Loon Dod - Member of the Month Interview
He runs a long way, does hill reps up Ben Nevis, he makes his own shoes, he drives a Bongo, he likes to pee and eat without stopping. What more could you need?
Loon Dod wins £100 of goodies from our sponsor, SimplyRun.co.uk.
Jen J asks: What's your favourite part of the WHW and why? Can you describe the toughest moment you have experienced during the WHW Race and how did you overcome it?
Loon Dod says: I love the Devil's staircase. It gives you a chance to pee and eat without stopping and take in the view of the Buachaille Etive Mor before blasting down the other side. Toughest moment came during my first WHW race when by the time I got to Rowerdennan I knew it just wasn't my day and I was telling myself I couldn't do it and my target finish time was not going to happen. With 70 miles still to go, that's when, if you've done the training, you learn about your own mental strength. I knew I had done the training so no reason I could not complete the race, so I focused on the job in hand which was then to finish.
Sophster asks: Congratulations Dod. What is your most memorable running moment? What is your favourite piece of kit? Do you ever feel the cold? ;-)
Loon Dod says: I am not sure I can just give you one, I have so many and mostly when out training. Seeing the sunrise or set, watching a herd of deer cross in front of you or seeing a bird of prey on the hunt. I love to run in the face of the elements so being on top of Ben Nevis in a whiteout or brilliant sunshine or coming off Ben Macdhui in a downpour, rate very highly. Just being able to run. I really enjoy watching others succeed, be it finish their first 5k or 10K or get a marathon pb. It's a joy to see. I love my Garmin, I don't feel the cold much but I hate having a sweaty crotch more than anything
santababy asks: Fabulous,very worthy indeed xx. Now you've done the UTMB, what is the next step from that? your ultimate race? Are there any boundaries?
Loon Dod says: I want to do UTMB again and get it right. I fancy some of the long distance challenges that are out there, multi day endurance events across Europe, or the States, off road JOGLE perhaps would come first, its about 1200 miles. Boundaries? Well I am not into wearing women's clothes but other than that.....
Ultracat asks: fantastic well deserved award. Do you think you would ever run a road 10k again? what is the most amount of guiness drunk one day and then a race or lsr the next day?
Loon Dod says: I am not a lover of road running or of 10K for that matter, they hurt too much as my brain thinks I can go faster than my body is capable of. The day before Cape Wrath marathon 3 years ago I think I had about 12 pints of Guinness and I had 3 hours sleep in the car because my tent had blown down.
Pestomum asks: Congratulations! How did it all start - what got you running and what got you running ultra's?
Loon Dod says: I was living in a small village with 1 pub, I ran about a mile up the road to the 1 church and back again, then went to the pub to celebrate. I joined the local running club while living in France and they turned out to be 24hour runners.
Ted asks: What would be your main piece of advise on how to grow the perfect beard?
Loon Dod says: Loose your razor, and have your mother tell you that you look good with stubble. You know it's too long when it causes chaffing of the thighs.
mxhornet asks: Well done LD :-) Is the Highland Fling a good event to do ? For a flatlander who can't run down steep hills ?
Loon Dod says: Highland Fling is a great event and really only has 1 long hill in it, the rest is made up of small updulates and downdulates.
Lintie asks: Very chuffed for you Doddy. I know the past year has been focus on UTMB but of all the races you've done this year, which one was the easiest and most fun? I estimated you would have 5-6 tough bits at UTMB, i forgot to ask if i was near the mark?
Loon Dod says: The easiest and most fun was probably the Kintyre Way. At 66 miles a nice distance and no pressure, it was a lovely small event and coming first and last ultra runner was really cool. I had 6 on 6 of the 7 big down hills.
Velociraptor asks: Congratulations, LD :) You're probably the person on here whose training I find most interesting! How did you train for UTMB? How long had you been targeting the race, and what did you do to prepare yourself for it? And what will you do differently next time round?
