SDW100 Training – 3 weeks to go

Final week of biggish miles before I start to taper for the 100.  This week the long weekend run was helping to pace a club mate (the frankly ridiculous Chris Brookman) on his way along the Grand Union Canal Race.  It’s a mere 145 mile race with a cut off of 45 hours but he was planning on being considerably faster.  When they cut off time is approaching days rather than hours you know it’s getting serious.

Monday – 6.1 mile morning loop of Caldecotte – 8:06 pace.  After the abysmal mess up of a long run on Sunday I was pleased to actually get the legs turning over.

Tuesday – 5.4 mile run with Bella, 8:27 pace.  Took in some of the Grand Union Canal as practice for Sunday. There was one dodgy moment where a swan refused to move and I had to carry the dog past it. I’m wondering if I need to do the same with Chris during the race. 

Also Tuesday – 6:40 session with the Redway Runners, 4miles at 6:48 pace. Change of location to Furzton Lake. It was hot, hot, hot!

Also Tuesday Again – 6.3 miles at 7:34 pace. A Lakeside Meet and Greet run – runners pair up in opposite order of speed (fastest with slowest) and run off opposing directions around the lake, high-five on the other side and run back. In theory all finish the same time as faster runners have to cover more ground. A good way of mixing up the training and adding some fun into it. Good to finish the day on 15 miles.

Wednesday – No silly extra laps this week as mileage is dropping a little so just the normal 9 mile loop. Felt better than I have for ages and maintained a 7:30 average for the whole run, a course PB despite previous day mileage.

Thursday – Bow Brickhill club run – running there and back totalled 13.1 at 8:24 pace.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday (and some of Sunday) – Pacing Chris at the GUCR.

Running is such an exotic sport and hanging around a canal in the dark ready to run along a swan poop I nfested canal is a high point.  Considering I can’t pace myself it’s always worrying to be given the responsibility of pacing someone else.  

Saturday is a gorgeous day for BBQs and sitting in pub gardens.  Less so for running 145 miles.  Sadly runners struggled with the heat and food issues and was behind plan so his support crew had to re-arrange schedule.  

Originally I would be running from Watford in towards Little Venice in London, taking the responsibility for 24 miles before handing over to another pacer (or buddy as the race rules term them) for the final 6.

Unfortunately with the pace slipping this schedule would see me likely miss a Sunday flight so with accommodation of other pacers we moved about and eventually I was stood 95 miles into the race at Slapton Lock near Leighton Buzzard ready to steer him onwards.  Chris looked good and after some food and a short walk to settle we set off well.  

Running went well for a time but eventually the walk breaks expanded and we had to use a regimented run 5 minute, walk 1 approach.  Unfortunately whilst the pace was improving his knee wasn’t and eventually walked in the final few miles to aid station near Watford at 116 miles having covered nearly 21 miles and ran through the darkest section of the night and watched the sun rise over the M25 as we passed under.  

After some tense discussions Chris set off on his next leg with a new pacer but was visibly limping and at 118 miles retired.  Plenty of time left on the clock to hobble the final 30 miles in but not worth aggravating the injury.  Hard to see but right decision as he has other races to go.  

From a selfish point I got to test my headtorch and other kit over a night and appreciate how much slower and colder night sections can be.  And I got attacked by a swan which was interesting.  

Sunday – Rest day (what was left of it)

Weekly Mileage – 65.3 miles.  Last big week done.  Now to ease back before the big event.

SDW100 Training – 4 weeks to go

OU relay 2017 02After two weeks approx. 75 miles the plan was to do another. Main issue is with no race to do on Sunday I’d have to do a long run of 30 miles for no damn good reason. I learnt through training for my first marathon that I really struggle with motivation to run much over 20 miles with no medal at the end. Last week I combined a 16 mile warmup with the Buckingham Half to get a nice 29 miles and a medal.

