just another quick reminder I have moved my blog over to my own domain you can find it here

I look forward to seeing you seeing you over there!


its here http://tobit.emmens.co.uk

and my latest post is http://tobit.emmens.co.uk/2013/09/29/skechers-gobionic-75-miles-review/

moving house…


well, not really, but kind of!


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I have been thinking, which turning into thinkering*, and, err, I have moved my blog back to my domain. I will keep this one here, but please do bookmark / follow / subscribe to my old new blog



*thinkering is a term we coined at work to describe thinking and tinkering



The last couple of weeks have been great from a running point of view – around 40M a week.

A 17M long run early one morning along the Exe Estuary Path at an average 9:03 pace.


Simply stunning and another reminder of just how great a place the South West is.

I need to think about fuel on these longer runs though – this was done on just a bowl of porridge and water whilst on the road. I could have done with an extra little something around mile 15…

The Great West Run is just a few weeks away, so this week will be another 40M week, then a gradual taper.

Then back up to maintain around 40-50 miles a week.

I have scheduled a 20 week training plan starting in late January for the Dartmoor Discovery. I just need to convince Mary now!

The iron supplements from the GP really seem to be doing their thing (my iron levels were almost non-existant due to the coeliacs) – my overall energy levels have picked up significantly. phew.

I also got sent a bag of Rizopia Rice Pasta a while back and while it is a bit of an effort to eat, and is probably not as nice as other gluten free pastas, it wins on ingredients – it is simply rice flour and water. Most other gluten free pastas consists of a myriad of ingredients. So I will stick with it and probably order some more.


Now I am running longer distances, it is time to think / talk about what I take with me.

My Garmin Forerunner 410 and HRM go on almost without thinking. I do like my Forerunner, and think the new Forerunner 620 looks absolutely fantastic. I would love to get my hands on one…

I dislike running to music, ok, not quite the case, but I never run with it. Perhaps when I am out for 3 hours + music / podcasts will become important, but for the time being I do like running to the sound of running!

I have started to take a phone on longer runs, I am not sure why, I guess if I end up in a ditch that would be useful, and that reminds me of being rescued from the south of France after a failed tandem trip from to Santander to Roscoff (OK, we  nearly made it to Bordeaux but then our back wheel gave up) but for now, I might stop and take a picture or two.

I have also started to use my Camelbak as well, mostly for something to put my phone in, but the water is good for runs of 1h30+. If I am out late, I also clip a red LED to it.

I will also take my head torch if I know I am going to be on unlit paths.

So all that is pretty predictable but what I really wanted to tell you about is taking the right frame of mind.

Mental health (the good, the bad, the care and research) take up almost every day in my life. Whether it is through work, friends, or personal reflections, there is no escaping that there is no health without mental health. Yet despite this, there is still such a huge stigma when it comes to mental health. I was reading this great post by Pete over at Runblogger about running from stress. Pete sums up what many people feel and experience:

All through this experience I was ashamed. I’d never dealt with mental illness before, and the only person who knew what I was going through was my wife. She was incredibly supportive, and I’m not sure that I would have made it through the acute stages without her. I didn’t even tell my parents about it at the time.

This got me thinking. The internets are littered with thoughts, experiences and ideas about why exercise is good for mental health. There is some good research and advice but basically it seems we still don’t really know why:

Take this example from the Royal College of Psychiatrists

We are not yet exactly sure [why exercise works]. There are several possibilities:

Most people in the world have always had to keep active to get food, water and shelter. This involves a moderate level of activity and seems to make us feel good. We may be built – or “hard wired” – to enjoy a certain amount of exercise. Harder exercise (perhaps needed to fight or flight from danger) seems to be linked to feelings of stress, perhaps because it is needed for escaping from danger.

Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking.

Exercise can stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain derived neurotrophic factors”. These help new brain cells to grow and develop. Moderate exercise seems to work better than vigorous exercise.

Exercise seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.

BUT, there must be more to it than that…

Some time ago, NEF wrote a report and while it was well received in some circles, it didn’t really go anywhere that quickly. My employer decided to do something with the report and we created this:

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You can download the whole thing here. Please do, it really is a great leaflet.

So, coming back to “taking the right frame of mind” this advice leaflet and the report that accompanies it says:

It’s all about choice and we make choices all the time. However most of the time we are not even aware of the choices we are making because we think we do not have a choice.

Consider this for a moment – what happens when someone gives us a compliment. We can choose to feel good about it or choose to feel annoyed or not even notice. Similarly when someone shouts at us, we can make a choice to shout back and feel very angry or we can choose to remain calm and forgive the person. The event does not have to determine our experience – we can choose what to make of it and how to respond.

Choice. For a long time I felt that I had to do, think and say things a certain way, that there was no choice. Well, this advice, about choosing how to think and respond has really transformed who I am.

The Five Ways To Wellbeing really are quite revolutionary – which is why I based by my TEDxExeter talk on them, in it, I talk about noticing things, listening and smiling (and this is one of the reasons I won’t run plugged into an iPOD. You can my TEDx talk here (go on, it only takes 3 minutes)

So, I have rushed out a few thoughts in this post, and there is lots to unpack and explore further, which I will try to do over the coming weeks.

It has also reminded me that I am fortunate enough to know some good local people who know a lot about physical activity and mental wellbeing and this has got me thinking a lot about a PhD again…




Growing up in the 80s and 90s and riding my mountain bike competitively at a national and (once) international level, the practice of carbo loading was routine.

