Time to ditch the car! Time for Active Travel

Ditch That CarI am now getting towards two years where i have been mostly walking to and from work, its a journey of just over two miles. And a couple of months ago we to a building with changing and shower facilities which resulted in me starting to occasionally run to and from work as well as fitting in the odd lunch time session.

Now not everyone has access to such facilities, i am very lucky in that sense but if you live around 2 miles from work and your a keen runner. Why not walk to work ? You have all the water proofs you need for you running life, which can easily be used for walking and if you don’t want to walk all the way, why not walk and bus your journey ?

As well as the obviously financial savings, which can then be invested into running related paraphernalia and doing good towards the environment walking is great exercise.  It has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. Walking at a moderate pace of three miles/hour (five km/hour) expends sufficient energy to meet the WHOs definition of moderate intensity physical activity. Also you wont need shower facilities if all your doing is walking to and from work. walking burnsSimilarly even without showers, if your place of work is within five miles of your home and you have a bike, that’s an easy gentle cycle in.

In regards to the running commute, again even if your place of work does not have showers. If you live close enough to it, to walk in. You could run home after work, taking in your lunch for the following day and your running gear makes this a much easier to achieve in my experience and means you’ve less to carry in your run bag. Now that run doesn’t have to be straight home, it can be your long midweek run or an easy five miler, it can be what ever kind of run you want.

If you don’t have the faculties i have, live over two miles from work, but work for a large organistion, why not get the other cyclists and runners in your place of work to come together and request the introduction of shower and locker faculties for staff. After all studies have shown that there are benefits to employers of promoting active travel schemes include: increased productivity, a reduction in sick leave, improved public image as a result of lowering the workplace’s carbon footprint, and savings in providing car parking facilities

Waking to and from work on just a two mile journey adds an addition 20 miles of exercise and will only take you between 30-40 minutes depending on how fast you walk. Best set off early the first time you try this, to be on the safe size. Cycling wise, you could easily cover up to five miles each way in no time and gain 50 miles of additional exercise each week on top of your running.

So two easy cost affective ways of adding additional training to your week.

If your go for the third option of the running commute, even if its just a run home, once a week. Your find your gain additional time in your life, as you completely cut out the time spent traveling home, giving you more time to do whatever it is you do in the evening.

So come on get active, go for active travel!!

p.s walking to and from work, is so much nicer than driving!

Related links

NHS – Walking for Health

The contribution of walking to work to adult physical activity levels: a cross sectional study


Runners World -The Run Commute

cyclescheme.co.uk - discounts on bikes!!


Challenge 2015 – Something to focus on

new york 2014

This posts header picture is of Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany the male and female winners of the recent 2014 New York marathon who battled winds of up to 40 mph to record times of 2:10:55 and 2:25:07. A world a way from the kind of times i am doing and pretty mind blowing.

So challenge 2015. I needed something big to focus on, something other than trying to improve my running form that is. And after a lot of thought, Ive decided after two years of traveling, to do a home marathon and Ive plumped for the award winning…..

Runners world, most improved marathon 2014,

Running Awards best marathon 2014

Great Manchester Marathon

The race in its current format, has only been going since 2012, but 2015 will actually be the 39th addition of the race, after a decade passed during which it wasn’t held.

The race is known as the flattest marathon in the UK, which will make a change from the Wales marathon which had been designed to be the UK’s toughest.

The race starts and finished near Old Trafford stadium, taking in many of Manchester main roads and Media city, so I can expect plenty of space (hopefully) . So again, quite the contrasting race from Wales, which took in coastal views, castles, hills and fields. But being a big city marathon, what it will lack in beauty it will make up for it in atmosphere. With the organisers promising entertainment throughout the race and a festival style atmosphere. So that’s will make it a little special and keep us runners moving.

For more details on the route , you can see the online map here

The marathon is licensed by UKA and your time counts as a qualification time for other marathons such as Boston, Comrades and London ‘good for age’. So who knows maybe, I’ll be going to Boston one day after all (fingers crossed).

Looking at last years times, the first four runners all finished in under 2:20 , 204 (3.4%) runners of the finishers completed the race in under 3 hours. So despite the race being the flattest in the UK, the theory that only around 3% of runners will ever finish a marathon in under 3 hours holds true. After all, you would need to run around 6:52 mins per mile for 26.2 miles in order to just slip under the 3 hour mark, so its no easy feat.

48% of runners completed last years race in under 4 hours.

The winning time last year was 2:16:58, the average finish time was 4:07:43 and last place came home in 7:12:29. There were 5,911 finishers of which 73% were male, so clearly more women need to sign up to this one.

great manc mara 2014

So April 19th, all being well, will mark my first attempt to go under 3 hours, requiring a PB of at least 12 minutes and 47 seconds. Its not going to be easy.

