Hywel Davies

  • AGE: 40

I’m a paleo diet guru, marathon runner, rowing world record holder; proof that nuts are the fuel of champions! I gave up gels and energy drinks to go nuts and seeds as the fuel for my sport.


Each week each member of Team Whole Earth updated us on their training journey
leading up to the big event, Man V Horse!

It’s been a very typical week of 7 runs and 130km. A step down from the previous week of 180km as I am now one week away from the London Marathon. I’m two weeks away from a marathon PB attempt so it has all been steady runs. There’s been a bit of tempo work to stretch the legs but this week I have mainly been doing 10 miles a day with a hill session thrown in. I would have loved to have run further, but old age is creeping up and although the sun is out, so are the flies. Winter running in the dark is so much more pleasant. Damn you British Summertime!

Living in the midlands, there are very few good off road options but I’ve managed to find some. The week has been a mix of training terrain with some inventive ways of getting hill reps in including railway flyover steps and sprint drills in subways. I’ve enjoyed seeing local wildlife during my training runs this week. Canadian Geese, Alpacas, Deer, Cows, Sheep, Dogs, Swans, Cats, Frogs, Bats, Mice, Rats….and a horse that has become a good friend that loves a good selfie photo.

All of my runs are fuelled on nuts and this week I’ve eaten peanut butter and Greek yoghurt and pre training I have been having two large spoonfuls of Whole Earth peanut butter. It’s great for a slow burner fuel and doesn’t give me a stomach cramp or stitch. Next week I’ll be bringing the distance down a little more and getting ready for the fastest marathon of my life. I may take up some Yoga too.

I’ve been running mainly on the road this week and had a few runs around Bradgate Park to explore new training grounds. There’s some fantastic scenery and terrain at Bradgate park and I visited my new horse friend again, who lets me run around his field. I’ve run a total of 70km this week with some fast training runs at marathon pace and I’ve had some very easy runs in the evening sun. As I rest and taper down for the London Marathon at the end of the week the speed is getting better! I have tried experimenting with a few peanut butter recipes this week. I have tried milled oats, linseed, Whole Earth peanut butter, banana, coconut, butter, coconut oil, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds all mixed together to make biscuits… but they fell apart. I still ate them though. My breakfast choice in the mornings is peanut butter and I have a spoonful before training too. Next week I plan on taking a week off after the London Marathon to recover!

Apart from a little jog of 26.2 miles around the streets of London… it has been a recovery week. I have completed four other very light runs and a park-run to keep some sharpness and speed in the tank.

I’ve only run on the road this week and there have been highs and lows. The London Marathon was the high – running for 24 miles at below 2.30 pace, then 2 miles above. A main part of my pre-marathon build up and breakfast has been Whole Earth peanut butter. It’s easy to digest and gives you long energy. It’s also great for recovery, I’ve been eating peanut butter and yoghurt every day.

Hitting a two minute PB at the London Marathon was a high for me this week, although missing a sub 2.30 by just 8 seconds was a low! It’s been great to take a few days off, but after a few miles, I have developed some cramp and minor muscle tears which means I need a bit more time off now.

I’m planning on resting this week and eating peanut butter to help me rebuild after the marathon.

This has been my second recovery week after the London Marathon and I started back training with a Park Run time trial of 16.19. I had a minor injury afterwards (a cramping calf turned into a minor muscle tear) so I then had to tiptoe my way back to the car during a cool down run! Because of the injury I had a rest day or so and replaced my running with cycling on my heavy fixed wheel winter bike. Bouncing down hills in the rain on a bike is still good prep for Man v Horse and I managed to get 80 miles of interval cycling in.

My injury is now gone and next week is the proper build up to the big event! All runs will be off road, hilly and pretty wet as I seek out river crossings, streams and steep scrambles. I have the fitness already, I just need the balance and recovery from hill reps. My peanut butter energy biscuits are getting better – eating peanut butter has been very useful in training as it makes you feel energised without needing to eat a lot and has certainly helped the recovery and prevented any excess weight gain.I have to restrain myself on peanut butter though, attacking a jar with a dessert spoon is not the best idea…

This week I’ve taken my total distance back up to 100km through completing 7 runs, which combined of a mixture of long runs and races. I’ve also been cycling, swimming and taking on Team Whole Earth at chin ups!

