How To Avoid Running Goal Creep

When I crossed the finish line of my last marathon I felt a number of different emotions. Achievement, joy, relief. One thing I didn’t feel at the time was disappointment. But after I’d taken the medal from around my neck, and finished the complementary beer (alcohol free, obviously!) I started feeling that maybe I should’ve done better.

I’d set myself A, B and C goals, and yes, the A goal had been very optimistic. I didn’t hit the B goal either, but wasn’t too far from it, and I’d smashed my C goal.

So why the disappointment? I put this down to the fact that my goals are always in a constant state of flux – goal creep if you will. Read More »

Race Report: Manchester Marathon 2017

I travelled up to Manchester by car on the Saturday, my nervousness getting a boost along the way from the roadside boards warning of road closures and delays, and arrived at my reasonably priced hotel in the late afternoon. After checking in and getting settled, I set about consuming my final carbs in the form of jacket potatoes, before unpacking my kit for the following day.

Race Day Kit

Everything prepared I had plenty of time to obsess over the following day for a while, before a final check that my two alarms were set and then off to bed.
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Marathon Training – just like baking a cake

Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a couple of months since my last marathon training update, but it has been tough finding all the time to squeeze the training in around everyday life, let alone write about it, so unfortunately the updates had to go on the back burner until now.

I’m not going to document every single session here, but I’ll give a general overview of the types of training I’ve been putting in over the last few months. While writing this post I stumbled upon the similarities between marathon training and baking, hence ‘Baking a Marathon Cake’ (I may have just made this analogy up in my head!).

First, build the miles

If you’ve been reading my posts up to now you’ll know that the key part of my marathon training this year has been building mileage, something which I was a little nervous about due to the problems I had increasing mileage while training for my first marathon. Surprisingly I haven’t really had any problems other than some minor niggles and twinges which I’ve come to learn are generally part of running. A couple of things I believe have helped are firstly the cut back weeks, cementing the previous few weeks training before pushing onto the next, and secondly, a specific early training block of distance building with only a minimal amount of speed-work. This has resulted in going from an average of 25-30 miles per week last summer to averaging around 60 – 65 miles per week over the last couple of months without any real problems, other than finding the time to get the miles in. Where a 5k run used to be quite a common occurrence, I’m now more likely to be running 6 – 8 miles as my shorter runs. Read More »

Training: 5th December – 11th December 2016

After a good week last week building the mileage I was happy to complete another week with a good increase again. I’m being sensible with the increases and I’m factoring in weeks with reduced distance to try and avoid any injury. We’ll see how this works.

Training

Monday: Rest Day
It’s sounds a bit odd that I look forward to this rest day, but I really do! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the running, but this one day a week where I don’t need to worry about where I’ll squeeze the run into my day is nice.

Tuesday: Aerobic Run – 8 miles
Went as planned, no surprises here.

Wednesday: Medium Long Run – 12 Miles
Still struggling with the motivation for the midweek 11+ mile runs – currently listening to podcasts which helps. Any recommendations?
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Running Christmas Gift List 2016

Although I’ve already eaten a large chunk of the Christmas supplies, there is still over a week until Christmas. Plenty of time to get that runner in your life a Christmas gift they’ll love! I may or may not be leaving this list here as a hint towards what I hope arrives under the tree come Christmas day, but even so all would make great gifts for any runner!

1. Advanced Marathoning

Advanced Marathoning BookI talked about this book in my recent post on running by heart rate and it’s great for the marathoner in your life who is looking to improve their marathon performance. As an alternative to this for someone who might be training for their first marathon, or prefers the shorter distance, I’d recommend Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth as another good option.

Click here to view on Amazon

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Running by Heart Rate

When I was putting my latest marathon plan together I came up against the tricky issue of pacing. My plan is made up of different types of sessions run at different paces from recovery pace to long run pace, half marathon and marathon pace, and so on. So the big question became, how do I know what these paces should actually be?

Marathon Pace

Take an important one for example – marathon pace. I have a record of the pace I ran at my previous marathon, but I’d hope I’ve improved beyond that now (even if my pace did collapse 20 miles in), and surely I’ll be improving over the next 16 weeks of training too. So what does marathon pace actually mean, and how can I work it out?

