Unconventional wisdoms 2/4: Nathan Farrugia (Part 2)

27 marathons
27 Marathons: Credit: Matthew Mirabelli

M: “Winging it’s” my thing :-) Remember the blog I sent you on minimalist training for Spartathlon?

N: In fact, if I look back at my training for ironman, my  best time was last year, where I came top 10% in the world in my age group, on 12 hours training a week, that is much less than people who get those finishing times.  The thing is, when you are running 250k, you have to get used to the discomfort, the muscle breakdown, the kidneys in clearing the waste production, there is no shortcut.

M: This race is in the footsteps of Phidippides, he dropped dead?

N: Well, yes, whether he had the right training and nutrition, who knows? I do know that 300 people run this a year, 50% of them finish, and as far as I know, not many of them drop dead.  Not to worry :)

M: What have people said about this challenge? Other than the usual “are you mad”?

N: I get that a lot, most people can’t fathom running 246k, particularly when you live on an island that is 17k long! (more…)

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Malta’s toughest race: Gozo Hellfire 55k.

Creaming up, for the third time
Pre-race. Creaming up, for the third time

“I don’t know if I can finish. But that’s the point. I don’t want to enter a race I know I can finish. I want a challenge and to see how I measure up. To try something I don’t know I can finish: that excites me.”

me race start carmel
Probo one of only times you’ll see me next to Carlos (white t-shirt) in a race scenario ;) He won, I did not
me finish
Happiest I’ve ever been (when not on morphine)


I wrote this the a few days after: “I have a feeling now like being in love, or having had a baby, without that anxiety and trepidation that I’m somehow going to mess it all up. No matter what happens now, I’ve completed an ultra and nothing can take that away.”



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The course of true love never did run smooth: Minimalism to Maximalism: pt1

Sorry guys, a new post has been long overdue! I have had a wicked summer so far! Mainly packed with entertaining the little ones.  However, now I sit in France alone in a beautiful huge Chalet, I have three days to catch up on some writing before I head to Chamonix for the UTMB festivities, so here goes.

On to the title of this post; I love running.  I know many don’t, and I felt that way for 19 years.  I would miss a bus rather than run for one, honestly.  Then something clicked after that first half-marathon I hadn’t trained for.  Ali and Hannah, the unlikely athletesI knew I could push beyond discomfort, and actually find pleasure in doing so, and this forever changed me.  The comfort zone is a trap, and true happiness lies beyond this.  This is a valuable lesson which changes the way one lives, a lesson I hope my kids will grow to understand.


I never intended to be a minimalist purist in terms of running shoe.  I hadn’t read Born to Run (the book that started the minimalist trend) when I started running in sandals.  

 This is a story about how I ran in sandals for 3 and a bit years, how I found it and where my thoughts lie now.  (I hope this story is useful).

PS- those nike cortez ‘fashion’ trainers stood me well for running for years until someone told me I needed a ‘proper’ running shoe ->


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13 differences between the Good Friday Night 30k Run 2014/15

pic30 k in less than 3 hours.  I was happy, as it took 1 hr 17 to do the first 10k.  I was seriously deflated, why had it taken me so long?  I did my calculations and thought there was no chance of finishing sub-3hrs as I had planned.  Here I will sum up the main differenced between my ‘performance’ this and last year.

1) I had less sleep than before last year’s, I got about an hour, the night of it, but less sleep in the previous week’s also.

2) Definitely felt a lot stronger than last year, especially on the hills , got a faster time. Probably the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect :)

3) Didn’t feel sore during or afterwards. Possible the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect ;)

4) Lunas were more comfy with socks for the night run, as was only about 17/18oC.  Will still wear them without for summer running.

5) I left Mellieha Church at 130am, so arrived about 420am in Senglea.  Then waited until 6am for a bus :’( I was wearing shorts and ran in a vest.  I had a long sleeved top and a foil blanket with me, but had to borrow a bin bag and push some arm and head holes in it.

