A bit more training for Bournemouth

After pushing myself during the Tour Of MK and a half decent 20 miler I’m starting to think a respectable time at Bournemouth marathon may be possible. Realistically beating my 3h13 PB is a step too far but reckon I could be in shaped for sub 3h20 with some luck.  Maybe.

Key to a decent marathon is the long runs. Which I don’t really enjoy.  In over 100 marathons I’ve typically ignored these.  Why run 20 miles for no reason?  Why not run 26.2 and get a medal?

Sensible head says having bagged one 20 I needed some more, but due to awesome planning I’m down for two 10 mile races on the following two weekends.

Week 1 – An uninspiring Redway 6m40s paced session where my recent speed appears to have left me and I’m back to bringing up the rear. Pah. Wednesday through Friday are pretty unimpressive as well and lots of plodding and waddling. Great. I found some speed and used it all for the tour.

Sunday and the plan is a steady 10 mile warmup before the race. I run with Maff who has other ideas and we clock 8:00 pace before he leaves me in a sweaty mess to collect my race bib for the Redway Runners Old Money 10 Mile race. I manage to hold with the leaders for the first few miles at far too quick a pace before being dropped and dragging myself in with heavy legs and a complete lack of energy. Solely due to the overly fast first miles I manage a respectable third place and 7:26 pace but it’s no way to run your best and I’m wiped out for the rest of the day. A bowl of Frosties is not enough to sustain my bulk for 20 miles.


Spot the guy in the yellow top!

Week 2 – usual assortment of runs, but due to diary clash I miss the Redway 6m40s session and instead lead the Lakeside hill repeats sessions. Go big or go home is my thinking so I turn up early with cones, deliver a pre-run briefing and safety issues just like the Leader In Running Fitness course taught me. Club mates are disconcerted I’m not arriving late and still eating my pizza dinner. Session is a long but gentle hill section so we alternate running up to cone 1, 2, 3 then jogging back down, with running down from the cones and jogging back up. A proper hard session where your dinner threatens to come back up.

Wednesday I manage 10 miles on the 5am session, then follow up with 6 miles in evening as away with work. Decent days running at respectable pace.

Thursday hangover leads to a very short run where I try not to throw up and all steps feel hard work. Does Mo Farah ever train like this?

Friday is a generic 10k dog jog over to Caldecotte to watch the marathon runners do some laps. More steady miles ahead of the big weekend.

Saturday is a key session. Plan is steady 8min/miles for 15 miles, then straight into parkrun. Some enthusiastic pacing by clubmates sees a variety of mile splits ahead of hitting the start line bang on 15 miles but sadly well behind the tail runner. 5k of progressive splits follows as I chase the field down and finish a solid 18 miles at 7:54 pace.

Sunday is the second 10 mile race, this time at Leighton Buzzard. It used to be called the Leighton Tough 10 but since dropped the ‘tough’ (much like me). Learning from the previous week I run the 10 mile warmup at a more sedate 8:50 pace, pick up the bib and then start the race. Quick check of the watch shows my gentle warmup was mostly at 160bpm HR, far above what it should be though.


Target for race is 7:30pace or as close as the undulating course will allow. I concentrate on running hard enough to keep warm in the downpour but slowing my breathing and HR down. What follows is one of those confidence boosting races where you settle into your rhythm, hold back at the start and then gradually turn up the pace and pick off the runners in front. Even on the hills. Yes I seem to have re-discovered how to run up hills. It’s disconcerting at first but eventually I’m relishing every incline as a chance to gain on the runner in front. Finished at overall 7:23 pace for a hilly course. It’s not a huge improvement on the previous 10 mile race but was far more relaxed and in control. Also get a pretty awesome top.  The overall pace is 3h13 marathon pace, so looking good for Bournemouth.


Shameless self promotion alert! Buy stuff!

For anyone who hasn’t seen my various unsubtle plugs recently there are three exciting developments in the world of running, more significant even than the marathon world record being broken by Eliud Kipchoge at Berlin.

In order these are:

RLDamCoverI have a book being published in November 2018. I can honestly say it is (possibly) the funniest book about running with a water fowl based pun in the title you will ever read. Learn more about it and where to buy it here.



img_0910As a spin off from the books I also have some technical running vests for sale.  Buy them here.




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Fighting the bad Mojo! I WILL BE QUICK(ISH) AGAIN!


Juggling different races often means you sacrifice speed for endurance. It’s fine in the run up to the event as you have something to focus on. Post event it’s a little harder to deal with when the full realisation of being unable to out-sprint an asthmatic sloth sinks in.

After a spring and summer of trying to run ultras like the Thames Path 100 and  Grand Union Canal Race 145 I switched to cycle training for the Ride 100 at end of July (yeah I know cycling is cheating). Given I was going for completion rather than speed this was yet more low intensity work and letting the fast twitch muscles have a break. Or vanish completely as it seemed.

Getting back into marathon training mode and I struggled to keep under 9 minute/mile average for 20 and 22 mile runs. I don’t even like long runs so doing them badly and slowly is a double kick in the nuts. The days of knocking out sub 3h30 marathons with ease at the start of the year seemed a long way off and I mentally chastised the cocky version of me in March that managed a 3h13. Arrogant twat.

