May Recap - TP100, New Zealand, Liverpool and YouTube!

As May draws to a close, it’s time to take stock on maybe the craziest month I’ve ever had and see what’s coming up over the next few weeks! Three big races and launching on YouTube!

Races

We started at the Centurion Thames Path 100 mile, from Richmond to Oxford.  Having completed the race in 2017 I was keen to come back and give it my absolute all for a better placed finish.  The baking heat soon put pay to that, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees in the afternoon sun.  It was simply a lesson in keeping moving forward, one foot in front of the other and not letting the conditions get into my head.  After one big sick, damaging my knee, multiple toilet stops in the bushes and lots of soul searching throughout the night, we finally crossed the line in 22:42, for 56th place. A PB, if such a thing exists for 100 mile ultras!  The near 50% drop out race this year showed just how hard those conditions were, so I was very proud of getting my second buckle!

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For the weekend after we jetted off with Air New Zealand to the Hawkes Bay region on the North Island.  Running a marathon the week after a 100 miler will always be tough, but this added an extra dimension being 12,000 miles away! It was one of the most picturesque races I’ve ever done, running through vineyards, apple orchards and along the beautiful coastline.  Crossing the line in 2:58 was actually surprising considering how I was pretty much falling asleep in the latter stages of the race.  For the race video, with lots of on course footage, check out the link  

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Going for three in a row we headed to Liverpool for the Rock n Roll marathon with the goal of trying to keep the sub 3 hour marathon streak going.  It was standing at 18 as I stood on the start line!  The sun shone down on a beautiful Liverpool day and I knew it was going to be another toughie.  After 5k I had two stitches and after 10k I was in a bit of trouble..  but somehow the drop off in speed plateaued and I managed to find some pace in the second half of the race to just dip in under 3 hours, in 2:59.  For the race video, with lots of on course footage, check out the link at

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The following weekend I was meant to be lining up at the Grand Union Canal run, a 145 miler from Birmingham to London.  But sadly I was just too wreaked, too tired, too drained.  The schedule beforehand was overkill.  All my fault and I had to register a DNS, by first for many years.  A sad day, but I'll be back in a few years to tick that box. 

Up coming Events - Hopefully see lots of Strava and Instagram runners here! 

9th June - Endure 24
16th June - South Downs Way Marathon
7th July - Trail Verbier St Bernard 73k
4th August - NDW100
18th August - UltraVasan 90k

In other news!

I launched a YouTube channel with lots of running tips, tricks, advice, race reports.  If you’re looking for some help with your running check it out!  I’ll be uploading twice a week! It's now live! 

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So that’s a wrap May.  You’ve been a blast!  500km run and raced. So many smiles over all of those miles. :-)  Bring on June! 

4 Minute Warm Up Routine to use before every Run!

It's so important to get your warm up right.  Preventing injury is the main benefit, but also it helps ease you into the right mindset for the run, so when you set off you're prepared and ready for action.

I've made a video showing you how I warm up before every run, so check it out here!

The 6 areas I always focus on are

1. Slow jog
2. Open and close the gate
3. Leg swings
4. Walking lunge
5. Butt kicks
6. High knees

Build these into your routine and help yourself to stay injury free for longer! 

Air New Zealand Hawkes Bay Marathon

Running a marathon 6 days after the Thames Path 100 mile, oh and it’s 12,000 miles away in New Zealand, go on then!  It was a pretty crazy notion, but when the opportunity came up to travel to one of my absolute favourite counties on earth, to run a race in such a scenic landscape amongst the vines and orchards of Hawkes Bay, I got my entry in quick start and jumped aboard that Air New Zealand flight in a flash! 

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The race takes place between the two main towns in the Hawkes Bay region of Napier and Hastings.  Starting on the shore, before winding its way down the coastline and heading inland towards the vineyards and orchards that make this region so famous.  

We had to get to the expo pretty quickly, as our travel had been delayed slightly, so after checking into the hotel we headed straight to the Napier Conference Centre.  All extremely efficient, the volunteers were super friendly.  For a marathon only in its third year, this was really impressive.  I was given bib 445.

 Vineyards everywhere, autumn colours looking amazing! 