Monday – 4 mile morning jog with dog – 9:39 pace. Mixture of tired legs and interesting trees/squirrels to chase meant a slow start to the week.

Tuesday – OU Relay – Part of the 4 person team for the Open University 1.1mile relay. Managed my section in 6:07 pace and proved I have no idea how to pace a mile as was slowing down by about 200metres in. Including warm up and cool down managed 4 miles.

Wow I cross my arms when I run…..

Also Tuesday – 6:40 session with the Redway Runners, 4miles at 6:48 pace. Struggled after 30 miles on Sunday and a race that morning.

Also Tuesday again – Tuesday session with Lakeside Runners – 5.5 miles at 8:32 pace. Brings total to 13.5 for the day. Basically this week the plan is get miles in when I can.

Wednesday – Needed to get some extra miles in so a 4:15am start for 13.3 miles in 8:15 pace. Early starts are so much easier in daylight but still not fun. Then a nice drive to Sheffield on tired legs to stand in the rain on site and come back.

Thursday – Morning run with dog face – 10k at 8:25 pace. Got to top up protein levels by eating umpteen flies on the run. The rest I just plastered over my face and head to make up for lack of head hair.

Also Thursday – Bow Brickhill club run – pants planning meant I started 10 minutes behind everyone so had impromptu tempo session to catch them. 7.5 miles at 7:34 pace including up Church Lane. Felt great to brave the rain and get it done and need to chase people down took my mind off the hills and puddles.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – Early start for a football tournament meant a 6:30am rushed 6 miles with dog at 9:06 pace. Highlight of the run was Bella charging down the boat jetty to bark at a duck and discovering wet plastic jetty has less friction that expected as she slid clean over the edge and into the lake. When I rushed down to yank her out by the collar she was doing a doggy paddle and looking a little confused.

Also Saturday – Short of miles so combined teaching Billy to ride bike, walking the dog and running to get another 2.8 miles at 9:17 pace.

Sunday – The night before the plan was 30 miles. The morning I snoozed the alarm and aimed for 26.2 miles. By two miles in I felt rubbish. Picked up enthusiasm when I met clubmate at 5 miles for a mystery tour of Woburn sands until we parted at 14 miles. Then went off the boil again and plodded back home figuring 20 miles would have to do. Random meeting of a club mate on his bike meant some company from 18 which saw me run past home and back to hit 23 mostly miserable miles. 

Weekly Mileage – 77.5 miles. A couple down from last week but still on 238.6 for the month with 10 days left. Well on course to beating my 250mile month record and possibly hitting 300 for May. The main upside is weight is dropping off so there will be less of me to drag over the South Downs Way.

SDW100 Training-5 weeks to go!

Slight change on the training diary as now focusing on the 100 miler in June. Therefore aim is to get some decent miles in for a few weeks then some tapering before beasting the legs over the hilly terrain.
Monday – 8 mile loop to collect Bella, 7:53 pace out, 7:47 back. Ran quicker with the dog, so maybe I like company.

Tuesday – 6:40 session with Redway Runners. This week with an extra mile so managed 5 miles at 6:53 pace. Definitely seeing an improvement since I started these.

Also Tuesday – Campbell Park Hills with Lakeside Runners – good training for the SDW100, 6.5miles at a 8:21 pace including a lot of hill reps.

Wednesday – Bow Brickhill early morning loop – added a lap of Caldecotte lake on to make 11 miles at 7:54 pace, really tough mentally doing the last two on my own.

Thursday – Little gentle loop with Bella, 3.1 miles at 8:48 pace. Mini-recovery run from the previous day ready for the evening run.

Also Thursday – Club run, 11.7 miles at 8:15 pace. Felt relaxed and conversational throughout.