As I wrote here, I have recently been diagnosed with coeliacs disease, and  aside from all the every day dietary changes this has meant, now I am running more, I am having to seriously think and rethink how I fuel this!

A long time ago, I did practice as a nutritionalist (and a naturopath), but not for over 10 years now, so while I have some good basic knowledge (particularly around the mix of protein and carbohydrates in the diet) , it is a bit rusty.

So while I am not looking to introduce ‘huge bowls of spaghetti’ alternatives, I am beginning to think through how I restructure my diet so not rely too much on gluten free replacement food stuffs.

So a quick run around the internets is interesting – much of the focus is on people giving up gluten for performance enhancing  effects, although, there seems to be little (proper) evidence that this works, although there is plenty said about it!

So, I am going to go and do a whole load of reading, and experimenting and will report back and I guess there must be other coeliac runners who I can learn from and those who might find the stuff I post useful!


So I had a good first run in my new shoes.

I am away on a training course in Taunton, (and as part of the team building bit, I am staying over. A little extravagant I know, but it will same 3hours of driving over the next couple of days), so the opportunity to run new routes presents itself!

UntitledThe new shoes held up well, you can see some stones stuck, but then I was running on roads not pavements, and they were fairly unmaintained at that.

I know all about the Somerset levels, I have been through them many times, so I thought runnign in Taunton would be a fine and pleasant affair. I picked somewhere on the map called Broom Hill and set off.

Well 3 miles later, I arrived at Broomhill, and indeed, there were the Levels. All of them, most of Somerset, and probably some of Devon as well.

Those 3 miles were up hill around 600 feet elevation. The views were magnificent, the down hill fast, and slightly uncomfortable, and a detour on the way back resulted in 8 miles and an average pace of 9:06/mile.


edited to add:

It was Broomfield not Broomhill. Obviously the hill was playing on my mind!

I also went back the next day and did the route without the detour, it was raining quite a lot, but I did it a little quicker!

and took a couple of pictures…

of the hills


and the view

and probably to fill time while waiting for something or other with Bethan, I invented “Michael and Rupert Stories”.

Michael, a giraffe and Rupert, a mouse, lived on the edge of the Savannah planes in the middle of Africa. Their home is in the ZiglarZiglar woods. ZiglarZiglar trees have a magic property that enable Michael and his family and friends to blend in to them, in such a way, they are safe from the perils of the planes. Rupert is Michael’s best friend, and they go almost every where together. Rupert rides on the top of Michael’s head, nested between his ‘high horns’.

A later addition to the story were the ‘Pied Wagtail Messenger Birds’. These clever little things had built themselves a magic carpet (I could tell you about the time the monkeys stole this…) that they use to fly to Bethan and Leah’s bedroom window, often to collect them (and more recently Mathias as well) to help them with various adventures.

So they have all sorts of adventures, to the magic lake that makes them invisible, exploring the corners of the planes, and often sorting out the mischief and mess that the monkeys make!

Yesterday, I came down stairs to find Bethan had created a full set of lego characters, which they then used to retell and invent their own iterations of the stories.


I haven’t laughed so much in ages!

What a fantastic Sunday



A pair of Skechers GoBionic 2012 model. These shoes have had loads of rave reviews, and as they are last years model they are exceptionally good value. They feel great, and some laps of the kitchen and I can’t wait to try them out on the road.

I am slowly ramping up the milage in preparation of the Great West Run. Its going ok, and considering I have only ever really run a max of 8-10 miles in one go, 13.1 still seems a lot.


At the weekend, I had a great run from Woodbury to Budleigh (6mils) followed by a quick  dip in the sea and a morning on the beach with my lovely family. At one point during this run, as I crossed the common on a perfectly sunny day, it felt like I could have been the other side of the world in sunny California.

Last night I ran the furtherest I have ever ran. 12 miles. It was at an acceptable average pace of 9:20 miles. I am aiming to get this average pace below 9 minutes, so I still have work todo!

One of the exciting ventures this time running is a move to minimal or zero drop shoes. The 350 miles or so I have run this year have all been in shoes with a 9mm or less drop. I have recently moved down to 6mm drop.  If you are a shoe geek, I have used Inov-8 255 for the bulk of those miles and have recently moved down to a pair 233s. Great shoes, but they are quite narrow, and I think the toe box is too small. That said, I love how my 233 seem to make me go faster!

One thing I have noticed though, is as the drop goes, so does the cushioning. hmm, I think I would really like a little more cushioning. While I like the idea of barefoot running, or barefoot shoes, I see people in them and they look uncomfortable, the people that is, not the shoes.BTAaavRIAAAV8FB.jpg-large

Even though I have a good mid foot strike, and am working hard on efficient bio-mechanics I am coming to the conclusion I really do need some more ‘stack’!

If any American readers want to buy and post me a pair of these, please do get in touch!

Meanwhile, that quiet ambition to run long distances is not going away! I have written about this before and having crossed the 12mile barrier, perhaps it is doable. The plan looks like it is to find some shoes with a bit more squish, train more, and in December enter the Dartmoor Discovery. I have found a good 20 wk training programme that should pick up after the GWR when I can hopefully maintain around 30miles a week.

I will keep you posted on the ups and downs of my progress, how I am figuring out my gluten free diet, and anything else that crops up.