Vineyards everywhere, autumn colours looking amazing! 

Luckily I only had a short walk from the hotel to the start line, which was enough to get some stretches in and a few K’s of easy running to warm up.  I hadn’t ran a step since crossing the finish line in Oxford 6 days earlier, so the race was going to be a big unknown, plus I had no idea how the jet lag would affect my body.  As the sun rose over the ocean, hundreds of fellow runners gathered on Marine Parade, with a huge 70% travelling in from outside the local area. 

 

Standing on the start line I could tell that something wasn’t quite right, I was so tired, which was a very strange sensation at 9am.  We hadn’t even been in the country 24 hours and the whole of the afternoon before I’d been in bed at the hotel asleep.  But it hadn’t been enough to get any life back in me that the long haul trip had taken away.  Still, we weren’t here to set any records, simply to run a marathon in a beautiful part of the world, meet some new people and explore a fascinating place on planet earth.  

The hooter went off at 9am and I quickly set in with a small group of runners, one of whom was local favourite, Nick Horspool, with a PB of 2:20, so I obviously let him go off into the distance.  We were averaging 3:45/km, which was quite a bit faster than I wanted to be running, but hey.. I was here for some fun and was enjoying running in a group with a bit of banter going!  One of the other runners likened us to The Inbetweeners, in that we weren’t that great, but also not that bad either..  that middle ground! It got a few laughs!  

5k came up in 18:43, nice and steady.  The second 5k was quicker, by a whole second.. 18:42! Haha!  We were running along some raised cycle tracks, so there was gravel underfoot.  It was fine to run on and I think my legs were grateful for running on anything other than tarmac for a bit!

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As we approached 20k my tummy was starting to make a few noises it shouldn’t have been and a few strides later I was searching around for bushes!  There were none, luckily for me I was pretty much alone at this point, so had to drop the shorts at the side of the road. TMI again, but this is the truth! 

I was starting to slow pretty rapidly by now, the relative suicide pace from earlier was taking its toll.  Running all alone, I couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind, there was nothing for it other than to grit my teeth and see what result I could grind out.  

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I was carrying my GoPro to film parts of the race (the video will be up shortly) which surprisingly took my mind off the pain in my legs.  Not pain in the usual sense, just tired, no energy and general lifelessness. Hardly surprising given everything, but it wasn’t a sensation I was used to at this stage of a race. 

The volunteers at the aid stations were super friendly and I’d always look forward to getting to the next one.  As we entered the vineyards around 30k I’d started to overtake the half marathon runners, so the usual ‘keep going’, ‘you’re doing so well’ etc was getting exchanged back and forth every hundred meters or so.  Such a friendly bunch these Kiwi’s are! 

40k was up in 2:45 and barring a complete disaster I knew I’d manage to scrape a sub 3, which, let’s be honest, isn’t so bad.  I’d be pretty miffed if that happened in the UK, but given the circumstances, I’ll take it!

 2:58:11

2:58:11

Crossing the line in 2:58:11 was great, medals waiting from the Air New Zealand staff, smiles everywhere and it wrapped up one of the most beautiful marathons I’ve ever ran.  Air New Zealand and Hawkes Bay tourism, you’ve done yourself proud with this one! 

 Shattered! 

Shattered! 

Going forward I really need to do some research on jet lag and the role it plays in racing, plus anything that can be done to combat the effects.  I’d obviously never run a target race in this way, so it’s not that important, but it’s all good knowledge to add to the bank.  

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Next stop Liverpool for the Rock n Roll marathon on Sunday! 

Thames Path 100 Mile Race Report

I distinctly remember lying in bed one night about 6 years ago reading a copy of a running magazine I’d borrowed from a friend as there was a curious feature tucked away on the front cover.  I wasn’t even particularly into running back then but, on this small part of the front cover  they claimed to have a race report from a 100 mile race that had just happened.  100 miles?  Was this a typo? I completely genuinely 100% thought this was an April fool, a wind up, nobody could run further than a marathon and survive, what was going on?  So late at night I turned to Twitter and typed in Centurion Running and sure enough, there were more photos and names of these seemingly ordinary people achieving something that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.  Ever since that moment I’ve been fascinated by the notion of how far can we push ourselves and set many challenges to take my own body to the physical and mental limits. 

