Marathon 98 week

This week has been about tapering in hope of a decent marathon time on Sunday.  Runs vary recently from “wow I’m doing great that 100 miler is out of my system” to “oh dear the pace is gone already and legs feel stuffed”.

Monday – Rest day after 13 miles day before.

Tuesday – RR 640 session. Managed 6:44 average for 4 miles. Getting back some of the MK Marathon speed but still a little off where I’d like to be.

Also Tuesday – Time mile with Lakeside Runners. After a warmup my first go at timed mile in over a year. Managed 5:57. Happy for first time under 6 but given I did first mile of my last HM at 6:05 shows I suck horribly at pacing.

Wednesday – Bow Brickhills – Last few attempts have been pushing the pace and getting quicker each time. This week it was all about holding back to a steady effort. Managed 9 miles at 7:37 average including the hill. Not a lot slower than the previous week but even 10secs a mile seems so much easier to hold.

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Rest Day – A check of my miles showed the weekend marathon would take me over the 200 mile target for the month so decided to hold back. Also meant I’d hit the marathon having only running 18 miles for the week, lower than I have in years. Figure if I want to get quicker I should probably start easing back in the week ahead.

Saturday – Iron Run – Personally not keen on the Obstacle Course Race (OCR) fad as they’re hideously expensive, take ages, and the only people that feel the need to break a run up every few hundred yards to play on the slides should be kids – not fully grown adults. The boy had decided he wanted to do a mud run OCR so booked this as a birthday treat. Rules say adults need to go around with them, so it was time to dig our worst running/footie gear and get to it.

It was a great event, busy at time queuing for the obstacles but no real issue.  All in the 2.5m took over an hour to complete which is pretty good value for money.  Boy already wants to go another time!

Sunday – Enigma Planes Marathon, Number 98

Enigma hold regular themed marathons in Milton Keynes. This year they are staging a series of three from July to September themed around Planes, Trains and Automobiles with great interlocking medals. More by luck than judgement these lined up being my final three marathons on journey to the 100.

Early start at 8:30 meant I planned to be done by midday to get on with family stuff.

Skipped usual McDonalds breakie and went for cold leftover pizza like a proper athlete! Went off with plan of 7:20/7:26 pace. Struggled towards the end and averaged 7:36, holding onto third place and 3:22:01, my second fastest marathon so getting some speed back.

Not the finest steady pacing….

Downside is nipple k-tape failed and I bleed horribly!


Total Weekly Mileage – 47.5 and made 200+ for July.

Getting lost in the woods….

Another week of trying to get quicker. Work, life and stuff got in the way a little and a weekend away with parents and kids in New Forest looked like limiting scope for miles but managed to get some in.

Monday – Rest day

Tuesday – 6:40 session with Redway Runners – disappointing performance and managed 4miles at 6:58 average, well below what I was managing in training for MK Marathon. Despite a days rest legs just felt dead.

Tuesday again – Steady run with MKLR and managed 8 miles in rain at 7:52 average

Wednesday – Bow Brickhill loop – misty and overcast but managed a decent run, 9 miles at 7:34 average, not far off my quickest.

Thursday – Didn’t manage to run at all. Sat at desk and then went out and ate a massive dinner.  With dessert. Garmin tells me my step count wasn’t even a mile of walking. Need to park further from office at work.

Friday – Bow Brickhill loop – lovely clear day, felt good, and despite plans for steady 8min pace we pushed along and got 9 miles at 7:24 average, a massive pace increase. Hooray not slow and fat after all!

Followed up with a cool down run with Bella 2.3 miles at 9:34 pace

Train Fast, race easy VS Train Slow, race fast?  A lot of advice on sites and magazines on what your training paces should be.  The summary would probably be that I train too fast most of the time.  My (unproven) thinking is that I don’t ever want to run a marathon under 8min/mile pace so why should I do short 5-6 mile efforts at anything significantly slower?


Saturday – warmup mile with Bella and then Moors Valley Parkrun with Bella, 3.1 miles at 7:26 pace and probably 2nd or 3rd dog. The RD requested the dogs start near the rear which for us was a mistake as she mostly spent the run trying to weave between the runners.

Followed up in afternoon by a lap of New Forest woods, 2.5 miles at 8:34 pace.

