TRIBE 10% Project: My Journey

TRIBE Co-Founder, Tom Stancliffe, explains his addiction to running and the small changes to nutrition, training and lifestyle he hopes will lead to a 10% improvement in his PB for the Hackney Half Marathon. You can join the TRIBE 10% Project team for the Hackney Half here...

I am addicted to running.

I have run six days a week since I was 18. I have run more than 50 Marathons. I have run 1,000 miles across Eastern Europe and 300 miles across the Sahara desert. I now spend almost every waking moment of my life thinking about running with my "job" at TRIBE.

But, by all measures, I am a pretty mediocre runner; my marathon PB is around 4 hours and I struggle to run a mile in under 6.5 minutes.

Maybe I don't really mind that I am mediocre because setting PBs is not really what motivates me to run. My mind races at 1,000 miles an hour every day and balance is not something that comes naturally to me.

Yet every time I run, I feel a huge sense of escape and calm. I love that every run is, paradoxically, reassuringly constant and always unpredictable. It can follow a tempo and rhythm that is diametrically opposite to your mood that day, energising a dull day or settling in a moment of frenzy.

Each run - however short, slow or plodding - gives me a feeling of possibility and makes me feel optimistic. If only I can keep progressing and keep improving tomorrow, then anything is possible.

But, in October, I ran the Amsterdam Marathon in 4 hr 25 min and - in truth - I felt really down and like I had let myself down. I was at least 10kg overweight and my training had been patchy at best. Could I really say that I had given everything and pushed myself to the limits? The answer was no.

A holiday in Bali followed where I read "Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance". It's a great book that talks about "deliberate practice"; the idea that we can only realise our potential if our training and practice focuses on a specific goal. In running terms, I was clocking up loads of "junk miles" (i.e. when you spend too much of your training doing long, easy runs) and my performance wasn't actually improving. I wasn't pushing myself.

With my wedding coming up in May, I have decided to set myself a target and commit to being the best version of myself. To find out how much better I could I get if I left nothing to chance; finding all the small improvements and gains I can that might make me a bit quicker.

So...I have signed up for the the Hackney Half Marathon in May. To put myself to the test.

Here are a few of the small improvements I have resolved to make:

  • Incorporate strength & conditioning into my training. Studies have shown this can improve both running economy by 4.6–6.17% and running performance by 3.043.6%.

  • Get my pre- and post-training (TRIBE!) nutrition spot on. Studies have shown that, by making specific nutritional changes, overall performance benefits can be improved by 2–4.2%.

  • Lose 20 pounds. Dr Mel Williams, Founder of the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, estimates that every 1% loss in body fat = 1% increase in speed.

  • Cut out any “junk miles”.

Most importantly, I know I can only train at my best when I train alongside others. So I'd love it if you wanted to join me. Let's train together and prove that we really do go further and faster together.

Whether we all nail a sub-1 hour 30 half or not, it doesn't matter. Let's just commit to giving everything and seeing if all those small improvements can add up to 10%...