The Cray Wanderers Interview – Tom Carlse
The second installment of a two part story of tremendous endurance and dedication from two Cray Wanderers, one an official, one a player over the weekend in completing the 4x4x48 Challenge. Wands left back Tom Carlse and CEO Sam Wright both completed the challenge for charity and at the same time showed great powers of recovery to complete bursts of four mile runs in 48 hours. Here is the story of Tom Carlse and his quest to complete the challenge for Mental Health UK.
Congratulations Tom on completing the 4x4x48 Challenge over the weekend of 5th-7th March. This is a remarkable achievement for a charitable cause and a real physical challenge set up by ultra-marathon runner David Goggins where the athlete has to run four miles every four hours for 48 hours. When did you hear about the challenge and how much preparation time did you have beforehand?
Thank you. To be fair I only had 9 days to prepare for the challenge. Out of curiosity I was reading David Goggins’ book and then after researching a bit about him I went on his website and mentioned the 4x4x48 challenge and set myself to do the challenge but didn’t realise how close it was and didn’t leave too much time to prepare.
How did you find the challenge especially starting at 8pm on Friday 5th March and running early in the morning and also did you stick to the same route each day or find alternative routes?
Once I had set up my Just Giving page I looked at alternative routes but only did this on the Thursday before the challenge. The problem is where I live is very hilly so you are very much looking to avoid as many hills as possible but is also very difficult to do so it was about planning routes at the right time. For example I would do three or four routes that were uphill and steep I did those quite early in the challenge as by Sunday I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. I think there was one route I did twice which were the 4am runs. I knew for those runs best to run two miles this way two miles then I would be done. I planned for all my routes and stuck to them as best I could but not always do so. Otherwise I would have been marking out routes not sure of whether it is four miles. I knew if I run to that post, to that shop or road and know if I loop round that will be four miles in total and just gave me a bit of preparation physically and mentally actually I only have to get to this bit and then it will be two or three miles.
During the 48 hours were there any particular points of your 12 runs where it was harder than others and gave you the most difficulty?
I actually did 13 runs, it might sound a bit silly but I got a bit confused. I thought it would be 48 hours where I would start at 8pm on Friday and finish at 8pm on Sunday but people said you don’t have to do that but it worked out as 13 runs over 48 hours. Sam said I think you are doing one too many runs but I would have rather done that one extra than not to have done it right.
I was getting a bit concerned as with Sam we were getting pretty regular Facebook updates on how he is/how’s he getting on. With you we were not seeing so many so was getting a bit worried as to your wellbeing?
To be fair when we were still playing during the season I did something to my knee a while back and had missed a couple of games and the last game I played I came off after 25 minutes I got a little niggle in my knee for so long so it got to the point where I couldn’t carry on anymore. So I rested for the last couple of months thinking I would be alright. I’d been going out for small runs and just ticking over and thought I would be ok for the challenge. About three runs in after an 8pm, 12am and 4am runs the knee was swollen and barely bending. I got out for the 4am run because I had to and plodded along, skipped and jogged some of it so most of the time it wasn’t actually running which wasn’t how I wanted to do it but my knee wasn’t playing ball or allowing me to run. Believe me, skipping was a lot easier, walking, side stepping and things you wouldn’t normally want to do for 4 miles. I did one at Cuxton and did the whole four miles skipping. That in itself was hard enough as my shins were on fire. For those that followed me on Instagram would know that I shared a lot of pain on there, strapping my knee a lot so wasn’t anywhere near as easy as I thought it would be.
So how did you manage to recuperate between runs? If you do four miles in 45 minutes you’ve got just over three hours to prepare for the next one, surely going to sleep wouldn’t have been an option.
The problem is when you are exercising there is so much adrenaline pumping around your body so not easy to go to sleep. The excitement of doing the challenge had built up over nine days and my fundraising was going up and people coming out on runs with me so really excited. Across the weekend I think I got 4 and a half hours so I thought amazing that I could run the last one as I was dead on my feet for the last three runs. It was only because I had the likes of Nathan White and Chloe and my brother and his girlfriend supporting me but in between probably just a case of taking my mind off it I would do a bit of reading then watch some telly so wasn’t able to sleep much and as I was skipping the runs were taking me longer so about 1 hour 25 minutes. So just 2 and a half hours to rest which isn’t good but long enough to have a shower, change of clothes a little food and drink. So mostly focused on recovery and the next run.
