Do you feel tired? That’s marathon training

Marathon training is hard work.  I always forget just how hard.  This period has been my hardest build up phase yet.  

Tiredness ebbs and flows with the waves that lap against the promenade in Southsea except this year they have been crashing onto and over the road.  Storms have disrupted my training sessions as I watch for a weather window but more often than not I am overcome by the desperate realisation that I need to just get out there and run.  

The marathon won’t run itself and while position may improve because of the lethargy of others my time come race day can only be affected by training.  The marathon does not lie.  It is the runner’s time trial, the test of truth.  There can be no hiding, no short cuts.  The previous 16 weeks cannot be replaced with a fad training plan, only the consistent repetition of training will get results and from that there is no escape.   

Using a coach’s plan has given me time to relax and added pressure to complete sessions.  I have previously worked from a stock plan from a book and that is a poor substitute for a tailored plan.  You don’t get the subtleties and, dare I say it, they tend to be cautious in there approach to injury.  Touch wood, I will get to the start line ready to race hard.  My weight has dropped off.  72.5Kg today.  There is no magic plan, no 5:2 diet, just running and healthy balanced meals and no snacking.  It has come off so easily I wonder what my race weight will be.  I’m sure it will stabilise naturally.  

I had barely finished Sunday’s long run before we are back into the training week with a steady 45 yesterday and today’s 2 x (3x 800m @ 5:20 then 1 mile @ 6:00 all off 75s) w/ 5 min between sets.  Tomorrow, 90 minutes including the last 20 towards threshold is what awaits.  All tough sessions.  I am pleased there is no AM session tomorrow so I can have a little lie in but with a 2 year old it’s all relative!   


It’s too easy to be a fatty

The fat side of life or the dark side of sport?


This week my coach reminded me of the sad tale of Hollie Avil.  Whilst I personally cannot relate to her tale, my endeavour to lose a couple of kilos for the London marathon in order to be competitive made me realise how hard it must have been for Hollie, Victoria Pendleton, David Coultard to live their lives.  I was asked if I snacked… he just said “don’t”.  I love this as it have motivated me through the week to stay off the biscuits although people need to stop bring cake into the office.  I’m a normal guy with a normal BMI and I will still have a normal BMI after losing those Kilos so there is no worry.

The above links show the difference between a normal person and an endurance athlete.



I am confident by eating sensibly, not snacking and staying off the beers i’ll hit 70kg by race day.  I was 77kg back in Dec and have lost 4kg since then by running lots and eating healthily, which isn’t too hard.  The problem for many is that they see photos of lithe women and men everywhere they look and believe this is unattainable and unhealthy.  They are not helped by the food industry making food more fattening (meaning high in calories not high fat) and unhealthy (salt, additives, etc) and then the vanity sizing by the fashion industry tells them everything is okay, they’re still a 12.  I remember seeing some “skinny” fit jeans in Asda, size 20… some things should be banned.

IMG_3249Test it. Buy some cycling clothing.  Go to Italy.  Try on some of their clothes.  You think you’re a medium?  Try again, closer to XL would be my guess.  I am almost 6ft and 73kg with a BMI of 23.  19 to 25 is healthy.  Now we all know the BMI calculation has flawed but using as a tool for sizing you would think I would be a medium in clothes and for the most part I am occasionally dipping into small or large.  The problem is there should and are many smaller than me.  I remember a small burying me the other day… I thought the smaller guys must be in kids sizes!  So what’s the problem.  Weight is linked to sporting performance and our country’s poor endurance base is directly attributable to an increasing waistline which is deemed normal along with the normalisation of waddling round a 5 hour marathon.  In the eighties people were thinner and faster.  We have been conned.  Note: I am not condoning or supporting eating disorders, I am merely showing that most people are bigger than they would have been in the past and that size in the past was a healthier one.  Many are struggling with their weight and use twitter as a support group, to those I say good luck.

What’s my answer to weight loss or fitness?  Go for a run!      

Like The Wind – The Runner’s Rouleur?

Launched Feb 14, I have in my hands one of the first copies of the runner’s rouleur called Like the Wind.

What’s this all about I hear you ask… From their “about page”


“The founders of freestak were particularly inspired by magazines from other sports, especially cycling and mountaineering, where the emphasis was on the spirit of the sport rather than the technical elements. We take our hats off to The Ride Journal, Rouleur, Single Track and Alpinist magazines amongst others.”

“Oh, I’ve never heard of them” you say (check out rouleur link above – no commission to me)! Now you’ve caught up; is there a market for an arty, sustainable (some contributors do so for free and it is not for profit) magazine focused on stories and substance over pithy twitter based populist running reports solely designed to fund advertising revenue and generate profits?

