Rick’s Month in Running – June ’23
It was the hardest physical challenge of my life. The feeling is just about back in my perineum. My perineum and I didn’t really know each other before, but we do now.
This month I cycled from Holyhead in North Wales to Penarth, just outside Cardiff, in the south. It was over four days, riding up to 95 miles a day. I was broken, as you can see from the photos. We did it for Motor Neuron Disease, a horrible condition that my good friend’s dad just died from. You may have also seen England rugby union coach Kevin Sinfield’s heroics in marathons with Rob Burrow around the UK recently for MND.
The route was largely off-road on an amazing solid cycle route called National Route 6, crossing some of Wales’s highest peaks. Snowdonia was brutal and that was just day one. I was with three rather perkily fit cyclist friends and I am not exactly a “cyclist”. They figured this out quickly when I turned up on day one at Euston station in London, with my baby carrier still attached to my 2008 tank-weight hybrid bicycle (it still does a job on the morning nursery drop though). The weather was beautiful, described by my Welsh comrade on the trip as “a 1 in 50 weekend” where even the high peaks are calm and still.
Running gives us all a chance for 30 minutes or so to get away from stresses in life and reset our mind. I found the cycle did something similar. My only aim each day was to get to the lunch stop and reset. Then get to the Bed & Breakfast that night for a cool large glass of Pino Grigio. The way we train in running, “chunking it” as we always say on the TRC podcast, helped me enormously. To think of all those miles still to come was not going to pull me up each hill. Running theories help again!
Getting to Cardiff and seeing all our families at the finish was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. My baby and toddler were there, with my wife Chantal and my mum. We raised around £15,000 and it’s direct money too, so it’s gone to families who need respite from caring right now. We called it the “no more awareness time for a cure tour”. I know that science is so close to creating medicine that will slow down the effects of MND and eventually cure it. It’s a cause that has my heart, from my friends’ loss, to seeing others with MND while working as a broadcaster.
Of course, from a running perspective, some paths were so steep I had to run my bike up them so I got in a fair bit of cross-training on the trip. My core strength work recovering from my Osteotomy helped no end. My running strength tip for this month is to work on your calves to boost your acceleration and reduce the chances of tears. So try single calf leg raises. Do them on a step at home or even in the shower. Try equal sets of 20 on each leg. Do it a couple of times a week and you will feel the difference. We’re going to be doing a TRC podcast soon on strength and conditioning so listen out for that.
I’ve really been enjoying the rest of the team’s blogs on the TRC site too. Anna’s trip to Italy for the UTLAC 30 km in Lake Como looked stunning and if that all sounds too much, it had some sound holiday advice to visit (plus just stay in the village and drink prosecco watching others sweat). I’m really looking forward to meeting up with the team for our next group challenge in Oxford in a couple of weeks – and it’s on the track – could we be going backwards running again? Yes, you heard right. There’s a video somewhere. Until next time, do your calf lifts. See you on the course.