WWF UK Blog  

Let the games begin


Hi there, my name is Richard Whitty and this is the first of a whole series of blogs I will be writing about the events I am undertaking for WWF over the course of 2014. I hope you’ll be able to keep up with me – and I hope you enjoy my posts.

start sign at the Royal Parks run

In the early hours of 2014 – and after a couple of New Years celebratory drinks – I called up my girlfriend and told her that I’m going for a run. A decision Inspired by Dean Karnazes (the Ultramarathon Man – worth a read if you haven’t already) and his actions after his 30th birthday. Thankfully I decided this was not a grand idea and instead I settled for a late night meal and some Sky Sports replays instead. It might’ve been a nice relaxing end to just another day, but it was the start of a year of tough but exciting challenges.

The next morning I got onto the indoor bike for a couple of hours and sorted out the slightly cloudy head. In the back of my mind I was continuously thinking about the year ahead and the challenges I’m looking to take on – close to 1,000 miles of competitive racing over the year!

I cannot wait! The year starts with an UltraMarathon in Devon on the 8 February. This because of a necessary DNS (did not start) at Anglesey (Serious Flu and some nagging shoulder issues the week before), which was a pretty low moment as it’s a race I participated in two years ago as my first half marathon.

So the rolling hills will need to wait until February with the Devon Ultra, then onto my speed preparation for the London Marathon, starting with the Silverstone half marathon and a couple of shorter 10km races.

I’m really looking forward to Silverstone, although I assumed – like most people including my girlfriend – that it was flat. Apparently this is not the case. Surely it’s no mountain though? So hopefully a welcome break from the mountain top ultras to come. Anyway, more about the Silverstone half marathon in my next blog.

My main events this year are the Comrades Marathon and Wales Ironman. Comrades is a race held in South Africa – where I’m originally from – and takes place between two cities i.e. Pietermaritzberg and Durban. It has a rich tradition as the flagship race and attracts 18,000 competitors each year. I ran it for the first time on my 30th birthday last year. Oh yeah and it’s not a marathon as the name suggests. Us South Africans refer to most races as marathons from 10km to 100 milers. This one is a 56 mile race – which took me over 10hours last year!

Wales Ironman is my nemesis, I’ve never been much of a swimmer and only ever participated in Olympic distance triathlons, so decided that this would be a massive challenge to try to take on – unsurprisingly it was! In my training I could swim 2kms plus – with ease. I can cycle over 100 miles and feel pretty good and I comfortably complete marathons in a shade over three hours. However,  I learned an important lesson that day. Training and Racing are very different, and triathlon swim starts are apocalyptic, with hundreds of zombified goggled people hacking at you for the first 400 metres.

Marathon runners © Tristan FewingsMarathon runners © Tristan Fewings

On a day where I was expecting 12 hours of racing, I lasted just short of an hour and a half before I was pulled out the water. Medics suggested sea sickness, all I know is that after being sick and straddled by a lifeguard on the jetski back to the beach…it was over. So in 2014 it’s all about redemption come September 14.

WWF have given me an entry to the London-Surrey Cycle race on 10 August, and I’m genuinely excited about this! I’m still very much a kid at heart, so while taking on the Hills in Surrey I will be pretending that I’m Froome or Contador attacking the leaders – although the actual leaders will be a couple of hours ahead.

The rest of the year will be dominated by cycling with my Rayleigh (home town) cycling crew, a good group of mates that have pushed my cycling along – as well as being good company for the post cycle beers! Getting some support always helps to lessen the strain on the mind during the longer days. Camaraderie – even in a predominantly solo sport – is still ever-present in training.

Anyhow, that’s enough about my year ahead for now. You’ll be able to read more about my event experiences in later blogs, so on to more useful stuff.  I’ve put together a basic plan for endurance training for the peak training times. Anyone who is keen for a tapering programme, do post on my blog and let me know. I have plenty of plans and ideas I’ve collected over the past two years. As part of this, I can also reccommend some motivational books:

  • Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner (Dean Karnazes)
  • Eat and Run (Scott Jurek)
  • Old Classic: Born to Run (Christopher McDougall)
  • Running with Kenyans (Adharanand Finn)
  • Iron War (Matt Fitzgerald)
  • A life without Limits (Chrissie Wellington)

That’s all for now, but check back in a few weeks to find out more about my Silverstone half marathon blog post and video.

What did you think of Richards first blog post? Why not leave a comment.

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