So where does it sit?  In 2012 circulation of popular running titles was:01b3224b355c10ff9061eb9e2436a9d74cced5db5f

  • Runner’s World ( Natmag Rodale ) : 88,027 ; -8.6%
  • Women’s Running ( Wild Bunch Media Ltd ) : 24,567 ; 15.7%
  • Men’s Running ( Wild Bunch Media Ltd ) : 12,304 ; N/A

Since then Trail Running has been released to capture the growing ultra, trail and barefoot community.  The market is all fighting the same fitness battleground also populated by the crossfit and health brand (which is a Rodale or RW title I believe).  RW has seen a revamp of its product to try to appeal to the twitter savvy modern readership but it fails to connect like the Triathlon magazines which carry personal stories and technical “skills” are more important.  Formerly safe, running magazine, sales are now under attack with the explosion of triathlon, Ironman and ultras.


The photo right shows some popular titles side on… Rouleur giving good value for money as a premium, beautiful title which shares more of its genes with a coffee table photo book than titles such as Cycling Plus which are filled with the latest gear reviews.  Cyclist is a premium monthly title in the cycling market which still features reviews but its editorial, format and quality is rouleur-esque.  Shifting focus to running titles, for the same £5 that gets you rouleur’s imitation, Cyclist, you get a slim, repetitive magazine filled with tips for beginners and those without a memory (i’m sure “run your best 10k” is on the front cover every month) plus 1p change.  Whilst it helps the C25k(Couch to 5K) crowd stay motivated and those pink runners move on to “proper” races and away from the charity scene it is vapid and devoid of substance.


So moving on the magazine.  First impressions are good.  It is thicker than a monthly rag but not yet able to match Rouleur’s meaty tome.  The print quality is, as expected, of premium quality coming from the The Manson Group printers which are also responsible for Rouleur.  It contains stories from the people on the website (Matt Fitzgerald, Scott Jurek & Dick Beardsley to name a few) who are using the magazine as a vehicle to their own ends but the manner in which they do so is well done.  I have read Eat and Run recently yet had forgotten the extract chosen to be included.  These “plugs” and famous faces are punctuated by original contributions and poems from bloggers and writers but they all share the passion of running.

Although we run to get fit, feel better, and other reasons the one thing runners do well is story telling.  Before the race, runners discuss that bout of tonsillitis (yes, it will by my excuse for VLM if it goes wrong) or how this new watch will make then faster.  During, there is the unspoken or sometimes spoken acknowledgement of a job well done, sharing the pain, enjoying the moment.  Finally, on crossing the line the ecstasy of regaling the race experience to all who will listen.  How your lace came undone, how it would have been a PB if the wind hadn’t changed.  0106f6f0a92c8e3ff0db4b7aac8f4510f221c6dbca

There is certainly a market who will enjoy this but where cycling is about gear and image, running has never had that to the same level.  The neatness of just needing trainers is so simple.  Charlie Spedding’s book talks of how when the Olympic squads train together in camps the runners are left alone to crack on only coming together for the big event.

Will Like the Wind thrive?  I certainly hope so as I am enjoying my copy but the £9 price take may be too much for many.  It has launched at the perfect time to engage with the marathon training crowd and I hope it does well (as well as print my future contributions – oh the stories I could tell…).

I haven’t given much away as I want you to take the plunge (and it’s be against copyright I guess) but hopefully this has been an informative and thoughtful account taking into account the market factors as well as the fact that it looks and feels great.

Adidas Sonic Boost – Shoe Review


Last week I bought a (actually 2) pair of Adidas Sonic Boost.  A quick google search returns a few hits but not many and all are sale items.  There is little information on the Adidas website.  I began to worry this was a mongrel shoe with the appearance of a running shoe at a cheap price and normally for sale in Sports Direct.

I got mine from Start Fitness as they had a deal on.

So after 50km or 33 miles of pounding the streets (and treadmill sadly) what do i think?

They are quite firm but the Brooks Flow I trialed were too.  They have some cushioning but nowhere near the amount of a “heavier” trainer.  They have got some “Boost” technology but not as much as the energy or other models.  I think they are probably the poor brother to the Supernova with less cushioning and not as light as the Adizero range.


They weigh 311g which compares to 330g for the Supernova 4 (not Boost) and 230g for the Adizero Mana 6.

They ride comfortably and I think I will try them on the track next week to see if they are too hard or not.  This is not a beginners high mileage shoe.  More seasoned runners will be fine as they have the muscular support in the feet and calves to cope.  It is also suggested that it can be used in the gym which again tells me it is not a dedicated runners shoe.

So am I disappointed?  Not at all.  For easy miles they have been great, during my steady run this PM on the treadmill they performed fine and I was happy.  Will I use them on Sunday’s long run? Maybe but I think I will go for a heavier shoe with more cushioning.  If you want a neutral, workhorse shoe to “get the miles in” this may suit but the hard ride may not be to everyone’s liking.