As a measure of fitness I did a timed mile on 22nd July with the Redway Runners and managed to get dragged around by clubmate Warren to a 5:58, pleased to manage to go sub 6 and not a bad starting point but Bournemouth marathon beckoned closer than ideal and now needed to undo months of slow and steady. Despite a couple of hills the marathon is a fast course and I managed a 3h17 last year, flagging a little in the later stages due to an ambitious start (no change from normal then). Lofty ambitions of trying to match this or go sub 3h15 seemed entirely unrealistic when I seldom got many consistent miles at a pace starting with an 8, never mind a 7.

The best way to run faster is to run faster. Running is simple like that.

I managed to get a few runs in with the Redway 6:40 group. This is meant to be 1 mile at 7:00min pace and 3 at 6:40pace. Run it perfectly and average 6:45pace. I was struggling to average sub7 and felt slow and fat. Legs were heavy any anything much more than a gentle slope seemed to drop my pace massively.

Early August and I got a last minute spot in the Redway Runners Beat the Barge race, a mostly pancake flat 5 miler. As it’s a race I was sure my inner speed demon will return. Sadly no. Managed to hold on for 6th place and a 6:54 pace average but felt wiped by the end, faded horribly in the last couple of miles and unable to keep up with clubmates on the minor inclines. I literally suck at running ‘uphill’.

Two weeks in Lanzarote followed and I entered the local Vertical 5k. 1800ft of ascent mostly in last couple of miles. Pace was obviously awful but figured this was hill training sorted.

Late August and I managed a timed 5k with Lakeside at 20m28. It felt flat out and I was spent at the end, but a whole minute slower than PB set in March. I’d lost 60 seconds in a few months. Not good.

The following day another timed Redway mile on the track. I was in a smaller group and out in front for most of the race until beaten by two youths on final lap. Their combined weight was probably the same as my left leg. Managed a 5:57, a whole 1 second improvement in a month! Insignificant but at least heading the right way unlike the 5k time. I went home to celebrate with a beer. The two faster runners will be waiting a few years for theirs.

After a brief spell of pacing school chum Zaid around a very hot and sweaty parkrun it was back to hard running at the Tour of MK.

img_06866 races over 6 days against the proper runners of MK and an attempt to ‘race myself fit’. Last year I entered this fresh and ready to push it. This year I still felt mostly dead in the legs and carrying ample baggage so pleased to finish day 1 only 3 seconds slower than previous year and hold 6:51pace for 6.7miles, a fair improvement on Beat the Barge for a longer duration.


img_0695Day 2 was a cross country and managed to knock a few seconds off the previous year and hold 7:15pace for 4.8 undulating miles but fell down the overall leader board as seemingly everyone got quicker. Annoyingly I felt I’d worked hard throughout but heart rate said otherwise. I’d basically been kidding myself and at only 140bpm was barely trying. Proof I need to get back to the ‘controlled discomfort’ and stop wimping out.

img_0715-1Day 3 and back to the track for a timed mile. Learning from previous years I took getting the inside line as a priority over getting in front and slowly worked my way around. Finished in 5:54, a new PB and felt strong. Once again checked my heart rate and it was barely over 140 despite feeling like I’d been close to the edge. I really need to learn to push.

img_0686Day 4 is Campbell Park, down and up the hill twice to get to about 5 miles. I always struggle on this one, especially after the 9 mile early morning run. I switched places with people a few times but slowed at the end, still averaged a respectable 6:51 and finished about 15 seconds behind previous time so have to keep reminding myself I’ve gone into the series feeling slow so almost matching times is pretty good.


Day 5 and we brave the rain for Bow Brickhill woods. Only 2 miles and a twisting, turning route through the trees and sandy tracks means a fast time is as much about staying upright and not getting stuck behind slower runners as overall pace. In 16 minutes it’s over and done and I lose a few more seconds on the previous year.

Day 6 and I’m unable to turn down chance to return to the woods for a relaxed 10k morning meander with mates and dogs in the morning. Not ideal prep for the evening but reasoning the week is about training not finish times so aiming to get a good bank of miles in.


The final race starts walking distance from home, a proper incentive. Across the tour I’m around 30 seconds behind previous cumulative time so have ruled out trying to outdo myself and instead set off and aim to run an even effort. The first mile is good, the second feels like hard work. Mile 3 is OK and then something clicks mentally. I’m maintaining pace with those around me and managing to control my breathing. Finally my legs and brain have had a chat and mutually agreed that 100 mile death marches are done with, this short and sharp is now the thing. The pace is quick but seems entirely possible to maintain. Redway club mate Tim and I hold the pace and run together, collecting Matt on the way. We then run on as a trio, taking turns on the cattle gates and push on, nearly gaining on the runners in front and finally finish the slightly long 10k at 6:47 pace, quicker than Day 1 and surprisingly managing an overall improvement for the tour.

I seem to have rediscovered speed. Thank fu*k for that.

After a rest day it’s back to a long steady run on Sunday. Meeting Mark and Ross for a planned 20-22 miles at 8:15-8:30 pace sounds intimidating. Again my legs and brain re-assure me they’re now friends again and we finish a sweaty 20 mile at 8:03 pace. Other than being thirsty as hell at the end I feel great and confident I could hold the pace for another 6 miles on race day. Most importantly it’s about 40s a mile quicker than my last 20 miler in early August so a proper measurable gain and mojo is restored.  Bournemouth marathon is on!

I enjoy running but nobody told my face