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… 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, 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……… 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…… 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.





The Wales Marathon 2014 – TW17 : know thy enemy

letourSo week 17 comes to an end and with one week of training or five training sessions if you will, until the big day i decided to delicate this weeks imagine to the Tour de France after getting the privilege to catch them as they passed through Skipton.

Monday 5 miles

A rare Monday outing due to necessity rather than a late mad increase in mileage. Short on time due to things such as trying to catch the Tour de France on Saturday, I was out on my Thursday recovery run. Chosen because I didn’t want to be over working it the day after my 17 miler. Pace wise I chose to take it easy and for a change I decided not to take a drink out with me, despite the fact it was a warm day. Although, I soon regretted this decision when I got a fly caught between my lips and then ten minutes later one came rocketing in, right into the back of my throat!!! Bugger!!

The run itself went fine, I reached the 3 miles point perhaps 20 seconds behind the 7:46 pace but wasn’t too fussed about that, however I did push on over the final 300 metres or so to make it home in sub40, returning home in 39:24


Wednesday 4 miles

Continuing to sandwich my runs around a busy personal life week……. , i got out early morning for 4 mile loop. Which was mostly a box ticking exercise, but at least it included a tough hill decent and climb.


Thursday 6 miles with hill reps

I wasn’t really up for a run but after blasting out a few tracks whilst doing my dynamic warm up that soon changed and off I went determined to make the turn around point of this out and back, plus hill reps route within the 7:46 pace plan. Achieving this with thirty seconds to spare I decided to make the hill zone in good time too, so that I had the best possible chance of making it home after the reps, making it to them in 36:13. Not only did I complete the reps with out much of a break between sets but I then made it home in 44:38…..brilliant.

I feel really for Wales but I’m acutely aware that there is over a week to go and a lot of hours in which something could go wrong!! Concentrate, train hard, eat well, hydrate, sleep well and no risks!!!



Friday 6 miles with hill reps

Who does hill reps first thing in the morning ? A nut, as crazy as a coconut, that’s who!!

That was hard work and in my tired state I almost ended up running my five route by mistake, luckily I had allowed myself to slip into thoughts about what routes and training I had done so far this week. Before I made the mistake of crossing over the bridge I was approaching.

The reps were tough, I have never done any speed or hill sessions so early, but it was a nice feeling as i was pretty much the only person in the park at the time. Then it was a slow run home and despite this six mile run being an easier route than last nights, it took me an additional three minutes to complete it, returning home in 49:63 – but I guess that’s no shock.



Saturday 8 miles with 3 * 1 mile reps

Despite being up early , having eaten little and having drunk very little all day, due to the Tour de France, I set off hard on this on reaching the four mile turn around point in 30:52 ,despite the heat and the long incline of the this first section of my run.

With the reps, I decided just to run onto the first mile rather than actually stop. And you could tell mile reps are not something I do often as I kept falling into a slower pace, but I was more with it on the second and third reps.

Deciding to include the mile reps on top of the 8 miles I recorded a total 11 mile run time of 1:15:54


Sunday 14 miles

An additional mile than what was planned, but it was worth it for one last chance to take in the Longridge double ahead of Wales. Although disappointingly whilst mentally my mind was up for completing this challenge in 7:46 pace my legs weren’t quite with the programme dragging me round in 2 hours. I guess this is exactly why your not meant to do speed work the day before your long run. But today was more about the hills than the time and the fact it was a hot day, meant it was good conditioning training in case the sun comes out next Sunday.


jef hillAnd that’s it, the last long run before Wales……crazy my legs have a nervous tingle!! So on to the final week!! Scary, but exciting.

Tuesday – 7 miles

Wednesday – 7 miles with 2 miles at race pace - I plan to make one last trip to Longridge 

Thursday : 5 miles recovery

Friday : five miles with 6*100 metres

Saturday : 4 mile recovery

Sunday – RACE DAY!!!!!

I have spent a bit of time getting to know the route a little better mapping this race profile out, using

wales marathon profileFor further details see [here]

And with this profile Ive done a bit of a crude comparison against some of my hillier training routes. With the the below line chart showing a mile point by mile point comparison :

hills compare

From this we can see that Ive done a fairly good job at trying to match the route, with the below area chart showing this in a little more detail :

hills compare 2Finally, as the routes all start at different heights, i produced a mile by mile hill climb comparison which has allowed me to establish how the climbs ive been doing, compare to one another :

climb compareSo from this i now have a much clearer idea of what i will be facing and i am a little more confident. Although, i wish i had been getting over to Longridge sooner, that said i think ive visited there maybe 8 times during my training, so thats something and hopefully i will get there again this week. The big question, remains how will my body copy with so many hills over 26 miles and i wish i had ensured my longer runs had more hills throughout. However, there was a period of around 8 weeks in which i wasn’t fully fit, that originally i had planned to start introducing hills on the long runs. So not all my fault i guess.