Friday – Rest day

Saturday – With various options on mates to meet in the morning for some miles I managed to sleep in and spent the day eating cold pizza and enjoying a cream tea after a charity walk of a whole 2.5 miles. Actually that’s a lie I ate a second cream tea as well as the boy didn’t want his. In the afternoon I finally dragged myself off sofa and chased the boy on his longest bike ride. Having only just learnt to ride without stabilisers was really proud he managed 3.8 mile out and back at 8:45 pace out and 8:28 back. I can see there’s going to be a small window of me running with him before I have to dust off the bike and join him on the two wheeled cheating machine.

Sunday – I don’t normally run half marathons but kind of fancied one when I saw the Buckingham HM facebook posts. In the gradual countdown as places sold I got carried away and signed up before if filled. Nearer the date realised a HM a few weeks before the SDW100 was not ideal long run training. I needed more like 30 miles not 13. A plan was hatched with help of a club mate and an OS map to run to Buckingham to get some extra miles in. On paper it looked a good route, heading out of MK, picking up a few trails before taking the Ouse Valley Way path the rest of the way as it followed the path of the disused Buckingham canal.

So early on Sunday I woke up, strapped on race vest and a last minute rain jacket (despite promise of good weather it was raining) and set off.

Route through MK was easy if not very scenic then hit the North Bucks Way behind the prison. This section of trail was great and a joy to run through the woods. Then a quick hop over a stile into a field and all is looking good, well up on the estimated pace and managed to shave some distance off as well. I briefly wondered if I might get to the start of the race too early and have to do some laps of the field to keep warm.

This concern became laughable the further out of MK I got as the trail got less well marked and in some case stiles or footpath gates had been removed by farmers or fallen over through disrepair and been replaced with fencing with only the rusting remains of a kissing gate to indicate I was on the right path. I ran in and out of multiple fields trying to find elusive gates or paths that were overgrown or missing.

Other field had crops sown and no path cleared leaving me to wade through thigh high crops following the approximate path left by other foolhardy walkers and runners. The overnight rain meant it was soaking and so was I. Cold and behind pace I was starting to have doubts and wondered how annoyed the good wife would be if she had to bundle both kids in the car and come rescue me from a dodgy layby to get me to the start of yet another silly race.

Pushing on and at 8:30 after over two hours of running (and climbing, and tripping, and swearing) I was running along the beautiful path of the Ouse Valley Way, on soft grass trimmed by bemused looking sheep and really enjoying the countryside and the sun that had broken through. This was the sort of run I’d visualised when planning the route. Sadly with the race due to start at 9:30 and registration closing at 9:15 I had to make the decision to hop the fence, leave the soft cushioned grass trail and leg the rest of the way to the start on the road, running into oncoming traffic but able to maintain a decent pace. Just after 9 I ran past the starting field, nipping around the flow of runners to make it the race HQ and register. 16 miles done (at 9:29 pace which seems leisurely but wasn’t) and my legs were toast. This could be an interesting race.

Buckingam Half Marathon – 13.1 miles in 8:27 pace. A new event to the race calendar organised by Buckingham and Stowe Running Club. Chip timed and cheap to enter. We assembled on the sports field for safety briefing under the start/finish arch and set off. Marshalling was excellent and there were at least 4 water stops on route of which I took advantage of every one as the early sun and warm up had left me thirsty as hell. The route is described as undulating or challenging. I’d call it bloody hilly. It’s on quiet back roads through the country so there is the odd car but all tricky sections are marshalled. Managed to maintain an acceptable pace but walked the final big hill, pretending it was practice for walking the hills at SDW100 and not because my legs were killing me and it was dawning on me I was now over marathon distance on no breakfast, one sports drink and a small cereal bar.

Finished the event in 1:51ish and rewarded with a quality medal and a massive selection of cakes. It really is a brilliant event and one that reminds me how much I like small club-organised events. No messing about with 2hr baggage queues, shuttle buses to the start or £50 entry fees. They focus on the important elements in an efficient and organised manner, all for the benefit of the runner. And there’s cake at the end. I’ve mentioned it twice but it was really good. So was the cake. I also found the cake to be a high point. Basically I like cake.