I will again be following an 18 week training programme from the Advanced Marathoning book, once again stepping up, in terms of distance. To take on the 70-85 miles per week schedule. Unlike Wales, were i made the mistake of not starting training early, i will be starting training, two weeks early so with just 23 weeks (gulp) until marathon day i will be starting training in three weeks time on December 1st (Happy Christmas). The advantage of starting training early is a reduction on the impact of any injuries that may occur and flexibility to account for any life related matters or should i wish to enter any races.

I already plan to do a few races, which i will keep to a minimum as they do break up training. However, if i can achieve some PBs in say a couple of half marathons then it will give me confidence going into the day and give me something to gauge my development as well as forcing me to train at a higher pace. That said the training programmes in the Advanced Marathoning book, do often include “tune up” races, so perhaps some races will line up nicely with my training.

As well as an increase in mileage, there are a couple of others things i plan to do to aid my mission to go Sub3. These include an increase in core work (every time, i say it, i just don’t do enough), an increase in speed session, improve running for (With the aid of Helen Clitheroe) and perhaps join a running club. I will continue to walk to and from work, despite my office move adding an additional 600 metres to the journey. This will help me maintain a good endurance base as well increase my leg strength as there are a couple of hills en-route.

So i have three weeks to build my mileage up to fit in with my next training plan, which last week was 54 miles and this week is on for around 50 miles and week one of the training plan is 65 miles. So i think am on for a smooth(ish) transition into that. I am thinking 55 miles, followed by 62 miles, followed by 60 miles will be a good transition. Although i was thinking about doing a 5k race on November 30th…..But hey this is why am starting training early.

So it begins……well in three weeks time it does….

In other news

THE RUNNING AWARDS Not only is voting and nominations under way for the 2015 additions of the awards, but you can also vote for this very blog, if you have found it at all useful, i would appreciate that. Thank you :)

Runners World look at the ideal age for marathon running

Yoga for core strength

Running camp


So last Saturday (October 18th) was running camp….and as per custom, I set off late. Which having made the decision to run the sort 1.8 mile to the training location, ensure I was the second the last person to turn up. One day, I’ll get better time keeping.

The session was being run by Helen Clitheroe and Tanja Slater and would last for three hours. In all there was around 17 of us booked in, for what would turn out to be quite an intense but enjoyable session covering even more routines and moves that I had never seen before challenging my flexibility and even my coordination.

The day was set out as follows :

Dynamic warm up mobility exercises

Leg swings forward back/ side to side
Hurdle lead leg/ trail leg
Eagle face up/ face down
Leg whips
Rocker to hurdle seat
Trail leg rol

Running Drills

Walk (arms and foot placement)
Walk with hold- balance and core
High knee drill
Heel flick drill
A skip (driving leg down)
B skip- leg extension
A/C skip
Ankle hops
Chicken run
Running with form

Conditioning Exercises


Practice single foot balance
Rolling foot with tennis ball
Walking with a roll through the foot heel to toe
Heel walking
Toe walking
Kenyan shuffle

Shoes on

Single Leg dead lift walk- arms out to the side
SLDL walk
SLDL walk with rotation
Spiderman walk
Plank walk
Afterwards I caught up with Helen who like me she had also recently run a four mile race, finishing fifth. Although unlike me, her time was around 20 minutes!!  She would of won my race by a good three minutes, such is the gulf in class.

I mentioned my heel issue to her and like me she thinks it could be a bruise rather than an injury. I then asked her couple of questions :

What do you think of when your in the lead position, with no one ahead of you to focus on ? 

Run hard and focus on your pace.

One the hone straight, if someone makes the break for the line before you, obviously they now have the advantage, is there anyway to recover from it ?

She said, obviously they have the advantage and it is very difficult to beat someone who has moved into the sprint before. Also the closer to the finish you are, the less likely it is that you will be able to recover. What I do, is I start to think about the finish from 1000 metres back, which should give me enough time to prevent this situation occurring.

Is it worth joining a running club ?

Running clubs give the opportunity to access running coaches and to meet runners of a similar ability to yourself, who could potential come training partners would will push you harder than training with someone of a lesser ability or always training by yourself.

So that was running camp…..I think I will be booking another session with Helen and rightly so. In the meantime I need to work on some of things we went through and practice proper running form by thinking about how I am running. Although in the session we were warned this will take time, in fact the coaches said it will have to do it 1000 times before you master it.

So lots to think about, I still have a bit of an issue with my heel but it is getting better. I even managed to cover 34 miles this week.

if your interesting in checking out training session like this one, visit the Active Training World website or visit the person sites of Helen and Tanja.