Wales 2014 – TW16 : Let the taper commence!!

dwain-chambers-415x390This weeks image of controversial British athlete, Dwain Chambers who last week one his fifth successive 100m title at the British Championships [here]. Which was well timed to fit in with this article on the Athletics Weekly , reporting how studies have found steroid abuse could give users an advantage for 10 years. Hmmm more evidence to support life long bans. [here]

Let the taper commence!!

Tuesday 5 miles with 6 * 100 metres

So the tapering has begun and surprisingly with some speed work. My plan with these, at the moment, is to make the stride zone within my pace plan and then hope for the best afterwards. Although this first run of three miles felt sluggish and I arrived a good thirty seconds off pace. The strides however went well despite the fact it was raining which meant I got quite wet in between strides , which resulted in me deciding not to give myself too much of a break in between runs. Afterwards, I actually felt more with it and was able to cover the final two miles quick enough, that it meant, that I had achieved my target pace for the five miles.



Run time : 38:34

 Wednesday 12 miles

Uff!! a horrid run!! I wasn’t mentally in the right place and physically I  was sore from both yesterday’s speed work and Sundays race, too much too soon perhaps. But with varying levels of pace , from plod to fast jog, I got round . Although at mile 11, when I saw I had only five minutes to get home and in order to make my target pace. I decided to plod on home and save myself for tomorrow’s hill repeats after all i cant run a mile in five minutes at the best of times.


Run time : 1:37:17

Thursday 7 miles

Despite feel more mentally with it, I was still really physically sore and tired. The result my planned run around Longridge follow by some hill repeats on jeffrey hill became a slow plod around the route and then a drive home. I slightly regretted skipping the hill repeats but I think it was the sensible thing to do. Hopefully , by Sundays long run I will be feeling better.

On the plus at least i got to Longridge once again, even if it was probably my slowest run around it.


Run time 01:02:46

Friday 5 miles

A Much loved early morning run…….ok maybe not, but it’s good to get it out of the way and my legs did feel a little better today. Although as this was a recovery run, I never pushed myself, getting round in 43:01.


Saturday 6 mile

Taking advantage of only………only!!! Having a six mile run to cover, I enjoyed a nice long lie-in before catching up on some house work and then setting out on my six miler. I chose a suitably hilly route and I was feeling a lot fresher than previous days thanks many by the +24 hour break between runs. Zipping around in enough time, that i was able to slow to a gentle controlled, jog home over the last 300 metres or so.

I am thinking now, with the fewer miles to recover i can start catching up on sleep , which hopefully will help my body recovery from all the training and aid me on the day.

Run time 43:52


Sunday 17 miles

I overslept by an hour, but I was feeling great and i was well and truly up for today’s run. I have gotten over my freckleton muscle hangover and the drop in miles plus yesterday’s lie-in has left me with extra energy and feeling fresher. Although, I suspect taper madness will set in next week, this week I’m on a running high. Plus, i have been listening to the new Kasabian 48:13 album and track 11 in particular titled Eez-Eh certainly gets you going!

So out I went on a run which would feature three sections of near none stop up hill running each of around 3 miles. Although admittedly I wouldnt be climbing very high on either of those, eventually my run would take me up nearly 475 feet and with going along the canal gravel, come mud, come grass path way lasting around 3 miles, I will certainly be getting a good workout. On one of the routes which challenged, me during my Dublin training. This time no such blow up, although it was distracting with the sun out, boats , ducks, dragon files, horses, cows and fish all on show I did occasionally find myself slowing down and having to remind myself to pick up the pace.

And pick up the pace I did getting round in 2:12:31 just outside the lower end of my long run pace target. Which was very pleasing and whilst hill wise perhaps today doesn’t stand up to the race route it was still challenging and it keeps the feel good factor going.

Just two weeks now!!!!


