ASK THE PACK | Ryan Jones

We caught up with Ryan Jones, two time grand slam winner and Wales captain about what he's been up to, to keep himself challenged in the whirlwind that was 2020. 

How would you describe yourself?

I am Ryan Jones, and I am a very heavy, large, ex rugby playing, endurance challenge - Trier is probably the best description for myself! 

What challenge did you do?  

Back in November 2020, I set myself the challenge along with a good friend of mine Shane Williams to run 465 miles. We did it as an accumulator, so day one 1 mile, day two 2 miles and so on, right up to day 30! The last week itself was 196 miles I think..

"I’m not a runner but what I do is try hard."

Why did you do it? 

The thing I am really passionate about is inspiring others. The real win on the back of the November challenge was lots of different people from all over the place were reaching out and saying: 

“What you've done is amazing it's inspired me to buy a new pair of trainers” or

“'I’m doing the own version of what you are doing.”

That's the real magic of social media and what I try to do. I am a middle aged, dad of 3, who loves coffee and cake and is carrying too much weight. I have all the excuses that everyone else has, there's not enough hours in the day, my back hurts, but we are all capable of so much more. 

This November was based around Men’s mental health….

What I wanted to do was raise some money and establish a network of what I call “chatty benchers”. It’s a place where people who are feeling lonely can go to. It started with the ambition to create the movement of people asking other people sat on these ‘benches’ to simply ask “are you ok” or “do you want a chat?”

How did you find the challenge? 

I finished the best part of half of it with two stress fractures. I say that to not be macho or glorify what I did because I kind of wish I didn’t because I’m still struggling now, but more to share with people that the body is an amazing machine, and it can overcome anything. Your mind will give up long before your body ever will.

I loved it, there were days where I didn’t want to run anymore. But I probably got to my worst on day 14 and I saw my body start to adapt, my heart rate started to drop, and my body got more comfortable with running. The most profound thing for me was falling in love with outdoor challenge, not looking at your watch, running round the coast, stopping to talk with people. Sometimes I run and stop for coffee, others I set out to run 20 miles in one go, and even sometimes I’ll stop, come home and have a nap.

I believe all of these events whether Ironman, Ultra-Marathons, 100 miles in the turbo in my garage or ten times up and down Pen-Y-Fan.are made up of 3 components:

  1. Food, hydration and personal (like using Bearhug to help me). 
  1. Mental Resilience. I certainly believe you can work on this!
  1. Physical Performance. The majority of it is hours in, hours out and we are all genuinely capable of so much more. 
How did Bearhug help you?

The role that Bearhug played for me was largely around recovery and prep, I used the sleeves when feeling sore. When fatigue sets in, because a lot of these multiple day events are a test of recovery as well as actually doing the event.

"I used the kit, to reduce the damage caused to my muscles."

What plans have you got for the year?  

I have a fair bit planned - I had hoped this year would be a year of adventure races. 

Last year was going to be my last year of iron man, but that’s rolled over 12 months and I will honour my entry. I also have a couple of big cycle rides, interspersed with more rustic adventure stuff.

If nothing else, it gets me out of the house and keeps me busy. I am intrigued with understanding what this old body of mine is capable of. We’re now in February 2021 and I am about 10kilos heavier than I’d like to be to be doing any of this activity type stuff, so I need to lose a bucket load of weight! But I know I can do it, and knuckle down and give it a good go, because you can only do what you can do right?! 

Catch up with Ryans challenges over on his Instagram @ryanpjonesonline