I had tweeted out on the day before the runs for you and Sam that it is remarkable what the human body can do when confronted with physical challenges and I was confident you could both do it. Is a lot of it mind related and if so, body and mind together in sync can be a great combination can’t it
It’s a powerful combination as sometimes your body might feel like it is not quite up to running 4 miles but that is your mind telling your body. Physically I don’t know how Sam felt but however much my knee hurt, my right leg was fine. I could have sat there and thought I can’t do this anymore but it was only for 48 hours and with not too many runs left it gives you the motivation as well. Just as you can internally motivate yourself you want to externally motivate yourself too things like people coming out to help me and people donating so much money. If it had come to the point where I was only raising £20 and no-one knew about it then I could have said I’ll just call it a day but it got to almost £1600 so thought I have to go out and carry on. I had people knocking on my door and a mate of mine who does trail running in the army was at my door at 4am. So there was no excuse even though my body may have been telling me not to but to be fair apart from my knee I didn’t really feel the effects too much. I think I would rather have run it as I love running and my body was used to running obviously it was the knee causing all the problems physically not allowing me to do what I wanted but mentally I was fine. It was just about making sure I got out on time, did it as quick as possible and get back safely.
It is mind over matter and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to do the challenge. I messaged a friend before saying that is what I’m excited about to see how I feel in 24/36 hours what is mind going to be telling me, what is my body going to be like? If I did a health check on my body then my left knee wasn’t great but apart from that everything else was fine.
Well done also for raising so much money for Mental Health UK. If you check out all the social media trends, mental health is pretty much at the top of the list right now so well done for raising so much for a worthy cause. So in terms of recuperation what was the Monday after like?
On the Monday I had the morning off work. I work in a school and the deputy head teacher arranged the timetable for me to be off until 1.30pm so I had plenty of time to have a sleep. My left knee still hurts but not to the extent it did at the weekend but apart from that no lasting damage. I was tired but after an eight hour sleep I woke up the next day and was fine. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be flippant about it but it was only 48 hours. If I was doing it for a week like my friend Adam has to do in the Army and for him this is just a taster. It feels like a long time 48 hours when you are involved in it but in reality it is just a weekend.
If anyone was to ask me would I recommend it, I would say 100% yes. Just to see how you react to the physical demands, if you get hurt do you go down on yourself or do you get up and say I can overcome this. The book about David Goggins mentions how he broke his legs during an army training exercise but carried on running because his mind was telling him to stop but was pushing himself to get through it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone does that but when my knee was hurting I was managing it rather than stopping. You have to try it Mark!
I don’t know about that. I might be able to walk 4 miles in one go but might struggle with the recovery times as would take me a long time. I might do the London Marathon pub crawl though, half a pint in a pub for every mile of the race. It must also have been very cold especially in those early morning runs. It might have been a different story if the football season was still on and I’m not sure if Tony would have approved of you doing it in normal times.
A friend of mine had told me to think of my knee as a footballer and if the season was still on I don’t think I would have been able to do it. Because we are not playing I needed something to fill the gap. I’m very much someone who can’t plod from one weekend to another, I need something to put my mind to. When we come out of this I want to train for a marathon of some kind just to keep myself active. Otherwise I will just sit about and procrastinate and before I know it I will be double the size or not as quick as I used to be. Also a good excuse to get out of the house at 4 in the morning. It was very cold then, Adam was wearing the shortest pair of shorts and the tightest shirt but he is used to being out at that sort of time. I was very much wrapped up in a big jacket, trousers, hat, gloves also I knew at that time I wouldn’t be running it. I was preparing myself to be out there for an hour whereas I didn’t tell him I wouldn’t be running so he turned thinking we would and I’m wrapped up in bubblewrap while he was cold and underdressed.
Finally looking at the fact that football at our level is in something of limbo at the moment and on hold probably until the summer are you raring to go in preparation for pre-season once again when you get the call. You should be bombing out in front at the sessions where you have to run around Flamingo Park at the start of training.
If you ask a lot of the boys I think would all agree that it is a long time to not be playing football. In the football season you look forward to it. Saturday is the pinnacle of your week and even better if a midweek match. To have this season so stop-start is quite difficult as just as you get into the flow of getting fit then it stops again. Hopefully fingers crossed this is the last time we have to stop and pre-season will be slightly different but I can’t wait. If you love football and being at football this has been too long. That first training session although it will be the hardest one the excitement will get you through it. Because we have such a good group of boys you do it for each other and that is why when you look back at pre-season and why we do it. As much as you might not have liked it then it is worth it in the end. We don’t know when we will be back with the season curtailed it is really now about being ready for next season and in good shape going into the season and topping it up with playing some games but will definitely be raring to go.