Loon Dod says: UTMB training is as per any long off road ultra but with more hills. I did a lot of long slow days in the hills, time on feet being much more important than distance. I ran hill reps at least once a week, on a vertical climb of 350 feet and I made trips to Ben Nevis and did multiple reps on it (up to 4 in a day) In truth I spent a solid year just focused on UTMB. I did a lot of gym work, squats, lunges, clock lunges, dead lifts. Running is a one legged sport so a lot of exercises were done single leg to be sure not have a weaker leg. For next time, I really need to improve my down hills and especially my down hills in the dark. Although I have a good torch, I want a better one and if I could wear contacts instead of glasses this would help a lot, but that's a skill I've yet to master.
Argue asks: congratulations Loon Dod, I see you run quite a bit - which is fantastic news. 1) Scottish independence... a good or bad idea? 2) Should we be providing more agricultural land for the cultivation of Miscanthus sacchariflorus as a carbon negative biofuel? 3) Have you yet purchased a blu ray player? Congrats again..
Loon Dod says: 1) Bad. 2) I don't think we have enough land to turn over to Elephant Grass to make much of a dent. 3) A Blu ray player? Is that for porn?
Hills of Death (HOD) asks: Well done Loon Don your truly are Mr Endurance What is your tip for any Virgin Ultraeees, and what makes a loon a 'good' loon?
Loon Dod says: Eat little and often. Train hard pee clear. Don't mix your hydration with your nutrition. Stay young and be open minded.
HappyG(rrr) asks: Happy days, ma loonie, happy days! What would you say is the correct attitude to safety, when it comes to hill running: it's my life, I'll bound across the mountains with just my granola bar to sustain me, or yes, I do need this 200lb pack, and the kitchen sink that's in it, for anything above 1.5 miles up a 100ft rural hillock?! Many congrats on UTMB and thanks so much for help and advice on ultra and hill running - a most worthy winner! :-)G
Loon Dod says: I run minimal if out for a 15 mile run or so on local hills, but if I go beyond that, I have everything I need for my personal survival and to help others if necessary. I am happy to run in vest and shorts but always have full body cover with me when out on higher hills. Good kit really does not take up much room and is not heavy if you think it out. I always follow the Race Directors' instructions even if I disagree with them and do not like it when runners ignore them.
Magbag asks: Congratulations LD :) How many pairs of running shoes do you get through in a year ?
Loon Dod says: In the past I have used as many as 6 or 7 pairs in a year but that's when I believed the shoe company hype about shoes wearing out in 400 miles.
Siouxsie asks: What your secret (tips) for ultra fuelling pre race, during the race and post race ? Aside from Guinness, of course. And Well Done. Thoroughly deserving winner.
Loon Dod says: I am old school and believe that carb depletion and carbo loading works. I also take a pre race supplement for three days before a big race. During an Ultra I eat every fifteen mins without fail as it's important to keep the stomach working or the digestive system will shut down and you can't restart it. If you wait till you're hungry and then try and eat you'll end up vomiting. I eat brownies, flapjacks, Soreen cake and/or peanut butter sandwiches and at a check point would have Muller rice, pasta, cold beans, cold pizza and/or the odd Snickers bar. I always carry crystallised ginger to settle the stomach. I only use water in my bladder but will drink ginger beer or coke at a check point. Post race I am not too good at doing the right thing nutrition wise, but fish and chips has a good source of carbs and protein and is high on my post race meal list.
Binks asks: Congrats LD. Well deserved. How many days will £100 worth of running shoes last you?
Loon Dod says: I have been on the great sponsors web site but they don't have shoes that suit me so will have to find something else to spend the lovely £100 on.
John66 asks: What made you decide to do ultras rather than improve your marathon times etc? Congratulations by the way
Loon Dod says: I enjoy endurance more than speed. Long days in the hills are more fun that 4 x 400m on the track.
flip asks: Well done Master. Are you a born liar or is it something that came with experience? To clarify I as referring to various statement like:- The flings a nice little starter ultra, taking advantage of me being very drunk ) its not going to be that cold (it was minus f*in 9 and my car doors even froze up !) and you can do this easy ! (it wasn't ). bastard.
Loon Dod says: Born liar! But you were VERY drunk. MTFU Fat Boy.
halfpint asks: Congrats LD! Now......who's the bigger tart....you or flip?????
Loon Dod says: Flip is a good student but has a lot to learn from the Master.