Yep that looks like some tasty water post parkrun.  She’d refused the nice bowl of clean tap water.

Sunday – early morning random loops of New Forest with Bella. 7.3 miles at 10:04 pace. Was great to run slowly and enjoy the scenery. Perfect running trails and great mornings work.  Bella managed to find every muddy patch to drag me through.

Hard to sleep in when trails like this are a 1 minute walk from the holiday home.

Weekly total – 46.5 miles. Happy with that after a sporadic start.

Next week may be tricky as have lots of work travelling, kids birthday parties and family party so running will be firmly in the back seat. I may not make the 200 mile target for July and break by 18 month streak.  Partly a relief, partly disappointing.

The hills of MK (both of them)

Another week of trying to get some speed and inadvertently tackling both hills.  Given I don’t want to run any marathons at slower than 3h30 for the next few I’m aiming to keep runs faster than 8min (equivalent MP) with exceptions for recovery runs or hill work. Trying to tune that in as default pace. 

Monday – Gentle run with dog, 2.8 miles at 8:51 pace. Given the Sunday recovery run from the Saturday HM ended up at 11 miles this was more of a delayed recovery run than training.


Tuesday – 640 session with Redway Runners. The 5 mile version and intention to do well off the back of the HM PB faded quickly. 5 miles at 7:07 pace, so slower than the previous HM.

Also Tuesday – Campbell Park Hills with MKLR – 5 miles at 8:30 average. I had a real ‘can’t be arsed moment’ and sat on a bench to enjoy the evening sun for some of the hill section. Very unlike me but really struggled to see the point of pushing myself up a hill any more.

Campbell Park Hill – comfy bench just outside of shot

Wednesday – Bow Brickhill with RR – Had a great run, felt good so ran on feel, 9.3 miles at 7:31 average. Last 5 miles all at sub7 pace.

Thursday – Bow Brickhill again with MKLR – Should have been a 7-8 mile loop. Pace felt good and managed 11 miles at 7:58 with run backs and rounding up. 

Church Lane – the biggest hill in MK!

Friday – Rest day

Saturday – Intended parkrun speed work failed when I stayed in bed. Eventually forced myself out in evening to do 3 fast miles. Struggled with motivation and managed 3.3 at 7:48 average. 

Sunday – Middle distance run with some RR mates. Nice bit about end of the ultra is no need to bash out 20+ mile runs. So focussed on keeping a steady 8min pace and managed a hot and sweaty 12.75 miles at 7:56 pace.

Weekly total mileage 49.25 miles, and with a few exceptions all run faster or close to marathon pace.

Next week plan to do the Chaps Chase 10k and push for a 10k PB. 


The “on” going saga of Cloud Trainers

A few months back I posted about the early demise of my first pair of On trainers (link here) after 250-300 miles.

The original pair, not good for 250-300 miles but borderline acceptable had the other faults not shown up as well.

Customer service were great and sent a replacement.  I was dubious about trying them again so they sat in a box for several months.  Then I thought I’d give them another go and over 5 runs clocked up 40 miles and they seemed OK.

Until I checked the clouds.  They were already deforming and I was disappointed to see such wear after only a short mileage.  They’re already at the point I’m not sure I should wear again as the support is so obviously permanently deformed.

I freely admit I heel strike at times, especially when tired.  That’s why I picked cushioned shoes.  At 80kg I’m not a featherlight runner either but Brooks, Saucony, Adidas etc all manage to support me.

Photos below, click pics for comments.

On 3rd July I emailed the customer services:


As per twitter mention, I’m contacting you regarding the shoes. I’ve worn these maybe 40 miles and the clouds on the edge are already collapsing and permanently deformed backwards. The rest of the shoe is fine but these just don’t seem up to the task of supporting a runner.

I’m 80kg so not a feather light Kenyan, but if I was I probably wouldn’t need cushioned shoes.

These are my second pair (replaced under warranty). I left them in the box for a long time as had doubts about using them then finally decided to try them out. Sadly they’re no longer lasting than the first pair.”

To be honest I’m not sure what I was expecting back.  After spending over £100 on the first pair I can just about live with a combined mileage of 300 miles for the two pairs at that cost (despite it being more than I’d spend on Adidas that last 2 or 3 times as long) but think it’s terrible the second pair can be so wrecked in such a short time.