 Everyone ready to go! (oh and my sister!)

Everyone ready to go! (oh and my sister!)

The past 6 months has been totally focused on marathon specific training, I’d put in some high mileage weeks, but very few back to back long runs or anything over marathon training distances. So standing on the start line I had very little idea as to what was going to pan out ahead.  All I knew was it was going to be absolutely baking hot and while it was a lovely temperature to run in, the fact we’d be out for hours with little in the way of shade was troubling.  The thing with running these ultra long distances is that so much of it is mental and all you need is for one chink in your armour to open up and you’re done. 

 And we're off!

And we're off!

313 from the 375 entrants made it to the start line in Richmond and at 10am James Elson sounded the hooter for the race to get underway.  

Having run parts of the route a few times in training and in the 2017 race I knew there was a gate about 500m in, that only one person can get through at a time.  So made a quick get away.  It is amazing how you get worried about losing 30 seconds at a gate, while knowing you’re going to be out running for at least 20 hours.. I don’t think the enormity ever sets in for me about the what lies ahead!

 Oh the baking sun!

Oh the baking sun!

The first check point was Walton on Thames at mile 12, where I arrived at 1h:35m, a steady pace and felt good and in control.  The volunteers sprung into action, the water bottles were refilled and I ate some very juicy pineapple and watermelon.  Perfect refreshing fuel as the day was warming up!

The runners had spread out by now and with no one really around I stopped and found my iPod, as I’d been saving last weeks Marathon Talk up to listen to on the run.  So as Martin and Tom did their thing, lifting my spirits, the sun beat down, we headed on in to Staines. 

When you get to Staines Bridge (mile 20) you take a sharp right to go up and over it and as I was mid turn, I felt a sharp shooting pain in my right knee.  There were a few swear words shouted and I limped up the stairs and walked it out over the bridge and down to the other side, but with each corner I got to, the pain quickly returned.  

I knew the Wraysbury aid station was just ahead, so wanted to run it in and if it persisted then I’d get help.  Running in a straight line felt totally fine and by the time I’d reached the aid station I’d forgotten about it.  It seemed to be only when turning corners sharp or walking.  So there was only one thing for it, no corners and no stopping! 

 Salty hat!

Salty hat!

 

It was nice to finally meet Cat Simpson on the run and we chatted for a bit up between Dorney and Cookham, then later heard the sad news that she had to drop out with an injury she’d sustained in a cycling accident the week prior.  Such as inspirational runner, she’ll be back soon! 

Dorney (30.5 miles) - I loved the music and Cookham (38 miles), genius with the ice lollies and hosepipe shower! These volunteers sure do know how to put on an aid station. 

The heat had really started to take it’s toll by now and while I was eating and drinking ok, the chairs and shade at Hurley (44 miles) provided some much needed relief from the sun.  A nauseous feeling had started to take over and I couldn’t make myself get up and out of that chair.  I tried a few times as the clock ticked away, 10 minutes I’d been there, then 15, 20, 25 and still no sign of getting away. After a quick pep talk from one amazing lady volunteer there (who was about to do UTMB!  Respect!) I agreed to leave, with a bowl of snacks in hand to revive myself slowly as I walked on.  

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I was being passed by so many runners, but as always happens, everyone would give a quick, ‘you alright?’ as they went past.  As I began to perk up a bit, I simply concentrated on the next 7 miles to Henley because if I made it there, I knew there would be a hot meal, my drop box with fresh clothes and more enthusiastic volunteers that could use their magic powers to get me up and running again.  

I was just focussing on each mile at a time, each tree in the distance, each landmark to aim for.  Breaking it down, giving myself goals to aim for and achieve.  If you ever think of the enormity of what lies ahead it will break you.. it wants you to fail, you need to run smart and out do those demons. 