In other news :

A workshop with Alberto Salazar

Belaynesh Oljira and James Rungaru win Great South Run

When to return to running post marathon

Ageing and efficiency

Indian Half Marathon elites take the bus




The Vernons 4 Mile : Race Report

vernonsOk maybe i could have selected a nicer picture…..but with the old mill, from which the sports ground and this race take their names, due to be pulled down i thought id take the oppertunity to share its image.

So in my last post i reported that i was suffering from a achillies heel problem and that my plan was to rest from running till Sunday and see how it goes. Well that plan seemed to work, well i also started applying Deep Relief , so that probably also helped….and with sleep being a vital aid to recovery, i gave my self a layin on both Saturday and Sunday (The race was a afternoon start).

Anyway Sunday morning, i loosened my trainers and went for a test run…..hazar! the injury wasnt gone, but it was a lot better and it was managable. Meaning i could run on it without the pain affecting how i run or the speed that i would be able to reach.

With the race bring held locally and with the autumn sun shinng, i took the oppertunity to walk down to the race arriving with 35 minutes to spare. Plenty of time to get my number, use the club house facilities and run through my dynamic warm up.

2:10 arrived and it was time to line up on the start, having made a last minute decision to wear my sunglasses to avoid sun glaze affecting my run.

2:15 and we were off and after five days without running and having not raced since Wales. I flew out of the blocks. So much so that on glancing around me, I noticed there were no other runners alongside me and none ahead of me!! It was a big surprise, I didn’t expect to start off this well, but there I was in the lead a position, which although I only held it for 225 metres, was an interesting experience and this fantastic picture courtesy of @LynnBrownPhoto shows it in great detail.

vernons5This has to be my all time favorite running picture, of me.

After 225 metres my rain of terror was brought to an end and I fell back into second after a Red Rose Runner went by me, a position I held till around the 700 metres mark when both a Preston Harriers and a Liverpool Harriers went by me knocking me back down to fourth position. These two runners then went on to catch up and pass the Red Rose Runner and give themselves a good lead over the both us.

I maintained my fast pace and closing down and passing the Red Rose Runner just before the one mile mark. Before pushed on trying to close the gap to lead two. However despite my fast pace they continued to move ahead of me,  so my focus slowly became trying to hold onto third pace.

However around the 2.5 mile point I started to pay for my fast pace, lack of recent training and the hilly of start to the race, as this picture shows….

vernons3Struggling somewhat!

I hung on for a little while but then, just before the 3 mile mark another run passed by me. I kept him in close contact and checked my watch as I passed the three mile point, clocking 18:43 a PB!!

This was a another big surprise and I decided that when I reached the final hill climb, I would easy off a little, I was starting to flag afterall. This decision allowed the runner ahead to move away from me and out of the blue another runner passed me by.

I kept this new runner in close contact as we played a game of cat and mouse over the last half a mile or so. But annoyingly I messed up my decent on the hill drop just before the home straight, over shooting the S bend, allowing my rival to pull away.

I musted what little energy I could to try and catch him but as he moved into a sprint, I knew I couldn’t catch him and he moved too far away from me. But I kept going as hard as I could, all the way to the line to secure a fifth place finish in a massive PB of 25:15!

Granted it’s been years since ive a run a 4 mile race, which explains some of my naive tactics but that said my plan was simply to go for it because it had been so long since i ran a race thsi short. Before teh race I thought I’d get a PB of around 26 minutes but then with my recent injury I thought maybe 27 minutes. But wow! a fantastic performance and my fastest ever minutes per mile pacing for a race  (around 6:18 per mile). A great new benchmark to use in future races to bring my other race times down.

Since the race, my sore heel has returned and I am again managing it with a weekend event in mind. This time, the runners training camp on Saturday where should my heel……heal up I’ll be getting another great educational session from Helen Clitheroe to improve my run form.

Race route : {see here}

vernons 4 mileRoute profile :

vernons 2

Race in numbers :

Start time 2:15 PM

Finishers : 6857% males , 43% females

Winning time 23:35 , Last place 1:08:16 , Average finish time 00:35:18

Would i do it again : Yes



Olympians, ParkRun and sore heels

chichen-itzaSo i have been back from my holiday around three weeks now have have complete nine runs despite not yet having come up with a new custom training route, the shorter days, colder temperatures and wetter weather. This isnt exactly the most inspiring and motivational time of year but it is the most rewarding. If you can get through autumn and winter completing or increasing your normal level of training. Then your going to be in for a great spring and summer season. So its worth getting a bit cold and a bit wet every now and then. Also if you do get out in the wind and the rain, it feels so much more rewarding when you return home, than on a pleasent day.

