My first donation!

Well I have had my first donation!!  First bit of money towards helping the welcome centre and it came from the idea around the marathon.
I should say that all the money is going to the same fund, the welcome centre, the idea around donating towards the marathon is just a bit of fun so that anyone who does donate feels like they are “getting their monie’s worth” a little sooner than the main event which is still just shy of 8 months away. It also means I can be cheeky and ask you to donate maybe a second time if another run or something else comes up before the big event. So thanks again for the donation and if you fancy seeing me slog my guts out for 26 miles please consider putting in a few quid to get it up to 26 as a start and much more hopefully by the end of things.


Another week another post, oh and zombies!



Well the last week of January is here and it’s just past the 28th of the month so that means only 8 months to go to the big event!  I have still been keeping up with my regular training of either a 5 mile run or an hour’s circuits class each night with 15-20 mins of tabata each day thrown in for good measure.  I even managed to get a run in round the lake near work and remembered to put on my heart rate monitor.  I decided just to run it as I would normally to see what my baseline heart rate was for it, and I was quite surprised to find that for a 5 mile run in 40 mins my average heart rate was 152 bpm which seems a fairly healthy number.  If I can tweak my speed down a little or my fitness up a touch and get that to 146bpm I should be hitting the 80% max that I’m looking for.

As well as all the normal stuff leading up to the big event I wanted to try and do a few extra events and fun things along the way so with that in mind I have now signed up for a 5k fun run with a twist, that being the zombies that will be lurking along the route ready to jump out at you and try to “bite” you!  It’s being organised at a local park and looks to be a bit of fun, read more about it here.  But as it is only 5k I thought I might have a go at it in some of my medieval armour, it’s heavy, hot and restricts your movement a lot but it is all for charity and might get some smiles so worth it I think!

On the charity side of things I have now started to draft a couple of letters with the Welcome Centre to hopefully send out to local businesses to look for further sponsorship and the facebook page (Jack’s Iron Challenge) has almost got 100 “likes” so I’m hoping that will in time turn into £££ for the cause!  As well as all of that I am going to try and rope in anything I do over the year that is vaguely interesting into the whole event from photos to promotion and anything else I can think of besides.

As well as all of that a couple of friends have told me about a marathon that will be happening in Huddersfield for the first time in 20 years which would be a good way to test how my training is going.  It’s happening in April and is a two lap route taking you up and down some inclines and by the looks of it some fairly rough footpath sections.  I managed to do a marathon last year up the coast of Northumberland and though it didn’t cripple me it was tough (especially when I mistook Dunstanburgh castle for Bamburgh castle and thought I was nearly at the finish when in-fact there was another 10 miles!) I managed it in a little over 6 hours and achieved what I wanted which was not to stop and not to walk any of it.  So I thought a local one could be good to see if I am in a better state than last year. BUT this is the bit where you come in, if I’m going to do it I want your money!  The route like any marathon is just a smidge over 26 miles so if I’m going to do it I want at least £26 before the end of February going towards the Welcome Centre. 

I’m hoping to trial this as an idea for other “warm up” events during the year and if it works this time I may try a £1 a mile for some bike rides and swims (maybe where people donate in advance and I do the distance dictated by the size of the donation!) and other runs too.  So lest see how it goes.

If you would like to add to the fund please donate via my BTmydonate page and add a note that it’s for the marathon.

So that’s about all for now but hopefully more fun developments soon

Week three

 Ok so this is the third full week of the new year which means the third full week of training for me.  Well that’s what it should mean but I’m sorry to say I had to miss my regular circuits session last night as my legs were a bit of a wreck after the weekend. 

Saturday morning a friend and me went off for a walk in the woods with a plan to rough camp for the night and then walk back the next day.  As well as being a bit of fun I thought this would make a good change to my training as it would be a different pace and with me carrying a pack it would hopefully use different muscles. 

Well it absolutely did that as by Monday morning I was aching enough that I looked like I had spent the weekend on a horse not in the woods, but then 20 miles in 2 days at about 3 or 4 mph will do that I guess.