Weekly mileage – 78.4 miles. Probably one of my highest ignoring the weeks I’ve run four marathons or similar.

MK Marathon – Recovery Week

So I’m carrying on my MK Marathon training blog for one more week! I could show you what an ideal recovery week of minimal miles, maybe a massage and good eating looks like.  But that would be a lie.  With just over a month until the South Downs Way 100 mile race I need to build on MK as a good long run and get some more miles in.

Monday – Ran the MK Marathon.  Yet again it was awesomely organised and a great event.  Yet again I failed to get the time I wanted.  Last year I went off like a loon and suffered for the final half dragging myself over the line in 3:27.  This year I stayed with the pacer at a relaxed pace until I struggled and finished in 3:27. So seems I might as well go off like a loon after all.

Tuesday – Morning recovery run with doggie, 2.4miles at 9:38min/mile pace.  Slow pace following some of the MK HM route.  Plan was to pick up any litter from the event and do my bit.  There wasn’t any.  Not even a single gel wrapper top.  Think the MK Marathon clean-up effort has probably left the route cleaner that it started.

Also Tuesday – Then feeling good I joined the club run for a social 6.7miles at 8:28 pace.  Figured with only a few weeks until my 100 mile attempt that getting a few miles in on tired legs would be good practice.

Wednesday – Bow Brickhill woods run in the morning, 9 miles at a 8:33 pace. Legs objected a bit and my bleeding nips from Monday made a comeback.  Felt good to get it done.

Also Wednesday – Stayed away with work.  I often do a quick search on in cases like this as you never know what you might find.  This time I found a conveniently located  7.2mile Beer Race in the Cotswold.  Entry on the day was open, and a free beer for the first 100 finishers.  Paid my entry and set off, thinking the 9 miles in the morning was not the best prep.  Started at the back to keep pace low.  Course was three big loops down and up the common.  Tough on legs for MK dwelllers more used to flat stuff and after a slow middle lap managed to pick up pace for final one and gain some places.

Only aim was to not let more than 99 people get in front. I managed this due to only 58 runners turning up.  Finished the 7.2miles in 7:52pace which was a turn up from the morning run and nice to get 3 races done in 4 days (MK Rocket 5k, MK Marathon and this).

Thursday – Rest day – lots of climbing stairs on a plant tour.  Discovered going down stairs was not good as right ankle seems a little tender.   Think I suck at recovery weeks.

Friday – Rest day – Two rest days in one week eh!

Saturday – 4 miles with dog. In between pooping, paddling and rolling in stuff (her not me) only managed 4 miles at 8:00 pace.

Sunday – 20mile training run, average 9:40 pace – relaxed run along the Greensands Ridge trail.  Every year there is a low key relay event (GSSR relay) along this trail allowing teams to compete over the varied course with differing length ‘legs’.  You can enter solo and run the full 34miles but only if you have a team from the same club running the relay.  For this reason it’s not a qualifying  race for the 100 Marathon Club so I’ve never done it (better to use up brownie points on a race that does count).   I’ve run the 10 mile section from Woburn sands to Millbrook once before as an out and back training run and final kit check before my first 50 miler last August.  This weekend I joined several others on the same section again to get some trail miles in before the 100 miler.

The route is great (apart from a miserable bridge over the M1) and takes you across the Woburn estate (past all the deer) and through farmyards and to finish in a car park next to Millbrook proving ground (where they send prototyped cars to be abused in harsh conditions to see what breaks). Sadly the car park looks like a dogging hangout so not the most auspicious end to the out loop and the run back.   It was great to have a relaxed sociable run, enjoying the views and the weather, not focusing on pace and times.

Total weekly mileage – 76.5 miles. Not bad for a week, getting some decent miles in before the 100.

The marathon is done. Lets ‘fess up.


The marathon has been and gone.  You’re run out of people to impress with your awesome medal and amazing tales of needing help getting off the loo when your legs lock up.

