Archive for the ‘London Marathon’ Category

Sub 3:45 or die!

Success in the ballot

Success in the ballot

After three failed attempts at gaining a London Marathon place through the over-subscribed ballot system, I finally managed to bag one. I’d have been running in 2013 either way as I’ve been able to creep into the 5-goes-and-you-get-a-guaranteed-place system before they phased it out. But in April 2012, I’ll be running the Virgin London Marathon without the pressure of raising money for a charity, or being followed as a pacer. This year it’s all about me!

Actually, it’s always been about me. I’m writing a blog documenting the highs and lows of my personal training, a subject that interests no-one but me. How narcissistic can you get? I mean, come on. “Oooh, boo hoo, I lost a toenail.” or “Look at me, here’s how many hits this blog has had.” [I actually did this.]

And to top it off, I’ve been writing posts describing, in detail, just how little training I’m actually doing, in the hope of running a sub 4-hour marathon on my first go? My naivety was actually pointed out to me quite recently by some forum members on Runner’s World while I was writing a piece on running a sub 20-minute 5K. And they were quite right to scrutinize. “Jogging occasionally” was pretty much what I was doing.

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Pacing the Virgin London Marathon 2011:

Canary Wharf - London Marathon 2011

Photo by Kevin McGarry

Two words sum up the Virgin London Marathon 2011. Hot and heaving!

This year was the first that I’d set off from the blue pen. As I understand it, the ‘masses’ and charity runners start from the red pen. Good for age and some celebs start from the green pen, and the elite runners and ballot entrants start from the blue.

After a pre-race pep talk from the Runner’s World crew (no weaving, hit your mile times, no listening to music and enjoy it), myself and the other pacers set off for our pens. I was 11-minute/miling and starting from the very last group (pen 9). Everyone seemed to be very nervous. I imagine that because the blue start holds the ballot runners, most haven’t run London before. So I was bombarded with questions and even asked to fix a broken GPS watch. Like I was some sort of running guru! I was feeling quite cocky, until someone tried to throw their scrunched-up bin liner over the fence and hit me in the side of the head. A few chuckles. Nerves gone. You’re welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

Virgin London Marathon 2011: The Facts

Nell McAndrew

Image by Julian Mason via Flickr

It’s that time of year again. The Virgin London Marathon media guide is out! Each year the people at London Marathon release the fact pack for media organisations across the world to fuel up on the details of the event before race day. I imagine that it’s a great resource for the commentators, who have to fill hours of air time chatting once the elite runners have finished.

I did a little round-up in 2009, and again in 2010. So to save you from sifting through 244 pages of PR spiel, here’s a selection of 2011 Virgin London Marathon facts that I think are worthy of a mention.


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Speed Work:

My home for the last 4 months - The Mall

My home for the last 4 months - The Mall

I’m a pretty comfortable distance runner. When I start a long run or race, I know that I’ll be able to finish. But finishing in a reasonable time has always been a struggle for me. I’ve yet to hit a sub-4 marathon. Yes, I do struggle with nutrition, but I think that my drop in pace toward the tail end of a long race is largely down to the lack of one simple element in my training; hard work!

I’ll follow a training plan as far as mileage is concerned. And I’ll maybe occasionally do a hill session. But when I’m on my own, I’ll rarely do the actual fartlek or repetitive speed training that’s asked of me. So if there’s one thing I’ve done differently during my Virgin London Marathon 2011 training this year, it’s to incorporate a lot more speed sessions.

High intensity, speed training is the hardest part of training for a marathon (for me) by far. Running up and down a straight piece of road, or around a running track doesn’t hold much appeal at all. So in order for me to start training in this way I had to enlist the help of my work colleagues and join them on their Tuesday sprints session up and down the Mall at Buckingham Palace. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a Hard Life:

It’s been a busy few months in the Sir Jog A Lot camp. London Marathon training has, once again, dominated my life to the point where my girlfriend is starting to forget that I’m supposed to come home in the evening. Life at Runner’s World is hard work and fast-paced, but it’s a small price to pay for advice on-tap and the lunch-time speed work sessions (not to mention the free trainers!).