Still it was a good experience and showed me that I must work on distance as well as general fitness as the weeks roll on.

So that’s just a quick update on the physical side of things but on the sponsorship side I have tried to get things rolling a bit more and have started a facebook page (just search for Jack’s Iron Challenge) as well as a BTmydonate page which I hope will help a few more people know about the event and the Welcome Centre as well. 

In addition to that I would ask anyone who reads this to think about using a site called easyfundraising its a really easy way to help any charity you like, but hopefully as your reading this you will pick the Welcome Centre!  All you do is register with the site and the from there click on any of the companies it works with and buy stuff as normal and the company will donate a portion of what you spend to the charity.  So for example I just booked a hotel for a work thing that cost £164, by doing it with easyfundraising £8.20 of that goes to the Welcome Centre, doesn’t cost me any extra but helps raise money so I’d encourage everyone if they can just to take an extra 30 seconds with your online purchases and use this site to help raise some cash for a good cause.


Well thats all for now except for a quick exercise summary:

Saturday 18th: 10 mile hike with pack taking about 4 hours

Sunday 19th: 10 miles back again this time in a little under 3 hours

Monday: 4 rounds of Tabata exercise on my core

Tuesday 4 rounds of Tabata on my arms and upper body with a 40min run at lunchtime

First meeting with the Welcome Centre

Well I got along to the Welcome Centre last night and met with the centre manager Karen to discuss the idea of me raising money for the work they do.  The whole meeting lasted about an hour and was really productive and gave me a great insight into what they do and how they help in the community, so that said I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on it and update things a bit.

So first off I think I should mention that the centre is independent and not linked to the Trussell trust as many are.  It has been going in one form or another for around 20 years so you can imagine from this they have some deep roots in the community and some excellent links and an even better reputation with a lot of other support networks and agencies in the area which has left them in a fairly unique position. 

As an organisation they don’t just distribute food packages to those that need them but also provide clothing, bedding, toiletries, kitchenware and most importantly, I think, advice to people.  They also don’t follow the Trussell norm of their packages covering 3 days of supplies but instead bolster things up to last longer and also take account of an individual’s need, tailoring their supplies accordingly.  So for example they won’t give food that needs cooking to those that don’t have an oven at home and they make sure that the food tallies with the individuals religious beliefs or dietary needs, all things that only happen when you really start to think about the individual as a person and not just as a “commodity” requiring a “unit” of help.

Karen also told me how busy they have been and not just for the Christmas period where you might expect it but over a long period of time now.  Like the Trussell trust they also compile statistics on why people have been referred to them and mirroring the Trussell statistics they are seeing an ever rising number of people quoting problems, delays and other issues with an altered benefits system.  However it’s not all doom and gloom as Karen told me how they have a rotating staff of around 40 volunteers working alongside their full time staff so that on any day there are around 8 people in the centre working hard to make up packs and help with the running of things.  She also told me how many of the people that do help were at one time on the other side of the counter and received assistance themselves which I think is a great show of how friendly and open the centre is and how it can help people in the long term and not just as a stop gap.

I can’t easily detail everything that the centre does in a single post so I want to try and keep coming back to it through my posts as a sort of rolling update and because Karen has said she will forward on some facts and figures I am hoping I can use these to good effect.

So that aside some of the ideas we talked about were very encouraging and I think could add a lot to the impact of the event and the fundraising around it, so expect a facebook page about the event to pop up soon as well as some photos of me training (apologies in advance for the lycra!) and very soon a Just Giving page so that I can work from a central point to raise money.

As well as that Karen is going to get in touch with a few local businesses and see if there is the possibility of corporate sponsorship while I’ll be doing the same and putting together a newsletter/introduction to who I am, what it’s all about and why I’m doing it so that hopefully any request for help will have a bit more impact.

So all of that side of things is really kicking off now which is great.  

Flipping over to the training part of things again though this week has seen me trying to get into a swing of doing about an hour of exercise every day and as of Friday afternoon it seems I can still walk so that’s positive!