6) NO TEA!!! NO TEA at the end!!! I drank a bit of hot water and squeezed a bit of orange in it (contemplated dropping a salted caramel gel in and giving it a stir, thought that might taste tea-like, then I thought better of it).  Then I burnt my tongue.  Disaster.  A very many people offered to bring me a coffee as I crouched by the church shivering, looking like a bedraggled Euroland Christmas fairy (white bin-bag dress and shimmery foil DHL blanket-skirt), wearing a hydration pack on top, and of course, long socks and sandals.  Nice.  I was just starring at everyone speaking in Maltese as I tried to work out whether I was even in the right place for buses.

Knowing that if I had had a coffee, rather than going to sleep I’d get home and write about a million far-too-intricate for a 4-yr old egg-hunt clues, I declined.

7) Just a bit not so greatly organised.  Did I mention no tea, and no buses? Here’s last year’s report (more…)

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Why I haven’t been out of my PJs since Thurday/ Croup.

I salute any single parents, or any parents who achieve anything besides looking after kids with no extended family around.  The last week has been dominated by me:

1) Trying to prevent my son getting croup, as he does every year at this time, by keeping him in and warm etc.

2) Failing.

puzzle feetCroup, at the time, feels like the worst.  Although after a coughing attack, my vision widens and the rest of the world comes into view again, in those moments of a coughing fit, things feels awful.

Thank god for my partner.  I think we have massively messed things up for ourselves as a species by moving into flats in little families.  I don’t know how I would cope with a croup attack alone.  (Especially as on the first night of it, our daughter simultaneously puked her pumpkin and parsley soup all over our bed.  She is a determined creature, to say the least, and I made the huge error of saying she needed to finish the soup before having anything else).  However, the croup was obviously the most serious, so I took care of that whilst Adam  sorted her and the bed.

Never mind running, or writing up articles, my mind is occupied with puzzles and the frozen theme.   I’ve finally realised the purpose of those 20 minute “I’m just resting my eyes” on the sofa moments that seem to have sustained my mother through decades of caring for kids.

I’m back to ‘good sleep’ meaning just any sleep, never mind 7-8 hours.

It’s times like this I think that any ultra-marathon ambitions are just nuts at this time.  How can I commit to anything other than just sorting out my family and making sure everyone is well?   So when I’m lying awake not sleeping as I want to be sure my son is breathing ok, I read stories such as this, which just remind me of the power of human will triumphing over our mind’s excuse-making capabilities. (more…)

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Get Ready To Feel Ultra-Lazy: Interview with Vegan Ultra-Athlete, Tyler Tomasello (abridged version)

tylerQ: Hi Tyler, can you explain a bit about yourself, what you do and how you got here?

It’s hard sometimes for me to share the whole story, but I’ll give it a shot… After living a wild and surreal youth, battling with homelessness and drug abuse, I found myself at 19-years old with no direction or motivation.

I had a dream one night, and when I awoke the next morning I decided to leave North Carolina and move my life to Colorado.

My decision to pursue a snowboarding career/lifestyle was filled with highs and lows.  Following a bad crash on my board my doctor told me “no more concussions”.  It broke my heart to have to throttle back on a sport I loved so much, but it had to be done. (more…)

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Vanessa Runs, The Summit Seeker {Book review}

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what exactly  an ultra-marathon was when I picked up this book.  I just felt that it was something I wished to know more about , and probably do.  I was confused, did it mean 50k or 100k?  I now know it is running any distance greater than a marathon.

I found this honest story regarding that subject,  to be a highly inspiring read.  Not only for aspiring ultra-runners like myself, but for anyone who ever doubted they could do anything.

When I first began reading this book, an ultra-marathon felt like a far-off fantasy, or maybe something I would get round to doing, when I’d done everything else. I then recalled the Buddhist quote; “our greatest mistake is that we think that we have time”.

By the time I completed the book (and after a few months of purposeful mindset changes and priority shifting), I am now  preparing to run 55k next year.

As announced in the book’s intro, this is not a book about how to run faster, this is a book about how running can be a journey into personal growth.

The thoughts that stayed with me the longest after reading, were not running related.


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