The stretch up to Henley (51 mile checkpoint) was the hardest of the whole race for me, there was little shade, I felt myself being cooked in the sun as every last ounce of energy was being evaporated from my already drained body.  Hobbling along I had a pain in my stomach and knew I had about 10 seconds to find a hidden bush to go to the toilet.  Apologies to the couple of runners who had to witness my shorts round my ankles, but hey.. we’ve all been there at some point!   I felt a lot better after that, but still wanted to keep well within my comfort zone to ensure I got to Henley. There were boats going up and down the river, people sipping champagne, enjoying their bank holiday weekend in the sun, no doubt looking over and thinking why are that lot running in this heat.. probably completely oblivious we still had 50+ miles to go on this crazy trip.

I walked the last 4ish km into Henley, it’s was as fast as I could go.  All I could think about was some shade, a cold glass of water and some pasta.  As I sat down the volunteers descended like a Formula 1 pit crew.  I had pasta, drinks, drop bag and snacks all within a minute, just amazing.  Looking round there was a real scene of devastation, the heat was ending so many peoples races right before my eyes.  I could hear people being sick every few minutes.. a scene of goals being shattered and dreams being taken away.

There wasn’t time to dwell and as I left I probably felt the best I’d felt all day.  Everything was fine and I picked up the pace with the km splits all appearing in the 5’s.  Next stop was Reading!  

Darkness was setting in as I left Reading, 58 miles done and 42 to go.  I knew my Dad would be at Pangbourne, so the spirits were up and everything was back on track.  Coming into the car park, my Dad was waiting and he’d bought some snacks and drinks.  I downed a bottle of squash and within 2 minutes I knew something was very wrong.  Going from feeling great to nauseous so quickly was terrible.  What had I done?!  It took about 20 minutes sitting in the boot of the car before the orange squash came back up again all over the car park. About 6 big chunders of pure liquid giving the tarmac a good wash!  Thank you so much to the kind lady in the car next door who gave me a bottle of water to rehydrate with.  That sick had cost me about 30 minutes and shattered my self confidence.

 Post sick, wrapped up in a blanket!

Post sick, wrapped up in a blanket!

I only stayed at Whitchurch for a couple of minutes to check in, then it was onto the ‘hilly’ wooded section heading to Goring.  I had to take the steps one at a time with my knee still playing up, luckily there was a rail there to help me get down.  Sick and limping along how was I going to be able to cover off the remaining 30 miles?

Well getting cheesy beans in Streatley (71 miles) certainly helped!  Whoever came up with that idea is a genius!  It was the first time in a very long time that I began to feel human again. It was starting to get pretty chilly by that point so I switched into my long sleeved top and got back on the road. 

I have no recollection of Wallingford, I must have only been there for a few minutes to top up the bottles and keep the momentum going. I do remember coming face to face with a head of about 20 cows that suddenly appeared out of the darkness.  They didn’t seam bothered at all as I crept past, such friendly animals.  Sitting in Clifton Hampden I kept drifting off to sleep, it was 5am, the birds had started their morning song and all I could think about was sleep and just wanting to curl up into a little ball and take myself away from all the pain I was feeling. 

By this stage I’d resigned myself to walking the final 15 miles.  I had nothing left to give.  My knee was hurting at every change of elevation or turn, I could feel myself drifting off to sleep while walking, my feet were soaked from all the morning dew, my appetite was zero and was simply surviving on grapes and water.  

Coming into Abingdon at 91 miles I must have looked a complete mess.  Having dodged about 20 geese with their young just before, I’d just had enough.  I’d have given anything for this to be done.  

However ultra running is a quirky game, as the sun came up, it bought life and energy into a new day plus that energy seemed to filter through to my legs as well, how I have no idea, but I wasn’t going to think about it just then.. I managed to get the legs turning over and Oxford was slowly coming into sight. 

It was so nice to meet a friend I met earlier in the year in Thailand, Sean, waiting to guide me through the last few kms.  He just about kept up! haha. 

When you get to about 500m to go you get a glimpse of the blue centurion inflatable finish line on your left.  It catches you by surprise,  the reality suddenly hits that this crazy race is actually going to be finished.  All the pain and suffering will all be worth it.  You then get about a minute to compose yourself, take some deep breaths, as you run behind the hedge before tuning into the cricket ground.  Running over that manicured outfield felt absolutely amazing.  More tears building up with every step, then silence…  

It was done, I could stop, I could let out every element of doubt that had crept in over the previous 23 hours.  I took on the Thames Path and somehow and I really don’t know how, managed to come out the winner. 