I’ve now taken on two speed sessions a week, including drills up and down the Mall at Buckingham Palace and a 5K handicap race against the people at the Virgin London Marathon. As a result I’ve knocked a full 4-minutes off my 5K PB time and can run (for at least 3 hours) at an 8:30 min/mile pace. This is a massive improvement on last year. It’s ball-busting work, but well worth the effort and I’m very lucky to have access to this little running club!

You might ask why I’m training so hard, when I’ll only have to run at an 11-minute-mile pace at the London Marathon this year.

Partly, it’s for confidence. A lot of people rely on the Runner’s World pace team and I certainly don’t want to let people down by not being prepared come race day. But mainly, it’s because of the three half-marathons that I’ve paced at this year already! And I’ve been pacing at 9 and 10-minute-miles.

It’s been a hell of a lot of fun. I’ve run Watford, Dorney Lake and the Silverstone Half-Marathon this year and I’ve nailed the finish time at each event. It’s a funny old game and as close the world of celebrity that I’ll probably ever get. If you miss a mile time (which I did on my very first mile at Watford), there’s a lot of whispering and moaning. It’s also surprisingly difficult at times. Obviously, GPS watches are pretty accurate (RW are sponsored by Timex this year), but weaving around the road adds 10 seconds here or there and the pacers’ aim is to hit each mile-marker dead on. So we have to judge it and run slightly slower than the watch says to.

While it’s a very rewarding experience, helping people achieve a personal best, it’s also very lonely. Almost all the pacers finish the race alone, having been left at the last mile by runners eager to beat their times! Boo hoo, poor me.

There’s a little over a month to go until London now and the excitement and nerves are starting to kick in again. I can’t wait to help a few bods reach the finish line in under 5 hours and I’m already brushing up on my knowledge of local London landmarks for an SJAL-style tour of the city! I’m going to bore you all so hard that you’ll have to crack 5 hours just to get away from me!

Peace out,


11-Minute Miles:

Find me on TwitterFirstly, an apology. This blog hasn’t been updated nearly enough over the past 6 months. I could blame this on being busy at my new job (I am now Multimedia Designer for the fabulous Runner’s World), but in reality, working there should have provided me with plenty of material for a blog about running.

Secondly, some congratulations. After some rigorous training with Coach Jog A Lot, Lady Jog A Lot completed the Royal Parks Half-Marathon (her first) in under 2 and a half hours. I was there to cheer her on (trekking around London and spotting her an impressive 6 times) and was very proud and impressed with how well she did. Hopefully she’ll be up for writing a review of the day soon, as it was a great event as a spectator.

Thirdly, some exciting news. As some of you may know, I was sadly denied a ballot place for the 2011 Virgin London Marathon (again). As I entered for the first time three years ago, I’ll be entitled to a guaranteed place in a couple of years (a scheme which the VLM team have now phased out), where I can hopefully finally crack sub-4. But this week I found out that I’ll be running in 2011 as a Runner’s World Pacer!

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Headphones For Runners:

CommiserationsSo the London Marathon ballot places are out and, yes, you guessed it, no such luck for yours truly. I don’t think my friends would be my friends if I asked them for any more sponsorship. So it looks as though I won’t be running in 2011 (insert sad face emoticon here).

But for those of you who got your places, those months of training will soon be kicking off (if they haven’t already) and I don’t think I’d have survived my four months on the road if I hadn’t had my trusty headphones and an mp3 player. So for the last few months I’ve been scouring my PR phone book to try and find a decent set that are well-priced, comfortable, suitable for runners and (most importantly) sound good.

I’ve checked out eight sets of headphones in total. Eight because there’s only so much a lone-blogger can do. Eight because it looks nice in the grid below. But mainly, eight because that’s all I could get my hands on.

Enjoy reading, and if any of you can recommend any decent sets then please leave a comment. Click on the links below to get going.

Peace out.


Headphone reviews - Sir Jog A Lot

Etymotic hf5 review (£65) V-MODA Remix Remote review (£89.95) Bose In-Ear review (£79) Diddy Beats review (£119.99) Audeo PFE 022 + Mic review (£99) Nokia BH-214 (£39.99) i303 iLuv review (£24.82) Sony MDR-AS50G review (£34.99)

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