Olympians…..what this all about ? Well as mentioned in my previous post, i had and took an exciting training opportunity. Any way, Preston’s premier runner Helen Clitheroe announced some time ago she was offering one to one training sessions for runners, so i signed up and last week i had my first session. My goal from these one2one sessions is to learn correct running form, something i don’t think i can learn by myself. I need someone there, who knows the correct running form to guide and monitor my progress.

The session lasted an hour and covered the following things :

Warm up – dynamic flex
Leg swings side to side/ forward and back
Hip mobility (forward/back)
Calf paddles

A stretch
A walk (then with pause)
High knee run
A skip
Ankle hops

Side steps
Side step wiry step over

Strides (concentrating on form)
Short hill sprints thinking about fast contacts/ knee drive/arm drive.

Side stretch (on wall)
Moving quad stretch
Calf stretch (3 straight, bent, foot up to wall)

Helen, also took some videos of me running and it turns out the fast i run, the better my running form….well thats something i guess he he – Work to do!!

I found the session extremely valuable and Helen showed me a number of things i had never come across before and following the session, I have signed up for a half day running camp Helen is holding on October 18th in Lostock Hall, just outside of Preston.

The last time i checked there were still 10 places left and you can sign up here :

Running Technique Session with Helen Clitheroe & Tanja Slater


I attended my first ParkRun event since April and rather than go all out i opted to stick to a good fast but steady pace completing the run in 20:22 , my slowest time since December 2013 and the first time since that day, that it has taken me over 20 minutes get around.

However, i wasn’t really trying and i enjoyed taking it easy, it was a nice way to return and in some ways it was more enjoyable, then going all out for it……it is after all only ParkRun. That said i did feel a little guilty about the junior runner who put in a shift to beat to the line…..i congraluated him on his strong finish and said nothing of my disengaged participation.

A Sore Heel…..

Well after my enjoyable ParkRun, run out, i ran home and being cold and yet i rushed to kicked off my trainers and get to the shower…..in process i kicked myself so hard in the achilles tendon that now its quite sore when walking and last nights 8 miler was a nightmare particularly when it came to the up hill sections…..

Stupidly this is a self inflicted injury which i have had before and the last time i did it, i vowed to always take my trainers off the correct way…….over time i have reverted to the lazy method and once more caused myself a stupid injury.

On the plus it should heel up in a few days, the downside however. i noticed after last nights run my right knee was a little tender due to having to land awkwardly on my right foot for eight miles of running…..its clear i am going to have to take a couple of days off to heel up, before running once more. Which is particularly annoying as i have signed up for a race this Sunday. The Vernons 4 Miler, which should of been an easy PB for me, being my first 4 mile race for a number of years and now its a waiting game to see if i will be pain free and able to run it or if i will have to pull out!!!

Soooo annoying but what can you do. Time to get those fingers crossed, on ths plus ive noticed if i have nothing on my feet my achilles tendon doesnt hurt at all when walking or running…..although i dont think now is the tiem to suddenly start barefoot running.

In other news

It turns out the affects of doping could be lifelong leading to renewed calls for longer bans for cheats…..i am hoping they bring in life bans, there is no place for doping in sports. Afterall how could you live with yourself knowning you had cheated your fellow athlete, knowning what it takes to get to the top……

Thats it!

So its good to be back, despite the hstupid injury but hopefully it will heel up soon and my next post will be a race report. If not, my next post will be my new custom running plan.



Quick fire update

great northTo be honest there much is going on……hence the lack of posts. My recovery programme is finished and i am due to disappear off on holiday for two weeks. As such i decided not start any custom plans just yet.

I have added two new some new reviews and hopefully when i return from my holiday i will add a third. You can read them there [here]

I have an exciting training opportunity, which could see me taping into the mind of a world class athlete. More on that when i return, but its going to be pretty cool and i suspect very educational. 

One thing, i have found hard, is motivation, with no races on the horizon and a holiday around the corner it has been a challenge to get motivated to not only do things like core work and speed work but even to run in the past week or so. That said, i am still running five times a week, so i am still getting out there and will soon be off out on an 11 mile run.

These times, do happen and they pass, its just annoying when they turn up, the runners blues is what they call them. But I am sure once the holiday is over and i have gotten some well earned R&R i will back back, dedicated to getting faster and putting in the miles. Quest sub3 is going to be really hard, there is no question about that and it is going to require a lot of hard work and right at this moment its hard to picture achieving it.

However when i completed my first marathon, in 4hr13mins , i struggled to picture myself getting anywhere near 3 hours, which at the time did kind of depress me a little. But  a few years later, having run over 1500 miles in a single calendar year with a marathon PB of 3h312mins that golden marker is within reach. Though, i am fully aware, that most runners never break that barrier, marathonguide.com found in 2011 only around 3% of American runners, completing a marathon, held in America, finished it in under 3 hours [here]. Scary reading!

