Simon Wheatcroft was registered blind at the age of 17. Since then, he has become an ultra-runner and will soon be running from Boston to New York.
Here is his story.
First off, tell us a bit about yourself…
I am Simon Wheatcroft, at the age of 17 I lost enough vision to be registered blind. As time has progressed my vision has deteriorated and I no longer have functional vision. I am a keen runner and compete at distances from 5k to ultras. I also train outdoors solo by using technology to help me along the way.
Why are you running from Boston to NYC?
I chose Boston to NYC for a few reasons. Boston is the birthplace of the running application RunKeeper. This is the app that allowed me to run solo outdoors. So I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to go over and visit them?” Then, I was fortunate enough to get a slot in the NYC marathon. So to combine the two events I decided to run in between them!
What special steps have you had to take?
Normally, I train for one long run. This time round, I’ve switched to training for multi-day running. I intend to run 30 miles a day for 10-13 days, so really I have had to train for multi-day endurance. I do a 4 week rotation where I increase my long day runs from 2 to 4, before reducing the distances in the final week. This routine sees me doing 20 mile runs, back to back, for 4 days to build endurance and practice running on tired legs.
Do you do any strength training and how has it impacted your running?
My strength training recently has focussed around body weight exercises such as press ups and pull ups. However, I need to greatly increase my strength for my adventure. So I will be introducing a weights workout three times a week, to try and build up my back, legs and core.
How have you adapted your diet/supplementation?
Yeah I am down to one pizza a week now! It is hard going. I do eat clean, or at least attempt to. I generally have porridge or a protein shake and peanut butter bagel for breakfast. Lunch consists of bagels, eggs, fruit, nuts; really I am just switching them around. For tea, I just eat what the family is having to keep it simple. I usually snack on fruit, yoghurt and the odd chocolate bar!
Post workout nutrition is the most important for me. I need to recover and fast. So I use Matrix Recovery XT at the minute. Tastes good and really does make a huge difference in the recovery window.
Will your guide dog Ascot be with you for any of it?
Sadly, no! Ascot will be staying at home, it is very difficult to get a guide dog in and out of the UK and especially when you are heading out to the USA. He is also a terrible runner! He has only been out with me twice and he tires so quickly, he is made for walking and attracting as many strokes as he can!
Will anyone else be running with you?
To help me run the distance I will need some guide runners. It is not feasible to take a team out with me. So my plan is to use social media to find people to help me along the way. Meeting lots of exciting people will be a big part of this adventure!
What help have you had so far?
I have teamed up with RunKeeper to help me find the guide runners. If I don’t have enough guides, there is no way I can make it between the cities.
Is there any other way people can help?
If anyone knows someone who lives between Boston and NYC that would like to run with me, get in touch! And, if anyone works for a sportswear brand, a few pairs of trainers might help!
What do you hope to learn from this experience?
I enjoy seeing how far I can push myself. This adventure should be interesting as I have never competed in a multi-day event. I have generally stuck to one long distance or 24 hour endurance events. I hope to see how far I can go and see just how many people I can connect with.
What do you feel you can teach others?
That dreams are possible. You just have to work hard and keep striving to achieve. It has been a long journey to arrive at this point. I’ve had difficult times with training, especially when trying to fit it in alongside a busy family life, university and working!
So the next time you are at the gym, on a run or sitting on your sofa and things don’t seem to be going that well, think about Simon Wheatcroft, and get on with it.