Now it’s all done we can be grown ups and admit the secret truth…..


Stop here if still training for your first marathon.  Do not scroll down!







FACT – Marathon training is awful

Training for your first marathon sucks.  It’s probably the worse thing you’ll ever put yourself through (I suspect childbirth is worse I can’t offer much comparison on that).

  • Muscles you didn’t even know you had have ached to the point of interrupting your sleep.
  • You ceased to have a right and left leg, they’re now simply the ‘good one’ and the ‘bad one’.
  • You’ve chaffed in places you’d rather never have to touch.
  • If you have a committed training partner you may even have applied lube to another person.  In broad daylight.  In public.  Sicko.
  • Public nudity is fine when stripping off manky running gear in a deserted car park because you’re in a large group all doing the same.  It’s probably the same justification people use when arrested for dogging.
  • Despite being a hygiene freak you’ve been so dehydrated on a long run you’d have licked the sweat from a builders bum crack.
  • You’ve run when you couldn’t feel your fingers and when you wish you couldn’t feel your dodgy ankle.
  • If your bowels haven’t played along then you’ve probably done things in the woods even a bear would blush to see.  Sometimes you may not have even made it to the woods in time.  Or even managed to pull you shorts down….
  • You’ve learnt your body is a veritable factory of gross stuff as sweat, snot, phlegm, tears and blood all compete to leave your body by any available means in a cocktail of weird stuff.
  • Sharting.  Never trust a fart after mile 18.
  • Falling, tripping, running into things and clipping your shoulder are somehow normal.  Any run finished without gaining a bruise or graze is noteworthy.
  • The reward for a really long run is another longer run.  Well done you’ve run 12 miles today.  See you next week for 14, try not to dwell on how you thought you were going to die today and rang your husband at mile 9 advising him to find someone else if you never made it back.
  • Tiredness has become a normal state.  Any movie trip or theatre show is now interrupted by an hour of all-consuming unconsciousness and you need to try and piece the plot back together upon awakening.
  • The constant hunger.  You got anything I can eat?  A ketchup sachet is probably a suitable replacement for the gel you forgot to pack right?
  • Morning winter runs have proven it’s possible to be simultaneously so hot and so cold that you sweat profusely and it freezes on contact with the air.
  • You’ve needed assistance to remove headwear frozen to your scalp.
  • You now accept that getting out of bed is something done in slow stages like the evolution of man from ape.  The progression is re-enacted as you crawl from the duvet to finally stand triumphant under the shower pondering if you’re getting ready for work or a run or maybe only came here for a wee after all.
  • You’ve missed nights down the pub or come back early as you needed to join other idiots at stupid 0’clock in the morning to go for a run of such length it could prove fatal.
  • You started running to get fit and see your feet.  Now you have blistered, black-toed appendages you’d rather not see.

If anyone had told you how rubbish it would be when you started then the only marathon you’d have contemplated would be on Netflix.

But Shhhh!

You’re now part of the group so it’s you duty to keep this quiet.  Much like childbirth you need to focus on the outcome and not put off prospective runners with the full truth.  Running a marathon is amazing and everyone should do it, but on no account should they be warned first how it really is.

Work colleagues may approach the new athletic version of you, amazed at your achievement and ask for marathon advice.  Do you tell them the full horror?  No.  You smile, tell them it’s hard but rewarding and worthwhile and advise them to go for it.  You cruel, misleading fork-tongued marathoner.  They’re probably within their rights to come find you after and punch you in the mouth.  But they won’t as they’ll be too busy showing you their medal and regaling you with their mile splits.


But there’s more

Here’s the next secret.  Maintaining fitness is so much easier than getting there.

A couple of runs a week can be enough to keep you ticking over and take advantage of the upside of the training.  You can now chase the kids in the garden without passing out in the shrubbery.  5-a-side football matches with your mates don’t leave you dry heaving into the kit bag.  When you run to the door for the postman you not only make it before the ‘sorry you’re out’ slip hits the mat but open the door looking human and not sweat drenched and red faced like you’ve been interrupted midway through doing something embarrassing.