Likewise, when i look at the times that am now recording for the half marathon, i think back to when i was recording times in the 1hr40s and it is the same story, i couldn’t see myself reaching where i am now…….Its in some ways hard to believe, but there it is, i have got this much quicker.

I guess i am in a reflective mood, i’ll miss running whilst i am away, but the break will do me good and then when i am back, it starts again. I’ll have to get signed up to a few races which will no doubt motivate me, i have my training opportunity which is going to be fantastic and there is the ParkRun 10th birthday coming up (October 4th) so that is going to be something else focus my mind. And that is what i am missing, focus, Ive nothing to focus on (running wise) and you can tell.

Also, to those reading this, you can see the improvements i have made in just a few years and know that you too can chop minutes not seconds off your times. It just takes a lot of hard work and a lot of juggling. But if you really want it, it can be done.

Good look to my friend Louisa who is off running the Great North run this weekend, an amazing event, which is possibly my favorite big race, event. Also good luck to anyone else running in that, one of you will be the 1 millionth finisher!! Amazing!

In other news :

If you liked my posts on Wales, entries for 2015 are now open : The Wales Marathon 2015

Some great links :

Running a sub 3 hour marathon

Recovery in athletics

What to eat before a 10K

How to run up (and down) hills

Why long runs sometimes go wrong

How to build endurance in rehab


Really don’t want to go running, but that’s what i am going to go off and do now!!






The Wales marathon sign off


This weeks image, is a final look at Tenby. I think it will go down as being one of my favorite all time marathons despite how challenging it was. It is a lovely place to visit and the whole Long Course Weekend festival made it extra special with the whole town clearly excited and interested in the occasion. This is one, i will run again.

As i head into the final week of mesocycle 5 and what will be the last few runs connected to the Wales marathon, i thought id give a bit of an update. So far things have gone ok, i have completed the majority of the runs that were scheduled as part of the five week recovery plan, with just three runs missed. One for a wedding, one to do some decorating and one because my knee felt a bit suspect (new trainers needed…….hmmm maybe). I think, if your going to miss runs then, when your not training for an event and when you are in a recovery phase is the perfect time to let life take back a few precious hours from running.

I have made a couple of changes, with my 2015 marathon plan being make an assault on sub 3 and have decided that it is time i take up the advice bounded around on countless running websites and have more than just or two training paces.

Continuing to use the Runners World Training Pace Calculator i will being continue with an easy run pace of 7:46 per mile and a long run pace range of 7:46 – 8:48. But its time i made use of the tempo run pace of 6.27 and introduce a general aerobic run pace, which Ive decided will be 7:25 but at the moment Ive been working off 7:30

With an impending office move, Ive been quick to snatch a locker in the shower rooms of the new building, meaning i am now able to introduce not only lunch time runs, which i might use for doing my speed work and hill repeats. But also, runs to work, perhaps once a week to begin with. And I think, i will continue to walk into work, with the relocation giving me an additional 1,200 meters walking exercise each time.

As if by fate the highlights of the Long Course Weekend, of which the Wales marathon was apart of. Were on television this weekend and if you are in the UK you can watch it here I actually make two appearances once at the start and once at the very end crossing the finish line, which is nice. Can you spot me ???

Once this training cycle is complete i plan to revive my old custom five week training plan but add on the first two weeks of the 70-85 miles per week training programme from the Advanced Marathon book, as i contemplate taking that on for my next marathon challenge.

Additionally, its official!!! 2014 is now my biggest running year ever with 1428 miles covered and its only August!

august miles

In other news, i found some great articles relating to Alberto Salazar

Five Lessons Learned From Alberto Salazar

Alberto Salazar’s 10 Golden Running Rules

The Perfect Stride

Both of which are well worth reading!!

Here is an interesting article on the best half marathons in America, from Runners Worlds

The Year’s Best Half Marathons



The Wales Marathon in Numbers

steve wayThis posts header picture is of the man who went from 16 stone smoking couch potato to leading the Glasgow commonwealth marathon for the first couple of miles, in the space of seven years. The incredible Steve Way. He’s also the only one smiling, what a legend!

For this post i have examined both the race stats and my own stats to get a little bit more of a feel of how i compared against my fellow runners and what i did to get me a new marathon PB of 3:12:46

The Wales Marathon in numbers

+ The Wales marathon 2014 was completed by 674 runners

+ 78% (527) were male

wales pie

+ 43% (292) fell into the 18-34 age category , with 20% (132) in the V40 category and 19% in the V45 (13) category.