Monday was four rounds of upper body tabata in the morning and an hour of circuits in the evening

Tuesday was a legs tabata session in the morning and a lunchtime 40 min run round Hollingworth Lake

Wednesday was core tabata in the morning and an hour of circuits in the evening followed by 2 hours of medieval training

Thursday  was back to the upper body tabata session in the morning and a lunchtime 40 min run

Friday was tabata legs and a lunchtime run

And although it’s not going to feature as a regular thing this Saturday I’m going for a long walk with a friend in North Yorkshire, we’re camping up and sleeping rough over night and walking back the next day so we’ll see how that goes.

As yet I haven’t managed to get any swimming in since my abortive 15 minute swim in Gaddings Dam in December.  I had planned my own mini triathlon before Christmas but I didn’t quite anticipate the effect that 15 minutes in open water (which was only about 3-4oC) would have on me when only wearing swimming shorts, a compression top and wetsuit gloves.  So after I got out and warmed up enough to feel my feet again I sloped off home instead of getting on my bike.  With that experience behind me I think I will be leaving open water swimming until the clocks change but in the mean time I am going along with a friend to Brighouse pool next week, she is a very good swimmer who used to compete so I’m hoping she can give me a few technical pointers as this is the part of the event I’m probably most worried about.

Beyond that some of the guys that I did the ride from Liverpool to Leeds with last year are planning a day out on the bike cycling to Manchester and back which should be about 50 miles, I think that will probably be the next chance I get to take to the peddles but again after the clocks change I am hoping to get some more miles in by cycling to work and a back.

So that’s all for now I think but updates and many more links will be following soon!

Cheers, Jack

Back at it after Christmas

So blog post number four and this time it’s a bit of a blend of the charity side of things and the training part.

 First to the charity. 

Having talked a bit about the Welcome centre I should let you know that I now have a meeting with them this Thursday to hopefully discuss what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and the best ways of getting the most out of it for them.  I’m hoping that by meeting some of the team there I can get a more rounded idea of how everything works there and it’ll all feel a bit more personal.  As well as that I’m hoping that we might get a couple of ideas kicking around as to how to make the most impact and publicity to get as much sponsorship as possible.  So I’ll see how that goes and report back probably on Friday. 

I should also mention that I have tried approaching a couple of other sources for sponsorship and support including the sports shop Decathlon (where I bought my bike for the 130 mile ride last year) who have very kindly offered me a 10% discount on anything I buy in their Bolton shop.  I have also asked the company I work for if they would be willing to sponsor me as they promote themselves as having a strong ethical code so once I have a little more weight behind me following the meeting on Thursday I intend to fully pursue that route as well.

Last of all at the moment I am thinking of contacting my local sports centre pool to see if they can offer any help or discount to work alongside my training as I think it’s the swimming aspect of the whole event that I am most worried about so again after the meeting we’ll see how that plays out.

 Although I want to try and get some organisations and businesses involved in the whole event and look to them for sponsorship that’s not to say I won’t be tapping up my mates and family for cash too 🙂 so if you’re in those groups expect emails soon!!!

But having said that rather than just asking for straight donations I want to try and come up with some other ideas and alternative ways of raising funds too.  The first one I want to try is a “100 club” which I found out about thanks to another friend (Cheers Laura!) who is looking to raise some funds for her own project.  Basically it’s a raffle where you buy a number between 1 and 100 for £1 and then when they are all filled a number is picked at random and the person that owns the number gets £50 while the charity receives the remainder.  It seems to me to be ideal as it’s only a small amount that the individual has to put in but they have the chance to get it back 50 fold! Seems pretty good to me.  So that may be happening a few times on the run up to the event.  If anyone has any other ideas for interesting fundraising methods I’d love to hear them!

 So onto the training side of things

Well last week was my first full week back at work after the Christmas break and so like everyone I was feeling the effects of a  sweets and booze filled break  but I wanted to try and push on and get going early so this is a quick rundown of my efforts. 

