SDW50 – The Dream Team

I was out running with my mum today and she asked me if I had blogged recently (I haven’t). It made me feel really really guilty. Obviously you shouldn’t blog because you feel obliged but I think I had forgotten that some people do actually like reading it, even if its just my mum. Especially if it’s just my mum! Plus I’m in the process of training for the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted and maybe, just maybe, something I write here over the coming weeks might be useful for other people who want to give a 50 mile race a blast, so here we are.

So, why do the SDW50? Or better still what is the SDW50?

SDW stands for South Downs Way, a long distance footpath running parallel to the south coast stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne. If you’ve ever cycled up Ditching Beacon and been forced to have a brief lie down at the top, congratulations! you’ve sat right slap bang on the SDW.

The SDW50 is a race run by the notoriously fantastic centurion running, it starts in Worthing and ends in Eastbourne, 50 miles of rugged undulating coastal trail.

And, why?

I’ve run a couple of road marathons, one went better than the other but at both I remember thinking ‘I trained for 4 months for this…’. Four months… to run down an A-road in suburban Manchester… This is in no way a slight on the Greater Manchester marathon (or any road marathon), it’s a fab race, amazing organisation, great crowds, fast course. I just wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to spend that much of my year training for. If I’m going to be in pain, I at least want something beautiful to look at. So since that day in April I’ve run trails, 12 hour races, 24 hour races, races in the Peak District, in the woods and I wanted to try something new. The South Downs are beautiful and 50 miles is a crazy long way. Sign me up.


Obviously I had no idea how to prepare for something like this so I’ve enlisted the help of friends, experts and those far more sensible and knowledgable than myself.

First things first I needed a coach and there was only one person I trusted to get me through this in one piece. My good friend and ultra running supremo Cat Simpson is in charge of my training. Cat sets my miles on a weekly basis and I do whatever she tells me (within reason) and so far it’s been brilliant. I’m five weeks into my programme and running further per week than I’ve ever run before AND I feel good. Knackered, but good.

Here’s Cat on her way to second place during a 250 mile race across the Atacama Desert. Yes, the Atacama Desert. Stolen from her excellent website


I ran 28 miles this weekend, just over 4 1/2 hours of running which, depressingly, is still less than half of what I’ll need to do on the day (I would consider sub-10 hours a massive success). My legs are tired but luckily Simon Lamb is a muscle magician and if you are currently experiencing any niggles you should get down to his studio in Teddington and have him fix you. He has sets of new legs hanging from the ceiling and for a small fee you can leave with a pair, new legs I say! He also has has the worlds biggest collection of mountaineering/hiking/running books and is incredibly wise. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him.

Getting injured is my biggest fear and running 45/50 mile weekends is a great way to court disaster (if you’re not careful). I tend not to get injured running but rather doing something totally mundane and stupid. I’m far more likely to tear a tendon stepping awkwardly out of a train, or kicking myself in the ankle than I am doing a long run. As a result of this I’m doing everything I can to get strong and balanced along all planes of motion. That’s forward, backward, side to side and rotation – good for this stuff to be equally strong otherwise when your doing 2 billion steps (maybe) over 50 miles one particular part of you can end up taking the strain e.g. Left leg – so long left leg! Sort of, anyway, hopefully you get my drift. The talented Felicity Cole is going to be helping with this, a world class age group duathlete, PT and excellent runner.

So that’s the dream team.

Oh and of course my Mum, she’s Captain of the Dream Team.

p.s. None of the above know I’ve sneakily assembled them into a dream team.

So stay tuned. If I make it to the end of this race it will be largely down to these guys. Also, if anyone wants to come scope out the course with me please get in touch, I need to put in some miles on those hills.


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