Wales marathon age n gender

+ Just 2% of finishers managed to complete the course in sub3 , with only 37% completing it in sub4.

wales marathong times+ The average finish time was 4:19:51, first place came home in 2:49:39 and last place crossed the line in 6:48:28

My numbers

I ran a total of 910 miles in training, which accounts for 85% of my total mileage target of 1075, this is 220 miles further than i trained for the Dublin marathon and 262 miles further than i trained for the Preston Guild Marathon and would take me from my home in South Ribble to just outside Pisa Italy.

A per the Dublin marathon this training programme focused on the medium distance runs as opposed to the long weekend runs, showing how important your mid-week run is. Also this training programme outdid my other marathons for medium and long runs.

wales run typesMy finish time of 3:12:46 is a PB by almost 19 minutes and a 9% improvement on my time at Dublin.

marathon finish timesfinish times tableSo other than running more miles and running six times a week so apposed to five times a week, what else different did i do to achieve my new marathon PB…………

Well for a start Ive had a year of walking to work most days, so that’s pretty much 20 miles of walking each week on top of my running and I did more core work than last time, but still not as much as i wanted. I had my custom running plan, which was a five week training loop , which incorporated the first two weeks of the 55 – 70 miles a week training programme and probably left me better prepared for the step up. Finally, there was my first taste of doing doubles, which saw me having to run twice in one day and a several occasions and wasn’t as tough as i tough it would be, but helped me reach the higher 70+ miles a week, without having to loose an additional day to training.

For my next marathon, well………i cant have a 26.2 PB of 3:12 and not be looking to target the next big marathon goal, which of course is the much sort after sub3 marathon. From what i understand only a very small percentage of runners ever achieve this goal with some sites stating that only 2% of runners will ever go below 3 hours for the distance. So it is going to be a struggle and to achieve it, i have already decided i still step up to the next and take on the 70-85 miles per week training programme from the Advanced Marathoning book. Having had a quick scan of it, it would seem that i will be moving up to seven days a week running and that doing doubles could become common place……its going to be hard but if i ever want to run sub3, its what im going to have to do.

I may also join a club…..its certainly something to think about, with several people advising me that i should do.  I guess the added knowledge and training could be key to this next goal….hmmmmm

A couple of Sub3 links you might like :

Running a Sub-Three-Hour Marathon

Paul Ryan’s Critics (and Defenders) Are Missing the Point


10 tips to help you run a sub-3-hour marathon


In other news the Running Awards 2015 are up and running, so get signed up for your chance to win prizes and to vote for you favorite running events, brands, sites and blogs (Feel free to vote for me…ha ha)

The Running Awards


Twitter : @SJPC14

The Wales Marathon 2014 – Race Report

wales the finish lineThats me, for some reason jumping up in celebration at the finish line of the 2014 Wales Marathon……..i wasn’t winning it, but i was getting a blooming good time. My training paid off big time, hill after hill, run after run. It was a long hard 18 weeks, 8 of which i struggled with injury. But in the end it all came together and i don’t think i will forget this one in a hurry, the crowds were great, the route challenging and scenes spectacular at times. This really is one to run!!


So I arrived down in Tenby on Friday evening, just in time to catch the swim event of the Long Course Weekend, a Ironman type event which was being held of the course of three days, the marathon of which i was running. I am not sure if this helped with nerves or not, but it was easy to find distraction, not only was Tenby a lovely place but there was clearly plenty going on. The whole town was geared around this event and it was pretty much all everyone talked about in the hotels and the restaurants there was a sporting buzz about the place and amateur athletes were at the center of it. Even shops windows had been dressed up for the occasion.

I had already begun my carbo loading, eating rice and pasta most days for my evening meal and having porridge for breakfast every day throughout the week. Now in Tenby, i planned to do my best to continue with this plan although the hotel i was staying in, would have a big say on this and they delivered. The breakfast portions were huge, they were determined to look after the competitors and could you blame them, as no doubt people like me will head online and tell others if your doing this event, head to the Fourcroft hotel they look after you and the views of the sea from the rooms are fantastic and certainly helped me relax on the morning of race day.

The hotel is also situated just a short 15 minute walk from both the race start and a 10 minute walk from the registration center so pretty perfect really. Parking was a bit of an issue at the hotel, with them charging £5 a day. However, just a 15 minute walk down the road was a £2 all day car park, brilliant!! It was called Butts Field car park and you can find it [here]

In regards to lunch and evening meals, Tenby is full of suitable places and  and plenty were advertising that they are doing pasta meals……no one was going to miss out on the influx of athletes it would seem!!

For the evening meal we went to place called The Qube, which was quite nice, had a live piano player and several pasta meals on the menu.

Saturday ……..