Monday 6th: 4 rounds of tabata training before work focussing on my arms and chest then an hour of outdoor circuit training with commando fit in the evening.

 Tuesday 7th: 4 rounds of Tabata training before work focussing on my core then a 40 min run at lunchtime covering the normal route of 4.8 miles

 Wednesday 8th: Outdoor circuit training after work with CF, I had planned for two hours of medieval training after that but the weather was against it

Thursday 9th: 40 min, 4.8 mile run over lunch

 Friday 10th: 40 min, 4.8 mile run over lunch

 So not too dreadful a start to the year but I think there is a lot of room for improvement!  This week I am going to try and keep the tabata up each morning, moving the focus between upper body, core and legs.  As well as that my mate, Forrest, pointed out an exercise system that is supposed to help with raising endurance and fitness.  It works by getting your heart rate up to about 80% of its max (supposedly 180bpm less your age, so that’s 146bpm for me) and keeping it there for the length of the activity.  Much more info here.  This should then burn more fat than it does sugar and help train your muscles for longer periods of work, which is just what I need for a potential of 18 hours of activity.

So with that in mind I’m planning on getting myself a heart monitor and watch so I can start having a go at this, and the added bonus is that it’s a new gadget which also needs data entering into a spread sheet, both things the geek in me loves to muck around with.

 So that’s about it for now except to update the activity for the week so far:

 Monday 13th: 4 rounds of Tabata training before work focussing on my arms and chest then an hour of outdoor circuit training with commando fit in the evening.

 Tuesday 14th: 4 rounds of Tabata training before work focussing on the legs then a 40 min run at lunchtime covering the normal route of 4.8 miles

 More to follow soon I hope







The charity side of things (and a bit of politics, sorry!)

Ok so post number three and this one is a bit more info about the charity side of what I’m doing and why.  Food banks, like I said in the previous post,  are something that has hit the news a lot recently and has been getting a fair amount of coverage. 

Apologies for getting a bit political here folks but please don’t switch off

My personal feelings on food banks are that there really shouldn’t be a need for them.  The UK is the 21st richest country (per capita) in the world according to 2012 IMF figures yet at the same time the Trussell trust (which while it’s the largest food bank organisation in the UK is by no means the only one) gave out nearly 350,000 emergency food packages in the year 2012-13.  To put that into more tangible numbers that’s 1 person in 200 needing emergency aid right across the country.  Just for a second think how many friends you have on facebook, or contacts in your phone, over 200? Then on average one or more of them has needed to use a food bank in the last 12 months.  Add to that the fact that the need for this aid is increasing at an alarming rate and you start to get an idea of the scale of the problem we are facing. 

Now on the flip side of that just two days ago we had “fat cat Wednesday” a name given to the day which saw a select working elite in the UK earning more than the average UK wage in just 5 working days.  So while a person on an average wage gets about £12 an hour some others are looking at well over £1000.  I think it’s this that angers me the most, the huge gap in wealth that has appeared in the last decade, to quote one of the best know economists of the 18th century ““No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable. ” Adam Smith

So that’s enough about why shouldn’t need food banks (as if I don’t stop now I’ll get a higher blood pressure than I get after a run) but dealing with the reality of the situation we clearly we do need them and it’s that immediate need for them that I wanted to try and help with.


Food banks as a concept are not like soup kitchens and don’t just give out free stuff to whoever needs them (As Lord Freud erroniously thinks) you actually have to have been assessed by a front line service to be able to use them so someone somewhere has said “yes, you really do need that extra help” and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to try and support them.  Unlike just giving money to an individual food banks work in a clear and organised fashion, the packages given are full of useful things that will actually help and as they are things like canned food you know that they are serving the purpose they are meant for.  As well as that the centres can offer advice on how to cope with the situation you’re in and suggest other sources that may help you as well and that’s something I can really support as they are not just helping in the short term but also trying to help in a much wider way as well.