Llamadance asks: :) Awesome LD, well deserved. How do you top the UTMB? (apart from doing it a bit faster next time ;))
Loon Dod says: PTL Petite Trot a Leon 240kmm, 18000m climb 114 hours max. Total autonomy, an authentic and splendid journey round the Mont-Blanc Massif.
shanksi asks: Well done, LD. You totally deserve it. One question - what's the greater achievement: completing the UTMB or being Fetchie of the Month?
Loon Dod says: Well I think I had to complete UTMB to become Fetchie of the Month, so I guess they compliment each other.
-caz- asks: Superb - Well Done Geo :):):) Could you not have stuck to running shorter distances? Why the urge to run Ultra's instead?
Loon Dod says: I set my pbs in shorter distances years ago and there is no turning back the clock. Longer distances just present a different challenge, but more than anything else, it's the running I love, the race is just a small part of it.
Snapstinget asks: 1) How many other runners do you meet on the Hill in shorts in midwinter? 2) Is kelp beer only available North of the Border? 3) I am so pleased you have won this MOTM. It shows that fetchies DO care about ultra runners.
Loon Dod says: I do wonder what some folks would wear if it was really cold. Big Poofs! We had a beer festival in Stonehaven recently - 55 Scottish beers. You would have enjoyed that.
dave_m asks: Yay! Well done Loon Dod. Very well deserved. Do you really keep a jar of toenails or is that a myth?
Loon Dod says: A jar of toe nails would be just wrong. I keep them in a WHW finishers crystal goblet.
stuart little asks: Well done mate, a richly deserved award. As you're clearly in love with running a very long way off road, I was wondering if you've done or had any plans to do any of the big fell rounds (bob graham, ramsey, paddy buckley and the like)?
Loon Dod says: Not done any of the big fell rounds but have plans for a BG next year. A friend knows it well and is a strong runner but does not want to attempt it alone so has asked me along so all I need to do is follow them so don't need to spend too much time on route prep.
Tpod asks: Well done, LD. What's the best way to deal with: Midgies/boredom/darkness/midgies/extreme lack of sleep/hallucinations/midgies on an ultra?
Loon Dod says: Run the race rather than be part of a support crew. It's a lot easier believe me.
Jock Itch asks: John Noakes always used to tell his dog Shep to "Get down!". If you had a dog what would you tell him to do ? :)
Loon Dod says: Apart from being jealous of dogs because they can lick their own balls, I have no intention of spending enough time with a dog to tell it anything.
Ribenaface (RFSQL) asks: Quite right, well deserved! Here's one: what do you wish you'd known or realized - running wise - ten years ago? And porridge: salted or sweet?
Loon Dod says: Unlike other sports, technique has not been taught as a running skill. I now believe that to stay injury free, you have to be taught to run well. I was brought up on salt in my porridge, but now don't use either.
run2thehills asks: Well done Dod, you are a Legend ;-) is running slow the new fast?........and what the hell do you think about on those long training runs?
Loon Dod says: Who said I run slow when I run long? If I'm in the hills or mountains, I find there is so much going on I don't have to concentrate on occupying the mind, however on long road runs I find myself thinking "Why am I not running in the hills?"
micknphil asks: a legend indeed is there a pain barrier, physically or mentally?
Loon Dod says: There is a big difference between the pain of an injury and the pains that you can sometimes feel when running long distance. Running should not be painful. If it is, you are doing something wrong. Once I feel something hurt, I try to work out what I am doing wrong and correct it. You learn to control the pain, which is where the mental strength comes in. I have self doubt like everyone, usually within the first couple of hours. Once I am beyond that, its usually all good.
Siouxsie asks: Am I allowed to ask more questions ? Hope so! In your opinion, is cross training necessary and in what way beneficial ? If so, what is best and why. Who in the running world do you admire ?