Advanced Marathoning
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Marathon Training: 28th November – 4th December 2016

The uncertainty of the various marathon ballots has cleared and I made it through to… no marathons! This only fuels my determination to build my running to a level where I can submit a good for age application and ride the marathon train all the way to London, Berlin, Boston, et al. However, lets not get ahead of ourselves as there is still a long way to go (figuratively and literally) until we reach that nirvana. But you’re all still with me, right? Great! Let’s get on with it…

With plenty of big city marathons to choose from this spring there’s no reason not to get stuck right into our marathon training!

First official week of Marathon Training

The plan looks a little daunting on the calendar stretching over so many weeks! We’ll just take it in weekly chunks and I’m sure everything will be OK…
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Petzl Tikka RXP Headtorch Review

For evening runs, especially in the winter, a headtorch is an essential piece of a runners kit, both to see and also be seen. When I was looking at the different headtorches available the most important thing to take into account was how much light (lumens) I'd need for my use. In general more lumens means a higher cost. I needed the headtorch for use on both on lit and unlit roads, but also for completely dark locations such as woodland trails. After checking out what was available (this was in 2015) I finally decided on the Petzl Tikka RXP.…

Rating

Features
Battery Life
Cost

Overall a great headtorch with some features above and beyond the competition at this price point.

Shop Now

For evening runs, especially in the winter, a headtorch is an essential piece of a runners kit, both to see and also be seen. When I was looking at the different headtorches available the most important thing to take into account was how much light (lumens) I’d need for my use. In general more lumens means a higher cost.

I needed the headtorch for use on both on lit and unlit roads, but also for completely dark locations such as woodland trails. After checking out what was available (this was in 2015) I finally decided on the Petzl Tikka RXP. Read More »

Do running shoes really only last 300 miles?

When buying running shoes I’m always given the 300/400/500 (delete as appropriate) miles warning about getting a new pair. Even Strava reminds me I might need new running shoes soon when the miles creep up into this sort of range. So, is it a clever marketing tactic from the manufactures? After all I have running friends who tell me they’re hitting over 1,000 miles in a single pair of shoes, or is it actually true that you shouldn’t keep on running until the soles are flapping in the wind?

How many pairs!

I have a number of pairs (actually far too many) on the go at any one time – some for wet/muddy runs, others for when I’ll be running long miles on the roads, and some less cushioned models for shorter / quicker sessions. Recently a couple of pairs both started hitting the 450+ mile mark at the same time and I started wondering how much more they had to give – one particular pair of New Balance 860v5’s took me through my first marathon so I’d become a little attached! This was also around the time that I’d started increasing my milage in preparation for 2017’s marathon training and I’d been experiencing a few niggles and mild pains in my feet, all which I put down to the extra running. It wasn’t until one of the helpful reminders from Strava got me thinking… Could this be down to the shoes? Read More »

Marathon Training: 7th – 27th November 2016

Summary: The plan for these three weeks was to build mileage in preparation for starting my marathon plan on a good footing. I’d hoped to get in 38 miles, 43 miles and 48 miles but after some ankle niggles at the end of week two I scaled the third week back and only clocked up 42 miles. Not quite what I wanted, but a good base to take into the first week of marathon training. I’ve adjusted the mileage down that I’ll be doing for the first four weeks so that I’m not increasing too quickly off a lower base.

All three weeks looked similar so I won’t go into too much detail:

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: Speed Work – Varied from 400 reps, 1k reps and hill work plus warm up / warm down.

Wednesday: Recovery Run – Slooowww

Thursday: Aerobic Run – About 8-9 miles

Friday: Recovery Run – Easy 6 miles

Saturday: parkrun – plus a bit extra – 6 miles ish

Sunday: Long Run – 14-16 miles

I’ll put more detail into the training posts now that I’m following a specific marathon training plan.

Autumn and Winter Training

It’s been a busy summer and unfortunately I haven’t had much time to blog about my progress since making my optimistic (and possibly a little silly) declaration about running a sub 3 hour marathon, but I’m still determined to get there.

Having recently entered a few races which I also took part in last year, I’ve now got a good benchmark of my improvement over the last 12 months for both 10k and half marathon distances. For the 10k I’ve seen an improvement of just over 4 minutes and for the half marathon around 8 minutes. Although I’m very happy with these improvements I also know I still have a long way to go.