The week ahead

So week 2, of the taper period, looks like this :

Monday – Rest / Cross train

Tuesday – 7 miles with 8*100m strides

Wednesday – 4 mile recovery

Thursday – 8 miles with 3*1,600m strides

Friday – 5 mile recovery

Saturday – 6 miles with 8 *100 strides

Sunday – 13 miles

With three speed sessions, im wondering if i will avoid taper madness all together. This has to be the hardest taper period ive faced yet. On the plus i plan to switch two of those for hill repeats. On the minus, i am short of time this week and wont have time for a run Tuesday and on Saturday i am thinking about trying to catch some the Tour de France, as it passes through Yorkshire, England…….strange but hey ho.

So i am running Fridays 5 mile run tonight, i figured if i have to run today, its best i don’t over do it, the day after my long run. After that, im not quite sure what i will do, but fingers crossed i will tick off each and everyone of these miles. Also, i plan to get to Longridge for the third week in a row and i am thinking of doing a double loop of it on Sunday. Which would be an extra mile, but it will be worth the effort.

In other news,

The race pack arrives!!! Yes my race pact has arrived it didn’t contain much i didn’t know about, other than i do get free entry to Pembroke Castle, which will be either a nice distraction or something to do after the race.

Wales 2014 – TW15 : The Freckleton Half Marathon


Today’s, headline images comes from the Freckleton Half Marathon, which I took part in on Sunday June 22nd. And i can say it was another fantastic event, well organised with loads of support coming out from Freckleton and the nearby villages. If you get a chance, do run this event, you will love it!

So training week 15 is over and i am about to begin the taper phase, here is how it went :

Tuesday 14 miles

After the confidence boost of Saturdays & Sundays runs, i decided that despite the hilly nature of this route, which climbs up over 500ft i would aim to meet my pace target time of 1hr:46min

Pushing hard on a warm summers evening, i reached the 6 mile point, one minute ahead of plan , a great start and i knew that once i got over the next big climb it was mostly downhill from here. So i continued to push hard and although there was one or two moments were i had to ease off, i reached the 10 mile point, again around a minute ahead of plan. Despite the remaining four miles being mostly down hill, i found this part quite tough going as all the hill work started to take affect and it was a mad rush over the final mile as i decided not to let all my hard work go to waste and i knew i was within reach of making my target time. Reaching the 14 mile point in 1:45:24. I had done it!!


 Wednesday 11 miles with 5*1200 m strides

After yesterday’s success through hard work, I had hopes of continuing my good run of form. However, as soon as I set off I could tell it was going to take a lot of effort to meet my pace target today given that not only was I doing some speed work over hilly ground but the 11 miler I had chosen featured another beast of a hill climbing up to 450ft on top on this it was another warm and sunny day, hot in fact. By the time I reached the seven mile point from were I would be doing strides I was a good 7 min behind schedule and once I was finished with the strides, I had pretty much nothing left to give but plod return home in 1:35:18

I’m disappointed, but boy this was a tough session to follow up on yesterday’s. So tough that I’ve decided instead of doing my planned 8 miles with hill reps tomorrow, I will instead do the six and the four tomorrow and give myself a bit of a break from huge hills and body a little time to recover from the effort I’ve put in these past two days.



Thursday 4 miles AM

Feeling sore and tired from a combination of yesterday’s run and just six hours sleep, I decided to change the order of today’s doubles around so I was running 4 in morning and 6 in the evening.

Just as well really, as I plodded along only occasionally able to get up to a decent pace. It was just one of those miserable tough runs, that you just don’t want to do, but once you completed it you’re glad you did and I was.


Run time : 34:34

Thursday 6 miles PM

Feeling a little better , compared to this morning and in a hurry what with England’s crunch world cup match with Uruguay kicking off in a few hours, I decided to make a go of it and make up for this morning. I sped down the road, although I could feel my leg injury flair up and when it came across any climbs I had to slow down a little. But on the flats and the downhill sections. I worked hard, pushing myself , around in 44:40 making this the second time this week I’ve met my pace target!! Excellent work, if I don’t say so myself. Shame about the injury though!! Hopefully it will calm back down.


Friday 8 miles with hill reps

Once again choosing to switch my second speed session for some hill reps, I decided to make an effort to at least make the four mile turn around point of my run, within the pace plan of 7:46 pm, doing so in 39:58. Turning around, to do the gradual decline section of the run, I managed to reach the rep zone in 53:03. Which depending on how I feel might be just enough time to get it home on time.