However what I got back on 4th July was concerning.

“Dear Mark,

Thank you for your request and the pictures.

We had a look at them but unfortunately this isn’t a warranty case.

Due to the fact that in Ons you run directly on the cushion, therefore you see it when the maximal durability is reached. In this case the Cloud has a very soft outsole and is sensitive to sharp and hard objects.

What we can offer you is a 20% discount on your next pair of On shoes.

We hope you are satisfied with this solution.

Run on Clouds!

On Team”

Excusing the slightly broken English (their English is far better than my French so I’m not complaining) that might have lost something in translation what I get from this is:

  • Maximal durability is reached – they’re permanently deformed and broken.
  • The are sensitive to sharp and hard objects – like pavements for example.
  • There is nothing unusual about them failing so early.
  • If I’d like to buy another pair of 40 mile shoes for £100 I can get 20% off and only pay £80.  Or roughly £2 per mile of use.
  • It would be cheaper per mile to get a taxi than use On Cloud shoes.

So in summary, On trainers are a really well cushioned shoe that work fine if you don’t run on hard surfaces, weigh the same as wet tissue and have perfect running form.  If you fall into this catergory then guess what – YOU DON’T NEED CUSHIONED SHOES ANYWAY!

If however you are the sort of unusual runner that runs on pavements and roads (like most of us) and don’t have perfect running form (like most of us) and weigh enough not to be blown away in a strong wind (like most of us) so are looking for a cushioned shoe, you can buy On trainers but don’t be surprised if like me you get through a pair a week, it’s not a failing of the shoe and not a warranty claim apparently.

Should On like to come back on these points or clarify any misunderstanding in their email I’ll be happy to update the above.

In the meantime as much as I’d rather support a smaller brand than a global giant I’m going back to Adidas.  I’m not rich enough to buy new trainers weekly.

UPDATE – Now been offered 50% off next pair so a bargain £1.20 per mile.  Yeah still not keen.

“We can’t exchange you the shoe for 100% discount, because it’s not a production errors. In this case we offer you a 50% discount, we hope you are happy with them.”

I feel the need, the need for speed!

So with tho whole weeks gone since SDW100 this week was obviously a terrible/a perfect time to try and get some fast runs in.

If I’m going to try and break that marathon PB I need to get some speed back and get comfortably being on the ‘oh God why do I pay for this torture’ edge.

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday – The East Midlands Grand Prix 10k.  This is normally a great evening.  A 10k starting and finishing around the corner from my house, and with a bar at the finish means you can pound yourself in the evening sun and then relax with a pint whilst cheering in team mates.  This year the weather was a constant soaking dribble and I’d had take out before going for a family birthday.  As I tucked into the Kofta kebab I knew I’d regret it later.

Started fast (too fast, faded in middle (as I ran past my house…) and then stuck it in for the final section despite kebab burps to finish 43:23.  10k done at average of 6:59 was OK but 40 seconds slower than last year.  I was hoping for a PB to set me up for the weekend HM.

Apparently this is summer…

Wednesday – Bow Brickhills – few hours after the dissappointing 10k I was up and feeling fresh, 9.2 miles at 7:30 pace, second quickest attempt this year.

Thursday – Rest day – I’m taking this HM seriously(ish) and tapering.

Friday – Rest day!

Saturday – Leisurely start then to the lake for a Half Marathon at the Engine Need for Speed event.  Started too fast by keeping up with two way better runners so managed a Strava mile PB.  Not ideal for first mile of a HM.

A slight fade in middle before I picked up again and on the final lap spied the second place runner in front.  Gradually I reeled him in and finished 2nd on 1:33:43, a massive 1 second PB!  First PB of the year and definitely feel with some more competition I could have done a bit more.  Please to average 7:01 pace.  Goal is to try and maintain that for a marathon eventually.  Some more training needed.

1 second PB! Perfect pacing or poor improvement!

Sunday – Should have been a short recovery run but a few mates were meeting in Stony Stratford so joined them for 11 miles at 8:04 pace which despite some hills felt relatively relaxed and chatty.

Total weekly miles – 40.21 miles

Now have 4 weeks until next marathon (no 98!), so will be pushing myself to get some pace and get a decent time on that one.