Loon Dod says: I used to believe that only running can improve your running and that we can all run - you just put one foot in front of the other and muscle is heavy and will slow you down. I no longer do. It's true that if you want to run better/faster/stronger, you have to run, but cross training has an important roll to play. For me its gym work to improve my core and upper body strength. Who do I admire? Folks like Don Ritchie, Gordon Pirie & Charlie 'Doc' Robbins are high on my list I am the Athletics Coach for the Grampian Special Olympics Team (as pictured on the home page) and having spent a week with them at this year's Special Olympics in Leicester you can't help but be blown away by their efforts, their achievements, their passion and their enjoyment for sport. Everyone who makes an effort to get up off the couch and get out there has my admiration.
IanS asks: Congratulations G - very well deserved! How do you keep yourself going when running for 24 hours or longer?
Loon Dod says: When going long distances, I like to break it down in my head into sections i.e. marathons, half, marathons, 10ks or whatever. If you thought about the whole distance you could lose it in a hurry. Its great when you get to the point when there's a marathon distance left to go. It's fantastic because you know it's a distance you've done again, and again, and again. When it's 10k to go, the elation already begins to kick in and you start to speed up. I like to relate the last bits to a local distance. The best is when it's only from the gym to my house which is less than 2 miles.
Binks asks: I'm going to ask more questions too :) From one distance runner to another you no doubt get bombarded with the same 3 stupid questions all the time. How often are you asked these questions and what is your auto-response?
Loon Dod says: At least once a week, You just do, Yes, No.
com160 asks: well done loon dod, when you writing a book?
Loon Dod says: Never
jaks asks: Congratulations :-) What was your first ultra and what made you decide on long distance running
Loon Dod says: I first went over the 26.2 while running round a track in the middle of the night just outside Paris. It was cold and wet and I never wanted to repeat the process that was 18 years ago.
Mr. K. asks: Well done Loon Dod - excellent effort in the UTMB How do you dismiss negative thoughts during a run? And what is your best three tops tips for ultra running?
Loon Dod says: I think we all suffer from negative thoughts at some point during a race regardless of distance, it's just another wall you have to push through. 1. Do the training. 2. Do back to backs 3. Don't ignore your core/upper body.
Llamadance asks: Do you feel sorry for the Kangaroos, and what other animals might have good skins for running footwear? :)
Loon Dod says: I plan on tracking down a bear, killing it and skinning it with my bare hands, just can't seem to catch one. A llama on the other hand...
Dvorak asks: If I can still ask a question (taken me this long to think of a decent one): how has the psychology of your running changed with the increasing challenges you have set yourself, if indeed it has? And did you have to change it to enable you to do what you have done or did any changes come as a result of or during the process of this running?
Loon Dod says: I read all the questions through quickly and the first answer that came to me for this one was a very flippant "I am not that deep, I just run". Now I've answered all the other questions and come back to this one and yes, I've made a lot of changes to lifestyle and training over the years . Is it a change in psychology or is it changes that come with age, ability and education? I don't know. I just run.
flip asks: good question Dvorak ... Master- why do you keep hair bobbles on the bongo gear stick?
Loon Dod says: Where else would you keep them?
santababy asks: Hello again :) What keeps you going when you are physically & mentally exhausted sleep deprived, how do you carry on?
Loon Dod says: Ultra running is an honest sport. There is no hiding place, and provided you have done the work you can mentally call on all your training to get you through. I would struggle to finish a race that I felt I had not trained properly for. I have never DNF but I have DNS.
Hills of Death (HOD) asks: Have I already asked him tips for a novice Ultra runner ???
Loon Dod says: Train in the conditions and terrain as close to your chosen race as possible. Learn to eat before during and after a long run/race. Learn to choose between doing a short race you would like to do and doing the long training you need to do.
Velociraptor asks: You're clearly not ready to rest on your laurels, and for all your love of running you also take performance very seriously. How much capacity for improvement do you think you still have, and what are you going to do to make sure that when you swap your Vibrams for carpet-slippers in 100 years' time or thereabouts, you've done the best running that you possibly could?
Loon Dod says: I think I have loads of room for improvement although its difficult to quantify, as things like pbs only tell part of the story. Staying injury free, having a very fast recovery time with virtually no taper time, are a big part of it for me. I had about 3 days after WHW this year before I was back in training and about a week after UTMB. I can cut that down. I have much more I can do in the cross training side of things. When time and money allow I would want to do some long distance challenges. As long as I have things like that to aim for I don't see any reason that I should not be burnt in my running shorts.
santababy asks: i might as well ask another, seeing i'm here.. what made you turn to Pose after running for all these years?