So before I ramble on any more that’s my edited thoughts on the matter and why I want to help.  Basically in a society with an increasingly gross rich/poor divide I can’t see how ethically anyone can sit by while their neighbours go without and though I would rather see that divide closed in the meantime I really want to try and help with the consequences this has caused

A little more info

Well I’m rather playing catch up a bit here as I only decided to start this blog now and there is a reasonable amount of stuff that’s already happened so hopefully you’ll excuse the time warped reporting on this.

Like I said in the last post, I have paid up and signed up for the event and also decided that I would like any sponsorship money to go to the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield however there are a few more bits and bobs I didn’t want to clog up the last post with. 

Also I’m struck with a bit of a problem in that my posts are going to be a bit polar opposite in their content as some are going to be about fundraising, the charity and the work it does while others are going to have a totally different feel and probably talk about how my legs are aching or how many times I had beans on toast this week so I can eat something quickly before going out to train.

So following that idea this one is going to be a bit of an intro to my normal exercise routine and the Wasdale course which should tell you why I think I need to “up my game” a bit!

The course follows the set Half IronMan 70.3 distances but adds a Lake District twist to them.

Let’s start with the swim. 1.2 miles in open water, not too bad really that’s about 77 lengths of a normal swimming pool right?  Well yeah but remember a swimming pool has sides to hold on to and kick off from, it’s also normally heated to a lovely 30°C.  Wast Water holds the claim to being the deepest lake in England which means it takes a LOT of energy to warm up all that water so forget 30°C and think more like 13°C so that’s a nice shock to your system as soon as you dive in.  Add to that nothing to kick off from or hold onto for a quick breather and you’ll get the idea.

Second the bike ride. 56 miles, well that’s fine I did 130 last year and it didn’t kill me.  Ahh but this 56 miles is covering about 7200 feet on inclines, to put that into perspective it’s the equivalent of biking up mount Snowdon… Twice! Then add to that the sections which are 25%, 30% and at the worst 33% inclines (thats 1 meter straight up for ever 3 across if your not sure!) and you can imagine the burning thigh muscles I’m sure.

Last of all the 13.5 mile run (a sneaky 0.4 miles more than normal). Ok so 13+ miles is never going to be easy but at least you can settle into a rhythm and just let you tired legs chew through the meters, nope wrong again! The last nail is that the route is on rough footpaths so that’s plenty of false steps and broken timing as your jelly legs struggle to keep going and just for good measure the route take you over scarfell and scarfell pike taking in nearly 1400 verticle meters, so just a bit more than running up Ben Nevis!

So hopefully you now have an idea of the route and what I’m up against, and if you want to read how it went for the guys in 2013 have a look here.

Currently like I said before I think of myself as fairly fit but no athlete, my normal week covers the following exercise:

Monday: an hour of outdoor circuit training with Commando fit

Tuesday: a 40 min run during my lunch hour round Hollingworth lake covering about 4.8 mile

Wednesday: another hour of circuits followed by 2 hours of medieval weapons training

Thursday: Another lunchtime run

Friday: A third lunch time run

Saturday: another hour of circuits if we’re not away for the weekend

Sunday: Sleep!

I should add as well that I aim for 3 runs a week but it’s not always possible if there is a lot on at work or I whuss out due to bad winter weather.

So my plans right now are to try and add a few extra exercises into my week and hopefully try to get some cycling in when the weather gets a little better.

My focus will be to try and do 4 rounds of tabata each morning before having a shower with each day focussing on a different area of the body and as well as that when the light gets a bit better I’m going to try and cycle to work and back (32 mile round trip) to begin with once a week but hopefully raising to twice as I feel I’m able.  Also I’d like to try and start doing my lunch time running with some weights, either a backpack or a weight vest.  Last of all I’m going to try and see if I can persuade a swimming pool in Huddersfield to let me swim for free or maybe a reduced rate so I can start getting some lengths in as well.

So that’s where I am right now and where I hope to be soon.  More to follow soon I’m sure and probably it will be about the charity side of things.

Cheers, Jack