22:42:18 was the time.  56th place and a PB by 16 minutes. 

 22:42:18! 

22:42:18! 

Thanks to Stuart for the sweaty hug and presenting me with my buckle and Stuart March for taking all the finish line photos.  

The toughest Thames Path 100 came to an end.  55% finish rate says just how tough the conditions were out there, but I know ultra runners are tough and those that didn’t make it to Oxford will be back to conquer the distance another day. 

A huge well done to my girlfriend and all round inspirational tough cookie Sarah who came over the line in 26:06, hand in hand with one of the best runners I know, Vickie.  You girls are achieving some ridiculous things right now and I’m so proud to follow along. 

 So proud 

So proud 

The volunteers, the organisers, the whole centurion running community, absolutely faultless as always.  Exceptional and I can’t thank you all enough.  

 Well done Sarah and Vickie!

Well done Sarah and Vickie!

Finally if you’ve made it this far, thank you for all the support on social media, having people around the world routing for you and sending messages of support is surreal, but amazingly awesome.  You lot make me achieve and spur me on and I can’t thank you enough.  

The North Downs Way 100 mile is next, August bank holiday here we come! 

If you want to see all my videos then head over to www.instagram.com/benparkes and check out the saved stories on my profile page. 

Some kit admin with links for those that always want to know!

Shoes - Hoka One One Bondi 5 - Click here
Pack - Salomon Adv 12 Set - Click here
Nutrition - Chia Charge bars and Spring Energy Gels 
Watch - Garmin 935 - Click here

 

 

 

Got a big race coming up? Looking for a PB? Try out my all new training plans!

We all want to push ourselves right?!  Always trying to find that key to run a bit further or improve our race times. There are many tips and tricks all over the place, but what can really give you some extra accountability and therefore consistency is working with a coach or following a structured training plan. 

Most people will start training a few months in advance of their goal race just doing the same runs each week, running at the same pace, along the same routes and subsequently won't see much of an improvement! Having a training plan to stick to will keep you on track and will give you more confidence knowing you are doing the right sessions to best prepare you for your goal race. It'll provide you with some variety and will gradually build up your fitness so you can perform your best on race day! 

I have developed training plans for all popular distances from 5k up to 100 mile ultras, based on proven methods and training techniques that have given me success over these distances.  

All the plans are available in the 'Training Plans' section, priced from FREE to £8. 

 2:37 at Manchester Marathon 2018! 

2:37 at Manchester Marathon 2018! 

So why are my plans different from the hundreds that are already out there?

Written in plain English 

No fancy jargon. All my plans are easy to follow and understand.  There is a table with each plan that explains exactly what every run means, so you know what type of run you will be doing and the reasons why.

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Flexibility 

I know for a lot of people, time is the main hurdle when it comes to training so flexibility is crucial! Most weeks there is an optional run, where you can run a bit easier if you are feeling tired or substitute something else in if you are feeling good. I like to build flexibility into all of my plans as it keeps you in control and gives you the chance to add your own touch.

Pacing Charts

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The pacing charts are based on your goal time so you can use these to find the exact pace to be running your ‘recovery runs’ at, or your ‘steady pace’.  This takes the guess work out and provides a great training stimulus that happens with training at different paces and intensities. 

 

Extra notes to keep you motivated and on track

There is a notes section for every week which includes details about all the important things you should be thinking about that week. 

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Get extra support with dedicated coaching 

If you are looking for more guidance or a more tailored plan for your specific needs and goals then I also offer 1-2-1 coaching which will give you even more accountability. We will work together and plan your whole lead up to the race week by week with regular catch ups and updates. For more information check out the Coaching section. 

If you have any questions about the plans or coaching then feel free to get in touch via the contact page, I'd love to hear from you. 

Can't wait to hear about all of your running successes! 

 

 

Need some inspiration? He's my top 10 running Books and Audio Books!

We all need some inspiration from time to time, our MOJO suffers, so we look for a much needed boost online.  I'm always getting asked what my favourite books are, or what I listen to when running.  So thought it would be best to put a list together of what I reach for when I'm looking for a boost, so here goes!