Even though, you are advised not to, i spent the day before the race sight seeing. I felt it would be harsh on my partner not to do some non-running related stuff whilst we were here. So we headed over to Pembroke and had a look around the castle and then a spot of lunch. As castles go, its a pretty interesting one and there is plenty to see.

For my evening meal, is mix it up a bit we went to an Indian restaurant called the Bay of Bengal. It wasn’t the best Indian restaurant i have ever been to  , but the biryani can with plenty of rice and that’s was what i after and nice big bowl of carbs…….its making me hungry writing about all these meals!! {snack bar eaten}

Race Day

Being so close the start line, i allowed myself extra time in bed, not waking until 7 am, then it was down for breakfast and this was one of the great things about the hotel. They normally don’t start breakfast till 8 but they had asked me on the Friday what time i wanted breakfast on the Sunday, as they had asked what event i was doing, so i requested 7:30. As this would given me plenty of time to eat and digest the meal in time for the 10 a.m race start time. I suspect, i could of had it earlier if i wanted but the extra sleep and avoiding annoying the kitchen staff too much seemed the right option……………

For breakfast, I had three weetabix and the largest bowel of porridge I have ever seen, the hotel coming through of the athletes again, i washed this down a couple of glasses of fruit juice. Then it was back to the room to get ready, relax a little and consume my SIS hydro drink.

Then is was off on the short walk to the race start were i found plenty of runners were already in the start zone, making my way forward from the back, i found the last marker point was Sub 3:30. Which made me think that perhaps i should of just entered the start zone from the front………it also made me wonder if perhaps i was being too optimistic with my pacing plan. But i decided to trust in my training, i had been hitting a higher mileage than most and i have been tackling tougher hills than what i will face during this race it was time to make it all pay. Also I had studied the course in detail [see here] and i knew there were almost as many drops as climbs, i should be ok, if i am sensible, i thought…….

Weather wise………..it was warm but cloudy and there was a bit of a cool breeze. In many ways, you could say it was perfect running conditions, if only it wasn’t for all the hills!!

Then we were off and a large crowd was already lining the streets to see us off on our way, whilst the organisers added to the hype by pumping out loud music. It provided too hard to resist getting caught up in the occasion and i passed the first mile point in 6:53, almost a minute ahead of my planned 7:46 pace…….

I slowed down a little but still passed the second mile marker in around 12:43, still way ahead of time. Luckily for me mile 3, saw the introduction of the first of the big hills along the route and as planned i slowed right down, knowing that this hill climb would go on for almost a mile. Numerous runners passed me by at this point and i passed one runner who had slowed to walk, it wasn’t just mean that had planned to ease off on the hills then!!

Once at the top of this climb i increased my pace and over the next couple of miles i slowly passed several runners who had passed me on the climb and when we reached the long down hill section around mile 6 i passed a load more runners. All the while, i continued to remain head of plan and by mile 10 i was around 9 miles ahead of plan!!!

In previous races, this situation, would of led me to slow right down, but i decided that this time, i would take the risk of blowing up and i would continue with the pace i was going and simply slow down on all hill climbs. A ploy I followed right through to mile 23, after which point i decided it was time to put some effort into getting up the hills.

The race wasn’t without incidence, I hit the wall between miles 17 and 18, i twice got a stitch over between the 17 and 19 miles points, also a mile 16 i stopped and made use of the available portaloos and one time i did have to stop to do my lace up. Although, i waited until i was at the top of a hill climb before i did this, to ensure i didnt have to much hard work to do after stopping. Good job really, as i my legs were shaking as i tried to stand back up….eck!! However, i soon recovered and was back on it!

Throughout the race, i had a feeling i was doing well, not just because i was way head of plan but also because around100 metres ahead of me was a female runner that spectators kept referring to as the lead lady. Which worked as a big confidence booster to me and it became part of my plan to keep her in sight. Although at mile 20, we reached a very steep drop, which i used to close the gap on her, before gradually passing her by before we reached mile 21.

Over the last few miles of the race, i found myself in a battle with a runner dressed all in red with an an ironman tattoo and his calf and part of me was determined to beat him for these reason and we swapped places a number of times. However, on the final climb of the race he went by me and pushed on and i didn’t / couldn’t find it in me to go with him and i lost contact with him.

Entering Tenby town centre, i felt that i was pretty much alone and hadnt noticed any other runners since the ironman in red took off. However just as i reached the red carpet covering (A really nice touch by the way, a great to run on, lots of spring) the home straight another runner appeared by my side and i increased by pace up to a sprint , whilst this other fellow tried to match me, but 10 metres or later he simply said to me “Go on, you’ve beaten me” and this for some reason was my cue to move up to the fastest sprint  i could muster and i pushed on all the way to the finish with the crowd cheering me on. Then for some reason, as i hit the finish line, i jumped up and punched the air with joy, leading the commentator to say something about me finishing like i had won the event. I think the fact , that i had caught sight of the clock reading 3:12!!!! and that fact that i had won my sprint off battle had something to do with my reaction.