After the hill reps, despite feeling sore and tried, a second wind saw me suddenly pick up the pace as I set off home and noticing that I was just 3 minutes off the target time, I pushed hard up the final hill leading home. Reaching the top with a minute to spare, i moved up to a sprint, returning home in 1:02:10. Two seconds off my target time but feeling quite pleased



Saturday 5 mile recovery

Running a five mile recovery run, the day before a race seemed a strange thing to be doing but I guess Its all about the marathon and not tomorrow’s half marathon. I took it casually, deciding that being out in the afternoon heat would be the main thing about this run. However, despite this I some how found myself heading home with enough time to meet the 7:46 pace target……so I picked up the pace over the final 600 metres or so and returned home in 38:20. So I’ve met the pace target for the third time this week and this time with out trying, brilliant stuff.


Sunday The Freckleton Half Marathon

Freckleton overheadAs usually, the sun came out for the Freckleton Half Marathon, it had been predicted to be a warm but cloudy day. However, come Sunday afternoon it was all blue skys and the dial had been cranked up to 20. It was a hot one!!

I find this race a funny one to do not because of the route or anything, but because it starts at 2 in afternoon just when it starts to get really warm. I guess ensures a big crowd comes out and they do, but it certainly makes for tough running and I think this year was by far the toughest yet, well that I’ve experienced anyway. The later start time is also a bit strange to prepare for given that you get a lay in, you get breakfast and you get time for lunch. I think I prefer the 11 start to be honest less time to dwell on things.

So the race, I decided to  aim for 1:27-1:28 which would be a course PB but not a distance PB. I think given that my distance PB was set on a flat race route and in February, running a slightly hilly one in the heat would probably be too challlenging to set a distance PB. So i set myself a pace plan of 6:35 per mile and aimed to stick with that for the first ten miles.


Racing with me was my friend John , my dad and friend Phillip. Who was running his first ever race over a 5k, brave man and quiet a step up. Luckily the biggest crowds I’d seen for this event turned out so no doubt it would of helped make it a special first half for him. Incidentally Freckleton was also the first half marathon i ever ran, so i was interesting to see someone step into my shoes. Those three were all aiming for between 2 hours and 2:10.

Lining up a the start, I found myself around half way back but as the race is chip timed that didn’t bother me too much. Although it meant a bit of a walk of a start which is always a bit of a pain. Then I was off and running, moving onto the inside so that i could move up through the crowds and find a nice bit of space  to push on. Covering the first mile in around 6:15 way ahead of time. I remained ahead of my pace plan right up to the fourth mile, were between it and mile five. I some how fell around thirty seconds off pace. It could of been a combination of the hills and heat or perhaps I had become complacent. I’m not sure. I had joined onto a group of runners who all seemed to be running at pace quicker than 6:35. Perhaps collectively we had all slowed down.

So i found myself, chasing the pace……..which is never smart, for the next five miles. Until, eventually I was back ahead of time by around 3 seconds. Which felt great and this whole period I it ever passed other runners. However, i knew i couldnt relax and that it was probably time to keep pushing on and slowly I gained more time ahead of plan, although between miles 11 & 12 I did have a bit of a wobble were i wasnt sure if i could maintain the pace. However, i passed the 12 mile point around 20 seconds ahead of time, which was great news.

Over the last half a mile of the race I continued to work hard, passing around three runners each time getting the mental boost which comes with passing another runner, late into a race. Reaching the final home straight, which I knew to only be around 65 metres, i gave the waiting crowds a clap and wave, before I moved up to a sprint having no idea what other runners were doing nor what my time was. But as I crossed the line I looked down and saw 1:26 on my watch and punched the air if joy, before giving the crowd wave of thanks as my name was read out over the speaker system. I couldn’t believe it,i had hopes of 1:28 and here i was recording a time of 1:26 in crazy heat! My second fastest time over 13.1.

Looking at the final results, it turned out i had finished 27th out of 660 runners, my highest finished ever, in this race and I had taken nearly seven minutes off my previous course PB and 22 minutes faster than my first ever half marathon race.

half marathon progress

Overall, the race was won by Ben Fish, for the eight year in a row in a time of 1:10. Will anyone, ever beat this guy! See [here]

Freckleton medal

So let the taper begin!! and the first week of taper looks as follows :

Tuesday 7 miles with 8*100

Wednesday 12 miles medium long run

Thursday 5 mile recovery with 6*100 m strides

Friday 5 mile recovery

Saturday 8-10k tune up race

17 mile long run

Already there will be changes,  i am changing Thursdays and Tuesdays runs around, as i want to get out to Longridge and take on Jeffreys hill again, as i still see it was a perfect practice area for Wales. And havign raced this weekend just gone, i wont be racing on the Saturday, but i might use it get get to Longridge a second time in one week……..hmmm we will see.

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