12 Nov Goal Series #01 – Sub 90 Half Marathon on a Banting Keto Diet
Entry #01 Goals in Action – Mission to Run a Sub-90 Half Marathon at 78kg
This is a real life example of me demonstrating how I do something that I think is really effing difficult. Over the next 48 weeks I am going to show you how I put every coaching tool, nutrition tip and life hack that we use in the Real Meal Revolution Coaching Program into action to enable people like you to take back your power and achieve the extraordinary.
While you’re reading this, pay attention to what systems I am putting in place. Note that this is something I have never achieved before, and watch how everything will most likely fall apart, and then watch to see whether I am able to pull it back together. This mission is going to require fitness, weight loss, time management, some people skills and some structures that hold me accountable. Week by week, I challenge you to implement the tools and strategies into whatever goal you are working through, and then feedback to me. I love feedback.
THE GOAL – Run a half marathon in under 90 minutes (an hour and a half)
My previous personal best was a 1 hour 53 minutes in Knysna in 2004. I was 20 years old and I ran it with my dad (who was in mean shape back then). I’m in the grey.
I have also competed in IRONMAN 70.3 a few times, but typically, I left training to the last minute. In fact, on two occasions, I did IRONMAN while being violently ill. The first time I had the flu the whole week before, and the third time, I ate something dodgy and spent the night before race day hugging the toilet bowl.
My times for IRONMAN 70.3 are as follows:
2010 – 8h14min (trained quite a lot, but had flu)
2012 – 7h15min (started training 26 December, race day 22 January)
2013 – 8h20min (hugged toilet bowl night before, didn’t really train)
Here’s a pic of me hurting on the final leg of the 2013 IRONMAN 70.3. I think I was calling for the toilet at that point. You’ll also notice I hardly look like an IRONMAN athlete. I’m in terrible shape.
As far as endurance events go, there is the swim from Mozambique to Madagascar that needs to be mentioned. But not for any reason other than the fact that it broke me. My shoulder flared up so much while I was swimming that I needed injections for the pain and inflammation. And when I got back, I watched an ultrasound of my shoulder while a surgeon injected steroid right into the joint. Below are pics of Dr Daphne treating me for the pain only half way through my 460km swim.
Since that swim in 2014, I haven’t been able to sleep on my left side without discomfort in my shoulder, and I haven’t really been able to swim.
The truth is, doing IRONMAN while sick, in bad shape and without training, and doing that swim without training nearly as hard as I should have, and doing a number of other things ‘at the last minute’ were all part of my personal brand. I never bothered to win, or do really well at any of these things, because I found a way to make it seem incredible just that I was doing them.
I didn’t swim fast. I just took the pain of swimming for ages but it was impressive because I was undertrained and smoking and drinking. I wasn’t that fit for IRONMAN, I just drank and smoked and did it anyway, so people were impressed that I was even able to compete. It looked impressive on the outside, but I hid behind my drinking and ‘extremeness’ because it disguised my laziness. And, my laziness was actually just my fear of trying hard to win or dominate, and then failing.
Can you relate?
The cost of that approach was that I never really got to experience how fast or strong I could be. I also never got to feel truly fit. I got the accolades and medals, but I felt like shit.
Worst of all, I damaged my body permanently. My joints are a wreck, and my shoulder isn’t coming back any time soon.
Do you have a personal brand or persona that creeps into your approach to goals (fitness and weight)? What is the cost of that persona? How has it slowed you down?
With the background out of the way, the question I’d ask a client now, as they embark on a goal to break 90 minutes in an half marathon is this:
Coach Jonno: Before you set your goal, what is the ending you have in mind?
Actual Jonno (me): To be able to run a half marathon when I’m 70. There are a lot of people who played professional rugby or ran 20 comrades marathons, but in their old age their joints have turned to stone and they’re rocking zimmer frames, or worse, dead. So my long term goal – The Ending I Have in Mind – is to be fit enough, and have my body in good enough shape when I am 70 to be able to run a half marathon.
This means that for the next 30 something years I will need to look after my joints, my muscles and my heart, or that won’t be a possibility. That also means eating right and managing stress. It goes far beyond exercise.
That’s the first lesson – I borrowed that from Stephen Covey – Begin with the end in mind, and I mean the very end.
Before you set your next goal, take a moment to think about five years, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years time. What do you want then? Does this goal actually mean anything in the greater scheme of thing? Will it serve that goal? Is there any rush to get this thing if I know I’ve got X amount years left?
Write that down – what’s the endgame?