BOOKS

 

1. James Adams - Running and Stuff. 

Such a well written account of running most of the major ultra races in the world.  Spartathlon, Badwater, Marathon Des Sables, Grand Union Canal.. they are all here!  My go to book when I'm looking for that next big adventure!

 


2. Vassos Alexander - Don't Stop Me Now

Vassos's enthuasium for running is infectious.  Whether you're an elite runner or complete beginner, his tales from his running journey will have you gripped and wanting to lace up your trainers are get out there.  

 


3. Ben Smith - 401 Marathons

Ben's story is one of the most remarkable and moving ones to come out of 2017, building a movement to raise the profile of mental health issues, after suffering at the hands of bullies as a child, while completing such a gruelling challenge is incredible.  401 marathons in 401 days.  Running 10,500 miles. Raising £330,000 for charities and touching the lives of millions around the world.  His story is epic and inspirational about what the human body can do.  (also in audio)

 


4. Doug Richards - Running Hot & Cold

Doug's story is one of true determination to turn his life around.  Approaching middle aged, with a whole host of problems, he decided to take up running to free himself from the trappings of modern life.  He has tales from his first ever run to his journey across Greenland, all mixed in with real life issues such as a marriage breakdown, depression and anxiety. Highly motivating and moving, it's impossible to put down! 

 


 

5. Rich Roll - Finding Ultra

Take a over worked, stressed out, junk food addict, lawyer, who was 20KG over weight, who has no idea what exercise was and who's life was spiralling towards an early death.  Well Rich Roll takes us on the journey of how he transformed his life around to become one of the worlds top endurance athletes, competing in Ironmans events, including the Epic 5! (you'll have to read the book to find out more about that) It's so inspiring and shows it's never to late to make a change! (also in audio)

 


AUDIOBOOKS

All the audio books I listen to our via the Audible App on my iPhone.  Personally I find the selection the best online and they are always adding new titles.  For a free 30 day trail click the banner below! 

 

 

1. Adrian J Walker - The End of the World Running Club.

Maybe the best fiction book on running I've read and listened to.  After a huge disaster, the main character needs to get to his family 550 miles away.  It's impassable by any form of transport, so his only option is to run.  So captivating it will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours!

 


 

2. Adharanand Finn - Running with the Kenyans

We've all seen the Kenyas dominate the distance running scene for years and years.  In this book Adharanand sets out to find their secrets, by moving to Iten to immerse himself in their culture and live as they do.  A great insight into how the Kenyans train, learn and thrive in this environment.  

 


3. Charlie Engle - Running Man

Charlie Engle has certainly led an exciting, incredibly moving life. From being addicted to cocaine and alcohol, to running some of the toughest ultra marathons in the world.  Running turned his life around from down and out, to competing in ruling races.  As his fame grew he was caught up in an investigation to past mortgage fraud and was convicted and sent to prison.  He then documents how he grew the running scene inside, on the tiny running track.  A rollercoaster of a life, well documented!

 


4. Chris McDougal - Born to Run

A iconic book and should be on anyones device or bookshelf.  Chris was the first pioneer to talk about how humans have always ran and why we are so good at ultra endurance events as a species. So other creature on the planet can out last us and this has always been the way since man walked the earth.  A fascinating insight into our past, with many applicable things we can do today to improve. 

 


5. Matt Fitzgerald - How bad to you want it?

Matt demonstrates just how far we can push our mind over our body to get what we want.  Mental toughness is the key to succeeding in many sports, but especially in the world of endurance running and with many examples he demonstrates just how we can tap into this element of our brain to push ourselves further than we've ever been before.  If you struggle with the mental side of running, then this is a must read!

 

 

If you think I've missed anything off the list then get in touch and let me know! Happy reading! 

London didn’t go to plan?  How to get over that and move on to your next challenge! 

Sunday’s London marathon was the hottest on record.  For anyone who was lucky enough to run the race, it was more than likely your goal time went out the window by the half way mark.  Running in these temperatures, especially when we’ve had nothing but a freezing winter to train through, is extremely hard and there was little that could be done to run any quicker than so many of us did.  

 Don't beat yourself up! 

Don't beat yourself up! 