You said just one….

The other reason you may want to maintain your fitness is for the next marathon.  Of course you were only go to run one but you’ve got a PB now so you might as well try and beat it.  Did you know there’s a club for people who have run 100 marathons?  Wouldn’t that be good?

MK Marathon 2017 – Marathon No96!

It’s all starting to get a bit real now.   100 marathons seemed an abstract concept on the horizon for a number of years.  It now seems very close….

Plan for MK was to get a PB. It’s a relatively fast course and being a dweller of milk’n’beans would be getting a lot of local support.

Training had gone well although trying to get faster and run longer for the 50 miler in April and 100 miler in June can be mutually exclusive. Managed to maintain 200miles+ per month and been doing some good speedwork sessions, so a little miffed to miss a PB at the MK Rocket by 2 seconds.  That’s fine I’ll save it for the marathon!

Meet a celebrity, stand like a doofus!
Morning arrived and I rocked up early (unlike me) ready for a photocall with the other ambassadors and met radio DJ Jo Whiley. Managed to avoid being star-struck despite having listened to her Evening Sessions shows with Steve Lamacq way back in the 90s.  When I had hair and a marathon was still a chocolate bar (and not as good as a Mars).  As per my custom I managed to miss the MK Lakeside Runners pre-race photo.  6 years at MK marathon and always miss the photo as I’m in the toilet queue or someplace else.  Pretty sure they do it on purpose.

After the customary McDonalds breakie stodge breakfast and toilet stops I wandered over to the start. Plan was to try and stick with the 3:15 pacer and get a marginal PB (was 3:15:31).  I never tend to get a good result at MK as try too hard, go out way too fast and have to suffer to scrape in under 3:30.  This year the 3:30 pacer was world record holder Steve Edwards (recently hit 700 marathons sub3:30!).  A nice chap but I sure as hell didn’t want him to catch me.

But cheap k-tape. Bleed from nipples. Gesture at camera and look like a Steps cover act.
We started off well and Matt the pacer was bang on. Pace felt leisurely and thanks to him I ran the most even paced, relaxed and consistent half marathon distance I’ve ever managed in 1:36. Then that voice in the back of your head reminded me that this was the same point last year that I faded horribly and wouldn’t it be annoying if it happened again.  A mile or so later it did.  Not sure if result of too many miles in training, a poor taper or a scumbag brain.  The early heat didn’t help either.  From then it was a case of digging in and seeing what I could salvage.  The wife and kids as support crew were great and a surprise can of Redbull at the end of Railway Walk by mile 18 was much appreciated and aided the efforts.

Around Bancroft and Bradwell a lot of other runners were pulling up with cramp. Think the early heat had caught some out but some sections were more like a disaster movie with runners laid down on the grass or convulsing against lampposts attempting to ride the spasms out.  Pace wise they were likely aiming 3:15-3:30 and legs weren’t co-operating.  Not a lot you can do at times like this except be glad it isn’t you.

Skirting Lodge Lake around mile 21 and I’m back to doing my usual 9 times tables. Nine minutes per mile will see me over the 3:30, eight will be under.  When you intended to run at a steady 7:26 pace it’s disappointing to be skirting along around 8:30.

Met some fellows runners around mile 23 of a similar pace and we formed an impromptu pace group pushing to keep ahead of the 3:30 pacer who was bearing down on us at the switchback on the college campus by mile 24. The ups and downs were proving hard on the pace, but we stuck together, each of them hoping this was the last incline (as a local I knew it wasn’t but thought best not to mention).  Managed to save enough to do a decent impression of a fast finish to cross in 3:27:04.  Fastest of the year but 14 seconds slower than last year.

Marathon 96 done, now to train for the 100 miler.

3 medals and a blood stained bib!
The full set…..