Next steps – I don’t want to be an island. I need a mentor who can show me the way and some people to suffer with so I’m not alone. And then I need to be held accountable. So, I will ‘Serve Myself a Summons’ (the classic RMR accountability tool).
- Set a SMART Goal – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound – Half Marathon (specific), in 88 minutes (measurable, achievable, relevant) or less in 48 weeks (timebound). I’ll choose a route that is mostly downhill which is a) my strength and b) obviously faster than anything else. It will also have to be a less popular half marathon, so it will be uncrowded and therefore increase my odds of success. Life is busy, I need to make sure I don’t have to try twice. I will get this right first time.
- Tell People – Announce the goal to the people in your life (including my entire email database) and wait for the inevitable pushback. (You’re too old. I know guys who did that when they were in their 20’s, you’re not a runner, your body is too broken from the abuse you gave it in your 20’s etc.)
- Ask People for Help – Get a running coach. I signed up for online One-on-One running coaching with Jono Black from Running Science. You should always follow someone who knows the theory, but who has actually done it. Tony Robbins said recently, ‘if you’re not doing it, you don’t know it’. Jono runs a half in 1 hour 10 minutes. He is qualified to advise me.
- Join People – I started a WhatsApp group with some mates who are also up for punishment. The same mates I met through training for Robben Island in 2009, and the same mates I had drifted apart from. I started this group in spite of lost connection. Turns out they were keen, and now the banter is strong.
- Help People – I’m going to make this about something bigger than me. I will write about EVERYTHING that happens to me and leave it out here for you. I will bleed onto the pages so that by the time you are finished reading this series, you will believe you can do anything. Anything I discover about running, keto or myself along the way, I will share with you for free. I have it in my head that I am running this race, and making all of these sacrifices for you.
The basics are underway, and now it is time for all of the problems to show up. I’ve been waiting. And here are the hurdles thus far.
When I was training for the Angie challenge (which I am still pursuing) I did a kipping pullup from a low bar. I swung my toe into the ground with the full force of my body weight behind it and hyperextended it. I think I popped the knuckle capsule and worse, I didn’t get it checked out. I was actually filming my Angie (a CrossFit workout) time trial so I got the whole thing on camera, hence the above photo (no it wasn’t some sick friend filming me in agony).
The result – I can’t bend my toe backwards, so I can’t stretch the tendons in the base of my foot. This has led to a recurring case of plantar fasciitis which makes running unbearably painful.
I will need surgery at some point, because I actually can’t deal.
When I’m running hard I can feel my lower spine twisting, or grinding. I’m not sure what it means but I know I will need to do exercises to strengthen my core and lower back. If I’m running at 4min 15secs per km pace over extended periods without a strong core or lower back, I can kiss that 70 year old half marathon good bye. I haven’t taken action here but it’s on my radar.
Knees (but actually my weight)
When I run, my knees hurt. The harder I run and further I run, the more they hurt. I heard recently that every kilogram you weigh ads 8kg of force to your knees when you run. So each kilogram that you lose can reduce the force on your knees by 8kg.
Today, I weigh 86kg. I’m down from 100kg a few years back and I don’t think I’m out of shape. I’ve been working on my ‘health coach’ persona, practicing what I preach and I’m seeing results. This was taken in the last couple weeks.
Now, I’m not going to lie, I am very grateful for the lighting in that change room that day. Definitely one of my better ‘after pics’. I’m also especially stoked that I had just done an ab, chest and shoulder workout before I took that photo (that’s not my resting ripped look). But I will have to kiss this upper body goodbye to an extent.
I need a runners body if I’m going to break 90. I need to do it for my knees and for my speed. I reckon that means getting down as low as 78kg. This is hard for me for many reasons but mostly because it means saying goodbye to my hard earned guns and shoulders.
I’ve been on a medium carb, gluten free, dairy free diet for a while but I have a sugar addiction that I recently realised is totally out of control.
I believe this is where the true mental battle will come in, because I will be fighting between keeping my weight and quitting sugar. My ego will want to keep the weight, and my mind will want sugar all the time, and I will be starving because I will be running up to 60km (maybe more, I’m not sure yet) per week. I will try to justify eating crap to with the same calorie bullshit I teach people to ignore (my mind does the same stuff yours does). My best chance will probably be to go full keto which is something I haven’t done while training before.
Now the landscape is laid out. I have a clear goal and some structures set up to hold me accountable. I know what the big challenges are going to be for now, even though I’m sure there will be more. Now it is time to get to work.
Stay tuned. There is so much more to come.