Judging by the amount of messages I’ve received after the race, there are many runners out there who are really disappointed and not sure what to do about moving on from having their slowest run ever.  So here are some suggestions and ways to take the best out of the race, move on and look forward to your next challenge!

 

  • Don’t take it out on yourself - The weather is one of those uncontrollable factors that there is little we can do to beat.  It will always leave you thinking ‘what if’ and that’s the hardest part.  But you will have learnt a lot from it, so make a list of everything you now know about running in hot conditions.  It’s likely you’ll be faced with similar conditions at some point in the future, so it will be good to have a list of your own tips that work for you.

 

  • Take time to treat yourself - Celebrating races is important, you’ve been through a long training block, a tough race, now it’s time to reward yourself for that as it will help you transition into the next goal.  Getting a massage will not only help rebuild your tired muscles, it’s also relaxing and feels good.  I always use Urban Massage, as they come to your house, it's super convenient and every therapist I've had has been amazing.  Click this link for a £20 discount, making your first one just £29 for an hour.  Bargain! 

 

  • Be objective - You still ran a marathon, in extremely tough conditions.  You adapted your plan before and during the race, you had to dig deeper than you thought you needed to but you still got the race done and earn your medal.  Finishing any marathon is no given, especially when the weather isn’t on your side.  Take pride in getting to the finish, take courage from how you dealt with the conditions on the fly and all you’ll have learnt about running in the heat. 
 Earning this is NEVER easy!

Earning this is NEVER easy!

 

  • Rebuild - When your body is in post marathon state, then you’re really susceptible to catching colds and viruses going round.  Hence it’s critical to get as much sleep as possible to rebuild.  I take extra vitamin c and iron.  SiS do a handy efflorescent tablet which you can see here. Make sure you are getting lots of detox foods such as blueberries (buy frozen as they are cheaper!) citrus fruits (orange, lemons, lime) as well as lots of green veggies. 

 

  • Take a week off - It might seem that because you didn’t run a PB, then your body won’t have suffered as much.  When in reality the opposite is true.  You’ll have been out for much longer and in far hotter temperatures than you’re used to and subsequently will have put your body under lots of extra stress.  Give yourself time to properly rebuild and recover, before getting out running again.  Keep up your daily step count by walking lots, catch up with friends, rediscover some past interests, just have a few days away from running. 

 

  • Get some structure and expert advice - Bit of a plug here, however getting a structured plan to train from or dedicated coaching will give you far more guidance for the future.  Get in touch if you'd like to know more about the help I can offer help you achieve your goals!

 

  • Look for your next challenge - It’s important not to rush out and find a race in a couple of weeks, just because you want to make the most of your current fitness. There are plenty of races in the autumn (have a look at Bournemouth or Yorkshire) which will allow you to have some time off running and then you can slowly get back into training over the summer. However I totally understand that a lot of you will want to do another marathon as soon as possible to try and achieve your time goals but just make sure you give yourself the adequate recovery time, at least 5-6 weeks ideally.  If you're feeling fresh, then you could consider Liverpool, although it is too soon really in my opinion. 
 Go find some trails to run on! 

Go find some trails to run on! 

  • Trails - PB’s don’t really exist in trail running as the routes are so different.  So if you are consistently getting yourself in a flap over PB’s then have a look for some trail races.  Friendly, beautiful scenery and the best aid stations.  One race I really like is the South Downs Marathon on the 16th June.  For a great directory look on the 100 marathon club. 

 

Finally you can have a big well done from me!  You might not realise it straight away, but I bet in a few weeks you’ll look back on the marathon and think yeah, I’m hardcore and I got it done!!  You’ll be able to take strength from overcoming those tough conditions to use when you get difficult moments in future races.  When your legs are burning during that final mile of Parkrun, when your lungs are gasping for air during that 10k club race or your climbing up a steep hill during that trail marathon, you’ll be able to look back and think to yourself, this is nothing as I conquered the London Marathon 2018! 

London Marathon Race Report - 2:49 - fun in the Sun!

I don’t think I’ve ever checked the weather forecast so much in all my life!  The weather during the build up to Sunday was getting hotter and hotter and the report for race day was pretty grim reading, well for marathoners anyway.  If you were planning on heading to the beach it was absolutely perfect!