Loon Dod says: As you get older it's expected that you slow down and you wear out parts of your body. I wanted to injury proof myself and not slow down, so looked at what the options were. I am, for the most part, an efficient runner or I would spend a lot more time on the injury bench than I do. I looked at Chi but could not buy into the mystical shit side of it. I gave the book to a good friend who has bought into it big time and its working for her. For me, it's not about pose or chi or evolution, its about efficient running and pose is what I am closest to, and I can accept the science behind.
Lintie asks: You treat your body like a temple with the training so what is your take on buying or - gasp horror, consuming food past its sell by date? Would you ever consider it? :-)
Loon Dod says: I figure that my body processes food so quickly that even a few days past the sell-by date should make no difference. But no one told me the effects sunlight exposure to tuna and mayonnaise would have. Who knew?
Torry Quine asks: As you make the move to coach/personal trainer, when do you intend to qualify as a fully fledged POSE coach? And when can we start taking bookings for your services?
Loon Dod says: I really am enjoying the coaching work I do at present and the personal training side is also very rewarding. It's like everything else, a matter of priorities, but would like to think that within twelve months I would be able to add Pose Coach and Personal Trainer to my Scottish Athletics qualifications. Until then, I will continue coaching at the running club and at circuit training.
Binks asks: Right, I'm going to ask loads of questions cos lots of these ones are silly. What is the most emotional you have been during a race? How often do you think back to the UTMB or other hard races you have completed and get goosebumps? Have you ever DNF'd in a race that meant everything to you? What was it like and what did you do? Can you recall the lowest point of a race in which you finished? Please describe. Does the freedom and exhilaration of the trail, the day and night, the running to exhaustion and then running back out of it, trying to stay awake while your legs are like jelly, the dumbfounded look on the few people who might witness you doing that kind of running make road running seem a bit mundane now? You are old enough to be my Dad (sorry :) ) however it thrills me that I can still do this in years to come. Do you also feel the same when you see someone old enough to be your dad bouncing up a mountain? How much Guinness do you drink? What next? I can't think of any more, it's too late.
Loon Dod says: Most emotional was my first WHW. Steve, is the HMFIC of my support team, and my health and welfare during the race and sorts out any issues within the team. He is in Charge!! As I rounded the corner with around 200 meters to go I could see Steve, who is a non runner, and he was in the middle of the road and limbering up, I reached him and we ran the last 50 meters together. That was just fantastic!! All big races have their goosebump moments - the finish of UTMB is out of this world, but I tend to only think about these things when asked, they don't just spring to mind. Never DNF'd a race. I have had many low points but as long as they come late in the race its fine, as you expect i,t and have coping mechanisims for that. One of the worst was 26 miles into a 95 mile race, I should have been just warming up and I was dead on my feet - that was the worst but I pulled through. I have never had the same fantastic feelings road running, but perhaps Spartathalon 2011 will change that. I feel sorry for people who have never experienced the thrill of running in the hills and I like the thought that age is no barrier to continued enjoyment of our sport. I almost always have 2 pints of guinness before a race and a few pints afterwards. I am partial to the odd pint of Gin also, when the mood takes me. And red wine is high on my post meal recovery list.
flip asks: Whats your 5k pb and do you think you can beat it.
Loon Dod says: My 5k pb was set in Paris 18 years ago and is 17min 37sec and No.
Torry Quine asks: Did you compare barefoot running stories with Eddie Izzard today?
Loon Dod says: Yes we did talk about barefoot running, he told me how much more painful it was in this country compared to the surfaces he had run on in the States. I told him to HTFU
com160 asks: probably far to late but i just remembered a question from Eddie Izzard: why does george need so many pairs of vff?
Loon Dod says: Well I have the Classics for summer road running and wearing to the gym. I have the KSO for winter road running and general bumming around and I have the Treks for off road running .
Woodland Warrior asks: Hey dad. Can I have my pocket money?
Loon Dod says: Have you tidied your room yet?