got any books that you can recommend me to read? At the rate I'm going at the moment there will be a small library in my room!