Still, there is nothing you can do to control the weather, so it was a case of getting everything prepared as best as we could.  That meant extra electrolytes, stocking up on suncream and squeezing in a few easy runs during the hottest parts of the day in the build up.  

 Always a buzz collecting numbers!

Always a buzz collecting numbers!

The expo was the usual buzz of excitement, so many familiar faces to catch up with and it was good to meet other runners from Instagram and Strava who were there to collect their numbers as well.  

Suddenly race day morning was here, luckily for me it only takes 10 minutes to walk to the start line from home.  Walking up through Greenwich park on London Marathon morning is always such a treat, seeing all the excitement, nervous energy and colour everywhere is such an amazing sight.  Completely unique to London, you’ll never see anything like it at any other race.  

The championship area was buzzing with chatter about what was going to be possible on the day, how much would the heat effect everyone and after all the months and months of training would it all be for nothing?

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Then like a flash it was time to get going, the national anthem played and the Queen hit the starting button.  Even on Championship the start can be quite busy, but after the first km it quickly evens out and you’re running free.  Early on I could quickly tell something wasn’t quite right, the pace was a bit quick, but the effort was far too high.  

 Cutty Sark and 10k in 34:52

Cutty Sark and 10k in 34:52

5k came up in 17:22, which given the long downhill section through Woolwich was ok.. a bit quick for sure, but I was becoming overly worried about the heat. The long drag into Greenwich is always very speedy, it’s so flat and you’ve normally still got lots of energy.  As we got to Cutty Sark and the 10k point the watch clicked over in 34:52.  

 Starting to look a bit worse for wear! 

Starting to look a bit worse for wear! 

Quite simply I’d been pushing it too much for the heat and now everything was starting to slow down.  On the run up to Surrey Quays my pace was slowing, I was trying my best to cool myself with water, but I think the damage had been done.  My heart rate was dropping as was my pace and now it was into damage limitation mode already. 

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Tower Bridge was incredible of course, the support around this part of the route is unbelievable, you’ll never experience anything like it ever, just amazing.  It couldn’t heal my demise though, although everything was becoming slightly more stable.  There was no point in getting down about it, there was nothing I could do.  The time goals had long gone out the window, but I still wanted to push on and do as well as I could.  I’ve never been one to quit, I always want to give my best. 

 5k to go!

5k to go!

35 - 40k came up in 21:37, obviously well down on goal pace, but still managing to tick over.  I was sick in my mouth 3 times during the final 5k, it was an odd sensation as I wasn’t feeling that bad.. but wasn’t right for sure.  

 Nearly done.. where's the sun gone now! 

Nearly done.. where's the sun gone now! 

 

I knew I’d have to push a bit during the final km to to get under 2:50 and managed to click that off in 3mins 30, so crossed the finish line at 2:49:33. 

 NEARLY DONE!

NEARLY DONE!

 

A tough day out for sure.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.  Even with the heat it was a poor time for me, but you can’t win them all and I’ll be back to carry on the quest shortly. 

 

Looking back of course I wished I’d gone off a little slower and respected the heat a bit more, however I think it would have only slightly prolonged the inevitable.  It was never going to be a PB day, but would rather go for it and fail, than never try at all.  

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It was still a fantastic day, a real sense of runners coming together to do battle with the weather.  And while the weather certainly took a lot of PB’s away, the running spirit won with smiles and such a huge sense of achievement amongst everyone that crossed the finish line. 

It does raise a lot of issues over the mental side of running, when you train for months and months, only for the weather to take any quick time away from you at the last second.  However you can’t think too much about it.  You can only train smarter, learn from it and take all that extra knowledge into the next race. 

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Remember if you want some help with your running and achieving your goals, then check out my coaching pages here, where you can get tailor made training and support to get that PB your deserve.  Get in touch if you have any questions! 

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Such sad news to learn about the passing of one of the runners, Matt Campbell just 3.7 miles from the finish.  His page to learn more is here

So what’s next?  Well the small issue of the Thames Path 100 mile in just over a week!! A completely different type of challenge, 100 miles in one day,  bring it on!