Any questions please ask…




















The legend of Samir Haddad – Trolling for Team GB

He would be a troll if he hadn’t used his own name and wasn’t an okay runner (but by no means Team GB quality).  I also think he’s winding everyone up but how can it be when he is of a quality that means you wouldn’t mess around wearing an italia football zip up sweater.

To quote DanA from page 360…

“With well over 7,000 posts and more than a quarter of a million views, it’s clear that this thread is attracting new viewers all the time, many keen to join us in the Samir Haddad fan club.  To save them the headache of reading back through 360 pages, and, to be honest, because I’m a bit bored – I thought it would be helpful if I did a summary recap of Samir’s top ten claims since this thread was started.  Help me out if I’ve forgotten any 

  1. Ultimate plan is to run the marathon in 1.57 in 2021 (The grand daddy of all claims.  Not just to break the WR, or to be the first to go under the almost mythical 2 hour marathon; but to beat it by over half a mile)
  2. That he will run for GB. Despite not being good enough, or not running races, or not being at a running club, or not having a coach, or not taking advice from more experienced runners, or not understanding how to train properly, or being slower than literally hundreds (if not thousands) of other runners, Samir is still intent on this ludicrous ambition.
  3. That he would run 10 hour training runs.  Not once in a while, but several times a week.  To date, he has still not run further than 10 miles without having to stop and walk.
  4. That there is nobody on planet earth that could outsprint him at the end of a race.  Noone.  Period.
  5. That he ran the first mile of the Ealing half marathon on the shoulders of the leaders at 5 min/mile pace.  Despite video & photographic evidence to the contrary, this comical claim persists. Combined with the fact that he claimed to be within sight of the 9th place finisher at the end, despite being more than 30 places and over a mile behind.
  6. That he will run the Cabbage Patch 10 in October in 45 minutes.  A couple of minutes inside the UK record, but only good enough for no. 6 here because it strangely would be just outside the WR of Haile Gebrselassie.
  7. That he will lead the best of East Africa at the Reading half marathon for the first mile at sub 4.30 pace, and still go on to achieve a time of 1.14 or better.
  8. That he would win the Perivale 5 in a “quite ridiculous time”, somewhere south of 25 minutes.  The only ridiculous thing was that he forgot to enter.
  9. Numerous PB’s which have been set on unmeasured routes, via including 44.53 for an 8 miler and a 16.27 5k (including stopping for traffic), despite not have got near these paces in the TWO races that he has run.
  10. That not only is he a future running behemoth, but he is actually a crime fighting super hero too, having allegedly leapt from a moving bus to chase down a bag-snatching criminal, apprehending the felon, then keeping him in custody until the police turned up.

Samir, your fans salute you 

Dan A runs(?) owns(?) Xempo running clothing and is worth checking out…

Team GB watch out!

The highs and lows of marathon training – 7 Feb 14

After just over a month of marathon training (of a 14 week programme) I have been through some highs and lows already.

A PB at Stubbington 10k being the zenith of this marathon training block.  I ran 35:26 in a strong, focused effort in perfect conditions.

A hard track session followed on Tue and a local race which I ran at 6 min/mile.  It was too much for me though.  During Thu session I couldn’t maintain and  had to finish in a plod.  Through Fri and into Sat my tonsils swelled and my temperature reached 40 deg.  I had even googled NHS Direct which meant it must have been serious!  On Mon I was prescribed antibiotics and a week off from running.

I should have been rested after a week off but my resting heart rate has been high (55+) and there was no speed so when I came to my important XC race my speed wasn’t there and I struggled in the mud and wind to finish 12th overall and will probably have dodged a bullet and avoided selection to the next race so I can recover properly and put down some decent marathon miles.

As a positive today’s double started at a sluggish 8:21 m/m but by this PM I managed 6:41 m/m downwind for some and sheltered for the rest but at a much better HR.  This weekend should see me reach nearly 20 miles and almost 60 miles for the week.  If I can keep this up through next weeks intro to doubles (4 days) and closer to 70 miles then I am confident of a good performance in London.



It is hard to remember how much energy you regain during the taper.  Right now the thought of 26.2 miles is terrifying.  But I have gone sub 3  twice before off a lot less mileage.  I have natural endurance (I guess) so I just need to believe and keep training.  There is still some way to go but not as much as you’d think.  In 5 weeks I will be racing a half marathon for a PB as a stepping stone to London.  Too few are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to run fast and I am by no means fast (as I don’t make enough sacrifices) but it will be hard, tough and you just need to persevere to get that reward.
It was my birthday so i am getting 2 pairs of Sonic Boost which i’m dubbing Sonic Boom (former Sega Mega Drive 2 users will understand).  How-du-ken!