And that was it, months of training and pounding the streets had lead to me recording a massive PB of 3:12:46 and some reason a member of the crowd asked to have their photo taken of me………it later transpired that i had finished 20th and that i was probably the first finisher she had come into contact with. But was quite an interesting experience and who am i to say no…..

So 20th place and 3:12!!! I could of never of predicted that outcome. I thought i was being brave with a 3:21 attempt and i would of never of expected to be so close to the top spot!! Although there was only around 680 runners in the race, so that probably helped me, plus quite a few of them were taking part in the Long Course Weekend event.

wales splitsand until they are taken down the full list of results can be found [here]

My initial thoughts on this race is I can go faster!! Bring on the next marathon!!

And now , unlike Dublin i am going to treat myself to a full week off and then its mesocycle 5, recovery. I am looking forward to getting back running!

The medal wasnt the best medal in the world :

wales marathong medalBut i guess thats not the point and it was designed to fit in with all the medals of the Long Course Weekend and create this :

long course weekend medalHmm it would be great to own that……….but i am not finished with the marathon yet! Sub3 i have you in my sights!!



The Wales Marathon 2014 – Here i come!!!!!!


The final week is ticked off, its time!!

Here’s is how is went and a brief insight into my race day plan.

Tuesday 7 miles

This was a straight forward out and back route, although it did include a long incline as i continue to ensure i remain conditioned to hill running.


Wednesday 7 miles

Pleased with myself!! I’ve been over to Longridge for the fifth time in five weeks. It’s always tough, but the beautiful views and challenging nature of this route make the thirty minute drive well worth it. And after my previous post were I examined Sunday’s route in detail this route is perfect preparation for Sunday.

The run went well, I didn’t manage the 7:46 pace which was a shame but it was quite warm and there was a strongish wind blowing during the tough first 4 miles of this run and I wasn’t far off, completing the run in 56:33

I’ve been checking Sundays weather, which just highlights how close we care now to the big day. And currently I’m down to be facing rain and Sun…….hmmmm could do with that rain landing Saturday. Fingers crossed that changes.


 Thursday 5 miles

This was a recovery run and I set out without making a note of any pace plan, however being just a few days away from the big day I was / am on a bit of a running high and got round under the 7:46 pace plan, returning home in 37:14


Friday 5 miles with 6*100 m strides

One last run….five miles with speed work, AM!! Im not sure i enjoy speed or hill work first thing. But ive no other time to do this, so out i went. Luckily with not being in work today, due to traveling to Tenby, early morning was in fact the time i would normally but getting up on a Friday. Shame about being up late packing….Doh!!

I decided not to work to hard on this run and i didnt put 100% effort into the strides through fear of injury this near to the big day. But it was nice getting out early and again being in a near deserted park on a sunny morning. I could get used to that.




Its time……..so all the runs are down, i completed 96 out of the planned 112 run outs (86%) and learn a good lesson about how you should always start your marathon programme early, rather than hedging your bets on getting through 18 weeks without injury as i did…….That said i completed 85% of the planned miles i had to run, covering 910 miles in the process. My highest marathon training mileage yet, beating my previous best set for Dublin of 690 miles by 220 miles.

progress@TW18With this and all the hill work i have done, coupled with my detailed analysis of the route (See previous post), i have decided to be brave and created a pace band that aims for a 3:21 – 3:23 pace…….I am not sure if my body will hold up over the route, but you  know what its worth a try.Sadly for some reason it wont update and ive no time to update it……Sorry.

The only disaster will be if i have a break down and cant go on anymore, slowing to a plod. Something which happened to me during my Edinburgh marathon run and to a lesser extent during my London marathon run. But this, time i am better prepared than those two marathons and i have created a pace plan which takes into account the hill climbs and drops with a pace of 7:30 on the drops and a pace of 8:10 on a tougher climbs. Hopefully, this mis-mash of paces will enable to cover the race in my target time and without collapse. Although, just to be on the safe side, im going to take my pace band from Dublin with me……

So im packed : Run Stuff, Race Pack, gels, recovery shakes, wash stuff, clothes, towel, trainers!!!, pace band, watch, plasters, vaseline, running sunnies, watch!! and all the other basics.

Weather check…………cloudy and sunny temps 15-16. Well thats better than the previous forecast of rain.

RIght, time to go……..Eck!!!! Scary Darey!!!


In other news

I found this site, looks a good one for finding your marathon challenges.