This week’s training has mainly been road running, but also a trip to the treadmill, a few hilly trail loops, a parkrun and an off road circuit with a river crossing! Having run past the river twice a week for the last 10 years, I finally jumped in it and ran with a group of horse riders! It was interesting to fight for space in a river…

I was very happy with the race at the Rugby 6 Mile this week where I got a V40 win, but came away with a sore calf again – it was nothing serious but just initiated a rest day. My recovery is now almost complete so back to winning ways at parkruns and upping my mileage. I’m still a little sore in the legs but Whole Earth peanut butter always helps!

Over the next week I will be mainly doing some emergency cycling before going off to the French Alps for a week to a cycling camp. I will be doing a long run every day and all roads lead up a mountain so I am planning on doing all my hill work in one week.

This week I completed five runs totalling 80 km, these runs were mainly on the road but I did find some good new routes. My next event is a triathlon and having recently concentrated on running I’ve had to fit in some bike miles this week too. These types of rides are known as brick sessions as you run with tired legs!

This emergency triathlon training included going out every night to ride the bike hard for an hour, then get home, trainers on and run 10-20km at training pace.

The highs for me this week have been running in torrential rain and the lows were running in bright sunshine…too many flies!

Whole Earth Peanut butter has been great to have immediately before training, as this means it kicks in by the time I start running and has therefore replaced any use of gels for me. I have found running off the bike has been much easier than in previous years with lots of energy and no dropping in pace in the later stages which is a real bonus.

I’m off for a week in the French Alps next week where I’ll be swimming, cycling and running every day and will get to do some pretty awesome hill runs. These will be proper hills over 2000m of ascent in just one climb, let alone 22 miles! I am really looking forward to it!

This week I have completed six runs, totalling 100km. This included a great 25km mountain run which took over three hours. This week I have been out in the French Alps on a cycling training camp but I still managed to run every day. I have been out in one of my favourite places in the world with 100-150km of alpine cycling every day, swimming in the freezing lake and running with whatever energy I have left. Every climb on the bike has been a lung busting, jelly leg climb and then trying to run afterwards makes you feel like you are no longer a runner!

I took my own supply of Peanut butter to France which I enjoyed for breakfast and lunch. Keeping it simple with just a jar and spoon it provided me with fuel for 7-8 hours on the bike and I was still able to run afterwards. Instead of pasta, gels and bars, peanut butter was the best energy food for the long days in the saddle.

With 2 weeks to go, it’s time to use the leg strength and extra lung volume to get back to long runs and trail runs. I have a triathlon this Sunday as a test of fitness but hope to be back running Monday morning, maybe even Sunday night!!

This week I managed to run six out of the seven days with a total of 130km which also included a triathlon run!

Training this week started with a few laps (in the rain and wind!) of Holme Pierrepont rowing lake. This was followed by running on local roads, a treadmill session, off-road hill reps, a parkrun and hill hunting in Bradgate Park!

After 500 miles of cycling in the French Alps, running has been slow and steady as I have been running on tired legs but despite this my mileage has been really good. My highlight this week has been another visit to Bradgate Park, running with deer and making up the hilliest course possible.

My half Ironman triathlon was fuelled with just peanut butter for breakfast. Eating this ensured no loss of pace, no hunger and no fatigue. I enjoyed more Whole Earth peanut butter at the end of the race which was all washed down with a celebratory beer!

This week I have completed five runs, totalling 120km which included the legendary Man V Horse race! This week the majority of my running has been along canal towpaths, bridleways and trails to get used to running in fell shoes. I have also fitted in lots of circuits and downhill sprints and a few sprint intervals over the roughest ploughed fields.

Running in this lovely weather looks great in photographs but it has its low points… flies, heat, sweat and other path users; including kids fishing in a river that I was attempting to run through!

This week’s high was of course the Man V Horse race in Wales on Saturday. I’ve eaten Whole Earth peanut butter more than ever this week to fuel my long runs and for loading for Man V Horse. Whole Earth peanut butter was in fact my breakfast of choice on the day, I even turned down the full Welsh breakfast!

This week I’ve lost a bit of speed but sacrificed it for hill and off road work. Going into Man V Horse with at least a fighting chance of staying on my feet was a better approach than going in with a new 5k PB! I achieved second place in the men’s category at Man V Horse so was very happy with my performance!