And so to winter training…

Last year I started my training for the Manchester marathon in January, and although I felt overall it went fairly well, I did have some small injuries and niggles which I put down to pushing myself to distances I’d never reached before. I’m hoping that this year with that bit more experience, and also a summer of successfully increasing mileage, I can complete a much more aggressive training program and then put in a good performance in whichever spring Marathon I choose.
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Does a low carb high fat diet work for runners?

On a quest to improve my running, I’ve been trying out a low carb high fat (lchf) diet.

I’ve read a number of different blogs and forum posts singing the praises of low carb high fat in relation to running performance, especially for endurance running, and I’ll tell you what, it sounds like a real no-brainer. As we all know your body needs fuel when running, and when your muscles are primed with a ready supply of glycogen (from carbs) this is used a your main source of fuel (along with some fat). The problem is that your muscles can only hold a limited supply of glycogen, and when it runs out you’ll know about it. “Hitting the Wall”, “Bonking”, whatever you want to call it, running out of fuel is no fun! Read More »

Learning to be a better runner

From the total field of 39,096 runners at this years London Marathon, there were just 2,086 runners who completed the Marathon in less than 3 hours. This works out to be around 5%. As it’s fairly unlikely that I’ll join this impressive bunch and bag a sub 3 hour marathon by just continuing to run in an unstructured way, I’ve decided to take step back and look at which areas I can improve on in my quest to be a better runner.

I like to think of this as a similar concept to the idea of marginal gains used by Sir Dave Brailsford in relation to British cycling, looking at each area independently to see where improvements can be made, although I’m hoping for more than marginal improvements in some of these!

The core areas I’ll be looking at are: Form, Nutrition, Training and Psychology. Read More »

Going from Sub 4 Hour to Sub 3 Hour Marathon

With my first Marathon in the bag I’ve had a few weeks to reflect and decide on where I want to take my running journey.

Back in spring last year, before deciding on running the Manchester Marathon, I entered the public ballot for the Virgin London Marathon. As a new runner this was my main exposure to marathon running. I’d watched the live coverage on the television since I was a kid and seen it in person a few times too, so this was naturally my number one choice if I was going to try and do the unfathomable and run one myself!

As spring turned to summer, turned to autumn, myself and around 250,000 others waited excitedly to find out if we’d been allocated that most elusive of beasts, a bib number in the London Marathon. In previous years the ballot system would be open for a short period of time, possibly less than 24 hours, before closing to new entries, but for 2015 it was open for a full 5 days, allowing a much higher number of entrants.

Even with the old system the odds of bagging a spot weren’t great and you’d often hear stories of runners applying year after year without luck, so the chances that I’d be offered a place on my first entry were not good. After 5 months, and then two days of excitement after hearing that others had started to receive the news, I received an email informing me… I’d not been successful.
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Race Review: Manchester Marathon 2016

My training for the Manchester Marathon had been what I’d call mixed at best. Illness and injury had stolen the best part of four weeks training including two of my longest runs. I’d managed a single 20 miler which hadn’t gone amazingly well, but I think it was essential to have this experience and the knowledge that I could cover the distance.

Saturday

Travelling from Kent up to Manchester can be a bit of a marathon in itself, but luckily I had the traffic on my side and the journey was fairly uneventful. Once checked into the hotel my first job was double checking I had all my kit with me. This ritual involves laying each item out in order and double checking everything is as it should be. Once complete it was off out to a local Italian for a pre-race pizza dinner before setting the alarm and settling down for an early night. That would have been the ideal scenario anyway. As it turned out I couldn’t sleep and so I ended up watching a couple of hours of the golf highlights before finally getting off to sleep.

Early Start

Beep. Beep. Beep. It had been a bit of a restless night, but now wasn’t the time to worry about that. First things first, I needed to get breakfast sorted. The morning before a marathon isn’t the time to try anything new so I stuck with my tried and tested routine of two slices of toast covered with lots of Nutella. After this I had half an hour to myself get ready before putting everything I needed into my race bag (I have a list for this) and heading out the door.

Frosty Manchester Morning
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