Next week I’m going to be working on recovery and getting back on the bike, rowing machine and swimming just to get the legs turning over again.

As Whole Earth ambassadors each member of our team have taken part in two additional events
and we have asked them to share their experiences with us.

I spent 2 weeks in Austria, training in a new environment which consisted of ridiculously steep ski station service roads, long rides over mountain passes and epic descents. This was combined with swimming 4km every morning and running on one of the many marked trails around Kitzbuhel.

However, suggesting that the trails were actually ‘marked’ would be like saying that Man Vs Horse is merely a cross country race. The trails were anything but flat with some scaling over 1000m of ascent in just a few km – perfect training for Man V Horse, if a little far to come.

In the first week I undertook a challenging 20km swim, 500km cycle and 70km run. Luckily, I packed a few jars of Whole Earth peanut butter and made up some power balls using local ingredients – apple strudel flavour balls were a bit of an experience but helped on the long rides through the valleys.

After a second week of training, it was taper time for the race, the Zell Am See 70.3 Triathlon. Breakfast on race day was the remainder of the peanut butter – about half a jar which sat more than comfortably in the stomach, despite the 6.45am start.

In terms of fuel for the race…nothing. Just a few sips of water to aid the slow burning energy I was relying on from the peanut breakfast. It seemed to work well with no loss of speed, no hunger or fatigue, I was able to power through the run with the fastest time of the day to take the M40 1st place and 2nd overall in a major European race.

Congratulations on becoming a member of Team Whole Earth! How are you feeling?

Good! It’s going to be a change from what I am used to.

What made you enter to become a Whole Earth sponsored athlete?

It’s something a bit different!

How are you feeling at the prospect of racing 60 horses cross country?

It’s probably not going to be that different to some of the races I do with clubs cross-country, it’s just it’s a bigger event and the horses might be a little closer to me than they normally are!

Tell us about your running background?

It has been very varied and running has always been a way to get me into other sports like triathlon or gym training. I have competed in Iron Mans but in the last three years I have backed away from triathlons and concentrated on running because of a lack of time. I have run quite a few different races – 5km races to the London Marathon. Once the seed is set for the time you want to achieve in a race, you just keep trying for it. I run about 80-100 miles a week and the longer the better. Sometimes I run outdoors with a 10p coin in my hand and when I get to a cross-road I flip the coin. Heads I’ll go left, tails I’ll go right. It’s quite enjoyable to just run wherever the coin tells you to and to just get outdoors!

What do you love about running?I love the escape. I do most of my running at night in the dark. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being out in the rain with a head-light on in the pitch black and just following a dot – all that matters is that you’re outdoors. It’s not about chasing times, it’s just about enjoying the running. The minute someone says they are not enjoying it they are doing it for the wrong reasons. I also love listening to books on my runs. I don’t get much time to read and running definitely gives me a reason to get out of the door and listen to something.

Tell us about your most challenging running experience

I think the most challenging thing has been trying to get my 5k time to under 16 minutes. But I finally broke the barrier 3 weeks ago!

What are you looking forward to at the Man V Horse event?

Running cross-country against horses is different to what I’m used to! So I’m looking forward to a new challenge.

This race is quite a unique one, will you do anything differently to prepare for it?

I have always struggled with downhill running. I can hold my own uphill but coming downhill, especially over that distance, can be tough so I need to do more off road training and jogging up hills and sprinting down them.

What’s your favourite Whole Earth peanut butter and how often do you eat it when you’re training?

I love them all and I eat it with Greek yoghurt as my main fuel in the morning. A few years ago I made quite a few drastic changes to my diet because I was getting stomach cramps when running and highs and lows during races. I switched my diet slowly over 6 months to a high fat low carb diet – eliminating wheat almost completely. I started incorporating a lot more nuts, peanut butter and seeds into my diet and I have found it gives me a lot more stable energy. A high fat natural based diet can help you feel more energetic and keeps your blood sugar stable so it’s much better for overall pacing during a race. I always thought I had to eat at least 3 hours before a race but now I know I don’t have to, especially with Whole Earth peanut butter. I can eat it straight before a run because there’s no inflammatory effect and it takes time to digest.

What’s your favourite peanut butter snack before a race?

I love Whole Earth crunchy peanut butter and I have it in oatcake sandwiches!


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